Friday, August 24, 2012

Ten About Alex!

Alex has a megawatt smile.  I looked up "megawatt" to make sure it was a real thing, and, yes, it's a million watts.  Think about the brightest lamp in your house, multiply it by a thousand or so, and that's Alex's smile.  He's been smiling brightly since shortly after birth.  He must be noticing how Andy always gets his way and is anxious to cash in on the "What the hell, just give him a popsicle" mentality around here.

In the first three days of Alex's life, his cry sounded like a tea kettle going off.  At first, we didn't know if Alex needed assistance or if someone was making Earl Grey in our hospital room.  

Alex's head seemed really small to me when he was born.  "Nope, it's fiftieth percentile," the doctor told me when I expressed my concerns.  "Although sometimes small heads run in the family."  She then seemed to size up my own head, which I have always thought it kind of on the small size.  The rest of the day, I felt freakish and devoted to googling such queries is "Is my head too small?" "Should this hat be tighter?" and "Correct ratio of head to body."  Now I think that Alex's head might be on the big size and am wondering if he will be wearing adult sized hats when he's a toddler, like that other weird kid of mine, Andrew.

Alex has his eyes open, like, all the time during the day.  I think he wants to nap, but he can't, because it's always so damn loud.  I am trying my best to get Andy to whisper, but he thinks it's a game and likes to shout "WHISPER WHISPER WHISPER!"  I am so very sorry, Alex.  I know you must be totally exhausted.

Alex has the most kissable cheeks and the most cuddly, warm little body ever.  He is the perfect, sweetest baby, and sometimes when he's fussy in the early morning hours, I bring him into bed with me where he turns his face to me, presses his soft cheek against mine, and then instantly falls into a pleasant, dreamy slumber.  And this is my idea of heaven.

Nicknames for Alex:  Al Pal (Like Gal Pal), My Funny Al-lentine (a little wordy), Allie (that's what Andy calls him), Alligator (naturally), Squeaky (he's so damn squeaky), Andy (I'm getting better about this).

Alex has brown hair and brown eyes, but his features are much more delicate and lighter than Andy's.  I think that Alex will be the fairer of the two, and that maybe he will burn while Andy tans.  He will be the Chris while Andy gets to be the Jackie.

Everyone seems to think that Alex looks just like Andy.  Wrong.  Or maybe I'm the one who's wrong, since everyone tells me otherwise.  But since I'm the mother who birthed these two kids and spends every day gazing upon their every last skin cell, eyelash, toenail, etc, then let's just agree that I'm the one who's right.

At times, Alex prefers laying alone on the floor than having Chris hold him.  It's the strangest thing.  Chris holds Alex, Alex gets totally upset.  Chris puts Alex on the carpet and walks away, Alex is suddenly having a ball.  If Chris is holding Alex and he starts to get fussy, Chris immediately plops him on the ground, walks off, and gets a string cheese.

Alex has reached out and grabbed the hem of Andy's pants on a couple of occasions while Andy has stood near him.  This has made Andy laugh.  Either (a) Alex is trying to bond with his big bro the only way he knows how or (b) he's trying so very hard to remind Andy that he's laying there on the floor and, dude, try not to step on me, okay?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Preschool Issues!

Andy is set to begin preschool at the Christian farmhouse in a week.  I just received the welcome packet in the mail, which details a list of items Andy is supposed to bring the first day.  This list includes a ream of printer paper, a check for $5 (to assist with printing needs), a large container of juice, a box of tissues, one box of gallon sized Ziploc bags, one refill of liquid soap, two packs of glue sticks, one pack of colored card stock, and a roll of paper towels.  I find this list of items unacceptable.  Seriously- what's with all the printer paper?  Is Andy going to bring home 500 pages worth of activities / correspondence?  And the five dollar check for printing needs?  Tuition is $160 per month, there's a $75 registration fee, and now you're going to nickel and dime me for miscellaneous "printing" needs?  Not to mention all the juice and glue sticks and what not.  Forget the whole thing.  Andy can't carry that much juice, and the dollar store doesn't sell "Ziploc" bags.  So the farmhouse preschool can shove it.

