Monday, December 29, 2008

R.I.P. Naps

So the big news around here is that as of last week Sam has officially and seemingly permanently given up naps. A year ago, in a stupified zombie-like state, that possibility seremed unthinkable. I assumed that when it eventually happened, there would be great wailing and rending of garments in the Leen household. Lo and behold, though, at least so far, I not only don't miss them but am actually preferring the no-nap day.

Mostly the reason is that sleep time in general had become a huge power struggle between me and Sam, involving cajoling, bribing, yelling, and sometimes actually holding him in place in bed before he eventually succumbed to sleep. This delightful sequence of events took up to an hour a day. Twice. I was usually so wired after putting him down for a nap that it was almost impossible for me to relax, let alone sleep. And bedtime...oh, boy. He usually would fight and fight until 9:30, and then Mark and I would be so tired we'd just drop off to sleep ourselves.

Now, though, not only has bedtime become almost an enjoyable time of day, I find that when I'm not spending those two-plus hours a day locked in battle with Sam I actually enjoy spending time with him more, and he with me as well. In addition, when the 5:00 crazies roll around for both of us, I can look at the clock and think about how I can get him in the bath in about 2 more hours, followed by almost guaranteed sleep and the rest of the evening to myself by about 8:00. Delightful, restful, and rejuvenating. If I really, really need to nap, Sam has gotten really good at entertaining himself in his room, and I'll just lay down on his bed for a quick 20 minute doze at some point that perks me right up. I also no longer have to worry about how I'm going to get him down for a nap with a new baby to take care of.

Speaking of...I am definitly feeling ready to give birth. Not that I will probably any time soon (got about 5 more weeks until my due date), I'm just getting to that point where I'm ready to just move on, already. She's kicking a lot, although not as hard or as often as her brother did, and her most common annoyance seems to be if I'm particularly active she'll sort of float up and stick a body part into my rib - sort of a "Hey, mom, I'm still here...Could you slow it down for a sec?"

In general, this pregnancy has been easier and less all-consuming than Sam's. Of course, how could it not be? I was laughing about this with a few other moms at the community center play time today, right after I did a full-on dive into the bouncy house to pull Sam out in time for him to not run over another child. We all talked about how our second pregnancies hadn't provided the luxury of sitting on the couch eating, and how we'd all been chasing after toddlers or preschoolers to stay in shape. Every single one commented on how she had gained less weight and been in better shape, something I can relate to.

I'm gathering that this baby's babyhood will also be less all-consuming. Not because she'll be different than any other baby, but because it simply can't consume me. I have no doubt that I'll love her just as much as Sam, but she'll be beginning life as an appendage in a sling as I go about my life with him, not the sole and obsessive single focal point that Sam was. Also, one of the biggest shocks of a first child is simply the idea that your life, and your husband's life, is no longer your own. Everyone tells you that, but I don't think there's any way to really understand that without living it, and that's a hard adjustment. But, it's an adjustment that we've already made and have lived with for two-and-a-half years. I'd also like to think I know a little more about what I'm doing this time than last. We'll see....

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snow Day(s)

We're getting pretty sick of snow here. Seriously, what did the pioneer women do? Not only did they have to be housebound about 10 times longer in smaller quarters, they also had to keep their toddlers from jumping into fires, didn't have Teletubbies and couldn't just take their SUV to the Thriftway when they ran about of food. Hats off to you, ladies.

However, we got some pretty darn great pictures of Sam in the snow. Here they are...

Big Boy Bed

These are actually from a few weeks ago, but I'm just getting around to posting them. He's doing great in his new bed!

Mr. Social

I think that one of the greatest pleasures I've gotten from motherhood so far is watching Sam start to view other children as friends rather than indistinct blobs that take his toys. Since our little preschool ordeal a few months ago, so much has changed. We went to the playground a few weeks ago and were walking down the hill and met up with a father/daughter pair heading there as well. Sam ran up to her with a giggle, and when she smiled back, he took her little hand in his and walked with her to the playground saying, "I'll show you the sandbox." The dad and I looked at each other with some serious raised eyebrows. "You'll have to look out for that one," he said. "Oh, no," I replied with a grin, "YOU'LL have to look out for him."

It's become glaringly apparent that he likes girls. A lot. And preferably a little older. Way to go, Sam. One four-year-old in the cry room at church got the Sam treatment a few weeks ago when he took her hand and led her to his train, then they rolled around together under one of the pews, giggling crazily.

All he wants these days is to interact with kids and make friends. Sometimes, it's heartbreakingly poignant to observe, as I think about all of the social gamits he'll be running in the next few years. At REI a few days ago, he found a group of older kids huddled together in a little fort, and started playing peekaboo with them. "Go away, baby!" they yelled at him. Sam just laughed at their enthusiasm for insulting him, and continued to play. One day, though, he'll hear what they're saying and understand it. And then, my precious, outgoing little boy may have some questions.


Boy, do I have a lot of catching up to do! Since it's the night before Christmas eve and there's lots of packing a wrapping to do, this will have to suffice.

Mark was teaching Sma to do knock-knock jokes tonight, which was hilarious. He even made up his own:

Sam: "Knock-knock!"
Mark: "Who's there?"
Sam: "Banana!"
Mark: "Banana who?"
Sam: "Banana sock!" (Falls down in helpless laughter)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Nice Monster

First, an update: Sam has been doing MUCH better in the behavior category. His preschool teachers were great about incorporating my discoveries and ways of dealing with him, and he had a very successful day on Wednesday. We went to McDonalds for lunch to celebrate.

In other news...we now have an imaginary friend. Sam has talked about nice and mean monsters for a few months now, but just recently Nice Monster made an appearance. Yesterday, I was not allowed to help Sam with the potty because Nice Monster was helping him. We have to leave the gate open upstairs for a few seconds when we go up so that Nice Monster can come up, too. And at bedtime, he decided he wanted Nice Monster to put him to sleep. My excitement may have tipped him off though...he quickly changed his mind and decided that Mommy AND Nice Monster should put him to sleep.

