Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Quiet Time!

Andy has given up his afternoon nap.  I had it good there for a stretch of time.  Both boys napped simultaneously for two hours while I engaged in my own personal pursuits, including but not limited to loading the dishwasher, watching "The Chew," and throwing back a couple of cold ones.  I kid about that last part.  I have yet to day drink while being home with my children.  Perhaps it's just so I can reassure my working mother counterparts, "It's not like staying home is a drunken dance party."  It's not like it's all fun, games, and wine.  It's mostly sweeping.  Have breakfast, sweep. Give the kids a snack, sweep.  Lunching leads to sweeping.  More snacking, more sweeping.  And dinner.  Sweeping.

For that good stretch of time where both boys napped at the same time, I would close the door behind me as I left Andy in his room and literally perform a fist pump.  YESSS!  Time free of noise and children and whining and fighting commencing NOW!  Alex would be passed out in the pack and play in the master bedroom for at least two hours.  And Andy, in his own bed, would give me just about the same, maybe ten or fifteen minutes less.  I would joyously cartwheel my way down the stairs and then happily load the dishwasher in the peace.  I would cuddle up on the sofa with my lemonade and watch television.  I would read a book, stare out at the neighbors, maybe fire off a blog entry or scroll through my Facebook feed or play a little Mahjong.  In these two hours, being a stay at home mother became my biggest scam.  I would think to myself, giggling madly, "I can't believe I'm getting away with this!"

Of course, then the kids would wake up and I'd be right back to multi-tasking- juggling, yelling, scolding, cooking, crafting, wiping, cleaning, sweeping, fixing, playing, reassuring, busying.  Biggest scam, over.  Or at least tucked away until tomorrow.

In the span of about two weeks, Andy gave up his afternoon nap.  I would stick Alex in his pack and play- Alex, who adorably, beautifully starts begging for his nap around twelve by pleading, "Night night!"- and then start the process of putting Andy down for his nap.  This is a considerably longer process than just plopping Alex down and closing the door behind me.  Andy needs his drink before nap.  He likes to hold his own cup while I pour.  The cup color had to match the lid color.  He needs to go pee pee.  He needs a pull-up.  He needs a story.  He needs hugs and kisses.  And then, for that last week or two, he needed to yell out to me for forty-five minutes from behind his bedroom door.

"Is it morning time yet?"
"I'm not tired!"
"Can I come out?"
"Mommy!  I broke this!"  (This usually being a library book which he'd viciously ripped seemingly just so he could watch me tape it back together again and tell me whether or not my patching was to his satisfaction.)

For that last week or so, he didn't fall asleep at all.  No more nap.  And so I began giving him the choice between quiet time or a nap.  Quiet time is defined as this:  You can stay awake but I don't want to hear the sound of your voice AT ALL.  Seriously, Andy, don't even LOOK at me.

Let me tell you- quiet time is a wonderful thing.

Andy sits on the couch for his quiet time, which is about the length of Alex's nap, and he doesn't bother me at all.  He watches a movie or uses the iPad, which is my only tiny concern about quiet time- his screen time now is through the roof.  But, hey.  First world problems, right?  At least he's only watching preschool type cartoons and not, say, Family Guy or Maury, whose whole show these days is based on the question "Is this scumbag the father of my child?  For some reason, I hope so!"  Andy watches TV and leaves me alone so that I can still have my regenerative time to myself before Alex wakes up and we're back at the kitchen table gluing pieces of paper to other pieces of paper or wandering around the neighborhood so that Alex can have a fit about all of the pumpkins he's not allowed to touch.

And since it's just quiet time, there's none of that time-consuming prep time.  No pull-up, no story, no naptime drink ritual, no yelling for me to come into his room due to a destroyed library book. Also, now that he's not getting that daytime snooze, Andy is falling asleep literally two minutes after going to bed at night, no later than seven-fifteen.  Win.  Win.  Win.

And here's the best part.  Yes, there's more.  Andy loves quiet time.  Literally begs for it.  Tells me to put Alex to bed (Alex, who now gets to nap in his own crib in their own room as opposed to the pack and play) so that his quiet time can start.  Andy lives for quiet time.  Andy has discovered chillaxing, and there's no going back.

Yep.  That's my kid.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


The other day, I cracked open a few of the windows in the house.  "Why are you doing that, Mommy?"  Andy asked.

I replied, "To let in some fresh air."

