Come, Mommy

Friday, June 29, 2007

And Conversations For The End Of The Day

We went out to dinner tonight. Right before dessert Liam saw something that scared him enough to dive under the table. I have no idea what it was...

...but don't worry. Our waitress managed to lure him out quite easily with a dish of ice cream. At bedtime I asked him about it.

Me: What was it that scared you at dinner?

Liam: "I can't tell you."

Me: "Hhhhmmm. Was it a person?"

Liam: "I can't tell you."

Me: "Was it outside?"

Liam: "I can't tell you.

Me: "Was it a noise?"

Liam: "I just can't tell you, so please stop wondering."


On the way home Kevin spotted some deer grazing in a field:

Kevin: "Oh, deer!"

Me: "Oh yeah, look at them."

Liam: "What's the problem?"

Me: "Nothing, why?"

Liam: "Daddy said, 'Oh, dear.'"

Me: "No not like that. He was talking about the deer in the field."

Liam: "But why was he saying 'Oh, dear' about the deer?"

Me: "He wasn't. He was just talking about the deer..."

Liam: "But why say 'Oh, dear' when..."

Kevin: "Hey look! Let's see if there are any dogs in the dog park!"

Nice save, Dear Kev!

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Morning Conversation

Liam (putting on his shoes): Can you help me, Mommy?"

Me: "Sure."

Liam (picking up a shoe): "Does this one go one my right foot?"

Me: "Yup, that's your right shoe."

Liam (picking up the other shoe): "And this is my left shoe?"

Me: "Yup, that's right."

Liam (looking puzzled): "No! It's not the right shoe. It's the left. Please make it not be a right shoe, Mommy!"

Me: "No, no, it is the left shoe. I just meant you are right that it's the left shoe...oh, never mind."

Liam: "Is this what you meant when you said some words sounds the same but mean different things?"

Me: "Yes. Exactly."

Liam: "Can I put this on my left foot?"

Me: "Yes, of course. Go right ahead."

Liam: "No!!! Not the right foot! The left! ....Let's just not talk about this any more."

Serves me right for attempting this conversation without morning caffeine in my system....


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bits and Pieces of Random Craziness

Another of my famous catch-up posts. As usual this is motivated by wanting to post but having less than ideal brain power to compose something with flow, or even minimal cohesion. As usual there is no order to this post; the order of subjects is determined by what sparks my brain when...

Houdini is balding again. She started losing her hair in late May. So it's not quite a year out from surgery and she's developing disease in her remaining adrenal gland. I got her down to our vet in Philly who handles all the tricky ferret stuff, and we started her on monthly injections of Lupron. Stormy has been on Lupron for years (she developed adrenal disease at the young age of 19 months and had her right adrenal gland removed) and is just doing beautifully in terms of her remaining adrenal. Hopefully within a couple of months Houdini will be back in good health.

The catch is that Houdini has a bit of a history of aggression and biting. (Those of you who know her in real life (Hi Kevin, Mom, and Lisa!) now have permission to go find something to clean your monitors with 'cause I know you just spit out whatever it was you were drinking.) Her tumor is pumping out tons of testosterone and so you can imagine the biting issues that ensue with that. She's gotten me but good a few times in the last couple of weeks, and that is just a non- starter for me, no matter how much I love ferrets. I feel bad for her too as she's just constantly wired and she's hardly sleeping. So we put her on some Valium to calm her down, and it does seem to be helping. With any luck she won't need it for long, but it should help her comfort-wise until her hormones stabilize.

Yeah, it was kind of funny picking up a scrip at the pharmacy for a ferret who, in essence, is overdosed on steroids.


Stormy has developed a partial heart block. $300 and a cardiologist visit later, she's on theophylline, and her heart is back at a normal rate. There's nothing we can do to cure the block, so it's a matter of time now, but she is eight years old, which is a fairly advanced age for a ferret.

Honestly, I shouldn't be complaining, but stuff like this is still hard.


The other day Liam was eating a snack of whole-wheat crackers, apple slices, and cheese. Kevin came home from work, picked up a couple of sugar cookies, and walked into the the room with Liam. Says my son, who never met a cookie he didn't like, "Don't worry about me, Daddy. I'm happy here with my grow food!"

The same day he told me, "I like you and I love you and I think you're really fun" about ten times.

