Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A video, finally

Last night, I had trouble posting this one on blogger, so I resorted to You Tube. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Fine motor skills

Here are some photos from our Memorial Day. Enjoy!

Dan and I have a new nap time routine. Each day before nap, we sit on the floor of his room and "do shapes." That's the catch-all phrase for reading the shape book or playing with the shape sorter or doing the dinosaur puzzle. And it's my way of trying to ensure he's developing fine motor skills. So far, Dan is really good at the big motions. He can kick and throw like nobody's business. Quite good for a toddler, I must say. He'll probably have an agent by the time he's five and go pro when he's in middle school.

I've been a little worried that he can identify shapes, but can't seem to place the square in the square hole without a whole lot of frustration and some direction from mommy. Each day, he picks up a square, circle, star or triangle and tries mightily for like 3 seconds to put it in a non-matching hole before hyperventilating, screaming and hurling the shape across the room. Sounds like a real relaxing pre-nap activity, huh? I worry about this kids sometimes. He gets really frustrated with reality, a trait I hope he outgrows. It took me years, and even now I sometimes have a strong dislike for reality.

Anyhow, we've moved onto the dinosaur puzzle. I make beeping noises as I move the pieces over the puzzle board and then drop them into the right place. He laughs and claps. He almost can get the piece in by himself. Almost.

But today, I was wearing a T-shirt with a small hole in it. Dan noticed it as he was using mommy as a jungle gym (another fun pre-nap activity). He cocked his head, then came at me with a finger and put it directly into the hole.

Okay, kid, I get it. You have fine motor skills.

And now, for a quick reward ...

Jim and Danny were in the produce section of Target today when a woman with long blond hair walked by. Danny followed her with his eyes and said, "Oh wow." I think he likes girls. There's a pony-tailed jogger in our neighborhood and he does the same thing when she passes. Cute.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cry me a river

I really shouldn't read the newspaper. It ticks me off and sometimes even makes me cry. Of course, I have no choice since I work for a newspaper. The latest outrage? A story about food stamps buying less food because of higher prices. In the story, one woman couldn't seem to feed her family on $349 per month in food stamps. Ironically, this is close to what I spend in a month at the grocery store. Avert your eyes if you'd rather keep your positive impressions of me intact. You've been warned.

Pardon me if I don't feel too sorry for some of these folks. As an official in the story noted, food stamps were meant to supplement, not replace, a family's food budget. Whenever a story like this appears, I wish, just once, a journalist would have the balls to ask whether the person had a cell phone, cable television, $100 shoes and where they get their nails and hair done. For that matter, I think eligibility for food stamps should hinge on a careful examination of a person's budget. Why should my tax dollars pay your grocery bill if you're not even willing to make some sacrifices to feed your own offspring? Not everything is a necessity, no matter what you've heard on television. And, frankly, I think some Americans could stand to skip a meal or two. Of course, I'm not talking about children. But even there, I think some of the "fat" in food budgets is contributing to obesity in children. The items that could reasonably be cut from a family's food budget are probably foods that they shouldn't be eating in the first place ... sugary cereals, snack foods, sodas, all manner of processed food. Seriously, just shop the perimeter of the grocery store, people. That's all the food you really need anyway ... produce, bakery, dairy, meat, eggs, beans.

One woman in the story said she had been turning cans of ``whatever we got in the cabinet'' into breakfast, lunch and dinner for her children, who finished off the last of the milk and cereal long ago. Really? Sounds like what I do (and we're really not hurting). My point here is that if my family was EVER in danger in starving, I would first trim my own budget before sucking off the taxpayers' teat. I know that every situation is different and more complex than I can even fathom. But how is that I can feed my family for about $80 a week and others can't even make $349 in food stamps work?

And, please, try to keep your knees intact ... I'm not saying food stamps should not exist or that everyone is abusing them. Spare me. I've known people who have gone on food stamps and, for them, it is a temporary measure and a supplement to their food budget. My point here is that some people seem to have abdicated responsibility for their lives to the point where they really believe that food and health care and utilities and rent and probably even gasoline are things they just shouldn't have to pay for. Of course, cell phones, cable television, designer clothes and cars are absolute essentials.

My son is a billy goat.

