Wednesday, January 26

Snow Days

not a day for the playgroundWhen I was a child in Miami, once a year, usually on a "cold" (read 50 degrees) day in January or February, my elementary school would truck in a load of snow and dump it in the playing field for us to play in. My mother--as probably most of the mothers did (and in those days, it was always the mothers)--had to scrounge up gloves and scarves for us kids who never wore a glove or a scarf before in our lives. I had heard of this magical thing called a "snow day" where it snowed hard enough that the schools closed and kids got to play all day in the snow! Wow! What a concept. Of course, I only liked playing in the mountain of snow for about five minutes, because then my face hurt, but hey, I was still sure this "snow day" was a marvelous thing.

At the age of ten, my family moved for a brief time to Boulder, Colorado. Now Boulder is a hearty city. A little snow never stopped anyone. I don't think once, in all my four years in that town, we ever had a snow day. The city was prepared. Plows, sand, dedicated teachers all added up to no snow days. Oh how I longed for the mythical snow day!

And then, it was back to Miami Beach for us, where once again I tossed away all winter gear. Never a snow day. However, back in 1984, we did get one or two riot days, which has none of the cachet of a snow day but does have the same desired result: no school and a day to play. I spent mine at E.'s house with a bunch of schoolmates, eating raw cookie dough and watching The World According to Garp on cable.

So now I am a grown-up. I live in New England. And what do I live in fear of? Snow days. Ugh, how I detest snow days! It didn't start out that way. I was actually quite excited for a snow day last Sunday. This past Saturday, the whole town was on edge knowing that a storm was headed our way. I casually headed out to Whole Foods to get a few things we needed and was stunned by what greeted me. The check-out lines were so bad, they reached through every aisle of the store to the milk case on the back wall and curved around. Shopping was difficult to say the least. But I bought the essentials plus a few fun extras to get us through the Patriots game (okay, get Adam through the game; when the Dolphins aren't on, I don't watch) and to make for a cozy afternoon.

suited up for snowAnd on Sunday it was indeed a white, slushy, snowy day. We had a lovely twenty-six inches or so of snow surrounding us. We huddled inside. I baked banana bread and made a big pot of red beans and rice. We watched movies. We, unfortunately, didn't read the papers, because they were never delivered. We even took a very short walk outside, although it was cold enough to chill my little Doodles, and we'd like to keep him a Doodlebug, not a Doodlesicle. We muddled through just fine. Until... the moment of terror hit. The one phone call no parent ever wants to hear. Day care would be closed on Monday. ARRRRRGGGG! Okay, okay, I can handle another full twenty-four hours inside the house with my energetic toddler. No problem. So we stayed home. All day. Luckily, we have two friends also in the day care with us who are not petrified of driving in the snow and one came to play in the morning and the other in the afternoon. I was a little stir crazy, but it was fine. Both agreed the roads were terrible.

Then, on Tuesday, I was looking forward to our Music Together class like I never have before. I was desperate--desperate, I tell you!--to leave our house. Except... class was cancelled. Because the public schools were all closed, so was class. Thank goodness the library came through with its singalong. I drove five miles an hour to get there, but get there I did. "I can do this snow thing!" I thought.

And I could. Until this morning. When we woke up to even more snow. On the ground, swirling in the wind, coming down. Snow, snow, snow. The road was ugly. No plows. Adam called me from his way into work to report that the main highways were not plowed.

can't wait till i'm taller than snow!So what to do? Time to evaluate. Which is worse? My absolute deathly fear of driving in the snow especially on unplowed streets? Or my fear of being trapped in the house for yet another day with Doodles? I'm sure you know the answer. So at 9:30 this morning, I bundled my child into his snow jacket and hat; wrangled him into the car seat (having to climb across one seat to get to the other seat because his seat is on the passenger side; and the snow bank on that side is too tall to get around), get the car out of the driveway (no easy feat given the snow plows have created a wall around our driveway that's as tall as I am); and drive five mph to the toddler gym. Very few morons were out on the road today. Definitely no plows in site. But eventually, we made it to the toddler gym. I get my child out of the car, make small talk with a dad bringing his son to the gym and make my way upstairs only to find... the director closing up the gym early. Too much snow and not enough folks to come out. Although to our credit, there were about four of us parents out there. I felt so ridiculously depressed. I let Doodles run around for twenty minutes before getting him bundled back up and heading back home, this time driving at three mph because the weather was that much worse.

What's the point of all this? Really not much. I just needed to complain a little. And rue the day I ever longed for a snow day.

Wednesday, January 19

Dedication to My Teeth

You know how much fun it is going to the dentist? Well imagine lying back in the chair, the dentist's pointy thing scrapping the tartar off your teeth, picking at your gums until they bleed, that annoying light shining in your eyes. Now, at the same time, picture your hands reaching out in front of you to grab the legs of the wriggling toddler who is sitting on your lap because he refused to play nicely on the floor, trying to keep him as well as the book and toy phone also on your stomach from flying off of you, while also trying to prevent said toddler from placing his hand in the spittoon. Yeah. That kind of fun.

