Friday, November 30, 2007

Swim Lessions Part III

We had a break from swim lessons last Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday but we were back at it today. I just figured we'd go and if all he wanted to do was sit in his swim trunks and watch the other kids, that would be fine. What do I care right? Sunk cost. He's only three after all and he doesn't have to be Ian Thorpe. His dad's only 5'9" so the likelihood of his being an Olympic swimmer is slim. And he's THREE. I have to just remind myself - not that he acts any other age; he's very much a three-year-old. But this race to expose our kids early to every which pastime and skill just sort of makes me want to round up the troops and move off the grid for a while.

So I told him we'll just go and see Miss Beth and do some kicking or not. Totally up to him. And he explained to me that he would do kicking but no floats and he planned to tell Miss Beth just that. And I said, you are the master of your own fate, buddy. Thumbs up.

Well we get there and he's looking around for Miss Beth. Finally he sees who he thinks is Miss Beth but is actually another teacher in a speedo. He runs to her, realizes it's someone else and then notices that the real Miss Beth is in the water right in front of him. She puts her arms out to him and he (I swear to God) jumps into her arms into the pool. I thought, well that was highly unexpected. What else could be coming down the pike...? I could never have imagined.

She's twirling him around and he's laughing and I'm thinking who is this kid? Then they line up on their bellies for kicking and then they're blowing bubbles and he's got his face submerged doing, get this, WHAT HE'S BEEN ASKED TO DO. Weird, I know.

Then it was time for floats and I'm bracing myself for a major come-apart and it never materialized. He just let Beth hold him out flat, first on his back and then on his belly and then he was on a kick board and THEN, with the lord and the other boys' grandfather as my witnesses, he did a total head submerge with Beth and came up laughing.

Unfortunately while another kid was on a float my son slipped in the very shallow water of the steps and gulped a bit of water which freaked him out with five minutes left of class. I scooped him up while he was coughing and snorting and suddenly he wanted to go home. But the last five minutes are play time so I encouraged him to grab a toy and go play with Miss Beth. I didn't want him to leave scared of going back in the water. He wasn't interested. So I said, in my infinite wisdom, just go back in and give Miss Beth a high-five and tell her thank you. So he did and she whisked him up in a big twirly hug and he was happy.

And we came home and had graham crackers. Hallelujah.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Snarfle

Finally a post dedicated to my delicious nine-month old baby girl. She's taken to eating in a big way and pretty much spends most of her free-time inhaling food. Even when I just leave her on the kitchen floor while I'm making dinner, she finds her way to the dining room and then swims around the floor looking for fallen cheerios, dinner chunks, orange peel bits, what have you. And then she eats them. It's kind of like having a dog. Clearly she is a second child. I did recently switch to Method brand floor cleaner (all-natural) so she wouldn't be ingesting toxic cleaning fluid residue while eating off the floor. And all of the sockets are covered. Beyond that I pretty much throw caution to the wind.

And we also know she's a second child because she has a permanent cold/runny nose. The thing is a faucet. I can remember maybe three days in the last six months when she didn't have a slimy pool in the cleft above her lip. Nasty.

Which brings me to one of my favorite things. Where is she going with this? Well, she makes this amazing noise when she eats - the combination of newly acquired chewing skills and post nasal drip. She kind of hums while she gums up her food and you can hear the gunk in her nose rattling around as she tries to breathe all the while. It's music. Equal parts of phlegm, saliva (did I mention she's teething), food (beets are her favorite these days) and joy. I call it the SNARFLE and hearing it makes me seriously happy.

And don't even get me started on her pincer grab. Such precision! Such focus! Such resolve! There's not a cheerio within a ten foot radius that's safe from the girl I affectionately refer to as "the claw".

