Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Turning Over Stones

Warning: contemplative post ahead.

This past year I have been consciously and unconsciously turning over all of the stones in my life, checking for worms and other undergrowth, tending the fields, airing out the past, inviting the future.

At one point I even, literally, moved about 3000 pounds of rocks into my yard to serve as garden borders.

This is clearly serious.

Now, post the stone-turning phase, but still in the dusting-off stage, the anticipated future not yet here, I am contemplating the purpose of it all. All this stone-turning.

Did it make my life better, after all?

Will the loss(es) be worth the unknown gain(s)?

But there is something peaceful here in this field of overturned stones. At least I know, now, what is underneath them. I don't have to pretend that there weren't worms. I can choose to clean them off if I want, or leave them, wormy.

I am in the middle of The Power of Now at the moment.

I'm not that into self-help books, and I'm not sure this book even falls into that category, but it certainly offers some concrete suggestions for letting go of the past and future and focusing on the here and now. I've had a bit of a head-start in that category after some of the things that have happened in my life -- realizing how important NOW is, but it is always good to be reminded.

Not that two kids in the house doesn't remind you that NOW is the most important time.

He: I've got to PEE.... NOW!!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

93 Percent Predictability

Some Summer Fun at Kenwood Park.

As humans, our minds prefer predictability. We're wired that way.

BioMom and I are taking a little trip for each of our upcoming birthdays. It is the first trip in many years without the kids.

Since Big could walk (at about 10 months) I haven't felt comfortable leaving him with anyone for any extended period of time.

It wasn't because he wasn't capable. He's always been capable, at least physically.

It was because he was unpredictable.

Unlike his sister, whose moods, actions, behaviors, etc. for better or for worse, can be predicted--with some accuracy, I might add--Big often does things (privately and publicly) that I could never have predicted.

There was the time last summer that drove his bike off of a four foot ledge and threw the shuffleboard puck over a second story patio onto the pooldeck at which people sat enjoying a theretofore balmy afternoon.

There was his reaction to meeting my aunt over this past Fourth-of-July.

There was the time a few weeks ago that he darted (literally) in front of a moving bus (safely, thank God) even though I was distinctly aware of the possibility that he might run at any moment.

There was the day he threw his shoe out of the window of our moving car.

And then there was today.

It was our first day attempting some casual errands, a haircut, a trip to the beach, a Chipotle lunch with Nine's pal, in our new post-diaper era. Our first time with shorts on and with a burgeoning awareness that bathrooms exist out in the world and need to be located at particular points in time and that while locating said bathroom, one must wait to relieve their bladder.

He was doing great. Bathroom at Lake Harriet Bandshell? Check. Bathroom at haircut pace? Check.

Then we were at Chipotle and I was compiling the laborious order of two picky Nine-year-olds when they came running over to me in a panic: Big had grabbed another boy's box of chocolate milk while the other kids was in the bathroom, drinking it as quickly as possible.


All-in-all though, particularly in the post-potty-training world (I can't believe I am speaking of this in past tense already!) he has become much more predictable.

I'd say we've moved from about 80 to 93 percent predictable.

So, because I trust that grandma and grandpa can handle seven percent uncertainty, we'll be heading to the Big Apple in a couple of weeks for a few days for some R&R.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Success Rate Update

For all three post-hiatus readers out there: Big's success rate over the last five days.

For No. 1: 98%

For No. 2: 0%

We are ecstatic.

Preschool here we come!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What Goes In Must Come Out

I got this message from our future preschool teacher in response to an inquiry I sent regarding the status of our son's ability to go No. 1 in a particular place: the potty.

(And by "future", I mean, approximately five weeks).

Potty training. My suggestion is maybe not something you want to try but I feel it's effective. Schedule a week when you don't have to leave the house much and just take away the diaper (he wears it at nap time and night). give him lots of liquids and let him see/feel how it goes - use a sticker or incentive chart, give him lots of strokes, etc. I'll bet you have success. We don't have a diapering license and strongly request that the kids don't come in a diaper - and especially not a pull-up. We do work with the children, take them into the bathroom a lot and give them strokes, have them watch the other children, etc. Give me some feed back on this suggestion - is he resistant to the toilet?

Now, to my so-called life.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pure Bliss

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Performance

So the other day BioMom was in a dilemma, and I'm curious as to how you parents out there in the Blogsphere would react to this situation.

A local high school has these amazing summer classes for kids. They are inexpensive three hour classes that go Monday through Thursday for grades K-8 on a variety of topics from "gooey treats" to "la crosse" to "hollywood" to "rocket making". In short, a super opportunity for kids and parents alike!

Last week, Nine was signed up for two dramaish classes, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

She was in heaven.

She and I have reached the honeymoon-is-over stage of summer where I have gotten entirely sick of picking up after her and attempting to entertain both a nine year old and a three year old, and she is tired of all of my boring adultish jokes and lame attempts at creating fun experiences:

Me: Baba's takin' us to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow!

