Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Terribly Two

What do you like to do on your birthday?

On my birthday, I like to spend time with my family, and go out to eat for a nice dinner that I don't have to cook while Cael and Graham fight about who is allowed to chose red as their favorite color and Adler sneakily unloads a box of elbow macaroni onto the kitchen floor.  What's even better is that I don't have to clean up that birthday meal as the dog licks bits of food from dishes used three days ago and Adler sneakily unloads a box of elbow macaroni into the floor vents.

Adler seems to have alternative birthday preferences, though.  Yesterday was my little man's second birthday, and although we celebrated last Saturday, I've been taking notes so that I can build him his perfect birthday next year.  So far, this is what I've been able to determine.

Adler's ideal birthday breakfast is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, minus the bread.  No need to omit it, however.  He is happy to scoop the contents out with his palm and then dry his hands in his freshly washed hair.  Clean hair makes for clean hands, you know.

After breakfast, there's nothing like a good poop.  At two, he is just becoming aware that he is executing this stinky deed but not yet able to control it.  So while yesterday he may have leaned stiffly against a bookshelf for five minutes before a green breeze wafted through to my bedroom, next year I will allot five minutes for him to sit comfortably on his potty chair.

Or maybe fifteen for me to shampoo the carpet.

When it comes to gifts, Adler is very astute.  He will consider what you spent and how much thought you invested before throwing your expensive gift on the floor and running to claim ownership of the two dollar afterthought item you included to fill your gift bag.  Or better still, the bag or bow itself.

Next year we will simply avoid big ticket items.  This year I overlooked the fact that large gifts made from plastic or wood are terrifying, nightmarish creations that will undoubtedly kill us in our sleep.  It was very kind of Adler to remind us of this reality.

My sweet boy was quite indifferent to his birthday cake this year.  Even I didn't know how I planned to decorate it until the frosting was smoothed and ready to be covered in fondant.  Because Adler is not able to verbalize his preferences, I considered what he loves and tried to develop a plan, but I didn't have enough fondant to depict the acts of dumping out baskets of clean laundry or removing frozen items from the freezer and leaving them around the house to be found, spoiled, two or three days later.

He would have to settle for a Goodnight Moon cake instead.  I was very grateful for Graham, who pointed out later that I never actually put the moon on the cake.

Maybe next year Adler will be able to berate me regarding tell me himself how he would like his cake decorated.

Judging by his birthday this year, Adler really enjoys being two.  He is adept at screaming in a restaurant loudly enough to ruin the experience for those dining around us, but not so much as to alert the authorities.  He is manipulative enough to gently caress my face and lean in for what I expect to be a kiss but instead smack me across the cheek with an audible thwack.

So next year when he turns three, I will kiss him when he's sleeping, and open a bottle of Jack Daniels when he sneakily unloads a box of elbow macaroni in the shoe closet.

Happy Birthday, Adler.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Master of the Ring

I know, I know.  I took a week off.  But I have a really good excuse this time, I promise.

Two, really.  The official reason is that we have purchased a new computer and we've been having trouble transferring over my 20,000 photos and plethora of graphic design projects, so I was unable to upload a post and accompanying photos.

The honest answer, however is that I'm just plain swamped.  It's funny how as school wraps up and we look forward to summer and a more carefree schedule, my calendar becomes more congested than the city pool on a hot day.  Each of the boys have several end-of-the-year activities, baseball, upcoming summer camps, I have a host of cakes to make on the horizon, and with a least three major family events in the next few weeks, I think I need a time out to download some of my own brain data to that new computer.

Thankfully, I got to start the season with the Kindergarten Circus.  If you live in my town, you may be familiar with this event.  For over forty years, the Kindergarten students have dressed up in groups and put on a cute little show for parents.  There are tigers, dogs on bikes, snakes, dancers, bodybuilders, and more.

Cael's bodybuilder musculature was legendary, so I was very excited to see what Graham would bring to the show.

I could see him being quite a cute little snake.  A tiger, even.  But I was very surprised when he decided early on that he wanted to be the Ringmaster.  With only one child from each class selected to be the Ringmaster, I encouraged him to pursue it but wondered, would my shy little Bubba be able to stand up in front of all of those people and not pee his pants, or run away and get tangled in a gaggle of popcorn vendors?