Deadhead in the Making

Glazed eyes glued to the stage. Crowd screaming in ecstasy. Munchies hitting wide. The oddly arrhythmic sway of the dancing. The out-of-hand mosh pit, with bumps, grinds, and waving arms. A few true fans holding up a banner, shrieking wildly when it was noticed.

Okay, so the banner read "SteveSongs Rule!," the munchies were being fulfilled with Goldfish, and no one in the mosh pit was taller than three and a half feet, but, man, I can see these kids in fifteen years, lighters in hand, following Phish around the country.

We took Doodles to his very first concert. Granted it was a fundraiser for a preschool, but let me tell you, these kids know how to rock. When Steve sang the mice song, those kids were chanting along "Cheddar or Swiss! Provolone is bliss!"

To his credit, Steve actually can sing and the music was enjoyable for grown-ups, too. My little munchkin was entranced, sitting patiently in my lap for the first forty-five minutes of the concert and then he had a field day the last half hour running back and forth across the back of the auditorium as Adam chased him.

This year SteveSongs. Next year... oh God, next year it's going to be Brittney Spears, isn't it? We are so screwed.

Belly Be Done

Many kids form attachments. Usually to something soft. Frequently something stuffed. They'll carry around a ratty bear or a filthy dog until stuffing is coming out of the seams and panicked parents have to find a replacement.

Doodles has an attachment. And yes, it is soft. And often stuffed. But it is, I'm afraid, my belly button. He loves to stick his left index finger in his mouth and his right index finger in my belly button. He does this when he's upset. When he's tired. When he's bored. Pretty much all the time.

You laughed at me when I worried about it before, but it's still going on and I've decided it's time to wean my child from my belly button. Only it's not so easy. Sure, I could wear overalls 24-7, but I'm not a big fan of overalls; I simply have too small a bladder to manage them comfortably. I need a pair of grown-up onesies, but I grew out of my leotard phase when I was eight. Other than that, there's no good way to keep my child close, but my belly button out of reach. He's adept at untucking my shirts and just helping himself to a fingerful of belly.

And it's getting worse. Before he used to just come up and stick his finger in his belly (and let me tell you, that's incentive to keep his fingernails short; I've got plenty of scratch marks on my belly from when he was belly button hunting). But this past weekend he started something new. Now, as he's walking over to me, he wants me to prep for him. "Belly belly belly belly," he says as he walks over and lifts my shirt.

Tonight, we were snuggling in the armchair, watching a little Sesame Street together. "Belly belly," he said.

I pulled my shirt down and refused the finger. "The belly button is closed, sweetie," I said. "The belly button is closed for the night."

He looked at me with those big eyes and said, "Open."

How could I refuse? I think losing the belly button is going to be a considerably harder time than we had losing the bottle. Ugh.

Wednesday, January 12

Managing the News

The news is, of course, depressing. Adam has been hit especially hard about the terrible events on the other side of the world. And while I find myself saddened, it's the more horrifying events closer to home that paralyze me. Acts of nature frighten me and worry me and make me ache for all those people, especially the children. But living in the Boston area, the local news is so shocking, I can't even begin to comment. So many murders and maimings and just, what seem to me, to be random acts of violence.

But today, today I read the story that has forced me to say, once again, I cannot read the newspaper. Not the local one, anyway. This story (which will be archived soon but the headline says it all) just sickens and scares me like nothing else. I don't want to bury my head in the sand, but I'm not sure what else I can do!

Eep eep!

According to Parents magazine, "By 18 months, [my] baby is finally developing abilities a chimp never will." Could that be? Is it true? Just a little over a month until my baby is smarter than a monkey!!!??!! Oh, how I've longed for this day to come!

Running for the Shelter of a...

We have a lovely 10-year-old neighbor, E., who wants experience babysitting. I have an active toddler who never gives me a moment to breathe, never mind blog, clean, work, etc. So we've decided that E. will come over once a week to work as a mother's helper. It's an ideal situation--I can get stuff done in the house during the day while I still have the energy to do it.

Only there's something about hiring a 10 year old that makes me feel so, well, old! Whenever I'm around kids, my first thought is always, "Cool! Someone to play with!" But then it hits me: I'm twenty-six years older than she is. I constantly have to remind myself, I'm not a kid anymore. I may feel like a kid. I may act like a kid. But to the genuine kids out there, I'm a grown-up and a full-fledged one at that.

It's more extreme than just the Talking Heads "And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife and you may ask did I get here?" Because I stare at that little wonder wandering around the living room, the one who demands, "Ishes!" and "Up!" and just think, "Where did he come from? How did that little thing possibly come from me?" It's just shocking. Awe inducing. This little man forming his own personality somehow emerged a long, long time ago from me. Weird.

And yet the 10 year olds still think I'm old. What do they know?