That same day, there were no tantrums.

I need to report this to an astronomer as clearly some celestial object is way, way out of alignment.


I bought Elizabeth Pantley's potty-learning book. It would be an exceptionally positive thing if Liam was diaper-free by the start of nursery school this fall. Also, I just can't take a big boy in diapers any more. He's shown all the signs of readiness for a long, long time, and gentle persuasion and giving him time to develop interest have failed. If anything, he's more set in the idea that, in his words, "I will never, ever use the potty." I have been impressed by other titles in her parenting series, so I thought I'd give it a read.

As a sign of my desperation, I went for one of her ideas - buy a bunch of small presents, and any time the child uses the potty, he gets a present to unwrap. I know, I know. This is a blatant example of using bribery a reward system. It goes against all the Alfie Kohn I've read, but even Elizabeth Pantley is out-and-out saying that there are times for rewards, and I'm probably overthinking this, and bottom line, So....

There is a basket of wrapped toys and trinkets in our bathroom. Any deposit in the potty earns a present. Any attempt at the potty earns a sticker, five of which can be turned in for a Popsicle. Back when Liam was a baby this was one of those parenting things I swore I would never, ever, ever in a million years do, along with, if I recall correctly, allowing him to eat junk food, watch television, and of course I would never, ever lose my temper with my firstborn.

My friends, I'm here to tell you the mighty have fallen. Mightily.

And the three-year-old still says, "But I will never, ever use the potty."

Updates to follow.

Advice appreciated.


Partly because I never, ever want to go through this mess again, and partly because it seems like such a cool and natural idea, we have started EC with Kieran. We still have him in diapers, but when we're at home, I offer him the toilet when he's fussy. We've cut our diaper use in half this way, and more importantly, he'll grow through infancy and toddlerhood using the toilet every day. Hopefully he'll just transition into full-time pottying when he's ready.

Or at least that's my theory. And I'm sticking to it since a certain measure of my sanity is depending on it.

Or, perhaps, pigs will fly.


When I started this blog I swore I would never speak of potty issues.

That thud? It's just the mighty eating dirt once again.


Kevin and Liam went to the beach today. Kieran and I are folding laundry.

We've got 12 socks here, Kate!


The boys just came back from the beach. Says Liam, "I was walking in the ocean when ZOOP up came the water to attack me and it knocked me right over!" I think they had a fun time.


The excitement for this week to come is that Liam asked for gymnastics classes. He wants to learn how to stand on his head and walk on his hands. He's really looking forward to Tuesday, which is when his first class will be.

And as it's getting late, I'm out of here for now. More to come soon!

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shocked, Simply Shocked!

Hi! It's me, Kieran. Mommy just told me our health insurance company has reneged on an agreement they made last fall to cover my birth. According to them, my birth was an uncovered "experimental treatment for a diagnosed illness or injury."

See my face? I'm shocked, too. Because, childbirth is, you know, an unproven and experimental treatment for pregnancy.

Zounds, Batman. The grown-up world is completely nuts.


Monday, June 18, 2007

12 Weeks Of Brotherhood

Kieran is now twelve weeks old. He'll be three months old next Saturday. It always amazes me how pregnancy seems to take forever and a week, but then things speed up to the point where if I blink I'll miss a bunch of stuff. I did manage to get some pictures in the last couple of weeks, though.

Kieran's got the classic three-month-old move down pat - not only has he found his hands, he's using them to grab things. He thinks this is pretty cool.

And hey, look Ma! Things can go in one's mouth! Now is the time to begin the surveillance for choking hazards....

"Mommy! Watch! I'm Baby Cookie Monster Train*! I'm playing with my jungle gym!"

Hey, Ma, look! Feet are for kicking! Who knew?

"Mommy! Watch! Cookie Monster Train is rolling dangerously along the bridge! Choo-Choo!"

(For the parents out there, one question. What about this outfit says, "I got dressed all by my own?**")

Over-the-shoulder shot of Kieran sleeping through the railway bridge action. The boy loves his slings.

Note to self: Do not leave Cookie Monster Train unattended with finger paints. Not even for the time it takes to change a baby's diaper. It appears that a huge piece of paper is not nearly as alluring a canvas as are the back deck railings. Ahem.

(Kudos for self for at least leaving him unattended a) with washable paints and b) outside. Self, you learn slowly, but you do learn eventually.)

