Friday, July 25, 2008

This week we made our first family visit to the Johnson County Fair. John thought I was a little nuts in suggesting an early-evening outing. "What's there to do?" he wondered. I wasn't sure myself, never having been, but I thought Ed would like the animals and tractors. It's one of the few local county fairs that doesn't charge admission, so the only thing to lose was the 10 minutes of driving time. Not a big risk.

It turned out to be surprisingly enjoyable--especially because Ed was too young to demand much in the way of anything that cost money (rides, food, games, etc.) He would have spent the whole time climbing on the tractors if we hadn't steered him toward other sights. But the biggest impression came in the first animal barn we visited. If you ask Edward about the fair, he will tell you: "I saw cows pooping!"

Indeed, we did, up close. This is no zoo-like set-up. There is a narrow walkway through the barn with cows on either side, some penned, some tied. John said he probably could have stood in the middle of the walk and reached out to touch a cow on either side. While we were looking at a few who happened to be facing away from us, nature called. Ed was in awe. He could not stop talking about it and when we left the barn, demanded to be taken back to see more cows pooping. The pigs in the next barn were OK, but no poop, so no real interest. Blog readers will be relieved to know that the cow pictures came out too dark so only pigs here. He also saw a sheep "getting a haircut" but I think he was still confused about why the sheep didn't look like the fluffy white creatures in his picture books. There were only two rides that were age-appropriate for Edward so he rode one and then we told him the other one was resting, since it was basically the same thing but a ladybug instead of a boat. He selected his own seat and chose to ride backward so as to man the artillery.

The above tractor was too big for climbing, but there was another area with smaller ones and "tractor lawnmowers" that he enjoyed. Then two of the three Kenyon men enjoyed a climb on the fire truck from a smaller town south of here. Ed got a badge. John tried to conceal his envy.
Daniel enjoyed the fair from the stroller vantage point, and actually fell asleep toward the end of our visit. Next year he'll be on the run, I'm sure.

And speaking of Daniel, he had his official six-month check-up yesterday (as opposed to the doctor visit on his actual six-month birthday, which was for pink eye.) His doctor once again extolled the virtues of "squishy" babies and was very impressed to see him sitting up unassisted. He weighs 21 pounds (90th percentile) and is 28 inches long (84th percentile.) His head circumference is catching up, but still only 65th percentile, what a slacker.

A new car seat has been ordered for Edward so that he can hand his down to Daniel, who only has one more pound to go before outgrowing his current seat. The safety rule is that babies must ride facing the rear until they are 20 pounds AND one year old. Congratulations to Daniel for achieving the weight milestone six months early! Why doesn't Daniel get the new seat? Because seats that can face both forward and backward are more expensive. Ed's current seat can be used in both positions, so we'll now turn it around for Daniel and get Ed a seat that he can use from now until he can just ride with a regular seat belt.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I forgot to include this in my earlier post. This morning at mass, when the priest lifted the host at the consecration, Edward pointed and called out, "Look, a tortilla!" (We'd had tacos recently.) For non-Catholics, the host that is elevated is larger than those given to each person--this one is, in fact, the size of a taco or fajita tortilla.

Also, one morning on the way to daycare when the endless "Why, why why?" became too much, I finally said, "Well, honey, I just don't know." Edward replied, "Don't call me 'honey.' I'm Edward." Later, at school, someone apparently said, "See you later, alligator," and he replied, "Not alligator! I'm Edward Kenyon!"
Yesterday there was a car show outside Kinnick Stadium with proceeds benefiting the UI Children's Hospital. I had read about it earlier in the week and noted the promise of "Herky"--the University of Iowa mascot. Ed learned the words to the Iowa Fight Song at school and in a book we have and is a big Herky fan so we thought he'd enjoy it. But first, we had to wait two and a half hours for him to pee. The event started at 8 a.m. and since it was supposed to be a hot day I thought we could go early. We were not forcing the pee issue, just waiting for it to happen so we'd know we had an empty tank before leaving the house--no need to set him up for failure by taking him out away from the opportunity to use the potty. We kept reminding and checking all morning, offering incentives and sitting with him for several attempts. Finally at about 10:45 the offer of an m&m did the trick. I had been trying to avoid food rewards/incentives/bribes (whatever you want to call them) but since he's satisfied with a single piece, it seems rather harmless.

