Monday, January 31, 2011

Visit to the vet

Day 298

Day 23

This morning we got to tour a vet clinic with the playschool group. The kids all seemed pretty into it, checking out some of the vet's instruments and looking at some x-rays and learning about safety around dogs. At the end of the tour they got to play with an adorable 5-week old pit bull puppy who was there from the local animal shelter with his mom and litter mates, waiting until the pups were all old enough for weaning and adoption. Poor Eleri, though, was not impressed with the vet's attempts to engage her by shining the little otoscope light in her direction. I think she must have some lingering bad sentiment toward them as a result of her recent spate of ear infections. The vet was trying to be all friendly and show the kids the cool little light she had, for looking in dogs' and cats' ears, but Eleri just scowled. It was one of those things that was funny and kind of sad at the same time. ;)

(She was, for the record, much more impressed with the stethoscope.)

We all got lunch afterward, then went home. Eleri fell asleep for 10 minutes in the car and then refused to nap for the rest of the day, so it was kind of a trying afternoon.

Here's a funny exchange between the kids from a few days ago that I forgot to mention.

Eleri: Go-go-go!
Soren: What says "guh?" G says "guh!"
Eleri: Go-go-go!

(Maybe you had to be there. But I thought it was hilarious.)

I downloaded a free e-reader app for my iPod last week. With it, I can access the Project Gutenberg database, which contains many thousands of public domain titles, all for free download. I'm currently reading A Christmas Carol. Yes, I know I'm about a month and a half late, but I don't care. I've watched the movie (1951 version) nearly every year since I was about 12 or 13, but I've never gotten around to reading the book. I love that the movie pulled so much of the dialog straight from Dickens's original text, even if the screenwriters took some liberties with the plot details in the name of dramatic enhancement. I'm enjoying myself, at any rate.

This evening I was pleasantly surprised to find the gym a lot less crowded than it's been lately. I was bound and determined to make the most of my exercise time (read: time spent listening to music away from my beloved but aggravating progeny), so I stretched out my first run segment from 5 minutes to 15. Which is more than I've done at one stretch for quite a while. And then I did a round of arm exercises, another 5 minute run, and another round and a half of arm exercises. I am fully depleted and expect to sleep quite well tonight.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Still learning Adobe Premiere

All right, here's last week's video. Just a short one this time, and I obviously still have a lot of work to do as far as figuring out the audio mixer, but it's a good start!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

TH-ings and stuff (And snow! And sushi!)

This post kept getting delayed, then longer, then delayed further. But here it is at last!


Day 292

Day 73

We didn't have any activities planned for Tuesday, but we did have a couple of errands that needed running. Specifically, we needed to restock our yoghurt inventory, to keep up with the recent voracious demand of the two scraelings in residence, and we needed to stop by the Social Security office. See, one of the things about the home birth is that we never had to fill out the SSN application they make you do in the hospital; it was just one of those "whenever you get around to it" things. Ha. Considering we didn't even get around to requesting a copy of Eleri's birth certificate until she was about 8 months old, you can probably extrapolate from there to come to the conclusion that we weren't exactly brimming with anxiety over getting the lass her Social Security number in a timely manner.

However, with tax season fast approaching, this has become a critical item on the To-Do list, since we won't be able to claim her as a dependent if she doesn't exist in the eyes of the government. And since our printer is being a surly teenager again right now, I figured the easiest thing to do would be to pop over to the local Social Security office (all of a mile away from our house, if that) and pick up the application in person.

You wouldn't think a Tuesday afternoon would be a ridiculously busy time at the SSO (I wouldn't anyway), but when we arrived, the line was nearly to the door. There was a security guard posted near the entrance, but there were several signs posted that informed us in no uncertain terms that the guard was there solely for the safety of the Social Security personnel and was NOT - repeat, NOT - able to answer any questions whatsoever. Well, fine, though I'm certain he would have been more than capable to answer the two questions I did have (Are there any SSN applications available out somewhere, or do I have to wait in this line to actually talk to someone? and Is it always this busy, or would there be a better time for me to return with my two small and impatient children?). There were some brochures in a display right near the door, and a counter past the security guard's desk that appeared to maybe have some paperwork available but might have just had more brochures and provided a writing surface. Not wanting to be rude, or to lose my place in line (since 3 more people came in right after we did), I stood in the line for a few minutes, waiting to see if it would move quickly. It didn't. Soren was alternately coughing and whining, and I could quickly see that our choices were boiling down to waiting half an eternity or bailing and trying another day.

I decided to bail, but fortunately thought I would cut ahead through the line and see if by some miracle the applications were available on the counter ahead of us. They were (folded into thirds so they looked like brochures from afar), so we snagged one and beat a hasty retreat. I don't look forward to returning to submit the application, which we will have to do (once I find where I stashed Eleri's birth cert). Maybe I can go one of the days when Soren's at playschool or something.

Since it was another rare day with temperatures in the high 40s, we made our way next to the park, where the kiddos romped and played and had themselves a grand old time. Eleri discovered the little hanging chime/xylophone toy and played with that for the first time. Soren helped me push her in the swing, though he kept coming in too close and getting knocked backward by her. Hehe. It's way fun that they can both play at the park now. I've been able to take Eleri out of the pouch more and more when we go places. It's great.

Yoghurt acquisition followed our park excursion. Seriously, the kids have really been chowing down the yoghurt lately. Tom joked the other day that they must be little spies in training (referring of course to Michael Westen and his unexplained but undeniable love of the stuff). Stocks replenished, we made our way home.


