"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Monday, March 29, 2010

rain + sun = Froot Loops?

We had a rainy morning followed by a sunny afternoon. We were hoping to see a rainbow (because they, and their pots of gold, have been a hot topic around here since St. Patrick's Day). We didn't. So we made one instead!

Lesson Learned:
Because even though you bought them, you didn't really want your kids eating all those Froot Loops anyway.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

manly men

I'm not a girly girl. I'm not into shoes or purses. I don't know how to *really* put on make-up and "doing my hair" doesn't involve anything more than a blowdryer and a ponytail holder. I buy my clothes at Target and find them to be perfectly fashionable.

But I'm still a girl, and now more than ever, I'm Totally Outnumbered at home. It's four-to-one if you count the dog (which I don't; he's a 90-lb. chocolate lab, so in my opinion, he's a Farm Animal that's lucky enough to live indoors).

But my boys are little and snuggly and love their mama, so I never really felt like the odd "man" out. Until a few weeks ago. I came home from, appropriately, a Southern Living party to find my Three Boys sitting on the couch together watching a show called, I think, "Ax Men." It's a little boy's dream: Men. With Tools. And BIG Trucks. Doing Manly things like chopping down trees and spitting. There's cursing, too, so luckily Daddy had thought to mute the show and narrate.

All three of them were captivated and it took several, "Hi, guys! I'm home!"'s to elicit even a glance in my direction. It was at the commercial break, when I finally garnered their attention, that I realized a change had occurred. My Boys had become Men: Evan showed me that his Daddy had taught him how to make a Man Sound. (This is not going to translate well in print.) It's a rough grunt, like HUH HUH. I seem to picture Tim Allen from the show "Home Improvement" when they make this sound.

Anyway. So here are my Three Men watching Ax Men and grunting. I wanted to join the fun so I tried to mimic their Man Sounds. It came out sort of like, "Ho Ho Ho!" And The Men just laughed at me. I was out of the loop.

Over the past few weeks, the grunting has continued and accompanies any "Man Work" that Evan and Daddy do around the house and yard: changing air filters, vacuuming, digging big holes for my new plants, going under the house to turn on the irrigation system, patching and repainting nail holes in the wall, or taking out the garbage. You see, it doesn't matter what the Man Work is, it's just fun for Evan to be doing chores with his daddy: just the Guys.

The other day at lunch, Evan took a bite, and said in his very best Man Voice, "Huh Huh, We're eatin' strawberries. Huh Huh." I love My Men.

Lesson Learned:
It's only a matter a time before the belching contests begin.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

war is not the answer

This morning I waged a war against a fierce and fearless opponent: my (almost) 3-year old. It was a war not meant to be fought; I am quite familiar with the Toddler Rules of Engagement and know very well to Pick My Battles. You are only to enter into a battle if the issue at stake involves the health, safety, or moral development of the Toddler with whom you are engaging. Not, as was the case this morning, a T-shirt.

Yup. It was epic. And it was by accident! I'm usually a very Good Mommy when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. I'm not really picky about what he wears. (I did, after all, buy the clothes....if I hadn't wanted him to wear something, I certainly shouldn't have bought it.) And he's a jeans guy, so matching outfits is easy peasy. I'll open his closet, show him two or three shirts to choose from, and Voila!, off to brush our teeth.

But not this morning. THIS morning, I had the nerve, the shear audacity, to Pick Out A Shirt For Him. But it was his Brand New, Picked Out at The Store Himself MONSTER TRUCK shirt, freshly washed and ready to wear. I thought it was a no-brainer...in fact: it was SUCH a no brainer that I didn't even give it a single thought! Just grabbed it from the hanger and called him in to get dressed.

Well. He took one look at the T-shirt laying on the floor in his room and stopped in his tracks.
Evan (instantly in fighting mode): I am NOT wearing THAT.
Me (with genuine naivete): What? The shirt?
Evan (stomping, crying, and becoming hysterical): I don't LIKE that and I'm wearing a DIFFERENT one.

Where did THAT come from? I thought we were having a nice morning....

