Monday, December 07, 2009


Ben just said "Ooouuuut" to get out of his highchair, and he sounded like E.T. saying "Oooouuuch."

He's doing really well so far with the Christmas tree. He's removed some ornaments but has mostly been leaving it alone. I think having the Little People Nativity Set has been a big help there. He's very interested in playing with those. Plus I haven't made it taboo for him to touch the tree or the ornaments, purposely putting not-easily-broken ones on the lower branches and handing a few to him to touch and carry around. The tree has been up for about a week now. So far, so good!

Rachel's reading comprehension has gone through the roof in the last few months! When she started Kindergarten, the teacher tested her on the Critical Words they'll need to know by the end of first grade. There are 126 of them, and Kindergarteners need to be able to sight-read at least 26 of them by the end of the school year. When they tested Rachel in October, she knew 62! Her teacher re-tested her a few weeks ago, and she knew 92. She's able to pick up children's books like Berenstain Bears and can read almost all of the words without help. She sounded out the word "Individually" from a package of Life Savers that were individually wrapped. She knew "wrapped," too. It's just crazy how quickly she's learning words. I've read with her since she was pretty young and she watches things like Sesame Street and Between the Lions where they talk about words and letters, but it's still just amazing to me how rapidly the comprehension is building.

Ben is learning to communicate with more words. Besides the words I talked about before, he's saying up, out, "wha da" for what's that?, "get it" (like "I'll get it!"), kitty, book, Bible and juice. There are probably a few more that I'm forgetting, too. And he's modified his fake sneezing so that he'll actually say "Ah-choo!" when he does it. He's a total ham, and he'll laugh quite heartily when someone else fake-sneezes, too.

Rachel had the opportunity to sing with the children's choir at our church on Christmas Eve and has been practicing the last few weeks. Besides practices during the Sunday school time, she's also listening to a CD they were given and has been looking at the word sheet as well. She already knows one of the songs really well. They're singing 3 along with our adult choir. She's probably going to know her part better than I'll know mine!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Indiana Jones Apparently Lives at My House

Ben is truly a fearless little boy. He walks right off the edge of a step into our step-down living room, sometimes remaining upright, sometimes not. He careens up and down a flight of stairs with surprising speed for a boy that young. He runs after his sister, sometimes running right into her and purposely colliding heads. He'll throw himself into and out of the bathtub, step off of a bed just figuring that the person in front of him is going to catch him, and in general shows a surprisingly small sense of self-preservation at this stage.

He's also an adventure-seeker. We recently had to relocate our end table to the other end of the loveseat because he would use the height of the entry area to climb onto said end table and play with the lamp that was there, pulling it over a couple of times (and almost pulling it over a few more times, were it not for my lightning-like reflexes).

My plan for our Christmas tree was to put it in a corner and surround it with our couch and our coffee table on its two open sides. The coffee table is lower than the end tables, and even without the height advantage of the entry area, it clearly is a plan that is not going to work. That boy is not going to let a little ol' coffee table stand between him and a big tall tree with shiny things and flashy lights on it. I'm truly puzzled about what to do, since I'm not willing to pay for a fence to put around it and would rather not have to put it downstairs in the family room. I'll figure something out, though, I'm sure.

Today Rachel and I were reading on the couch when he started clamoring for my attention. I figured he felt left out and wanted to be up with us, so I picked him up. He immediately turned to the back of the couch and started to scramble over the couch cushions so that he could grab the string of orange lights that we've had up for Halloween and Thanksgiving. I thought "Well, we'll just remove that temptation and I'll sit on the floor to read." A minute passes, then I feel his hand on my shoulder and realize he's used his jack-in-the-box to step up and my shoulder as leverage so that he can throw himself onto the couch and have another go at the string of lights.

I'm pretty sure he will be the child that bungee-jumps, goes rock climbing, parachutes, and does many other things that will generally cause his mother to have heart palpitations one day. Also, and not coincidentally, I'm sure he's the child most likely to break bones.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Nightly Scam

For reasons we don't understand, the aquarium in Ben's crib can be turned up to insane levels. Bright. Boy that he is, he's figured out how to pick which sound he wants he hear and how to turn up the volume really loud.

Many nights, I will go in there and turn the volume down. Often when I go to do that, he's standing right up against it staring at the fish and the bubbles. When I open the door and walk in, he dives (literally) to the bed, as if he was asleep. When I first discovered this, I had to show Lori Ben's cleverness. But, no, he won't, instead crying to be lifted out of his crib.

Every time.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Quest for the Light

As you know, we have a sunken living room. So lately Ben's been climbing on to that end table by the light switch so that he can play with the lamp. Every time we yell at him, he climbs right off. Today I caught him standing on the couch reaching for the lamp. Couldn't figure out how he got there until I remembered that a few minutes before that he had been playing with the black plastic tub. Turns out he had turned it over and used it as a stepping stool.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ooh, Scary!

Ben has taken to getting a mischievous smile on his face, then saying "Bah!", trying to scare me. He loves when I react to it and will just chuckle and sometimes laugh big belly laughs doing it over and over again.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Clever: Combining Airbags + Seat Belts


Friday, November 06, 2009

What Say You?

If you're Ben, quite a bit, actually. In the last week, he's said:

  • more please, when he wanted more cheese puffs
  • ball, when playing with a ball at his grandma Jan's place
  • apple, when he wanted more apple at lunch
  • Amen, after we prayed for a meal
  • sister, after we got home from picking up Rachel today.
It seems like the puzzle pieces are all starting to fall into place and he's picking up words left and right. It's so neat to hear him be able to express himself more - just really exciting to hear words out of that little mouth!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

May 12, 2008

I've been meaning to go and look for this for a long time but had never gotten around to it.  Here are all the Twitter tweets from that day.


Off to the hospital.
6:38 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Admitting. Oddly, an office desk in an office, not a walk-up reception-type place.
7:02 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

The Birthing Room - our new base camp until further notice.
7:11 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Dr. Sporl is here and Charge Nurse Julie seems nice. Nurse Elizabeth is also here but have not met yet.
7:15 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Doing the baseline monitoring.
7:32 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

And now, the endless paperwork.
7:38 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Apparently even this isn't a guarantee. But we're optimistic.
8:04 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Smart... the fetal monitor gets louder as the heartrate increases, making it easier to notice changes. Starting Oceans 11.
8:13 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Lori's getting an IV line added in anticipation of a drip. I am trying to find a DVD player on the computer.
8:19 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

A DVD player but no installed DVD software. Grumble. At least there's fast free wifi.
8:34 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Lori still waiting for Cytatec. I'm updating Windows Media Player again. Hoping to not have to buy software for this laptop.
8:43 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Curse you cheap bastards at Microsoft. Curse you
8:56 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

AVS DVD. Freeware. Rock on. Bet Macs play DVDs right out of the box. Bring on the 11. @BethanyWD - St. Federal Way.
9:02 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Cytatek away! And, again, let's see about that movie.
9:14 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

More paperwork.
9:51 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Round of monitoring complete. Taking a walk.
10:02 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Back to the movie and sudoku. Monitoring again in 10.
10:53 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Ordering lunch. Lori's being monitored, contractions more regularly, doctor checking again shortly.
11:37 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

They're not going to do the second round of Cytatek. Things are progressing.
11:55 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

Thanks @tacomachickadee and @BethanyWD.
11:56 AM May 12th, 2008 from web

oops. lunch. memo to self. Bring $$ next time. ATM did not like card, jogged to Wells Fargo.
12:32 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

i don't recommend the garlic chicken.
12:37 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

big contraction (they are all starting from 70 instead of 20 now) and he gave a good kick in the middle of it.
12:39 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

intentionally breaking the bag.... and suddenly I'm anxious again. And I have the easy job. Baby at -1.
1:00 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Epidural when she wants it - well, 30 min. after she asks. And she needs to drink 2 liters of fluids first.
1:02 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Oh. Not drink. The IV has been wheeled in and is plugged in. Listening to one of the mix CDs Lori made for today.
1:10 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Lori now has three bracelets... ID, Alergies and a third one we can't figure out the purpose of.
1:16 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

contraction pain rating: 6. Concentrated breathing happening. I think I'll start talking less during contractions.
1:27 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Lori says it feels weird, like we should be doing something baby-related, or something to bond.
1:33 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Starting 'Fellowship of the Ring' I'm standing behind the bed, but for how long?
2:01 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

