Sunday, April 27, 2008

Always be prepared.

In a few weeks, we will take a friend up on her offer to go camping. Obviously, this is a terrible idea, but there are some things of our pre-kid life that we are ready to reclaim, and one of them is the occasional camping trip.

No doubt, Connor will have fun. Our friends have a toddler about the same age, so together I'm certain they will figure out how to encrust themselves in dirt and hopefully, they will figure out how to completely exhaust themselves so they fall asleep at some point.

Following the boy scout motto to always be prepared, Connor and Ed went to a sporting goods store today and came home with an enormous tent (that will hopefully fit a matress for Connor, a matress for Ed and me, and Helen's pack-n-play). Connor got his own sleeping bag - that I am very hopeful he will pass out in at some point.

Those items were all on the list. A list, I might add, that I have been talking to Connor about a lot, trying to curb his desire to purchase everything when we go places. You see, I simply tell him before we go to the toystore or Target, or wherever, that we made a list of things we needed and even though we might see things we don't need that we want, we're only going to buy the things on the list. As far as I know, Connor can't read, so I can actually amend the list as I like with no consequences. But he has gotten to the point where he totally respects the list. (Not that I actually take him shopping much, but when I do, he knows we're only getting our list items.)

Ed needs to adopt a list approach to shopping. I say this because even though Ed is clearly the more even-keeled when it comes to shopping, and even more clearly he owns only about one-tenth of all the crap in the house, he has a complete inability to say no to Connor when it comes to buying stuff - even though Ed is the first to point out that little man needs to get rid of some of his stuff. Case in point? Last year, I sent them to Target to get a mock like-a-bike. What did they come home with? The mock like-a-bike (which Connor is still too short for), another little bike - which totally goes against the like-a-bike as it is traditional in every sense of the word (that conversation we had about why I wanted to get the like-a-bike instead of a traditional bike for Connor? forgotten), and an enormous blue and yellow plastic dumptruck. When they got home, Ed explained that Connor was too short for the item they were sent to get, but the other bike looked smaller (it is not) and it seemed like Connor would be ready for it (he is not) and after wearing me down about the bike, he started in on how Connor had spotted the dumptruck and he drove it all through Target, and brought joy to every shopper there, and how could I even think of asking him to pry it out of Connor's hands rather than just pay for the damn thing?

This time when the two of them went shopping, they came home with one additional item. A fishing pole. It was raining outside, and Connor told Ed they needed to keep it dry on the way to the car. Because, uh, I guess fishing poles that are in their new plastic container are really precious and rain might make them melt. Sensing that keeping the pole dry was probably not possible, Connor looked up at Ed and said "I can dry it off with my shirt", which he did once they were in the car. Problem solved.

Connor's first words out of his mouth when he got home were about the fishing pole, and when I looked at him and asked him if it was on the list, he got a very worried look on his face. He looked at me knowing he had violated a very important shopping rule, and he was probably wondering if Ed was going to get in trouble for violating this very important rule. Rather than taking the opportunity to lie (which he is totally willing to do in other circumstances when he is caught red handed) and tell the that it was on the list, Connor just stared at me, because I guess he knew since I can read and he can't, he doesn't have much standing in the debate about whether an item is on the list or not. I then looked at Connor and said "don't worry, Connor, you can keep that super cool, groovy fishing pole, Daddy must have seen it and decided to add it to the list". Relief appeared on Connor's face as he went on to tell me about his tackle box, and the worms, and can you help me open this, pleeeease?

And yes, Eamon, we plan to share the precious fishing pole with you so we can all enjoy fishing in a few weeks, along with camping. Because two toddlers near water with a pole and a net? That is such a good idea!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Helen's 6 month visit

Forgot to report, yesterday, Helen had her belated 6 month check-up. Her height (which was measured incorrectly since she was screaming her head off) is at the median (she's actually shorter than this, but I certainly wasn't going to point out to the nurse how much she moved and encourage a new measurement be taken) and her head size is 40th percentile. And her weight? SHE IS STILL ON THE GROWTH CHART - checking in at the 10th percentile. When he got to the number, Dr. B said "We'll take it!" and appeared to be as excited as I was that she didn't dive off the chart like Connor did.

