Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween, etc.

It's Halloween again, and this year Kemper and Rowan get it. I remember last year they could barely be convinced to go up the steps to any of the houses we visited, and this time around I could barely keep up with them! It was nice to get out and see so many of our new neighbors, even if only briefly.

I was a little worried about how it would all go, as Rowan had refused all attempts to get him to wear his costume. He just didn't want it on, so he went to the church Halloween party without a costume on. However, when I told him that in order to get candy from the houses he'd have to wear a costume, he had it on in a flash. We rehearsed before heading out, and at nearly every house I managed to convince him to give a rousing "Yo ho ho!" It's really cute the way he says it. He was surprisingly outgoing for a kid who usually is very cautious in new situations with new people. It must have been the candy.

On other fronts, we've had several exciting events. Kemper has learned how to pedal a bike or trike, and is quite pleased with himself. He also asked to poop on the toilet last night, and actually did. Of course, it seems to have been a one time thing, but you have to start somewhere. Rowan has become very inquisitive, and often will say, "What's this?" When I tell him what it is, he almost always follows with "What it for?"

We seem to be in the process of actually losing the nap. This is very, very sad for me, but inevitable. The up side is that by bedtime, they're really really tired and go to sleep almost immediately. And they're really playing together well. Yesterday I was in the kitchen while they played in the living room, and they were really making each other laugh. And they weren't doing anything wrong! I'm working on getting them to clean up, but that isn't going so well. Yesterday we spent nearly the entire day in the house because they wouldn't clean up the two things I asked them to - their big Legos and the trains. By the time it got dark, Kemper stated that he wanted to go to the playground, and was most unhappy when I explained that he missed his chance when he chose not to clean up. Oh well. I guess they'll eventually catch on.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Sex Ed

Before having kids, I never really thought much about children as sexual beings. Maybe I've been naive, but I kind of thought kids got to be kids for a few years at least, before starting to notice their bodies and what they can do. I suppose it all depends on the child, and perhaps on the gender. I have heard or read about how early some kids are sexually active, and I'm frankly astonished to learn that in some cases, children as young as fourth grade are having sex. Can you imagine that? Can you even remember what you were like in the fourth grade? If so, is it even conceivable that you might have been sexually active back then?

I suppose we all have our own hang ups about our bodies, our own attitudes toward sex. The tricky thing here is to respond to our children's questions, behaviors, discoveries, etc. in a neutral, factual way to avoid creating any anxieties for them. I remember reading in one parenting book that it is important not to make a nasty face when changing poopy diapers, just in case your child interprets that to mean that the face is directed at their private parts. That sounded a little extreme, but I still took the advice.

So far I think we've done a pretty good job of being matter-of-fact with our kids. Still, there are some things that I simply don't think they're ready to absorb yet.

Case in point: Rowan is very interested in his penis, and generally pounces on any opportunity to touch it. (Kemper doesn't seem to have developed the same interest yet.) And he is aware that it changes size. A few weeks ago while I was changing his diaper, he said, "Mommy, it turned into a big one!" Well, this was hardly what I was expecting to hear from my 2 1/2 year old child, so I probably seemed a bit surprised by the statement. Which of course means he says similar things all the time now. My personal favorite, though, was when he announced that he has two penises - a big one and a small one. He occasionally asks me where his big penis is, and I'm just not sure how I should respond to him. Of course when the appropriate time for more detailed information comes, he'll want to have no part in the conversation.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Busy, Busy, Busy

Boy has it been a busy handful of weeks! Since the last post, we've gone on our family vacation with my in-laws, started all but one of our fall activities, hired an architect to design our new kitchen, and who knows what else I've forgotten about but it sure feels like there should be more on the list.

Our trip to Nova Scotia was good. We drove from Boston, and all the adults in the car were completely amazed at how well the boys were for the long trip each way. Preparing for the worst, we bought a portable DVD player. They only watched one movie each direction, and it was something like a 12 hour drive. Wow. Of course, there was some sleeping, and we took a 3 hour ferry ride on the way back, but still. And Nova Scotia was quite pretty. We didn't get to "do" as much as some of us might have liked due to nap restrictions and our location, but as always it was good to see the family in a relaxing situation. This was our third summer doing the family trip, and so far it seems to be working out for all parties concerned. At least, that what everyone says.