They've sped up the drip, and offered Fentanyl but she's so far declined because she doesn't want to feel loopy.
2:03 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Update: She has changed her mind. Fentanyl(sp?)! Stat! 1-3/4 liters of drip before Ep.
2:04 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

now that it's kicked in, she's having trouble keeping her eyes open. But she's feeling excited again. This is SO different than last time.
2:20 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

Fentanyl wearinig off for Lori. I'm falling asleep in a chair.
2:55 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

2nd. liter of drip started, 2nd. dose of fentanyl. Hate seeing her in pain like this.
3:20 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

bedside, holding hand. suggesting she make up some fake swears.
3:37 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

prepping for epidural. blood pressure cuff, finger monitor, sitting up.
3:58 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

epidural is in and now they're just watching to see how it takes.
4:33 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

night and day. conversations, talking on the phone, feeling good. contractions still occuring, but not wracking poor Lori.
4:54 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

any time now!!!
5:03 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

5:15 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

dark hair
5:18 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

5:33 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

8lb 14
5:38 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

21 inches
5:46 PM May 12th, 2008 from web

actually got some decent sleep last night. baby is feeding well.
8:32 AM May 13th, 2008 from web

chilling at the hospital
4:11 PM May 13th, 2008 from web

at home... getting back into the swing of things.
2:11 PM May 14th, 2008 from web

Loaded the photos on Flickr. If you can't see them, you're not logged in, or you need an invitation.
6:00 PM May 14th, 2008 from web

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Some Verbal Progress

We're starting to see Ben make more concerted efforts at using words.

Last night he was walking around, drinking juice and eating Goldfish crackers, while the rest of us ate dinner, which he'd already finished a little earlier. After emptying his cup, he walked up to the table and very assertively said "More!" I told him that he'd had enough juice but that I'd get him some milk, only to be answered by a frown and "More! More!" I think he was annoyed that he was using the proper word, and it wasn't getting him what he wanted. James and I both had to hide our faces so he wouldn't see us laughing and be encouraged to be more demanding!

Then today I put him on the changing table, and as soon as I laid him down he said "All done!" Nice try, buddy.

What's also interesting is how darned perceptive he is. If I'm talking about him to someone, he stops what he's doing and watches and listens with a little smile on his face. He clearly knows that I'm talking about him and seems to enjoy that I'm telling stories about things he's done and said.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What's Going On With Ben?

is what you may be asking, since I did a Rachel update a few weeks ago and haven't posted anything on Ben lately. In a word: Biting.

Well, biting and hair-pulling. I've started to put Ben into time out in his crib when he does either. Today he's been in his crib 3 times for biting. He's been teething, but he bites *really* hard sometimes, and Rachel was never a biter like this. She did it once. He's done it A LOT. At least he's so far only bitten his immediate family. The hair-pulling needs to stop, too. He'll grab on and come away with a dozen or more hairs. I'm hoping both are part of a phase he outgrows soon.

On the flip side, today after his 3rd time out, I took him out of his crib and told him "I love you, but no biting. It hurts." Then I asked him for a kiss instead. He balked for a second, but then he leaned into me with a big, open slobbery mouth and gave me a kiss. He pulled back and I thanked him, and he pursed his lips and gave me another kiss. In his first year, he would sometimes give me big wet kisses, but he's been kind of shy about that for probably 6 months, so that was quite the sweet surprise!

He's definitely showing more comprehension of language. He responds to things I say and can clearly understand the meanings, although he's been stubborn about actually *using* words. Sometimes he'll say a word a few times, then he won't use it again for months, like he's just teasing us. "I know I can say it, and you know I know I can say it, but I'm only going to say it when I feel like it." We're anxious for him to use more words so that he can communicate his needs with us better and find himself frustrated less frequently. We know that will come, but it's hard to be patient.

Teething is taking an eternity. At 17 months, he still has just 8 teeth, and each one is a traumatic occurrence. Each tooth seems to take forever and bring with it so much pain. I wish it wasn't so hard on him and am looking forward to the day that teething is over! Poor little guy.

Ben tried peanut butter for the first time today, and it was a big hit! His hands were an absolute mess afterward and he needs a hair washing, but it's nice to be able to add another protein option to his diet. No symptoms of an allergy. He hasn't been allergic to other foods previously, although he did have digestive problems with some as an infant.

We went to Yakima over the weekend to visit James' grandma, and Ben is still not an easy traveler. He fussed for much of the drive to Yakima, although he blissfully slept for quite a bit of the drive back. He also slept fitfully while we were there, although that may have at least partially have been because the thermostat was set at 74 degrees for most of the time we were there. HOLY COW, it's hard to sleep when it's that warm.

Ben loves making noises and imitating things - a soda can opening, the ding of a timer, somebody howling like a hound dog or wolf - it doesn't really matter. If it's an interesting noise, it catches his attention and he tries to copy it. He's really good at some of the sounds, too. I'm working with him on animal noises. He likes mooing like a cow and he's great at roaring like a little lion cub.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just Heard from Rachel

"Yum, what's that yummy smell? Is that the meat for dinner?"

Yes, yes it is. And it's nice to hear that kind of enthusiasm about it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rachel Update

Not an original title, but there you have it.

Rachel has been doing better behavior-wise since she started back to school, which is what I thought would happen. We're still having some outbursts from her at times, but they are milder for the most part and are not as frequent, either. In addition to school, we've also been working hard for a while on being calmer in the face of her frustration and anger and tantrums, and I think that has helped, too. She seems to be grasping the concept that inappropriate behavior (like screaming at us or acting out physically) will land her in her room for a time out. And she knows that, if she chooses not to go to her room voluntarily, she will be carried there and the door will be shut. We put a plastic doorknob cover on the inside of her door handle since she was so defiant about staying in her room when told to go there, so she's not able to open it up if we close it. She'd rather be able to control entry to and exit from her room, so she usually chooses to go there herself.

It's great because she's able to still have a feeling of making the choice and deciding how the situation will play out, but we're also able to have the alternative when she just continues to make wrong choices and be disruptive and disrespectful. We've been leaving her door open at night so that she can come out if she needs us or has to use the bathroom, but she's been doing a good job going to sleep and staying in bed most nights. Occasionally she'll come in and wake up if she's had a bad dream, but that seems to be tapering off, too.

Yesterday was a particularly good day where she got all of her responsibilities done fairly early. She went downstairs with me when I worked out and watched a little Dinner: Impossible and a show on HGTV while I did free step, but she mostly spent her time coloring and doing other creative things. Then I turned on the TV for her later while I fixed dinner. I told her during the 2nd show that we weren't going to turn on a 3rd show because James would be helping her with her bath when he got home. And when that show ended, she hopped up and said "I'm going to turn off the TV without even being asked!" Turning off the TV can be a big trigger for her to act up and get upset, even when she's watched a full 2 hours of it, so I was very proud of her. No big blowups yesterday at all, and she was just a very pleasant little girl to be around. It's so good to see progress. It's very encouraging.

In the last 6 or 7 weeks, it's a like a Reading switch was flipped in Rachel's brain. She has started to recognize more and more words and is reading simple books mostly on her own. She still needs encouragement to sound out words she doesn't know, but it's incredible how quickly she's picking up new words. Her Kindergarten teacher tested the kids on the "Critical Words" that they will be learning this year. The list is, I believe, 126 words long and the Kindergarteners need to know 26 of them by the end of the year to be progressing properly, and all 126 by the end of 1st grade. Rachel knew 62 of them! I'm so excited for the new worlds that will be opening up to her as she learns to read to herself.

