Friday, May 30, 2008

I am so winning "mom of the year"

Many years back, my mom started doling out "daughter of the year" awards. They come up in the context of "you know, you could be daughter of the year if you X" - and usually the request is something trivial, and doing it is well worth the glory of having a shot at being "daughter of the year". (For the record, several years ago I wrapped up "daughter of the year" for life by knitting my mom a sweater. She didn't even believe I knit it because I foolishly put fancy buttons on it. So there I was, watching her unwrap the gift and she's all "thanks" and I'm all "thanks?!?" I just spent a year of my life knitting that sweater and "thanks" is all I get? So I blurt out "I knit that thing" and my mom says "oh, you did not" and then my dad pipes up "yes she did. I saw her finishing it up yesterday" - because you see, when my mom and I give gifts we make, an essential ingredient is that pins or knitting needles still be in them when the gift is given because we couldn't possibly finish on time, and this one time, I had managed to finish it a few hours before my mom opened it. Anyway, after I showed her the flaw in the back, she believed me and then I pretty much had "daughter of the year" wrapped up for eternity.) (And, ahem, Helen or Connor, when you read this, feel free to start knitting because I will adore a sweater from my children, much like my mom loved hers.)

Anyway, since I have clinched daughter of the year, I have decided to go for mother of the year. So, a week ago last Monday, Connor is totally fine in the morning, and then when it's naptime, he has a cow and says his ear hurts. I'm thinking to myself that he is faking because he's seen Helen go to the audiologist and Connor would like to have broken ears too. Plus, he would have an addiction to children's Tylenol if he could get the top off the bottle. So, eventually I give in and give him half a dose of Tylenol, he naps, and is completely wound up and happy for the remainder of the day. On Tuesday, the same thing happens. Because he has swim lessons Tuesday evenings, and because he keeps identifying the same ear as hurting (which has not been true in the past when he's told me his ear hurts) I decide to take him to the pediatrician.

And, alas, Connor has a pretty bad infection in the right ear (the one he kept pointing to), and a minor infection in the left ear. Off to the pharmacy to get my mother of the year award kid's prescription.

Within a day, Connor reported that his ear was no longer hurting, but he was incredibly excited that he got to keep taking his medicine for 9 more days. If only Helen would take her reflux meds as easily as Connor takes antibiotics, and if only her ear problems would disappear so quickly.

I guess this is a lesson in believing Connor.


Monday, May 26, 2008


Several years ago, Ed created a spreadsheet titled "retire at 50". As is likely obvious, the point of the spreadsheet was to make varying assumptions about post-retirement life and based on those assumptions, calculate how much he needed to save each year in order to, as the name suggested, retire at 50. He was motivated enough that even before we were married, he subsidized my retirement savings in order to maximize all potential tax benefits. Sugar Daddy, I tell ya.

An important part of the spreadsheet was to keep expenses under control, and this menat not paying several thousand dollars a year for child care. But, uh, then we decided to have Connor, and now Helen, and yeah - that part of the spreadsheet? We are not doing a very good job with it. The goal to retire at 50 still seems like a good one though, so we've implemented two measures to help meet our goal. I started playing the lottery more regularly, and Ed has decided to train at least one of our children to be a professional athlete. I think golf might be Connor's sport, but Ed has other ideas.

Ed started t-ball training with Connor this weekend. With his physique, I'm thinking shortstop might be his best bet. He runs everywhere he goes, so he could develop pretty good speed around the base path. He's also pretty agile, avoiding stepping on many of the toys he leaves strewn about the house daily. He intuitively seems to know how to slide (he does it regularly at the end of the hall, anyway), and he's shown a penchant for commando moves running from his bedroom to mine, which will surely translate into a few stolen bases.

So, with a tee constructed of random things lying around in the shed, Ed instructed Connor on the finer points of hitting a baseball. At first, I believe Ed was holding the ball, but he quickly realized this was a very dangerous proposition with a wild hitting toddler.

No matter. True to Connor's contrarian nature, he soon announced he did not need the tee. After all, they don't use it when we go to the baseball games, do they?!?

Because I suspect it's probably a little early for Ed to be tossing the ball at Connor and having him hit it, Connor takes care of business on his own. He tosses the ball in the air with one hand and tries to hit it with the bat held in the other hand.