So here's where the breakdown occurred: I could have, at this point said, "Okay. With a nice voice, please tell me that you'd like to pick out your shirt today." And the morning could have been salvaged. But no. Here's what spilled out of my mouth instead, "You're wearing this shirt. Now let's get dressed." Oh, no I didn't! As soon as the words were released into the air I recognized my mistake. It was On, and what followed that seemingly innocuous comment is what mothers everywhere can imagine with precise and excruciating detail: A wrestling match between me and my (almost) 3-year old. Me trying to get him INTO the shirt, he trying to get OUT of the shirt. There was screaming (by him, not me), kicking (by him, not me), crying (by him and the baby, not me), and gritted teeth and a Mother's Determination (by me).

And as ridiculous as I felt wrestling with a child over a shirt, I couldn't give up! Mothers everywhere will tell you that once the battle has begun, YOU MUST WIN. If you let a kid throw a tantrum to get what they want even one time, you will be causing irreversible damage to your child's emotional and moral development, and you can kiss those future college acceptance letters goodbye. It's why you can't say, "Stop or we'll turn this car around!" unless you really and truly CAN and WILL turn the car around. You can't threaten to Leave The Store This Instant unless you weren't actually planning on buying those groceries overflowing from your cart anyway. You may have unwittingly entered into this skirmish, but you must endure until the victory is yours.

Here's how ours ended:
At the conclusion of the wrestling match, size and level-headedness (remember the screaming and crying hysterics?) prevailed and the boy ended up in the shirt. I stepped away from the boy and said, with a smile (fake but present), "Okay, kiddo! Who's ready for snack?" (Remember those Toddler Rules of Engagement? Apparently, Distraction of the Opponent is a time-tested strategy that is often successful in preventing, de-escalating, and ending conflicts.) One mention of the word "snack" and the tantrum ended.

After snack, we were getting ready to leave the house. As I was putting his shoes on him, he looked down at his shirt. "Mommy, I just WUV my new monster truck shirt!"
I'm glad you do, honey.

Lesson Learned:
From now on, we'll stick with the Choice Of Two strategy of getting dressed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

cold feet

Have you ever heard of a Binky Bear? It's for binky addicts. It's an intervention, of sorts. Here's how it works: You take your preschool junkie and their stash to Build-A-Bear Workshop. Before you fill your kid's bear/dog/cat/bunny/duck with stuffing, you put the binkies in the paws/ears/feet/whatever. When the animal is stuffed, your kid can still get a little binky fix by feeling the tips of the paws, but the oral habit is effectively broken.

My sister told me about the Binky Bear. As soon as I heard about it, I knew it was the method for us. My binky boy has been addicted since Night #1 in the hospital. I was all for it. And still am. I sucked my thumb until an embarrassing age, so I figured an oral fixation was a likelihood for my kids...and a binky is a whole heckuva lot easier to get rid of than a thumb. But he's almost three, shouldn't he be about done with the binky by now? So we introduced the concept of Binky Bear to Evan when we were outside a Build-A-Bear at the mall a few months ago. We even went inside and showed him how it would work. (I'm pretty sure he has no idea that you can make a Bear sans Binky....) We talked about it when we got home that day and he said, "I wanna make a Binky Kitty!" (Kitty? Oh well, hooray!) "......when I'm big." (Oh.) So we didn't make a big deal about it but continued to mention it here and there.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. Maybe it was because I could feel the change in seasons approaching (spring has a way of motivating me to do what should have been done all winter)....maybe it was because I started making party plans for his THIRD birthday that will be here before we know it....maybe it was because I work better under deadlines....Whatever the reason, I suddenly decided that we needed to set a date for this Binky Intervention, so March 20 it was.

For the past two weeks, we've talked about Binky Bear (I mean, kitty.) a LOT. We've talked about the process ("And I get to press the pedal!"), we've talked about the result ("I'll still get to feel the binkies in kitty's paws!"), we've talked about the other results ("....but I won't get to put it in my mouth."), and he seemed FINE with it. He even dropped the "when I'm big" stipulation. We made plans to spend the day at an outdoor mall near us...we'd make his Binky Kitty, watch the train, throw coins in the fountain, and go out to eat. It would be a great day.