I'm not particularly worried about this, and don't think I should be. It's actually pretty cute. When Nice Monster starts to tell him to jump off the roof, he'll be asked to leave. But for now, I think he's here to help Sam through a lot of adjustments he's had lately - new room, new sibling on the horizon...Nice Monster is welcome as long as he pulls his weight.

Friday, November 7, 2008

When preschoolers attack

Preschool drama. I picked Sam up from school, where he goes for about 2 hours on Wednesdays, and the teacher pulled me aside.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" Uh oh. I know that teacher voice.
"Has Sam had anything, uh, BIG happen in his life lately?"

I told the teacher about his new room, and she nodded reassuringly. He apparently was rather aggressive toward the other kids that morning - pushing, hitting, grabbing toys, etc. They'd pull him aside and talk to him about using words, etc and I was nodding along, but the whole time I was thinking, "Oh my gosh. He's going to be THAT KID." I think the very kind teacher saw that look in my eyes, and she reassured me that her oldest son went through a tough phase like that, and now he's a delightful adult who runs his own business. Great, so he's not a serial killer. Oh, and Sam managed to get himself bitten by a little girl, complete with little pink tooth marks in his arm. The teachers were extremely apologetic and I'd feel sorry for him, but I think he had it coming.

On the way to the car, I chatted with Sam.

"Sam, I heard that the teachers needed to talk to you today about sharing."

He nods and looks at his hands, not looking at my face. "Mmm-hmm."

"If you want a toy, what can you say?"

He says in a canned voice, "Please, can I have a turn with that when you're done?"

Ok, that's a start.

I think this was a wake-up call for me about helping Sam develop these skills. Beyond preschool, he doesn't spend a lot of time consistently around other kids, and when he's at preschool they've got about one teacher for every 6 kids or so, and it's not fair for me to expect them to know all of his triggers, see trouble brewing, and head it off, let alone help him with every single interaction - that's my job. It's one of the reasons I chose to stay home, so I can do all of these things, not just the fun stuff.

So, today we went to an open play time at a local community center. Before we went in, we had a little talk:

"Sam, there are going to be other kids in there, and toys that you'll share with them. What are you going to do if you'd like to play with a toy?"

"Please, can I have a turn with that when you're done?" Sounding a little less canned.

"Good, honey. And you know I'll be there to help you if you need it, ok?"


So, we go in and we have the place to ourselves for about 15 minutes, and then the flood gates opened. About 15 kids in the preschool came pouring in, taking over all of the riding toys and the bouncy house. I braced myself. Sam immediately went after the little girl on the motorcycle he'd most recently been playing with, screaming and running after her. Here we go. I scooped him up and walked him to the corner.

"Sam, she's taking a turn with that right now. I'll let you down when you can use words instead of scream."

He nods, and I let him down. He runs up to the girl again, and to my surprise says, "Can I please have a ride with you?"

She thinks about it and sizes him up, then nods. He delightedly hops on the back of the motorcycle and she scoots him about the gym, Sam giggling the whole time.

It brought me a lot of insight about why he behaves the way he does. I really, honestly think that he loves other kids, and wants to play with them more than he wants their toys. But, he's just so intense about it. With one little girl, he ran up and started talking in her face, then said he wanted her to take her finger out of her mouth and take her glove off so he could hold her hand, which he tried to accomplish by yanking her hand out of her mouth and trying to pull off her glove. She looked slightly shell-shocked. I can just imagine that at preschool he had some sort of interaction like this, and instead of me being there to sort of coach him through it, the kid rebuffed him or got mad, and it escalated into other ways to get the attention of the kid, then his frustration set him off on other negative attention-getting behaviors of the rest of the day. As a contrast, I helped him through that first interaction with that motorcycle girl, and things went more or less pretty well for the rest of the time we were there.

So, I have a new plan. If he throws something, grabs something, hits someone, or does any sort of other negative behavior, even if it's coming from an excited intense mood rather than a mad one, I calmly pick him up and take him away from the situation, where we have a little chat about what went wrong and how to do it differently. I hope at the very least he'll get the idea that if he does any of those things he gets a time-out, but I also hope that he starts to absorb how to do it better and that it sets him on that better path.

On the way home, I had another insight.

"Sam, I am so proud of the way you played with other kids today. You did a great job using your words and sharing toys."

He's gazing out the window. "I made that boy scream."

He's thinking about the one other time we had trouble, when he excitedly hit a boy who was playing in a tunnel, and I removed him to have a talk about it. Amazing - out of all the good interactions he had, he remembers the one that didn't go well. Is he going to be like this? "Good job, honey, you got mostly A's!" "But I got one B, mom." Is he going to take not pleasing people, especially those he's close to, really hard? I'll have to be sure that he knows when he's done well, and that it matters to me just as much if not more than when things go the other way.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Own room!

Big news! After painting, moving and hauling (thank you, Erik and Laural!), Sam now has his own room upstairs. Mark and I have moved our bed downstairs to the basement. And guess what? Sam loves it! We talked to him about how if he wanted either of us during the night he could just call out and we'd hear him over the monitor and come right up. On the first night he slept until 5 before I got the call: a very calm "Mommy, can you come up?" Today, it was 6:30! It's a far cry from his 7:30/8ish wake-up when he could crawl into bed with us, but I can deal with it for the trade-off, and he's been taking a longer nap during the day to make up for it, which doesn't have me complaining. Sam loves his set-up so much that before his bath last night he did a little Sound-of-Music-style twirl in the middle of the room, threw himself on the bed and exclaimed, "I LOVE my own room!"

Here's the funny part, though: Sam may have adjusted just fine, but I have yet to have a night where I don't wake up around 3 or 4 and lay there in the dark listening to the little sleeping sounds over the monitor. I'm trying really hard to wait until he asks for me before I wander upstairs so that I'm encouraging his independence, but it's hard. It's funny how I was so worried about how Sam would adjust to this change, and it ends up that I'm the one having trouble with it!