He pretty much has the toss the ball in the air portion of the event down pat. It's everything that follows that's a bit shaky. But sometimes, the stars align just right and he actually hits the ball, which is pretty exciting to everyone. In a couple of years, Connor should be able to put his skills to good use on a Little League team. Ed and I are very excited about this as we have plans to sponsor the team with our basement bar "Grateful Ed's". The team may not be the best, but their tie-dye shirts will most definitely be the coolest. We haven't yet come up with a team name, but surely we'll be able to come up with something in the next couple of years. Come on, admit it, you totally want your kid on Connor's team now, right?

And Helen? Where was Helen during all of this? Probably napping. You see, Helen does not yet posess Connor's motivation. And frankly, as the person who chases after Connor most frequently, I am quite happy for this. But don't think Helen hasn't been doing anything. That would not be true at all. Helen has been busy perfecting the art of sitting there and looking pretty. I'm not sure how much this will help Ed and me in our retirement, but it makes for a fine way to pass the days now.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

More Camping Fun

Therese has a much more clever post about the camping adventure.

I add to it, 4 more mosquito bites - all of them Connor's. And 1 head bonk. Most of the playing happened in our tent, but at one point, Connor went into Eamon's tent and I guess Eamon performed some initiation ceremony on Connor which included a bonking. Only fair, given Connor's past bonking.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Do you want to know what the very best thing about a toddler is? Anything can be totally exciting. And the very best things about two toddlers together? Everything is totally exciting.
Really, what other age person (without the presence of mind altering substances) will see a tent and instantly start running around like a dog chasing its tail? And continue to do this regularly for the next 24 hours? Who, but two toddlers, could explain with completely straight faces that they are mosquitos as they smash up against the side of the tent until, that is, they decide that this game is too pedestrian? Who else cold then transform into seals and swim around on a deflated blue air mattress.

But don't think that they felt the trip was all fun and games. No, the boys knew the fire wasn't going to start itself, so when Ed gave them the go-ahead, they tossed logs in the fire pit and then looked at their work with pride. I'm certain they would've lit the fire as well, had Ed given them the opportunity. They were happy to pile sticks, wash dishes, set up and take down tents. After a few more of these trips, I'm assuming the adults can just sit back and drink adult beverages while the boys take care of all the details.

Helen was not so interested in helping out. She was quite happy to sit in her pack-and-play, shielded from the toddler tornado that was ongoing, and play with her toys.

And now do you want to know the worst thing about toddlers, well, my toddler, anyway? He may have been exhausted enough to drop to sleep pretty quickly, but true to form when he sleeps in a strange place, he howled loud enough (and long enough) to wake Helen up, who had managed to sleep through his entire nighttime ritual which included reading books a few feet from her head and Connor waving the flashlight everywhere. Connor seemed to be half awake and half asleep, and it took a while for Ed to get him to realize that even though he was in a tent, we had not abandoned him to the wolves.

And then, in the middle of the night, he made this commando leap from his mattress to mine and buried himself next to me - with his feet conveniently placed at my face and his head at my knees. So I covered his bare feet with my fleece, and remained mostly uncovered myself. Why didn't I turn, you might ask? Because my sleeping bag has a special place for my feet, so if I would've put my head down there instead, I would've suffocated - or had my knees and beyond completely bare, if I put my head next to Connor's head. I couldn't cover up because doing so would have suffocated Connor. So, I lay there awake for quite some time, freezing, until finally I went over to Ed and told him to give me Connor's sleeping bag - because Ed most definitely did not deserve a mattress to himself and TWO sleeping bags. I used that to cover my cold body up, but I still didn't sleep all that well because I kept waking up to make sure Helen didn't seem cold.

When asked in the morning why Connor jumped into my bed, he said "because Daddy was hogging my bed". Of course, Ed was only over there because Connor had woke up a second time and we figured he would sleep better with someone - and since I have Helen duty, Ed drew Connor duty.

Helen woke up sometime around 6, I suspect (no watch) and was the happiest little camper in the world. So happy, in fact, that I couldn't contain her babbling, so I took her on a long walk and let her chatter so the others could continue sleeping.

The last one awake in the morning? You guessed it. Connor.

So, here I am 1 day later, with the worst cold of my life - the cold that has attacked every other family member but left me unharmed until a cold, sleepless night in the woods. sniff sniff.

