Reese had his first dentist appointment recently and it was somewhat less than a rousing success. (March 16th status update: "4 y/o dentist appointment FAIL. Can somebody
else be his mother today?") Griff had a cleaning scheduled for today and both because I lacked child care and because I hoped seeing their big brother having his teeth cleaned would acclimate R & X to the experience, I brought the little guys along.
Everybody was fascinated by what was going on in Griff's mouth:
Toward the end, during our long, long wait for the dentist to come check G's teeth, everybody including Reese tried out the chair. Everybody received prizes and new toothbrushes, too.
...and then Dr. Adams pulled all of Griff's lower teeth!
JUST KIDDING. It's a set of fake teeth/gums. April fool's!*
*incidentally, Griff totally got me with an April Fool's joke - the classic spider-on-your-shirt that got me in trouble lo these many years ago - when he came out of school. The kid has killer delivery/timing!
Won't be able to call it 'kropping for much longer. The week of April 10th our favorite location will close down for a week to change over to Martin's branding. I'm not sure what we'll be calling it then, if anything. Supposedly they're installing brighter lights, which makes me wonder, what will make them different from Kroger? And why would I shop at Martin's when Kroger is right across the street?
Anyway, on this particular Thursday morning I made the dicey call of attempting a "quick" shopping trip with two two-year-olds. We spent a fair bit of time inspecting the "monsters".
Xander told me, "Xander and Lukie are scaried of monsters."
The monsters simply went about their business.
I asked Xander later about the lobsters. It turns out he actually pronounces "lobsters" as "monsters." I'm uncertain whether he thinks they're really called monsters or if he just can't pronounce lobsters.
One thing everybody can pronounce: TREAT. Both boys agreed that the round yeast donut with chocolate drizzled on it looked delicious. We opted for vanilla/strawberry milk, instead. The two-year-olds even helped me to select bananas and bread, and put all the items in the cart on the conveyor belt at checkout, which more than made up for the crazy zigzag chase around the store prior to paying for our groceries.
When we moved last year, the movers set up the crib, and they did it wrong. One of the bolts was put into the wrong place, and it left a small gap in the frame. I couldn't get the under-bed drawer to sit on its rails, and investigated, and discovered the problem. The bolt they used is just barely different from bolts used in other parts of the bed, and didn't fit into the nut well enough to pass through it, so it got stuck. They stripped the wood around the nut holding the bolt in place, so I couldn't get it back out; the bed was stable so I left it for the day when I needed to dismantle the crib. I wasn't sure how I would do that, short of a sledgehammer.
Well, I needed to lower the mattress, so I started taking out bedding, and then had a moment with no kids climbing on me and got all manic and Ms. Fixit-y, and started taking apart the bed one bolt at a time (I've disassembled and reassembled it before). Through enormous application of force and an ingenious (if I do say so myself) application of a screwdriver to brace the nut, I managed to pry the mismatched bolt out. I then took a guess at where the right bolt might be and removed one at a time, comparing bolts, until I found it (it took 2 or 3 tries). Everything went in nice and tight, hooray!
Movers of the world: if it doesn't fit together, you're doing it wrong. First rule of anything: don't force it.
Ok, so then I had the bed mostly put back together, sans the front rail. Well, it turns out the bed can be converted into a daybed, and since the other two boys were sleeping in a twin-sized bed by Xander's age, I decided, hey, let's try it! So we're front-rail-less now. Xan was concerned and asked for his "nap" (the missing bed part), but I moved it to the attic, showed him where it was, and talked up the big boy bed. So, here we go on the slow transition of the crib out of the house. Crossing fingers...
Look at that! Three boys in one shot! It's a miracle!
And look at all that snow still sticking around. You should see the piles in the parking lots all over town, they're as big as houses. It's going to take a month or more for the stuff in our yard to melt and probably more for the parking lots. Yikes. How do places that get more snow than this deal with all of it? I mean, where do you PUT it?
We tried the "look, Griff is wearing the mask, too!" approach. FAIL. Xander thrashed and screamed and ultimately I ended up holding the vaporous and fearful device to his face while trying to distract him with videos on totlol. I owe a major love-note to Nicolas Deveaux for his short clip of an elephant bouncing on a trampoline. We must have watched it twenty times today across three different breathing treatments. Thanks, Nic. Here's the transfixed patient inhaling his meds:
(lousy pics because they were taken with a 50mm lens at arm's length while my other hand held the mask to his face)
One ceftriaxone shot, three albuterol treatments, and one dose of omnicef later, and he doesn't sound cruddy when he breathes. All day his temperature was 99 degrees at most and while he was tantrumy this morning, he was pretty perky this evening. Dan noted that he hadn't heard him cough. Excellent progress, crisis averted!