Logistically speaking, I'm finding that things are much less crazy than I thought they would be. Mark is gradually moving his things downstairs and is showering and getting ready down there, and when Sam wakes up I head upstairs to his room (where my clothes are still in the closet and my toiletries are in the bathroom) and get ready for the day up there, pretty much just like I did before we moved the bed. Laundry and garbage just gets hauled up from the basement and added to the pile on laundry and garbage days, and I really don't go down there again during the day. So, apart from our sleeping time and places, not much about our routine has changed. We'll see how it shakes out with a new baby in the mix, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.


"Hey, Sam, do you know that daddy and I have our anniversary on Thursday?"
"What's that?"
"It's when daddy and I got married."
Pause for thought.
"I"m married, too, you know."
"Oh, really? Who are you married to?"
"Oh, you're married to mommy?"
"Yeah! When's our anniversary?"
"I don't know. When do you think it is?"

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I feel like I should add something about my pregnancy, since I haven't written much about it. I'm starting to learn that that's the way it goes with second pregnancies. At this rate, if we have a third I'll probably just be completely surprised when he or she pops out. I was pregnant? I guess I was too busy to notice...

Anyway, I feel great. Like, GREAT. Better than I did with Sam, and that was pretty great. I told someone yesterday that I feel like there's energy shooting out of my fingertips. In the last week, I single-handedly painted a wall (removing and then replacing all of the furniture and hangings on said wall) and moved all of the books and shelves up from the basement. The living room looks fabulous, and it's actually a place I enjoy hanging out in now. But instead of being tired after all of this work, I feel like I'm ready for more. We go to the park and I chase Sam around and do underdogs over and over again, laughing and running. Everyone looks at me like a crazy pregnant lady for not just sitting on a bench, but I don't care. I feel great! I suppose I should enjoy it now, because I'm sure there will come a point, either before or after the baby is born, when all of this energy is a distant memory. But for now, I'm just enjoying feeling like a superhero.

Mr. Outspoken.

No one has ever accused Sam of being shy. If this little girl I'm having has any sort of stranger anxiety, it will be an entirely new experience for me.

That being said, it should not be a surprise that Sam is a rather outspoken toddler, especially now that he's exerting his own independence and increasing his language at a sometimes alarming rate. We were out to dinner a few nights ago and I asked Sam if he'd like some orange juice, and he said yes. When the waitress came by, Mark placed his order for a drink, then I mine, and then before I could add Sam's order he leaned forward and got the attention of the waitress and said very seriously, "And I would like some orange juice, please." At the park today, I was chatting with another pregnant lady and asked her if she knew what she was having. When she said it was a boy, Sam piped up from the see-saw with "We're having a little girl!" In the Starbucks drive-thru, Sam is not about to let me have the whole conversation with the barista to myself. Usually after I order my drink, he bellows from the back seat, "AND SOME BANANA BREAD! AND SOME WATER WITH A STRAW!" Luckily, they think it's cute.

I'm simultaneuosly encouraged and wary about this new development. First of all, it's great that Sam feels like he has something to add to a conversation, that his thoughts are valid and valued, and that adults will listen to him. Good job, me. On the other hand, I realize now that I will have to be extremely careful about what I say around him. We're only one step away from "My mommy said your hair looks terrible today." I'm also thinking about how to address the stranger idea. I'm around him all the time now when we're out, but at some point we're going to have to have a conversation about talking to strangers, because not all of them are nice. How do I not scare him?

The other development along these lines is the questions. Ah, the endless questions. Do bees like trucks? Do engines have wheels? Why is that car red? And then the really esoteric ones: What makes traffic? Who made that tree? Why are there clouds? At the park today, Sam asked why the little hand-cranked ride-on platform was rocking, and I told him it was because it was a boat and boats rocked. The mother of an 18 month old standing next to us said, "Wow! I wouldn't have thought of that!" Listen, I wanted to say, when you get asked about 10 impossible to answer questions a day, you get to thinking on your feet pretty quickly...

I have to say, I love these two things about Sam. The conversation, and the questions. He is always very interesting company, and I can see him growing into a chatty, outgoing kid and a sparkling adult. But my brain hurts.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The secret of two

A friend of mine has a friend with 4 kids. When a friend of hers (I know, this is confusing) was freaking out and asked her what she should do, this mom's advice was simple: "Have more."

It's counterintuitive, but I got a taste of it this afternoon when Sam and I watched Alexa for a few hours. I was looking forward to seeing her, but I have to admit - I had some trepidation about managing two. However, I need the practice, obviously. So, imagine my delight when I glanced at the clock while sitting on the floor with them and TWO HOURS had gone by without me noticing it. Yes, I occasionally had to keep them from kicking each other in the head, stealing each other's food, or stepping on each other's faces (ok, Sam tried most of those things, not Alexa). BUT...the amount of energy focused on me and me alone was much less than when there was just the two of us. Suddenly, there was another living person in the room for them to turn to instead of me. I wasn't solely in charge of entertainment, education, and witty banter. Instead, Sam chuckled at just about everything that came out of Alexa's mouth, including her cheddar bunnies, and Alexa followed Sam around trying to do whatever he was doing. I know, I know. I had her for three hours, she's only a year younger than him, I haven't had her around the house from birth, yadda, yadda, yadda. The important part was that it gave me hope. I CAN mother two children and only lose my mind occasionally.

Monday, October 13, 2008

In the moment

I was reminded recently of how little I am in the moment when it comes to my parenting, or in any aspect of my life right now, really. I'm reading this great book, Eat Pray Love, which has pretty much nothing to do with parenting (and this is a first in many months), and which is partially about this woman's months in an ashram in India studying meditation. She calls her mind a "monkey, leaping from tree to tree and stopping occasionally to scratch, spit and howl." Ok, that could also be a good description of a toddler. Either way, I've realize how often during my day I am either focusing on something that has already happened, or thinking about something in the future that might or might not ever happen. When will Sam take his nap? What will I do while he's taking it? Did he eat enough breakfast? Why hasn't he gone potty yet, and when is that going to happen? What if he has an accident? Will it be on the rug or the hardwood? Uh oh, I'm out of bleach wipes. Why didn't I remember to get those? Even while I'm typing this, I'm worrying about when Sam will wake up and exactly how much time I have until then, and if this is the best use of my time.