I've got a very busy fall planned for the kids. We have something scheduled every day, with the exception of Sundays. Mondays we're doing a class called Morning Glories at the Waldorf School for 2 hours. Tuesdays they go to daycare all day, and I go to my tax prep course. Wednesdays we have Infancy to Independence, which is a parent coop group for 2 1/2 hours. Thursdays are the same as Tuesdays. Fridays we have Music Together in the morning, and gymnastics just after lunch. And on Saturdays, the boys have swim lessons. We just finished our first week of this schedule (except that music doesn't start until next week), and we all survived. Well, except for the naptime incident and the events that followed.

Completely unrelated to our full schedule (I know this because similar things have happened in the past when we didn't have much going on), Kemper and Rowan pushed me to my limit and I have removed everything but the stuffed animals and beds from their bedroom. Let me explain. If you've read the rest of my entries, you're familiar with the ongoing battle between mom and boys at naptime. Let me just say that it hasn't improved. These days if they don't fall asleep in the car, there is no nap. There is only fun and games. I recently rearranged their room, as they had been climbing up on the furniture and looking out the windows or opening and closing them. Since they are on the second floor, this seemed like the right thing to do. They weren't happy about it, but too bad.

There have been several occasions when they have emptied all the books from the bookshelves, dumped all of their clothes out of the dresser, and other similar things instead of napping. Needless to say I'm fed up with cleaning up the messes. (Yes, I make them help, but the reality is that they can't dress themselves, let alone fold their clothes.) Well, the other day when I went up after letting them laugh and play for a while, I found the books and clothes scattered, but that wasn't all. They had pulled a box out of their closet that had one of those wall mounted wooden measuring posts in it, and the box was lined with styrofoam. Yep, they had pulled out the styrofoam and broken it into little chunks and much of it into those tiny little styrofoam pellets, and it was EVERYWHERE. In the beds, in the carpet, mixed in with the clothes, in the closet, everywhere. That's it, I told them. I'm taking everything out of your room until you can learn to treat it all properly.

I then proceeded to clean up the enormous mess. It took no less than 2 hours, during which time they merrily jumped from one bed to the other, seemingly completely unconcerned with the various threats and grumblings coming from my mouth. Oh, I forgot to mention that their father was out of town for a few days, so I wasl already pretty burned out since I hadn't had any help. I ended up only moving the bookshelf, which was already empty and therefore pretty easy to move, and I left the other two pieces of furniture until I could get some help.

I regretted this delay a couple of days later, when I found them standing on top of one dresser and playing with the wall sconce. They had removed two of the three screws that hold the glass cover over the lightbulb, and they also turned the entire fixture upside down. Grrrrr. And of course the clothes were everywhere. So I just moved the last two items into our own bedroom and shut the door behind me.

Later that same night, we listened as they giggled and sang and generally avoided going to sleep. "Should we go check on them?" Morgan asked. "No", I said, "how much trouble could they possibly get into with all the furniture taken out of their room?" Famous last words, for when we finally decided to go up and plead with them to go to sleep, we discovered that they had found where I put the box full of cleaned up styrofoam pieces and dumped it out AGAIN. All over Kemper's bed, pressed into the rug, down in the cracks where the rug meets the wall. I was so angry I couldn't speak. Morgan was pretty mad too, and made the boys pick up all the pieces. I just can't believe I left any question about how upset I was the first time they did it.

Needless to say, the styrofoam made its way immediately into the outside trash following the second episode.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My Little Angels

Maybe it's a mommy thing, but every night before I go to bed, I check on my boys to make sure all is well. You know, pull the covers up, make sure no one is tangled up, whatever. Plus they are so sweet when they're sleeping (as opposed to running me ragged).

Anyway, last night I made my usual trip into their bedroom. I peeked around the corner, and Rowan's bed was empty. My first thought was that he must have fallen out, but a quick glance proved that theory wrong. After a very brief moment of panic (why, I'm not sure - it isn't like I thought he'd been kidnapped or anything), I looked over at Kemper's bed. Yes, there they were - two boys in a twin bed, Rowan completely tucked in under Kemper's sheet, Kemper out in the breeze and up against the wall. So, so cute.