Andy's face immediately fell.  Panicked, he exclaimed, "Oh no!  ARE WE RUNNING OUT OF FRESH AIR?"

The other other day, we went to the big aquarium in the sporting goods store, the one with the big glass walls and the open top.  Chris was holding Alex and lifted him up ever so slightly to let him dip his fingers into the aquarium water.  (Inadvisable, I thought to myself.)  A moment later, Andy noticed and started screaming.  "NO DADDY!  A FISH IS GOING TO BITE ALEX!  STOP!!!"

And then, the other other other day, we went to the pumpkin farm, where Chris wheeled Alex's stroller right up to the rickety cage walls of the goats in the petting zoo zone.  (Inadvisable yet again, I thought to myself, noting the bevy of graham crackers and raisins on Alex's stroller tray and the hungry, trample-ready glimmer in the goats' eyes.)  Andy immediately noticed that Daddy was being careless and said, "No, Daddy, move Alex back!"

"But I want Alex to be able to see," Chris replied, chomping on his own handful of popcorn and somewhat oblivious to the devilish, lip-smacking glare of one of the goats.

Andy pushed Alex's stroller back a foot or two.  "No.  He can see from back here."

And that same day, an hour earlier, we went to view the pumpkin-eating dinosaur.  The pumpkin-eating dinosaur is an amazing, gigantic mechanical dinosaur that chomps and crushes pumpkins to the delight of the pumpkin farm guests, snorting out a menacing plume of smoke after devouring each and every pumpkin available.  This may have been the most amazing attraction of the day. My parents came with us to the farm, and my dad remarked, "I think I've taken more pictures of this pumpkin eating dinosaur than my grandchildren!" and "This pumpkin-eating dinosaur is worth the cost of admission alone!"

But I suppose I can see how the pumpkin-eating dinosaur might be scary to a three year old, and when my dad lifted one year old Alex up on his shoulders, and when the pumpkin-eating-dinosaur had his head lowered to allow adorable Alex the chance to pet his snout, Andy screamed in terror while he watched, certain that the dinosaur was going to gobble his sweet little brother right up.

I have to admit, Andy- I was holding my breath on that one as well.

The other other other other day, I had my credit card declined at the pump while trying to get gas, so I ran into the station to try to have them scan it there, where it was also declined.  Turns out, my number had been compromised and Visa had shut it down to prevent further fraud.  (Sidenote: kind of socially mortifying when the Visa representative calls you to verify your authorized transactions and it sounds like this:  McDonalds, Friday, $13.  Wal-Mart, Saturday, $56.  McDonalds, again, Sunday, $9.  Back to Wal-Mart, Monday, $39.  Dunkin Donuts for lunch, Monday, $15.  I really wanted to explain to the guy that I'm not that kind of person that feeds my kids McDonalds, buys them sweatshop clothes from Wal-Mart, and then stuffs my own face with donuts, but the evidence was not in favor.  It was a rough weekend, okay?)  Anyway, Andy had a lot of questions when I ran back to the pump a second later, including, but not limited to:

Where did you go?
Why does your card not work?
Are we going to run out of gas?
What happened to your money?
Is our car still going to run?
Can I help you put gas in the car?
Where did you go?
Is everything okay?
Can I have a better explanation regarding why you left us here?
Do you want to buy me a Happy Meal?


It's interesting when I see myself in my children, in the moments of irrational panic exhibited by Andy that are so clearly Young Jackie.  When Andy asked about running out of fresh air, I immediately thought back to when I was a kid and read that there was a finite amount of energy in the universe.  Yes, we were running out of energy.  In order to help the energy crisis, I sat very still for moments at a time, trying my hardest not to move or breathe or twitch or think.  Andy has not quite reached that level of paranoid craziness quite yet, but he is only three, and there is time.  I only pray that there is hope for Alex, who bravely pets the head of a pumpkin eating dinosaur as if not quite thinking the whole thing through.  Keep smiling, beautiful baby.  Keep smiling until you get it.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Alex has his first official obsession.  Even as I'm typing this, I think that might be a lie.  Surely, there's been an obsession before this one?  Does his undying devotion to string cheese count as an obsession?  His reflexive habit of emptying buckets and containers so that he can put them on his head like a helmet?  His pushy interest in fisting soggy bits of food and trying to shove them into MY mouth as if commanding, "Here.  If it's so good, then YOU eat it."  No, those aren't quite obsessions.  Not like this one.  Not like his absolute, undeniable fixation with:

Pumpkins.  My pumpkin LOVES pumpkins.

