Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Daniel has learned a new word this week: hurt.

As in, "You are hurting me when you change my diaper."

So sad. He's had a horrible GI bug since last Friday and with 10-12 poops per day, diaper rash was inevitable. (In this photo he's going commando on the back porch in an attempt to give him some relief, but the hot, humid weather probably wasn't any better than the diaper. Now there's a weather metaphor for you--this Midwest heat wave is like living inside a diaper. Eww!)

Daniel's been on a banana, applesauce, Cheerios and Pedialyte diet and none too happy about it. He keeps asking for milk, but I never thought of that as something on the approved list for a troubled tummy. I kept him home from daycare on Monday, hoping to knock it down by keeping focused on changing him as soon as anything entered the diaper. Tuesday he went back and I thought he was doing a little better, but today when they called from daycare to say he'd had four poops before 10 a.m. and the rash was close to bleeding, I decided he needed medical attention. Advice there: "Feed him through it." I'd never heard this before, but apparently you're only supposed to keep the restricted diet for 24 hours and then give regular foods because the nutrients will fight off the germ. They said to stay away from anything acidic (pineapple, oranges, etc.) but otherwise just give him whatever he'd normally eat.

Well he's much happier at mealtime but still none to pleased with the changing table. We're also supposed to use an anti-fungal due to suspected yeast in the diaper area, and the doctor said, "When it comes to diaper cream, I don't care what you use, but use A LOT. A quarter-inch thick is not too much." Well, slather it on then! So we're hoping for a turn-around before we head out to Chicagoland on Friday. My family is all gathering to celebrate my parents' 40th wedding anniversary (which isn't until August, but this was the only weekend all summer we could all come. Well, all except John. The annual conference for his newspaper association is this weekend in Minneapolis, so I'll be on the road solo with the boys.)

In a happier time before intestinal distress, last week we heard some construction noises in the neighborhood and went for a walk to investigate. A house around the corner was getting a new roof and there were lots of workers and plenty of equipment to admire. I'm not sure why the digger was brought for a roof job, but it was detached from the forklift and just sitting next to the sidewalk, so I let the boys climb in. The workers didn't object. I couldn't get them to look at the same time for a picture though. There were just too many other wonderful things to admire. The high point was the forklift off-loading piles of roofing material from a flatbed trailer and driving up the driveway. The excitement only magnified when the forklift then lifted some of the materials up to the garage roof (workers had shouldered the load up ladders to the main house.)

One of my sister's recent pictures of her new baby reminded me how much I love summer babies in just onesies so when a hot and sweaty Daniel took himself upstairs and stood under the towel hook calling "bath bath" before dinner, I decided he didn't need any pants once he was cool and clean. He looked so cute running around and he won't be a baby much longer so I have to soak it in while I can.

Edward has been much better with his emotions and closer to something we might call "equilibrium." When we drive up to daycare now he says, "When we go in my room I will say, 'Bye Mom!' " Then sometimes he'll ask, "Why did I cry?" recalling those horrible days last week. He did have one meltdown this week when John took him while I stayed home with a sick Daniel. We forgot to send his stuffed dog, which has become quite the security object through this whole stage. So between that and the fact that Daniel and I weren't there, his routine was just busted. Even though he's not having the crying jags, he's still a little sensitive. One of his newest things is asking "what if" questions and while some of them are a bit outlandish, others show a bit of anxiety/insecurity. Last night during a thunderstorm he called from bed to ask if we heard the booms. We talked about how booms and lightning are outside and we are safe and dry in our house. "Well, what if we didn't have a house?" he asked. So we talked about all the people who love us who could help us if something happened to our house.

He's also very keyed up about the possibility of tornadoes. We had a warning on Sunday night so we had to explain the siren to him, but we were not in the path of the most severe storm so we didn't have to take shelter. We tried to explain as much as we could without putting scary ideas in his head. But the next night he said, "A tornado can pick up a house!" I figured he must be getting this from school, and sure enough, today there was a new "book" on display of pictures the kids had drawn of various stages of a tornado (storm clouds, wind blows, funnel, etc.) I'm not sure this is necessary for three-year-olds, but the horse is out of the barn on this one so we just have to try to reassure him that tornadoes hardly ever happen and that the siren tells us if we have to check the weather on TV.