Day 293

Day 18

Wednesday morning was coooold, but we got up and out and did our mall walking. It started snowing a bit in the afternoon, and we were due to get a bunch of snow through the evening and overnight, so Tom got out of work early. Good thing, too. I heard many horror stories, a few days later, about people dealing with hellish commutes home that evening.

Since I don't have much to share about Wednesday, aside from the weather and our morning's activity, I thought I'd mention our recent efforts to slowly start improving Soren's enunciation. He's got a bit of a lisp and consistently pronounces TH as F ("I'm firsty!" "I would like free crackers!"), so Tom & I are trying to get him used to doing the whole TH thing correctly.

I realize that this probably makes us sound like asses, so I'd like to clarify that this isn't a matter of grave concern to us. I mean, come on, the little lisp is cute. We're not making a big deal about it or anything, but the truth is that it'll probably be easier for him to start becoming aware of it now, rather than let it become really ingrained such that he has to have speech therapy in elementary school. (Or maybe he'd grow out of it on his own. What do we know?)

Anyway! We're making it kind of like a game, currently. Overexaggerated TH sounds with tongue sticking halfway out of the mouth, giggles all around, that sort of thing. But within a few days he'd already started saying "thirsty" correctly more often than not (or at least as often as not). Probably because it's become one of his two new catch phrases and so gets practiced many, many times a day (along with "I'm hungry!"...though both are actually code for "I want attention!").

The take-home message from this little story is that little kids learn (and un-learn) remarkably fast.

Oh, I guess there was one more thing for Wednesday. I made it back to the gym for the first time in over a week. Stupid head-cold, keeping me from torturing myself as often as planned. Also, I really do try not to judge, but it's difficult for me to refrain from giving the stink-eye to people hogging up all five (six?) treadmills and only using them to walk at 3.5 miles an hour or slower. I know, I KNOW...people at different levels of fitness (and elderliness) have equal right to use the equipment available, and I'm a little more willing to justify utilization of a gym treadmill for long stretches of walking when it's 34 degrees and slippery outside than I am on a lovely evening in the middle of summer. But seriously. All of the treadmills were occupied by walkers when I arrived (can none of you use one of the many free ellipticals?), and I know for a fact that the dude on the end had long since exceeded the "20 minute maximum when people are waiting." But whatever. I'm sure when I'm old I'll be just as unwilling to yield valuable treadmill time to the whipper-snappers waiting to show off with their fancy jogging.


Day 294

Day 19

Snow day! Well, for some of us. Tom still had to go to work, though he had a two-hour delay. Our two activities for the day, however, relied upon the operation of Fairfax County Park Authority establishments, and those were all closed down. So we hunkered down and did our best to keep cabin fever at bay. The kids, however, were literally running laps in the living room by 10am, so it was a rather long and trying day, in the end. I probably should have bundled the kids up and gone to tromp around in the snow, but with our various sicknesses not quite vanquished, that seemed like a poor idea.

After Eleri went down for her morning nap, Soren and I spent some time playing with the digital cameras. I set him up a Flickr account of his very own, so you can check out some of the pictures he takes. I'll periodically upload the ones I think are interesting.

We all managed to survive the afternoon, and then tasty chicken burritos were consumed for dinner. I don't know if the fancy, organic, free-range chicken I bought actually tasted any better than the "regular" stuff, but it certainly didn't taste worse, and we buy chicken infrequently enough that it shouldn't be a huge addition to our usual grocery bill. And I'll admit it does ease my conscience at least a tiny bit to buy the non-torture meat when possible.


Day 295

Day 20

Friday playschool day! We had to drive to Woodbridge this time, so we left extra early. The roads were mostly clear, though there were a few of the smaller streets that hadn't been recently plowed/salted. There was some excitement when we sort of slid through a stop sign while trying to make a turn and ended up momentarily stuck in a (tiny) snowbank. This all happened at a very slow speed, and yes, I remembered to turn into the skid. Anyway, we managed to arrive at our destination unharmed and on time, so that was quite good. A's mom and I opted to hang out in Woodbridge, rather than deal with traffic and drive back to Alexandria, so we (and Eleri) had a nice time visiting.

By all accounts, a fine time was had by all at playschool (and Soren was, yet again, more sad about having to leave than anything), so it was definitely a successful morning overall. And by the time we were headed home, the worst of the ice had melted, so there were no further slip-sliding incidents.

In the evening, we had Max, Agnes & Alice over for a delicious dinner of sushi. (You can see Eleri above, chewing on our order list.) It was a fine way indeed to round out the week.


Day 296

Day 21

Back to the barn this week! I had another ride on Comet, which was challenging but good. As much as I like all the snow and wintery weather, I'll be quite happy to welcome the warmer mornings of Spring, out at the barn.

Home, lunch, then back out again for a follow-up at the dentist's office. Everything seems to be healing fairly well, though I'm not out of the woods yet as far as the cracked tooth is concerned. Additional monitoring will be required, but the next check's not for a few weeks.

Unrelated to anything else, I totally have to play around with the fish eye lens tomorrow and take pictures like these before all the snow melts.

That's it for now. I'll do my darndest to get this week's video post up tomorrow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Brr-tanic Garden, Take Two

Day 291

Day 16

Our playschool group had a field trip to the Botanic Garden scheduled for today, and as was the case the last time we went, it was quite a chilly day. Like, high 20s-low 30s chilly. It was a good outing, though. The kids were all really into talking about the different plants and exploring their characteristics (size, color, texture). Not the whole time, of course, but for at least a good 45 minutes out of the 2-ish hours we were there. The rest of the time included some frolicking, some blatant refusal to follow directions, and a snack break. But for a small group of 2.5 - 3 year-olds, I'd say it was very successful overall. I think there were only two instances of mistreatment of plants, so that by itself is pretty great.

