Monday, September 29, 2008

Toddler theater

When my husband returned from his annual family fishing trip Sunday, he noticed our son had a few new tricks. Really, the new tricks had been building for a few days now - hurling his little body onto the floor, falling on purpose, beating on the refrigerator. But it takes one of us being away for a few days for the change to be obvious.

Our son has turned into a drama king. On Sunday afternoon, Dan squealed and squirmed in a fit on the floor while my husband ignored him. Dan sat up about the same time Jim leaned forward in his recliner. Realizing he'd caught Daddy's attention, he quickly resumed the squeal and squirm routine. Tonight, his balloon floated to the ceiling, but the generous length of string ensured he could reach it. He knew this, but squawked nonetheless, clawing at the string right in front of his face and looking to see if we were watching. We were, but he didn't know it.

He's apparently figured out he can sometimes get attention when he fusses. I say sometimes because we don't always come to his rescue. It's just not in our nature. If he's physically in danger, we will. If he's just trying to fit through a space too small or trying to figure out how to get up on his chair (which he does just fine every third try), we let him sort it out.

Another change my husband noticed is Dan's gesticulation and facial expressions have become more sophisticated. It's like watching a monkey communicate. And communicating with him day in and day out makes me certain I could survive in a foreign country with just a few days of full immersion. Dan shrugs his shoulders and gives a quizzical look when the buttons on his mobile won't work or when I ask where his blanket is. He listens intently and the look on his face tells us that he understands exactly what we're saying.

But the funniest thing he's done recently was on Sunday. He was beating on the refrigerator. So Jim opened the door and Dan surveyed the contents while pointing his little finger. Finally, he spotted it. The object of his desire ... it was the pitcher of juice. Knowing that we would say no to juice so close to dinner, he wouldn't ask for it directly. He's getting very crafty.

New words and phrases: Dan instructed me today to "hold" his blanket while he walked down the stairs. Uh, yes sir. He's also been saying "have it," which we just figured out late last week. Whenever he has toddler contraband, I ask him "Can mommy have it?" So I guess he feels turnabout is fair play. We figured it out when Jim came in with a broom and Dan pointed and said "have it." He then happily toddled off to sweep the back porch with his new acquisition.
This video is old but cute ... Dan's been fascinated with brooms for quite some time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Green is the new redneck

Little did I know that the word "greenneck" already had a definition - and that definition is the opposite of my intent in using the word in my last post.

The Urban Dictionary defines it as follows:
A person who has "gone green," and is now highly judgmental of all others who they feel are not "green enough."
Make no mistake, I haven't "gone green." I've been green for years. Maybe it's my rural upbringing (my mother gardened, canned food and made bread; my father built our passive -solar house) or my French Canadian, Depression-era heritage (my grandmother raised 19 kids and used to can 1,600 quarts of vegetables every winter). We buy foods as close to whole as possible; buy local meat, eggs and vegetables; reuse many old containers that would normally be recycled or wasted; shop at thrift shops; don't throw out old utensils; and limit and combine car trips. A lot of these things have been born out of efficiency and limited financial means, not a desire to be "green." Here are a few other things that our "green" regimen does NOT include:
  • Ditching a working, paid-for vehicle in favor of a $20,000 hybrid vehicle.
  • Buying expensive "green" brands of cleaning products when a simple mixture of bleach and water or vinegar and water will suffice
  • Buying expensive "green" brands of diapers when cloth works just fine.
  • Buying expensive "green" brands of air fresheners when a sprinkle of baking soda in the diaper pail and opening the windows every once in a while works just fine.
  • Spending $30,000 to outfit our house with solar panels when adjusting the thermostat a few degrees and insulating the house properly uses less energy, too.
  • Buying carbon credits because someone made me feel guilty about my carbon footprint.
Here's a news flash: Every product uses energy at every point in its life cycle, from creation to distribution to acquisition by the consumer to its eventual discard at which point energy is used to haul it off to a landfill or recycling plant. Keep that in mind the next time some green-snot turns his nose up at your paid-for 25 mpg vehicle as he glides by in his hybrid filled with "green" groceries on the way to his highly mortgaged solar-paneled home. He's likely in debt up to his eyeballs (which, oddly enough, brings us around to the present). Only in America could conservation become a marketing campaign that encourages people to spend more, even if they don't actually have the money. The real reason American can't truly conserve is because it would wreck the economy, which is apparently built on a house of cards called credit.