Then this morning, I was cleaning out the car in preparation for our road trip. I had a crate full of toys sitting on the back step, and Kemper started playing with one of the music makers. He was having trouble remembering how it worked, so I told him he had to rub the bumpy things the other direction from what he was doing. He managed to do it right, and Rowan, who was standing close by watching, said, "You did it Kemper! I so proud of you!" And that's a direct quote.

Ironically (if that's even the correct word - daddy is the one with the vocabulary skills), just this morning at breakfast I was telling Morgan we really have to start watching what we say to the boys, since they're repeating many things back to us. Last night we had a bedtime battle, as I've become more of a sucker again. At one point when someone complained of an "owie", which I knew to be a stalling tactic, I said, "I don't care if you have an owie, you need to go to bed and I can give it a kiss in the morning". Don't you know, over the monitor a few minutes later I hear both of them saying, "I don't care. Go to bed." Boy did I feel like a heel.

But clearly it isn't just the "bad" things that get absorbed. They're picking up on the good things too. I'm so proud of them.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Backseat Drivers

The boys are very interested in driving, as I imagine most little kids are. They like to drive the car whenever possible, and I often let them do so while the car is parked in the driveway. This has resulted in 2 episodes of dead car battery (the first time they left the headlights on, the second time it was the interior lights), but on the whole it is fairly harmless as long as I lock up the sunglasses and other potentially delicate/dangerous items in the glove box.

They seem to have become experts on driving as a result of these driving sessions. Well, perhaps not experts, but they certainly are free with the commentary these days. The other day I was taking a sip of my beverage while driving, and Kemper shouts, "Mommy! You're not driving with both hands on the wheel! Put your other hand on it!"

My other personal favorite involves backing out of our driveway. This is a long, narrow driveway, and getting the minivan out without incident has taken a fair amount of practice (as evidenced by the paint streak on the fence side of the car, and the cracked rear view mirror on the house side of the car) as there are only a few inches of clearance on either side. After the rear view mirror incident, we instituted the "everyone be quiet while the car backs out" rule, as one of the boys had been in the middle of a fit that broke daddy's concentration. For the most part, everyone complies. Not long ago, I found a way that works well for me to get the car all the way out without hitting anything. When I pulled into the street, Rowan shouted, "Hooray for mommy!" Excellent show of support. Except that a few days later, after Morgan backed out, Rowan again shouted, "Hooray for mommy!" I believe he has since learned that it is better to give credit where credit is due.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

You Can Lead a Toddler to Bed, But You Can't Make Him Sleep

Sometimes I really wonder how the human species has survived this long. Maybe it's just my kids, but honestly there are days that I really wonder how anyone ever decides to have MORE children.

Yesterday was such a day. The boys were exhausted, as they had been up since O'dark thirty. When we put them down for their nap, they of course got all wound up and crazy. They can really egg each other on when they want to, and while it can be cute to listen to over the monitor, it can also make me crazy when I know how badly they need to rest. (Especially when I too desperately need a nap.) Anyway, after a very long time (maybe 2 hours) of them playing, giggling, unplugging the monitor and air conditioner, etc, we finally put our feet down and separated them. (Actually we had done so already, but they were back together - a long story not worthy of a post.) Kemper stayed in his bed, and Rowan came into our room. Morgan and I were both lying on the bed, trying to get him to settle into a horizontal position. He was having none of that. He kept sliding off the bed, all the while screaming bloody murder and having a major tantrum. After several attempts on our part, he slid off the bed again and started playing with our alarm clock. It's one of those fairly small digital am/fm clock radio alarm clocks, about 5 inches long, maybe 3 inches deep, and an inch or so high. I asked him several times to leave it alone and get back in bed, which he simply wouldn't do. In fact, he picked up the clock by the cord, right near where it meets the clock, swung, and walloped me in the face. Let me just say that for a 2 year old, he managed to really hurt me. (This is the point at which I left the room and went downstairs, allowing Morgan to fight the nap battle.)