Soren, no great surprise, was very interested in stopping every few feet to "read" the various placards. By "read" I of course mean identify a few letters before scurrying off to the next placard. Hehe. There were just so many! Not enough time to devote careful attention to each and every one! He's a funny lad.

Poor Eleri puked up half her lunch (a hummus wrap that she had been making her way through quite well), thoroughly soaking through two layers of shirts. I was glad I'd brought a change of clothes for her. One of the playschool kids' older sister asked what I would do if Eleri threw up again, after I'd changed her shirt. (And I was like, "Don't jinx me, kid! Come on!") I suppose I would have figured something out. Fortunately, El managed to keep her food down for the rest of the day.

I only took my small point-and-shoot camera with us today, so the photos I got were not super great. The one I really liked, of Soren and two of his buddies all walking along nicely hand-in-hand, turned out to be horribly out of focus, but I think it looks kind of like a chalk drawing the way I edited it, so I don't mind too much. The one I took of Eleri eating her hummus wrap (OF DOOM!) is a little blown out and bleh, but I haven't really figured out how to fix that in Photoshop. Could be worse.

Anyway, that was pretty much our day. Chores and errands on the agenda for tomorrow. Oh joy!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Day 290

Day 15

Today we had A and his parents over for lunch. We made crab cakes, a couple of salads (potato and garden), and a carrot cake, all gluten free. Everything turned out pretty well! Eleri loved the crab cakes. She gobbled up a bunch of crab and potatoes and hardly spilled any; usually a fair bit of whatever we feed her ends up behind or beside her on the high chair, but not today. It occurred to me after she'd eaten a bunch of the crab that we probably should have been more conservative about how much we fed her, as we don't yet know if she has any shellfish allergies, but fortunately she didn't exhibit any kind of allergic reactions. (Phew.)

The carrot cake was a time consuming endeavor, even with the prep work I'd done before our guests arrived. But by all accounts it was worth it. Everyone seemed quite pleased with the end result.

The boys played and played and played, and a fine time was had by all.

Not a lot else to say about the day. I put together a video, which you can see below. We've got some funny children. :)

January Randomness

Just a little bit of this, that & the other...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Teeth & tidbits

Day 289

Day 14

I spent a fair chunk of the day at the dentist's office, "rehabilitating my smile" as it were. Time will tell if more work will be required, but for now, all seems to be in order.

Since I don't have any Saturday horsing tales to relate, and since I haven't put together this week's video selection(s), I thought I'd share a few little things that have been bouncing around in my head for a while.

There's a tiny handprint at the top of our bathroom mirror. Eleri had been sitting on Tom's shoulders one evening, and at one point she reached over and leaned one hand against the mirror. It's only visible when the lighting conditions are just so, but it makes me smile every time I see it.

It's funny to me how much kids love playing out the same little scripted games over and over and over. I mean, I'm not perplexed by this behavior or surprised by it or anything - heck, I can even remember some of the games I played, years and years ago - but it's still funny. And it's not necessarily that they're acting out something they saw or read. The first time through, it's all original material. But then their little inner director calls, "Cut! Let's run it again!" and they start all over, reciting the same lines they just made up minutes before. This morning, for example, Soren and I were playing out a little scenario in which we were firefighters, asleep in our bunks at the firehouse. We'd wait for the alarm to ring, and then we'd have to hurry to put on our helmets, boots and coats, and then we'd have to drive the firetruck to the fire. Soren would point out the fire, we'd spray it with our hoses, and then it was back in the firetruck. We'd drive back to the firehouse, take off our gear, lie down on our bunks, and start the game all over. He probably would have played, on a loop, quite happily for an hour or more if I hadn't had to start getting myself fed and ready to leave.

I had more, but it's been chased out of my head by these children who refuse to fall asleep. Poor Soren has such a rough time at bedtime if he gets pretty much any sleep during the day, and he dozed off on the couch for a good 20 minutes or so after dinner tonight. So there was much restlessness and getting out of bed and raging against the evil parents trying to make him stay in his room and GO TO SLEEP. And as for Eleri, she melted down rather late in the afternoon and took kind of a long siesta (in addition to her morning nap), so she just wants to play-play-play. Sigh.

Welp, it's 10:35, and they're finally both down for the count (fingers crossed), so I'm going to sign off and get some shut-eye myself. I will do my best to get videos up for you by tomorrow evening. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Oops, I did it again

Hi there. Come on in, let me take your ticket. Go ahead and have a seat in the Way-Way-Back Machine, and we'll start our journey shortly.

Everyone comfortable? Okay, here we go.

It was September of aught-six. I was most of the way through my Master's program, spending two and a half days a week in sunny San Diego, California for lab classes. I had recently taken up jogging...again...when the Fates intervened and cried, "Yea! It is written! Thou shalt jog NO MORE." (Yes, the Fates are like Shakespeare meets The Bible. Just go with it.)


Everyone back? That was fun, wasn't it?

The better part of the day today was...well...significantly better than what would go down in the afternoon. (Pun not intended, but embraced.) We went to the library in the morning for a playschool "big group" meetup. (Post and pictures here.) The kids made sock puppets and played with instruments and had a grand old time. Eleri was right there with the big kids, playing along when she could, hanging out and exploring the room when the big kids were busy with their craft project. The morning actually started out relatively warm, weather-wise. Which was surprising, given the forecast for snow, but not unwelcome. We hung out at the library until about lunchtime.

