Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Grammy and Pop-pee

Bill and Vicki came up this weekend for a quick visit, partly because Bill is in the throes of Tax Season Madness and could use a little break, and partly - ok, mostly - because Alex wanted them to, and who could say no to this face?

It was freeeezing here this weekend, and not just for Dallas. It was cold by Inuit standards, so our Family Fun in the Park Day got postponed, and we had to find something else to do Saturday morning. So what we did was sit around the warm house and wait for Grammy and Poppa to get here. They arrived around 11am, so we killed some time before lunch by sitting around the warm house and watching Alex be a goof. Lately we have really been working hard on Alex's grandparent names - Granny B, Grampa, Grammy, and Poppa. He says "B" all the time (usually in reference to the letter) but he has a hard time with his "G" sound, so he is totally intimidated by "Grampa" and "Grammy" and won't even try to say them. Poppa, however, is another story. Alex has decided that Bill just isn't a "Poppa", and instead, he has started calling him "Pop-pee", with extra emphasis on the "pee". It is about the funniest thing I think I've heard him say, and frankly, I'm a little jealous that it's Bill's name and not mine.

After lunch and naps, we braved the wintery weather and went out to the front yard to fly a teeny-tiny kite that Grammy and Poppa (Pop-pee?) brought Alex. It was little windy, but not what I would call "ideal kite flying conditions". Basically, the experience consisted of Timothy running back and forth, trying to get the kite more than a few feet off the ground for more than a few seconds at a time, while Alex chased back and forth after him, trying to reach the kite and hollering, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" Yeah, I'm not totally sure where that came from, considering Daddy was the one flying the kite. My best guess is that, in his mind, Mommy is the one who always gets him things he wants, and if he wants that kite, Mommy is the one to get it for him.

After about the hundredth attempt, Timothy finally got the kite in the air.

By this time, Alex was about to hyperventilate, what with all the running and the "Mommy-ing". Lucky for him, Daddy's kite only hung in the air for a few seconds before getting caught in a tree.

It was still long enough that A was able to grab ahold of the kite tails and pull it down. Then he attempted to fly the thing on his own.

He got a taste of his own medecine when Murph started running back and forth after his kite, saying, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" What can I say, I'm in high demand around here.

This time, the kite didn't get stuck in a tree. It got stuck to Alex.

The harder he tried to untangle himself, the more tangled up he got.

Fortunately, Poppa was nearby and demonstrated his kite removal expertise.

After church Sunday morning, we went to one of our favorite lunch places called Cafe Express. There are many reasons we like this place - the huge selection, the fresh ingredients, the casual atmosphere, and the fact that they have stuff to keep Alex entertained until our food is ready, like free all-you-can breadsticks and stackable salt and pepper shakers.

Grammy and Poppa noticed the huge selection of delicious-sounding food on the menu, too.

While they decided what to order, Alex munched on some Goldfish appetizers.

Once our food came, we blessed our meals and dug in.

Alex has tried almost everything on the kid's menu except for the chicken tenders, so we thought we'd give those a try, along with some fruit and two of Mommy's french fries. Mommy's wasn't willing to share more than that, cuz them's some good fries.

When he was done eating, Alex bussed his own dishes, stacking his plate and basket and straw into a neat pile in front of him. This is a habit he has picked up recently, and he will do it at home, too. After he eats, he moves his plate, bowl, suppy cup, and silverware from his high chair tray to the table and stacks them neatly. I'd like to think he's trying to make my life easier, but I'm pretty sure he just thinks it's fun.

It had been a cool, overcast morning, but by the time we left the restaurant, it had turned into a beautiful, sunny afternoon. We were inspired to stop under the arbor and take a few pics.

Before they left, Poppa left Alex with a parting gift, a stylish and recyclable hat.

It was another great weekend with the fam, and Alex was such a sweet, well-behaved boy while they were here. He is just so much fun and so happy and such a good boy, and I love being able to share him with other people. I feel like I need to reiterate how wonderful and lovable and good-natured he is because I have a tendency to overemphasize the tough times, when in fact, the good times outweigh the bad by about twenty-to-one. Sure, the hard times make for more entertaining blog posts, but they hardly offer the most accurate representation of my daily life with A. I really don't think I take for granted how great my kid is - I am fully aware of how lucky I am - but I want to make sure that everyone else knows how great he is, too.

