Thursday, December 20, 2007

He Stands Uncorrected

It is Christmastime, my favorite time of year. It was 9 years ago that Nic and I started dating, and even then, both of these wonderful children were not even eye-glimmers.

Gamble's been going through a rough stage of defiance and boundary definition. He is clearly trying, struggling, and really wants to be a good boy. Most of the time, he doesn't even seem to care that it's Christmas, and he's not spooked by the idea of not getting presents.

Sometimes, however, he is concerned.

Before they left for Ohio, Gamble and I were talking about being good for Mommie while he's gone. He said he wanted to be really good.

"Why?" I asked.

"Well, because otherwise I'll get bacole."

"Uh... Buh-cole?"

"Yeah! Bacole. And I don't want Santa to bring me a bacole, so I'm going to be a very good boy."

"What are you saying, Gamble? Bacole?"

"Yeah, Daddie. If you're bad on Christmas, Santa's going to bring you a bacole."

Ah. I get it. We keep telling him that if he's not good, he's going to get a lump of coal. Except I'm pretty lazy sometimes, and I probably say "lumpa-coal"...

I didn't correct him. I've corrected him too often. How I miss him saying "buggage."

Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope you don't get a bacole!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Whistler's Daughter

Sometimes it's hard to tell just what kids like. And sometimes it's not.

Random likes it when I whistle. Has for over a month now. You can really tell that she likes it, as she lights up and smiles so big when I whistle, usually along with one of the music toys in her crib.

That's weird, too. I figured that most people find whistling annoying (except the whistler, that is). Or maybe she just loves her Daddie!

Random Ran-ta Santa

Well, she didn't run, but if she could have, she would have.

We took a family trip to the Woodfield Mall this weekend. It's not far from our place, and is insanely busy this time of year. A long time ago, our band Lost Dog wrote a song called Parking Lot about this kind of craziness, and it's always a treat to see it in action.

You never know exactly how a baby's going to react to Santa. I mean, he's a big guy, and very iconic. Random loves her Baby Einstein Christmas video, so she's seen plenty of his image. That, and you're handing her over. She's leaving your company, if only for a minute, to be held by a stranger.

But we were unprepared for her reaction. She could not take her eyes off Santa. She was utterly agog. Transfixed. Looking up at Santa with her eyes smiling.

Which is okay for her, but it made it tough to get a decent picture... We did it, but she only looked away for a second or two at a time. When I did finally take her from Santa, she wouldn't look back at him. I don't know why, but either way, I think we made her Christmas season.

This year, Santa is making a special visit to the baby girl only. He's visited the boy cub for the past couple years running, and this year, the girl cub gets an exclusive Santa glimpse. I think based on her mall experience, it will make her Christmas.

Manicure

Random's nails grow really fast. They grow so fast that Mommie has made the check for long nails part of the bathtime routine. The funny thing really was that the first time she went to do it, Nicole held her hand out for Random's hand.

And in one precious, perfect gesture, she put her hand out. Not like a baby, but in a dainty, girlie way. She didn't reach out - she presented her hand for her manicure.

I almost didn't believe her. Tonight, I left the boy at the dinner table and went in during bathtime for baby girl. As I watched, she put her hand out, and Nicole clipped two of the nails. She got distracted and dropped Random's left hand to talk to me.

I watched in disbelief as Random extended... her right hand. Could have been lucky, but could she have known that Mommie wanted her other hand?

They know more than you think.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Will

With the newest child upstairs cooking at the moment, I thought I'd tell a quick story:

We were browsing through the videogame section at Target, G and I.

We do that a lot. Most games are too old for him, or too complex for controlling, but he continues to ask to play them. He prizes his game time with Daddie, possibly above everything else, and he’s currently in the mode of finding out about the characters in the games he likes. He’s into almost everything Mario or Pokemon at this point.

So we’re browsing the games in Target, and he’s saying something. As usual, I’m partially listening, and he keeps talking about someone named Will. “Daddie, what’s that game? It’s for Will.”