Meanwhile, I'll be at the playground with my son using old measuring cups and spoons, an old ice cream scoop and an old plastic meat container as a shovel and pail.

Monday, September 22, 2008

How redneck toddlers play

Dan loves to play in the water (it's his favorite word right now), but alas, he can't spend all day in the bathtub. This morning, after discovering the mother of all diaper rashes on his little bum, I stripped him. Well, let me back up here. I found him downstairs, naked with his diaper sitting nearby on the floor. Crafty little guy figured out how to take his diaper off. I knew it was just a matter of time. As I approached, I said to myself, "No poopy, no poopy, no poopy." Wishful thinking. A diaper full of poo and a naked toddler. No sudden moves here or we'd have a very messy situation on our hands. So, instead of the bath, he got a good wipe down. And then I did something I've been wanting to do for months (and probably should have done more of this summer).

I took a rectangular plastic storage container about eight inches deep, filled it halfway with water, put some cups, a funnel, an empty antacid bottle, a clean sponge and some straws in the water. I set it all up on a little plastic end table on the screened in porch and let my naked, red-bummed toddler splash, pour, funnel, scoop and squeeze water for about an hour and a half. Do you know how much they charge for these water and sand table toys? I've seen anywhere from $50 to $120 for a large piece of molded, made-in-China plastic. Jim had the idea of using the same type of plastic storage tote for sand as well. I could cover it up and store it in his playhouse, taking it out only when he wants to play with it. No need to buy more stuff, even though GW thinks it's the patriotic thing to do. (Can't we just call ourselves "greennecks"? Actually, I may have to deal with this in another post. Stay tuned.)

Oh, and an added bonus? He peed twice on the back porch. I know, you wonder how in the world this is a bonus. First, it wasn't on the floor inside and it wasn't poop. Second, he got all excited about it, pointing and saying "pee pee, momma, pee pee."

Later today, at the lake (which Dan calls the "lakey"), Dan stopped what he was doing, reached down and, um, grabbed himself as he realized that he was peeing in his diaper. This is a good sign.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A return to common sense

This morning I read a surprisingly balanced article on the current financial crisis from The Washington Post. I nearly choked on my bacon. How can you write an article about the Wall Street meltdown without painting thousands of indebted consumers as the victims of greedy corporate barons? Aren't we all just helplessly having consumer credit stuffed down our throats? Didn't we all have risky mortgages forced upon us and now we can't pay them, what with our two car payments and maxed out credit cards?

Apparently, consumers are just as greedy as corporate executives when it comes to abusing credit. Imagine that. The article's headline was what grabbed me: "Crisis signals end to cheap credit." More display text explained: With foreigners no longer willing to back lavish U.S. lifestyle, American households may finally have to stop spending. That would mean recession."

The article explains, according to an economist, that absent a total U.S. government bailout to keep the system afloat, the only other choice is for Americans to finally put their spending in line with their incomes and their need for long-term savings.

Wow. Let that sink in.

Seems so simple. Spend less than you earn, save what you can. Sounds boring, I know. But really, it's afforded my husband and I a peace of mind that no amount of money can buy. Even staring down possible unemployment or eight to 10 weeks away from work after a new baby, we're not worried. (Of course, I'm wondering when we should grab our money from the banks and start stuffing it under the mattress.)

Now I don't expect our fine politicians running for office to hand voters this same line. God forbid they insult the voter.

New photos

It's rather ironic that these most recent photos catch Dan in the act of eating. I really have no idea where he gets his energy. Lately, he's been eating like a bird.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Argument to Nowhere

It never fails. Every four years, politicians pick a bogey man to distract the American voter. If I have to read one more story dissecting who requested how much in earmarks and what for, I think my brain will turn to mush. So why am I even writing about this? Good question. I have no answer; my brain is already half mush.