Thursday, March 18. Two days before the intervention and I started to worry. We're already struggling with naptimes...isn't taking the binky going to just make it worse? He's not ready to give up the nap--I'M not ready to give up the nap! At bedtime, he lays awake in bed for up to 2 HOURS after we tuck him in. I think it's the binky that keeps him IN the bed....what happens when the anchor's gone? The binky stays in his bed and he only has it at nap and nighttime.... that's not so terrible, right? It's not like he's walking around Target with it. He's not even THREE yet! He's still so LITTLE! My BABY! It would be cruel, HEARTLESS to take away what soothes him!!!

Friday, March 19. Total cold feet. The mission has been aborted and we are not to mention the Binky Kitty again until a later date, as yet TBD.

Saturday, March 20. We did go to the mall. We did watch the train, throw pennies into the fountain, and eat lunch at a restaurant. We did NOT make a Binky Kitty. But it was still a great day.

Lesson Learned:

I can't even imagine how hard the night before the first day of school is going to be.....for me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

luck o' the irish

We love St. Patrick's Day around here.

Maybe it's because I'm about half-Irish (I know, I know, everyone is today, but I really am. There's even a pub with my maiden name in Dublin.). Or maybe it's because it's such an "easy" holiday...you don't have to spend a lot, or plan a lot, or travel a lot...while still having that magical allure. Whatever the reason, we Do St. Patrick's Day. We decorate:

We make Shamrock cookies:

The leprechauns come and fill our shoes with treats or small gifts (in this case, some books I got for free with my Kohl's cash and some lollipops and candy with green wrappers that we had tucked away in our pantry).

This year, we even decided to capitalize on Evan's love of all things pureed and make Leprechaun Smoothies. Ingredients:

1 banana, sliced then frozen
Handful of green grapes, frozen
1 kiwi, peeled and cut
1 handful of spinach (call them leprechaun greens if that helps)
1 8-oz. cup of lime yogurt (we used lemon, couldn't find lime)
1/4 cup frozen concentrated limeade

Blend, and enjoy!

Monday, March 15, 2010

baby-led weaning

I wouldn't say Evan was a "picky eater." I would say that now, of course, but he's a toddler, sort of comes with the territory. He was pretty adventurous as a baby, though. As long as it was mushed into a runny paste of gooey-ness, he would eat everything from avocados to black beans to quinoa. But there was a caveat: it had to be pureed and it had to be on a spoon. The kid did not do finger foods.

We introduced "solids" (a very loose interpretation of that word) at six months and started putting very soft chunks of food on his tray at about seven months. He didn't touch them until he was nine months and two weeks old (yup, I kept track of these things). He picked up one chunk of super soft sweet potato and gobbled it up happily. Then, he didn't touch a piece of food again until he was SIXTEEN MONTHS OLD. (For those of you who don't have kids, this is ridiculous.) And even then, he didn't "touch" his food--he went straight to the fork. And still today, just one month shy of his THIRD birthday, Evan eats his sandwith with a fork. I'm not kidding. He'll be that guy, like the one from Seinfeld, that cuts up his 3 Musketeers bar.

Now this wasn't all bad: he is probably the cleanest not-quite three year old you'll ever meet. When other kids have cupcake frosting from ear to ear and forehead to chin, Evan is happily licking every last bit off of his fork and hardly needs a napkin.

But there have been some challenges, too, that I'd like to avoid this time around. I, literally, had to spoon-feed the kid every single meal until he could handle untensils. Now with two, I just don't have that kind of time. Even when he could handle utensils, some food just wasn't made to stay on a spoon (beans, rice, noodles, chunks of chicken, etc.). I ended up taking his meals and chopping them up with one of those "slap chop" things. Wanna guess how appetizing that looked?