Snow day #2 for Richmond Public Schools and Sabot, and we're all a little stir crazy, especially since we can't do much with Xander, who is sicker instead of better. 102.5 temperature today, his cough is junkier, and he was acting alternately whiny and listless. Fortunately, Dan had the afternoon off, so one parent took the older boys out for shopping and a treat while the other took Xander to the doctor. Griff and I needed something "chocolatey" for our word of the day, so I got the shopping team. Dan and Xander returned from their trip to the doc with a pneumonia diagnosis, sore bum (Ceftriaxone shot - Xander, not Dan), antibiotic prescription, nebulizer mask, and vials of albuterol. I'm glad we made the call when we did, because it looks like we could easily have repeated last year's ER visit.
Now I just have to figure out how to get a two-year-old to cooperate with nebulizer treatments. I hope that's the most of my worries in the next few days.
Am I the only one who finds the beginning of a new year really disorganized and stressful? It's not just the expectation to set resolutions (which I don't do on Jan 1, I'm an idealist 24/7/365) or looming tax dates, there's something about the sense of a new opportunity, the holiday decorations to be put away, the lack of light and vitamin D, the list of things to plan (spring activities, summer vacation, school events), and this nesting feeling I get once the tree is down. Ugh. I mean, exciting, but UGH.
So, sorry to go without updating for a while. I decided to undertake a 365 project - which is a creative project you do every day for a year - and Griff joins me on it most days. Finding time for it has been difficult. That is complicated further by a big career thing that I'll get to later.
First, January catch-up! (the links lead to 365 posts)
The kids and I finished up their winter break in a real do-nothing, go-nowhere mood. I guess that's good in some ways? I wouldn't mind it so much, except that I didn't cook enough breakfasts and read enough stories. Things to remember for next time. I'd like to remember stay-at-home days as snuggly instead of driving-eachother-crazy.
Oh, except we did do something productive. Griff and I hand-delivered birthday party invitations again this year. Part of me wants to swear that I'll be ahead of the game next year and mail them two weeks in advance, but I actually enjoy driving around and seeing where all of his friends live, maybe getting to say hello to a friend or two. (Hi, Pache!)
Xander shocked me by being the only one of my children ever to voluntarily wear a knit cap as a toddler. He's SO cute in it. He stopped wearing it two days later, though. Ah, well, at least he was warm for those two days.
Reese continues to want to wear no outerwear or only his grey jacket. He HATES wearing a coat. Our surprising compromise: grey jacket over coat. I dont' understand what part of this arrangement makes the coat acceptable to him, it looks awfully bulky to me, but hey, this is one winter during which I never have to worry about him being warm enough outdoors. He wears two shirts every day, too.
Occasionally I took a freezing-cold walk around the back alleys in our neighborhood, toting my new telephoto zoom lens and stalking hawks. I was lucky enough to find this one with a fresh kill.
We visited New York Deli at least once. We always bring a stack of quarters.
Luke spent a few Thursday mornings with me and Xander.
I learned how to do some really cool long exposure tricks.
A 1920s typewriter followed me home from a local antique shop and sparked much interest among the kids. How does it work? Why is there no #1?
We celebrated Griff's 7th birthday with a bowling party for him and his friends. Seven seven-year-olds are the perfect number and age for this kind of party!
I learned some PhotoShop tricks - textures and vignetting.
I also had a "Mom's Night Out" at the home of one of the NAP mamas, who is also one of the first friends I made after moving to Richmond.
We had some pajama days and a lot of screen time. Reese and Xander played better together than ever before.
We had an impromptu after-school playdate with Jack and Josiah, during which Dan took ALL FIVE KIDS to the grocery store. Voluntarily. Hokey Smokes! They had a great time, Josiah taught Griff some new jokes, and we all ate fabulous junk food (mmm, onion dip). I love these kids, they're so sweet and fun and polite and adorable! My boys all love them, too.
Griff had his first school dance and his first "date". You know those stories you hear about childhood sweethearts who fall in love when they're five years old and eventually marry each other and have this precious storybook romance? Those stories sound eerily like what's going on here. Griff and Mia have been sweethearts for a year or thereabouts. Not to jump the gun or anything...but the in-laws are awesome.
Ok, so back to the stressed-Jess thing. I was asked to be a photographer for the Sabot auction this year, which involves working with two lovely Sabot artists who are putting together a gallery of children's art. I count this as an honor. Then a friend referred me to friends of hers who were looking for a wedding photographer. I've been researching and deep-thinking and planning ever since. I'm arranging a meeting with the couple and there's a chance they may hire me (I believe they're also looking at one other photographer, maybe more). This would be an INCREDIBLE opportunity and honor, but it's also incredibly stressful. I had planned to take at least one paying client this year, but not until the fall and only for children's or family portraiture. This ups the stakes considerably and steps up my time frame for things like figuring out rates, contracts, insurance, model releases, and acquiring some new equipment, too. I would have four months between now and the wedding, and I need to spend that four months PERFECTING my photojournalistic event/human connection skills as well as learning flash. Yikes. This couple knows that this would be a first for me, and they have seen my Flickr; I need to address expectations with them even more before signing anything.