Will we do it again? Most definitely!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy 7 month birthday, Helen

Dear Helen,

A few days ago, you turned 7 months. You celebrated by failing your newborn hearing screen for what, the seventh time? This test was performed by an actual audiologist (unlike most of the tests which have been performed at the pediatrician's office by a nurse who seems only semi-comfortable with the equipment). After the failure, the audiologist used another machine to see if you had fluid in your ear and yes, you still have fluid in your ears, which causes a test failure. Given your history of repeat failures, she suspects this fluid might be the same fluid that was there months ago when a different audiologist tested for it. Lucky for us all, it never got infected. But, it needs to go, so we're going to see the ENT next week. During the exam, when it looked like you were failing, I looked up at the audiologist and said "Oh geez, does this mean another failure?" and she said somewhat somberly "yes", and I looked at you and said "don't you remember last night when I told you that you had to pass the test today so you wouldn't have to be sedated for the more complicated test?" and you smiled, and I said "of course not, you couldn't hear me!". The audiologist muffled a laugh and told me it wasn't nice to mock you. But hey, she had just gotten done telling me your hearing is muffled, as if you're under water. She was probably saying under her breath "I told you this would be a waste of time and I'd end up just telling you to do the sedated test again" wasn't a total waste of time because my panic about sedating you caused her to refer you to an ENT rather than to do the sedated test. Please, Mr. ENT, have some miracle that gets fluid out nonsurgically.

You have always loved toys, and this month, toys with tags were superior to toys without tags. This is in stark contrast to Connor who always wants tags cut off. Lucky for you, several survived the infant toy phase for you to enjoy. Not sure how many tags you'll find in the next set of toys though. Sorry about that.

You babble, and babble, and babble and really, Helen, would it be so hard to pause every now and then so Connor and I could get a word or two in? And, do you really have to say "da da da da" all day long? Could you toss me a bone with a "ma ma"? Please? Or, as your brother says "pretty please with lots and lots of sugar on top"? You don't actually have any words, but you have lots of sounds and sometimes Connor will talk in about the same manner you talk and you seem to get endless joy out of this. I hope the two of you are not planning some sort of coup.

Your sleep has been horrible, which means my sleep has been horrible, and your dad's sleep has been horrible. And, finally, today, I took you to the doctor and told him I was so tired I couldn't even think straight and babbled endlessly about every theory I had and at the end of the visit, he gave me some suggestions and, knock on wood, you had a fabulous afternoon nap and so far, your sleep tonight has been great. Hopefully, you are turning the corner. And yes, Linda, I know I just jinxed myself and you are busy banging your head into the computer wondering if I will ever understand that some things - like "my child is sleeping well" - can never be muttered out loud. Hopefully that bruise on your forehead will go away soon.

Bathtime has become a lot of fun of late. You're good enough at sitting that you can sit there on your little sponge and splash away. Tonight, you bent a little too far over and planted your face in the water, but it didn't bother you. I scooped you up quickly and you went right on splashing - though Daddy announced he would take over. (He claims it was because he didn't want a piece of cake, which Connor was asking for, so he preferred to deal with you in the tub than with Connor and the inevitable mess. I think it was to protect you.)

Last Saturday, we were hanging around outside on the deck with some friends, and you were sitting on a blanket playing. Connor came by, which made you absolutely laugh, and the two of you sat and played in your weird little way for quite some time. A friend of mine asked if y'all do this often and yes, is the answer. Every day you and Connor play in your own world. And as an outsider looking in, I can report that your world looks really fun.

You still have the ability to light a room, Helen.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Happy 33 month birthday, Connor

Dear Connor,

Yesterday, you turned 33 months old. Someday, you will be sitting around in a bar marveling at the number 33 and its significance on the side of a Rolling Rock bottle. Right now, it's just a big number, like all of the other numbers over 4, I suppose.

You impressed me and your dad this month by really trying your hand at logical reasoning. Our County has had the brilliant idea to place speed bumps on pretty much any side streete that is good for cutting between two larger streeets - a so-called "traffic calming measure". However, they are manufactured such that a firetruck can still go down the street without slowing down. Your dad mentioned that we ought to get a car with wheels like a fire truck, and I quickly agreed that this would be a good idea. But you squelched our dreams when you piped up from the backseat and pointed out that our driveway is not large enough for a fire truck. Dream. Crushed. Another day, we were looking at a book with many animals and when we got to the reindeer, you told us that reindeer like the rain.