Rachel has said a few times "I don't like Kindergarten. I wish I was back in preschool." I think a lot of that is just getting used to a new school and new things to do. She also apparently misses the toys that they got to play with before they started their scheduled tasks, since they don't have toys in her Kindergarten class. But she sure seems to be happy when she comes out at the end of the morning, and I think she's enjoying herself, even if it's different.

Last night, she told James "I don't like Mrs. B___," who is her teacher. She didn't have an explanation for why, but I asked her this morning if she liked Mrs. B and Mrs. L, the paraeducator who assists Mrs. B. She said yes, so I asked her about her comment from last night. She told me that she said it because another little girl in her class told her to say it or she wouldn't be Rachel's friend. Nice.

So we talked about being kind and truthful, and not saying something just because someone else tells us to. I also told her that being unkind or lying are sins, and that we need to do what's right, even if it's hard. I know it's early for her to really take in that much, but I want to emphasize right behavior from the outset, and I know that things will sink in over time.

Hopefully this isn't going to be a repeat situation. And I hope that, if it happens again, she'll be strong to say "I want to be your friend, but I don't want to say mean things about people," or tell her that she likes Mrs. B. It's just creepy that kids are so manipulative at 5 years old.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Enthusiastic Eater

Ben really enjoyed his lasagna tonight. As did his hair, apparently.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Bad S Word and The Bad D Word

Rachel had gotten in the habit of calling things "stupid" and "dumb" when she didn't like them. Brushing her teeth, being asked not to stand on a chair, not being able to watch TV until her responsibilities are done - the things that fall into the category are legion.

We let her know that it was okay to talk about things that bothered her, but that we didn't want her to use those words. So now what does she do? "This a bad S word!" "That's a bad D word!"

Big improvement.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Suspicious Minds and Other Things

Rachel heard the beginning of "Suspicious Minds," where it says:

I'm caught in a trap, I can't get out

and sang "because a king locked me in the trap, and I can't get out and I want to rescue the princess."

The floodgate seems to have opened, and Ben is chattering away. We're still not hearing too many actual words, but he's imitating so many words and sounds now. He also will say things that seem to be very important and consist of 7 or 8 syllables delivered in an urgent manner with a look of intense focus as he says them to you. He had a good time on Sunday evening when Rachel spent the night at my mom's. I think he finally felt like he could get a word in edgewise! We got some good video, which I'll try to upload soon.

James arrived home as I was dishing up our meal. Rachel said "Daddy, you're just in time! Mommy's plating dinner." Can you tell she's been watching Food Network with me?

Rachel is becoming quite the Artiste. She asked today if she could paint the frame of her easel. I started to say no, then thought "Why not?" Here's the result of her artistic vision:

Red on the left, peacock blue on the right. The picture is of her swingset in the backyard.

The back pieces were pink and brown.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Not Nice, But a Firm Grasp of the Subject Matter

An exchange between my 5-year-old and I tonight and she fought going to bed.

"When I'm a teenager, I'm going to knock all these down," she declared, pointing to all the picture frames on the wall outside her room, tracing lines in the glass with her finger to indicate the glass being broken.

"If you do that, I'll just use money from your bank account to replace them all," I suggested.

"If you do that, I'm going to take all your money," she quickly threw back.

"Um.. uh... you can't.  It's not here..." I stammered, wondering if she'd believe me and trying to think quickly about whether it was a good point for a lesson on how money's not real and how it's just numbers coming into and going out of our bank account. 

Apparently I paused for too long because without missing a beat she angrily said "I knowI'm going to do it online.  And I'm going to take all your money."   And just like that, I was on the losing end of the argument again.

"You can't do that," I responded, thinking passwords and the complexity of online banking and wondering how we'd separate her account off from ours (and when) to prevent us from getting at our money, thinking that maybe I'd missed the chance to calm the conversation down.

"I'm going to get your password and I'm going to make it mine.  I'm going to watch you every time you use the computer and I'm going to get your password.  And then I'm going to take all your money."

I've always said that I would make an excellent criminal if not for the whole moral compass pointing the other way owed to my strong believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins and I'm not willing to gamble my eternal future on what would otherwise be an interesting, dangerous and fun career.  While I'm pretty sure she'll come down on that side of things when her logic and moral compass catch up with her intelligence, if she goes the other way, I hope she'll put her ol' mom and dad in a nice downtown condo with great views of the Sound.

(Don't get mad, Adrea, the last part is pure humor.)

Ladies and Gentlemen, I Think We Have a Budding Writer

Rachel has started to write her own stories. Her first story, "The Big Pig," is still being edited and completed. She is literally coming up with a storyline, and going back through and making changes, before James helps her put the words down along with the illustrations she's already done. It's supposed to be a surprise for me, but she started working on in a while back and was telling me a little about it before she decided it was a surprise. So shhh, don't say anything to me about it.

Her second book was written last week and is "Barbie & The Dog & The Three Puppys." I think that one may already be complete - apparently she had a burst of inspiration.

Today she told me about a third book she'd just started, "The Rainbow Bird." Although the title she'd written herself was "The Rnbw Brd." She's really getting consonants down but still needs some work on vowels :)

I've heard a number of authors talk about how they've always written stories, even as children. Perhaps we have a little J.K. Rowling on our hands. Her creativity is inspiring, and I love that she just decided to start writing stories down. She's much better at using her imagination than I am, and I hope she never loses that.

She's starting to pick up on a lot of words all of a sudden, and it's exciting to see and hear her learning so much. I'm excited for her to be able to start reading more books and discovering some of them on her own, although it's also fun to read them with her. I hope that she loves reading as much as I did as a child, and still do.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Short Con

So you know how you're walking along and a piece of clothing catches on something?  Like the pocket of a pair of shorts on a door handle (how I destroyed a cabinet door during the tile project) or a pull cord from a hoodie gets caught in something.  (Yes, I said hoodie.  Please, try to get past it quickly.  It's an easy description of something that can get caught.)

So yesterday, the baby gate was leaning against a wall because Ben was taking a nap.  Otherwise it would be across the hall at the foot of the stairs.  I'm upstairs in our bedroom and Rachel's down on the main floor.  All of the sudden I hear "Oh no!"  I poke my head out of our room and ask Rachel what's wrong.  I see her standing by the gate, and a tie from her shirt (it ties in back) was hooked on part of the baby gate.  "I'm stuck," she told me, sounding really concerned.  I encouraged her to get unstuck herself, telling her it's probably not very stuck and that she's really smart and can figure it out, adding that if she's really stuck, I'll be down in a second to help her.  She fusses with it and protests that she's still stuck.  So I repeat that I'll be down in a second. 

All of the sudden, her demeanor changes.   The concern is gone from her face, her posture, her voice.  She lifts the string off of the gate, smiles, looks at me and announces that she was just kidding.

Are you kidding me?  My daughter, at the age of 5, planned out a con, all the way from looping the shirt to the gate to calling out in anguish and concern.


The Rainbow Cake

A while back, I saw a post on my friend Adrea's blog about a rainbow cake made with boxed cake mix and gel food color. I clicked on the link she had included and made my way to the Omnomicon blog (as in "om nom nom"), where they had detailed instructions and some beautiful photos.

I just so happen to know a little girl who's really into girlie things and rainbows and such, and I thought "That doesn't look so hard. I should make that for her birthday." So I showed her the pictures and asked if she'd like a cake like that this year, and she jumped on it.

Basically, you make the cake mixes as directed, then divide them up evenly into 6 bowls. Into each bowl, you put a color of the rainbow, and stir it to get the color mixed evenly. Then you layer the colors into 2 round or 9x13 cake pans and bake. (Check the Omnomicon post for detailed instructions.)

It wasn't that difficult, really, but it took some time to get a few of the colors really deep and saturated. The red in particular took quite a bit of color to get it looking truly red and not just pink, and the purple took a healthy amount of gel paste, too. I think that mixing some of the colors a lot more than others made the cake rise unevenly, since the pans came out with off-center humps. So I think my goal would be to stir the cake mix just until evenly dampened, then try to stir the bowls a roughly equal amount when mixing in the colors.