Day 288 / Day 13

We're having friends over this weekend, making crab cakes from scratch. None of us has ever made them before, but we've got a promising-looking recipe and an adventurous crew, so it should be a lot of fun. After our library time, the kids and I headed to the grocery stores to pick up some ingredients. There's this international supermarket nearby that I've been meaning to check out for a while, and I thought they might have some good, fresh crab meat there, so that was our first stop. It was kind of a crazy place. Very crowded, and they seemed to be in the process of restocking just about everything. There were pallets everywhere stacked high with goods. Over in the seafood section - which was extensive - we perused live crabs and lobsters (no thanks), tanks full of catfish and tilapia and eels, and a bunch of other kinds of fresh fish on ice. Soren saw some fish bodies peeking through the ice piles and asked, "What are those snakes doing?" He also insisted he wanted to "taste just one of those ice cubes," repeating this request several times even though I assured him that no, no, deargodno, that ice was not for eating. At one point we passed what appeared to be the fish heads section - a couple of different varieties of fish heads, stacked in a bin at the end of one of the coolers. I don't remember the first type (cod, maybe? mackerel?) but the other was monkfish. And the heads were HUGE. Easily as big as Eleri's head, if not bigger. Wild.

Anyway, all through the store, we wandered, trying to find crab meat, but between difficulties with reading labels and the general crowded/cluttered atmosphere (never mind the effort required to look like I - Whitey McWhiterson - and my (equally pale) children had not wandered into the store by mistake*), PLUS the fact that Soren was hungry and crabby and growing more and more impatient with every passing moment, I never did manage to find what I was looking for. My choices seemed to be live crab (no), crab legs (still too much work, no thanks), or canned crab "with spices" that somehow included wheat gluten products and would therefore not meet the dietary needs of one of our guests. So we left, regrouped, got lunch, and tried our luck elsewhere.

*I really don't want anyone to take that the wrong way. What I mean is that I felt pretty out of place, but the desire to not look like an idiot is very strong. So I kept trying to walk all casually and confidently, as though I knew exactly what I was doing, knowing all the while that I was totally not pulling it off.

When we got to Trader Joe's, the wind had picked up, and hoo-boy was it an icy one. I was regretting my decision to forgo a sweater when I'd gotten dressed in the morning, even though when we left the house it had been a lot warmer. Anyway, we managed to get what we needed - plus a heap of other groceries for the coming week - and headed home. It was still really cold when we got home. I steeled myself, then hopped out of the car, bundled Eleri into the backpack-carrier, grabbed 3 heavy bags of groceries (and library books), released Soren from his car seat, and started to hustle us all down the sidewalk toward the lobby. I thought it would be easier to just take the elevator instead of the stairs, given the heavy load of groceries and the fact that a certain boy tends to get all whiny and draggy about going up the stairs in the afternoon. So we were hustling, Soren giggling about how silly we were, kind of half-trotting through the cold.

And then, as toddlers do, he tripped over his feet. Stumbling into my path. My momentum didn't have any hope of being slowed by the fact that he kind of stopped once he got in front of me, so we all went a-tumbling down. And since I was carrying those bags, I couldn't really get my hands out in front of me in time to break my fall (despite the fact that it all seemed to happen in slow motion). I did get the heel of one hand down, but it was too little too late, and once again, my face took most of the impact. Specifically, my upper lip and two front teeth.

There was kind of a stunned silence for a couple of beats after we all fell. Then Soren started crying, and Eleri started crying (though thankfully she only had a slight would have been a LOT worse if I'd been carrying her on my front, rather than on my back), and I realized that I'd chipped both my front teeth. And only a few months shy of 20 years after I'd done it the first time! (9 years old, bike accident, Mother's Day)

Soren was okay. He'd skinned up an elbow and a knee just a bit, but nothing was bleeding. Eleri was okay. I didn't even notice the bump on her head until after we'd been back inside our apartment for a while. I was starting to bleed rather a lot from my mouth, but I managed to get us all picked up, shaken off, and herded inside in short order. The real trick was keeping my mouth covered in the elevator so as not to freak out the little old lady riding up with us, and even that wasn't so difficult, since she was easily distracted by Soren, who was making polite conversation.

I'd been saying just yesterday that I really needed to get around to finding myself a dentist here and scheduling an appointment to get my teeth cleaned. I didn't expect to be making an appointment quite so soon, but I suppose the Fates are just funny that way. I'm bummed that I'll be spending tomorrow at the dentist instead of at the barn, but I'm glad none of us was hurt more seriously. And really, if it's a choice between me eating cement and one of the kids doing it, is there really any question about which option I'd choose?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Escape from Apartmentcatraz!

Day 287 / Day 12

We got out into the world...among other humans...this afternoon. Which, okay, we also did briefly yesterday at the park, but this was bigger/better/more. I think a possible caption for the above picture could be "Thank heavens she's let us out of the house! Let us celebrate with spontaneous hugging!"

(Seriously, he just ran up to her, apropos of nothing, in the middle of the class, for a hug. And then ran off again. It was so cute.)

I felt like the 30 minutes of free-play time at Zoom class went by way too fast today. Not that that's any great surprise, but there you have it. Eleri, as I predicted, was bound and determined to make her way into the ball pit. I managed to keep her side tracked well enough with the slides. Oh, how she loves those slides. She doesn't even need support or anything. I just put her close to the edge at the top, and she scoot-scoots along with her feet until she starts sliding, and then dooooown she goes with a huge grin. C'est tres adorbs.

Soren was totally into the music/circle time today, the whole time. Usually he takes a while to warm up to it, but today he was all over it. And Eleri was clapping/stomping along to "If You're Happy And You Know It" just like the big kids.