"Sure. Stick the poor Baby up here in a hand-me-down high chair with a bunch of toys. Go ahead and enjoy your dinner, dudes. Just so you know - the Baby is NOT AMUSED!"

I don't know if Liam really is going through a growth spurt or if it's just the contrast with a young baby, but he's looking really big boyish these days.

A happy ending to a Father's Day trip to the zoo - a popsicle covered sticky boy. I think it's the blue teeth that make the moment here.

And that's the two-week photo round-up from the Menagerie House. I hope you got at least a couple of grins out of it!


*For the record, as of three days ago, Cookie Monster Train the Express Engine has left the station for destinations unknown. He has been replaced by a small boy claiming to be one "Harry the Horse." This Horse dude apparently has a baby brother named "Deeby the Pony" and a mommy named "Beedy the Horse". His daddy goes by "Bobby the Horse".

**The answer: "Mommy? Um, I looked all over my sock drawer but I couldn't find the other copy of the dark blue sock. So my rule is dark blue and light blue match."

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Morning Conversation

Liam: "Mommy? Why was Kieran born here at home?"

Me: "Well, some babies are born at home and some are born at the hospital."

Liam: "But we made a mistake."

Me: "How so?"

Liam: "Casey and Pippi and Houdini and Jeff and Stormy weren't born here or at a hospital. They came from the shelter."

Me: "But, but...

Liam: "Yeah, and that's our mistake. You always say we need to get our pets from the shelter!"

Me: "Oh. My."


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

8 Random Things

I was tagged for this meme several weeks ago by Lindyloo over at Chronicles of Squidgyboo (click on over there and wish Squidge a Happy First Birthday, will ya?). Finally I am getting around to it. In no particular order, here are 8 Random Things About Me...

1. I'm a flutist. I earned a respectable amount of pocket change in college playing and teaching the instrument. I used to especially enjoy wedding receptions because no one really was listening so I could try out new pieces, and well, free dinner that doesn't come from the cafeteria is always a winner. I haven't played much since the kids came along, but hopefully as the kids get older I'll find some more time to play.

2. Because of this penchant for playing flute, I attended (in Kevin's words) an artsy-fartsy boarding school. It was a wonderful place. I think about it often mostly because being there opened my eyes to the interconnection of arts, science, math, and just about everything else. I always said that if I had kids and they had the interest, I would love for them to go there. That's still true in theory, but in truth I love them too much to part with them for the school year. I find myself hoping they'll opt for the summer camp instead.

3. I also sing. I love to sing, but was afraid to for years after being kicked out of the school chorus in sixth grade. (Don't worry, things worked out fine because I then joined the band and the results were numbers 1 and 2 above.) There is a local chorus I've sung with, and I'm planning to go back next fall. It's a great source of adult company and decent quality musicianship.

4. I'm a third generation organic chemist. My grandparents and father were all chemists engaged in petroleum research. My grandmother's older sister was a sugar chemist. She got her PhD in the '30's, and although I don't know for sure, I've always assumed she was one of the first female PhD chemists in the nation.

5. I love animals. I grew up with a menagerie of varying species. I've had ferrets for fifteen years now.

6. Ferrets are incredibly wonderful pets. They are however, prone to expensive medical problems, and they need a fair amount of well ferret-proofed space to roam and play. They are also not the best critters to have around young children, so we've had to work really hard to keep things safe for the ferrets with Liam around.

7. I'm officially middle-aged. It's not the fact that Sunday was my mumble-mumble-nth birthday that tells me that. It's the fact that last week I got my first pair of reading glasses that convinced me.

8. I hate wearing shoes. I own only about seven pairs, and most of them are sneakers or flip-flops of some variety. I don't even own a pair of high heels.

There you have it. 8 Random Things. I think at this juncture I'm supposed to tag 8 other people, but it's late, so if you're reading this and are up to the challenge, consider yourself tagged. And let me know you're playing so I can read along.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Let Off With A Warning

It's been a crazy week around here. Many things conspired to keep me from blogging - Kieran has decided sleep is overrated, Liam found a hornets' nest (don't worry - he's fine now, if a little wary of "naughty bugs"), and well, a bunch of minutia not worth detailing. But now, as promised, the story of how Liam saved me from a speeding ticket...

