Monday, September 27, 2010


The Trust Fall is an exercise in which one person leans backwards, releasing his grounding, and trusts that a person behind him will catch him. This afternoon, as I played with Meatball on the kitchen floor, he pretty much replicated this activity with me, except he was sitting, facing away from me. Then he leaned back.

Of course I caught him. Then he did it again.

It's a fun little metaphor for the relationship that I have with my younger son. He is little--all he really can do is trust that I'll look out for him.

As for The Boy, we've been dealing with trust issues as they relate to his toileting habits. He is beginning to trust that I'm not just trying to ruin his fun by suggesting bathroom visits, and I trust him that when he says he'll go after the puzzle is done or after the show is over, he will (except when he forgets...but usually he'll get it done when reminded).

I'm trusting him quite a bit this evening--he wanted to sleep in underpants.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Getting geared up...again...

I have a job interview on Monday. A real interview for a real job.

I've also been making some progress in getting in to substitute-teach in various districts. This requires a lot of hustling around, so it would be very fitting for it all to be for naught, and me to get this job for which I interview on Monday.

The job is middle school orchestra and chorus. That's what I do. I don't actually have much experience teaching middle school chorus but I know how, and I certainly sing. It seems like a pretty good school. 3 grades, about 300 kids per grade. Pretty good test score performance.

Lousy commute. Not out of the question ridiculous, but something like 48 minutes according to Google Maps, and that's without traffic. It's far.

Were I to get this job, we'd move next schoolyear. May as well save the money for a good down payment.

I'm really trying not to get too invested in the possibilities here. I've been disappointed multiple times.

I'm also trying to do fun stuff with my kids, because whether I'm substituting a few days a week or working full-time and far away, I'll be gone for portions of the day. I also have a few lessons that I'm teaching. Little kids on violins.

Today we went to an apple orchard and market. It was HOT, so the outdoor activities were less fun. Next time, we'll go when it isn't 90 degrees out. And we'll actually take the time to buy some apples. But the kids still had a good time. There were things to climb on, treats to eat, and stores for shopping.

Meanwhile, Musical Daddy is also getting some lessons, is looking into a church job, and might even have something else coming up.

All of this family time together has been amazing, though. And it's so nice, particularly compared with the hours that Musical Daddy used to put in at an ultimately worthless piece of garbage job. One or the other of us gets to go out from time to time, to exercise or shop or teach lessons or go to rehearsal. On rare occasions, we leave the kids with the grandparents and we go out together. But most of the time, it's us. And the kids. We didn't know how much we needed all that time together until we realized that it's been months that we have spent almost every hour of every day together and we don't despise each other. I look at Musical Daddy and his relationship with BOTH of his sons, and I don't think there are very many fathers who know their kids like he does.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The "I Can't" Syndrome

Great repost from The Reluctant Crunchy Mama about what to do when your child says "I Can't"

It's from Attachment Parenting International. Plenty of people will say that attachment parenting translates to spoiling your kids and keeping them babies forever. I wholeheartedly disagree. Meeting their needs when they are younger makes for healthier children, teenagers, and adults. Frequently, a parent who ascribes to attachment parenting will expect more age-appropriate independent action from their children. So what this article DOESN'T say is, when they say they can't, just do it for them.

HERE is the article. Enjoy. Respond.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby, look at you now!

Meatball has been growing up and becoming more and more of a little boy and less of a baby! He walks probably 75% of the time, can walk holding my hand and change direction with me (useful because then I'm not always picking him up and trying to drag him places), can walk up stairs while holding hands and the railing, loves to imitate motions, and says random new words all the time!

He claps his hands, does the motions for Itsy Bitsy Spider and some for Wheels on the Bus, and he can even wave his arms for the Hotdog Dance.

He can stand up from sitting on a step or a chair, and he can climb up to sit at a table or a bench.

Things that The Boy was barely doing at 21 months old, Meatball is doing at 14 months. I'm not sure how much of that is just that we are "letting" him do it and how much is just that he is physically so far ahead of where The Boy was at this age. It makes us see that The Boy really isn't quite "normal" or typical, no matter how close he may seem. Even though he is darned close to being on track according to his physical therapist, there are still some gaps in there that may take awhile to show themselves.