She: NOT THE ZOO AGAIN!!!!! What will we DOOOOO there?

So, off she went.

The problem with the dramaish classes, is that there is a performance at the end of the week.

I say "problem" because I'm a bad parent.

To me, the "performances" defeat the purpose: stretches of time away from each other.

And with TWO dramaish classes, that means one "performance" at 11:30 and another at 3:00.

So now, BioMom's dilemma: She had a long meeting scheduled last Thursday, to go from 2:00 p.m. indefinitely. So she decided to take the morning off to a) let me have a little free time and b) spend some quality time with the kids. Big and I had already planned on joining little nature kids club that was heading out to the Arboretum, and then make it back in time for the second of Nine's two performances.

So, BioMom had to choose: either come with us, or go to Nine's first performance.

She was torn. And, of course, Nine's "YOU NEVER COME TO ANY OF MY PERFORMANCES!!!" rant didn't help.

I didn't help either, pushing her to come with me. In my opinion, one of us getting to one of the performances was good enough.

So what's your take on attending all kids' EVERYTHING? Is it important to go to as many events, however small, as possible?

My 1950's-Era brother was in town last weekend, and he reminded me that we were lucky if our parents made it to state track, so with his opinion cataloged, I open it up to you:

What do you do?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


At Camp Du Nord, Big enjoyed his first requited friendship(s). There was a set of twin boys that enjoyed him as much as he enjoyed them.* Their parents told us that each morning they would wake up and exclaim that they wanted to see "[Big"]!

It was there that I realized how lucky we were to have only one boy at a time.

I could not imagine two of Big, joining their heads to create increasingly dangerous challenges for each other.

Those boys (who happen to live quite close to us and so, as a consequence, we are able to see in our post-Du Nord life), plus the addition of Cousin's seven year old boy in our life, has open the "world-of-boydom" to Big who had, heretofore, mainly been exposed, through his sister's friends, our mainly female-spawned neighborhood, his two mothers, and our family's two female cats, girls.

One consequence of his exposure to this new world, is that he has become incredibly silly. He uses silly words, sings silly songs, dances silly dances.

But most of all, his extreme physicality and growing sense of humor has translated into a unique facial intensity that is often hilarious, sometimes maddening, but nearly always surprising.

On one occasion, we were recently visiting my family in Omaha. At one point, I found myself chatting to my cousin and his wife, and their girl, also a three-year-old. She was lovely. Sitting near her parents, enjoying the conversation. Clean.

They asked "Where's [Big]? We'd love to see him again?"

I spent a bit of time locating him (apparently he had been exploring the greater Omaha metropolitan area by this time) and dragging him back into the fold.

He was dirty (sweat, dirt, food, and maybe even a bit of blood), reluctant, resistant, and resentful, his play disrupted by me for something he deemed unimportant: meeting family.

He pointed to their girl "What number is she?"

I interpreted: "She is three, like you!"

Him: "I'm bigger!"

My cousin's wife gave him the slightest encouragement to stand up next to their daughter, and he rushed up, chin held high and on tippy-toes to prove it.

Next was the meeting of my quite elderly aunt who was so lovely to stop and ask about Big.

She: "My husband's name is [Big]! And so was his father's!"

Big literally went, in one split second to having a nice, presentable smile on his face to the meanest, nastiest, scrunched up scowl that I could ever imagine. It was so impossibly bizarre that neither me nor my aunt knew what to do, so we just laughed and sent Mr. Hyde running.

*Until now, he has had only unrequited friendships: either he has really liked someone (like the girl down the street that tolerates him, but WAY prefers Nine, or the younger boy up the street that enjoys him, but who he regularly and loudly exclaims that he "hates" for no reason other than that he is younger and smaller.)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

An Explanation for Attentive Parenting

Check out this blog column (Greg Mankiw is an economist and textbook writer--the book we are currently using) via Taggert at A Random Walk. It references a paper that attempts to explain the increase in attentiveness among parents.

The punch line?

Competition for college admissions.

Read that, instead of the old craw "this will stay on your PERMANENT record" parents are now using the verbal stick "you won't get into any decent college with THOSE [fill in the bad habit du jour] skills!"

Out of the Fog and Into the Fire

So I just finished up with a big work-push and am heartily prepared to fully enjoy the rest of the summer--at least until class prep has been put off long enough.

I hadn't done a whole lot of academic work since Big was born and decided, in one fell swoop, to make up for it by presenting three papers at a conference in the end of June.

Needless to say, it was quite an effort to prepare for the talks. But Boston was amazing, and I visited some old friends in Brooklyn.

The following is more evidence of recent summer adventures with Cousin and the family, and what will follow in blogs to come are more assertive efforts to maintain regularity.



This year's paltry cherry crop