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's like toast

We had a lovely Thanksgiving at my brother's house yesterday and my sister-in-law made the most kickass sweet potato and carrot pudding (equal parts vegetable, butter and creme fraiche. Yikes). The whole meal was outstanding and for the first time ever all of the kids actually sat at the table without having a total come-apart. In fact it's usually my kid having the meltdown. But this year he and his older cousin (one year older) sat at the kid's table. The two year old cousin sat in her high chair and baby sister was in the portable high chair and the six "adults" were seated around the table passing dishes, feeding babies, cutting meat into small pieces and explaining the food to picky preschoolers. So now you have the setting. Here is the cast:

My nephew
My brother

Here is the dialog:

N - What's that daddy?
B - It's stuffing.
N - I don't like stuffing.
B - Yes, you do. It's like toast.
N - It doesn't look like toast.
B - It's little baby toasts.
N - What's that?
B - Cranberry sauce.
N - What's a cranberry.
B - It's like a strawberry.
N - It looks funny.
B - It's sweet like jelly. It's like strawberry jelly. But sour. And sweet (?)
N - What's that?
B - It's bean casserole.
N - I don't like it.
B - Try it. It's like salty soup with beans.
N - I don't like soup.
B - But it's kind of like a cake. Like bean cake. With salty sauce.
N - perplexed
B - Have some turkey.
N - I don't like turkey.
B - It's like chicken.

And by this time the rest of us are hysterical. Every thing my nephew asked about had a parallel food on the menu he usually eats from. And I was laughing because clearly my brother and I are cut from the same cloth. The other day I made fish sticks but he wanted chicken nuggets so I called them long fish nuggets and he ate them. And then I realized that, actually, everything can be categorized into three groups:

Known fruit or vegetable.

So basically, all meat is like chicken. All starchy food is like bread. And then cherry tomatoes are like grapes, cauliflower is like white broccoli, persimmons are like apples, leek is like celery, cucumber is also like celery, sweet potatoes are like carrots which are called crunchy sticks, beans are like corn which is like popcorn.

So while last night's dinner seemed like a traditional Thanksgiving feast to the untrained eye, it was actually just chicken with baby bread, mashed potatoes and brown sauce, mashed crunchy sticks, salty popcorn cake and jelly. Y-U-M.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Me and Julio down by the schoolyard

My son sleeps with a cat he calls kitty. He got it as a present when he was born and when I decided to sleep train him at four months we did the whole nighttime ritual thing and then put him in his crib with this cat. Nursing Nina in fact. That's the name on her tag. She has three little kittens that came with her and have magnets in their little noses that correspond to the little magnets on Nina's belly. So you can stick the mini-kitties on the mama and have a nice little lesson about nursing. We figured we could also use it if we had another kid. See sweety. Kitty is nursing her baby too. When our daughter was born I tried that for about a minute but our son was more interested in lifting his own shirt to nurse the cat himself.

Anyway, it turns out Kitty is made by the Manhattan Toy Company and while it is (was) a lovely stuffed animal, it's not something you can just pick up in case you, say, misplace the original. It happened once that my husband took the kid for a stroll and returned sans cat. He did the same neighborhood loop twelve times looking for that damn cat and couldn't find it. Whatever...he'll sleep with something else. He's only had that thing for a month. He's not even attached to it. Right...

So that night we offered our son the fuzzy bee. Don't insult me. The piggy. No dice. The rabbit. Here's where you can stick your rabbit. He finally sobbed himself to sleep.

The next day I finally located a place 50 MILES AWAY that carried Nursing Nina so without hesitation we drove there, threw down $28, and that was that. We've since managed to keep Kitty in the family but when my daughter was born I vowed not to make the same mistake. So when she was about five months old we gave her Julio.

Julio is a very soft and plump rat that I got at IKEA for $4. He is named Julio because rat, in Hebrew, is julda (the "j" in this case pronounced like the Spanish jota). In fact there was a whole bin of Julios at IKEA so I bought four. Now we have Car Julio, Crib Julio, Daycare Julio and Spare Julio. It's an infestation. There are stuffed rats all over the place. And my daughter doesn't make a move without a Julio. Well, in fact, she does a lot of moving without her rat, but the minute she's grumpy or cranky or disorganized and she needs to go to her happy place, she takes Julio in her left hand, sucks on its whiskers for a moment and then puts her right thumb in her mouth. Same motion every time. And the bonus is that I can tie it's tail to her stroller and mitigate the risk of another "misplacement". We've gotten a few stares. Not everyone thinks a rat is a good friend for a baby girl. But if my son can prance around naked in my high heels and Mardi Gras beads then my daughter can chew on the snout of a stuffed rat.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Swim Lessions Part II