You regularly tried your hand at being a reporter, and some manifestations of this are quite annoying. I like it when you tell me everything you've done during the day - for example, today the first thing out of your mouth was "I went to the store today and got you a card", which I think was supposed to be a secret. But you also have this penchant for repeating everything that is newsworthy in your mind. A typical conversation might be:
"May I have a piece of cake?"
"Yes, you may have a piece of cake."
"Daddy, Mommy said I could have a piece of cake."


You'll ask why about some random thing that nobody but you is interested in, and then you'll tell whomever else is in the room what the person who answered you said, because apparently you don't realize that everyone else can hear. Or, the information is just so amazing that you want to make certain everyone else has heard.

And this happens all.the.time.

You also have decided to defer almost all questions asked of you. Your dad might ask what you did at gymnastics and you'll turn your head and ask me "What did I do at gymnastics" and no matter how often either of us says we want you to answer, you refuse. I guess you don't want to be wrong, or accidentally reveal something.

After reading green eggs and ham one night, you came up with your own rhyme for me. You were bouncing on the bed and asked me "Would you eat them on a truck? Would you eat them with a buck?". I obligingly told you "no".

You use the word "dude" often and a few times, you have referred to me as "wife". This typically happens when you're with your dad and he has referred to me as such, but it sounds a lot funnier out of your mouth.

You have been quite into teaching Helen how to play with toys. You will very diligently give her an object and then snatch it from her and show her the proper way to use it. She seems to enjoy it, as do you. I think it might be because she now sits up almost all of the time, which probably makes her seem like a real person to you - not just a baby lying around all the time.

You made me laugh a million times - often thinking about the day you brought your dad a handful of poop in the morning. I am still very grateful that he was on the side of the bed you came to and not me.

Helen's sleep completely fell apart this month, so for perhaps the only time in your life, you are not the worst sleeper in the house. Thank you, Connor, for sleeping through most nights. I'm not sure we could make it very long if we were still getting up with both of you.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Anniversary wrap-up

Today, Ed and I celebrated our 7th anniversary. I wished him "Happy Anniversary" this morning as I gathered up Helen to take her to the audiologist. His response? Total silence. My thought? "This is going to be an AWESOME year."

This sort of exemplifies how communication can be tough when there are two little people needing lots of attention on a regular basis. My mind was half on getting out the door and remembering how to get to the audiologist's office and Ed's mind was racing to figure out what he could offer the little man for breakfast - because, uh, Ed bought the WRONG KIND OF OATMEAL!!! He bought the kind that already has banana in it and that is NOT the kind of oatmeal Connor eats. And Connor is not one to give a person a break on this sort of issue because, really, bananas should be eaten separate from oatmeal because that is how it has always been done in Connor's gastronomie.

Rather than leaving wondering whether Ed heard me and was not equally happy about the day or he simply hadn't noticed I had spoken to him, I went back and asked him - and it turns out the latter was correct. Phew. Because I really, really don't want to do this job alone or with anyone else. I'm simply not up for it.

We celebrated by eating a giant cookie - which was actually purchased for Mother's Day - but Connor was feeling under the weather last night and it wouldn't have been right to cut into it without him.

Happy Anniversary, Ed. Thanks for taking care of Helen last night. She'll learn to sleep again, I just know it.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Connor has always had a penchant for doing something special on Mother's Day. When he was 7 months old, he slept in - for possibly the only time the entire year. I can't remember how late it was, but my best guess is 7AM - and I know that sounds ridiculous that 7AM could possibly be considered sleeping in - but at the time, it most certainly would have been. This year, we celebrated Mother's Day at the Nats game. Connor's gift? He fell asleep on Ed's lap for the first 7 innings of the game, and was happy to sit on Ed's lap for the remainder of the game. I didn't even have to get to the juice box bribe. He was actually feeling a bit under the weather.

Helen had a different take on Mother's Day. She figured she should wake up bright and early (5:30!) to start celebrating. Lucky for me, Helen is quite content to eat and then jabber and play with the 300 toys I keep near my bed for such occasions while Ed and I attempt to get a bit more rest. And wow, we need that rest. I do believe I underestimated how taxing this job could be before I started it.


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How do you decide?

Parents of multiple children are often asked which of their children is their favorite. And they almost always answer that they don't have a favorite - which didn't make much sense until I had my own two children, and realized that each of them bring such unique things to my life. Even though both of my children are very young, I already adore them immensely.