And, of course, I have no idea what he’s talking about, so I tune in. “And that’s another game for Will. And that one has Mario and Sonic. It’s the Fi-nal Count-DOWWWWNNN!” he finishes, singing almost at the top of his lungs. This cracks me up so much that my brain realizes who he’s talking about.

Up in the upper right corner of each game case is the “Wii” logo. Gamble reads really well, but sometimes, it’s obvious he’s cheating, trying to fit words he knows in after a few letters. Once I figured this out, I corrected him, and now his cute little tendency to talk about Will games is gone. Bit of a shame, actually.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Our Newest Child

So I was shopping at the Jewel tonight, and I picked up a new family member. I've decided to call him Steve. As you can see, Steve is a small, tentacled, yellow alien cyclops.

And his butt smells a lot like lemon.

I think that calling him Steve is a lot nicer than calling him a creepy little fruit thing, despite that being a deservingly accurate description.

I was at the Jewel tonight when I saw this little orphan alien, sitting with his two brothers by the bananas like three day-laborers in front of a Home Depot. Except they did not have a sign saying, "Painting, shingling, decking." They didn't have a sign at all.

So, really, I had no idea what planet Steve was from, or what species of alien fruit he might be.

Except you know me. I thought I knew exactly what it was. And it turns out, I was right.

But I didn't tell the people in line that. In fact, the cashier had never seen an alien fruit like Steve. She asked me what he was, and I told her I couldn't tell for sure. The bagging girl said he looked like a scary alien, and I assured her that I would keep my other fruits safe from Steve.

They called produce; they called the store manager; they had someone come out and appraise Steve, but they had no idea what he was. He must have been cleared by the MiB during the day shift and abandoned in the banana-land.

Eventually, they allowed me to leave the store, having discovered a workaround to their strange alien immigration laws.

As soon as I got home, I had Nicole verify that I had bought what I thought I'd bought. Wikipedia is wonderful for such things. On showing Gamble, he cracked up. He thought Steve was really cool.

First he asked if he is a pumpkin. When I told him that he needed to smell Steve's butt (where all the tentacles come togther), he cracked up again, and he did.

"MMM! Smells like lemon," as I've already mentioned.

"You see, Gamble, this fruit is called Buddha's Hand. It's a citric fruit, like lemon." Except it has an additional delicious scent. Something absolutely fabulous. Like the smell of a mouthful of fruity Mentos (that's what it smells like. Really. It's better than it sounds).

"When can we eat Steve?" asked my little cannibal Gammible.

"Maybe tomorrow night."

"Maybe tonight?"

"No way. It's way past your bedtime."

And I went and sang him a lullaby about a very special toy at Christmas.

Then I came back to the kitchen to sniff Steve again. Wow!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Better Than Sparkly

Good days and bad days. Gamble differentiates between them using the word "sparkly".

As in, "You know what would make my day sparkly, Daddie? If we could play Super Mario Galaxy. Just a couple stars? Please?"

Of course, I like to give into these whims of his.

He's always rating his day, and if it's going well, he's hugging and telling you his day's sparkly. If he's bored, he claims it's the worst day ever. It's been going on a while, and didn't really seem that important.

But today he went beyond.

Today we played Super Mario Galaxy, and we also played Pokemon Pinball, but in addition to that, I did something I'd not done in years. I made cutout cookies. The recipe turned out very similar to what I used to have with my mom years ago, which was exactly what I was going for.

As a result, he got to help me in the kitchen, one of his favorite things, and he also got to eat a frosted sugar cookie, a rare treat for him.

Later in the evening, after his bath, he and I were sitting at the kitchen table. "Daddie? You know my day today was cake-ish."

"Cake-ish? Is that what you're saying, Gamble?"

"Yes, Daddie. Cake-ish. It's even better than sparkly, and it means I love you more."

"Ok. I'm glad your day is cake-ish, Gamble."

"And maybe tomorrow, we can have a day that's two cake-ish."

"Uh. Ok. I'll see what I can do."

With that, the conversation was over. I've never heard him talk about "cake-ish" before. He pronounced it very clearly. All I can think is that he heard the term "kickass" and misinterpreted.