I really thought that we'd go back to the pool and he'd be more comfortable having bonded last week with Miss Beth. Alas, I was fooled. He was a little more willing to lay on his belly and kick, but only if I called out the commands. But then when the other kids started taking turns doing assisted "floats" when Miss Beth basically just holds each kid under his back and legs to float on the water, my son was having none of it. He started to retreat again up the stairs.

In the end, once again, he did a float with Miss Beth after everyone else had left because he wanted graham crackers and I'm thinking, not only will he now have an irrational fear of water, but he'll also seek out food for comfort and reward. And it's my fault. I single-handedly created a hydrophobic over-eater. Super. I knew I should have just taken him home but I thought maybe if he just watched the other kids having what seemed like TONS OF FUN in the pool, he might want to join. I was mistaken.

At least he was marginally satisfied with his success in the pool having completed the assisted float. So do we go back next week? Do I just forget about the remaining lessons and hope he wants to learn to swim when he'd older? Don't kids get more afraid the older they are? I think my mom told me that my brother cried at his swim lessons and he ended up on the varsity swim team in high school.

This is a downer of an entry. Sorry, more peppy tomorrow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Sense of humor

I have to just write down a few little goodies that don't really unfold into any sort of important lessons but I want to have some record of the funny light-hearted stuff to balance the pain and suffering.

We were in his room the other day getting ready for bed and he said, "Mommy, look what I'm doing!" And he was basically sitting so I just smiled and said,"Yes, sweetie, you're sitting really well," feeling a little ridiculous and thinking must I compliment every stupid thing he does? BFD, he's sitting on the carpet. In the world outside of preschool no one gives a rats ass if you can sit nicely on the carpet. Okay, I wasn't really thinking about all that, although sometimes I do hear myself complimenting inane things like his ability to take a dump (good job making the poo poo!) and I wonder if I'm doing him a disservice. Maybe he'll be crushed if his teachers in middle school aren't as enthusiastic about his prowess on the toilet. I read an article about that somewhere I think. Probably in someone else's silly blog. Anyway, back to my story...

So he says, "no Mommy, I'm sitting on the couch," at which point he pulls the couch from the doll house I bought him for his third birthday out from under his bottom! And I thought that's actually pretty funny bud. Good one.

And then this evening we got into another vagina discussion only he prefaced it by singing his new vagina song which sort of follows the "Farmer in the Dell" tune:

Mommy has a vagina.
Grandma has a vagina.
Hi ho the derio,
Mommy has a vagina.

Then he started asking again who has what and proclaimed that he has a vagina too. In fact, in his words, "I have a vagina AND a pee pee." And then he laughed, pleased with his funny statement. And I laughed too, grateful he didn't ONLY inherit my obsessive compulsive tendencies or my stubborn streak. He may have also gotten my sense of humor. Although he laughs at his own farts too, so he might actually have his father's sense of humor.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I had breakfast this morning with my two favorite moms from my son's preschool. We used to have coffee while I was still on maternity leave and Rebeca was finishing her dissertation. And Veronica teaches high school Spanish on a part-time schedule so she was usually available for coffee and chatter after morning drop-off. But now, I'm back at work and Rebeca filed her dissertation and commutes to her post-doc post and Veronica is swamped with parent conferences and grading so she gets her coffee to go. And I basically only see them for the two minutes when we either drop off or pick-up.

But today we met for breakfast and I have to say I love these girls. We laugh our heads off about our crazy little boys. Rebecca asked if I had seen the "I am thankful" list that the kids made for Thanksgiving, which I had not because my son has been out with Pink Eye and we missed the Thanksgiving potluck on Wednesday. I didn't even know what she was talking about. And then she started to giggle. Oh Jesus, what the hell did my son say he's most grateful for? Mommy's cell phone? No.

My black car.