Last Sunday, Liam was bribed with the offer of a doughnut cheerfully agreed to accompany me on my grocery shopping trip in order to give Kevin and Kieran some time together. All was well. We were going down the road, I with my iced coffee, Liam with his chocolate glazed doughnut, when we crossed out of our town and into the one directly north of us. This particular municipality is about the size of the period at the end of this sentence. As a consequence there's not much for the local constabulary to do other than sit at the edge of town and catch speeders. So truly, if you ever go through this town at more than 2 mph over the posted speed, you will be enjoying bonus points on your license. It's guaranteed.

All of a sudden Liam started screaming. From his view it was only fair that one could expect one's hands and face to stay perfectly clean when guzzling a chocolate doughnut. And now his hands and face were sticky, sticky, STICKY! Oh, the screaming was unbelievable. So was my headache. I promised him that when I could find a safe place to pull over, I would dig a wipe out of the diaper bag.

And then I saw the flashing lights in my rear-view mirror. I pulled over, rolled down the window, and started digging out the appropriate paperwork. Liam kept on screaming.

Liam: "Mommy!!! I neeeeeed a wipe! They are in the diaper bag! Please look in there!"

(At least he screams politely, my son.)

Me: "Yes, but I need to find some paperwork first."

Liam: "Why do you need paperwork?"

Me: "For this nice policeman here."

Liam: "What policeman? Please FIND MY WIPE! AAAARRRRGGGGGHH!"

Officer: "Afternoon, ma'am. Do you know why I pulled you over?"

Liam: "Heeeellllllp! I'm all sticky!!"

Me: "Um, was I going too fast?"

Officer: "Yes, I clocked you going 49 in a 40 mph zone."

Liam: "Mommmmyyyyy!"

Me: "Buddy, you need to quiet down while I talk to the policeman."

Liam: "But I can't! My new rule is I can't be quiet!"

Officer: "Son, what's your name?"

Liam: "Cookie Monster Train. I'm an express engine."

Officer: "I see. And are you 2?

Liam: "No, I aren't. I'm 3!"

Officer: "I suspected as much... ma'am, why were you going so fast?"

Me (trying to be heard over the moaning from the back): Well, um, Cookie Monster back there is covered with doughnut goo and I was trying to find a spot to pull over so I could hand him a wipe and stop. the. screaming."

Officer (handing me back my license and registration): "Listen, son, did you make your Mommy drive too fast?"

Liam (proudly): "Yes I did. I was throwing a tantrum!"

Officer: "Well, that's very dangerous. You need to stay calm in the car. Got it?"

Liam: "Ulp."

Officer: "OK, ma'am. I'm letting you go with a warning. And you, Cookie Monster, need to be nice to your mother. I'm going to check up on you. Got it?"

Liam: "Yes."

Me: "Thank you, Officer.

Officer: "You're welcome. I've got twins this age at home. But seriously? Next time? Buy the Cookie Monster a cookie, not a doughnut. No frosting to cause problems."

And with that, he walked back to his car. He was still there guarding the entry into town when we came back from the store.

So, friends, that is how Liam saved me from a speeding ticket. And as a bonus, we've had absolutely no tantrums in the car since. None. The quiet, she is a wonderful thing. Aaaahhhh!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

An Open Letter To My Blog Community

Dear Gentle Readers (to steal a phrase from Miss Manners),

It is a sad fact of our world that there exist people who can not find it in their hearts to be kind to others. Not everyone out there is a warmhearted soul. Some people say and do unkind things to others as a reflection of the misery in their own hearts. Others find solace, or at least minor entertainment, in attempting to upset strangers from behind a cloak of anonymity. We seem to have one such person in our midst here.

So, Mr. Anonymous Troll, I don't know what issues are eating at you, and I am sorry that you are in such a place in your life. I truly hope that you find peace in some constructive manner. I strongly suggest that posting insults in this forum will not help you achieve this goal. This blog is part of a friendly and gentle community, and behavior such as yours does not contribute to the overall harmony I need. I would hate to ban particular IP addresses, anonymous comments, or start moderating comments by hand, but if that's what need to be done to ensure safety and civility in this here corner of the bitstream, then that's what will happen.

To the rest of my readers, hugs, and thanks for making this blog a safe place for me to share both cute kid/ferret stories and heartfelt vents about those same kids/ferrets!