I forgot to take any photos while the batter was still in bowls, which is a bummer, because it looked cool. But here are the layers in the pans, ready to go into the oven:

Close-up of the red/orange/yellow layer:

Close-up of the purple/blue/green layer:

The baked layers:
And here's a slice of the finished product:
The outside of the cake is another fun story, for another day. I actually do think making this cake was worth the effort, because it wasn't that hard, just a little time-consuming. Rachel loved it, and it got a big response from others, too. And it just flat looked cool.

Ho! Parry! Ha!

Ben has taken to picking up the stick from the sliding glass door (the one that stays in the track and is supposed to provide a little more security when the door is shut and locked) and carrying it around like a quarterstaff. I just keep thinking of the cartoon with Daffy Duck when I see him walking around with it. Go to about 1:15 to see what I'm talking about.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Not For the Faint of Heart

But then neither is parenting. Still, if you're particularly squeamish, you may not want to read this entry.

Last week, I walked into the living room to find Ben standing there, stark naked. It was hot, so he'd just been running around wearing a diaper. Apparently the weight of its wetness combined with a lack of stretchy sides on the Target diaper he was wearing caused it to fall clean off of him. He was so cute standing there, and I figured it was either just one of those things that happens once in a blue moon, or that I need to start buying the more expensive stretchy-side Huggies or Pampers if he's got the power to cause them to fall off just by peeing in them.

An hour ago, he was standing in the kitchen with a little shirt and his diaper on, and I noticed the diaper was loose on one side. I figured I'd better grab it and get it back on him before it completely fell off and we had an unplanned fountain. So I step forward and grab the diaper, just as it falls off of him. I decide I'd better just go put a new diaper on him, when all of a sudden, I realize there's a strange on my toe. I look down, and there's poop sitting on it.

Apparently when I stepped next to him and grabbed the falling diaper, it was precisely timed with the release of a bowel movement, which handily fell on my toe. Disgusting, and yet part of me was just glad it didn't splat onto the kitchen floor.

This is why parenting is not for wimps.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Before & After

Ben had his third haircut today. I posted pictures from his first haircut, which was just a little trim to clean his hair up. The second cut gave him more of a little boy haircut, but the one he had today is shorter on top and makes him looks SO OLD. I swear he looks 2, except for the fact that he still only has 7 teeth.

Here's a picture from a few days ago:

And one from today:
I actually prefer his hair with a little more length on top, but we went to a different hairstylist today because I'd waited too long to make appointments and the one we usually use was all booked up. The nice thing is that, even though it's an Aveda salon, the kids only cost $5.50 plus $1 for every year of their age. So Ben was $6.50 and Rachel was $10.50, plus tip. You can't even get their hair cut that cheaply at Great Clips, and they get to go to a nice salon and have the same stylist (usually) cutting their hair, so it's someone familiar to them who knows how Ben's hair should look.

It's a bit more for mine, but after years of Super Cuts and Great Clips, James thought I deserved to go someplace a little more upscale and have my own regular person. And I agreed.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ray of Hope

All things considered, tonight was just awesome.  Sure, it's 11:42 and Rachel is still up, but tonight, I'm completely ok with that.

Need to set a couple of stages.  First, Rachel is incredibly smart and incredibly strong-willed.  But, being 5, she doesn't have a strong grasp on long-term consequences or complex logic.  Which means that so far, every discipline theory we've tried hasn't worked.  I mean, it works for a few weeks, but then she finds its weakness and renders the punishment useless.

So we've had some struggles.  And the boredom of summer and sharing attention with a sibling after four years without (sure, he's one now, but that makes it more obvious that he's just like her - a little person with the same mommy and daddy as her) has amplfied that.  Throw in her intelligence, the stubbornness handed down from both sides of the family, a dash of quick temper, annoyance by rules that defy her level of logic comprehension, and, well, it's complicated.

As if that weren't enough, it's been about 665 degrees during the day here and at night, it's maybe dipping down to 212.  And we don't have air conditioning.   If you're ever buying a house in these parts, make sure it has A/C or demand a credit back on the purchase price so that you can have it installed before you move in.  Seriously.  Tonight all the fans are doing is pushing hot air at us.

Anyhow, it's been a struggle these past few nights to get Rachel to go to sleep.

Tonight, I made a decision really early on, that I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that the evening went well.  There was one instance where she did hit me and I had to move her to a sitting position.   (She hates this and it can be really frustrating.  She did cry and I felt a little bad.)  And there was another instance where she was scratching my arm while I was talking to Lori with a few punches thrown in for good measure.  I chose to absolutely ignore it, even though my arm stung for awhile afterwards.

I put up the baby gate right after she went to bed.  She can climb over it, but sometimes we put it up because we're tired of her getting out of bed.  But tonight I put it up before there was a problem so that it wasn't reactionary, but just more of a fact, a mental barrier.

But other than that, the evening went really well.  After Lori suggested that it would be ok for her to listen to music, I brought up the Airport Express and dialed iTunes into lullabies.  I told her that I didn't care what she did, but that she needed to stay in bed, and that I'd even turn up her little lights (purple "Christmas lights") so she'd have more light.   Later I relented and allowed her the entire room. 

But one thing I do know that all parenting techniques, they talk about consistency.  So I decided that I would never speak above a hushed tone. I only broke that once to call up to her from downstairs, but I realized it and ran upstairs to talk to her in person.  She was out of her room a number times, sometimes just poking out her head, sometimes coming down to the gate, but I never disciplined her for this, instead gently reminding her that I needed her to stay in her room.  And when she would get worked up or call out to us or start talking in a voice higher than a hushed tone, I'd reminder her that we had to keep our voices down. 

I also reassured her a lot that I knew it was hot.  I knew she was uncomfortable and assured her that we were, too.  That it was most unpleasant and that I knew she then struggled, the heat probably making her sleepy but also making it too uncomfortable to lay in bed. 

She called to us a number of times, and I made every effort to go and talk to her every time she called.  It made my free step on the wii fit and our viewing of the latest episode of Leverage take forever, but I never felt like she was abusing it.

I worked hard to never show her frustration, annoyance, or that I was upset.  At one time when she was talking, I found myself rolling my hand like "come on, get to the point" and quickly stopped, but it was also so dark she probably couldn't see it, unless she could see the blue light of the wii remote moving in a circle, but she wouldn't even know what that gesture meant anyhow. 

There was even a point where she was upset with me, I wasn't going to refill her water right away or turn on more music for her right away (the network finally stopped networking and so we had switched to her CD player.. memo to self: buy her some more CDs without words, or figure out where all the lullaby CDs are since that's where we got the music from that's now in iTunes), but that I would do it later after I took care of a few things.  At that, she put her hands behind her back and told me that she wanted to hit me and spit me but that she wasn't going to, that she was fighting her anger.

To even recount it now, I'm brought to the edge of tears.  That was a huge step and I am just overwhelmed with pride and joy with her and what she accomplished tonight.  I offered her my outstretched hands and suggested she give me 5 and 10 a few times, that it might help her release a little bit without hitting.  She brought out her fists, looked at my hands, said she wanted to hit me, but that she wasn't going to.  It took a little more coaxing and she finally opened up her hands to give 5's and later lots of 10's in fast succession.  Sadly, however, she said it didn't make her feel any better.  She did, however, agree to wait patiently for me to come back up.

When I did come back up, she started talking again about how she was fighting her anger because she loved me and that she was "burning [her] anger with a fire" and that it was "never going to come back."   I assured her that she would find herself again angry, but that I was so proud of how hard she was working to fight it.  (We don't know where the "fire" thing came from.)

I also realized near the end of the evening that I was pretty much ending each little interaction with her with either a reminder that I loved her, or by telling her that I needed to get back to whatever I was doing like "I need to go finish shaving now, ok?" and letting her tell me it was ok.  In some ways, that seems a little weird, but I think it also went a long way - never was I turning my back and walking away from her, never was I just, in frustration, removing myself from her presence - instead, I was making sure we both were clear that that particular conversation was concluding.