So we're thinking of trying something new with Max. It's called baby-led weaning, and here's some information:

Baby-led weaning basically refers to the practice of skipping pureed "baby food" and going straight to table food. It's a slow and natural, "baby-directed" transition from breastmilk to solids during which the baby self-feeds, first with fingers and later with a spoon. Here are some of the benefits of baby-led weaning (source):

*allows babies to explore different tastes, textures, colors, and smells of food
*encourages independence and confidence while the baby feeds himself
*helps naturally develop hand-eye coordination and chewing skills
*helps to minimize mealtime battles and picky eating

Here are some more links if you're interested:


Already, at just over five months, Max is showing a greater interest in our food than Evan ever did. He's really adept at grabbing toys, grasping them, and bringing them to his mouth (important first readiness cues). He's getting close to sitting up (necessary before starting solids) and he has been sitting with us at mealtimes for months now (therefore learning basic eating skills by watching before participating). We've recently started giving him a bowl and spoon to play with while we eat, which is supposed to help, too.

So here's our plan:

At about 6 months (or later if he's not yet sitting up on his own, but not before), we'll begin by giving Max 2-inch chunks of super soft veggies and fruit...maybe banana, avocado, sweet potato....we'll be getting into really yummy fruit season, luckily, so probably peaches, too. I've heard good things about super mushy broccoli, so we'll give that a whirl. And hey, maybe if Evan sees his baby brother eating it, he will, too! I'll keep the ol' blog updated with our progress and hopefully some pretty cute pictures, too.

I'm excited to try this with him and see if it helps to avoid some of the eating frustrations we had the first time around. Of course, had we tried this with Evan, it may have been a complete disaster...maybe he's just not wired to get messy (um...I'll claim genetic responsibility for that one).

Friday, March 12, 2010

being little

You know how now, as an adult, if you're lying in bed, under the covers, reading a book and you hear a truck drive by....and you really want to see that truck drive by....it's pretty easy to jump out of bed and hop on over to the window and fling the curtain to the side....and you're pretty much guaranteed to see that truck drive by?

Well, it wasn't always that simple.

When you were not-quite-three and you were lying in bed, under the covers, reading a book, and you heard a truck drive by, first you would look up at your mommy and say, "Mommy! I hear a truck!" Then your mommy would have said, "You're right, honey, I hear it too!" And then you would have said, "I wanna go see that truck!" Then you would have carefully put your sippy cup on the nightstand and pushed the covers off your legs. But the covers wouldn't have come all the way off your foot the first time you tried, so you would have had to push them off with your other foot.

Once you were out from under the covers, you would have wanted to get down from the bed. So you would have flipped on over to your tummy and reached your little feet down to the floor. Then, you would have started over to the window, but you would have realized that your sock had twisted and it felt funny on your foot, so you would have bent down to straighten it out. Once it felt better, you'd continue on your way to the window. You'd fling the curtain out of the way, but it would have wrapped up around you a little bit. So you would have laughed, because that was Really Silly.

Then, you would take the curtain with two hands and slide it out of the way. By the time you reached the windowsill and pressed your little nose up to the glass, the truck would have, of course, been long gone.

But you would have turned around to your mommy with a Giant Grin on your face and said, "Mommy! I bet that was a Really Big Steamroller that just drove by!" And your mommy would have said, "Maybe, sweetie." And then you would have started back to the bed saying, "Or maybe it was a stinky garbage truck! Or a log loader truck! Or a BIIIIIGGGGG LOOONNNNNNGG hook and ladder FIRE TRUCK!!"

And in the end, it was even more exciting that you didn't get to see the boring old delivery truck at all...but instead got to imagine all the wonderful possibilities of what maybe just drove down your street.

Lesson Learned:
Wouldn't it be great if, in some ways, we never really grew up?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

two BIG steps forward, one teeny tiny step back

So Evan is reacting to something. No, not OVER-reacting to something (like he did this morning when I, gasp, gave him a short-sleeved shirt to wear....the kid does not handle the change in seasons well), but having a reaction to something. I just don't know what. On Monday afternoon I noticed bright red eczema patches under each eye. They looked alarmingly like the bright red eczema patches he gets when he eats barley or cantaloupe....but he hadn't eaten either of those. In fact, he hadn't eaten anything new, really. He had eaten an Enjoy Life caramel apple snack bar for the first time, but he's eaten Enjoy Life products (which are all free of the Top 8 and barley) since he was first diagnosed with allergies and has never had a problem. The only *new* ingredient in the caramel apple variety is "natural caramel flavoring," which seems pretty benign, to me.