Wednesday, January 5

'Ishes and things that look like 'ishes

"Ishes" is Doodles's word for "fishes," which is of course his word for "fish." (And yes we encourage the grammatically incorrect pronunciation--it's just too cute to not encourage). And he gets it right... most of the time. At the Lexington library is a fish tank and he runs up making the sign for fish and exclaiming, "ishes! ishes!" When he's hungry and wants Goldfish, the little hand goes crazy and it's "ishes!" But then, for some reason, the baseball on Adam's Faith Rewarded DVD, which honestly does look a little underwater-ish is also "ishes." And in his Barney alphabet book, he gets quite excited over the squash and the zucchini, declaring with utter certainty, "ishes!" Good thing we don't keep a garden. He'd be pulling out the zucchini, declaring them too small, and tossing them back.

The Games Doodles Play

The kid has become a dancing machine. And what he loves dancing to most is jazz. We have a really cheap CD player in his room, and I'll turn on the CD for him. He'll shake his little butt around and grin. And then he'll lean over and turn the music off. He'll stand for a moment and realize what he's done, so he'll lean back forward to turn the music back on. Then he'll shake his little butt again for a few minutes. And then, of course, he turns the music off. Over and over and over until I can't stand it anymore and I turn the CD off.

Another game that provides hours (well, 20 minutes, which in Doodle time is the same as hours) of enjoyment. I sit in the glider in his room, trying my mightiest to read. Doodles walks over to me with his Red Sox hat, pointing that he wants me to put it on his head. So I do. He walks across the room, tripping over whatever is in his path, to the table with his Lamaze mirror. He admires himself in the mirror, patting his head a few times. Then he pulls the hat off, declaring, "Off!" Then he walks back to me, tripping over the same toys, and demands I put the hat back on him. This can happen fifteen, twenty times. Then I give up and turn the CD player back on. Lather rinse repeat. Welcome insanity.

Oh the Wonderful Things a Doodle Can do

Doodles is at the stage where he can follow simple orders--as well as willfully disobey them. For instance, he likes to sit in our arm chair. But he has to understand that chairs are for tushies. So he'll stand and I'll stay in my new stern mom voice, "Doodles, sit!" (Dogs, babies, they respond to the same type of thing). He'll look at me, smile, let his tush graze the seat and within the next second is standing again.

He also loves to answer questions. Things such as "Where's your nose?" "What does a doggie say?" But he gets really excited sometimes to answer that he quickly answers with the answer to the previous question. "Doodles, what does a doggie say?" "Oof! Oof!" "Doodles, what does a she--" "Oof, off!" "Doodles, a sheep. What does a sheep say?" "Aaaa. Aaaaa." "What does a bee--" "Aaaa. Aaaa."

Middlesex Community College, here he comes!

Scenes from Miami

--My father's screen saver is a series of twin primes. I think that says all that needs to be said about my father.
--At a large family gathering, my horrified cousin-in-law, Jennifer, said, "Ohmygod, you son is eating his shoe." I looked down and sure enough he had his tiny little Nike crammed halfway into his mouth. And as I reminded Jennifer, a child with a shoe in his mouth is a child who is not screaming.
--Five minutes later, Jennifer, in a slightly more horrified voice, said, "Ohmygod, your child has a knife in his mouth!" I looked down and shrugged, "It's plastic." Call it hunch, but I don't think Jennifer is going to ask me to baby sit anytime soon.
--If you have a house full of plastic kitchen appliances, old catalogs, and a few baby toys, what would you give your sixteen-month-old great grandson to play with? What's that you say? aaaaaaaaaaa!Antique music boxes? Excellent! We didn't want those for posterity anyway.
--Nothing, apparently, is more fun than balconies. Running across them. Climbing up the rails. Screaming on them. Balconies rock.
--An odd parental moment: I'm at my grandparent house where Jennifer's son, Milo, and our cousin Brandon are playing together. Brandon and Milo had huge pieces of cake, upon while Milo added ice cream and whipped cream. He consumed it all and then headed for the fridge where he pulled out a bottle of Coke. In my pre-Doodles years, I would thought, "Mmmm!" But this odd feeling came over me, and all I could think of was this wired child at 9 p.m. So I actually said, "Um, Milo, I don't think your mother would want you to have that." And to his credit, Milo hung his head slightly, said, "I know," and stuck it back in the fridge.
--Not minutes later, Adam also had a similar odd parental moment, but acted upon it with less success. Milo didn't want to leave Brandon when his father came to pick him up. Adam, Milo, Doodles, and Brandon were in the garage playing with Brandon's new puppy. "Quick, hide me!" Milo beseeched Brandon. After a brief consultation, Milo headed for the corner. "My dad will find me here! I'll hide in the garbage can." Adam, as he tells it, had this odd feeling come over him. I'm a parent now. Should I stop this child from climbing into a garbage can?. But being the obviously less-responsible parent, Adam merely said, "Um, Milo, is the trash can clean?" And when the response was affirmative and Milo was inside with the lid on, Adam did have the sense to ask, "Milo, can you breathe in there?" I'm guessing Adam won't be asked to baby sit either.
--New Years rocked. Despite my insistence that the New Year's party be baby friendly, Doodles got sick and we showed sans baby (my mother baby sat). And it was a blast! Oliver and Jennifer throw quite the shindig and it was a blast getting to spend the evening with some of my favorite people (and my new favorite person: Max, you are the hottest thing west of the Mississippi!).