Scary, but sometimes you have to leap!
Phew. Writing out all of January (thus far) makes me feel like we've been far more productive than I had considered before! Here's to all the learning and living we'll do in the weeks and months to come.
Xander and I were running some errands a couple of days ago and it occurred to me that soon he will stop that adorable flap-flap-flap toddler gait and that it will be gone forever! He is officially no longer a baby, even if he'll always be *my* baby. I think if you're old enough to pretend to be a baby, you're probably not a baby any more. Hard to believe that the tiny baby who smiled at us the night of his birth and only just turned one is now a little boy!
One of my favorite things about this age is the appreciativeness two-year-olds have for the world. They have few expectations and take great delight in everything. Everything is still fresh and new, but now they have the ability to tell you about it. "Mom, look! Christmas lights!" Or this exchange from last Saturday:
X: Where going?
J: We're going to Williamsburg.
D: Or, as I like to call it, "The magical land of Williamsburg, where history comes alive!"
Adam reflected today that on Luke's birthday, he had no way at all of knowing what was in his presents, no expectations of what the packaging might contain, and each revelation (most having something to do with trains) was met with rhapsodies of pleasure. Christmas will be extra-fun this year for our families because of these kids who live so fully in the moment!
Xander has been working hard at growing up, probably in an effort to keep up with two older brothers, whom he adores. He and Griff are SO precious together. Xander is devoted to Griff, who returns the adoration and often reads to him or walks hand-in-hand with him. They are the sweetest brothers ever, with a special connection since Xander's birth. Reese and Xander have recently become buddies and often invite each other to join in some game or building project; watching their relationship develop is interesting and rewarding. Unlike his brothers, who were each more attached to one parent at this age, he focuses pretty evenly on both parents. He asks for "mommy snuggles" and "daddy snuggles" all the time, although one recent development is that he'll playfully tell me "yuck!" and wipe his face after I kiss him. Where did he learn that?
As social as ever, he greets people everywhere he goes and usually enjoys hamming it up. He and Luke are still best buds and I love hearing them talk together from the back seat of the car - usually something like this:
X: Luke, look! Big truck!
X: Over there!
L: Oh, I see it!
They also tell each other jokes all the time and recently seem to be making plans together. I keep imagining them as teenagers. Not sure whether to look forward to those days or cower in fear. They're both devastatingly charming and mischievous. Look out!
Xan has way more adults in his social circle than his brothers had at his age, and I enjoy seeing how important these people are to him. He looks forward to seeing the teachers at the preschool, especially Anna, Kara, and Page (who, I'll admit, are some of my favorite people, too). He greets our friends, he asks to go visit Aunt Johannah and Brody. It's great to see that he has a sense of himself as part of a bigger community. Part of his community is also the places we go - this kid also has a greater knowledge of stores and restaurants than his brothers had, and knows exactly where he wants to go. He recently gave me a very detailed order for a burger with pickles and ketchup from 5 Guys.
His cognitive skills never cease to amaze me. While he's not using as advanced pronouns and syntax as his buddy Luke, he is able to string together an enormous amount of content and tells me long, complex things, makes intricate requests, and tells detailed stories. He's always been an impressive communicator and doesn't show signs of slowing down. It's so much fun! He's always asking me what things are and then repeating it back to me, or asking me "what mean?" He's also into building things lately - machines made of tinker toys, tall stacks of blocks - and loves to doodle. His fine motor coordination is awesome. His sense of imagination is also surprising to me. He loves to pretend he's a puppy, and often tells me that he's changing the poopy diapers on small toys, which requires a tiny piece of toilet paper to use as a wipe.
His favorite books are still the tales of Curious George, which we read nightly with him and Reese, after which Xander hops up, gives me a kiss and a hug, and then pads out the door to find Daddy for a song and tuck-in. Not quite as adorable: he still wakes up multiple times a night. Oof! Someday everybody will get to sleep all night, right? On the up side, he's been night weaned for a long time. He shows no signs of being ready to give up mommy milk entirely, though.
He's the most adventurous eater of the three boys, a trait which I hope he maintains, but which I fear will fade; already he's hitting the two-year-old dinnertime pickiness. He loves baby yoga and sings a lot - either made up sing-song tunes with lyrics of his own devising, or standards like "twinkle, twinkle, little star," "row, row, row your boat," "happy birthday," or "jingle bells". He frequently mushes songs together, with amusing results.
I could probably go on forever about this kid, he's a lot of fun. I asked him what we would do for his birthday, and he told me "cupcakes", so we made sure to have some for him today, complete with M&Ms and brothers to help him blow out the candles:
Parting shot: a look back at 4-month old Xander giggles: