Monday, December 29, 2008

Worst Case Scenario

Pequita has a stomach bug. So far we've had to wash puke off her car
seat, the back seat cover, many surfaces of my car, every article of
clothing we've all had on today, and as of the last hour, all the
bedding on the master bed. We are all in the living room watching the
Project Runway marathon and waiting for the kids to fall asleep and
the laundry to cycle through. We're going to need more ginger ale
before this is over. If anyone is driving by and could throw some on
the front porch, we'd appreciate it. Last time this happened, Monito
followed his sister, then I succumbed, finally H-Mama. Yuck.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Keeps on Giving

Grandma took my suggestion and made felt food for her grandkids. Peas with actual dried peas sewn into the felt, fried eggs, heads of lettuce, bow tie pasta and more. The kids adore it, and play with it all the time. I have eaten hundreds of bowls of veggie pasta surprise brought to me with a spoon while they look on, bright eyed and approvingly, as I blow on my bowl of felt to cool it down before pretending to eat it up.

Homestead Mama made each kid a doctor's bag, which we gave them a few days after Christmas. 26 and 18 months might seem early for them, but both kids have had semi-traumatic blood draws to check lead levels, seen their mommy in the post-op and with stitches after the gall bladder removal, and seen Grandma on crutches. They LOVE the bags. H-Mama doesn't slouch, and had on hand two actual leather gate-mouth doctor's bags, the kind Marcus Welby always carried and I've never seen a modern physician toting. She filled them with medical grade stethoscopes, tongue depressors, gauze pads, bandaids, and syringes with the needles removed. We have a lifetime supply of those from all the IVF we endured, and we use them all the time for non-injection things these days.

The kids unload all their equipment, spread it out, then play with their favorites. Bandaids are the biggest hit. Having an unlimited supply has not yet gotten tiresome for them. What a tiny investment of money for such joy. One is never enough.

Monito is giving the dogs a dose of medicine with his syringe. They are taking it like good pups.

Pequita has been asking to hear the story of her blood draw several times a day for months by pointing to the crook of her arm and asking for 'more'. Now she can really happily re-enact the whole event with her supplies. Below is H-Mama pretending to draw out the 2 vials of blood the nurse took that day. Pequita gets to talk about how scary it was, how it pinched but didn't hurt much and how we then got Pudding! in the cafeteria. Such a good idea H-Mama had.

Dive In, The Water is Great

We went back to the YMCA yesterday and went swimming, and it was a huge success. My kids have blossomed since I last took them swimming. Pequita has always loved the water, but has been - blessedly - cautious. This summer, she really loved the ocean and jumping in the waves. Today, she revelled in the baby pool. She has little fear of the water, and figured out that she can stand unattended in the shallow end of the baby pool; she loved clinging to the filter lip of the pool and moving from one side of the pool to the other all the while telling me to 'Go 'way! Go 'way!' It is a gratifying to see her develop independence like this. She loves beyond measure to jump off the edge of the pool into our arms.

Monito is still more cautious than his sister, but was game for all we did. Floating, jumping of the sides of the pool, blowing bubbles. He was content to stay in our arms while in the water, but was so very excited. We can sign up for a swim class without a Y membership; it looks like that's what we'll be doing. With a response like this, wouldn't you?

YMCA, I hardly knew ye

We have been paying for the local YMCA for several months and not going. The kids refuse to stay in the free daycare rooms; four times of being pulled out of the pool, or worse yet, the sauna, to return to an inconsolable child in the nursery was enough for me to take a break. In an effort to save money, we've cancelled it. The last few days of our membership coincide with Homestead Mama's vacation, so we've been going a lot as a family. After a couple days without leaving the house, we popped over at 6pm the night my parents left to release energy by running after basketballs. Homestead Mama was on the varsity ball team in high school, even at 5'1". She thrills the kids by lifting them up over her head and pushing the ball out of their hands towards the basket. The kids feel like they're shooting the ball, and they get it in a surprising percentage of the time.

And I am on the varsity nursing team, and did what I do best. In public. The teenaged boys also on the court missed a lot more shots once I started tandem nursing on the sidelines.
I realized recently that I am one of a very few moms still nursing a kid over 2 years old. If anything, Pequita is nursing more now than ever. I nurse both kids on demand, and it isn't unusual for me to be strolling along the main drag with one kid alongside me and the other in my arms nursing away as I walk. Or to pull over the grocery cart and let both kids tank up in the cheese isle. I barely notice, but I suspect everyone else does. I feel a bit like an ambassador for nursing; even if folks think it a bit odd, it is good for them to see it happening. I always knew I wanted to nurse the kids for a long time, but didn't realize I'd be one of a tiny constituency doing so.

My Son, David Bowie

Grandma's arrival for the holidays has brought with it the advent of nail polish to the Homestead. Both kids have embraced the toxic smells, the smears, the utter joy of altering their appearance. We bought a bottle of blue, green and turquoise at the grocery store this afternoon. The house is certainly more glamorous. Monito is particularly partial to the pedicure.
He has been compensating for any doubts about his masculinity by wrassling with his sister at every opportunity. He sets traps, piling up pillows, and then pounces.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

D-40 Love

My first day with the D-40. Still have a lot to learn. Still, compare this pic of Monito at his work bench with the last post. No comparison. And this image of Grandpa commiserating with a tired Monito. The lighting is super. The ceiling in our dining room is still plywood. This is because Homestead Mama and I are in a standoff of design - she wants a pressed tin ceiling, and I would prefer wood or drywall. Why not put in hooks for a swing, eh? Anyway, it usually sucks all brightness from a photograph taken under it. Not with my nice new external flash.

It may not show up on the blog, but wow.


Monito got his work bench. I resesearched all I could online, and am so extremely happy with the product. Solid wood, sturdy, lots of wooden bolts, nuts, and tools. While Pequita spent hours playing with her Playmobile horses and riders that I selected for her, my 18 month old son spent the day banging on his tools. Talk about gender specific behavior! We can be as neutral as we want, but nature seems to will out.

A quick glimpse of our tree, in its secure home atop a corner coffee table. A particular hit is the goldfish puppet in lieu of a star. Monito points at it and says 'blub blub'.
The stockings were sewn up, although some needle-felting embellishment will occur before next year. They were a huge hit with Pequita, who kept filling, emptying and refilling her stocking as she played with her toys and CHOCOLATE all through the day.

My photos are about to get better, because Homestead Mama did a very bad thing. Instead of the Buddha statue I asked for, she had this under the tree for me.
Nikon D 40.
I no longer want to get married to her. I am going to marry my new camera. I adore it. It is perfect.



Hammock chair: $8 used
Eye hooks for ceiling: $1.73
Swing & rings from swingset: free

Swing in dining room? Priceless.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas gift

Homestead Mama and my father took the babies to the grocery store [folly, I know, but I so needed time without them to get ready for tomorrow I didn't say anything] and mom and I finished up our holiday errands and then had lunch with no sippy cups, behavioral outbursts, or messy eating.  Thai food, no less.  It was the best gift I've had in a long time.  It didn't hurt that the errands included a trip to the fabric/ yarn store in town.  Fondling Kaffe Fasset quilting cloth and alpaca yarn was yummy.  Coming out only having spent $1 on the ribbon I needed to finish the stockings I'm making was even better.

I'll try get some pictures up soon, but we've got a couple duck to roast tonight, 18 lbs of fresh ham to cook tomorrow and now I'm going to go sort through the massive mound of outgrown clothes I have on hand to find some to donate to the single mom of three girls whose house just burned down last night.  I can't even imagine.

Happy holidays, everyone. 

Thursday, December 18, 2008

After a rest...

I slept a lot last night. Somehow, survival instincts keep a child quiet just when they need to be still. I love them most sometimes as they sleep. Or when they are channelling Henry the 8th; Monito insisted on having a whole turkey leg at Thanksgiving, and did a darn good job of finishing it.
I read my post to Homestead Mama when she came home - she doesn't always get the magnitude of the all-day effect, since she doesn't live it. After a bit of hugging and lovey stuff, I read her Becca's comment, and we both laughed. Heidi, the reminder of the post-stage amnesia was extremely helpful, as I had forgotten I had that to look forward to. No pun intended.

We're off to the indoor playground so the kids can run themselves ragged while I try to knit. Then we'll make an outing of buying a Christmas goose, with cookies and balloons and singing. [They love me at the grocery store.] Then home to make merengue snowmen cookies. Easy and yummy, and we get to use the MIXER!
I remembered this morning that the best way to keep loving them in the midst of rough patches is to look back at my pictures from previous stages. Like this Thanksgiving moment, during which I clearly wasn't stressed with either of them.
I get a lot out of posting to the blog, and get more back from comments and support. Thank you all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Love the child, hate the child's phase

Monito is so very firmly ensconced in the terrible twos - at 18 months - that I can barely stand him. He is trying my patience with such an unrelenting vigor that I find myself yelling at him much of the day. I didn't start here, trust me. It was a natural progression of him proving that my patient, calm, playful parenting techniques are woefully insufficient in mitigating the assault that his emerging autonomy presents. My ass, figuratively speaking, has been whupped.

This morning, I left Pequita at nursery coop and took the boy to the store to return some things. He sat in the shopping cart facing me and once he got bored (42 seconds later) he started hitting me. He does this all the time, and I start out each day with a full glass of patience and over time shift to feeling totally drained of all tolerance. I've tried being loving, understanding, firm, pretend-crying to show results, and also tried angry, time outs, and a couple bad mommy moments of whacking back. Lightly, but still. Let me share with anyone reading that the concept of, "See? See how much hitting hurts?" doesn't actually help the kid learn.