And now that I've got that out of the way, I can continue to blog about all the nasty, annoying things he does with no guilt attached. Hee hee, just kidding...sort of.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

trials and tribulations

I'm not sure if you people know this, but being the mom of a toddler is really hard work. Case in point:

Our neighbor/landlord Meredith had a little get-together at her house Thursday night, just a casual thing to help some of the neighbors get acquainted. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun, and I am always looking for opportunities to meet new people, so despite the fact that Timothy had some networking event to attend, I decided to brave the wilds of single-parentdom and took A to the party all by myself.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. What I had forgotten (or never knew in the first place) was that taking Alex to someone's house - especially the house of someone without a young child, a house full of lovely, clean furniture, lovely white walls, and lovely, very breakable glass decor displayed atop lovely child-sized tables - and then asking him not to touch anything is like locking a fat man alone inside a Burger King and convincing him to steer clear of the Triple Whoppers with Cheese. Yeah, good luck with that.

It is somewhat difficult to hold a coherent conversation with another adult while your child is trying to drop his sippy cup into a decorative urn or attempting to pick a fight with a large labrador by yanking his tail or testing out the stain resistance of the upholstery fabric on the dining room chairs. And it didn't help that I was the only parent there, amidst a bunch of childless people that could not fully sympathize with my plight. But everyone was very nice and did their best to entertain Alex and help keep him out of trouble - especially Meredith, who was very sweet about letting Alex do his thing - and that definitely made my evening more enjoyable.

I realize that I am making Alex sound like a total spoiled rotten brat, one of those kids who runs amok in public and you wonder what his parents did wrong to make him that way, but I'm pretty sure he is just a normal 20-month-old boy. And to be fair, he is normally very well-behaved, at least in familiar places where he knows his limits. But to throw him into a new situation, where he has no choice but to test his boundaries if only to see where they lie, I can't really blame him for wreaking a little havoc. I can put him in time-out, however. Which I did. Twice. Right on the floor in the hallway. He calmed down a bit after that, had some snacks and played nice with the dogs. Rather than torturing Luke the Lab, he laid down with him on the floor to take a "nap". To get the true effect, imagine the sound of Alex's fake snoring when you view the picture below.

Lucky for him (and me), the party started to move outside, where he had a little more freedom to run wild and I didn't have to worry so much about what he was destroying. All I really had to worry about was whether he was traipsing through the flowers beds or climbing on the chairs with muddy feet or crawling under the table to play peek-a-boo between people's legs. Sigh.

I think I just have to accept that, without the aid of a straight jacket and/or heavy sedatives, my child is simply not the type to sit still and quiet for more than thirty seconds. He's so curious and full of energy and loves nothing more than to run and play and explore, and to expect him to sit still and quiet (without the aid of a straight jacket and/or heavy sedatives) when there are so many new things to discover is just not fair. And the real challenge for me is being able to strike a balance when it comes to dealing with my spirited child in a public place. I don't want to be the completely neurotic mom who constantly scolds her child just for being childlike, nor do I want to be the mom who can't get her obnoxious, spoiled child under control and doesn't really seem to care.

I'd like to think I fall somewhere in between those extremes. Or at least I try to. As a result, A managed not to break anything and had a lot of fun and didn't annoy people too much...that I was aware of, anyway. He played with Meredith and climbed in the crape myrtles and talked to the plants before we headed home for the night.

Despite all my griping, he really is a good, sweet boy who just happens to be a handful sometimes. And I try not to spoil him too much or be a pushover or let him have every little thing he desires, but it's hard. I mean, who could say no to this face?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

rainy day

It's hard enough trying to come up with new, fun things to do with your toddler on a beautiful sunny day, let alone when it is chilly and pouring rain and your child is getting over strep, which basically eliminates those indoor activities that might involve him coming within ten feet of another child. I have a stockpile of great ideas for arts and crafts projects for when A gets a little older, but for now, I fear most of those projects would end with Alex ingesting deadly amounts of clay or gluing cottonballs to his forehead.