Fortunately I woke up this morning and am not bruised from the incident, although I am still sore. The other upside to this event, as Morgan pointed out last night, is that I'm probably one of the few people who can actually claim to have been "clocked upside the head".

"That Can't Be Good"

The ongoing sleeping challenges are certainly keeping things interesting. We've been trying a number of tactics to improve our overall sleep quality and quantity, with varying and inconsistent results. There have been a couple of mornings when the boys went back to sleep after their 4 a.m. wake up, and stayed in bed until 6 or 6:30. But for the most part, they're ready to play at 5 or 5:30.

Yesterday Rowan woke up very early, but allowed me to lead him back to his bed. I dozed back off, but not long after that, Morgan and I heard some strange, distant noises that woke us up. We had determined that Rowan had gone downstairs, and strained to hear what was going on. We suddenly heard a very curious noise, kind of like a jar full of marbles or pebbles being shaken. We both sort of giggled, then Morgan said, "That can't be good". I agreed, and went to see what kind of damage was being done.

I turned the corner into the kitchen, and there was Rowan, standing in the middle of the room. He was holding one of his plastic bowls, which was full of frozen corn. There was also a small amount of the corn scattered on the floor at his feet. I was speechless. Yes, both boys have suddenly become quite fond of frozen veggies, but at 5:30 in the morning?! He had managed to open the freezer (we have a bottom freezer), find the right bag, get the clip off, procure a bowl, and do a pretty excellent job of pouring some out. Oh, he also got out the peas, but apparently wasn't as successful at removing that bag's clip.

Now, it isn't that our house is particularly unsafe for our children. However, without an adult present, they could potentially get into trouble or get hurt. So while a part of me is pretty happy that Rowan showed this burst of independence, I'm also somewhat terrified that he can get downstairs without waking me up. A gate on the stairs won't work - he'd just climb over it. So I'm not entirely sure how this is going to play out. This morning both boys were playing downstairs while we slept up in our cozy bed. Fortunately they didn't do anything particularly evil. We'll have to see how things progress.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sleep Deprivation

Apparently the opposite of laying down is "laying up". As in, "Mommy, lay up! I want to go downstairs and have some cereal!"

This is particularly challenging at 5 or earlier in the morning, which is the hour that the boys insist on waking up. We even have experimented (granted, only for two days, and yesterday was not very successful) with eliminating the afternoon nap in the hopes it would exhaust them enough to end the bedtime battle and the early wake up time, but no such luck. It would seem that we have been cursed with early risers.

Of course, when they're in school, we won't be able to budge them.


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Amusing Things The Boys Say (or said)

I really should be keeping a baby book for each of the boys, but come on. I can't even keep my kitchen counter cleared off for more than about 5 minutes. The daily rush of having two 2 year olds is unrelenting. Even when they're sleeping I always have something to do - you know, load or unload the washer, dryer, dishwasher; or prep dinner; or maybe eat lunch without anyone tugging on me. So no, I don't have baby books.

Which creates a problem. I haven't been consistent about keeping a record of all the cute/funny/unbelievable things that come out of the mouths of babes. An occasional scrap of paper here or there, which, if I'm lucky, doesn't get lost, eaten, or thrown away. What follows is an attempt to catalog some of their choicest.

1. The past tense of go is "gowent". As in, "Yesterday I go went to the playground." (Kemper)

2. Even two year olds remember the smallest things. Earlier this summer, we bought them their first ice cream cones. We had given them ice cream before, but only bites from our own. Daddy explained that if they eat it too fast, they'll get a brainfreeze. Wouldn't you know it, but the next time we took them for ice cream, Kemper says, "Mommy, I getting a brainfreeze!" Followed by the palm of his hand pushing against his forehead in an effort to stop it. (Also known as a harmless example of the "little pitchers have big ears" dilemma of parenting.)