We basically ignored all the cars in search of Herky. At first we worried that we might not be able to deliver on the promise. There was a guy making balloon animals and Ed got a monkey which seemed to distract him. He also "won" the beanbag toss (merely tossing was enough, regardless of whether it hit the target) and got to choose some Hot Wheels cars as a prize. So he was quite content. And then we saw Herky--very exciting, but a bit terrifying also. In the background of the photo you can see "Perky" Herky's more child-friendly younger sibling who is the mascot of the Children's Hospital.

The event was in the plaza and parkign lot outside the stadium, but part of it was open so you could go in and see the field. This is as close as Ed will get anytime soon--can't imagine taking him into the insanity that is a football Saturday, especially given that he'd have to have his own $50 ticket and has about a five minute attention span. Not compatible with a 3+ hour sporting event!

Apparently my last post was perceived as a bit harsh in my observations of my younger son's nocturnal habits. There is no need to call in the DCFS. I am resigning myself to the fact that he simply is not as good a sleeper as Edward was. However, last night he actually found his own pacifier and plugged himself just before I reached the crib at about 2 a.m. That kept him happy until almost 4 when he demanded more food. It's hard to believe he actually needs it (he's now wearing mostly 12-month size clothes!) but it's the quickest path back to bed--nurse him and put him down and we're all sleeping again in about 10 minutes. My other thought this week was that perhaps the green beans, which were introduced on Monday, were making him gassy. He didn't have any sort of allergic reaction, but perhaps gastro-intestinally things were not right in his world. Tonight we move on to sweet potatoes. Perhaps we'll all sleep soundly.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Can't believe it's been a week since the last post! We're sort of coasting through the days, exhausted by the task of keeping up with Edward's bladder and Daniel's night terrors--or whatever it is that is causing him to wake screaming uncontrollably three or four times a night. I should leave this photo up on the computer screen at night so I can remind myself of his angelic side during these torturous episodes!

Sunday was a particular low light on the parenthood path. Edward was a holy terror all morning, refusing to do anything we suggested or required--even things he normally would be eager to do. It was like he was saying No just for the sake of being contrary. Bad bad morning. Luckily, he reliably takes a 2-3 hour nap after lunch. We all needed that time to regroup so we could start fresh mid-afternoon. Things went much better after that.

We had to renew our sales agreement with our realtor this week--it's been a full three months on the market and no action. We dropped the price again when we renewed--now we're about $9K less than when we started last summer and about $5K less than when we re-started in the spring. We're still in no danger of losing money on the sale. We purchased six years ago, before things really started escalating, and also, Iowa City has not seen the same ridiculous real estate inflation as other parts of the country. As we're lowering, so are the people whose house we made an offer on last summer, who still have yet to sell it a full year later. We are thanking our lucky stars that we are not in a pressure situation to sell and move! Our realtor says the new price has drawn interest of two people who looked previously but couldn't afford it, so we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile, I want to scream every time one of the boys wakes the other up in our current living-and-sleeping-space-adjacent layout!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Daniel is six months old today. His gift from daycare? Pink eye. Again. The fourth time in the three months he's been going there. Am I getting ticked? To say the least. But it's hard to place blame. None of the other kids in his class are getting it. So either he is super-sensitive and susceptible to it or he's not getting it there. Edward's class doesn't have it either, but apparently it's been going around pretty constantly in the pre-school room (ages 4-5.)

When he's not fighting infection, Daniel is a very happy baby. He's close to sitting on his own and is definitely on the move with rolling. (He's not anywhere near standing or pulling up--we just thought these shorts were so cute and John decided this was the best way to show them off.) He stretches and reaches for toys on his blanket when he's playing. He also is figuring out how to replace his own pacifier after he drops it. Sometimes he gets frustrated though, and when I check on him I find that he's jamming the wrong end into his mouth. This week he also had some new food--peas. Grandma gave him his first serving on Sunday and he wasn't too sure about it. But as the week has progressed it seemed to grow on him and now he flaps his arms and opens his mouth for more.