What would life be without Connor, who is in such a hurry to figure everything out that he literally runs almost everywhere he goes? Tonight he came home from swimming lessons, burst through the door, and could hardly contain his excitement as he told me about the ice cream he and Daddy had brought home for me. "Do you want to eat it out on the porch with me Mommy? Do you like ice cream? You should save some of your ice cream so you can have it on your birthday, Mommy!"

And Helen? She is so mellow, and it was such an absolute pleasure to get to watch her splashing around in the bath tonight. A rare moment indeed since normally Connor is in there with her and the lifeguard on duty must make certain both children are reasonably safe. She looked so pleased as she splashed her legs, and so surprised when she leaned forward and actually touched her forehead to the water. One night, Connor dumped a whole cup of water on her head. Her reaction? She looked surprised, but blinked her eyes and kept on smiling.

Where Connor wanted nothing to do with strangers as a baby, which always made me feel very special, Helen is often happy to be held by strangers. But, when she sees me she always lights up, which also makes me feel very special.

Connor can do so many things and express so many things that it is impossible not to laugh with him daily. But even though Helen pretty much just sits around all day, it is impossible not to notice how much fun she has in her own little world, which is also infectious.

And, even though both of my children smile often, they rarely smile at the same time in the same photo, which always makes me have to decide which photo to choose. Take these, for example. I wanted a photo that showed Connor building a house with his new playstands. The first photo captures his enthusiasm - but since the house was ostensibly built for Helen, it seemed appropriate to post a photo with both of them.

Here, Helen is laughing, but Connor looks goofy.

And in this one, Helen looks great again, but you can't see Connor's face.

Finally, there's this one which is one of Connor's better photos, but Helen isn't even smiling.

This photo is probably the best compromise between the looks on both of their faces.

I just couldn't decide.

PS: In case it is one of my children reading this post, rest assured, YOU are my favorite.

PPS: Mom, this may not be exactly what the blankets you made were designed for, but we needed something larger than our standard blanket, so we put them to work.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Go Nats!

I have purchased Helen exactly two outfits - and both of them were deeply discounted. On closing day of RFK last year, there was a huge merchandise sale. The store was mobbed with discount seekers, but I barreled in, giant belly and all, to grab this little ditty. I am so glad I did!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Good morning, Daddy!

Often, Connor comes bounding into our bedroom to greet us in the morning. He's usually skipping and almost always shouting "I want to play with you!", though we have worked very hard to get him to follow those words by jumping into bed, snuggling under the covers, and having some milk before jumping all over and demanding we get out of bed. Saturday, things went a bit differently.

Lucky for me, Helen woke up early so I brought her into bed with Ed and me to nurse her back to sleep for another hour. That left Ed with the outside bed position. And wow, was that a good thing. The first words Ed heard from Connor? "I need someone to help me flush these poopies". Ed's response "Connor?!?" My response from across the bed? "Good work Connor!" because I had heard Connor in the bathroom and assumed he had taken a dump and just couldn't get the toilet flushed.

Not so, apparently. Connor had both hands full of poop (thankfully, little hard balls, much like that of a rabbit) and needed help flushing because he couldn't figure out how to lift the lid and dispose of the poop.

Best we were able to put together, Connor woke up and went poop. But you have to give the little fellow credit because he then realized he didn't have a diaper on, and he figured he better clean the mess up. But, while toddlers may be enthusiastic about cleaning up messes, they rarely do it very well. So Ed was left to stumble out of bed, open the toilet, trace Connor's footsteps to be sure to sanitize the area and get rid of any remaining poopie. Needless to say, I never in my wildest dreams imagined that someday either Ed or I would be awakened by a person showing us a fistful of poop and innocently requesting help disposing it.

And, because it was Ed that was greeted by that site, I guess I did mean it. "Good work, Connor!".

For the record, while Ed was a bit disoriented, he is very forgiving. Today, he took Connor on a little paddle around the tidal basin.


Friday, May 2, 2008

I'm supposed to do what with that?

We've started solids in the house. Only trouble is, Helen may act like she wants to eat, but I have yet to be convinced she's eating anything. But, it has inspired Connor to mock her by waving HIS messy hands around, tossing his spoon, and generally being a mess at dinner - so he's enjoying it.

As for Helen, what she lacks in skill, she makes up for with enthusiasm.