Sunday, March 29, 2009

After a brief taste of spring, we dipped back into some chilly, wet weather over the last week, including snow on Saturday. Not too much though, and luckily, at this time of year, it doesn't linger. I think it's not truly spring until you've seen snow on the crocuses!

(Note: Edward's shiner came when his momentum carried him into the couch after flopping backward on this floor rocker, which put a damper on a favorite game.)

To combat the cabin fever, I pulled out a few items that had been spirited away amid the Christmas hubbub for just such an occasion. With Christmas and both birthdays in one two-week mid-winter stretch, it can all be a bit overwhelming. I've done this every year and Edward never notices the missing items, but is thrilled with their unexpected reappearance.

Edward now has the "ramp" pieces that go with his Cars (the movie) vehicles. He's had the vehicles out for a few weeks already but John reminded me that there was more to the set. These can be taken apart and put together in several configurations. I think he will quickly learn to manipulate the pieces on his own because asking me for help also draws Daniel's attention and then Daniel absconds with one or more of the pieces. He generally brings them back or drops them within only a few minutes because he truly has no use for them, but it's still very frustrating for Edward.

Daniel got some cars that you can pull back and release to scoot across the floor. He crawls all over pushing and pulling them, only occasionally letting go. Then he chases the car/truck/taxi across the room with gleeful giggles.

Inside or out, Daniel is all about the climbing. He loves the park, but even lacking any playground equipment with stairs to climb, he finds any waist-high surface and works to hoist himself up. Outside in the yard, he climbs up the low retaining wall next to our patio (all part of last fall's basement waterproofing excavation project.) Then he trot through the as-yet-unplanted garden area, steps carefully over the garden edging and runs back down the grass to the patio to start over. I do mean "down"--the project created a gentle slope to direct water away from the house. Daniel is not all that agile with uneven surfaces so often ends up propelling himself faster than his legs can keep up and tumbles down into the grass. No worries though--he just picks himself right up and keeps trotting.

Here's the indoor version of this game:

This video also brings up a curious point about Edward's linguistic tendencies. Namely, where did an Iowa-born kid with two Midwestern parents pick up a southern twang? You can hear him asking "where's my bay-at?" (baseball bat) over and over. He also does this sometimes with "day-ad" (dad) and a few other words. He can say them all normally (note, my definition of "normal" is "the way I say it") but every once in a while he reverts to the twang. He did have a teacher with a pretty strong Southern accent from about 18-months to 2-years, but she has since left the daycare and he hasn't seen her in more than a year. I'm trying to figure out if there's a pattern--like all words with that short 'a' sound or, perhaps, primarily when he's feeling whiny/needy. We'll see.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

With apologies to Daniel's fan club, this is an all-Edward post. What can I say? He's had a noteworthy couple of days. The first came on St. Joseph's Day (that's March 18 to most of us). Edward decided on a whim (as if he decides anything on something other than that) to play firefighter. He put on his Halloween costume and headed into the living room to get on his firetruck (the couch). But he decided to do something different and narrates a completely contradictory set of actions. For those who watch until the end, the outstretched hand and the noise that approximates the sound of a tire loosing air is him using a firehose to put out a fire. The rest of the video is a game he created where I toss him onto a chair covered by a blanket, thus covering him as he sinks into it. Trust me, this is hilarious.

Today he went to a birthday party at the Iowa City GymNest, a place that offers gymnastics lessons and training, and, we learned today, great birthday parties. It's essentially a giant padded room filled with things for kids to jump onto and off of. Ed and the rest of his buddies spent an hour running, jumping, playing and laughing, and then ended with cake and ice cream. Not a bad way to spend 90 minutes if you're 3.

Most of my photos and video from it are centered around the place Edward spent the most time: A pit full of six-inch cubes of firm foam rubber that the kids jumped into. Ed first jumped off the side, then off a pad about two feet high and finally from a platform about six feet above the pit. Each time he squealed with delight and headed for the side for more. He had an absolute ball, and so did I.

At one point he grabbed a block from the pit and held it up to me: "I found a berry!" he said. It took me a moment, but I believe he was reliving a moment from Jamberry, a favorite book, where the bear and the boy are covered with berries (the page below isn't the right one, but it's the closest I could find online.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day! And what a glorious day it was--mid-70s and sunny. It surely is the warmest St. Patrick's Day in my life. Where were these warm breezes when we were seated along the Chicago parade route basking in the glory of the 1980s?