We were at a birthday party today, and we met a little boy who is a few months younger than The Boy, as he turns 3 in January vs. The Boy's end-of-August. This boy is rowdy, a bit on the aggressive side, loud, and high-energy. Also, very friendly, interactive, and very interested in playing with my kids. In other words, he's a BOY. The grandmother and the aunt said that the mother was very concerned about her son and wanted to have him evaluated to see if he had ADHD. They think he's fine, and I agreed. I told them that it's never bad to get a kid evaluated, and even if he turns out not to have any treatable issues, the specialists might have some ideas for redirecting negative behavior, but to us he seemed fine.

It reminded us that The Boy, while he does enjoy running and jumping and tackling and such, is really pretty calm for a boy in his age group. And also, that the parents and other caregivers of any small child frequently just want the reassurance that their child is normal and doing fine, and if not, that they're taking the right steps to correct problems.

We really enjoy watching Meatball, our thus-far typical child, and sometimes comparing in retrospect. I have a feeling that despite the nearly 2 year difference in ages, our two children are probably going to play with a lot of the same kids and be on the same wavelength a lot sooner than we'd otherwise expect. Meatball has probably said at least 20 different words and he isn't even 15 months old yet; The Boy had only said his 5 minimum by 15 months.

Some of Meatball's words previously used include: Mom, Dad/daddy, 'mpa (Grandpa), ca-o (avocado), yes, teeth, bath, bus, whoosh, ball, 'uba (tuba...yes, I'm serious), meat, byebye, and a few more that I can't think of. Most of them, he just says once or twice and forgets for awhile. But he knows them and will use them again eventually.

It's not so great to compare your children to each other or to other kids too frequently, but it can be a helpful and constructive tool from time to time. It feels nice, though, to JUST have to think about kid stuff and walking and talking...

And bumps on the head.

Break the Fast Highlights

I was actually able to fast the entire time, with the exception of some water that I drank because I'm still nursing a little boy. I'm surprised--I thought it would be more difficult especially considering that I hadn't done it in several years.

We had a big break the fast get-together at our house. Much of this was my mother's doing, as she has been hosting this for years. I added a few things to the menu, like a cauliflower and chick pea dish, and my quinoa salad that never made it to the table. I did a little bit of prep work, but most of it was my mother and our wonderful helpers.

Some funny/interesting highlights:

Musical Daddy proves once again that he was meant to be around babies. One of the families, friends of ours, has a little girl who is about 5 or 6 months old. Musical Daddy volunteered to hold her while her parents ate, and she played and laughed and had a kickin' time. Apparently she isn't the type to be friendly with everyone so that was an accomplishment.

Meatball tripping, hitting his head, and falling into the lap of his pediatrician who was one of our guests. He and another doctor present (one of at least 4) agreed that stitches wouldn't really be necessary. I was glad that he was right there and I didn't have to call him. Also, we saw the other pediatrician at services today, who said that she had called us back after we had already gone to the ER with Meatball. I told her that I was glad we went, because even though we had to wait a long time, they actually did something to make him better.

I received a compliment from another guest for nursing Meatball. It's a good thing, anyway, that it is recognized as a good thing and a normal thing. Even better, the guest in question is a 25-year-old med student. Not sure yet what type of medicine she is going into, but considering that there are so many doctors that have no problem telling mothers that breastmilk pretty much turns into kool-aid after 6 months, it's good to know that at least one more who doesn't hold that opinion.

Musical Daddy getting to watch the Yankees game with a fellow fan.

The Boy, talking to lots of people and running laps around the house.

No fights, no scuffles, no disagreements, and lots of happy eating people.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Year In Review

Kol Nidrei is a funny prayer that we say at the start of Yom Kippur in which we say that any vows and promises and such that we make from now until next year, we shouldn't hold ourselves to them and we are absolved of responsibility. Not that it means that we don't try, but we acknowledge that we are flawed, and we are imperfect.