That's what he said. He's actually talking about my black station wagon. And I thought, okay, that sort of makes sense since I come pick him up everyday in the black car and he's happy to see me so he's associating me with the black car. Fair enough. I was fine with that response until Rebecca told me what Antonio was thankful for. His mama, papa and abuelita.

Great. My kid is thankful for a car and Rebeca's son is thankful for the people who love and care for him on an ongoing basis. The little shit. Rebeca, being the good friend that she is and sensing my despair at having been dismissed as merely the chauffer of the black car, noted that one of the other kids declared he was most thankful for quesadillas.

The sad part is that, in fact, it DID make me feel better.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tickled Pink

My boy has pink eye.

I picked him up from preschool yesterday and his teacher said he wasn't as chatty as usual. We got home and I noticed he had some gunk in his eye. A lot of gunk actually at which point I knew instinctively that he had pink eye. His temperature was 101.2 but he was otherwise in pretty good spirits. In fact, great spirits. The whole afternoon he had been completely delightful. He played with his sister (unknowingly spreading his eye gunk all over her and her toys) while I made dinner. My husband had to work late and while I ordinarily would have been bummed to have to do the whole dinner and bedtime ritual solo, it was totally fine. And I'm thinking, I LOVE PINK EYE!

Is that sick? I'm less enthusiastic about having to figure out his childcare for the next seven days since I can't bring him back to school. But from the eye goop has emerged a charming, cooperative, under-reactive cutie pie. Maybe the infection has actually triggered a chemical change in his brain officially marking his departure from the terrible twos. Or maybe it's a blip and he'll be back on the dark side before the end of the week. Either way, his take on the whole thing has me laughing.

Me: Stop touching your eyes honey.
Him: I'm getting my eye boogers.
Me: Now we have to wash your hands so you don't spread the yucky from your eyes.
Him: So the baby doesn't get the eye boogers?
Me: Bingo.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Mommy, where's your pee pee?

Scene: Mom gets in the shower for ten minutes of much needed "alone time". Toddler is watching closeby focused mainly at what is at eye level...

Him: Mommy, where's your pee pee?
Me: Honey, mommy doesn't have a pee pee. Mommy has a vagina.
Him: And I have a vagina too?
Me: No, you have a pee pee like Aba.
HIm: And baby too?
Me: No, baby girl has a vagina like mommy.
Him: And grandma?
Me: Yes, Gandma has a vagina because she's a girl like mommy and baby sister.
Him: And Savta?
Me: Yes, Savta has a vagina. Good. He's getting it
Him: And Saba? Maybe not.
Me; No, Saba has a pee pee like Aba. He's a boy like you.
Him: Ya, and I have a pee pee.
Me: That's right.
Him: And mommy has a vagina. And baby sister and Grandma and Savta and Aba and Ami and Aunt Marcia and ME!
Me: No, mommy and savta and grandma and baby sister and Ami and Aunt Marcia all have vaginas.
Him: And I have a pee pee?
Me: Yes.
Him: And Ami has a pee pee?
Me: No, Ami is a girl like mommy. She has a vagina.
Him: Oh.

Him: And do you make poo poo from your vagina?
Me: No, just pee pee.
Him: But not a pee pee.
Me: Yes, mommy makes pee pee from her vagina but she doesn't have a pee pee. Which is actually a penis.
Him: Do I have a penis?
Me: Can you hand me the duckie towel?

Friday, November 9, 2007

Swim Lessons

I signed my son up for swim lessons because at some point in the last year he became afraid of the water. He used to love to go swimming but this past summer he wasn't that excited about it and preferred to watch my husband wave encouraging gestures from the pool and throw rubber toys at him from the side of the pool rather than actually go into the pool. I don't blame him - I mean they keep that pool at like 98 degrees so it's like swimming in minestone - chunky minestrone, if you're not careful of all the toys. So instead of letting him grow into the idea of swimming in a pool and maybe try again next summer, we decided to force him into it because we're mean sadistic parents.

