Monday, August 27, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Missed Opportunity

Now that Ed and I are old, and we're parents, I've started to notice that a few opportunities that were formerly available to us, are just not there anymore. Take going out on the spur of the moment. It's just not possible because we need to arrange for someone to take care of Connor. It's not like I can call Connor and say "Little dude, rather than coming home at 4:00, we're going to stay out drinking until 9:00. Feel free to grab a bottle of milk and head to bed when you get tired, and flip through one of the 15 or so books you've memorized and pretend we're reading it. Oh, and find something healthy for dinner." No, we must come home each night. We also can't dart off on vacation whenever we want, because we have to consider whether the potential pain of disrupting you is worth any joy that might be gained from the vacation.

For the most part, I think Ed and I have pretty much come to terms with these changes. But last weekend, it really hit home how different our lives were. There we were, enjoying the County fair. And indeed, Connor, it was nice to have an excuse to go to the fair other than the fact that I dig County fairs. With you, we have a real-live-walking toddler who can enjoy some of the less scary rides, get excited about riding the train, shove popcorn in his mouth, and all sorts of great fair related things. Connor enjoyed the fair so much with his nanny on Friday that we went on Saturday, and then Ed and Connor went back on Sunday which I had brunch with some friends. You see, we basically had to go on Saturday because the first words out of your mouth to me were "Connor wan to go back to de fair. Connor wan to ride de geen alligator, do de moon bounce, ride de ponies, and ride de merry-go-round". It was almost as if Friday was Connor's scope it out day and Saturday morning was when the fun was going to happen. He repeated the same list to Ed at 8:30 when I decided it was appropriate for Connor to go in and let Ed know of our plans since the fair opened in just 30 short minutes!

So there we were at the fair, with all the other parents of toddlers who think sleeping in is 7:00 (and yes, Connor, we do appreciate anything after 6:00, so 7:00 really was quite wonderful last Saturday and Sunday). Ed and I were remembering how the last time we went to the County fair - before I was pregnant with Connor, we were walking around on Sunday afternoon, with all the childless old people like we used to be that sleep in on Sundays, and an actual carnie asked if we too, would like to be carnies for the evening. He told us that starting at closing time, they were looking for help to tear down all the rides. Pay would be by the hour. To what did we owe this prestigious recognition of our clear hidden talents that this professional carnie could sense instantly we would make excellent carnies? I have no idea. But I do know that not one such job opportunity was presented to us this time around. Clearly, our time to be carnies has passed us by.

But, lest you think we're irresponsible parents, Ed set up the tent in the basement and Connor filled it with balls yesterday afternoon. We think someday Connor might make an excellent ball pit operator and we want him to be able to put list previous exerience on his resume.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Open or closed?

Connor is a bit obsessive. Although annoying at times, it can also be a very good thing, like when it comes to picking toys up. He diligently puts all the cars in the large blue bin, the wooden baking stuff in the large green bin, the necklaces in the previously empty drawer in the workbench, etc. In fact, just the other day Ed was pointing out to me how he had two equal sized bins out and he began putting the animals in one, preparing to put cars in the other. Connor stopped him and pointed out that the animals go in the large green bin, not the one Ed was using. Ed, in all his wisdom, was going to explain to Connor that the bins were the same size so it didn’t matter which one the animals went into, but thought better of it and simply put the animals where Connor requested and the cars in the remaining one.

Sometimes, Connor notices other children are obsessive too, and last Sunday, he preyed on that. Zoe and Connor were enjoying Miles’ kitchen. Connor was opening all the cabinets, and just as quickly, Zoe would close all the cabinets. This went on for a little while, until Connor decided he was tired of opening the cabinets and allowed them to remain closed. But a few minutes later, Zoe, feeling as if she had won the battle of open and close the cabinet was relaxing in Miles’ low-to-the-ground beach chair, when Connor decided he would like to sit there. He looked at Zoe, looked at the cabinet, walked over to the cabinet and opened one door, and then stood beside the now coveted chair. As expected, Zoe quickly got up to close the cabinet, at which point Connor swooped in and sat on the chair and grinned. When Zoe saw him sitting there all pleased with himself, her mouth opened wide with shock and the injustice on her face was clear. Apparently Zoe doesn’t know that sometimes you have to lose the battle (of open / close the cabinets) in order to win the war (sitting in the cool chair). Zoe’s mom’s comment on the scene “your son just duped my kid”!