Here's the deal: Earmarks represent money already set aside by Congress for projects to be carried out by federal agencies. If lawmakers didn't claim the money for their own districts, the federal bureaucracy would decide, behind closed doors, how to spend that money. Cutting the number of earmarks does not, I repeat, DOES NOT, cut spending.

Of course, I would love that money to never have been turned over to Washington. But the money's in Washington's bank account, not ours. So how better to ensure it is returned to its constituents in some form than for lawmakers to grab it in the form of earmarks, which, by the way, represents about 2 percent of the total federal budget.

The problem isn't earmarks, though. It's much bigger than that. 98 percent bigger, to be exact. And the focus on who asked for how much and for what is a tidy little diversion. (Oh, how I wish my own colleagues would DO THEIR JOB and stop letting politicians lead them around by the nose.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dan update

Jim has been cutting Dan's hair. I think this is only his third haircut since February. Click here for some photos.

Sorry I can't be more creative with my headline. Things are better this week than they were at my last post. Dan seems to have gotten over a hump and is as pleasant as toddlers can get.(I just love this photo ... he and Jim read the comics every day.)

We did have a bad night Monday. Dan woke up screaming hysterically and we couldn't calm him down. I brought him downstairs to watch a little football and have some water. He started to putting his head down on a big pillow on the floor after a few minutes, so I took him back up where he screamed and cried off and on for about an hour. No consoling him, at all. I was beginning to fear that he had swallowed something and it was stuck in his intestines. But listening to the rhythm of his screams and wails, we quickly realized he was just trying different frequencies to see if one would work. Even Jim went in and tried to calm him down to no avail. He eventually settled down and then was up again for a few minutes at 1:30 and 3:45. I had hoped he would sleep in after a night like that, but no such luck. Oh well. At least he's been napping better.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The whine festival

Danny is turning into a 2 year old faster than the calendar can turn. To say it's been a bad couple of days is an understatement.

One recent day began at 12:30 a.m. with pitiful cries from his crib. Tooth pain. Molars are arriving. Tylenol. A few strokes of the forehead - a trick I learned from my mother-in-law, God bless her. Turn on the Bach. Drift back to sleep. Luckily, he slept in until 8:00. Get up, change diaper, clothes, shoes, wash face.

"Dan, time to go down for breakfast." Dan runs the other way, grabs a few toys for the five minute trek down the stairs, if he's walking. "Time to go down. Mommy carry or Danny do it?" Runs off, fakes me out at least three more times, insists "Light on. Light on. Light on." I sit atop the stairs, waiting, nauseous, debating whether to revisit the bathroom.

Downstairs, finally!

In the kitchen ... "apple, apple, apple. juice, juice, juice." Whine, whine, whine. Yogurt and apples and cinnamon toast, which he calls a cookie, bacon, a few scraps of whatever I'm having.

Run around, smack the dog on the butt, fall on his own butt, whine, whine, whine while I try to read the paper ... yeah, I know, I can't believe I still try this. Go to the post office. Go to the park where he plays with everything but the playground equipment. He climbs up on the picnic table, climbs back down, repeats, insists on holding the snack cup, spills the snack cup, tries to eat the goldfish crackers off the ground. Whine, whine, whine. Go home, "eat" lunch, and by that I mean suck the tomato sauce and cheese off the English muffin pizza before handing the rest off to the dog. Whine, whine, whine. Arch back in the high chair while I try to wipe tomato sauce and dirt off his face.

Nap time? Maybe, maybe not. He's trying to give up his nap, I think. Either that or the molar pain is too much. Or maybe he's going to start speaking in complete sentences soon and he needs the extra time in the afternoon to work on it. Then maybe the whining will lessen? I think on this particular day he fell asleep only after a dose of Tylenol and a stern warning, after which he hid his little face behind Dennis the monkey and went to sleep as instructed. Poor kid. Mommy is losing her mind ...

By 5 o'clock, I called my mother and asked if I could sell her a toddler, cheap. She replied that she'd pay a lot for this particular toddler. And with that money, maybe I could buy my sanity back.