Then again, it just could be that cake beats sparkles...

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Excuse Me, Sir

Gamble really likes playing Pokemon Pinball on my Nintendo DS, and we often let him play as a treat if he's been a really good boy (which is most of the time, truth be told, though his newfound habit of challenging authority is certainly at odds with his continued gaming). He's pretty good, and has collected about 150 of the available 200 Pokemon. You're lucky to catch one new one a game, so that should give you an idea of how long we've been playing it.

To do this, he'll often sit on the couch, or he'll sit on the floor. Sometimes we sit together and play; one of us watches the other play.

Now that Random's crawling, she too feels the urge to catch 'em all. And she's insistent.

We were all having family time in the living room the other evening, and she wanted to see the screen. Except for her, seeing the screen involves putting her hand directly over the screen, resulting in the pinball draining out of the bottom.

He doesn't like that.

SO he turns sideways or puts his back to her. Nic and I watched as she grabbed the shoulder of his jammies, and using the leverage she had on the rug (he was on the pergo), she spun him around, then slapped her hand over the screen. She's not fast, but the audacity!

So we kept making with the falsetto, saying things like "Excuse me, sir! I'd like to see you play, sir!" at just the time she was grabbing for him. Oh we were all in stitches!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

When a Gamble Calls

One of the lessons this past week was teaching Gamble about phone numbers. She taught him the emergency number, which I anticipate him using the next time Nicole doesn't roll out of bed the second he wants his Cheerios.

We also wanted him to know his own phone number, in case of trouble. After working with him for a few minutes, he learned his number, and proceeded to call the house from Mommie's phone. He repeated the trick for me, and it made me feel that there was going to be another kind of 911 call.

"911. What is the emergency?"

"Officer, I keep getting these prank calls at all hours of the night."

"Ma'am, those calls are coming from inside the house!"

Randoms Roll

Random is now standing more and more. This reminded Nic of an incident just a few weeks back where Random wasn't quite moving yet.

Gamble started getting the bee in his butt that he wanted to move her, since she so clearly wanted to move.

Of course, one day he did. When questioned about his method, he sheepishly responded with, "I rolled her."

I interrupted, "Rolled her? Like gangland style?"

No, but Nic said that he still had a sheepish grin on his face, and she knew that he had more to tell me. She pressed the question further. He said he rolled her... like a snowball.

He's outlandish!

Twelve

Random slept roughly 12 hours in a row last night. About 9-9. Maybe she's finally getting out of her cold that she's had all week.

Or maybe she just knows that her Daddie needed the rest. This may be the latest she's ever slept in.

Of course, Nicole's not up yet. I may just hear that I slept through it all. In which case, I'm in for it...

Alien Grandparents

From Gamble this morning.

"Daddie? Do Grammie and Grandbear live on Earth?"

Oh, some days there's a right answer and then there's the answer I really want to give.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader which one I gave...

Monday, November 12, 2007

His First Haircut

On the way home from work today, Nicole had me in stitches. She had to spell everything that she didn't want Gamble to know she was telling me, but because I was in the car and not on speaker, I simply laughed out loud heartily.

Rewind.

So today at tennis class, Nicole kept wondering why his hair looked so messed up. He's always had funky hair that's so fine it's hard to comb. That's why we keep it pretty short.

Rewind.

He didn't really want to sleep at naptime. Nicole tells him that he can play with his toys as long as he stays in his room. He played quietly for his naptime.

Rewind.

Earlier today, Nicole put his tray of art supplies in his room to get them away from the baby. His art supply box has a wide variety of papers, crayons, markers, play dough, glue, pinking shears, and scissors.

Rewind.

Random was crawling around the living room last night when we returned from Ohio. She was fascinated by his art box, because it has some strings in it used for lace-up projects.

Rewind.

Random has developed a willingness to crawl and bite anything that looks like an electrical cord. Gamble never had this fascination, but she crawls to anything that's stringy.

Pause.

Fast forward.