She was asked to perform one stunt - sitting - and she somehow managed to do it long enough to get the A-OK, though this is really a skill she has picked up in the last couple of days. (Nice job, Elaine, waiting to take your kid to their 6 month appointment long enough that they'd be able to pass the skills test. I think I'll pat myself on the back and have a margarita - oh wait, I did that last night as Ed and the au pair struggled to put both kids to bed.)

Her pediatrician's overall assessment? She's perfect.

I couldn't agree more.

Of course, after the pediatrician left, she had the hearing in her right ear tested AGAIN, and AGAIN, she failed. This time, she was super still and quiet, which is a big change from the other tests. Before the test, the pediatrician and I agreed that if she failed, we'd just wait until she was 1 before trying again. I should probably consult with my friend the audiologist about this before I continue to blow off Helen's repeated failure in the right ear.

Connor enjoys the new pediatrician because there's a nearby park. He told the au pair he wanted to eat his lunch really fast so he could play more. He showed that he has fully reached the "tell Mommy everything phase". His first words to me when I met him at the park were "Mod told me to pee on the tree over there". Connor knows I do not approve of this, but Mod told me she wasn't sure where a nearby bathroom was (uh, the library across the street? the pediatrician's office across the street?). I told Connor that in limited circumstances one had to make do with the great outdoors. Later that afternoon, he announced to me that he was going to pee on our tree. Not so, I told him. Thankfully, Ed reinforced this by telling him that he could only pee on trees when there was no bathroom nearby - but in our yard, he could ALWAYS go inside. I found this shocking, as I imagined Ed would be all jazzed about Connor breaking the no peeing in Mommy's yard rule so he could break it to.


One more year to decide

As it turns out, my parents have only been married 39 years - not nearly as impressive as FORTY, so we have much time to decide where we'll go to celebrate. As my mom pointed out, at least I'm consistent in my desire to celebrate everything a year early, as I once gave her a book on turning 50 the year she turned 49. I think I played it off as a way to look forward to turning 50, but I didn't fool anyone. vacation voting...Connor votes for a golf resort. With a year to practice, he should be able to whoop up on just about everybody in the family.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Anniversary Trip

As of mid-April, my parents had been married 40 years. FORTY. I have a great excuse for not writing this post on the actual anniversary. You see, they used to debate about what their actual wedding day was. I am not kidding. One year, my dad finally went downstairs to his filing cabinet full of important stuff - you know, stuff we were NOT supposed to get into growing up - and settled the debate by producing the actual marriage certificate. In any case, to honor that memory, it seems wrong to make a point of saying congrats on the correct day. I don't recall who was right, but I do think the fact that they used to debate about it says a lot about them. The day was obviously important, but it was all the other days after that one that made the marriage what it is. And those, frankly, are the ones to celebrate. No, Ed, this does not mean it is acceptable for you to continue confusing my birthday with our anniversary.

My parents have made it through the days of arguing with kids, arranging transportation to and from Friday night dance lessons in the midst of Happy Hours, leaving the light on so that the last kid in could turn it out as a sign everyone had made it home, too many events involving bleachers (despite the clear lack of talent, at least on my part), band concerts, dress rehearsals, college graduations, weddings of their children, and births of their grandchildren.

Now they're at that seemingly glorious point where they get to enjoy another generation of kids running around without the responsibility that came with my sister and me. Chances are, we're both done having children of our own, so Helen is the last of the babies that will be rocked to sleep by my mom (which perhaps makes Helen's nighttime distress the night before we left Kansas just a teensy bit sweet, instead of annoying). Oh, how many nights of the past 40 years have been spent with a child on a lap and a parent not getting any sleep?