Seriously, though, Andy got into our first choice preschool, the park district, which is why the farmhouse preschool is going to shove it.  I mean, the supply list doesn't help, but if the park district hadn't called, I'd probably be out right now bitterly selecting the cheapest thing of card stock I could find.  The wait list at the park district worked out- kind of.  We wanted the park district for several reasons:

- $58 per month as opposed to $160, with no registration fee (or $5 "printing" fee.  I hope the parents request receipts on this.).
- Not in a farmhouse. 
- Not affiliated with any religion.  I still can't put it into words, but I'm still wary of the idea of a Christian preschool.  Even though I'm Catholic and have accepted Jesus as my lord and savior et cetera, I'd just rather keep Jesus out of the whole early education thing.  Doesn't Jesus already have enough on his plate?  Plus the request for all the printer paper coupled with the Christian thing has me once again thinking there's going to be leaflets involved.  Leaflets of the "Have You Found Christ?" variety.
- Park district just seems more... official.  Or something.

Here's the problem, though.  The park district class we got into is two days a week from one o'clock to two thirty. Nap time! So, while I've gone ahead and signed him up for the class, I can't help wonder if I've made another mistake. Will Andy nap before class?  After class?  Not at all?  What have I done to my already dysfunctional little sleeper?   Have I royally screwed him?

Andy's not a good sleeper.  We recently went through a period where he was waking up every morning super early (three o'clock, four o'clock, five o'clock) wide eyed and ready to begin the day.  This period coincided with two things- Alex being born and Andy getting his big boy bed.  So, at least there's an explanation- too many changes lead to getting up early and making our lives a living hell.  We mostly solved that problem, though, by putting him to bed earlier in the evening (sleep begets sleep!) and doing something else that I'm super proud of.  I taped a handwritten "6" next to the first digit of Andy's digital clock and told him that the numbers have to match before he can get out of bed in the morning.  It took a couple mornings for Andy to get the hang of it- BUT IT'S WORKED.  And now in the morning, Andy bursts out of his room exclaiming "Six!  Six!  Six!"  So, yes, there's a very good chance Andy's up at three in the morning just waiting for six- but at least he's in his room, letting us sleep.  And it's not always at 6:00- sometimes, it's 6:30, 6:47, and so forth.  And, yes, at some point, that handwritten six is going to become a seven.  Or I'm just going to reset his clock incrementally until "six" on his clock is like ten in the morning for real.  There's a couple of devious ways I could go about this.  Oh, the options.

Anyway, so that's the night time deal.  The day time naps, though- man.  It's a struggle to get Andy to nap at all, and now that he'll be at preschool during prime nap time- it ties my stomach in knots.  An overtired Andy is NOT a pleasant Andy.  Andy needs his naps even if he fights them.  And it's usually about one o'clock or so by the time I win the "time to nap" battle.  Super.  How do I get him to nap earlier on the days he has school?  How much benadryl is it safe to slip him?

I think the only thing I can do is send him to the preschool and if it's really screwing with his sleep- just pull him from the program and call it a day.  At this point, my main reason for wanting Andy to go to school is no longer as valid.  I was afraid that Andy would miss day care and the kids and absolutely NEED a preschool program.  But, as usual, I didn't give him, or me, enough credit.  He's adjusted to not having day care.  I've found plenty to keep us busy.  He gets socialization through friends, the park, the library, and other programs.  So... if the preschool works out, awesome.  If not- I guess we can try again next year when he's three.  Which is really a more legitimate preschool age anyway, let's face it.

On a side note, I am going to sign me and Andy (and Alex) up for a mommy and me class in September- "Barnyard Dance," which meets Monday mornings for six weeks and is all about animals and, no, does not actually meet IN a barnyard.  I'm so excited.  This is why I wanted to be a stay at home mom- silly opportunities like this animal program.  I hope Andy enjoys it as much as I think he will, and I think it will be something really fun for us to do together.  Alex is allowed to come as well, as long as he's "not a disruption" per the park district clerk's rules.  She had to raise her voice to tell me that it was okay Alex join as long as he wouldn't be a disruption- mostly because Alex was screaming and being QUITE the disruption while I asked if he could join.  Yep, this definitely bodes well!

So, I have to call the farmhouse preschool people on Monday and inform them that Andy (and his liquid soap and box of tissues) will not be in attendance for school.  I've been putting off this call because I'd rather just not deal with it.  I tried to find an email address for the place but couldn't.  Yet another reason I don't want Andy going there.  Why would I want to talk to another human being when I could just send an email?  Isn't that why we have technology- so the socially awkward can avoid confrontation?