Anyway, we had a fun day. Our early morning photo shoot was a bit frenetic as I tried to capture the festive t-shirts before whatever might befall them at daycare. (They actually made it through relatively unscathed.) During naptime I pulled out the grill and wiped down the patio table for our "Irish picnic" dinner--first grilled burgers of the season! I also converted our stroller to give Ed the option to sit or stand--one of the features that led to its selection last year. He still wanted to sit, but was more willing to walk along for a bit knowing he could get in and out easily. We took it for a spin up to the park for a little while and enjoyed lots of climbing and sliding. Daniel accidentally tackled a little girl--first time he's made a girl (other than his mom) cry. She definitely wasn't hurt, and her dad said she was "sensitive," but I still felt bad. He just lost his balance near her and ended up falling on her. I had him blow her a kiss while her dad held her for a few minutes and she seemed to recover, though she would not go near him again.

We blocked off the porch door with a sturdy patio chair so the kids would not be tempted to leave the porch while the coals were heating on the grill. (Mom: no worries, I was right there the whole time; the chair was just the visual reminder that we were staying in.) This basketball shot shows (I think) the full glory of Ed's outfit, including shamrock sweats recovered from the "archives" at my parents' house over the weekend. The elastic isn't quite as stretchy as it might have been once, but the drawstring keeps them up. He was very impressed with himself, though he did decide to change to shorts once John got home.

While I was getting dinner together, playtime apparently devolved to belly rubbing. Guess you gotta go with your strengths when it comes to sporting endeavors.

Dinner was great, though Daniel was more into the bun (and chips) than the hamburger. Ed still calls them "han-ga-burgers" and devoured his along with tons of carrots. Guess all the fresh air makes them hungry. Tired, too, if these photos are any indication. All in all, a great day. Looking forward to many more as the weather stays nicer. 50s forecast the rest of the week--not exactly tropical, but definitely no longer winter. A note at daycare telling parents to take all winter gear (snow pants, extra hats/mittens, etc.) home truly signals the onset of spring.

As mentioned, we spent the weekend with my parents and had fun with them as well as visiting aunts, uncle and cousins. Saturday morning we went for a ride on the "el" because Edward has been saying for weeks that he wanted to ride on a train. He frequently asks if we can go to the dry cleaner on the way home from daycare because that route involves three separate train crossings. I used to dread the lowering of the gates and the flashing lights, but now I'm actually driving out of my way to try to find them. Anyway, he was definitely interested in the train experience, but didn't gush with excitement. I think it was a lot to take in. We only rode five stops north and then got off and waited on the other side of the platform for the southbound return. The park at the end might have been a highlight. We'd never seen a spinner quite like this one, but Ed got a kick out of it. His cousin Katherine wasn't too sure. Nora almost got blackmail video of John trying it out, but he saw the camera too soon. For more weekend photos, check out my sister's blog.

We've hit the highlights; now for the lowlight. While we were there I came down with strep throat. AGAIN! Ugh! This was Saturday night and not severe enough for an ER trip, so my dad made me some tea and I found some (unexpired) Tylenol and went to bed. Daniel was also suffering with an ear infection that had been diagnosed on Thursday. Since he wasn't running a fever they recommended just treating the pain with topical anesthetic ear drops, but gave us an antibiotic prescription in case that didn't do the trick. Sunday morning, after two nights of multiple scream-fests, we sent PopPop to Walgreens to fill the prescription. Sunday night he slept like a baby...which, of course, he is. Wish we'd just filled it right away, but I do understand that not everything needs to be treated this way.

I went to the doctor Monday morning and once again the "15-minute" rapid strep test was showing positive in less than five minutes. Amoxicilin this time and things are improving. I like that it's only a twice a day med. This bout definitely was not as bad as the last, but I have no need to keep repeating this pattern just to prove I can survive it.

This week is the university's spring break, which does not mean staff holiday, but which does mean a week off from my class. It reminds me of what I like about NOT being in school. I kind of feel like it's over since I'm not thinking about homework or planning my week around the Thursday night away from home. However, we still have four weeks to go. I'll survive--statistics is boring, but at least it's formulaic.

Monday, March 09, 2009

We had a couple of warm days last week and enjoyed some time in the back yard. It was still a little muddy in spots, but for the most part, a great space for running, jumping, throwing balls, finding sticks, and a host of other wonders. You can see this tends to make a boy thirsty. The mud will certainly be with us for a while after about two inches of rain over the weekend left our yard looking like a lake in spots. More rain tonight. We didn't have as much snow this year, but people are still on edge worrying about flooding.

Daniel was doing pretty well with keeping the hat on. He tried pulling it off a couple of times, but was easily distracted into forgetting he was wearing it. We also made sure he saw that Ed was wearing his. It reminds me of teaching Ed to keep his hat on in his first summer "on the go" and it eventually became habit. It's a necessary fashion accessory for the thin of hair.