PS - This weekend was much better. I'm hoping for smoother sailing this week. Coming soon, for your reading amusement, "8 Random Things About Me" along with the amazing story entitled "How My 3.5 Year Old Saved Me From A Speeding Ticket."


Saturday, June 02, 2007

10 Weeks Of Brotherhood - or - Why I Haven't Been Posting Much Lately

Well, let's see. Kieran has decided to nurse all the time, day and night. I guess he's hitting the three month growth spurt a tad early. He's big kid already - 12 pounds, nine ounces and 24 inches at his two month check-up last week, and clearly he's intent on busting that growth chart curve. I say go for it, Kieran. I've never been a big believer in those growth charts anyway, particularly for breastfed babies, so go right ahead and prove 'em wrong. Just one thing, please. The next time you decide to declare a National Suck Mommy Dry Week, could ya send out a memo ahead of time?

Meanwhile, the Older Brother Previously Known as Leonard is now known 'round these parts as Diesel, or wait, no, Cookie Monster, or well, yesterday it was Cheese Monster. I'll have to call him by his given name for our purposes here until he decides on a new name for himself.

At any rate, said Older Brother is arising at 5:00 with the appearance of "Father Sun." If anyone knows of any thrilling activities for the young set in central NJ at that early hour, I'm all ears. The ferrets are getting a lot of early morning attention these days, and we're baking a lot of bread, and reading a lot of books.

The main problem with getting up that early is that everyone is good and tired by about noon. And since Liam is 3.5, nothing, including naps, can be discussed, much less accomplished, without a great deal of negotiating. Which leaves us more tired. And when Liam gets tired, he asks ever more "why" questions. And if I dare answer, "I don't know," the guaranteed result is a tantrum. It is flattering in some ways that my son thinks I know the answer to everything, but I gotta tell ya, the idea of a teenager who thinks I know nothing starts sounding vaguely appealing by about 2:00 P.M.

Also! Yet more with the whining! We have reached a critical juncture with regard to Liam's use (or non-use) of the potty. After a brief flirtation with potty-training last year, Liam returned to diapers swearing never to use the potty again. Things have reached a boiling point because of two things. His Fuzzi Bunz are too small for him, and are leaking regularly*, which freaks him out. Also, I have had had it up to my ears with changing big boy poopy diapers, and there have been some times where I have not been exactly polite about that fact. Since this weekend is Kevin's 30-something birthday and approximately Liam's 3.5 birthday, we baked a cake and had a double birthday celebration. We struck a deal beforehand that big boys of 3.5 could use the potty, but after having one accident on the floor, Liam is now terrified of giving up diapers. I truly think we are back to Square One. And he really needs to be out of diapers by September for nursery school. So, yeah, fun times.

And then, and then, just when I'm worked up and really furious at my firstborn, he'll turn around and do something really adorable like make funny faces at Kieran to stop his crying while telling him he's the best baby in the world. Or he'll grab my hand and Casey's collar, pull us all over to wherever the baby is, and declare that it is time for a group hug. The emotional ups and downs are exhausting!

Some days I wonder how much longer I can keep this up, and then somehow I get up the next day and do it all over again...I'm a big believer in non-punitive discipline and parenting through play, but on days where I'm scraping the bottom of the energy barrel, those seem like awfully lofty ideals. Especially when what seems really appealing is to throw myself on the floor and have a good old tantrum of my own. Bah!

I'm sure I'll be in a better mood in a few days - this level of contentiousness and funk can't last that long. I hope. Otherwise you may see me, baby in one hand, ferret carrier in the other, running madly away from home and (and I mean this in the most loving way possible) the moody, cantankerous 3.5 year old who resides inside. In the meantime, some pictures from the last two weeks...

Kieran taking a break at Liam's school.

The face of innocence.

Preparing the 3.5 year/30-something birthday cake.

The other reason I don't have many pictures this time is that Liam swiped my camera for his own uses and hid it for a few days...

*True story - at the vet's the other day, I saw Liam standing near a puddle of pee in the waiting room. I was about to get upset about his diaper leaking when I realized he wasn't worried, he wasn't freaking out, and there were six dogs in the vicinity. I've just got diaper issues on the brain and totally spaced on the idea that one of the dogs had had an accident.