So I guess Connor is obsessive AND manipulative.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Connor has been engaging in a lot of preparatory activities in anticipation of baby Helen’s arrival. This past weekend, we went to the farm, per his request, and he insisted on bringing his baby with the baby’s stroller, because I guess he figured we all ought to get used to carrying a bunch of extra stuff. Maybe he’s worried that since Ed and I rarely bring the stroller when it’s just the three of us that we don’t understand what it takes to transport a baby.

This afternoon, he was very excited to open up a box containing shelves for baby Helen’s room and help put them together – though I tried to talk him out of this activity as I would much prefer Ed be the shelf constructor in the family. After we got the shelves put together, I pulled out a box of baby toys and we tossed them on the shelves, but only after Connor assured me that baby Helen would share her toys with him. When Connor noticed a book that I used to read to him every day when he was a baby, he got very excited (a book, mind you, that has been in his room until about a month ago that he hasn't paid any attention to) and asked me to read it, about 10 times. I'm hoping he's just making sure he has every action and word memorized so he can read it to Helen once she arrives.

But yesterday was really exciting. We are currently sharing a nanny with a toddler a couple of months younger than Connor. This toddler happens to have a baby sister who doesn’t come over, except to drop off and pick the toddler up. When I arrived home yesterday, the baby was in her carrier on the front porch and Connor was standing right beside it about ready to jump out of his own skin with excitement. As soon as I got to where Connor was he announced with joy "Baby Helen is finally here!". I sat down and took a look and explained that this was actually baby Sasha. Connor then looked at me very seriously and said "Baby Helen is still in Mommy's tummy. Baby Helen is getting bigger and bigger. Baby Helen needs to get a little bit bigger before she can come out." He seemed a little disappointed that he couldn't share the great news of Helen's arrival with me, but he also seemed to understand that we were all just in for more waiting.

As we were walking inside, Connor said to me "I think we should take baby Sasha inside the house", at which point baby Sasha's mom said she'd be OK on the porch. Then Connor ran and got a little ball and announced "Connor goin' to throw de ball at baby Sasha!". While baby Sasha's mom had a bit of panic at the thought of Connor beaning her 3 month old with a ball and started to tell Connor "no!", I explained to Connor that baby Sasha couldn't catch a ball yet, so it would be more fun to play catch with me. I thought baby Sasha's mom didn't quite appreciate that Connor had opted to get a small soft ball and indicate his intentions before baby Sasha took one in the chin. He could've just grabbed a baseball and given it a fling - what I fear he might do once baby Helen finally does arrive afte she annoys him one too many times.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Telling your first story

When I was pregnant with Connor, Ed and I decided we would sign up for a membership to our neighborhood pool. It's the nearest pool to our home and the hours are much better than the public pool. Sadly, the waiting list was a couple of years long - and I understand from a friend that it's only gotten longer.

At the beginning of summer, we got an e-mail from the woman in charge of membership, and we were offered an "August membership". For a reduced rate, we're able to use the pool on weekdays in August and however long they stay open in September. Ostensibly, this is because many members go away in August and demand for the pool goes down.

We decided to purchase the membership because it would allow us to compare the public pool with the neighborhood pool so we would know which to join in the future. From the outside, the two pools don't even compare to one another. The public pool was rebuilt last winter and it now has waterslides, sprayers, and the toddler pool has little fountains in it. It definitely looks more fun. The neighborhood pool, on the other hand, has none of these features, but it does have a picnic area and a playground. I would've guessed Connor would like the public pool best. I was wrong. At the public pool, he wants to go for exactly 45 minutes - and he wants no part of anything outside the toddler pool (though he would like to go down the waterslides approved for people 48 inches or taller). The neighbhorhood pool, however, has somehow captured Connor's imagination. I have to drag him out of the pool long after his toes and fingers have turned to prunes. He regularly wants to jump into the big pool, and he adores seeing Ed catapult himself off the diving board.