"Gamble, why did you cut your hair?"

"I don't know."

Slow motion.

Seems like I've heard this on an old Bill Cosby record. "Himself" maybe. The one in which he comes home and asks his kid why he gave himself a reverse mohawk, and all the child can do is say perplexedly, "I don't know."

I look at his hair. When Nicole spelled out the situation on the phone, she spelled it M-A-N-G-L-E-D, but it really isn't that bad. He clipped his bangs at a funky angle, sure, and he got himself dead center of his scalp.

"Gamble, where did you put the hair that you cut off?"

"In a box."

What? For a keepsake?

"What box?"

"My art box."

Nice, so there's a bunch of loose hair in with the markers and glue. Neat.

Hey, he was nice enough to give us two weeks before Christmas pictures so that it has time to grow out.

Pause.

Back to the regular speed of life.

x2.

Sproinking Forward

So Random's crawling.

I don't know what else to say. She crawled a bit on my birthday, and then I didn't really get to see intent until this past weekend, when I put her on the floor and bade her crawl. She did, after a fashion, but only to get to something she finds fascinating.

Electrical cords. Uh oh.

And now you can really see the intent. She's all about moving. She doesn't crawl properly yet, nor does she army-crawl. She jacks her knees up underneath her and kind of sproinks forward. And now that she knows she's mobile, she's starting to get frustrated whenever she's in a chair or strapped down.

You know, because a girl's gotta party...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Is That A Bunion?

I was working on another review for Pearson this evening, and Gamble had come down to watch the Wonderpets Halloween episode on Tivo. He'd brought down a bowl of popcorn with him to munch on, which is a new thing for him (eating in the basement).

Well, he's quietly watching his show, and I'm concentrating hard on what I'm writing, but after a few minutes, I grow steadily more aware of a crunching sound. Very rhythmic, and rising in intensity.

All I could figure is that he was scrabbling his fingers in aggressively and taking big bites, so I ignored it for a couple minutes, but the sound persisted, and I was forced to look over.

He's on the little red rocking floor chair, staring absent-mindedly at the TV, and he has both feet in the bowl of popcorn, crunching away. I don't know whether he thought he was the faun Tumnus crunching over the Narnian snow (ah, the references come easily when you have a box of real, live, no kidding Turkish Delight sitting on the table very near where he was eating, or feeting, his popcorn) or what, but I was not amused.

It was like a punch line to a bad joke:
Daddie: "Hey, Gamble! Is that a bunion on your foot?"
Gamble: "No, Silly Daddie! It's a corn!"

Sometimes as a parent, you find something so hilarious that also requires discipline of some description. I turned off the TV, and he marched steadily towards bedtime. At bedtime, I had him repeat the lesson that we learned, "We never ever ever put our feet in our food." Each time it was harder to do with a straight face, but I did it.

And that's why I'm the Daddie.

And don't forget, yesterday we kicked off birthday week festivities for Daddie. I'm really excited about my birthday (which is Saturday and a biggie. Three five). Nic's taking me to see Wicked downtown, then dinner at Reza's (one of my faves), and then we're going to catch Saw IV, in theatres now.

Pre-Wedding Jitters

From Mommie:

"So Gamble came frantically running down the stairs this morning and jumped in my lap. This, as you know is NOT typical of him.

"He was breathing really hard and clearly frightened. When asked why, he told me that Kim was chasing him and pressing him to marry her and he didn't want to get married. That he wanted to be married someday but not now."

So I had to clarify with her. Yes, this was Kim, the transformer. Sometimes a boy, sometimes a girl, and always hanging out with Poole. His imaginary friend is tormenting him with marriage at his age.

I think he really misses Jenna.

Messing With Us

All along, we've said Random's messing with us. That's probably what's behind the smile.

And the giggle.

Oh, yes. Literally a day after I wrote that no matter what, she doesn't seem to giggle, now she's giggling (well, at least chuckling) all the time.

Not all the time, but often enough to feel like a liar. She laughs at Gamble all the time, and even sometimes when I walk in the room.