This is especially true now that I am a little over 3 months from having another baby. We've made big plans over the next few weekends to move our bed down to the basement, giving Sam his own room. He's actually very excited about it, and told me that the "big bed is going downstairs so that mommy can nurse daddy" (because you know I have to be nursing someone). All of this planning has resulted in lists about what furniture will go where and what walls will be painted, worries about how to help Sam adjust and who exactly will be sleeping where when, and second thoughts centering around what will happen if it all goes horribly wrong. But today, I remembered to live in the moment for an instant when Sam crawled into bed with us at 3 this morning. Our sweet time of waking up to his snoring little body between us is coming to an end. There was a time I thought it never would, when I earnestly wished for just this sort of move. But now that it's coming nearer, I'm ambivalent. I know that he's ready because he's telling us he is, and I know that to keep him a baby would not make me a good mom. But this mix of holding on to the past, looking into the future, and savoring the present is too much for me sometimes.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Sam and I went to the park this morning, and the ground there is currently littered with acorns. Squirrels scampered around snapping them up, which fascinated Sam. We spent a lot of time talking about them, and breaking a few nuts open to see what's inside. Toward the end of the trip, he had an acorn in his hand when he saw a squirrel run across the barkdust.

"Squirrel, Squirrel! I've got an acorn for you!" he yelled, chasing after the terrified squirrel with the acorn in his extended hand. Boy, some squirrels just can't accept help, can they?

Watching the debate with Daddy

Funny story: Pops, Sam and I were walking through a Borders last weekend and Sam was in the middle holding both of our hands as we walked by a display of political books. There were books on Obama, McCain, and one on Palin, and several adults browsing them. As we walked by, my two year old pointed offhandedly at one of the books and said, "Look, Sarah Palin." Every adult's head at that table snapped up to look with shock at my son. Bob and I just laughed. What can I say...Mark and I are raising a political animal.

A walk in the rain

Touche, Playland.

Ok, Fred Meyer, you win.

When I was pregnant with Sam and when he was a tiny baby, I was jealous (yes, JEALOUS) of all of those lucky moms that got to shop with a preschooler. How fun! Looking at colors together! Pointing out numbers! Admiring the produce! How could anyone leave their precious child in the lonely corner that is the Playland? They must be the lazy parents, the parents that didn't care about their child's social development. I wasn't going to be like that. I would actually enjoy shopping with my child, darn it!

Fast forward two-plus years, and you would not find me doing many of the above things. Instead, you would find me plying Sam with a variety of snacks, distractions, and finally angry pronouncements to keep him from jumping out of the cart and killing himself (because he simply won't sit in the small basket with the buckle anymore), all while I was trying to stretch our grocery budget, weigh produce and not forget the milk. I began to dread shopping so much that I actually sent Mark in the evening with a list once. After he came home with the most disgusting (and not surprisingly cheapest) deli meat I've ever tasted, I thought there'd have to be a better way.

Enter Playland. Sam ran in and I filled out the forms and kissed him goodbye, and spent an entire hour by myself smelling produce, comparison shopping and generally doing all of the things that are impossible to do with him there. Granted, I gnashed my teeth the entire time enough to give myself a headache and obsessively checked on him, and when my name was called over the speaker I ran the fastest sprint with groceries ever recorded (he just had to go potty and I had to take him), but all in all, it really beat the alternative.

I guess I have to accept that there are times in his life that it will be ok for me to take some help from Playland and be happy relaxed mommy rather than rush through an hour of shopping with him and turn into crabby, burned out, much poorer mommy. And once I got over the stress of wondering if the other kids would be friendly, if there was enough supervision for a two-year-old, and if he'd come down with the Hanta virus, it was really kind of nice.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Evergreen State Fair


I finally downloaded the 400+ pictures I've had languishing on my camera, so the next few posts will be updates...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Playing doctor

Today I was washing the sheets on the bed and had the comforter and naked pillows in a pile on the floor. Sam, in his underwear, worked his way down under the comforter and rested his head on a pillow,smiling at me.

"Mommy's the doctor!" he said.
"Oh, are you in the hospital?"
"Are you sick?"
"Where are you sick?"
"My tummy hurts."
"Ok, let me examine you."
I pull out my pretend thermometer.
"Now, first I'm going to take your temperature. Open your mouth."
He opens wide.
"Now close it on the thermometer, aaaand...beep! It's done. Let's don't have a temperature...Let me look in your ears."
Sam turns his head.
"And say aaaahhh..."
"Yup, I think your tummy is hurting you. Here's some medicine to help it feel better."
He eats the pretend medicine.
"Now let's tuck you in and have you rest."
"My bed has wheels!"
This takes me a minute.
"Yeah! Wheels like Grammy's bed!"
Oooohh...Grammy's hospital bed! That made quite an impression during his visits.
"Are you in the hospital like Grammy?"
We continue to play this throughout the morning.