After class, it was just warm enough to play on the playground for a bit, which Soren did happily while Eleri chilled in the backpack. The surface out there is mulch, and she's still at too much of an "I want to eat it" stage to be trusted. Plus she was super tired, having not yet napped for the day. We were only out there for fifteen minutes or so, but I could feel her starting to rest her head against my back as we were finally making our way to the car. Not 3 minutes after being strapped in her car seat, she was out cold. Tired girlo!

Dinner tonight was tomato soup with spinach and cheezy biscuits. Neither of the kids was super into the soup, so Tom was trying to entice Soren to eat more of his by drinking it directly from the bowl. Soren found this rather intriguing, and so did Eleri. Perhaps even more so. She'd been grumping in her high chair, rubbing her eyes and signing "all done," but once the boys started drinking soup from their bowls she started watching, entranced. When I offered her the opportunity to drink some of her soup from her bowl, she eagerly took it. Oh, the magic of the second child, wanting to do everything the first one gets to do. Hehe.

I've been meaning to mention this for a while, but our kids are so different in some ways, not least of which their sleep habits. When Soren was a babe, and you'd get him to fall asleep in your arms, he had to be transferred to his bed with almost surgical precision, or else he'd wake up crying and you'd have to start all over. Eleri, thankfully, is not nearly so touchy. Tonight, for example, I lost my balance while lowering her into her crib, and I pretty much dropped her on her face. From a height of about two inches, but still. Not a peep. Damn near imperturbable sometimes, that one.

Tonight was also the first time I looked down at her, sleeping sweetly in my arms, her head far enough away from the lamp that her hair appeared slightly darker than usual, and thought, Damn. She really does kind of look a lot like me. I mean, I've seen a resemblance to her in my baby pictures, but this was different. Not just baby-to-baby (let's face it...pretty much every baby looks like Winston Churchill anyway, right?) but Eleri to Me. So that's kind of cool. :)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In which I fail at discipline

Day 286

Day 11

I felt a bit better today. Not better enough to get up and out of the house for playgroup in the morning, but better enough to get a bunch of laundry done and not be a pathetic lump on the floor that the kids could delight in climbing all over. By noon it was shaping up to be a beautiful day, so I started making plans to take the kids to the park after we dropped off some overdue library books. Alas, Soren dawdled his way through lunch, and thereafter, delayed and delayed getting changed out of pjs, such that by the time he finally got dressed, Eleri was ready for a nap. So she napped, and Soren finished eating and watched some Word World, and I did some calculus.

It ended up being one of those epic nap days where El slept for two and a half hours. She finally woke up again, by which time we were starting to lose daylight. I had been asking Soren to put his pants back on (they still frequently get stripped for potty breaks), but he kept insisting that he needed help. Or saying, "Oh, I can't do dat right now." Grr. So I set him a timer. Ten minutes to get your pants and socks on, or else no park. We still had to go out and drop off the library books, but if he couldn't get his act together before the timer went off, that was all we were going to do on our outing. I thought this would be a good motivator, since the boy loves going to the park.

Well, I was of course wrong, and ten minutes came and went with no change to Soren's state of dress besides the donning of one sock. So I said that was that, no park, hauled his clothes on him and hustled us out the door. He was also refusing to put on a sweater, but I figured that was probably fine for a short car trip to the library and back.

But then we got to the library, and when I hopped out of the car it was just insanely nice outside, and then I got back in the car and the weather reporter on NPR was going on and on about how it was going to get really cold again for the rest of the week and through the weekend, and I looked at the setting sun, and I folded. We went to the park.

I know. I know that was the wrong thing to do. But we'd all been cooped up for days, and it would do both the kids some good to run around outside in the fresh air. Besides, Soren didn't have a sweater, so we wouldn't be able to stay that long anyway. And Soren hadn't been whining and pleading about going to the park after I said we weren't, so it's not as though I would be rewarding that behavior as well.

So we went to the park for about 20 minutes and had a lovely time. There wasn't any fighting or whining when it was time to go, and everyone was in a better mood. I know now that my real mistake was making the "no park" threat in the first place. When I made it, I had every intention of following through. I didn't think I cared one way or another whether we went to the park. But I didn't have sufficient data to make that decision until we got outside. I knew it was nice out, but I didn't know it was that nice out. And as we were coming home from the library, I knew a trip to the park would be as much a reward for me as it would be for the kids.

So whatever. I failed this time, but I think it was ultimately the right decision. I'll do better next time.

When we got home and were headed down the hallway to our apartment, Soren and Eleri were walking along hand in hand with huge grins on their faces. And that was just about the most adorable thing I've ever seen in my life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside

Day 284

Day 9

Monday (as you may have gathered from my last post) we were all feeling less than stellar. In the morning, Eleri was tugging at one of her ears and was really grumpy about having to be on her back for a diaper change, so we opted to get her ears checked out. Her symptoms were borderline (no fever), but I figured it was better to take her in while Tom was home from work, rather than having to wrangle both kids by myself the next day if she happened to get worse. As it turned out, we spent an hour in the doctor's office to ultimately be told that her ears were fine, which I can't say would have been my ideal way to spend the afternoon, but I would of course rather have to go in "for nothing" than for her to have yet another ear infection.

So yeah, that was pretty much Monday. Friggin' toddlers spreading their friggin' germs everywhere.

Day 285

Day 10

There was an ice storm overnight, resulting in a pretty impressive coating of frozen awesomeness over everything this morning. I was still feeling crummy, so I canceled our plans for the day and hunkered down with the wee savages.

Eleri's been deliberately dropping things on the ground and then saying, "Uh oh!" It's adorable. She's also been picking up more signs and using the ones she knows a bit more frequently. At lunchtime today, I asked her if she wanted more food or if she was all done. She signed "all done" at me and said, "Oh duh!" Hehehe. She's growing up fast, that one.