So there we are in the cart. As I push him along the aisle he is hitting my hands, whacking at my chest, slapping at my face. I keep talking to him, sing a little Frosty The Snowman, and try to ignore the gleeful laughter and flashing eyes that the hits that connect with my body elicit. I finally tire of this and stop to peruse some nice dish towels, parking the cart about 2 feet away from me. He SCREAMS and sobs. People look at me funny as I calmly ignore my screaming child. I let this go on for almost 3 full minutes without a word until he starts signing 'sorry' and wailing 'oh-ree'. I quickly hug him, he stops crying and all is well. We repeated this many more times before leaving. We do this all day.

He is also back to screaming and thrashing with each attempt to dress/ undress or diaper him. (Sorry, Diva, I know that's bad news.). I now strive simply for mental calm as I pin him down with my legs on the floor and forcibly take care of business. He is fine upon being rendered upright again.

A) if you are one of the people who clucked your tongue at me upon witnessing one of these events in public, or told my children in a stage whisper - right in front of me - that 'not all mommies yell', well, may your children and grand kids have colic until they're 18.
B) if anyone has any constructive, positive advice or techniques you can suggest I welcome it. Or even better- horror stories of your own!
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Lead check update

Readers have asked how the home visit went. Good and bad, I guess. The team found no obvious hot items that we didn't know abut already with one annoying exception. My expensive Crate and Barrel pasta bowls, made in Italy and which are perfect for reheating leftovers, have a significant lead content. Over the holidays, I'll be writing a letter to them with photos of my bowls alerting them to this fact and asking them to make some kind of amends for the money spent on their unsafe product. A nice gift certificate would certainly ease the sting of knowing I've been feeding my kids off lead-ridden plates for their whole lives.

The lead team basically said that Pequita likely chewed on something with lead in it - a. Crayon, chalk, toy, etc - just enough to spike her levels. Since they were down 3 pits just 2 weeks later means it isn't something she has regular access to. The bad part of this is that we won't know the source definitively, and we'll have to assume that with her propensity to chew EVERYTHING she'll have a few more lead level spikes in her young life until she can replace her toy chewing with a healthier habit, like smoking cigarettes.
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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Montessori skills

There are a couple of blogs I read that document early Montessori-style education. I really like the activities that these moms give their kids; I find it inspiring and usually really inexpensive to keep them entertained for a significant amount of time [22 minutes or so, but that's a long time in the life of a 2 year old.]

We have a basket with several lidded jars, mostly glass, and the kids have to match the jar with the lid. They love to do this, and I usually end up emptying many different items from the jars at the end of the night, all the way from shredded paper to - ick - chewed cereal. Below, they are playing with their own lentil trays. A cookie sheet for containment, a few vessels and a few utensils in interesting shapes and we have a very popular activity. They transfer lentils from one bowl to another, use the funnel to fit them into the little jars, and try really hard to keep them all on their trays. Pequita is, understandably, totally ready for this kind of activity. She revels in it, and will pick lentils over candy most of the time. Monito isn't quite as adept, but he's only 18 months and keeping up admirably.

I am also trying to let them have more 'real life experience' = HUGE MESSES. Pequita and I separated 6 eggs tonight using the antique metal egg separator I found at the thrift store. Very fun. When I turned around next, she was cradling an egg yolk in each palm and then squished them with great joy. She did the whole bowl full, then we combined the yolks and whites and made scrambled eggs. These events are successful if I can quell my need to keep things neat.

Potties. Enough Said.

We have much excitement here at chez Homestead. Potties as communal sport. Yahoo!

Gingerbread Houses

I signed the kids up for a gingerbread house building class a few months ago. Auntie Kimmie came along to help. It was hosted by the local grocery store; I had planned to do a similar thing in my kitchen, but this was SO MUCH BETTER on so many levels. They had endless supplies, helpers running around, special HATS and APRONS which I wouldn't have thought to supply but were a huge hit. Best of all? No clean up. I let Kimmie help Pequita, as I thought she'd be a bit more excited about the event. This was the case - Kimmie had almost no creative control, and had to facilitate the OCD-like symmetry of a 25 month old. I helped Monito, who was more interested in licking each piece of candy before I adhered it to the house with frosting. There was some pulling off of candy and licking the frosting off, but we nipped that in the bud. All in all, for kids their age they did superbly. We still have the houses, and are trying to keep the picking at them to a minimum until Grandma and Grandpa arrive to admire them in a weeks time. Hansel and Gretel have done some damage, but the basic architecture is still intact.


It is 9am. I've successfully sent the kids off with Homestead Mama and Auntie Kimmie to gymnastics. I get to stay at home and work on the computer - some blogging updates, perhaps, clearing out the myriad drafts I began and couldn't finish. Also, working on a calendar for next year with our pictures from last year. Hardest of all? Narrowing down a thousand pictures or so to no more than 36.

So here I sit. It is snowing outside, but I'm warm with the fire going, a mug of French roast from our local coffee roaster, a piece of pie for breakfast made over the summer with red currants, raspberries and blackberries from our garden [a nod to PMS] and my buddy Matt James on Tivo [he reminds me of my brother, except for the accent].