So in the end, I'm feeling very satisfied with how the evening went - how I handled myself and how she handled herself.  Gives me great hope for the future and I feel like I learned a few useful things this evening.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Signs Signs, Everywhere Signs

Well, not everywhere. Ben will occasionally lift up his arms to indicate when he's done with a meal, sometimes accompanied by a little "all duh" and/or "get dow." Today when we were shopping at Target, he held up his hand to his mouth, then he did it again. I got out a snack container and gave him a snack and said "Eat" and did the sign, and he signed again. It's the first time he's done that, and it was so cool to see him figure out what he needed, then sign to tell me.

As I type this, I'm feeding him dinner (James and Rachel are having a Daddy/Daughter day and I'm supposed to be getting a lot of scrapbooking done, but that didn't happen). He started fussing and running his hands through his hair, which, of course, I'd just washed. I said I couldn't help him if he didn't tell me what he needed, and I asked if he needed something. In a sad little voice, he said "Nana. Nana." So I got out a banana, and he got excited.

I wish he was using more words, but I'm not too concerned. He's obviously very smart, and I'm sure it won't be all that long before he starts to say more. It would just be so helpful if he was already doing that. We're getting there, though!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From the Mouth of a Child

Rachel was trying to use her mouth to open the lid of a yogurt cup. Here's our exchange:

Me: "Honey, please don't do that. Remember, you don't know who's been touching that."
Her: "Maybe it was somebody who'd been touching his bum, for a while."
Me: "You never know. Could be."

I certainly hope not, but you really don't know who's been handling the groceries before you. Could be a bum-toucher.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Vocational Hints

Ben appears to be a problem-solver. I'm pretty sure he's going to end up in something like engineering. He's already showing an affinity for seeing a problem, figuring out what might fix it, and trying it.

I've frequently noticed him standing on top of something in an effort to get to where he wants to be. He has a little pop-up toy, the kind where animals pop out of doors, then you close the doors, then push buttons to cause them to pop up again. We've put that in the crib with him to keep him amused when we need to do something for a few minutes where we can't keep our eyes on him. We've come into his room to find him standing on said toy, which has been pushed against the side of the crib.

Yesterday, Rachel's big stuffed horse was on the couch, where I was sitting. Ben pulled it off, put it on the ground and stood on it, presumably to try to get up onto the couch himself. Within a few minutes of that, he noticed my cellphone and our cordless house phone both on the coffee table. He smiled at them and circled around the table, trying to figure out if he could get close enough from any of the sides to reach them. When he couldn't, he went and picked up a beach ball of Rachel's and threw it at them, knocking over the cordless phone. It slid a bit, but I thwarted his efforts to make off with it and call China. THEN, he walked over to the coffee table and opened a drawer right up. We've been keeping Rachel's coloring books, pencils, pens, crayons, etc., in there for some time. Until yesterday, he'd never just been able to pull the drawer right open. So, I closed it and put my foot against the drawer to keep it shut. He looked at my foot, then started pulling on my big toe, trying to free up the drawer.

Today, he was at the foot of the stairs, unable to come upstairs where I was cleaning a spot of paint off the carpet. He stood at the baby gate and fussed for a minute, then I heard a noise. I came downstairs and found him standing on a box he'd laid on its side. I think he was trying to give himself enough height to get over the gate.

In other vocational news, I used to think Rachel was going to be an actress. I now think she's going to be a writer-hyphen-director. She wants to do imaginary play, but I can't just be who I pick. She decides what kind of character I should be and, frequently, what name I should have. She also feeds me lines of dialogue at the appropriate times. So I think actress would not give her nearly enough control.

Or, maybe she'll be an author. That way, she could get everything down on paper exactly the way she wants it. If she's successful enough, people will want to make films of her books, and she can retain all kinds of author approval over the finished works.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nanny 911

I'm currently reading the Nanny 911 book. We caught an episode of the show when we were on vacation in Victoria a few weeks ago, and it reminded me how those women just seem like miracle workers when it comes to "fixing" families that seem so dysfunctional. I figured they'd probably have some good suggestions to offer for families that, while not that dysfunctional, still have challenges when it comes to child rearing and discipline.

Rachel is extremely bullheaded. She's strong-willed and, when she gets it into her head that a certain thing is happening, she can really flip out when told that it's not going to go down that way. Even when it's something simple like a snack choice or wanting to watch something else on TV, she can have a hard time when she has to change gears from what she has set her mind on. I think that sometimes it's anger over being told no, but I think more often it's frustration with goals that are being thwarted, or that the process of changing gears can be difficult for her.

I've only seen a few episodes of Nanny 911 since watching bratty children and poor parenting isn't something I've wanted to sit through often, even if there's a wonderful transformation that takes place. I've thought before that we could probably pick up some good tips if we watched more often. But I'm getting quite a lot of good information from reading through their book. I don't think they're saying anything earth-shattering, but it's pulling all the commonsense suggestions into one place and one system that I think is so brilliant.

Their childraising method largely depends on communication - the parents talking openly with one another, and the parents learning how to effectively talk with their children. I think we're pretty good communicators with one another, and much of the time with Rachel, but I know that we could always use advice on how to better connect with Rachel so that she's feeling heard and she's also sincerely listening to what we have to say. Half of the battle with her is getting her to hear something when we say it, rather than just tuning us out or saying yes then ignoring what we've asked (or never really hearing it, despite responding as if she had).

The other half is how we respond to her when she's getting herself worked up and becoming more and more disobedient. They have some good suggestions for how to bring things back down when a child is heading towards a tantrum or just being disobedient, and I've been employing some of them. One suggestion is getting down on a child's level to speak with them. It's much less intimidating to them, which makes it easier for them to listen and accept what you have to say, and it shows that you're really listening to them as well. Another is that, when your child is getting upset and raising their voice, you lower yours and keep it calm. You can whisper or speak in a low volume. Most kids will respond by quieting down so that they can hear you. If they're not able to calm down at that point, you put them in their room and let them know you'd like to talk with them when they're ready.

As you can see, they probably aren't sharing anything that's brand-new on its own, but when you look at their game plan and how they put it into play, it really does make sense that it's something that would work for nearly all families. I'm looking forward to reading through the rest and coming up with our House Rules and clear-cut consequences for breaking them. I think Rachel and, later, Ben, will respond well to having an orderly system in place and clearly defined "this is how we do things" for our home.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Get Down

"Get down!" has become one of Ben's favorite things to say. Granted, his vocabulary is still fairly limited, but he definitely has a soft spot for the phrase. He usually says it when he's being held and he starts wiggling to get down and walk around. He also says it when he's done eating (sometimes in conjunction with "All done"), and when he's in his stroller and he'd rather be walking.

Yesterday we were in the car on the way to Office Depot to pick up some printer ink, when what do I hear from the back seat? "Get down! Get down! Get down!" I'd tell him "You can't get out of your car seat! You need to stay buckled in when we're driving somewhere." And then I'd again hear "Get down! Get down! Get down!" That was a first, and the funny thing was how insistent he was about wanting to be out of his car seat. Usually when he doesn't want to be in there, he fusses, so it was a nice change :)

Although he obviously does not get the concept of automobile safety.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NuhNuhNuhNuh... one of Ben's favorite phrases these days. Sometimes he says it when he has food in front of him that he doesn't want or if I'm holding him and he wants down, but his favorite time to use it is when he's picked up something or he's touching something that he knows he isn't supposed to.

Today he came into the kitchen carrying the DVD remote control. He stood there and waited a second or two until I looked at him and saw what he had and the mischievous look on his face. Then he turned and walked away toward the dining room, saying "NuhNuhNuhNuh" as he went.

Definitely going to have to keep my eye on this one!

Just a little late

Ack! We have so much we should be posting on here, and we're not. I'm going to try to post some of the stuff and get mostly caught up. It just feels like so many things are slipping through the cracks lately. It's hard to keep up with things with two kids. Makes me wonder if we're insane to be thinking of a future 3rd, but people manage to have more kids than that and do just fine. I'm sure we'll adjust if we add a third little Lamb one day.

