Sunday, November 30, 2008

Do I feel lucky?

By Sunday night, I usually have a game plan for the week. Monday is usually a stay home and play day, Tuesday is swimming or some other strenuous activity, Wednesday is a play date with his BFF Louie, Thursday is play group and Friday is Parents Morning Out. Weekends are as spontaneous as you can get with a toddler. On those mornings and others when I contemplate deviating from the plan, an assessment of the little man's mood is in order. The thought process reminds me of the classic line from Dirty Harry, with a slight modification:
Did he have five or six tantrums this morning? Well, to tell you the truth, in all the chaos, I kind of lost track. But being as this is a toddler, the most willful human being in the world, and could blow your sanity to shreds at any given moment, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky?

Well, do ya, punk?
Usually not.

But Saturday morning we braved it out of necessity. We are celebrating Danny's 2nd birthday today and had just gotten back from the beach the night before. Nothing had been purchased so a massive, multi-store assault was in order. To tell you the truth, the invitation wasn't even sent out until Monday night. The only advanced planning on my part was to get the night off of work months ago and order his trains on eBay.

It was cold and rainy and at our first stop, we decided to split up to make better time. Time is a big factor in our outings. As soon as we hit the store, we're on Danny's timer. Splitting up wasn't a good choice this time. He was screaming right out of the gate because he had to leave his beloved 50 cent, thrift-shop MagnaDoodle in the van. Horrors. At our next stop, MagnaDoodle came with us. Jim gave me a wide-eyed look and said, "We can't split up." When I get that look from my husband, it's serious business. It's amazing that even with a well-ordered list, we still forgot items in a mad rush to get in and out before total meltdown.

Jim just returned from a solo trip for the forgotten items. Danny is sleeping. I'm ready for a nap myself.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Newish toys

Check out the November photo album.

There are a few toys I've been wanting to get for Dan. Thanks to my sister, we have scads of Little People of various professions ... Noah and his cadre of zoo animals, fire and rescue personnel, farmers and their farm animals and crops, construction workers. Every time I spot a Little Person, the insane urge to collect and group them according to their lots in life takes over. (I know, I'm sick, I twitch every time my husband chucks all the Little People into one container.) We have Noah's ark and the fire station along with some construction vehicles, but we didn't have the farm ... until tonight when it turned up on a trip to our favorite thrift shop. There it was ... for 50 cents. No kidding people. 50 cents. This lovely piece of molded, animal-sound making plastic usually costs more than $30. The other toy we stumbled upon was a Magna Doodle which usually costs about $15 or so. We got it also for the bargain basement price of 50 cents. After our new acquisitions got a Clorox wipe down, Dan played for about 90 minutes with his two new toys which cost us a total of $1.00.

Language: I can't keep track of everything Danny says these days. He's become quite the parrot, repeating everything we say. He picks up bits and pieces of our conversations and repeats them randomly. This evening, he ranted about turkey for a few minutes. On Sunday I called up to Jim in the attic only to hear this little voice behind me calling, "Jim, Jim, Jim." We're getting lots of phrases, too, like "pick up toys." Too bad he doesn't actually pick up his toys, but rather tosses them around the living room. Although this evening, Jim started corralling toys using Danny's remote control car. That really freaked Danny out and he started grabbing up his toys before Jim could get them.

Also this week, I've been talking to him about the beach since that's where we're headed for Thanksgiving. So I'll let you use your imagination as to how that word sounds coming out of my two year old's mouth.

Monday, November 24, 2008

What liberal bias?

I've been good lately at biting my tongue ... but now it's starting to hurt. The current fawning over and refusal to publicly vet every Obama appointment should put to rest any doubt about the media's loyalties.

Lawrence Summers. The name has been bandied about for days and now confirmed as Obama's pick to head the National Economic Council. And it's been bugging me for days ... where have I heard that name before? Oh, now I remember ... here's where:
The president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, sparked an uproar at an academic conference Friday when he said that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Summers also questioned how much of a role discrimination plays in the dearth of female professors in science and engineering at elite universities.
Honestly, people, if any Republican had pulled an appointment like this, there would be blood in the streets. The only reference I've found to this brouhaha in recent articles is limited to one meager paragraph. And the National Organization for (Liberal) Women supports him by saying, "One good thing about Larry Summers is that he has written and spoken fairly extensively on the issue of women’s wage inequality and the impact that has on the country."


Thursday, November 13, 2008

At the cookie and cloud factory

This afternoon, as Jim turned his key in the door, I asked, "Who do you think that is?"

Danny replied hopefully, "Cookie?"

Let me explain. Jim, a chef, often brings cookies home from work and he tells Danny that he works in a cookie and cloud factory.

When I told Jim what Danny had said, he looked at Danny and said, "Hi, poopy pants."

Jim figures if Danny can associate him with cookies, it's only fair that he associate Danny with poop.

