Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Summer Daze

I remember delightful childhood summers. My family would spend many weekends at my uncle's river cottage where FUN was the main agenda. There was a nice sandy beach, a huge raft, a pier perfect for jumping off of. The water was warm, and never got too deep. It was perfect for playing our favorite game, 'chicken', where each team consisted of two, one on top of the other's shoulders. The object was to knock the other team's top person off the bottom person's shoulders. We'd ride in Uncle Buzzy's speed boat, watching our cousins water ski. My brother and I were always envious of their skill, but too afraid to try it ourselves. Early mornings were spent wading with a minnow net, catching our bait for fishing later in the day. After supper, there'd be homemade ice cream and fireworks, a screened porch with a creaky porch swing.

When we weren't visiting our relatives, we'd be riding our bikes through the neighborhood. Down to the elementary school where we could whack a tennis ball against the brick wall. Over to the little league fields where, if we were lucky, there'd be a ball game and we could grab a Chick a Stick from the concession stand. Endless trips to the library racking up an enormous cadre of borrowed books. Mom and Dad nagging me to 'get some color', but truthfully, I enjoyed the summer shade more than the summer sun. (Looking back, I'm grateful I held my position on that, considering the cause and effect of sun and skin cancer).

Now that I have kids, I have a better appreciation for how much WORK it takes to achieve a lazy summer day. No doubt those fun river weekends weren't as much for my mom and Aunt Rosa, who were charged with shopping, packing, unpacking, cooking and cleaning. Coaxing suntan lotion on the kids. Policing the water to make sure no one put a toe in the river until 30 minutes after meal time. Yelling at us to go to sleep already, for heavens' sake! Not exactly their idea of a relaxing time on the water.

We don't have the river cottage any longer. It was used less and less as we got older. Summers evolved from catching fireflies and scratching mosquito bites to choosing 'just the right' bathing suit for the beach with your friends. Two decades later, and I have children myself who LOVE the pool. On opening weekend, Clay had his suit and goggles on before I had time to think about where a swim diaper for Drew might be hiding. He spent the next hour asking WHEN we'd actually GO to the pool. We might have already been on the wayl, but I was still trying to locate a damn swim diaper. And, because our pool requires that babies have a swim diaper AND plastic pants, I was keeping an eye out for Clay's old swim suits. I figured no one would strip search my baby to make sure he was wearing a swim diaper and plastic pants. Herein lies the next problem: where did I pack the 12 month summer clothes? It was three years ago, and I can't remember where I last put the Easter baskets, so I knew I was in for a quest. Eventually, I found EVERY piece of summer baby clothing I remember, save a swimsuit. I did manage to locate a 2T swim trunk, and considered safety pinning it around Drew's waist. Fortunately, he's a big kid and pulled it off beautifully without the extra, and sharp, hardware. Here's hoping I haven't set him up for a dreadful adolescent baggy, saggy pants phase...

After getting Drew's dressed, it occured to me that I still needed something to wear. Unlike the past years, I couldn't get away reading a book while Mike and Clay swam. After all, he can't very well handle BOTH kids in the pool. I had to don a swimsuit. Not that it was traumatic, or anything. At this point in my life, I'm immune to how I look in a swimsuit. And I didn't really care what people thought of my unshorn body... I'll find the razor tomorrow.

Now that everyone's dressed, we grabbed a bottle of suntan lotion, and set off. We were a mama, a daddy, a big boy and a baby. A stroller, three towels, $5 for the snack bar, a bag with spare clothes for the boys, and a partridge in a pear tree. We packed for a day at the beach, and were only headed to our neighborhood pool.

And two blocks later, we arrived!

That's when the teenager at the front gate told us... the baby pool was closed. For mechanical issues. She wasn't sure when it would open.

So I said to my husband, "Let's hurry up and get this fun over with." The women of my youth, I'm sure, would understand.

Mike's Day

It started with two unhappy children, and one unhappy daddy...

Then things got a little better....

Then they got CRAZY!

Friday, May 25, 2007

I beg your pardon?

You never know what Clay’s going to come up with these days. He’s getting a good grasp of multisyllabic words, and their appropriate uses, but his pronunciation usually needs some work. For example, he frequently says ‘I’m bezausted.’ Ah, then how about a nap? ‘Actually, no. I’m just bezausted.’ His bezaustion typically coincides with undesirable activities. Picking up toys, say. Or the occasional violin lesson.

Rhyming is his favorite trick right now. And, I heartily encourage that because it helps him learn words and sounds and such. Of course, I’ve mentioned before that some unfortunate phrases come forth. “Juicy Poosy”, for example. Pronounced loudly at the local diner during a preschool fundraiser. It’s hard to decide what to say during moments like that. We opted for “he’ll have milk.”