Too many monsters

A lot of you have heard by now about my mom, who was diagnosed last week with a brain tumor. I won't be addressing directly much about her treatment on this page except as it pertains to life with Sam, but for those of you who would like to stay in the loop I've set up a CaringBridge website. You can find it at

So, needless to say it's been a crazy week. Mark and Sam and I headed down to Portland on Sunday evening after my dad called and Sam and I just returned on Friday night. I am so grateful to the Annie and Rosemary, who were able to watch Sam on Wednesday and Thursday so that I could go visit my mom without him at the hospital (or "hopsital," as he calls it). This has all made quite an impression on him, as I'm beginning to discover. On Tuesday, he started this very vivid imaginary play involving monsters. He would gasp and point, and whisper dramatically, "There's too many monsters here!" before running away into the next room. Mark stayed with him that day, and when I got home I found the two of them banishing them with a combination of a hand wave and "Bam!" and a sneeze. I thought it was pretty cute that he was developing such an imagination, and that he and daddy had figured out a solution together. Then, he had a few potty accidents on the days I left him to visit the hospital. Not the little leaks he's done before, but full-on wet pants that seemed to surprise and scare him a bit. Then, there was Thursday night. We were on Sam's bed snuggling and going to sleep when he studied my face deeply for a few seconds, and then said quietly, "Don't die. Don't die, mommy." I was stunned. Here I've been, having these very adult conversations about my mom right in front of him, and assuming that he doesn't understand what's going on. I've talked about tumors, and surgery, my fears...he may not understand completely, but he understands enough to be scared of imaginary monsters, to lose track of when he has to go potty, and to worry that I'm going to leave him the same way his fish did a week ago.

You're right, Sam. There are too many monsters here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Death and the toddler

"Sweetie, come sit on the bed. Mommy and Daddy need to talk to you."
Sam sits down obligingly.
"It's about Fish."
"Fish went to heaven."
"So tomorrow, he won't be in his bowl anymore."
So far this is going well.
"Daddy dump him out?"
Oh boy, a hard one. How to handle the idea of a body?
"Uhhh...he went to heaven."
Yeah, just skip over that pesky detail and focus on the positive. Bodily assumption could theoretically be possible, after all.
"He's with Jesus?"
"Yes, honey, he's with Jesus."
"He's happy?"
"Yes, very happy."
"He loves you?
"Yes, honey, he still loves you very much."
And we've moved on. Not sure how much of that actually sunk in. I suppose we'll find out tomorrow when he sees the empty bowl washed in the sink. Mark and I will be having our own funeral over the toilet later tonight.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Conversation over yogurt this morning:

"Mommy feed you?"
"Sure, honey. Are you a baby?"
"Waah, waah!"
"Should I make it a plane?"
"Vroom! Vroom! Here comes the plane! What should it be next?"
"How about a helicopter?"
"Uh, ok...Thup, thup, thup, here it comes! What next?"
"Make it a boy!"
"What? A boy?" Where does he come up with this? "What does a boy say?"
Big grin...
"Boy says, 'Hi! My name is Sam! Hi! My name is Sam!'"
I laugh. "Ok, here comes the boy! Hi, my name is Sam!"
The boy is eaten.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New baby

I should probably mention on here, since I've told pretty much everyone in person, that we're having a new baby in late Jan/early Feb. We've already told Sam, and he has a few questions.

"Baby will nurse?"
"Yes, honey, the baby will nurse, and you can help teach the baby." (It's so awkward avoiding pronouns all the time).
"Baby will come with us to the park?"
"Well, the baby lives in mommy's tummy right now, so the baby will go everywhere we go."
"Baby will come out and play with you?"
"Yes, the baby will play with you when they're older, but when they're really little they'll just sleep and nurse."
"Baby loves you?"
"I'm sure the baby loves you, honey."


Sam LOVES the Olympics. This afternoon was pretty rainy and low key, so we turned on CBC and watched a few of the competitions. First was diving.
"What they doing?"
"Diving! Do you see the splash? People cheer when they're done."
"CHEEEER!" He yells every time a diver leaves the springboard. Later, he lies on his bed and tells me he's floating in the pool.
His favorite, though, was the trampoline event. After watching a few, he starts bouncing and somersaulting all over the bed, then stands up with his arms in the air and says "Yaaay! I'm in Olympics!" I bet you will be some day.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The D Word

I've found this whole parenting thing is easier sometimes if I pick a theme for a week or so and focus on it. When Sam was born, it was nursing. Later, it was getting him on a regular nap schedule. Other projects have included regular reading time, eating something besides bread and cheese, sitting still at a restaurant (well, we sort of worked on that), sleeping through the night, and entertaining himself long enough for Mommy to check e-mail.

This week, I tackled a biggie that I've feared for a while and haven't dealt with properly for too long - what the heck to do about discipline. We've tried a few things, but nothing consistent. So, this week, I watched an episode of Super Nanny and was inspired with a few ideas about naughtly spots and timers and such.

A few days ago, I was typing at the computer when I heard a tell-tale splash. I turned around, and there was Sam looking intently at the puddle that he just made from the open water glass that I stupidly trusted him with. He's done this on several occasions, and knows it's wrong.

"Sam, we don't spill water on purpose. You have until the count of three to clean it up with this towel or we have a time-out. One, two..."

"No! No, no, no!"

"Three. OK, time for a time-out."

Howl! "No, mommy! Don't put me in time-out!"

"Sorry, kiddo, you had a chance to clean it up. Now you can try again after the time-out."

I plunk his bottom down and set the timer for two minutes. He cries, lays down, stamps his feet, but stays in the corner.

Clock beeps, out he comes.

"Ok, let's clean it up."


"I'll count to three and you need to clean it up, or back in time out. One, two, three."


And back to time-out he goes. You get the idea. This took about 3 cycles before he took the towel and made a few feeble swipes at the mess, fulfilling his obligation. Afterwards, he wanted to hug and snuggle, and we had a little chat about what happened. All of this was done in a calm voice and demeanor.

So, here's the interesting secret that I discovered this week. They say that toddlers need boundaries - that it makes them feel safe and secure. Well, guess what? Same works for parents. Instead of wasting energy being angry, reprimanding, chasing him around or ignoring it, which was my previous MO, I calmly know what do to and do it because I have a PLAN. The PLAN keeps me safe and secure, too.

The corrilary to this is that I have to be careful what I say "no" to, because I need to be willing to go through this rigamarole every time I say it. There are ways I can say no without uttering the actual word - distraction, etc. I also have to ask myself if I'm just momentarily annoyed and the behavior is really something I can live with, like him emptying out a drawer of all the pots and pans.