"Pumpkin" (pronounced bpumbum) may even be Alex's first real word after Mama, Dada, Anda, and More.  These are all the words that Alex has, spoken only very sparingly, and I am becoming mildly worried about the whole thing.  "How many words can Alex say?"  the nurse asked at his one year appointment back in June, when I wasn't terribly concerned.  I almost snapped, "None.  BECAUSE HE'S A BABY."  I've become a real know-it-all this second time around. Instead, I replied, politely, "None.  But isn't he cute!"  Fast forward to his fifteen month appointment last week when the same nurse asked,  "How many words can Alex string together?"

What? Excuse me?  We're still working on the question from the twelve month appointment, the one that infers that Alex should know a small handful of words that are most certainly never said together.  See, Alex doesn't talk. And he certainly doesn't STRING WORDS TOGETHER like some kind of college student majoring in linguistics.  Perhaps now I should be concerned?

I asked the doctor when he came in for the actual exam.  "Should I be concerned, perhaps?  My baby, he not so good with the chit chat."

I have a great deal of respect for Alex's doctor, but he's big on the baby talk and a lot of his answers to what I feel are serious questions often come out in a mish mash of babble and cooing. "Aww, little baby boy's kind of quiet, just soaking it in, loving the big brother with his vroom vroom trucks and all the gigglin' and jumpin' and playin' and sometimes the little guys let the big guys do all the talking for them and no, no, no, we don't get worried until eighteen months or so and where's that big smile, look at all those toofers, coming in super duper nice and pointy!  Who's the itty bitty man getting the big ouchie shot today?  You are!  You are!  Peekaboo."

To which I could only reply, "Thank you for your honest medical feedback, doctor."

So, the doctor's not worried that Alex doesn't talk.  The thing is, Alex does try to communicate, but it all comes out in Eh's.  You can tell what Alex is attempting to say by the inflection of his Ehs. Eh Eh Eh EH EH, for instance, means: I want that RIGHT NOW.  Spend enough time accidentally giving this kid pancakes when he prefers Not Pancakes and you start to understand what he's asking for.

Other than not stringing any words together, Alex is developing quite nicely.  He's in the 95th percentile for weight and height which I can only interpret as a good thing otherwise I start worrying that he's eating too many Not Pancakes and heading straight down a path to childhood obesity.  He walks, climbs, stacks blocks, feeds himself with a spoon (wrong end, usually, but let's not get technical), and he loves books and understands jokes.  Or at least understands when he's supposed to laugh, which is basically the same thing.  He is a master at sorting.  We have the sorting bucket with lid that has the different cut-outs for the different shaped blocks to fit through. Andy, back when he was Alex's age, showed zero interest in sorting and would solve the sorting bucket by tearing off the lid and just throwing the blocks in, shapes and differences be damned. Alex, on the other hand, sits quietly and works on it, carefully fitting the blocks into their correct holes.  This to me demonstrates two kinds of intelligence.  Andy, with the brain that gets quickly to the solution and isn't afraid to take a short cut and Alex, with the brain that understands that things are to be done a certain way and I WILL STAY HERE ALL NIGHT IF I HAVE TO AND TAKING THE LID OFF WOULD JUST BE THE EASY WAY OUT AND THAT'S NOT HOW WE DO THINGS AROUND HERE.

Sorry to break it to you, Alex, but that's totally how we do things around here.  Especially me, I half ass everything. Ever seen me wrap a gift?  It's a travesty.

Alex really enjoys sorting.  He always puts like with like.  He's already good at puzzles and when there's two of something (such as in a pair of socks), he will always be sure to find both components of the pair.  It really is intriguing to watch since Andy was never interested in any of that.

And while Andy had dogs and buses and balloons at this young age, Alex's first obsession is turning out to be pumpkins.  I think this is an adorable obsession.  Alex goes nuts when he sees pumpkins. He wants to hold them, hug them, lick them.  He points excitedly at pumpkins that are halfway down the block, demonstrating not only the extent of his obsession but also high levels of vision.  If the CIA is looking for a baby who can focus on a pumpkin recouping project, Alex is their guy.  He will find those bpumbums quickly and expertly and without the aid of binoculars.  Although, when he reports back to his boss about the project, his narratives will be a little unclear.  Eh eh eh EH EH eh eh EH eh Eh bpumbums. EH.

At some point, I'm sure he will string together two actual words.  Until then, I assume my little pumpkin is just working up to it.