I hope the afternoon preschool works out.  I hope this is yet another situation of not giving us enough credit- maybe it'll work out just fine with early/late naps.  And maybe Andy will end up being class valedictorian!  And earn a scholarship for next year's preschool!  And look just so darling in his mortarboard and tassel.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Andy's Friends!

Andy is a social butterfly.  I'm not sure where he gets it from, as Chris and I were initially drawn to each other out of a shared dislike for others.  "People?  They're the worst," we've been known to mutter to each other, snapping shut our living room curtains.  Sometimes we watch "House Hunters," where prospective home buyers talk about needing a home with a good space for "entertaining."  Chris and I, our main goal in purchasing a home was to find a home without ANY entertaining space, a house with an uncomfortably small dining area and a dark, tiny family room that could fit precisely one sofa and a large television at which to aim it.

Anyway, Andy loves people.  He gets ridiculously excited around other children and is very quick to inject himself into the activities of other kids.  He will insert himself into the organized lines of day cares, preschools, and church groups of which we have no affiliation.  If two siblings at the library are quietly reading together on the floor, Andy will plop himself down between them and start tickling them.  At the playground, Andy plays with the other kids whether they like it or not, giving them no choice but to include him as he initiates a game of chase.  Every child is Andy's friend, and they don't have a say in the matter.

Andy waves and calls out hello to every child he sees, even if they are but a distant dot way down the block.  I've noticed, as well, that he's started to introduce himself to other children and make small talk in his own little way.  We were at the neighborhood park last week, and at first we were the only ones there.  This is often the case- seriously, where are the goddamn children?  I know there are kids in the neighborhood- how come no one's ever at the park?  Children of Volo, we need you.  Come play!

On this particular day, Andy was trying his best to entertain himself and failing miserably.  I was sitting on the bench trying to shade Alex from the bright sun (sorry, little dude), when two kids and their mothers started heading down the block toward us.  Andy spotted these children and ran up to the fence, pressing his face against the bars and hopefully calling out hello while giving his pathetic come-love-me wave.  When the children got closer and made it clear that they were actually coming TO the park as opposed to just walking PAST it on their way to some party that Andy couldn't weasel his way into, Andy just about threw a parade.  He started squealing with delight, jumping up and down and shouting something that sounded vaguely like "Hooray!"  And then he screamed out, "Andy!  Andy!  Andy... Andy daddy, big choo-choo!"  He was telling the kids his name and then, desperately, telling them something about himself- that his father had driven him to the airport earlier that week where Andy had taken a ride on the train from the remote parking lot to the international terminal. And back!  That was truly THE best day of Andy's life.  It's been a week, and Andy is still talking about the airplanes and the choo-choo.  Best two dollars Chris ever spent on Andy.  Unless you cost the price of gas from our house to O'Hare and back- then it's more like, best twenty bucks.  Still worth it.

The kids were a little older and didn't acknowledge Andy's introduction or his attempt at starting a conversation involving fathers and trains.  No matter, this didn't slow Andy down.  The two kids started playing by themselves at one end of the park, and Andy ran right up to them, observing for a moment what they were doing.  They were throwing wood chips, of course.  On the rare occasion other kids are at the park, they're either throwing wood chips or smoking cigarettes.  What has happened to the youth of America?  Anyway, Andy got the hang of the game after a few seconds (pick up wood chips, throw them on the slide, repeat), and he joined in, giggling with merriment and having instant fun.  There was Andy, making and playing with new "friends" despite the kids' relative lack of interest of him.  Meanwhile, I remained on my bench with Alex, doing my best to avoid eye contact with the other mothers who had showed up.  That's the last thing I need, to be talking to a bunch of mothers.  Ugh.

Andy talks about his friends all the time.  He asks constantly for Jovie.  If he sees Lily's house from the front window, he starts moaning for Lily.  He still asks for Bobby from day care, and he babbles incessantly about the friends from the park.  My sister-in-law had Andy sleep over with her other nephew Payton, and I had to hear Andy asking for Payton for three straight days afterwards.  Andy's had his friend Aiden over to play a couple times, and every time Aiden leaves, Andy acts like it's the last time he will ever see another human being ever again.  The tears.  The tantrums.  THE HUMANITY.