Not that I have the secret answer to all of this now, but life has been so much easier since I started thinking of discipline this way. It's not a burden, it doesn't have to be painful or punative. It just is a consequence for an action that I help facilitate. And it ends with hugs.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Preschool may be kaput

I asked Sam if he wanted to try preschool again today, and the answer was "Mommy stay with you?" That should have been a sign, I think.

To give some background, Sam had his first day by himself at a local drop-in preschool a few weeks ago, and I returned to pick him up after 2 hours only to hear his wailing from all the way down the hall. It turns out that he spiked a pretty big fever that day and got sick for the next few days. It probably didn't help that he didn't know any of the teachers or kids very well, and, as preschools often do, they had a schedule for the day that required a lot of transitions from him. All of that combined to make for a pretty miserable kid.

So, we took a break and tried again last week, and at the door he clung to me and wailed. I stayed for the hour to help him manage all the transitions and hopefully give him a good preschool experience to replace the old one. I thought that maybe, just maybe, today we could try again and I could maybe, just maybe, leave to get a cup of coffee and see how he did. I talked to him about it this morning, and he was skeptical.

We got ready for the day, and it was fraught with conflict. Looking back, I'm sure I was in a cruddy mood at the thought of dealing with another day at preschool, and so was he. We were downstairs trying to get out the door when it hit me - my yoga center has a mom-tot yoga class that we haven't tried in almost a year, and it started in a half hour.

"Sam, do you want to go to preschool or yoga today?"

"Yoga? Mommy leave you?"

"No honey, I'll be doing yoga, but I'll be in the same room with you. You can play with the toys."

"Go to yoga? Play with toys?"

So, there was my answer. And the rest of the morning was lovely for both of us. I got to do yoga while Sam plays with the toys and the other kids, and we both left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

I think that if both of us were so stressed out about a possible preschool session that we got that crabby at each other, it's not worth it right now. We'll try again in another couple months.

Today, I am a pirate

Sam and I have a few games that we've developed. They're funny in a way that only something a toddler makes up can be funny.

The Pirate Game started yesterday. During lunch, this came out of my mouth: "Arrrrgh, matey, you be eatin your sandwich now!" This developed quickly into me wearing a dishrag on my head and saying things like "scurvy," which then turned into a game when we went upstairs for nap time, and Sam started bringing me the contents of my jewelry box while saying, "Here you go, Pirate!" "Arrrrgh, these be mighty fine jewels! I'll be wearing this one, and you be wearing that one!" "Aaargh!" agrees Sam.

"Close Your Eyes" is pretty simple. I close my eyes at Sam's request, and he shoves his face right up to mine and screams to wake me up. Not my favorite game.

The best current game, though, has to be "Dirty Food." In this game, Sam pinches some imaginary food between his fingers and brings it to me with a mischevious "Here you go, Mama!"

"What's this?" I ask.

"Dirty food!" he exclaims gleefully.

"Oh, well, I'm pretty hungry. I guess I'll eat it." (Sam is squealing and wringing his hands in delight at this point).

I eat it with relish, and then proceed to get sick, go into convulsions and pass out on the floor. Sam loves this. He then does the only thing that will cure me - a kiss. And I wake up and thank him, and the game starts over.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Now, for something more fun...

So, the day before Stitch Day, we had a wonderful tim going to the Wallingford Kiddie Parade. Here are some pictures of our day.


I was all set to write about last week (first day at a drop-in preschool, fever and illness - a good story), when we were suddenly thrown into a new experience last night.

It all started as I was getting ready to go sing at church. Sam was running around, buck nekkid of course, when I turned just in time to see his bus come out from under him and he landed - smack! - face-down on the floor. I did what I usually do; I waited to see if he would cry before I rushed in. Suddenly he did cry, and it was a different cry altogether. I ran and picked him up, and blood...everywhere. I couldn't tell at first where it came from, if he'd lost a tooth, or bitten his tongue, then I saw the big hole in his lip. We rushed to Children's Hospital where, long story short, it took 5 people and a kiddie dose of valium to keep him even moderately still, and even then he still screamed his head off while the patient doctor wiated for the right moment to put in 3 stitches. They wrapped him burrito style in a sheet, Mark was laying next to him and holding him, two nurses were at his head, and I and another nurse had his legs. I thought I was handling it pretty well, but about half-way through I let go of him for a break, and realized that my arms and jaw were shaking uncontrollably. Where's the valium for MOM, huh?

Almost immediately afterward, he sat up and asked for water, and proceeded to chug two apple juices and chow down on a package of teddy grahams, smiling and chatting with us all the while. I still needed to sit down.

So, that's visit #3 to Children's Hospital in about a year. I think perhaps we should buy stock.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Big Boy

It seemslike whenever I crow about something on here, it has a mysterious way of ceasing. So, I have been understandably reluctant to write the following two sentences. Sam has been using the potty on a regular basis. He's also been sleeping through the night for about a week.

First, the sleeping thing. He'd been sleeping through about every 3rd or 4th night, and I really felt like the times he was waking up to nurse had become more of a want than a need. I also needed more sleep. So, we decided that Mark would take over night comforting duties, and we would tell Sam that "Na-na's are asleep now - you can nurse when it's day." It took about 5 nights of various degrees of protest, but I never felt like he was being deprived of something he absolutely needed. And, on the 6th day, he slept. For 9 hours. I should add that because it's summer, "day" appears in our window around 5 in the morning, so to get a full night's sleep we've needed to go to bed earlier. But, the hours in a row have been nice, and at the 5:00 mark I hear "It's day! You can nurse?" and he crawls into bed next to me. That morning nurse has gotten pretty long to make up for it, but that's fine with me.

And now, the potty! I'd heard that M&Ms work magic, so we thought we'd try it - one for a pee-pee, and two for a poop. Seriously, that kid is MOTIVATED. You'd think we never give him chocolate. For the last few days, I've had about one wet diaper a day and no poop. He even used our big potty with his little seat on it. He always tells me if he needs to go, and on one occasion he managed to hold it until we got home. Is he a potty savant? The one owwry I have is that he's doing it for the chocolate, and not the pride of being a big boy. But then I realized: I don't really care. The next step is to get him excited about "big-boy pants." I think that will be a Mark thing.