On a lighter note, for Father's Day dessert I made chocolate chip cookie dough brownies, a recipe I'd been alerted to some months ago, but had not had an occasion to try out. They actually were better in theory than execution as the brownie kind of overpowered the chocolate chip cookie, but they were still quite tasty. Anyway, when presented with this treat after dinner, Edward made the funniest wide-eyed, round-mouthed face and exclaimed, "Wooooooo!!!!" and we all just about died laughing. Now he thinks he can get a laugh saying that about any food presented to him.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Last Sunday there was an open house at the newly remodeled fire station on the west side of town. It's hard to tell who was more excited about it--John or Edward. However, Edward almost didn't get to go due to his current behavior pattern, but more on that later. In the end, he and John went (Daniel was still napping) and had a great time. They even brought home an extra hat for Daniel, who was quite pleased, not knowing what he'd missed.

John said Ed wanted to sit in every seat in every truck and wear the seat belt each time. That's a lot of in and out and up and down.

He had to be persuaded to leave his own gear (left over Halloween costume) at home, but he was sure to wear his favorite new (this season) hand-me-down from Arizona: the emergency vehicle t-shirt. As soon as it comes out of the wash, it's what he picks from his drawer. I have a feeling Sean was the same way and that it will not survive to be worn by Daniel!

John says he had to snap this helmet photo quickly because Edward was saying, with exertion, "It's heavy, Dad!"

He was also eager to point out the features of the vehicles, like the spinning light on the front of this truck. I think John was most impressed with the fact that the living area was built with individual sleeping rooms rather than the standard open bunk room. John once spent 24 hours with a shift of Iowa City firefighters to write a story for the newspaper and I think that communal sleeping experience left a permanent scar (though, if I recall correctly there were several calls that night and not much sleeping.) He also went through the full training regimen for the volunteer fire fighters in a neighboring town (again, in the line of newspaper duty.) So I think it's safe to say that this was one of those "for the kids" trips that was not too great a burden on the adult.

Also last weekend, one of John's co-workers dropped off a toy her own boys had outgrown. It's been passed around through several generations in her own family and among friends, so we're not sure how old it is. However, it is proof positive that the best toys are timeless: our boys LOVE it. It's quite heavy (no plastic construction back in the day!) so Ed doesn't go too far on it before he gets tired. Daniel can't reach the pedals so we have to bend over and push it up and down until he gets impatient and climbs off. Luckily he has a short attention span--kind of tough on the back! The sharing is not going as well as this picture would make it seem, but we're working on it--with this and MANY other toys and activities.

Which brings us to the behavior issues. My wise mom says kids have periods of "equilibrium and disequilibrium." Edward is definitely in disequilibrium these days. I have read some similar theories that suggest that growth surges have both physical and emotional components. Basically, Edward is a walking time bomb these days. Everything can be going along just fine but then one thing isn't exactly the way he wants it and it's a total meltdown. He also is testing limits and patience like it's going out of style. We try to correct bad behavior with a simple, "No thank you" or "Please don't do that." We know it's going to escalate when he looks right at us and again repeats whatever we've asked him not to do. Or, even more aggravating, he'll watch/listen as we tell Daniel No, and then go out of his way to do whatever Daniel had been doing to bring on the correction. It's all very frustrating and has led to several knock-down/drag-out battles, including one that almost lost him the fire station tour. Luckily, that one was right before naps so that allowed a cooling off period and calm prevailed.

The emotional drama is not just naughty though. This week, for only the second time in three-and-a-half years, Edward clung to me and refused to let me leave him at daycare. He and five of his classmates had moved up to the next age group classroom on Monday. Several of the kids had a rough morning the first day, but not Ed. He just marched right in like he owned the place. He's spent time in the room before and knows the teachers. But Wednesday and Thursday the main teacher was home sick. On Wednesday, he had a mid-morning meltdown that was calmed with some teacher one-on-one time. But Thursday, when we got there and he realized that his teacher wasn't there again, he grabbed my legs and would not let go. I actually took him with me to an appointment before work because I could see that I would not be able to extricate fast enough to make it on time any other way.

While we were driving to and from the appointment I tried talking about all the things he likes at school, asking him about his buddies and trying to get him to talk about all the fun things they do. I emphasized that kids go to school and moms and dads go to work. He said he wanted to come to work with me.
"Edward," I said. "I don't have any toys or books or colors at my office. I don't have a playground like you have at school."
"But I could just stand there and watch you," he said. Yeah, for how many seconds?
"But Edward, why would you want to do that instead of playing with your buddies.?"
"Because I like you Mommy."