Yesterday was one of those chilly, rainy days, the type of day that is made for sleeping in, and I was determined not to sit around the house with Alex all day, whining and moping and wishing that I was still in bed. So I got a little ambitious and decided to build a cardboard playhouse using old moving boxes and Gorilla Tape. It seemed like a great idea - which it was, in theory - but I soon realized that Alex was not going to wait until I was done building it before he destroyed it. No amount of time-out threats was going to stop that kid from barreling through my half-built house, so I spent most of the "construction phase" trying not to slice him with my Exacto blade or tape his hair to a box. Let's just say the craftsmanship on this thing is a bit below par.

When he is older and actually appreciates the work that goes into building a great cardboard playhouse, I will design and build the coolest one a kid has ever seen, complete with a gourmet kitchen, working potty, washer and dryer, and room after room of tiny-yet-structurally-sound furniture. But for now, I can't keep him from climbing on top of the structurally-unsound playhouse and caving the roof in. Okay, to be fair, he does like to crawl through it and open and close the doors and pop his head out of the openings, trying to scare me. He has enjoyed minutes of fun playing with it, which is far longer than most things keep his attention these days.

After lunch, A took a long three-hour nap, thanks to the dark new drapes in his bedroom and the sound of the rain falling. When he got up, it was still raining, and when I opened the door to let Murph out, Alex ran onto the front porch to check things out. While this kid loves to be outside under any condition, he especially likes to play in the rain, no matter how cold or windy or wet it might be. It was a little chilly, so I didn't let him play in the rain like I otherwise would. Instead, he just stood on the porch in his t-shirt and bare feet, waving to the rain, kissing the rain, and saying "Rain? Rain?" over and over again (with the occasional "Wet!" thrown in every now and then, just to keep things interesting).

Today looks to be another wet one, so I guess I'll have to see what other tricks I've got up my sleeve. Chances are, he will be bored of his playhouse by this afternoon, that is, if he doesn't crush it flat before the boredom sets in. Boys...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Here's what happens when I leave my child alone in his "childproofed" bedroom for less than thirty seconds:

If I had to guess what happened based on where he was when I left him and where I found him when I rushed into his room, I'd say that he decided to climb onto the end table next to his rocking chair, then attempted to jump the one foot gap between the table and the chair and fell somewhere in between, bashing his cheek along the way.

Considering the large pile of books that were still stacked on the end table and the random ones that were scattered on the floor, I can only assume that he upped the ante by standing on top of the pile of books that were on top of the end table, and then tried to jump onto the chair, slipping on the wobbly stack of books and plummeting to the floor. Yeah, that sounds like something he would do.

I attempted to put ice on it and tried out his "Boo-boo Bunny", which is a block of plastic that you freeze and wrap a little plush bunny around, thought being that the kid will be more willing to let you mash a piece of ice into his already-tender face because it looks like a cute little bunny rabbit. Apparently the inhaler-mask-designers and the Boo-boo Bunny people are in cahoots. I'm pretty sure Alex hates bunnies now.

After a few hilarious minutes of freezing Mommy's arms and legs with the Boo-boo Bunny (Mommy hates bunnies now, too), A was back to himself. "Boo-boo" has become a regular staple in Alex's vocab as of late as he has gotten braver and/or more reckless in his daily activities. Unless I duct-tape him to my hip (which no, I'm not willing to do to save him some bumps and bruises), I just can't keep up with him. So for now I'm just hoping that these bumps are "bumps of knowledge", and that maybe next time, he'll take the books off the table before launching himself from it.

Monday, March 23, 2009

playing hooky

With A having strep throat and all, we decided to skip church Sunday morning so as to not pass the plague on to unsuspecting kids in the nursery, and instead, went to the park to spend the morning with the rest of the heathens. The park we frequent has a ton of ducks that are usually very hungry and tend to stalk park goers in hopes of scoring a stray snack, so we were armed with a giant sack of stale bread that we had saved over the course of the week. A loves to feed the ducks, so we were really looking forward to a fun morning of duck-fattening.