So, here's the funny thing about both of these things, and maybe another reason I've been reluctant to write about this. As much as I complained about getting up at night, and as dismal as changing and washing diapers and wiping a bottom can be, I sort of...miss it. It's weird. I thought I'd be jumping up and down, and I mostly am. But there's a part of me that realizes that he's growing up and needing me less, and that in the grand scheme of things, the amount of time that he did need me so intensely was so short and precious. I know they tell you that, and you don't believe them when you're in the thick of it...but it's true.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Little athlete

A few amazing little tidbits from our play gym time today:

Sam learned to pedal a tricycle! He's been working on it for a while, but I think having a few different ones to try out and watching the other kids helped a lot.

He's a gymnast! There's this long, slippery slide with a pad at the bottom, and kids were just flying and rolling off the end. Sam did this the first time, too, but then every time after that, he stuck it like he was in the Olympics - arms forward, evenly on both feet. I half expected him to raise his arms and bow to three sides.

So, will he win the gold in cycling or on the vault?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rant of the month

I figure I don't really go off on rants all that much (maybe Mark will disagree), but this really set me off today.

Where we live is a pretty well-off demographic area, and we see lots of nannies with their charges at our playground. For the most part, they're lovely women who are involved in their kids' lives. One bad one can ruin the day for everyone, though...

Sam and I arrived at the park, and he made a beeline for the sandbox, which contained two brand-new plastic wheelbarrows. Anyone who knows Sam knows that it would be a chilly day you-know-where before he'd pass up a chance at one of those. Trouble is, two kids - a girl about 3 1/2 and a boy about 4 - had them cornered, and they were not about to share. "Noooo!" yelled the little girl. "I'm using that!" whined the boy. I glanced around - no one watching these kids, apparently. Lots of moms chatting on the bench, a few grouped around the slides, all spoken for by kids. Except for that one girl on the bench zoning out in the other direction listening to her IPod. I had a sinking feeling. Fine, we'd find something else to do. What ensued was me taking a gradually escalating Sam repeatedly away from the sandbox where he was making a grab for the wheelbarrows, the kids continued to refuse to share, and I started making louder statements about how "maybe we can all work out how to share, since you two have had a long turn now." I was getting sympathetic looks from the other moms. IPod girl was still zoned out. I eventually went over to the bench and asked pointedly, "Does anyone know who's with those kids? Because I'd like to work out a way for us to share the toys." Nothing. Finally, I became bossy mom. I went over to the sandbox and said "Look, guys, Sam has been waiting for a turn, so let's figure this out. Can you guys share a wheelbarrow while Sam pushes one around?" Sure that was fine - just "not mine." Grrr. Finally, I was noticed by IPod girl, who came over, and managed to drag Lauren, the girl, away from one of them. "How about we play with it for 10 minutes and we bring it back?" I asked, in the absence of any constructive input from the nanny. She petulantly agreed. So, Sam finally got his turn, and the kids had snacks on the bench. After 10 minutes, I told Sam it was time to return the wheelbarrow to Lauren. And he did.

Look, lady, the point of nannying is not to just make sure that the kids don't get killed or kidnapped at the park, which you were barely doing anyway. It's to provide them with guidance and attention until their parents get home. I wish I could talk to your employers about how you did your job today, but unfortunately I don't know them and probably wouldn't have the guts if I did. All I can do is write my little scree and feel a little better, and hope that this isn't representative of the rest of your day.

Whew. I feel better.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A trip to the park

Yesterday was a little reminder that Sam's growing up. We were at the park, and all of the kids from the preschool down the street were there, too. He played very nicely with a few of them, pointing out one girl's zipper and then helping her with it, and then sitting in the big tube with a few kids facing the side and suggesting to them that they were "watching TV," which they all agreed to. Then, the monitor yelled, "All Magnolia co-op kids - we're going now!" The kids all gathered round the little rope and grabbed on, and started walking away. "Where they going?" asked Sam. "They're going to preschool, kiddo," I answered. He looked like the most forlorn, envious little two-year old in the world. "Go with them?" "Sorry, honey, you're not in preschool yet." And we stood there and watched the big kids go back to preschool.

The trip was salvaged shortly afterwards with the arrival of Lorelai, a very cute 3 and a half year old. She loved playing with Sam, and he followed her around, star-struck. At one point, he said "hold her hand?" and tentatively reached for her hand. She looked down at his little paw and grabbed on, and they walked, swinging their arms, over to the sandbox.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Then and now

Happy birthday!

Dear Sam,

Today you turn two! Your daddy and I were thinking about how you came into the world this morning while we gazed at you sleeping by yourself on the bed, lounged out like a teenager. You crawled in with us this morning around 5:30 after sleeping through the night. What a big boy!

This was the year that you turned into a little man. You can climb down the stairs all by yourself. You can jump up in the air with both feet. This was the year when you started telling daddy and me "I love you" and asking for kisses at bedtime. This was the year you started to make us laugh on purpose because you knew we liked it, and that made you feel good. This was the year that you started talking in full sentences, and started to say "Did you see THAT, Mama?!?" at every opportunity. This was the year that I no longer had to stick to you like glue at the playground, and I can watch you run, jump and play from a longer distance. This was the year that you started to like bugs, and I'm very proud that you don't stomp on them. This was the year of our first (and second) scary visit to the ER. This was the year that you started to sing, and your little voice is so beautiful.

When I think about next year, I think of that perfect morning we had last week. Remember? You and I went to the library and looked at a few books, then you held my hand and we walked together to the coffee shop down the street. You stopped and looked for cars at the corner, and then you picked out your own doughnut in the shop and sat with me at a table while you ate it. Then, we walked back to the car and stopped to look at a colony of ants. Suddenly, Sam, you've gone from being an appendage to being my little friend with your own opinions and your own Sam-like way of doing things.