Inside, anything and everything can be made into a hat. For a few months now, since we took him to see a local country/folk/family band at a fundraiser, Ed has used the blue hat Daniel is wearing above as his "Mike Finders hat." (Mike was wearing a cowboy hat with a dangling chin string during the performance, so I guess this hat's strap is an acceptable substitute for Edward.) The first time I saw him take the arm cover for our couch and put it on his head I nearly fell over laughing. My sisters (and maybe my brother, but not sure he'll own up to it) used to do this all the time. We girls pretended it was long hair, since we were never allowed to keep our hair long. Sometimes they were veils, as we saw on the nuns in our elementary school. Ed hasn't specified any particular function, but still finds it all amusing.

You may recall Edward's snowplow preference. His latest distinction is based on the type of lights atop our local police cars. He noticed that some have "square" lights and some have "rectangle" and has registered a clear preference for square. In case you didn't know that there actually were different kinds of lights, I will attempt to describe. The "square" lights look like a series of individual lights in a row, or maybe a slight 'v' shape on top of the car. The "rectangle" lights are all in one bar across the top. Apparently this just ruins the aesthetic.

Yesterday in the 45 minutes between the end of dinner and bath time, Daniel stumbled or tumbled about six times. He's either in a growth spurt or has some sort of inner-ear imbalance thing going on. Some of these incidents are clearly a case of his overestimating his own physical prowess, such as when he stood on the step between the dining room and library and thought he could bend over from the waist and pick something up from the lower step. That resulted in a head-over-heels tumble down the two steps. Other times, he's just walking and either falls or crashes into something. Maybe it's a depth-perception thing...Hmmm. I guess we'll just watch and see. Maybe he'll get more coordinated with time. Lucky for him, most of his spills are easy to bounce back from. It's the rare one (like the steps) that result in lengthy consolation.

He's actually mastered the steps (with the rare exception noted above) so that we don't have to chase him down and body block when he's headed toward them. We still go with, but he now dutifully turns himself around (sometimes several feet before the edge of the step) and scoots down on his belly. This means we can keep the door open between the dining room and library for access to a full "loop." We do a lot of walking in circles now.

Daniel also has been "singing" a version of "Row, row, row your boat" to our endless amusement. Edward taught us all a new verse that is "Row, row, row your boat underneath the stream. Ha ha, fooled you! I'm a submarine!" If we start with "row row row" Daniel will chime in with "Ha ha ha" and then continue on his own "row row; ha ha ha!" and then clap for himself.

Oh, and a note for posterity: Daniel has given up his bottles. He had been down to just one a day, before bed, and drinking the rest of the time from sippy cups. After about a week of nightly soaking due to over-capacity overnight diapers, we decided that we had to cut this pre-bed liquid. He actually did fine with the transition (about two weeks ago)--a little crying and some extra snuggles on the first two nights, but now he has a paci while we read some stories and then goes to bed with little fuss. Yet another passageway from "baby" to "toddler." Now, what do I do with all the bottles?

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I knew we were short on photos this week so we took the camera to Grandma and Grandpa's on Saturday night hoping for a few choice moments. We were not disappointed. You, however, will be, as we left the camera there and opted not to make a special trip for its retrieval since we'll be back again on Tuesday.

So I'll take this opportunity to share two old photos, joined together to illustrate our continuing journey with the March of Dimes.

Many of you know that we have been involved with the March of Dimes since Will's death. Each spring we join the March for Babies, a nationwide fundraiser for the organization's work to give all babies a healthy start to life. We have been so grateful for the support of so many family and friends along this journey. We have always been deliberate in our requests for whatever support you can offer--whether physical (walking with us), moral (cheering us as we prep for and complete the walk) or financial (direct contributions to the March of Dimes in the name of Team Kenyon.) This year we're putting special emphasis on the physical.

In 2009 we will celebrate 40 years since John's birth, three weeks early at a tiny four pounds on December 5, 1969; 2009 will also mark five years since Will was born, October 26, 2004, fifteen and a half weeks early.

In honor of these two milestones, we are hoping to have 40 members of Team Kenyon, walking 5 miles in the March for Babies.

We've never had more than about 15, so we are aware that this is an ambitious goal. However, we don't think we'd have trouble getting 40 people to come out for a party, and since John would sooner divorce me than let me throw a birthday party, we thought this might be the best alternative.

We'll walk in Iowa City on Saturday, April 18, starting in City Park at 8:30 a.m. We'd love to have as many as possible join us here, but there are walks all over the country so there's no need to travel.

Click here to join Team Kenyon and then click on "walk with me" just under the photo. There's also a "sponsor my walk" link there or on John's page.

Hope to see you there. Who knows...maybe this will be the year we finally plan ahead enough to get our own team t-shirts!