My intention is to be more patient and loving with my children and husband. To take better care of myself by eating well and exercising more, and practicing my instrument more. To take better care of my family of origin. I'll work on it, and I'll probably do better too, but I'm not expecting perfection.

I haven't really observed Yom Kippur since I became a mother. And I don't just mean that I didn't fast--I barely even made it to services at all.

2007 (or, 5768), The Boy had been in the emergency room for stomach issues, at 3 weeks old. You know, back when we thought that exorcism-style vomiting was the scariest thing that we could see as a parent. I needed to take care of him, and more specifically, I needed to regulate things in the feeding department.

2008 was a fever-related hospitalization for The Boy, after diagnosis and before the official relapse diagnosis (although we suspected something even at that time).

2009 I was home with Meatball and mastitis while Musical Daddy was in the hospital with The Boy for chemo. Since the cure for mastitis is to apply baby to affected area, that's what I did. I made it to Kol Nidrei services, but barely.

Now, in 2010, or 5771, I have two healthy children and I, myself, am healthy. We will bring the kids a little bit to services and the programs for their age group, for as long as they have the patience. Our biggest concern is probably getting The Boy to the bathroom on time. It's a whole different ballgame.

From last Yom Kippur to this one, the biggest changes in our lives are the state of The Boy's health and the location of our family. And the lack of employment for both of us. But we're working on the last part as much as we can.

I have started to submit paperwork to substitute teach music in a few districts that I know have strong orchestra programs. I guess I'm holding out a little hope that I can actually get a music teaching job, eventually.

Last year around this time I had a sick The Boy and an angry, but recovering, Meatball. This year they are so happy and have so much fun. They play together, run around the house, tackle Daddy, and give kisses.

Meatball has really started to take off with his words. Last night he was very excited for "bath" and this morning he brushed his "teesh" (teeth). I thought I heard him tell me "no" when I put him in his carseat. He is also taking off with his walking. He is already voicing opinions, such as, if he doesn't want to leave somewhere, he gets mad.

The Boy is sweet and precious and sensitive. And something of a pain in the way that 3-year-olds tend to be. But mostly, he is a joy and a treasure. We're just so glad to see him have the energy to talk back to us.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Home, then again.

Left the hospital with my parents. Stopped at Rite-Aid for extra Tylenol. Upon arriving at home I realized that I had forgotten Musical Daddy's phone. Called the hospital to be sure that they had it, and upon confirmation, I returned to the hospital. He probably still hasn't forgiven me. I don't forgive me either.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Going home

Meatball is clear to go home. The boogeyman treatment did the trick.

Not calling home because I hope they are sleeping.

Thing's not cancer. So everything else pales in comparison. And as annoying as this whole experience was, to wait forever and be low priority, I certainly wouldn't trade that status for a fast track through the ER, because I really know what it means to be important in the ER. You really don't want to be important in the ER.

The Boogeyman

Meatball's temperature climbed back up to 40.0C which is close to 104F. He also got deep-suctioned. That happened a number of minutes ago but Grandpa also brought a caramel and chocolate covered apple, which I ate before posting this update.

So my parents are here. Daddy and The Boy are home. The Boy isn't feeling too super either.

Not sure if they are going to keep us overnight but I'd like it if they would decide soon.

Grandma: "Ah-ah baby, Daddy is a gentleman and Mommy is a lady."
Me: "You take that back!"

Finally asleep...

Meatball spent at least 30 minutes crying that sad pathetic sick baby cry before finally falling asleep on my lap.

This should come as no surprise:

We are still waiting to be seen. Triage was quick: Rectal temp of 104, decent pulse-ox.

Emergency Room -- GenPop

I am currently in the ER with Meatball, who is experiencing some respiratory distress. He also has a fever and congestion.

Additionally, this is a super time for me not to have a phone, as mine stopped working on Saturday. So I get to have iPhone. Hopefully my phone comes tomorrow.

Anyhow, Meatball has been sniffly since Sunday night, but it seems like today is the first day with the fever. This afternoon, when I tried to suction his nose, he started bleeding. All of these things were normal, but the labored breathing, all stopped up, and inability to really eat or drink, made me think that ER was the place.