Soren helped me with laundry today, and he actually really helped. And he thought it was the most fun ever, putting away Daddy's socks in the sock drawer and Mommy's pajamas in the pajama drawer. He helped me sort the dirty clothes, too, and was very good about listening to directions. Now if only he could apply that good listening to all the other things we ask of him in a given day. ;) But hey, I'll take what I can get. He continues to forge ahead with his word identification, spelling and sounding out stuff at every opportunity. I heard him sounding out words in one of his books for Eleri this afternoon (it's just a book with pictures of animals and their names...most of the time I'm certain that he's guessing from context because he'll do something like spell out "K-I-D" and then sound that out as "g-oat!" but he's getting it right more and more often).

We also had many, many time-outs today. Tom & I both read through 1-2-3 Magic this weekend, and we're going to give that system a try, but the first couple of weeks are supposed to be pretty tough until everyone gets the hang of expectations and such. But I'm hopeful it will ultimately work out well for us, once Soren knows we mean business. And with any luck, Eleri will learn by watching, so we won't have to go through the tough part twice. ;)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Well, it was a good few weeks

Day 283

Day 8

Yick. We're all sick again. At least we were all reasonably healthy for a few weeks there, right around Christmas.

I'm going to go rest some more, but for now, here are some pictures of our silly children.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

We still have some good times

Day 281

Day 6

Friday was Soren's first day back at playschool. By all accounts, it went really well! The kids learned about weather and made little weather wheels and played a game where they had to dress up in clothing appropriate for a hot/rainy/snowy day. There was also music time, where they got to play with instruments and dance around, and they got to practice recognizing their names. I think the smaller format is going to work out really well. Yay!

In the evening, Chris & Sarah were awesome enough to watch the kids while Tom & I went out to dinner. As we headed out to the restaurant, Soren said, "Bye! Thanks for leaving, so I can play with Chris and Sarah!" Eleri didn't seem to be upset by our departure, either. I am so thankful that we don't have clingy kids! We had a very nice time out at dinner and ended up reminiscing about the concerts and comedy shows we went to in L.A. before Soren was born. We didn't get out a ton, but we got out quite a few times and (I think) made pretty good use of the pre-kid entertainment resources at our disposal.

Also, the whole afternoon I'd had a song from Word World stuck in my head. The moment we dropped off the kids, the song vanished from my brain. The moment we returned to pick them up, the song returned as well. Hehe. Sometimes it's nice to just be Susan & Tom again instead of Mommy & Daddy.

Day 282

Day 7

This morning I rode a different horse out at the barn. Comet is a lot like my old horse Mel; very similar in build and temperament. He's also very different from Chaka, so it was a nice challenge trying to figure him out. I wouldn't mind sticking with him for a while, utilizing a different skill set from the one I've been honing with my little pony buddy.

As you can probably tell from today's photos, I did some more playing around with the fish eye lens in the afternoon. There are more photos from the day up on Flickr (as per usual). The fish eye has a fair bit of distortion at the edges when the aperture is wide open, but I actually don't mind so much. It's kind of fun.

Soren's got a bit of a sniffly/coughy thing going on, which I fear may be rapidly passed around to the rest of us. Glad we've got an extra day this weekend to rest up and try to fight off the icks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Return of the Zoom

Day 279

Day 4

Yesterday (Wednesday), we did not have as much snow in the morning as had been predicted. It wasn't much more than a dusting, really. So off we went to walk at the mall. Soren had a good time running and playing with his mall walk buddies after the actual walking was done. One of the little girls had brought a small pad of paper and some crayons, which she was eager to share with everyone. She basically sat there with the paper and a crayon shoved in Eleri's face until Eleri took them and started scribbling. Hehe.

In the afternoon, Eleri napped, Soren watched a couple of episodes of his show, and I figured out the basics of Adobe Premiere, resulting in the videos posted below. And this one:

Day 280

Day 5

Today, we went to eat bagels with more playgroup folks in the morning. Soren calls food establishments "the [blank] house," characterized by the type of food he usually eats from them. Chipotle, for example, is called either "the quesadilla house" or "the burrito house." Most fast food places (McDonald's, Wendy's, etc.) are all "the chicken nugget house," so it's no surprise that this morning's destination was "the bagel house." Both kids behaved pretty nicely and ate well, and Soren was very nice about sharing his fruit salad with his little friend L.

Eleri woke up a bit earlier than usual this morning, so as we were finishing up at the bagel house, she was more than ready for her nap. Fortunately, we still had a good hour and change to wait before the start of Soren's rec center class, so she conked out in the car while we drove over and then slept while we sat in the parking lot. Soren & I listened to music and hung out until it was time to wake up the lass and head inside. Soren's quite jazzed about being in a Zoom Around the Room class again, and even though Eleri is technically too young to be enrolled in the class, she had a great time toddling around after the big kids. She discovered the ball pit as we were getting ready to go (I didn't let her near it while the class was going on, for obvious reasons), and she and one of the other younger siblings (9 months old) were fascinated by it. The other mom and I put the two kids in the pit together while everyone else was getting ready to leave, and they were beyond thrilled. I fully expect next week to spend most of the class trying to keep Eleri away from the pit. Heh.

It's kind of nice having an afternoon rec center class because once it's over, we're well on our way to evening. Only a few more hours until Tom gets home, plus Soren's nicely mellowed from all the running around.

I went through and added the daily photos to last week's posts, so you can scroll down and check those out if you wish. Or mosey over to Flickr and check them out there. And I'll pull today's pictures off the camera tomorrow. Tomorrow will be the first day back to playschool since before Christmas. I'm excited to see - well, hear, since they're not coming over to our place - how it goes with the new format and smaller group. Should be good, I'm hoping!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I think I'm a little bit in love with Adobe Premiere.