So Monday. Evan ate a caramel apple snack bar. Then, we spent the morning at the playground (thank god we are FINALLY out of hibernation). When he woke up from nap with his raccoon eyes, I figured it was from something he came into physical contact with at the playground. (You know: kid eats goldfish crackers, kid touches monkey bars, Evan touches monkey bars, Evan gets hives.) But his contact reactions have always been hives...eczema comes from ingestion, typically. Hmmmmmmm.
Tuesday morning. I gave Evan another snack bar. I know, I know. But I didn't know. We spent the morning at the zoo (again: THANK GOD for beautiful weather, FINALLY!). Evan had a great time watching the tigers,

and the lions,

and feeding the giraffes.

and the goats,

and riding on the carosel "awl by mysewf."

Max had fun, too.

So we got home from the zoo, went right down for naps (obviously), and he woke up with more raccoon eyes. The patches had never really gone away, but by Tuesday morning (pre-bar) had faded to light pink and bumpy. After nap, they were pretty angry looking.
Wednesday, they still looked pretty nasty (we even got a few "What's wrong with your kid?" looks at gym class. Ugh.). So I'm going to stop giving the kid caramel apple snack bars (obviously), and if the eczema goes away, I'll assume he's allergic to "natural caramel flavoring." If not, I'll assume he's allergic to having fun outside in beautiful weather.
Lesson Learned:
Sure hope it's the caramel!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

photo gems

Here's my fave recent picture of my Big Boy:

and Little Boy:

Evan looks like he's gearing up for a particularly rousing "YeeeeeeAYYYYYYY-Haaaaaaaaaa!"
And Max is clearly wondering, "Wha chu talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

Lesson Learned:

There are no bad pictures when the subjects are so damn cute.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

defense mechanism

I'm pretty sure my Big Boy, Evan, thinks he's a Tween. Technically, he's not even three, but he's got the habits and the 'tude down. He stays up way too late, he's mastered my iPhone, he's embarrassed by my singing ("Mom. Don't sing that song. Please."), he's always hungry ("Mom. My belly is saying 'Feed me!'"), and he can fall asleep in any position, at any time. Well, technically, he's not really sleeping. But he's pretty good at faking it. And isn't that what real tweens do, anyway? They're not really sleeping in until 2 in the afternoon....I'm pretty sure they're texting, skyping, and just plain avoiding you.

So, the falling asleep on cue.

He doesn't fake sleep in the morning, when we would all appreciate a little sleep, fake or otherwise....he fakes sleep when he's being "corrected," or when he's told "No," or when he's asked to do something he doesn't want to do. Here's what happened when I told him to "Smile for the camera."

The other morning at breakfast, I was singing Zippity Do Da. It's a good morning song, I thought. But apparently, I am Such a Dork.

Me: Zippity do DA, zippity A...my oh MY what a WONderful DAY!

Evan: Mom. Stop singing that song.


Evan: honk--shoooooooooo (fake snoring)

Me: Wake up, sleepy head!

Evan: (eyes still closed) You need to ring the doorbell.

Me: ding dong

Evan: honk--shooooooooooo


Evan: (eyes open) sssshhhhhhh. I'm sleeping.

Me: shrug (turn to the baby, who still thinks I'm funny and cool) Hi, sweet love!

Max: coos, smiles, and other cute baby things

Evan: Are you finally done singing, Mom? Then I can wake up now.