I packed a bag, just like the old days, and I'm prepared to stay awhile. I didn't eat before I left, though, and now I am REALLY hungry.

Meatball is snuggling on my lap. That pretty much never happens; that's another sure sign that something is wrong.

But it's different, just having a "normal" patient.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Potty: The Loss Column

Let me take you back to a time when you felt cheated, helpless, and vengeful.

You might have been 3; you might have been 13. In any case, you were under the care of your parents, and you were angry.

You were a kid. You messed up. You did something you weren't supposed to do, and your parents responded by punishing you, particularly by taking a privilege away or removing a toy from your possession. The message that they wanted to send to you, I'm sure, was that only good behavior deserves rewards and whatever it was that they took from you was a reward. I'm not talking about parents telling their kids to turn off the TV for the evening and finish homework. I'm talking about taking away TV for a week, or hiding the video game controls for a marking period, or even "grounding," meaning not letting a child go out anywhere except for school and wherever else they NEED to go.

It doesn't really sound unreasonable, to revoke privileges from a child, but I'd bet that if you were anything like me, your parents' actions didn't quite yield the results for which they were hoping. I'm sure that they expected that, partially because of your desire to please them and partially because you really wanted that privilege back, you'd work diligently to improve yourself and learn your lesson. Now if that were true, you'd not have at least a dozen memories of this punishment. You'd also not have at least 2 dozen memories of doing whatever it is that you could to sneak around and get to whatever it is that you wanted despite your parents' order that you not be permitted.

Please understand, I'm not saying that parents shouldn't be able to limit pastimes such as TV and video games, particularly if there are concerns about the amount of time spent on those in favor of other activities. This isn't even really about that. I'm just trying to set the stage because I'm concerned that I'm heading down that path with The Boy, and I don't like it.

What I mean is, I think he's feeling cheated, helpless, and vengeful because, among other things, I took his puzzle away.

Twice today, while assembling his 25-piece Spiderman and Friends puzzle, he has had an accident on the floor. The second accident was of a dual nature if you catch my drift. And both times, his puzzle was taken away, to be returned to him the next time he used the toilet.

I don't think that this is a productive way to handle the situation. But I don't really know what to do--he gets very engrossed in his activities, be it television, puzzles, books, or playing outside, and doesn't want to stop to use the bathroom. Never mind being reminded--he fights even when we know he has to go. He was even getting better about that, until these past few days. The potty training literature is geared toward the 2-year-old, and the parent of the two-year-old, who is unfamiliar with the process. Not the 3-year-old who was well on his way to being trained, knows exactly what he is doing, only to have been set back by a family vacation.

By the way, Happy New Year.

Having accidents gets him more attention. Being on the verge of having an accident gets him more attention. Threatening to get off the potty before he's really done gets him more attention. Leaving while I'm in the middle of something like the dishes to go upstairs to his favorite toys, and then have an accident, prevents me from doing what I'm doing, and he knows that.

The problem with taking actions such as taking away the puzzle that he loves so much, or even taking him to the potty when he doesn't really think he needs to go, is that he feels stuck in the loss column and wonders how he'll ever get out. I spent a LOT of time restricted from watching television due to various transgressions as a child, but you bet your booties I didn't spend the time that I wasn't watching TV thinking about how I could make it up to my mother and become a better person. I felt like since I was so firmly in the loss column, there was no point in trying. And then when she was out of the house I'd watch TV anyway. Don't worry, readers--my mother already knows this because I got caught plenty of times.

At this point I need to insert a disclaimer that my mother was a wonderful mother and not a terrible person. I'm just going back in time to experience these emotions again so that I can figure out a better way to help The Boy to work with me not for fear of punishment but because our relationship is built on trust.

I think that to have him help clean up the messes is a logical progression. At least the wet messes. Which there will be, because I'm going to remind him occasionally to use the bathroom, but that's it.