Lately, Edward has taken to playing with the various vacuum attachments--interesting, considering the vacuum itself is an object of fear, but only when engaged in its actual purpose. The flexible hose is good for putting out pretend fires. These more solid pieces are interesting to fit together and pull apart. They also have been fashioned into a trimmer and a lawn mower (the latter with the addition of a cardboard box.) This little game was only played on Sunday, but it was minutes of fun, before the abrupt end, which you'll hear as the video closes:

Later in the day (Edward in new clothes) he was entertaining Daniel, which we thought was hilarious. This video is actually a bit toned down because we were laughing too hard at first to get the camera. By the time I started filming, they were running out of energy:

Another fun new discovery for Edward is that he can take all of Daniel's toys out of the cabinet where we keep them and then climb in himself. At first he wasn't sure he liked it when the door closed (not latched, just enough to block the light) but now he pulls it closed and proclaims, "It's dark!" I am hoping he doesn't decide this is a nice private spot for taking care of personal business. Yesterday was a major triumph--same clothes from the time he got dressed until bedtime! No accidents means Mom actually had a laundry-free day--woo hoo!

As you can see, this is currently a "pants optional" household for those under 3. Sometimes he wants them sometimes he doesn't. He wears them to daycare and sometimes asks for them before going outside, but over the weekend he took several spins around the block on his bike with no shorts. Oh, to be so utterly un-self-conscious!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

We took Daniel for his six-month photos on Thursday--about a week early, but our two-year "smilesaver" membership at Sears was expiring that day, so we wanted to squeeze one last bit of value out of it. We weren't sure how it would work with both boys, but they cooperated and we got some nice shots.

Daniel isn't quite able to sit up on his own, so there was some propping involved. He's getting close though. He'll sit for a short time and then either lean forward folding himself in half, or tip to the side. He's also much more adept in the rolling department these days. He can easily go back to front or front to back and has somewhat figured out how to combine these to move away from wherever he has been set down.

We decided to use the long weekend at home to try having Edward wear underwear during the day. He has tried using the potty both at school and home and had some minor successes. I thought including the wet sensation would help him take that next step toward understanding the process. He had some early successes on Friday, but then we had some friends over for a picnic in the late afternoon and I think it was all too much. Now today he seems only to be remember the afternoon accidents, despite the stickers celebrating his first achievements. He wasn't too into it this morning. I have no illusions that this will be a short or easy process. It seems to be as much a psychological task as a physical one. I just want to ensure that we're encouraging him without forcing him against his will. We know he has a strong will and I don't want him to turn it against us in this endeavor! I also don't want to be one of those parents who talks (blogs) about her kid's pee constantly, so I'll leave it at that.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

We think Daniel has conquered his latest infections. He finished his medicine on Sunday and has been sleeping better--longer stretches overnight (twice all the way through!) and solid afternoon naps in his crib. This is all good news...for everything except blogging. Since his crib is in our office, it's hard to find time to use the computer. Right now he's sleeping right next to me.

Over the weekend, he was a bit fussy about his afternoon naps, but John found the solution. Not too tough an assignment for a Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday morning, John took Edward for a series of errands, including getting a haircut. The woman who tackled his unruly locks (OK, that's an exaggeration, but it was getting long) was very impressed with his cooperation and gave him this crocodile squirt gun as a reward. He was a bit unclear on the concept. You have to put the croc in the bucket and pull back on the plunger to fill the tube with water. Then push the plunger to squirt--it goes really far! He sort of picked up on it after a few assists, but this may be a summer-long learning curve.

We think our camera may be on its last legs. The auto-adjust for the lighting didn't work with these shots. Sometimes when we turn it on the screen is wavering and some of our videos include this malfunction. (Videos will have to wait for another post--no way to edit in the same room with a sleeping baby. Clacking keyboard is one thing, but personal sound effects are another story.)

We've recently had an uptick in house showings, which is reassuring. We'd really tapered off, but in the last two weeks we've had five showings. Now if only someone would decide it's just right. There's a lot of real estate action going on in town though as people displaced by the floods figure out their next moves. Those who have the means are buying new places on higher ground. Some are renting and others are making due with temporary quarters. There is talk of buyouts in the hardest hit areas, but that takes a long time. It's hard to imagine having everything just wiped out like that and no real idea of how long it will be before you can expect to return to something resembling "normal."

Many campus buildings are still closed for clean up. Some will remain so into the fall semester. Long after the Midwest floods have left the headlines around the country, this will remain our top story.