But gravity... She thinks gravity is the funniest. Mommie gives her a bunch of toys in her high chair, and she sees how fast she can clear them all off and start crying. Then Mommie or Gamble has to put them back up there. It's hilarious. Like a game of Perfection, really.

It wouldn't be the first time she's messed with us. Like when we did the amnio and found out she wasn't ready to come out on her scheduled C day, only to have her kick out the plug on Super Bowel Sunday, when Nic's girl doctor was out of town.

Uh oh. I just had a thought. Someday Random's going to need a girl doctor, too. Somehow the thought has me reaching for the liquor cabinet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Giggle

She doesn't.

Giggle, I mean.

Anyone who remembers Gamble at that age remembers his charming little giggle. Sure, he cried all the time, but he giggled infectiously.

You can't get a giggle out of her at all. Not one.

Oh, she's very ticklish, and Mommie has tickled her mercilessly, only to be greeted with squirms and "Heh! Heh!"

It's like she's got them in there, and they're all pent up and can only come out as "Heh!"

But she's still happy all the time...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Venom

So Gamble’s going as Venom this year for Halloween, and to celebrate, as I mentioned, he and I went down to Daley Plaza for Chicagoween. This is the tenth year for the Midnight Circus to perform, and although they’re getting older, they are adding new characters in every year that keep it fresh.

First of all, he was a great boy when we went. Incredible. He listened to me, kept close to me, and didn’t sass at all. He’s always a great boy, though, when he’s out doing something active and fun. It’s when he’s doing something boo-ing that he gets funky.

So he was all dressed up head to toe in his Venom outfit before we left the house. We took off the facemask and the gloves for the car ride, but man, is it a great costume!

We parked a couple blocks from Daley Plaza in a high-rise parking facility, and he donned the rest of his costume. As soon as we got out at the street level, we were accosted by four giggling high school girls. They fawned over him, took pictures, asked him to pose like a super-hero. He obliged. He sure handles being the center of attention well. Me? I’d get all embarrassed.

Daley Plaza was packed, so I kept him close. They were doing back to back to back showings of the circus, as the Pumpkin Parade had been that day (who knew? We totally missed it), so we hunkered down for the first show after arriving.

It’s simply amazing, the stunts that the midnight circus pulls off. Make no mistake, they’re not cirque de shuh-bluh, but there’s a lot of talent there, and the circus is totally free. It’s not uncommon for one performer to be on another person’s head. Most of the performers juggle. At least one performer stood on top of another performer’s head on one foot and juggled up there. It’s totally awesome.

In between shows, we stopped off for a spinach puff (for me, basically spanikopita) and a hot dog puff (for Gamble, who ate the puff and left the dog), and a cider to split. We went back, sat down, and the next show started almost immediately.

The format of the circus is that the frame story is repeated throughout the day, but the big stunts and meat of the show change from performance to performance, so you can sit for the show a couple times and see the same frame and some of the same stunts, but the high flying acts and big stunts are different.

After the second show, we realized that the next show wouldn’t happen for a while, and we decided to head home. My little Venom was great the whole time, and had a great time.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sweetest Croup

Happy Sweetest Day to my Nikki, and the Mommie of the kids. We didn't have the most romantic day today, since Mommie was up all night with Croupy Random. I got G out of the house to go the Chicagoween at Daley Plaza. It was a bummer to go just the two of us, since Nic and I have been going for years (the last time we were there, we took Oatmeal Bear, shown here with my sweetest).

I'll write about Chicagoween and my little man Venom soon, but I wanted to yell a Happy Sweetest Day to this Mommie, who handles the kids around the clock, and is magic with them when they are sick. She supports me in everything I do, and I couldn't be doing it without her.

New Masters

I call every day on the way home from the car. Usually, Nic gives me a status. One day this week, Nicole had a warning for me.

"The boy. The boy hasn't been very good today."

When I got home, I found him in his room at Mommie's behest, waiting for me to arrive and talk to him.

"Gamble, how was your day?"

"Rough."

"Why rough."

"I wasn't a good boy."