When he isn’t rhyming, he’s singing. Clay’s a very musical kid, and his repertoire is vast and sophisticated. He’s fond of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nacht Music, the Clash and the Who. He’s doing really well in Suzuki violin, and can name all of his rhythms, the upcoming tunes, and understands the concept of musical dynamics (pianissimo, piano, mezzo piano, forte, mezzo forte, and fortissimo).

So, it didn’t surprise me when Mike reported on Clay’s latest tune. He debuted it at the doctor’s office, and it went something like ‘…friendly pile of s**t... ROCKING on the sea…’!

Translation: it was the Wiggles’ Captain Feathersword song. And the lyric goes: “The friendly pirate ship was rocking on the sea!”

Monday, May 21, 2007

Ringbearer Pictures

Sorry, no time to write! Here are some pics from our weekend wedding trip. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Giving Our Eye Teeth

The men in my house have had a few rough days. We spent a fun Saturday at a colleague’s for a crab feast. Mike very carefully prepared items for the diaper bag (Formula – check! Nipples and Rings – check! Bottle liners – check!) We were secure in the knowledge that we had our baby bases covered. You know where this is headed, right? We forgot the actual bottle. Off Mike goes to the local grocery store and returns with one. All set! And then we realize that the carefully packed formula, the one Mike took special care to prepare, was still at home on our kitchen counter. Drew had a supper of water and jarred sweet potatoes.

Nevertheless, Drew fared better than his big brother. Because although Clay wasn’t into the shellfish, he had great fun rough housing with the other boys (and strangely, there were no little girls at this event). And, since boys will be boys, Clay’s front tooth made a very forceful contact with another little boy’s head. How did this happen? We’re still not sure. Something about a slide, and a ‘head butting’ game. Fortunately, his tooth is still in place, although the gum was quite bruised. An emergency call to the dentist was slightly reassuring. He suggested soft foods, Motrin, and an office visit a few days later. And indeed, by the time we rolled Clay into the dentist’s office this morning, the tooth looked much better. The boy even got the excitement of an x-ray! And a plastic police car! (No candy from the dentist, doncha know.) Dr. D pointed to the x-ray and showed me the GINORMOUS adult teeth that are already in place, and offered his prediction that orthodontia is in Clay’s future.

Great news, right? (Except for the expensive braces, but hey, you can’t have everything.) Little did Mike realize that his turn was fast approaching.

After the dentist, he and the boys headed down 95 to Stafford. Traffic conditions were as congested as usual, and he rolled into the parking lot at Pop’s assisted living facility a little after noon. Now, Mike’s quite the multitasker, but dealing with a 95 year old incontinent geriatric in a wheelchair, a precocious almost four-year old, and an 8 month old pushes him to the limits. He’s only had to negotiate situation twice, and both times he says that the only one who listens to him is Drew. Good news for today, though. It was discovered that Clay’s pretty good at pushing Pop’s wheelchair, although his steering leaves much to be desired.

Fast forward to this evening, and Mike’s pretty much ready to call it a day, when I come home with other plans. We must go to my friend T’s house directly after supper! We mustn’t delay! See, T and I work together at a well known performing arts center that just so happens to be at the beginning of a massive theater renovation. And there were pieces of history to be had. Big, heavy, awkward pieces of history in the form of crushed red velvet theater seats. T very kindly brought her pair and my pair home in her minivan, and we needed to retrieve them. Which of course meant that Mike needed to retrieve them. The boys and I came along to “help”. Drew helped by pooping stankily (yes, there is no other word for this) as soon as we arrived. And we had nothing with us, because this was to be a short trip. Fortunately, T is very resourceful and happened to have a diaper, wipes and EVEN a diaper mat, even though her youngest is older than my oldest! I helped by holding the now naked-except-a-diaper Drew while Mike and T unloaded my seats and reloaded them in our van. Then, I helped even more as I continued to hold Drew while Mike and T unloaded her seats and carried them into her basement. Past the really large forsythia bush that was blocking the door. While a forsythia branch lashed out and poked Mike in his only good eye.

I won’t go into any more details (because really, isn’t this post long enough?), but he’s fine now. Thank goodness. It was a pretty scary couple of moments there, because this really is Mike’s ONLY good eye. The other’s practically useless, and frightening thoughts of blindness bubbled a little too close to the surface.

Which is why, as I was driving my men home this evening, and I was thinking about the not-so-comic-events of the past few days, I realized that there were few things I’d give my eye teeth for. But Clay’s tooth and Mike’s eye were two of them.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Parenting Unpleasantries

A few days ago, we got the following e-mail from the Health and Safety parent at Clay’s preschool:

Tick Season Is Here

It can be a real pain if you have dark haired children, but it's time to check your children daily for ticks if they've been outside at all. We just had our first reported case of a child who was on the playground today getting a tick on them. I don't know if it was a deer tick or not though, I forgot to ask. It doesn't really matter though, because other ticks can transmit other illnesses. But you should know that Lyme Disease has reached our area. And ticks just love 70 degree temperatures! Ticks tend to be in (tall especially) grass, the undersides of leaves of bushes or low trees. When they sense a warm body going by, they just latch on to it and go for a good spot for lunch. Unfortunately, that's often in the crotch or the head; though I've gotten them on my abdomen and arms, etc.