In honor of my parents' anniversary, we've been gearing up for a yet to be named family vacation. I have tossed out various ideas including a fancy resort in Vermont that is kid friendly, an all-inclusive island vacation, a barge trip through Germany, and - much to Ed's distress - a dude ranch.

Helen votes for the Dude Ranch.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Danger man, Connor!

Now that my sister no longer has toddlers around the house, I figure it's wise to seek activities outside the home for Connor to do, lest he unleash his destructive forces on her nice suburban home. For this visit, I planned to go to Worlds of Fun and the Kansas City Zoo. Unfortunately, when we got off the plane it was SNOWING. (Did I mention when we got ON the plane in DC it was 70?) As we landed, Connor told me that he was going to build a giant snowman in front of Aunt Linda's house. Then, he corrected himself and told me "Actually, Mommy, I am going to build an ENORMOUS snowman!" As it turns out, the snowman wouldn't even happen because the snow was melting as soon as it hit the ground. But, it was cold enough that outdoor activities would not be on the agenda.

Obviously, my sister knows a thing or two about toddlers and their destructive powers, because she had a back-up plan involving leaving her home both days we were there. On day 1, we went to a place called Zonkers, which is a place definitely intended to drive adults to the loony bin. Connor, naturally, was smitten at first sight. And, lucky for me his cousin Anna was willing to play the role of "parent" and accompany him on the rides until he was comfortable on his own. Connor asked me to ride, but I reminded him that my bottom was too big for the seats and it might get stuck. I think Connor rode this little train about 25 times and these planes another 15. He even rode the "big kid" roller coaster and it was really sweet that his other cousin, Emily, was willing to go on this because between the two girls, Connor was nicely wedged into the seat. The roller coaster appeared a bit scary and I thought he wouldn't enjoy it, but he was game for a few rides.

On day 2, my sister took us to an enormous indoor swimming area complete with "beach entry", buckets of water dropping, a "lazy river", and the object pictured below that is intended for children to flip little gates and watch water move at different paces. Never one to be far from the action, Connor decided to climb onto the metal structure and really get into the fun. I presumed one of the very vigilant 12 year old lifeguards would tell Connor to get off, but they did not. Eventually my heart gave out one too many times as I envisioned a trip to the ER not just to visit Connor's Uncle Bill but to get treatment, so I told him he had to get down - but not before snapping a few photos. That's me in the background, averting my eyes from the danger and Helen reminding me that she wanted no part of the water.

It was great for me that my parents met us there, because that meant I had some extra eyes to watch Connor attempt to kill himself in any number of ways at the pool - or so I thought. At one point, Connor came up to me and asked if he could go on the lazy river. I presumed he meant with my dad, but in fact, he and Anna had decided they could go alone. I looked up to see Anna holding him high enough that he wasn't drowning, but it definitely seemed unsafe to me so I walked over to where they were and my sister noticed about the same time and created the "no lazy river without a life jacket" rule, which was a good thing. My dad? He was probably wondering where Anna and Connor had gone. The lesson for me? Ask for more details when my very excited toddler asks to do something. To her credit, Anna did steer him through the river safely.

Ahhh...two days in KC. Next up? My parent's home.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

What George Bush Won't Be Receiving From Me

Just in case there is still anyone left wondering, both flights went well. And, Connor managed to not need to use the bathroom in the special zone surrounding National Airport, which meant I did not need to send George Connor's soiled underwear.

My plan to have everyone sleep on the flight home did not work, but Connor (knock on wood) has finally learned that it is possible to sleep in the morning if he goes to bed late - a skill that formerly eluded him.

And, as long as I'm jinxing sleep in my house, I might as well mention that BOTH of my children slept past 8 AM this morning. I'm hoping they have finally learned the joy of sleeping in on the weekend.

A teaser photo from the trip - just in case anyone wondered whether Helen loved her grandpa.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy 6 months, Helen

Dear Helen,

As I told your brother, I'm writing this not a day early because I might not be available for blogging after our big plane trip tomorrow.