Anyway, I had posted weeks ago about Ben's actual birthday and that we were having a party for him the following weekend. I had planned to post some photos from the party and completely forgot, so here are some of those photos:

Birthday boy enjoying some attention from his Grandma Jan and our friend Emily

Checking out sister Rachel's chair like a big boy

His cake was made by me - ignore the uneven sides, please.

Unlike his sister Rachel, Ben needed no persuading in order to dive into his cake. As you can see from the tiny pieces left on his tray, he dug in with gusto! This is a boy who likes chocolate.

It was hard to get Ben to settle down anywhere long enough to even sort of open a gift or two. This is one of the few things that caught his attention, a Slide 'n Learn storybook with Winnie the Pooh and friends, from his Uncle Jeff and Aunt Hillary (and baby cousin Andrew).

Here we are at the end of the party, looking and feeling wiped out, but happy. I think everyone had a good time, although I was racing around like a crazed woman trying to get things done in time for the party to start. My time management skills (or properly estimating how long things actually take) are something I'd really like to improve!

This first year has gone so quickly. I can only imagine how fast year 2 is going to go by - not to mention Rachel's Kindergarten year, which is rapidly approaching and will probably be here before I'm truly ready for it. No matter how long the summer may feel.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


I've was saying to Lori last week that while I was surprised (though pretty much not concerned) that Ben wasn't yet speaking, I was sure that all the sudden he'd be speaking in complete sentences and I would have somehow missed that transition.

With that in mind, I've been trying to keep a keen ear open for words he might use beyond "dada" and "mama" (though mostly "dada").  While not consistent (some days he refuses to use his words), he is saying some words:

Geh Deh (get down)
All Duh (all done)
No or Nuh (no)
Meh (medicine)

And he obviously recognizes far more words that we use.  

So it's fun to actually see the transformation in progress.

Just Overheard

"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You'll never know, dear, how much I love you,
Please don't take my nunchuk away."

Ah, the influence of the Wii.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The End of Nursing

I'm thinking nursing is coming to an end soon. Between 12 and 13 months, Rachel basically weaned herself, showing less and less interest in nursing and just nursing for a few minutes once or twice a day until she was just done completely.

Ben is 12 1/2 months now, and I've been seeing him losing some interest, but not all. Still, we're down to just one time of nursing in the morning most days. Sometimes I nurse him again in the afternoon or before bed if he needs calming, but we're getting into a pattern of just the morning feeding and he's doing fine. He's drinking whole milk from a cup or sippy cup, too, and doing fairly well with that. No digestive problems with it, thank the Lord.

Ben also started biting while nursing about a month ago. At that point, I wasn't even sure we were going to continue for more than a few days, since he bit me so hard one time that he broke the skin. But he thankfully hasn't bitten that hard again. I think it helped that I was ending the nursing sessions when he'd bite.

The end of nursing is bittersweet. On the one hand, it will be good to have my body back and, hopefully, be back to my normal size. And it will be nice not to have to wear nursing bras. But I'll miss the physical closeness, the ability to quickly calm Ben (usually), and the times when he stops and coos and looks at me. Nursing can be a pain, no doubt about it, but it's also a wonderful gift for moms.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Factually speaking

Miss Rachel started talking early, and profusely. She's always had a wide vocabulary and surprises me even now with how precisely she speaks, often with big words.

Today she told me she got to be the line leader at school, and Hosanna was the caboose. Hannah was the napkin helper (at snack time), and no one did the weather. I asked who did the calendar, and she said "Isabel. Isabel did the calendar, as a matter of fact."

It just makes me laugh to hear a 4-year-old (I know, she's almost 5) speak like that. "As a matter of fact" is a phrase she's been using for a while now, and usually in the correct way. She also likes to change the consonants of a phrase or sentence to all be the same, to play with the language. Sometimes it results in...interesting changes. "Missy pants" (a nickname my mom has used with her) all of a sudden becomes "Pissy pants," and it's all we can do not to laugh over that, thereby having to explain and bring about repeat performances.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Man

One year ago, we were marveling at a new little person who had entered our lives, wondering what he'd be like. We know already that he's got a great sense of humor and a BIG sense of mischief. He loves his sister and parents, as well as his other relatives and our second family of friends. He notices a lot and is curious, adventurous and not afraid to tell you when he needs something. He delights in playing and loves when someone gets down on the floor and rolls around with him.

Ben, you are a sweet, sweet boy who is a joy to know, and we're so thankful that God put you in our lives. Daddy & Mommy are blessed to have you. We love you!

A celebratory lunch at Red Robin:

He wasn't too sure about the birthday serenade, but just gave one "Uh!" at the end - no crying:
He thought the balloon was cool, though:
And here he is, getting all nice and clean and ready for bed later in the evening:
That's a cut on his nose that he got while snagging a can of soup from a grocery bag, carrying it away, then falling forward and banging his nose on it hard enough to cut it and to scrape the skin off the end. Cans are now being put out of reach if I can't put them away right away.

Today was just a mellow day with lunch out for the four of us and not much else planned. We'll celebrate his birthday with an actual party on Saturday and are looking forward to a fun time with family and friends!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

This morning started out with Ben sticking his sleeper-clad foot in my cereal bowl while I was nursing him. I kept eating the cereal because James was upstairs showering and couldn't get me a new bowl. Then he had a nasty diaper, and inconveniently, James wasn't done getting ready yet, so I changed it. I thought briefly about letting it wait until James could do it, but it didn't seem right to let poor Ben sit in that.

And while changing Ben's diaper, I hear Rachel from the kitchen saying "Emergency! Emergency!" She didn't sound too alarmed, so I finished up with Ben and came downstairs to find her standing in the middle of the kitchen floor in just her socks and panties, with her pajamas in a heap on the floor, peach applesauce all over them. Thus started my Mother's Day.

Today is my 4th "official" Mother's Day, 5th if you count the year I was hugely pregnant with Rachel - which I do :) At the time I remember thinking "Hey, I've been giving this baby a home for the past 8 months, dealing with gestational diabetes, major indigestion, sciatica, contractions, gagging and throwing up - I think I've earned my stripes to consider myself a mom."

Yesterday Rachel and I took my mom out to lunch near her apartment. We went to Applebee's, and while that's not hugely expensive, it still adds up. Plus Ben didn't nap this morning, and I knew he would be tired and getting fussy. So I was reluctant to spend money eating out a sit-down restaurant but felt like I should be served food other people had cooked. I ended up ordering two meals to go from Azteca Mexican Restaurant, and we shared some of our meals with Rachel. (I didn't think Ben really needed rice and beans and Mexican food - he's a gassy enough boy without that kind of fuel.) It was a yummy meal, even if it felt a bit harried feeding Ben and trying to keep him happy. It's easier now that he eats a lot of solid foods, but when he's tired, he often just wants to be spoon-fed baby food, or wants that in between bites of other food that he'll feed himself.

I was able to take a nice long nap afterward (briefly interrupted by Rachel coming in to show me something she'd made out of her Dora lego pieces), and had a mellow time with Ben and Rachel after that.

Nothing major today, but it was a nice day of celebration, with church, a gift from the kids, a card and lots of love and appreciation.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mean Girl and Danger Boy

Rachel is at the stage where she's saying things like "I don't care." and "No, I won't.". And the only thing that seems to work is to take away whatever she's playing with at the time.

Which tonight was all the non-cushion pillows from the living room.

So I begin removing them and she starts in with her very loud very fake crying. I ignored it, I've heard it too many times. I know what it is.

So I go over top of the baby gate with the pillows and up the stairs to our room. As I'm coming back down, Ben is at the gate looking at me. I see Rachel coming from the living room, walks right up next to Ben, still crying.

I can tell she knows exactly what she's doing. She moves in close. Ben finally stops looking at me and realizes she's there. And because he just adores her, if she's upset, he's upset and he justs crying. Only his is real.

I'm watching this unfold incredulously. Like a car wreck in slow motion. I knew it was coming, I was powerless to stop it and my options to deal with it even more limited. That was just a stone cold move.

I did the only thing I could, I scooped him up, completely ignoring her. In my arms, he stopped crying immediately. Knowing she was foiled and no one was paying attention, he crying quickly came to a stop as well.