One way to minimize your child's risk of getting them is to dress them in long white pants and shirts and tuck their pants into their white socks and spray the clothes with DEET. Honestly, I think I'd pass out in clothes like that if it was one of those hot days in July. And I hate DEET. I'd rather just check for the ticks. They take 24 hours to infect someone, so if you get them off in say, 12 hours, you don't have to worry (about Lyme Disease anyway).

Having pulled deer ticks off myself and my kids, here's what I know about them:

They can be as small as the head of a pin. They can be black, but not necessarily.

When removing them, DON'T SQUEEZE THEIR MIDDLES!!!! This causes the bacteria to go from their stomachs into the victim. Get a pair of needle nose tweezers (or much better yet go to a pet store and get a pair of tick removers, they work really well!) and go on either side of the tick's neck pulling upward so that the skin 'tents' until the tick lets go. That way you get the head out too. Then apply rubbing alcohol or other disinfectant.

I have TWELVE hours??? Lyme Disease?? Deer Ticks? Don’t squeeze the middles??


This is the part of parenting that I’m not sure I’m up for, and it bugs me (pun intended). If I can’t handle the pressure of checking my kids for ticks, what the heck am I going to do if they bring home (I feel faint just typing this) head lice??

Clay’s a pretty squirmy kid. He goes into hysterics if we come at him with nail clippers, so his manicures are few and far between. He still has leftover cradle cap, and is pretty sensitive to having me work on his scalp. I’ve already tried to surreptitiously look for ticks, but he’s wise to my ways. It’s not going to be a fun summer if I have to hold him down every day.

As if that wasn’t enough, Clay’s been (forgive me son, but it fits the theme), pulling on his pants for a few days. We’ve been asking him the usual questions: “Do you need to go potty?” “Is a tag scratching you?” No to both queries. He has admitted that he’s feeling ‘itchy’, so we inspect the, um, area, for a rash. Of the previously worn diaper kind. Nothing.

Of course, this provided us with the perfect, but really uncomfortable, opportunity to have the ‘good touch/bad touch’ conversation with him. (“This is your private area. No one is allowed to touch your private area except Mommy or Daddy or a doctor who is with Mommy or Daddy.”) Oh, how I dreaded this! But, I knew it was time because Clay’s teacher told us at our conference that she was going to introduce the subject. And, as important as I KNOW it is to arm my child with this safety information, I really HATE admitting to him that there are bad people in this world who want to do unseemly thing to innocents. Nevertheless (and like I said), it was time. When Mike asked Clay what he’d say to a stranger who offered him candy, he good naturedly responded “Thank you very much!”

Clay said he understood. But he’s only three, so the conversation isn’t over. Not by a long shot. And then it will be time to talk to Drew. As their parents, we’re going to have to find the delicate balance between empowering them against evil, and scaring the bejeezes out of them.

And about Clay’s itchy tuckus? Mike asked his teacher if she’d noticed. She had. And she suggested we check for pinworms.

Excuse me, I have to go lie down now.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Yay for Amazon!

Here’s what I love about this online site: guilt free shopping. Clay’s birthday is in six weeks, and I can put toy after toy into my shopping cart for him. I buy nothing. A few days later, when I’ve come to my senses, I can go back and delete, delete, delete… suddenly it’s a much more manageable, and reasonable list.

After all, how many building sets can one boy use??

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Quotable Clay

From Sunday's Washington Post:

We have plans to keep our children safe and prepared. We have fire drills. We have tornado and hurricane drills. We even have a protocol with a "to-go bag," in case of any emergency lockdown. Our Annandale preschool is vigilant. The explanations, with age-appropriate information, reassure and calm the children.

After this latest tornado drill, the all-clear sounded. Everyone did a good job listening and following directions. Mission accomplished. Thumbs up and high-fives all around!

Three-year-old Clay asked one important question. "When it comes, how big will the tomato be?"

by Elizabeth Maguder (Clay's preschool teacher)

How cool is that? Mrs. M said she typed it up a few weeks ago and the paper called her back right away. I guess this was a more appropriate quote for the paper than one of Clay's other gems. In this age of providing our kids with the correct names for our body parts, a girl in Clay's class referenced her vagina. Clay's response? "I live in Virginia too!"

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Why I love my work

This afternoon I was walking up the grand staircase, enjoying the beautiful weather, the sparkling river, and the drifting cherry blossoms. As I approached the stage door, out came an actor costumed in ancient Roman peasant garb. He was smoking a cigarette and talking on a cell phone. From the sublime to the absurd...

These moments don't happen as often as I'd like, but I suppose if they did they wouldn't be as special.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What's Past is Prologue

Clay's favorite toy... remember these?