This month, your sleep totally fell apart (meaning you woke up 2 times regularly) until culminating in the WORST SLEEP NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE a week ago, where you woke up at midnight, 2, 4, and then nursed while I tried to sleep until about 6. That is worse than any night you had as a newborn, babe. So the next night? I took away your motion privileges by swaddling you, gave you some Tylenol because your dad and I both thought a tooth or something else must be causing you some great discomfort, and called the pediatrician to up your reflux meds. And, thankfully, you have returned to your former great sleeping self, even without the Tylenol and the swaddle. I am very grateful for this, Helen. I'm only sorry your dad and I didn't figure out sooner that perhaps all the yummy baby fat you've been piling on is making it so you need a bit more medicine.

You have decided that I am your clear favorite. In fact, when you were waking up in the middle of the night, your dad took pity on me (even though I work half the hours he does so in general can cope better without sleep) and he tried to soothe you. This did not impress you, and in fact, only seemed to anger you. When I would relieve your dad, you would seem happier pretty quickly. It totally annoys him when the two of you are together and you get upset and then calm instantly when I arrive. But don't take this to mean you and your dad don't have some laughs. It is a regular thing to find you giggling uncontrollably when he and Connor are around and I'm in another room.

You love being included in Connor's play, and give him the hugest smile when he comes near you. You are also learning to tug back if he decides he wants to play with something of interest to you.

You nibbled on a few bananas this month and played with a spoon as you sat in your new seat at the dinner table. Mostly, though, you just grabbed for anything within reach as I tried to keep it from you. Clearly, you are interested in eating and now that you are six months, we'll start giving you various foods and hope that your tummy doesn't explode.

You are expert at the tummy to back move, but the back to tummy roll eludes you. Connor does his best to teach you, but so far his lessons have yet to sink in.

Everywhere I go with you, people comment on how happy you are and how beautiful you are and it's true, Helen. You are both of those things and more.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Happy 32 months

Dear Connor,

Tomorrow, you turn 32 months old. I am writing this now because there is a very real chance I will be celebrating the occasion by checking myself into an insane asylum. You see, a few months ago, I was thinking about our summer travel, and how we always go to Kansas at some point without your dad to see your Kansas relatives. I booked our flight, and I don't think it really occurred to me how difficult a flight with two children under the age of 3 could be. But, I will know tomorrow.

The really big thing throwing a monkey wrench into all of this, and making me somewhat terrified of the thought of flying with you and your sister alone is that you now use the toilet, rather than a diaper. And yes, Connor, this is the number one huge accomplishment of the month. I would say your dad and I "potty trained" you, but that implies we actually did something. What really happened is I got tired of arguing with you about whether or not you had a wet diaper. So, I told you on Wednesday that Friday after school we were tossing your diaper in the trash and switching to underwear. Friday, you were none too pleased, so I gave you a one day reprieve from the dreaded underwear. But on Saturday, I wrestled you into underwear, told you to keep them dry, and you know what? You failed to pee in the toilet twice that day, but the next day? You kept those brand new train underwear clean and dry. Most importantly, we have had no arguments about whether or not a diaper needs to be changed.

You do use the whole potty thing to your advantage at bedtime. Tonight, you weren't quite ready for bed, but you know a request to use the potty will never be refused. After the third time, Daddy asked you if you really had to go and you told him you were fibbing - which I guess means you understand a lot more about manipulating us than we care to acknowledge.

Anyway, as I was patting myself on the back for forcing you into underwear, it hit me that I will somehow have to figure out how to maneuver into a bathroom on an airplane with you and Helen, since there will be no one to hand Helen off to. PLUS - stupid George Bush won't let anyone stand up within 30 minutes of National airport (our home airport) which means you may have to "hold it" for quite some time. I swear, if you pee your pants on the airplane because of some ridiculous rule forbidding you to go to the bathroom within a half hour of National airport, I will mail those soiled underwear straight to the White House.