Two interesting theories that definitely fly in the face of what we've been doing, one from Dr. Sears and the other from Dr. Karp (The Happiest Baby On The Block guy): Dr. Sears says that placing too much emphasis on the child being a "big boy" or "big girl" can backfire. If the child would prefer to stay a baby and receive attention in that way, particularly if they have a younger sibling, they won't be motivated by having to grow up. So we need to nix the "big boy" stuff and use other terms. Dr. Karp, with whom I am really not that familiar, says that making a big deal about the child's peeing and pooping can backfire. It can become something too important and, more to the point, it can become something that the child uses against you when s/he is mad.

Hmmm...cheated, helpless, vengeful? What kind of control does The Boy really have over his destiny? Well he can sure get us all riled up about poop.

Oh, and by the way, if you're thinking of telling me "oh, you should wait, he might not be 'ready' after all," don't. There are many additional psychological barriers that he has as a result of his life experience, some of which I can't even imagine, but the answer is not to put him back in diapers. For once in his life, he needs some dignity. Some kids just "do it" and they're all well and good on the potty. Others do it gradually. My kids don't seem to do anything "all of a sudden," so potty training won't be any different. It's not developmental, and I keep saying that, and no matter how hard a time we have with The Boy, I will still maintain that it isn't developmental, at least not the "readiness" part. The "readiness" part is a fabrication of the disposable diaper industry. It's a habit. But why would anyone bother building a new habit when it takes away from their TV time or puzzle time?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Toy Run and Scary Potty

Today was definitely too cold for the pool. Tomorrow we are going on the Gateway Clipper Fleet boat tour, as it will still not be pool weather.

Instead, we went to go use some Toys R Us gift cards. Highlights of the trip included introducing Meatball to the classic Ball Popper toy (which we got for him, of course), letting The Boy ride one of those little two-wheelers with training wheels and seeing him actually pedal a few times, and The Claw. One of those grabby things.

Lowlights included being out past naptime, a wrong turn resulting in a detour through a bunch of southeastern Pittsburgh suburbs, and, worst of all, the evil possessed auto-potty.

I get that the automatic flush is nice for sanitary reasons but when you have a potty-training 3-year-old who is trying to relax and go, and somehow the way he sits triggers the auto-flush, it's a bad scene. Also, you'd think that at a place like Toys R Us, they would have a fun kid bathroom, considering how many of the customers are parents with little kids.

It's funny, as your kids get older, you start to notice things on their behalf that are age-appropriate, and you get upset for them when accommodations are lacking. I was frequently aware of what places were likely to have changing tables and high chairs; now I'm becoming aware of bathroom friendliness.

The Boy is not one of those kids who gets scared to poo, and he is not extremely set in his ways, but he does have a preference for potties that are not scary.

We love the 3rd floor at the hospital, because they have tiny toilets! Although we are mighty glad we don't spend too much time there, it is nice when we do go, for appointments and such, to have such a thing, particularly given The Boy's fascination with big and little.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Toilet Training: The Imperfect Panacea

I hesitate to refer to The Boy as toilet trained.

I guess I shouldn't because he wears underpants all day and has 0-2 accidents in a day as opposed to the 6 or so he was having before.

But he only sometimes takes himself when he needs to go, and almost never when he is in pants. We take him or remind him, and heaven help us if he doesn't think he needs to go.

I got quite the eyeroll from some middle-aged woman at the Chinese restaurant when I went to take him after dinner. I wanted to tell her off, but I figured that a dirty look would suffice. Little kids throw little fits. It happens. I was in the process of moving him anyway. It didn't help that Meatball decided to raise his voice at the same time.

Anyhow, parents look forward to the end of diapers. But unless I'm missing something here, the end of a child's diaper usage doesn't mean an end to the parental involvement in the child's bathroom practices. It seems to be a gradual transition, even after you give up the diapers. I count pull-ups as diapers, too.

Speaking of which, it seems as though frequently it is the parent who really gives up the diapering, not the kid. The parent is giving up the convenience of being able to go out and not worry as much about where to find a suitable toilet. The parent now has to make sure that the child goes every hour or however long. The parent needs to make stops on car trips that might not have been necessary for a diapered kid.

Eventually the child is fully responsible, but The Boy isn't there.

So I want to hear from you: if your kids are similar in age to mine, where are you in the process? If your kids are older, at what point were they going prompted? Unprompted? Even while on outings? When did you call them trained?

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