And it went pretty much as we'd predicted. My son agreed to take his clothes off and be in his swim trunks. But then when the two other kids went in the water with Miss Beth, he refused to go in. He refused to look at Miss Beth. He wouldn't put his feet in the water. And here I am thinking, what the hell am I doing here. Why did I just waste $100 on five sessions for my son to stand next to a pool. So I told him I would put my feet in if he put his feet in. So he did. And we slowly walked down a few shallow steps. But then he retreated. Meanwhile little Bobby and Cindy Perfect are practicing their kicking and blowing bubbles and generally enjoying their time in the water. My son has now found a rubber fish, a small alligator bean bag and a giant duckie that he is playing with next to the pool. So I tell him he can't play with the toys unless he is sitting in the water. So he sat in the water. All the while Miss Beth has made several attempts to befriend my son, and has felt the sting of toddler rejection repeatedly. She even asked if she could just pick him up and bring him in the water, so I said knock yourself out, knowing well that this too would end badly. He obliged for about thirty seconds and then scrambled back up the stairs and out of harm's way.

Then he started acting squirrly in the pool and entering on the side underneath the hand rail which, of course, is a no no. So I told him as much and he wasn't happy about that and so I had to make him stand in the corner next to the locker room. Brilliant. (Don't you hate when you're "parenting" and you've gone down a really bad route but then there's no way to go back and suddenly you have your son in a time out at the public pool?) He told me to go away and when I did he hollered. It was ugly. Then I pulled out the only ammo I had left.

Me: If you get in the pool and listen to Miss Beth you can have as many graham crackers as you want when we get home.
Him: No.

By now class is over and the other kids are leaving. My son is moping at his missed graham cracker opportunity. And I'm wishing I could take Bobby Perfect home with me instead of my kid.

Him: Mommy, I want to listen to Miss Beth and get graham crackers.
Me: And do kicking in the water?
Him: And graham crackers

So I called to Miss Beth and asked if she wouldn't mind doing a few kicks with the boy. She got on her belly on the steps and my son moved closer to her. Then she started kicking and splashing him which he LOVED. And the heavens parted and God's maginificent glory shined a ray of light down on the pool. My son laughed. And looked directly at Miss Beth. And then the two of them were on their bellies kicking and I was calling out red light green light and then Miss Beth gave him a high five and for a brief moment the world was a happier place.

Tune in next week for part two of Swim Lessons.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Baby Couture

So my baby is nearly nine months which is ridiculous. I mean she was just born and now she's lurching around the house on her belly like a Gila monster and shoveling food in her mouth and chatting her head off (funny how you never get sick of ba-ba-ba-ba-ba, but why-why-why-why from my preschooler makes me want to put a pen in my eye). But I digress...

So she's going through sets of clothes super fast because she's having growth spurts quicker than i can rotate to the next size up. Some stuff she barely even wears once or twice before it's cutting off circulation in her ham hock legs. A few things she received as gifts and we basically missed the boat because I waited til she was the approximate age that the label suggested and by then it was too late! And I'm not talking about the carter's stuff that I get her from Costco. Those are cut generously for a rolly poly. And my daughter's not even that chub by some standards. She's just a regular Buddha - not like a giant jolly Buddha. It's, in fact, the baby couture.

I have a few cousins and a few friends of the family who bought my daughter adorable and overpriced fancy baby clothes - my favorite was a tiered dress in baby blue, pink, yellow and chocolate - yum. It was so cute. It said six months so I put her in there at four months and it was already skimpy! It's one thing for designer crap to be teeny tiny for adults. I'm over the humiliation. I'll buy the size up, what do I care? But sizing for babies should be standard! What kind of message are we sending our daughters when size 6-9 months is too tight by 4 months! Maybe they should diet! Maybe we should take them off the boob before they get to the fatty hind milk. Maybe replace one feeding with a slimfast so they can better shimmy into their onesies! Sure,organics are all the rage now but what about that unexplored "dietetic baby food" market! Diet Gerber. Baby Lean Cuisine. South Beach Baby Diet. When once they gloated about their kids being in the 85th percentile, now moms will brag about how baby Madison is, at 9 months, still slim enough for size 3-6 months.

wink wink