From the toddler trickery department

Dan is getting good at asking for what he wants. For most of the morning, he lingers by the fridge trying to con me into giving him more juice. I give him watered down orange juice at breakfast and that's it. The rest of the time, I say, "How about some cold water? Water with ice?" He seems satisfied with this as he then repeats "cold water" several times.

Is there an echo in here?

He's coming out with whole phrases now. "Pile of leaves," "down the drain," "whole phrases" (that last one I managed to elicit from him at dinner as I recounted our day for Jim). He reads catalogues with Jim in the evenings, points to every item he recognizes and says the word and also repeats back everything Jim says.

I asked, "Is there an echo in here?"

His eyes lit up and he clapped a few times. Then I remembered that on Sunday, he learned about echo as we sat on the porch to Jim's workshop outside, clapped and heard the sound bounce off the house. Pretty neat that he remembers something from five days ago.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Do all little boys love trains?

Dan plays with toy trains at Nana and PopPop's house.
Shhhh ... don't tell Danny, but today, I bought his birthday present: a set of train tracks and trains. Jim made a train table for it all to go on. This is the most focused he ever is and I hope I can hold out until his birthday to bust out the train set!

A confession: I love playing with the trains, too.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Why my child will never go to public school

Reason #4

Yesterday, my husband and I had a discussion about whether to let Danny attend preschool and/or school. My husband thinks that we should let it depend on Danny and his personality. He may very well be the kind of child who does well in a structured setting (although, it's not looking that way so far, I must say). I tend to agree. After a rough week with Dan, I'm often left wondering whether my undivided attention is the best thing for him. Every few months or so, I revisit the idea of a two-day preschool. It's a bit expensive and I sometimes think it's just glorified child care since he learns quite a bit from Jim and I and the family routine. He knows numbers and the alphabet (reading, math); we read to him when we can (reading); he plays outdoors (fitness), learns about animals, plants, physics (science); he has at least three play dates a week (socialization). With the new baby coming in a two months, I don't want to shuttle him off for preschool then lest he feel abandoned.

We are interested in homeschooling, but have decided to take a wait-and-see approach. Some kids start out in school and wind up being homeschooled later or start out homeschooled and take classes in high school. Any damage is reversible in the former scenario and fortified against from a more stable start in the latter scenario. (When I say school, I mean public school. Currently, there is no way we could afford private school. So for families like us, there really is only one choice. And we have teacher's unions and Democrats to thank for that.)

Yet it never fails ... just as I begin to wonder anew about whether I've judged school too harshly, the news intervenes for a reality check. My biggest problems, and this came up in our discussion yesterday, are the inane focus on testing and the likelihood of indoctrination.
  • This week, the state of North Carolina released its reading test scores. Sixty percent of students passed. According to our outgoing governor, this is a good thing. Apparently, too many students were passing under the old standards. Huh? So, they're snatching success from students because they did too well on tests?
  • I should just let this video speak for itself, but where's the fun in that? The point is that there is no guarantee that our children won't face this kind of ridicule and indoctrination at the hands of a teacher. It's just not a risk that we're willing to take.

Uh, no thanks. These two items alone are enough to drive me away from the idea for another few months.

So far this morning ...

I've had four, maybe five hours of sleep, which has been broken up by night sweats, one crying tot and one shuffling dog. My son is at church playgroup this morning. After dropping him off, I realized I forgot my credit card. Yesterday, I put it in my back pocket on a trip to the bakery. Tot plus purse plus pregnant mommy equals BIG HASSLE. (The poor kid has been beaned in the head more times by my purse as I try to steer him around.) That's a whole other story ... why do mothers' purses become so unwieldy? I currently have wipes, two diapers, a golf ball, a sticky lemon bar from the bakery, my work badge, an envelope of coupons, a wallet and a few Little People in my purse.

So ... after my ritual trip to Burger King for my one guilty pleasure (sausage croissant, no egg, large diet coke ... oh, shut up, I don't want to hear how unhealthy this is for a pregnant woman), I ride back home to get the credit card, switch laundry, savor my junk food ... now back to the mommy mobile to go shopping ALONE with my envelope of coupons and very anal retentive list ... if someone from playgroup calls me to pick up my son, I'll be LIVID. Overzealous mommy is working in the 2-year-old room today ... she has been the one to call me the past few times. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The sleepwalker

We discovered last night that Dan, like his father was, may be a sleepwalker. Around 9 p.m. last night we hear a pitiful cry from the hallway. I found him standing there, blanket in hand, looking upset and confused. After a few soothing words, he and I walked back to his bed, he climbed right in, laid his head down, and closed his eyes immediately.

Poor kid.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


"When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." - Benjamin Franklin
And that's just what some Americans did tonight. Now the rest of us will suffer under the tyranny of a slight majority.

Ah, well, at least we won't have to worry about paying our mortgage or filling up our cars with gas. The Great O is picking up the tab for that now, right?

Good night and good luck.