Oh, a direct hit to the heart.

I took him back to school and he was fine until we got to his classroom. He again grabbed on to me and would not let go. I tried to talk to him calmly and let him know I loved him and that I knew he was going to have fun with all his buddies. But finally I just had to pry his arms from around my neck and hand him to a teacher screaming. If you think I made it out of there without tears of my own, you have a stone heart. But within about half an hour, two different staff members called me at work to let me know he was doing better. He was still tentative and one of them, the school cook, told me he kept asking her when lunch would be (this is at about 9:30 a.m.) He knows I pick him up after lunch so he was clearly marking time.

Friday was better. The teacher was back and he had a pine cone and a rock to show off. I am hoping we don't have to start all over this week. I guess all we can do is continue to teach self control but also offer plenty of praise for good behavior. Hugs are the order of the day whenever possible.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Our plans to meet Grandma and Grandpa at the children's area of the arts fest downtown this morning were scuttled when we woke up to grey skies and an ominous green and yellow blob on the radar stretching all the way to Des Moines. Rain, rain, go away! So we shifted gears and instead dropped the boys at Grandma and Grandpa's to play for the morning, have lunch and take naps. Hello, rain, my new best friend!!

Well, I think it worked out well for all of us. Reports are that fun was had in Coralville--enough to lead to three hour naps for the boys (and possibly Grandpa, though this is not officially documented.)

In our "free" time, John and I treated ourselves to lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant, but also tacked on some chores, including cleaning and organizing the garage (John) and cleaning/organizing our office (me.) Surprisingly, the jobs took about the same amount of time, but John's was decidedly dirtier. We now have a tidy garage with better access to the various child-size vehicles (which do not impede the adult-size vehicle for which the space is intended), and we also discovered that the top of our desk is in fact a nice clean cream color. Who knew?

By the time Grandma and Grandpa brought the boys home, the sun had come out and a brisk breeze had dried the grass so that John was just getting done mowing. We had pizza on the porch, topped off with fruit punch popsicles for the under-4 set. A fun-filled day all around.

Edward and Daniel both love to play in this dirt--I don't think this is the first picture like this to make its way to the blog. Daniel also likes to try to eat the dirt, which we discourage, but don't always prevent. Tonight he had dirt all over his face, perhaps aided in adhesion by the popsicle juice that might not have all been wiped after his meal. Ed heard us talking about a bath and called out mid-shovel, "Is it bath night?" When I responded in the affirmative, he tried to protest, "No, we had baths last night!" "Yes," I said, "but you're PLAYING IN DIRT!" He considered for a moment, then calmly stepped over the garden edging back into the lawn and began running around, as if a new activity would erase the effects of the previous one.

A note about Edward's attire: he wanted to wear his train shirt, and, once dressed, decided that he was a train worker so he needed boots and his hat. This apparently is also appropriate gardening gear.

Daniel has been expanding his vocabulary with words and short phrases. He repeats anything he hears and some of those sounds eventually are cemented as words in that ever-developing brain. He has started identifying "Bus!" when we're in the car, and a particularly amusing one is "stuck" when he gets himself wedged somewhere or is in the toy bin but can't climb out. But this week's real treat is "I love you!" He started saying it back to me one night as I was putting him to bed. Do you have any idea how heart-melting it is to hear a little echo in the dark room pluck out his pacifier to respond, "I ya yoo"? Wow!

Edward also worked on some vocabulary-by-imitation this week, but his was in Spanish. We were playing at a the park when a Hispanic family came to play. Three little boys were running and playing and calling out to each other in Spanish. Edward actually recognized it and asked, "Are they speaking Spanish?" Just then the oldest boy called out to his brothers, "Vamos!" and I said, "Yes, that's Spanish. He said 'vamos!' That means 'let's go!' " He considered that for a bit and repeated it to the amusement of the older boy (who was proabably about five or six.) A few minutes later the boy was calling out to find his brother who was hidden in a tunnel. The younger boy popped up and shouted, "Aqui estoy!" several times and Edward started trying to mimic. I explained: "Aqui estoy" is "Here I am!" We've been practicing these for a few days now and it seems like he's interested. They're also learning Spanish words for colors right now at school, and he made sure to show me on the wall when I picked him up this week, "Look, Mom. 'Rosado' is 'pink!'"