Lesson Learned:

Wow. Is THAT kid gonna be fun a decade from now or WHAT?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

RAST Parts 1 and 2

Part 1: "My Name's Curly, like your hair."
At Evan's last allergist appointment, we were given a lab slip to have blood drawn for RAST testing. He has never undergone a blood draw. In the past, the only allergy testing he has had is the skin prick test. In the SPT, the skin is pricked and a tiny amount of the allergen goes beneath the skin. If a hive, or wheal, develops, an allergy is assumed. A larger wheal typically indicates a greater sensitivity to the allergen, but not necessarily. This is a good test because it's fast, inexpensive, and gives fairly reliable results.

The RAST test detects specific IgE antibodies to suspected allergens. IgE antibodies are associated with allergic response, so high levels of IgE antibodies indicate an allergy. Higher RAST numbers=worse allergy, generally speaking. This is a much more specific test. It doesn't just tell you if you *probably* will or will not react to a food, like the SPT. It is a true measurement of your bodies reaction to a given allergen.

So.....the lab slip. Good news because that meant that we would be heading in the direction of Food Challenges (low RAST numbers would indicate that Evan might have outgrown an allergy). Bad news because that meant drawing blood. With a needle. In the vein. Of My Baby.


We planned to go to LabCorp on Monday. On Saturday morning, we started talking about it.
"Dr. B wants to look very closely at your blood. Your blood will show him if your body is ready to try new foods." Luckily, "trying new foods" is pretty big around here lately. Well, as long as the "new foods" are cornbread or cookies we've never bought before. Whatev.

On Sunday, we said that we would be going to a science lab and a scientist would be the person who would take the blood from his arm. Again, Evan had no problem with this. He's into science.

Monday morning. "So, to get the blood out of your arm, the scientist is going to use a special needle to poke your arm. You'll see the blood go through a tube." And still, he's fine.

We arrived at LabCorp with a full arsenal of entertainment, diversions, bribes, and rewards: books, stickers, lollipops, an iPhone loaded with YouTube clips of construction trucks and fire engines. The "scientist," Curly (her real name: "My name's Curly, like your hair."), called us back into the "science lab" and I waited for the meltdown to begin. She told Evan to sit in my lap while I held one of his arms outstretched and bear-hugged his other arm to his body...a human straight jacket. Still no resistance from the little man. Curly showed Evan the needle and the tube and said, "At the count of three, we'll all say Ouch! Then it won't hurt anymore." We counted, we said Ouch! and that was it. Evan watched the blood come out of his arm, through the tube, and into the vial. He said it looked, "Pretty."

We didn't even need YouTube. He did get the lollipop.

Lesson Learned:
Evan's going to be a scientist when he grows up. Or a doctor.

Part 2: There's Gonna Be a Showdown
The nurse from Dr. B's office called today. Evan's RAST test tested for the presence of IgE antibodies to milk, egg, and peanut. (He has other allergies, but these are the biggies.) His RAST numbers to milk and peanut are still off the charts, but..........

And not just baked egg, but whole hard-boiled egg!!!! This is huge news.

Lesson Learned:
I can't wait for Part 3: Evan vs. Egg. My money is squarely on my Big Boy.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

on top of the hill

I didn't get carded at the grocery store yesterday. The check-out girl--child, really--didn't even glance in my direction as she swiped the wine bottle across the scanner.

Yes, I'm 30...but the sign on the cash register clearly states: "If you look younger than 27, we will ask to see identification." Really? I look older than 27? I thought I had that cute, perky, 25ish look about me.

I know...it wasn't me. It was the toddler in the car cart and the baby in the Bjorn, right? You cute, perky, 20-something clerk.......

Or maybe it was the groceries themselves: No one in their early- to mid-20s buys butternut squash and Froot Loops at the same time, do they?

Or wait..... was it the "I was up every hour-and-a-half nursing my starving baby last night" under-eye circles?

Oh god. Don't tell me it was my new Mom Haircut--courtesy of the hormonal havoc Pregnancy #2 wreaked on my poor 'do.

You know what, Little Miss Check-Out? It doesn't matter. I'm proud to be 30. I'm in a good place for 30.

Just next time, ask to see the card, okay hun?

Lesson Learned:
I didn't do my hair, but at least I wasn't in a baseball cap and sweats.