When the evening came, we were there early to secure my watch-out-my-son-is-the-star-of-this-show-and-I-have-a-really-big-camera seats.  There is no one star, of course, but I knew that Graham would be front and center during his bits, and come hell or high water, I was going to get a good shot.

And I know something about high water.

Cael played the part of the proud big brother with gusto, and Adler escaped Joel's clutches to entertain the crowd during the transitions.

I whipped from photo mode into video mode each time Graham stood up, only to find that he held his script so high that I couldn't actually see his face or hear him speak over the applause of the crowd.

But when the circus acts were up, my sweet boy waited patiently and looked so cute.  (He also looked bored out of his mind, but we'll pretend that was a character choice.)  Every time it was his turn to deliver his dialogue, he said it clearly despite his speech troubles, and smiled at me when he returned to his seat.

I am so proud of him.

Not only because he played his role well, but because I always think of Graham as being more like me.  I love a good challenge, and I love to prove to myself that I am do something that seems beyond my skill set.

Excluding, of course, the skill sets of athleticism, math, and parallel parking.  There's no hope for me there.

But when I was in third grade, I was cast as the lead character in a church musical.  Ours was a very large church with a successful music and drama program, so the performance was well attended.  When I looked out over the crowd and music began for my solo, I cracked.  Sang nothing.  

Stared blankly.


Unfortunately, that one moment stuck with me, and for the rest of my life I've dealt with crippling stage fright that started during my first exposure to being the center of (public) attention.  I still don't like it much, and I thought Graham didn't either, but I guess I was wrong.

I'm proud because he broke that cycle, and he did it with a cape, a smile, and a stick-on mustache.

Can't wait until May of 2020 when Adler wows the crowd under the big top.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Hey everyone!  If you don't follow me on Facebook, you may not know that I have been doing some blogging over at the Real Moms of Eastern Iowa blog! 

This is my first paid writing gig (with hopefully more to come) so I hope you will take the time to check it out and support my efforts!  I really appreciate all of you that continue to tune in and see what's going on in our household.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Gift for Mom

There are few Mother's Day gifts as sweet as the one give by my Adler on Sunday.

He looked me dead in the eye and said, "poop".

And he had pooped.

Maybe not my most glamorous gift, I know.  But I was so thrilled that he had made the connection between his actions and his words that I leaped from where I sat and ran to him, whooping and hollering praises about what a fine poop he had undoubtedly produced.

He gave me the side eye and burst into tears.  Either my outburst was frightening to him, or he feared I'd finally snapped after years of him honking my nose too hard and lost control of my mental faculties.

I can't even rule that out as a possibility.  This morning I mistook my toothpaste for face cream and smeared it all over my forehead.

I'm looking forward to him making more connections as his brain matures.  For example, it would be helpful if Adler would connect leaping off the dining room table with a nasty bump on the head.

It would make my nights easier if he would understand the link between nighttime and bedtime, so that he wouldn't respond as though I had tased him each time I tell him he needs to go to sleep.

Additionally, I'd appreciate Adler gaining some basic understanding that he does NOT need to wait until I am on the phone to loudly beg for some mystery item he refers to as "Uh... UHH!".  He is welcome to fuss at me as much as he would like during my regular business hours.

But alas, he's not yet two.  His gift to me on Sunday was probably coincidence as much as anything, and I don't think he's at all ready for potty training.  

Maybe by my birthday...

Happy belated Mother's Day, everybody.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tools of a Trade

Kids often say the darnedest things.  But what do you do when they don't realize they're saying anything darn-worthy at all?

"Hey Mom, can you help Adler?  I want to build a tower with these tools, but his jeans won't stay up, and he keeps falling on my building."

"Yep, let me adjust the elastic in the waist band.  Or maybe I should use that saw to cut some rope for him to use as a belt."

"That won't work!  Give me a different tool and I'll fix Adler.  Come here Teeny, I'm gonna screw you!"

"Yikes, Graham, maybe try again?"

"Guess who is gonna get hammered!"