First up, here's a long-ish video of the boys playing trains the day after Christmas. Not super exciting, but cute.

Up next, some fun with ponies.

And finally, Sir shows off his early reading skills.

More to come!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Special Delivery

Day 277

Day 2

Whee! The new computer is here!

Of course, we still have to load it all up with software, but it's in the building. The eagle has landed. Elvis has arrived. I am hoping to get Photoshop installed by the weekend (or maybe tomorrow if we're stuck at home due to snow). The computer does seem speedy, so I've got high hopes for fancy video editing in After Effects. At the very least, I'm optimistic it'll be able to run After Effects without crashing. Yippee!

So, in non-computer-related news, yesterday the kids and I went to the doctor for Eleri's 12 month checkup. She's measuring in the 80th-85th percentile across the board (height, weight, head circumference), meeting all her milestones (with the exception of "falling asleep in her own bed without assistance"...ha ha ha...), impressing the heck out of everyone. She did not want to lie down on her back for any reason, I think because she knew that's how they administer the shots, but aside from freaking out the few times she had to do that, she was really well behaved. Soren, too, was quite good. He kept asking if Eleri was going to get inoculations, and if he could have some too. Hehe. He refused to believe me when I said he probably didn't really want inoculations ("I do!"). Silly guy.

The rest of the afternoon, yesterday, was actually pretty good, relative to last week. Soren and I got along pretty well with the bare minimum of arguing and butting of heads. He and I played trains while Eleri napped, and then the kids played together nicely after she woke up. At the gym, after Tom got home, I did three and a half circuits (4 runs, 3 sets of exercises) and felt pretty good afterward. Then after the kids' bedtime, we watched the Oregon-Auburn game, which was annoyingly late to air, given our East Coast position. Who wants to watch a football game from 9pm til past midnight on a friggin Monday? But we did it, and it got really exciting there at the end, even though the Ducks couldn't hold it together for the win. Ah well.

Day 278

Day 3

This morning we went to playgroup at the library for the first time in a long time. There was a coloring activity (making bear masks for an interactive telling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears), and Eleri colored for the first time, holding the crayon like a champ. She made it all the way through two different colors before she got too distracted by trying to eat the crayons. ;) Soren ran laps around the room with his buddies, neighing like a pony (for no reason that I could discern), so he was nicely worn out by the time we left.

We got some snow, off and on over the course of the afternoon. Big fat flakes drifting lazily to the ground. It's finally started sticking out there in the last hour or so, and we're supposed to get more overnight, so we might have a nice little bit of accumulation by morning. We'll see!

Last, but not least, happy birthday, Mom! (And a belated happy birthday to my sis, from last week.)

That's all for now. To all a good night.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Hey kids, what do we got? Not a lot!

Day 276

Day 1

Not a lot to write about for today, at least. Chore day, with a family grocery shopping excursion in the afternoon. I put some more photos from the past couple of days up at Flickr.

That's it for now! More tomorrow.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Birthday girlo!

Day 275

Day 365

We awoke this morning to snow on the ground and more falling from the sky. Enough to make it pretty and festive outside. Not enough to prevent me from driving to the barn for my riding lesson.

Which was awesome. As it turned out, I was the only one in my class to brave the snow and show up, so I lucked into a private lesson. Chaka was a star. After our first canter, N asked me to come to the middle of the ring; I did so, beaming from ear to ear and declared "that was the best canter I've ever had on him ever!" And it was true. He was collected and balanced and, for the first time since I started riding him, not running flat with his head in the air. We then went on to do some lateral exercises, something called "entwickeln," which translates literally from German as "to develop." It's a series of fairly subtle movements that are not super easy but, when performed correctly (or at least approximately correctly), can really enhance a rider's communication with the horse and improve the horse's balance and agility. And then we had some more good canters, alternating between slow, collected, carefully balanced strides and forward, swinging, longer ones. I must have been grinning again because at one point N hollered at me to "stop having so much fun!" (I took a page out of Soren's book and replied with a cheerful "No!")

Anyway, it was a great first ride of the year, and I'm so glad I braved the (tiny bits of) snow to get out there.

In the afternoon, Eleri took a 2 hour nap, after which the boys went to go play at the mall. While Eleri played in the living room, I finally got around to organizing our living room bookshelves. The books were shelved all haphazardly when we unpacked them upon moving in, and they've remained that way ever since. Felt good to finally get them in order (fiction arranged alphabetically by author, nonfiction arranged by subject matter).

And then in the evening it was time to commence the birthday celebrations. Happy first birthday, Eleri! Tom made cinnamon rolls for a birthday dessert, which the lass of honor found very perplexing at first; she's accustomed to her food being presented in tiny, manageable bits, so she was thrown for a loop by the whole cinnamon roll sitting in front of her. She figured it out eventually though and tucked in happily. Afterward, she opened up a few presents and ran around to burn off some of the sugar from her dessert. ;)

It sounds trite, but I really can't believe it's been a year already. Or that Soren is only a few months away from turning three! But here we are, and before I know it I'll be posting about her second birthday, and beyond.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A better day, again

Day 274

Day 364

Today we went to another open gym play time at another rec center. Soren was in awe of the few small two-wheeled bikes (with training wheels) and rode them a couple of times, with assistance. He kept getting kind of confused about which way to push his feet on the pedals, though, and spent much of his riding time hitting the brakes. Eleri gravitated again to the scooters; when I'm wheeling her around, she looks a bit like a baby on a Segway, since she's just standing there, not scooting along with her foot, herself. I'm amused by it.