Showing that you are never too young to mock someone's accent, you came up to me this month and asked why our au pair (who is from Thailand) said "Rubber Run" instead of "Lubber Run". I told you it was the same reason you said 'nakes instead of snakes, and you looked at me very confused.

And you know what, Connor? I hope you keep saying 'nakes and you keep 'queezing into 'mall 'paces for a long time.

One unique feature about your language usage is that you rarely use a word or phrase unless you are confident you are using it correctly. It seems as if you have mastered some of the phrases you hear me say regularly. For example, we were looking at the phone book one day and you exclaimed "Oh my lord there's a lot of trucks on this page" and I looked down, and there were a lot of trucks on that page, so I just said "wow". Later that day, you shreiked "oh my god, a red hat is going down the stairs" when a red baseball cap got dropped. Your dad and I both laughed.

At one point, you came up to me and said "why did Daddy ask me not to ask why so much?". And part of me wanted to go kick your dad because asking why is very important. But another part of me - the part that hears you ask me why no fewer than 3,867 times each day - wanted to tell you "because it's so freakin' annoying!". But instead I said, "I don't know, Connor, maybe you should ask your daddy", which you did, and it was awesome seeing the smoke roll out of his ears.

You have always been a very empathetic child, and never was this more true than the morning we headed out to the kite festival. Your dad balanced his coffee precariously on the car, and it plummeted to its death while he said a few not so choice words, which in turn scared the pants off you. I suspect you thought the mess had something to do with you - which in most cases is a very good guess - and you burst into tears. Your dad explained that he was not mad at you, and that it was totally his fault, and I tried to explain that "see, Connor, everyone spills and breaks things sometimes" but dude, you were nearly inconsolable. And, when asked what was wrong you sobbed "I want Daddy to get a new cup of coffee". Either you knew he wanted it, or your dad thought maybe you knew he could be a real jerk in the morning without it.

I wish I wrote down every time you made me laugh this month, Connor. It was a good one.


Monday, April 7, 2008


Our au pair recently shared with me that in Thailand, all babies get their hair cut at one month. Apparently, Thai babies have more hair than babies in my household. I know it's time to have Connor's hair cut when too many people refer to him as a girl. I probably shouldn't wait this long, but I love the wild 'do - and it is the one feature of Connor that I can claim comes from my genes, not Ed's.

Alas, it may be tamed now, but I know that is fleeting.

It is still too early to tell whether or not Helen has my curly hair, but I am definitely crossing my fingers. My friend Amanda told me that curly hair is supposed to be a dominant feature, which gives me great hope that my genes can out muscle Ed's in this one case.


Sunday, April 6, 2008


I almost always swaddle Helen with her right arm free and her left arm tucked in. A few days ago, I noticed that she was doing an awful lot of waving. And it's always with her right arm. She's quite skilled at batting toys near her (right arm, that is), which brings her lots of delight - and allows me to get dinner started while she entertains herself. I guess if I want her to be a lefty pitcher in the future, I ought to swaddle her other arm.


Opening Day

Shhh...don't tell anyone under three feet tall, but Ed and I went to Opening Day at that Nationals new ballpark - and it was great. Cold, but great. Luckily, we didn't spill the beans ourselves, and just told him we had an "appointment" to go to. A few days before the game, Ed had mentioned we had a baseball game to watch (that he had taped on TV earlier) and Connor perked right up and reminded us that he liked baseball too.

Normally, we take Connor to the games with us, and we plan to take Helen along as well. Frankly, she would be easy to bring to the games this year, because she's not mobile, so my preference would be just to bring her. But, it would break Connor's heart to see her get to go to the games and realize he was being left behind, so I would never do this (though it is tempting). But opening day is crowded, so one can't allow their toddler to roam around at will opening and closing a row full of seats here and there. This year, it was also televised on ESPN and it was a night game, so it was cold and after bedtime. Which is just to say that we had extra excuses not to bring the kids.

In preparation for the game, we got out the winter gear, and Connor showed us that he was more than happy to dress appropriately.

But he still got left behind.