Unfortunately the duck-fattening didn't happen as planned. Almost every family with young kids brings a loaf of bread to this park to feed the ducks, so maybe by Sunday they were already stuffed to their eyeballs and simply weren't hungry for our bread. Perhaps they have already started their low-carb diets, trying to slim down for bathing-suit season. Could be that they are just sick to death of bread, and they're all, Seriously, who told you people ducks only eat simple carbohydrates? Can't you spare a Porterhouse? Some yogurt? Heck, we'd even take Brussels sprouts! Anything but bread!! Or maybe they like bread alright, just not our week old hard-as-a-rock bread that could render a duck unconscious if Alex's aim was off a little.

Whatever the case, the ducks were not interested in our bread. But we didn't let that ruin our fun. Alex tested out each piece of playground equipment - more than once - and impressed us by mastering the rock wall, which he can now scale in under eight seconds. He is fearless when it comes to the slide, and the higher you can push him on the swing, the better.

Next Saturday, our church is having "Family Fun in the Park" day, complete with a bouncy house and games and snacks and loads of fellowship. So assuming we haven't been kicked out for playing hooky this morning, we have that to look forward to.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Streptococcal Pharyngitis

That's right. The kid is sick. He's been coughing for a few days, which tends to happen when the weather changes and his throat gets snotty. Normally we'd just run the vaporizer at night and lube him up with Vicks VapoRub until it passes or until he starts running a fever, at which point we'd take him to the doc assuming that an ear infection is to blame. This time, it was keeping him up at night, and while a dose of Benadryl before bedtime soothed his itchy throat enough to let him sleep, the coughing wasn't going away or even getting better. I still wasn't really worried until he was listening to music on Tim's headphones and was so uncharacteristically calm and quiet that I noticed he was wheezing. That pretty much raised a red flag - time to see the doc.

The wheezing started on Friday afternoon, so our only choice was to take Alex to the walk-in clinic at Baylor Pediatric this morning. Timothy volunteered to take him so that I could have a peaceful morning at home (much-appreciated after Spring Break week with no M.D.O.), so the two of them set off early to beat the rush. Unfortunately, the rush beat them. The clinic opened at 9am, and by the time they arrived at 9:06am, they were 11th in line to see the doc. Luckily, A was in a stellar mood and entertained himself by entertaining the masses in the waiting room. A mere two hours later and they left with the diagnosis - Streptococcal Pharyngitis, aka "Strep Throat", and a minor respiratory infection.

They came home with antibiotics and an inhaler, which Alex loves and hates, respectively. Well, to be accurate, he only hates the inhaler when we force him to breathe from it. It really doesn't help that the handy, kid-sized mask attached to the inhaler has been painted to look like a cute little ducky face. Nice effort, inhaler-mask-designing-people, but instead of making my kid love his inhaler, I think you've made him hate ducks.

So forcing him to use the inhaler is a torturous and traumatic process for all of us. But thank God for that nurse who taught us an invaluable technique for making a kid do stuff that he doesn't want to do, one that involves one parent sitting on him while the other pins his elbows to his ears. Thanks to that method, we were able to administer Round 2 of his Albuterol much more efficiently than the first time. A few hugs and one gumdrop later, and A was back to his usual giddy self.

Speaking of which, aside from the occasional cough and a little wheezing, you'd never know the kid was sick, let alone inflicted with two nasty infections. He's been a total goofball, super happy and lovable, maybe even more so than usual. Case in point:

Seriously folks, does that look like a kid who is suffering? Streptococcus, shmeptococcus.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Pat's Revenge

I attempted to bring out the goofy hat and glasses that Alex so willingly donned last St. Patrick's Day, but apparently he has gotten much cooler since then and was not interested in letting me make a fool of him. I tried to explain that he would simply be expressing his holiday spirit, but he was not buying it.

So instead, we compromised, and he allowed me to dress him in a "less dorky" greenish outfit.