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Disclaimer:  No toddlers were harmed in the making of this post.  Well, that’s not really true.  No toddlers remain harmed after the making of this post.  As for me, the jury’s still out…

I have accident prone kids. 

This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to me because I’m pretty accident prone myself.  I might not be bruised from rough play like Cael or falling down constantly like Graham, but I just get careless and shove knives through my hands or twist my knee funny and bleed internally.

Being clumsy or prone to injury must just be in my blood, so to speak.
I know it is in Adler’s blood, because he shows it to me daily by scraping himself against anything sharp, pinching his fingers into tight spaces, and his favorite pastime, falling from great heights.

Adler after falling in April 2015.
You might remember last fall when Humpty Dumpty Adler fell down the stairs.  While that experience left him with a bruised head and a bruised-er ego, he must have concluded that his leap from the first story was insufficient.

Can I tell you a story?

About two weeks ago, I heard a thump.  I had been making lunch and quickly turned to find Adler in an emotional heap on the floor with the largest blue goose egg I’d ever seen.  From his position and the noise I’d heard, I concluded that he had quickly scrambled up onto the dining room table and fallen straight off, smacking his thick skull on the hard floor.

But unlike other times, he wouldn’t stop crying right away.  His eyes looked fine and he didn’t vomit, but he was so sad and so, so, tired.  He rubbed his eyes and draped over me like a wet blanket.  Since my knowledge about concussions is limited to what have seen on TV, I googled concussion symptoms and found that for every symptom he didn’t have, there was another he was did.  Maybe. 

Dilated pupils?  No.
Vomiting?  No.
Fatigue?  Yes, but it was naptime.
Sensitivity to light?  Perhaps.
Dizziness?  Who knows.
Emotional Instability?  Always.

As is often best with toddlers, I opted to distract.  I made him a lunch he’d normally love, and planted him in front of it.  But instead of digging into his turkey and cheese sandwich, Adler stared blankly at the wall.  And stared.  Let out one loud cry, and then stared some more.

Adler, shortly after falling.
That’s when I got nervous.

I called the hospital and asked their opinion after describing his symptoms.  They did the things hospitals do and told me that without seeing him in person, they could not diagnose a concussion, so they advised me to bring him to the ER because they were concerned about his spot-on audition for “Dazed and Confused”.

As I was preparing to load him into the van, Papa stopped by and I brought him up-to-date about Adler’s Big Fall.  He agreed that it was best to get him checked out, and as he went to comfort my baby, Adler immediately snapped out of it and tried to steal Papa’s cell phone.  Pretended to tickle him.  Ran away and straight-up giggled.

And I was faced with every parent’s least favorite medical conundrum—

Should I stay or should I go?

I have a horrible, horrible track record for making the wrong choice.  Of course, I always choose to go, so there has never been a serious side effect from my poor decision-making.  Just a lot of bills, a lot of hassle, a few unnecessary hours in the ER, and a grouchy kid the next day.

Here’s where I really wish I could say that I didn’t factor those things into my decision, but I did.  I thought about Adler’s poor, worn out head and I imagined keeping him up late at the hospital.  I thought about him running around and playing with Papa while I considered what an MRI would cost.

And in the end, we didn’t go.

Adler took a much-needed nap while I hovered over his crib, checking for any signs that his condition was worsening.  When he woke, I dosed him with some baby Tylenol and forced him to endure a full three minutes of kisses from Mommy (which he dislikes about as much as a head injury) and realized that the one “con” I didn’t weigh was my own guilt.

Bruises, day two.
After he safely woke and sat at the table to have a snack with his brothers, I thought about this experience.

I knew that for a long time afterward, I would worry I’d done the wrong thing and regret not having him checked out.  If he grew to have a lisp one day, I’d probably blame myself, assuming he’d damaged whatever parts of the brain control speech.  If he had difficulties in school, I’d certainly hold myself responsible.  And if, one day as an adult, he decided to wear socks with sandals, I’d smack him a little.  That’s just ugly.  But it was clear I’d carry this fear and guilt with me forever.

That’s when he fell backward off the dining chair.

Did I mention that I have accident prone kids?