3. As mentioned in my last post, we recently bought twin mattresses for the boys. Last week I rearranged their room, as I had previously only shoved everything out of the way to make space for the two beds. Since one of the stalling tactics had been to ask for more books, I decided to locate the bookshelf against the same wall as the heads of their beds. I left about 6 or 8 inches between each bed and the shelf. That night, during one of the still numerous nightly wake-ups, as I was walking down the hall Kemper says, "Help mommy, I stuck!" He had fallen out of bed, and was wedged between the shelf and the mattress.

4. Toddler logic: "This is in this room because it's in this room."

5. We know all about those odd times of day based on our wakeup times. As in, "It's oh-dark-thirty". This after daddy tried to explain that most people don't get up at that hour. Of course, they aren't quite clear on the subject, as they think it applies to any time it is dark outside.

6. The more they talk, the more interesting things become. Yesterday was a brutal day for Rowan and me. He found my egg slicer, and was strumming the wires on it like a harp. It was pretty impressive, actually. Sounded nice, too. But when it got to be naptime, I told him it had to stay downstairs until he woke up. A major fit ensued (a full hour of screaming, book throwing, etc.), followed by a shorter than usual nap. I had told him that he couldn't have it back until he put all the books back onto his bookshelf. Well, he woke up screaming that he wanted "that friend" back, and we went back and forth about how I wasn't going to give it to him until he cleaned up the books. (I won the battle, by the way. He eventually did it.) Anyway, he never really asked what the thing was. So this morning after breakfast, he asked me for "that other thing". When I asked what he meant, he said, "That thing I had in my room yesterday had to pick up all the books have it back". Leaving absolutely no doubt in my mind what it was he was talking about.

7. The more they talk, the more interesting things become, part II. The downside is that you can't always trust that they're speaking the truth. Kemper woke up in the middle of the night having difficulty breathing. (Turns out it was croup, but we didn't know that at the time.) He sounded really awful. Daddy asked if he swallowed anything, and he said, "Yes." At which point I took him to the emergency room, as I couldn't assume that he hadn't. Turns out of course that he hadn't swallowed anything to obstruct his airway, but when questioned, he told me he had swallowed some water.

There are surely others, but those paper scraps are nowhere to be found right now....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Big Boy Beds

Good grief. Who knew it would be so blasted difficult to get your kids to sleep in a bed? Kemper and Rowan have been out of their cribs for a couple of weeks now (or maybe longer, I can't really remember), but still they insist on fighting bedtime and, often, naps.

Last night we bought twin mattresses so they wouldn't be sleeping on the crib mattresses, thinking this might help with the bedtime challenges. It didn't. I made up the beds while the boys watched "Kipper", but when it came time to nap, they were having no part of it. Listening over the monitor, it mostly sounded like they were playing or chatting - no suspicious sounds, anyway. But every 15 or so minutes someone would scream and I'd go check on them. To make a long story short, they trashed the room. They kept unplugging the new window unit air conditioner, in spite of very stern lectures from both mom and dad for the past several days. After nearly 2 hours of this behavior, I kicked them out of the room and made them go downstairs.

Of course, about an hour later, they were both sound asleep on the sofa or floor of the living room. Sigh.

Tonight was a daddy night, but when I got home daddy told me that bedtime wasn't so rough. We were sitting in the living room when suddenly we heard a loud THUD. We both started laughing. (Remember, the mattresses are on the floor so no one can really get hurt.) Rowan was just crumpled up on the floor, sound asleep.

Maybe there is hope yet.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Kemper the destructerator

So we've been fighting the naptime battle of late. Sometimes they go down easily, sometimes they fight it pretty hard and long. Today was one of the latter days. Both boys napped a bit in the car on the way back from their 2 year checkup, which nearly always spells nap trouble. Not that they get particularly upset, they just chat, giggle, jump up and down, whatever, for an hour or so before finally falling asleep.

After the usual hour, I noticed Rowan was no longer chiming in with his comments. Shortly thereafter, Kemper started in with urgent cries of "mommy!", so I went to check on him. He wanted me to give him the combination paddlock that had been thrown (by whom, I'm not sure) onto the floor. I also noticed that he had managed to rip the window shade nearly in half. Sigh. You'd think I would have heard that. Actually, now that I think about it, I did hear a noise that I took to be him making a particularly loud raspberry sound....