The day overall was more peaceful. Only a couple of time-outs, lots of good playing together and reading together, and some super awesome sounding out of words by Soren. Better still, I got that last bit on video...which I promise I will upload when our new computer arrives (tracking data says Tuesday!).

Eleri has started bringing me little board books to read to her, just like Soren. She obviously doesn't have much of an attention span yet, but I'm stoked that she at least appears to be interested in books too. She's also started kicking the soccer balls around with Tom and Soren (and a little bit today at the gym, as well).

Oh, another amusing gym story. When we were leaving, we had to walk past the windows that look down on the racquetball courts, one of which was filled with stationary bikes for a spinning class. Soren was captivated both by the people in the spinning class and the couple playing racquetball. The guy leading the spinning class happened to look up and notice Soren and A staring down at them, and he gave a little wave. The boys had to be prompted to wave back - I think somehow they didn't realize that the people behind the glass were "real" or something - but then they were both extra pleased about the interaction. And then Soren was really interested in the racquetballers. He probably would have been content to stand and watch them for a long time, but Eleri was ready for her nap and in no mood to dawdle.

Tomorrow I get to return to the barn for my first riding lesson of the new year. And a certain someone will be celebrating her first birthday. Excitement in store all around, folks.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Love in a time of "No!"

Day 272

Day 362

So, let's see. We left off on Tuesday, with me feeling kind of defeated by the challenges of parenting an increasingly willful toddler, but also appreciating how increasingly clever he is becoming. Remembering the good moments of the day is an important thing; it would be easy otherwise to get bogged down by the frustrations and difficulties.

Wednesday went quite a bit more smoothly for us than Tuesday, not least because we were out of the house from 10am until 4pm. We had a playdate followed immediately by another playdate/lunch/preschool planning meeting. Both kids got to run and romp and play with their friends. I got to spend hours interacting with other adults. It was really a win-win. The day was not without its share of whining and arguments, but on the whole, things were better.

Day 273

Day 363

This morning, we met A and his mom at the Barcroft Gym for their open play time. I had to get after Soren once or twice for being kind of a bully, stealing toys away from littler kids or playing recklessly (there were a lot of small kids there today, just ripe for the squishing if you didn't pay attention to where you were piloting your trike at full speed), but mostly he got to just run free for 90 minutes, liberated from the frequent hectoring he gets from me at home. Must really be a drag having Mom cramp your style all the time, telling you not to climb on things or reminding you to pick up your books so your little sister won't destroy them. Things seem to be more explosive between us these days, with Soren pushing and testing and becoming more and more defiant. A determined "No!" is becoming a more frequent response to requests Tom or I make of him (requests such as, "Put on your shoes, please; it's time to go." or "Please pick up your blocks and put them away in the drawer."). I've been reading The Happiest Toddler on the Block, which seems to have some good ideas for how to obtain better cooperation and basically just reduce tensions overall, but it's never easy to put those sorts of theories into practice without a lot of, well, practice. I'm working at it, but it's not coming very easily to me yet.

Eleri, at the gym, was trying very hard at one point to climb up on a scooter, so I stood her up on it and wheeled her around. She got the BIGGEST kick out of that, which was a little surprising, since she isn't generally much of a daredevil. She was mad when she had to stop and let A have a turn. Hehe. She was quick to get over it and move on to something else, though.

Anyway, I needed to get the apartment tidied up after we got home from the gym, so I kept the boy glued to the couch with three episodes of Word World (instead of his usual allotment of two). He was actually really good about shutting the TV off when his last episode was done and didn't whine or beg for more. Shortly after, we had to go out again to go to the store, and we fought over him having to sit in the shopping cart. I'll admit I didn't handle that battle of wills as well as I should have, but sometimes I simply do not have the patience to let him have his way when my way is more expedient. I can clearly see now, hours later, that I could have compromised with him, but it's tougher to see that in the moment, standing in the parking lot in the cold.

Home again, things were good for a while. Soren and Eleri played pretty well together until Tom got home from work, at which point Eleri - who had only gotten half an hour of sleep in the car - went into overtired meltdown mode. I got her down for a nap, and then Tom left for the gym.

Tensions between Soren and myself escalated again during dinner prep, culminating in a screaming fit over having to be put in time-out because he wouldn't stop kicking the closet doors. Said screaming fit, of fricking course, woke up Eleri. Because the only thing better than one screaming kid is two screaming kids. Sigh.

I do try to avoid pointless battles of will. I try very hard to make a specific point of never saying "No" just because. If it truly doesn't matter whether Soren eats another string cheese before dinner or gleefully shreds a piece of scratch paper, I'm not going to stop him. Lately it seems to be the small but mandatory things that are building up over the course of the day and making him feel like he NEVER gets his way about ANYTHING. I'm sorry, but yes, you must put on pants before we leave the house in 30 degree weather. No, pushing or kicking your sister is not permitted, ever. You begged for a peanut butter sandwich, after you'd already eaten an apple, a banana, and a yoghurt, so I relented and made you one, and no, you may not now walk away after eating one bite. (That last one is treading into the gray area of "necessary or not" but is, I think, part of the larger lesson that actions have consequences. Same goes for changing his mind 4 times about whether he would like to stay on the playground and keep playing or run off and go home.) And I'm certainly not perfect; I do catch myself making requests of him that are ultimately arbitrary. But I do try to remain aware of when I do it and limit those occurrences.

So, we will keep at it. I suspect, if this week is any indication, that things will get worse before they get better. But we'll find our balance eventually. I have to hope so, at any rate, or I'll lose my mind. ;)