After a few errands, we came home and had lunch. I suppose it should have been something like potatoes and green beer, but Alex ended up having a decidedly un-Irish meal of pitas and roasted red pepper hummus, after which he developed a nasty red rash around his mouth. He's eaten it before with no problems, so I guess he's developed an allergy to hummus or roasted red peppers or the combination. That, or St. Patrick is exacting revenge from the grave and is punishing Alex by causing a volatile reaction between un-Irish hummus and Alex's 1/4 Irish blood. We'll try the hummus again another day, and if no rash appears...well, I guess next year it will be beer and potatoes.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


So A turned the big two-oh yesterday. I wish I had lots of exciting news and updates and milestones to speak of, but this month's post reads pretty much like the last one. He's growing like a weed, debuting new words everyday, loving school, loving the outdoors, loving his family, etc., etc.

One change is that we have had to work a little harder to keep his attitude in check this month. He seems to think the world revolves around him. I cannot possibly imagine why. The timeout corner has been getting a lot more action this month, and thank goodness, he seems to be responding well to it. A little too well, in fact. The kid actually likes timeout. When he starts to cop an attitude, we will ask him if he wants to go to timeout. So far, his answer has always been, "yes", and when we tell him, "Okay then, go to timeout," he marches right over to the designated corner and sits down until we tell him to get up.

We thought the novelty might wear off after a while and that he would eventually realize that timeout is a punishment, but after dozens of opportunities to fight us on it, he still goes willingly. Not that I blame him. There are many times during the day that I would love to be sent to timeout, but no one is willing to send me. Then again, it is not at all uncommon for Alex to put himself in timeout for no apparent reason. Many times during the course of the day, I will look over and find Alex sitting in the corner by himself, flashing me his aren't I funny? smile. I'll ask him, "Are you in timeout?", and he'll say, "Yes". I'll ask, "Are you a bad boy?" and he'll say, "Yes". Then he waits for me to tell him to get up and give me a hug and apologize for his bad behavior.

Despite the fact that he seems to enjoy his few minutes of solitude, this method of discipline does seem to be effective. He usually gets in trouble for throwing a fit when we tell him he can't have something that he wants, or when we tell him not to do something and he continues to do it. The word "timeout" calms him down immediately and distracts him from his bad behavior, and once he has had a few minutes to "reflect", he never goes back to doing what got him in trouble. Not right away, at least...

Other than the occasional short-lived hissyfit, he is a good, sweet, fun boy. He is super affectionate, always climbing on me and hugging me and kissing me. He has become more independent and has started to enjoy more "big boy" pastimes, like doing art projects and collecting things and trying to read. His personality has continued to blossom, and he is more outgoing now than ever. He loves to scream "hi" and "bye" to friends and strangers and loves to participate in the activities at school. After I picked Alex up from class one day, we ran into the director of the Mother's Day Out program. She stopped to say hi to Alex and told me that she had come into his class that day to play games with the kids, including a game where you sing a song about rolling a ball to someone, then you roll the ball to that person, and they roll it back to you. She went on to explain that he was the only one in the class that would play with her because the rest of the kids wanted to keep the ball once she rolled it to them, while Alex was the only one who understood that you are supposed to roll it back. It seems that the kid knows who to impress. Of course, we figured Grammy deserved some credit for his cooperation because he's had some practice with rolling his bowling ball.

And that about covers it for this month. Our "project" for this upcoming month is to work on Alex's two and three word phrases because, while he seems to have single words down, actual phrases are few and far between. We have also been working like mad on his numbers because his counting now goes something like this: one, do, eeh, bow, five! We're hoping that, by age 2, he will be able to recite the first 1000 digits of Pi from memory. Hey, it's doable.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

bed business

Things are still going pretty well in the big boy bed department. A is putting up a little more resistance when it comes to staying in the bed, but I've developed some strategies for dealing with his urge to jump and run. At bedtime, I turn the light off before I put him in bed, and since he can't see his toys or his books, he really has no choice but to go to sleep.

Naptime is a little more complicated, however, since daylight pours through the cracks in his blinds. I have resorted to letting him pick a few books to take into bed with him, but he will still climb out as long as I'm standing in the room. The trick is to get him in bed and under the covers, then book it out of the room before he has a chance to get up. For some reason, once I've closed that door, he gives up and goes to sleep. I guess at that point he knows Mama means business.

Now that daylight savings time is over and the sun stays up well past Alex's bedtime, we've determined we may have to invest in some drapes for his windows to keep the light out. But in general, we are very happy and proud of how well he has transitioned into his big boy bed.