In other news, Ben had his first unplanned visit to the doctor after grabbing an unopened can of vegetables, trying to walk off with it, dropping it, falling onto it and causing what turned out to be a surface cut and scrape that didn't want to stop bleeding on the bridge and tip of his nose, respectively. I arrived home after they all got back from the hospital and hung out with him while Lori was at choir.

He seemed completely unfazed by it, not once doing anything to indicate he was aware of anything amiss or that he was experiencing any pain. Just our happy little laughing baby. Who will sadly have a really scraped and red nose for his first birthday party.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

For Your "Listening" Pleasure

"Skinny and tall or fat and short,
Skinny and tall or fat and short,
It's okaaaaay.....
If you're skinny and tall or fat and short!"

Rachel was singing this little ditty today. I asked if she'd heard it somewhere or made it up, and she said she made it up. Nice to know she's being all-inclusive in her songwriting.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Our Budding Auteur

Today Rachel turned the dining room chairs so that they faced the living room, also asking if she could use some of the kitchen table's chairs for her "movie theater." She put stuffed animals in the chairs and had a coaster on the table at each spot, presumably for the patrons' imaginary refreshments.

A little while later, I needed to move the chairs back to the kitchen. As I disrupted her theater, Rachel told me that "They didn't even like the movie. They walked out halfway through and turned the lights out."

I guess it's true that everyone's a critic. Even Piglet and The Brain.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Thank Goodness It's Digital

To set this up... Ben is sleeping in Rachel's room because his room is being painted.  But, he doesn't like it in there and is taking forever to go to sleep.  So tonight, Lori's painting another coat on his wall and Rachel's starting out in our room right next door, to be moved later.  Rachel discovered the new digital camera (I won it recently and it's much smaller than our other one) on Lori's nightstand and proceeded to take some photos.

When she asked for socks, Lori went in to get her some socks and she admitted playing with the camera.  We took the camera out of the room and started looking through the photos she had taken.  Her feet, her toys, the room.  It kept going and going.  The floor.  The ceiling.  The closet.  The dresser.  The nighstands.  The girl, quiet as a mouse, took seventy photos.

If only the Eye-Fi had been on and someone had been at this computer.  Would have been funny to see photos just start popping up in the corner.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


How cool is it that Rachel wants a "Shaun the Sheep" themed birthday party?  Granted, that could change a number of times between now and then, but how many soon-to-be five-year-olds are Shaun-fans?

Also, Rachel's changed her Mii.  Her Mii now no longer looks like a darker-haired shorter copy of her mom, but instead an African-American girl.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Intentions Made Known

Well, Rachel's been telling for months who she's going to marry when she's older. For a long time, it was this boy whose parents are in our small group. Then for a few days, it was a boy in her preschool, but she had recently announced that he was marrying someone else in her class and that she was going to marry the boy she had originally identified.

We had laughed nervously, not really sure what to say, so we never said much. He was here tonight with his family and as we were breaking up at the end of the evening, I heard some laughter and came in to hear someone else in our small group saying that Rachel had just told the boy she was going to marry him. There she was all cuddled up against him, it was a cute picture, the way she was looking at him. He was trying to ignore everything and focus on his handheld video game, until we all started paying attention at which point he said "Hey, what's that?" and pointed. She sat up, looked, and he quickly slipped from the room.

No big crisis for me about my daughter thinking about stuff like that; at this point she's so little it's still just cute for her, but probably embarassing for him. Serious bonus points to him for not saying anything to put her down. A wise and considerate young man, this one.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

That's Our Girl

"What's a brady bunch?"

Stairs? I Laugh at Stairs!

Yesterday I set Ben down in the living room, then walked into the kitchen to use the computer for a minute. When I got done, I peeked into the living room and didn't see him. I walked through there and looked into the dining room and still didn't see him. I was a little concerned when, all of a sudden, I heard noises upstairs and turned to see him walking out of the bathroom, where Rachel had been, and into her room. The little stinker had gone up 7 stairs to the bedroom level!

He had previously just been standing at the bottom of the stairs and fussing if someone was upstairs and he wanted to be up there, too. Yesterday or the day before I had caught him on the first stair, down on all fours and trying to figure out how to get back down. Apparently it didn't take him long to figure out the rest of it, so we're now going to be employing the baby gate at the bottom of the stairs when he's on the middle level of the house.

There's a door to the downstairs level, and fortunately he has not yet figured out how to open doors. I'm thinking we're going to need a latch up high once he does figure it out, until he's steadier on his feet. We moved in here when Rachel was 21 months old, and she never had trouble with the stairs. So I don't think we'll need to use a latch for a very long time, but we'd rather be careful in the meantime, since it's 11 stairs down to the family room, which would be quite a tumble.

In other news:
- Ben now has his third tooth coming in with a fourth about to break through. Teething doesn't seem to be bothering him to quite the same degree, although we are still giving him ibuprofen pretty regularly. He's also very drooly from all the teething.
- Rachel is up and down with obedience and anger. Some days she does really well with listening and obeying, and other days she repeatedly either tones us out or deliberately defies us. It can get a bit wearing at times, but we know that the same qualities that can make her exasperating at this age can also be shaped to help her be a wonderfully strong young woman as she grows up.
- Rachel had her 5-year-old checkup a little early yesterday, since we needed to make sure she was up to date on shots before Kindergarten registration starts on May 4. She needed FOUR shots, and she was such a trooper! It's hard to believe she'll really be a Kindergartener in the fall, but I think she's going to love having school every day and the things she'll be learning there. It's a really great school that mixes K-2nd grade in the classrooms, so she'll also have the chance to form friendships with and learn from the older kids.
- Ben is such a happy, fun little boy. He loves when we lay down on the ground by him and will lean over to just give big open-mouth kisses and roll around on us. He also, unfortunately, loves to grab onto hair and give it a good yank, or reach out and grab with his fingers, to which the deep scratch under my right eye can attest. Definitely a boisterous boyish boy, and it's been so neat to see how he differs from Rachel when she was a baby. He also has about the best baby laugh ever! One of these days I'll hopefully get it on video and post it here.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Scavenger Hunt

Rachel was out of school all but 1 day last week due to flu, and this week she's out for spring break. As you may be able to imagine, extreme boredom, fussiness and whiness has set in. I had planned to come up with some activities this week to keep her from getting to that place, but her flu threw me off and put me in "just get through this time" mode, so I've been caught unprepared. And frustratingly, it seems like when she watches TV or plays on the computer, she's only fussier afterward when she has to stop and find something else to do. She also has gotten to where she expects/demands to be entertained, although if I can get her started on something, she can frequently play be herself for quite some time. I just have to get her to forget her diva demands and get wrapped up in her imagination.

Last night, I had the idea to put Rachel onto scavenger hunts for things. We came home from an errand this morning, and when she asked if she could watch a TV show, I suggested a scavenger hunt and explained how it would work. She got really excited, and we sat down and made a list together:

  • Something orange
  • Something with a face
  • Something that makes sound
  • Something that's smooth
  • Something purple
  • Something that's furry
  • Something hard
  • Something green
  • Something red
  • Something smooth
I used pens and crayons to draw patches of color, an object that's furry, an ear (to represent sound), and other cues to help her know what each item was since she doesn't know all those words yet.

She just completed it in about 5 minutes flat and wants to do another one. (Actually, she wants to create a scavenger hunt for me to do. Not sure that serves the purpose of keeping her busy.) Perhaps I need to come up with a tougher list so she has to think about it more. But I may be onto something. I definitely need to come up with or find online more games and activities to get her up and going.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

La La La

I think one of my most favorite things to do is be in church during the singing part holding a small baby, probably 9-12 months old.  I dance with them, I pat them to the rhythm of the music, they look at me, they look around, they smile, they have a good time.  At least this has been my experience with both Rachel and Ben.

With the advent of iTunes, we play a lot more music around the house.  The computer's in the kitchen and much of my post-work time at night with Ben is in the kitchen.  If I'm feeding him, I'll often do it standing up, sometimes even dancing* a little bit to the music. 