Today while we were swimming, Connor took a moment to sit by the side of the neighorhood pool with me. He looked up, and told what I believe is his first story.

"Once upon a time, there were two frogs who were sitting on Connor's lap. The frogs jumped into the pool and went swimming under the water. Then they came and sat on Mommy's lap."

OK - so not much on plot, but the story came complete with actions which were very fun to watch. I guess it's a no-brainer, we go with the neighborhood pool next year if this is the sort of inspiration it brings Connor.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Happy 2nd Birthday

Dear Connor,

A couple of days ago, you turned two, and I‘m not certain that I ever really knew it could be this good. As a coworker of mine noted shortly before you were born - all the negatives of having children are apparent before you have children, but the positives are a lot harder to see. And, as I get closer to giving birth to your little sister, I think a lot about how hard those first six months were. Your dad and I both agree though, you’re worth all the sleepless nights, worry, and all the other crud that comes with having a baby (and even the occasional toddler crud). Hopefully your sister will be too - and if not, I guess we can see if your Aunt Linda will take her for a few months. But Connor, you should know, we wouldn’t change a thing.

I don’t know if eventually you’ll hit the renowned “terrible twos” but so far, I see few signs. It could be that you are intentionally postponing them as you insist that you are three, not two. (And I suppose you did have three birthday parties, which should be worth at least an extra year.) Lately, you’ve been a pretty sweet little dude. One day this past month, you were munching on some of the Smarties one of your grandmas gave you (there‘s a stash from both of them at this point), and you reached in your little baggie that held your beloved Smarties, pulled out a purple one, almost put it in your mouth, but instead got a huge grin on your mouth and handed it to me. Now Connor, I do not like Smarties. I don’t even quite know why I gave you some to begin with, except it seemed like something you might like. But I was so touched by your generosity, that I stuck that candy in my mouth, grinned, and enjoyed it. A few days later, I was preparing to go to yoga and you ran into the kitchen and requested a bottle of water from your dad. You then ran out to catch me before I left the house and gave it to me, because you have observed that I always take a bottle of water with me. Now, if you could just stop playing with your food and requesting and then refusing to eat items, your dad and I could keep from losing our minds.

Having you around this month has been like having a nonstop Jeopardy! game going on. You have decided to start almost all of your phrases with questions. For example, if you decide to go downstairs, rather than saying “Connor goin to go downstairs in de basement” like you would’ve said last month you say “Is Connor goin to go downstairs to de basement?”. It’s not clear to me how I’m supposed to respond to this series of endless questions, but you talk so much that it’s not clear to me you’re really looking for a response.

You have become expert at opening presents, and you’ve internalized that there could always be yet another present on the way. It’s not so much that you were disappointed in the loot you hauled in over the past three weeks of weekly birthday celebrations, but after the last cupcake had been digested, you did tell your dad you would like a pussycat for your birthday. I suggested perhaps a fish would do - and while you thought a fish was pretty good, you thought a pussycat AND a fish would be even better. Keep dreaming, friend. And grandparents reading this - if you decide to get Connor a cat, you will also be deciding for Connor to no longer have a mother.

On the 11th, you got up nice and early which worked out fine, because we hadn’t made your birthday cake yet - a task I knew you would love. You decided we should have cupcakes, and that was a fabulous choice because the last time we were at the grocery store you decided we needed three packages of cupcake/muffin papers. Might as well use ‘em up, I suppose. Plus, this allowed us to make a special frosting-free cupcake for you Aunt Linda. You decided we should frost them with red frosting, which is the one color of food dye that I didn’t have - but your Uncle Bill kindly offered to head to Safeway and acquire red dye for us. Dyeing the frosting red was so exciting, you wanted to put another color in. At first you suggested green, but I told you we needed to go with a primary color so we didn't end up with brown frosting. Eventually we settled on blue in order to make purple. Although you quite enjoyed licking the frosting from the beater, you were back to your old mantra when it came time to eat the cupcake “Connor no like frosting”. Good thing we made more than one cupcake without frosting.