Remember how I used to wonder at the lack of young children in public? Well, no more. Taking my son out in public is like dragging around a full-grown billy goat. The resemblance is uncanny ... he's stubborn, puts whatever he can find in his mouth(except his dinner; he throws that on the floor) and his utterances sound like a cross between a goat and a terradactyl. No wonder the hawks circle our yard. A few times I've had him by the hoof when he begins to resist. Instead of meeting force with force, I've had to gently let him down onto the ground where he has melted into a tantrum. The shrieking is also really getting to me. My nerves are totally shot. At swim lessons this morning, he shrieked so loud and often that I had to separate him from the other quiet, sweet children who were happily playing along with the nursery rhymes. It's getting very embarrassing. My kid is totally undirectable. He'd never make it in school; they'd label him "special" and "behaviorally challenged."

That, my dear readers, is why you haven't heard much from us lately. Dan is a chore, I am exhausted and when I do get a minute to myself, all I want to do is find someplace quiet and sleep.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Mooommmmmyyyyyy ...

You'd think finally hearing the word Mommy would be just peachy. And it is, most of the time ... except that he whines my name and has been saying my husband's name, Dada, since he was nine months old. Why? (No seriously, any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.)

Here's a set of photos of Danny doing his Mommy routine:
(he's got his head between my knees while I'm taking the photos, in case the perspective throws you off here.)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Wild Dan the swimming man

Danny and I are taking a parent-tot swimming class. Usually, I'm not a big fan of classes of any kind. My personality (and I suspect Dan's, too) is such that I do better in self-led learning by trial and error. But I thought this would be fun for us and we took the same class last year when he was about six months old. Today was our second class; the class began on Tuesday.

The class is a little cheesy with a lot of songs and some independent play/practice time woven in. Dan shrieks the entire half hour with delight at being in the water and frustration at having to be supported. A few times, he let go of the side of the pool and just went under. He blows bubbles, uses his arms to reach toys and is even starting to kick his feet. He also scoots off the side of the pool and can even climb out of the pool on his own. And when we get in a circle, he shrieks so loud he drowns out the instructor. It's a little embarrassing, both that he's so loud and that he's so fearless. I feel like everyone is thinking, "Look at that woman, she can't keep her kid from choking on water." (He recovers really quickly and puts his face right back in.) One woman did ask if either my husband or I were swimmers. I was, still am and am more calm and comfortable in and around water than anywhere else. Apparently, swimming is in his genes.

Watching him reminds me of my own swim lessons as a kid. I failed, by the way, and then went on to swim competitively and made it to the regional swim meet each year in high school. (That should tell you something about the value of subjective grading.) Of course, I failed on a technicality. We didn't make it to the rec, as it was known, for enough of the lessons. Car trouble, I think. Anyhow, I remember very vividly one lesson where all the kids were instructed to float in one place and do underwater "breathing" for 30 seconds or something. I couldn't float in place. Instead, I swam circles around the other kids, literally.

Monday, May 05, 2008

My kitchen floor is sooooo dirty ...

How dirty is it?

After dishing bowls of ice cream, my husband walked toward the family room and stopped at the back door rug to wipe his feet. There was a time when I would be mortally offended by such a display.

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I HATE to mop. It ends up being some sort of frustrating geometry problem and environmental critical thinking problem about my personal environment and the rest of the world's. How do I mop without mopping myself into a corner and having to walk back over what I've just mopped? Do I just stand in the corner and wait for the floor to dry? And mops are just so disgusting in general - bacteria and animal-hair laden sponges. I like the Swiffer mops with the wet pad, but then I'd just be buying pads (spending money) that I would throw away after using (filling the landfill). So I think I may have hit upon a solution. Think Heloise meets Millennium minimalist mom. (Maybe I'll just call myself M cubed. I've been looking for a label with which to harass politicians ... as if they don't have enough identity groups hounding them. HA ... this stream of consciousness thing is kind of fun.)

Tonight, I wrapped a dish rag around a Swiffer mop, wet the rag and sprayed the floor with a bleach water solution that my husband makes. Swiffer does make a mop that does all those things, but this is more fun. And I know, I'll have to use water and soap and electricity to wash the dish rags, but I do have a clothesline (and I use it). The solution at least hits upon some of my own personal environmental priority list.
A. It's reusable.
2. I don't have to spend money on products that take energy to make and transport.
And, finally. I'm not using a harsh chemicals whose names I can't pronounce.

Monkey wrestling

And this story is for Danny's Uncle Paul and Aunt Rosalie who bought Danny a beautiful, large stuffed monkey for his first birthday. As you can tell from the photo, it was love at first sight. Jim caught Danny wrestling with the monkey in his crib after nap today.

Jim asked, "You wrestling with the gorilla, boy?"

Dan looked at the monkey and responded, "Dennis."

So apparently, the monkey's name is Dennis. Cute.