Andy knows that when people come over, they come through the front door, and that if he looks out the front window, he can see people approaching our house.  He has taken to randomly looking out at that front window and forlornly asking, "Where are they?"  The "they" in this question is not anybody in particular.  The "they" simply refers to any generic friend who may enter our home and either shower Andy with love, affection, and gifts (adult friends) or smack him in the face with his own toys (child friends).  Getting smacked in the face still counts as having fun with friends, by the way.  Oh, to be Andy.

It's a good thing that Andy is so social and loves having friends.  I think it would be wonderful if Andy were to grow up surrounded by huge circles of friends and have a full social calendar along with the kind of house suited for "entertaining."  If that's the kind of person Andy grows up to be, I will be very happy for him.  After all, there's still hope for Alex.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


It's fascinating to observe a two year old learning to use language.  Andy is adding new words daily and has started asking "What's this?" about objects of which he does not know the name for.  I love this inquisitive spirit, although I am admittedly failing Andy during the times when he asks what something is... and I don't know what it's called either.

"What's this?"

"It's... the thingy... where the gas goes in the car.  The gas-hole."


"That's right, Andy.  Gas-hole."

Through his language, I'm able to see how Andy understands his little universe.  For instance, nothing is ever Andy's fault.  When he's not paying attention and walks into the table, he bursts out crying, "Not nice, table!"  If he runs and trips over his truck, he shakes his finger and shouts, "Not nice, Andy truck!"  He makes sure to add the ownership label of "Andy" before the word truck lest Alex accidentally think that he may one day be able to play with said truck- because he won't.  Ever.  Andy's sharing skills have seemed to backslide as his language skills have increased, and often he asks what something is called just so he can tell me that the item in question is his.

"What's this?"

"It's a puzzle."


And don't you forget it. 

It's always hilarious the first time Andy says something on his own without being prompted.  Hilarious-slash-adorable.  At the park the other day, he came running up to me with a slightly older boy in tow.  "Mommy, FRIEND!" he cried out, pointing at the other boy.  "Wow, Andy, you found a friend?"  I asked, my heart melting a little at Andy's first, sweet and proud use of the word "friend."  "Yes, Andy friend!" Andy affirmed. Later, Andy's "friend" would proceed to throw handfuls of wood chips in my face, confirming my suspicion that one day, all of Andy's friends will be real shitheads.

For some reason, Andy really loves that Carley Rae Jepsen song, "Call Me Maybe."  I put the video on my smart phone for him to watch and enjoy, and when the song was over, Andy begged, "More lady!"  More lady?  That's hilarious.  And that little slut is hardly a lady... but I let Andy watch the video over and over again, basically so I could hear him use the word lady semi-correctly.  To date, we have watched that video 537 times, which is only one time less than I've had to sit through "Shrek," during which Andy declares "Pretty princess," "Donkey OUTSIDE," and "Hot soup" when Shrek and the donkey are walking over the red, swirling lava which resembles one of five lunch options Andy likes to enjoy- tomato soup.  HOT tomato soup.

Andy has also showed that he understands who Alex belongs to.  "Mommy baby," he says, calming my fears that Andy wouldn't understand I'm Alex's mother in addition to being Andy's mother.  He also knows that Alex has "small feet," Andy has "big feet," and that the term "P.U!" is applicable when he sniffs his own feet.  P.U. indeed, Andy.  Who's in charge of washing those bad boys?

Andy uses his words to boss me around, too.  "Mommy, sit," he tells me, patting the area next to him when he's ready for some cuddle time.  On the other hand, lately, Andy has been very quick to kick me out of the room when he wants to do something bad. Yesterday, I chastised him for standing on an ottoman and switching the front room lights on and off.  After considering his options for a minute, Andy started yelling, "Mommy upstairs, Mommy upstairs!" in an effort to get me as far away as he was comfortable with so that he could continue flicking the lights on... and off... and on... and off... and on... and off...

So I did what any reasonable mother would do.  I shrugged, picked up Alex, and hauled my ass upstairs while Andy enjoyed his little light switch rave.

Andy and I spend most of our days talking to each other.  Now that I'm a stay at home mom with a baby and a two year old, Andy is often the closest thing I have to another adult. And so I chat with him, teaching him new phrases (such as "dwindling savings account") and making the huge mistake of telling him our plans for the day ("We'll go to the park after lunch."  "Park?  Andy park!  Andy park!  Andy PARK!  ANDY PARK!  ANDY PAAAAARRRRKKKK!").

I'm learning.  Maybe not as quickly as Andy- but I'm definitely learning.