Perhaps your greatest achievement this month is that you officially kicked that stupid growth chart to the moon - or at least to the far out suburbs. At your two year appointment, which unlike the rest of your appointments occurred before the actual date, you were in the…get this…10th percentile for weight. Nothing short of a miracle, I tell you. You maintained your 75th percentile height and your head now exceeds the 90th percentile. I’m sure the latter is because you’re so darn smart.

You freak your dad and me out regularly when you wake up talking about the same thing you went to bed talking about. It is not at all unusual for you to say “Mommy came back” when you see me first thing in the morning if I have come home from yoga after you go to bed - or simply to tell us exactly what game you want to play. It is always the same game you went to bed asking us to play, as if you merely pause your brain for over 9 hours while you sleep, without actually turning it off or resetting it.

From the bottom of our hearts, your dad and I hope you had a great year - and wish you many more great years in the future. We both love you so much - and not just because you’ve finally learned to sleep like a normal person, but because you are such a wonderful addition to our lives.


PS - I know the post was a few days late, but it’s taken that much time to calm down from all the partying we did this weekend.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Becoming that kind of mom

We all know her. She's the one who looks at you when you try and give her child something like you are a total and complete idiot who doesn't know a thing about kids. And, before you had kids, you would look back at her like she needed to get a grip on reality. You wanted to say to her "it really doesn't matter if the red fruit touches the orange fruit...your child can cope". But, you kept your mouth shut because you knew that someday, you might have your own child, and empowered by that knowledge, something deep down inside you told you it was better to separate the two pieces of fruit and then pass the previously offensive plate to her child.

And now, you (ahem I), am so glad I did not roll my eyes at that mom and offer my poignant advice to her. On the flight to Rhode Island, Ed, Connor, and I all had drinks. Starting a few weeks ago, Connor has decided he does not like ice, and refuses to drink anything with ice in it. I have, of course, used this to my advantage, and now put a few cubes of ice in almost everything I drink just so he keeps out. Ed, however, has apparently not been privvy to Connor's ice protests and on the plane, he blew it. Ed combined his remaining ice with Connor's ice free apple juice. When he made this bold move, I looked at him in a panic. And I said to him, as if I was JFK speaking to Khrushchev during the Cuban Missile Crisis, "you just put ICE in Connor's drink". And Ed looked at me like "yeah?", and I hissed at him, "Connor does not like ice in his drink". And all I could think about was the fact that we were trapped on a small plane with an occasionally irrational toddler who may look up at any moment and notice his drink had been tainted with the dreaded ice, and all hell could easily break loose. And I, of course, would be the one that had to deal with the aftermath.

And it was then that I realized, I was her. The crazy mom who thought the entire world should bend to please her toddler, even if his requests were completely insane.


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Why my sister-in-law might want to consider party-planning as a new career

Connor is learning the benefits of having extended family extended across the continent. Two weekends ago, my parents visited, and along with them came many gifts AND an enormous chocolate chip cookie with Connor's name on it. We sang, we ate the cookie, in general - we celebrated.

This week, my in-laws took their turn spoiling their grandson. On day two, Connor opened a few presents, played with the toys, and was starting to get into this present opening thing. Within a couple of days, he actually looked up and said "Connor ready to open more presents", because I guess he's realized where there are grandparents, there are presents.

Last night, Ed's grandfather and Aunt joined us at the beach. Before the evening's festivities, Connor did a little cleaning around the place.
My mother-in-law got a cake - and it made a big enough impression that Connor let me know that he would like to have another piece for breakfast. Yes Connor - sure - I'll be hurling in the bathroom over the thought of this while you OD on sugar before your dad has even gotten out of bed.

The cake, however, was nothing compared to what my sister-in-law had planned for the evening. First, we were instructed to take rubber bands and fasten them in a pattern around a white t-shirt. Connor dictated where the rubber bands would go while I fastened them. I think he did excellent work. Next, we dipped the t-shirt and poured ink from bowls.
Today, we removed the rubber bands - and this is what we got!