I know things won't always be smooth. In the future, there might be slammed doors, or yelling, or saying or doing things you wish you could take back. But, I will always remember this, Sam - you holding my hand, you snuggled up to me to nurse, you jumping into my arms. I will always be here, and I will always catch you.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Toddler Humor

The things that make me laugh about Sam seem to be divided into two categories: things that are funny to me and not funny to him (or maybe they are funny to me BECAUSE they're not funny to him and should be), and things that are funny to him and are therefore funny to me because he thinks they're so funny.

We were reading Goodnight Moon today when we ran into an example of the first. On one particular page, the "old bunny" as Sam calls her is missing from her chair, leaving only her knitting behind. Sam was really concerned about this: "Old bunny! Where's Old Bunny?" "Where do you think she went?" I asked. "In the little house," he said, pointing to the little dollhouse in the forefront of the picture. "Why did she go in there?" I asked. "Going potty," he replied matter-of factly. Makes sense - even fictional characters have to go sometimes, and the little house was right there...He also told me during the same reading that the two kittens were staring at the Old Bunny in one picture because they wanted to go to McDonald's.

He also has his little jokes that he thinks are very funny. One of his favorite phrases is "Win the lottery and buy and RV." The short history behind this phrase is that he's been really interested in RVs since our trip last fall, and when he asked if we could buy one, Mark replied that we could if we won the lottery. That made quite an impression.

So, we hear "win the lottery and buy an RV" at least daily, if not more. A few days ago, he was on a roll with this and looked at Mark with a mischevious expression and came up with, "win the lottery and buy a CAR???" (Shrieks of laughter). As in, "you thought I was going to say RV because I always say RV, but I FOOLED you and said CAR instead!!! HAHAHAHA!

I think he's got a ways to go before Last Comic Standing...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

I turn my back for one minute...

I was getting ready to bake some bread with Sam this afternoon and turned my back for a minute while he explored a drawer. I turned back around, and....

Yes, that's my red lipstick. My expensive red lipstick.

Odds and Ends

Sam has a cold. He woke up yesterday morning with an incredibly runny nose and started sniffing in and out, then exclaimed, "Pig!" with great delight. Apparently the best part about having a stuffy nose is being able to make pig noises. Way to turn lemons into lemonaide, Sam.

A few days ago, we were riding in the car and I had this phone-in advice show on. Suddenly from the back, Sam shouts, "That's normal!" This continued all the way home, and it's still a favorite phrase. I suppose I have to be careful about what I listen to, but it is nice to get reassurance that I'm normal now and then.

I forgot to post this earlier, but Sam has started to sing! It's just about the sweetest thing in the world. His current favorites are the ABC song, Happy Birthday, Skiddama rink-a-dink ("something unintelligible-a-dink-a-dink") and Wheels on the Bus, which he's turned into Wheels on the Car, Wheels on the truck, Wheels on the Van and Wheels on the Bike. He's absolutely not shy about singing right out, even in front of other people. Took me years to do that!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Diaper dilemma

I think I may be crazy, but I'm having second thoughts about something we've done with Sam from birth - disposable diapering. This all started the night before last when I ran up to the Thriftway to get some Ibuprofin for our furiously teething toddler. In the baby aisle I found a starter set for flushable diapers. I recalled earlier that day when I had hauled out our almost weekly load of non-biodegradable waste to the trash, and about how Sam's great-great-great-great-great grandchild will be able to go to a landfill and find his or her great-great-great-great grandfather's poop encased in a plastic liner, and I bought the kit. Great, right? All of the convenience and none of the waste. Fast forward to today, when, after doing research online and figuring out exactly how expensive those little disposable liners are, I found myself with a poopy diaper doing the choreography necessary to actually flush the thing. Rip off both sides, let the filling fall into the toilet, stir with "swizzle stick" (kid you not), flush, wait for the filling to almost go completely down, and drop in the liner. Then hope it doesn't clog. After this little exercise, I started thinking: Would doing cloth diapers really be that much harder? I called my friend Laurel, a cloth diapering mommy, and grilled her, and it turns out that it's really not. I'd been resistant to it when Sam was born because there was so much else going on, and the only way it could possibly be cheaper would be if we washed our own, which at the time seemed unthinkable. Oh, I seriously underestimated the ridiculously high immunity I would develop toward poop, didn't I?

So, after talking to Laurel and doing hours of online research, I think we're going to make the switch. I want to do this with a future baby, so why not start now? In wishful thinking land, maybe Sam will notice he's wet more often and want to use the potty! The worst thing that happens is that I go back to destroying the earth one poop-bomb at a time.

I'll keep everyone posted on this little adventure...

Other pictures from the fair

A chip off the old block...

Sam's first pony ride. Good thing we had the cowboy hat, Papa!

We went to a preschool fair on Mercer Island last weekend, and couldn't resist Merlin and his green mane. Sam took to it like a cowboy to a horse.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tiptoe through the tulips

We all went to the Tulip festival in Mt. Vernon last weekend, and the weather was great! Sam's favorite part was riding the tractor around the field. A bunch of older boys were hanging out the back yelling "Whoa, look at the mud!" every time it splashed in a puddle, and Sam of course had to get in on the action and yell right along with them. He shouted "Whoa, mud!" for the next few days. And of course, he told the driver "thank you" when he was done.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

We took Sam to Krispy Creme last Fridaynight to watch the donuts being made and pick out his very own. Of course, he picked the one with all the colored sprinkles. Here's the messy result.

Friday, April 18, 2008


Things I have said today:

"We wear pants when we are out in the world."

"No, honey, I said apple juice will help you poop,not that there's poop in the apple juice."

"You won't be saying 'yay taxes' in about 20 years, kid."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Visit to Portland

Two sides of the same coin...

Can you guess who the second handsome little man is? Hint: It's not Mark.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Our walk

Here are some pictures from our walk last week at the arboretum.