Ben has taken to singing.   Not super-frequent (he's also only randomly trying to say actual words, mostly preferring grunts and hisses) but he has done some expressions of noise that have gone up and down in pitch, today even very closely mimicking a repetitive song after only hearing it run through a bit twice.

He's also, and I'm not sure if I should mention this or not, occasionally doing the "Night at the Roxburry" headnod after seeing (sorry, Lori) Lori and I and Rachel do it last week when "What is Love" by Haddaway played.  For him, though, it seems to be something he does mostly when he's done and wants to get out of his high chair.

*If you've stumbled across the blog and are not a regular reader, I should disclaim that I am white.  Not only am I white, but I dance worse than most white people.  In fact, were I to dance in public, people would push me to the ground and then get in an argument about whether or not you're supposed to shove a wallet in someone's mouth in situations like this.

Let's Go Fly a Kite

Tried to go kite flying today with Rachel.  She'd been cooped up week, sick.  She seemed pretty close to normal today, a little bit of a cough.  She had been asking for some time to go kite flying.  I got a kite for Christmas and I think she either also received one, or received one for her birthday almost a year ago.  Anyhow, it was one of those beautiful Pacific Northwest days so we headed off to Dash Point (city park not state park) to see if we could get the ladybug or the wicked 3D arrow kite aloft.

Sadly, there wasn't enough wind to get either kite to actually fly, but was probably just cold enough to slow her recovery.  She's upstairs right now coughing and wimpering in her sleep.  I feel bad for her and I feel bad for my part in it. 

About 10 minutes ago I heard her crying, but I went to ask her what was wrong and she was obviously still mostly asleep as she told me she was upset because she couldn't do what she wanted to do.

I asked her what she wanted to do.  Typically Rachel, she responded "What I wanted to do."


So that trick where you spell words that you don't want your child to hear you saying?  Doesn't work with Rachel.  Lori spelled "j-e-r-k" earlier and Rachel wanted to know what word she was spelling and would not let up.  We told her it was a word we didn't want her to hear, but she said she did.  We told her it was a word we didn't want her repeating.  Fine, she wouldn't say the word, but still, what word was it?  And she just kept pestering.  We didn't give in, but she was very insistent.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Father and Son

I've just had some really awesome moments with Ben recently. 

The other night, close to his bedtime, I was laying on my bed and he was standing, leaning against me, patting my stomach.  I pulled him onto me and just looked at him as he smiled and laughed at me.  It suddenly dawned on me that at some point in his 20s, dad probably did something similar with me.  It put everything in a whole new perspective.  I mean, I know my dad, obviously, was around me when I was a baby, but I never had one of those types of moments before and gave me a whole new level of appreciation/love for my own dad.

Tonight, I was sitting on the couch with Ben on my lap.  I was handing him goldfish one at a time and also eating them myself.  He leaned back and lifted his head to look at me.  Then he raised his arm with the golfdish towards me.  He eventually just leaned back until he was lying down so he could look at me.  He would repeat the almost-offer of the goldfish several times, one time even hitting my teeth with it.  Rachel was sharing just before she turned 1, but I remember her teasing even before that. 

Tonight I also had an opportunity to read three chapters of Exodus to Ben.  He played in Rachel's bed while I read.  (Rachel was downstairs having dinner.)  I have not been as consistent with reading to him (obvious by the fact that we're just now into Exodus) but I hope that as he becomes a little more aware of the routine that I'll be able to read more regularly, and maybe even read more per night on average than I did with Rachel.

At bedtime tonight, he was just furious.  It had been a really relaxed day and he had spent a lot of time with the family when he wasn't asleep and I think he was just unhappy that we were about to leave

Cross-posting on both dad2be and tvjames.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bullying Already? Really?

There's a little girl, Isabel, in Rachel's class at preschool. I don't know what her problem is, but back in January, Rachel told me that Isabel said "You're not funny" when Rachel was making goofy faces at her during circle time. After that, it became a regular thing for Isabel to say that to her, apparently.

I tried coaching Rachel on ways to respond and ignoring Isabel, but she persisted with the nastiness and, recently, got other kids to start saying it to Rachel, too. Rachel is a social girl and likes to be the center of attention, and she loves making people laugh. And much as she tries to pretend it doesn't bother her when someone is rude to her, it really does. So she's very bothered by this behavior.

Me? I'm pissed. When it was just Isabel involved and was obviously a problem that a nasty little girl had, I dealt with it between me and Rachel and hoped that it would blow over. Once I heard about the others, I talked with a friend who teaches the other preschool class at that school. She said she'd want to know about it if it were happening in her class, so I talked with Rachel's teacher.

The ironic thing is that, that very morning, she had caught two girls saying "You're not funny" to Rachel and assumed that the other girl was the instigator because she often does stuff like that to other kids. So it was good that she'd seen the behavior before I talked with her about it, since she knew exactly what I was talking about. She already spoken with the girls involved about treating others kindly and appropriate behavior.

A few class days passed and Rachel would tell me "Isabel didn't say anything not nice today." Well, now it sounds like it's starting back up again, and there's possibly another child involved with whom Rachel has been friends since she started at the school last January. Either they're being rude to that girl, or that girl is now also being rude to Rachel. There's some discrepancy in what Rachel's saying, so either she is not remembering correctly, or she didn't tell me that this other girl is now being rude to her, too.

I'm willing to wait and see what happens tomorrow. I've also been telling Rachel that it's okay to let her teachers know if people are saying mean things to her, since they aren't always saying them when a teacher is around to overhear and deal with it. But, frankly, I'm pissed that my child has become the target of bullies, and in preschool, no less. I just want to get in these kids' faces and tell them to back the crap off and leave my daughter alone. I know that Rachel needs to fight her own battles, but when it's 4 on 1 and it's ongoing behavior, how does a 4-year-old do that?

Some things that we wish we could tell Rachel to say in return:

  • "Isabel? More like Is-a-smell."
  • Isabutt
  • If they say "You're not funny," she could say "You are. Funny LOOKING."
Or some other rude, insulting comment. I know that returning rudeness for rudeness isn't the answer, much as the mother lion in me wants to just lash out and be hurtful to those who are hurting my child. I just really hope that the teacher is able to catch the behavior more often and deal with it seriously. If not and this continues, I think I'll have to ask for an official conference to discuss it and what can be done. I think Isabel's parents should be told about her behavior. I would hope they wouldn't condone it and would have conversations with her about how she needs to treat other kids.

So that's the sucky, frustrating situation we're in at the moment. It's upsetting to know that Rachel is being ostracized and insulted. I can't figure out why, unless it's because she tries too hard to get attention. It may get annoying, or other kids might be jealous of her social nature. Or maybe Isabel just decided one day "I'm going to pick on her because I feel like it/don't like her."

But it needs to stop. And it will, one way or another.

A Little More Conversation

Ben is becoming much more verbal lately. He's not saying much in identifiable words yet, but he's trying out so many sounds and just chattering away when he has something on his mind. It's fun to hear him making sounds with obvious meaning behind them, even if we can't figure out what he's saying. I think once the words begin to click with him, he's going to build a vocabulary pretty quickly.

At this age, Rachel was saying a few dozen words, I think. I'm not sure, but I do know that she was at well over a hundred words by the time she turned 1. I don't think we realized at the time how rare that is. Nor did we realize we'd experienced the last really quiet times in our life for a while :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Rachel's Jokes

Rachel was in a joke-telling mood last night at dinner. These were three that she told, one after the other. Number 3 really made us crack up:

Why couldn't the bear fly?
Because he didn't have wings (flapping her arms as she answers).

Why couldn't the bear swim?
Because he didn't have floaty things (flapping her arms again).

Why didn't the Abominable Snow Monster eat snow?
Because he liked people better!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rachel's First Dance Routine

Okay, we finished off the tape in the video camera and James uploaded it. I hope this works - if so, here's Rachel's first dance routine, done at the recital in December for all the classes of her current teacher:

P.S. - She's the shortest one, to the far right.