"Aw, come on, Gamble. You're a great boy. Did you just have some bad ideas today?"

"Well, they keep telling me to do bad things."

Ok, first, this is not something I wanted to hear. This is spooky. People talking about hearing things are creepy, and four year-old are the worst "Danny can't wake up, Mrs. Torrance" always goes through my mind, and then those little twin girls. EEEEP!

Second, I'm really kind of tired of hearing him blame Poole and Kim for everything wrong he does. So my mind jumps there.

"Gamble, you tell Poole and Kim that they..."

"It's not Poole and Kim, Daddie," he interrupted.

My mind hit the wall. Huh? Then who?

"It was Greenie and Blooey. They're as old as you are so when they tell me things, I have to listen."

Oh, man. How to handle, I wondered. I told him that Greenie and Blooey are not to be listened to, that he should know right from wrong, etc. etc.

I sure hope he's not actually hearing voices. Then again, with me lecturing him, I wonder if he's even hearing mine...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Random News

Random's changing before our eyes. She did come home from Ohio different, but in subtle ways.

First, her schedule's been off all week. She's waking up at 5 am, and not going back to sleep.

As part of this, I noticed that she's a little more demanding. As if she figured out that she could be demanding. When we go in and pop in the pacifier in the middle of the night, if she's hungry, she's figured out she can refuse it and keep crying.

As part of this, she's also gotten a lot more directed in her focus. If she wants something, she rolls over to get it, twists her body, turns her head. This is also true in the middle of the night. If you can keep her on her belly, she usually falls asleep easily, but if she's hungry, she'll roll onto her back.

Combine all this with a "Ma-ma ba-ba", and she's able to communicate that no, she doesn't want the pacifier, has no intent of going back to sleep, and fully intends to have a ba-ba before you can go back to bed.

Also, she's really gearing up to crawl. She gets up on all fours, but doesn't get traction, so when she tries to scoot forward, she just belly flops on the floor. She does this with alarming frequency, and it looks like she's belly-bouncing the floor.

Also, she's getting more experimental with food. I was eating an apple yesterday evening, and held it up for her to lick. Once she figured out she liked it, she grabbed it and held it. We could hear her grating off bits of it with her bottom teeth and wincing a little as she chewed it up and swallowed it, but it was so cute.

He Who Walks Behind the Rows


Everyone knows that G likes mazes, and last week, I heard of a gigantic one in the area that we could go to. I'm also a big fan of mazes, and have always wanted to go to a really big hedge maze.

So we said farewell to the girls and piled into the Matrix to drive all the way down to Plainfield, Illinois. All I knew about the maze beforehand was that it looked enormous from the aerial shot. Oh, and that the maze was in the shape of a jousting tournament.

Within the maze are many stations at which you can either do a rubbing, or get a hole punch to show where you'd been. There are eight punches on the map in the central maze, and six hidden hole punches in the outer "race" maze. There are also five hidden stations to take image rubs with crayons that you get at the entrance to the maze.

Gamble did great. It took us over two hours to navigate to all the punches that were on the map of the inner maze, and to navigate all the long dead ends in the race maze to find all six hidden punches. We even found two of the rubbings in the central maze.

What's most amazing is that he did all of this without needing to be carried, and he was brave enough to run ahead down short dead ends to search out the punches. We didn't have any meltdowns about needing pottie-time, or more food (we bought two delicious locally grown apples for the maze, along with bottled water).

In the end, Gamble was allowed to ring the farm bell, because we found all the punches. I don't think many people do that, since I didn't hear the bell ringing very often. I'm so proud of this big boy.

Of course, I have to mention that it was at least a little creepy walking within all the rows of corn. I mean, Shannon and I watched Children of the Corn often enough when we were young to warrant a healthy fear of cornfields, Isaac, Malachai, and the blue man (yes, the blue man). Maybe someday we'll get Isaac and Lukie out to play corn-people and Gamble and Random can pretend to be Burton and Vicky, and they can run around behind the rows. "Outlander! We have your woman!"

Eep. Anyway, check out how scared he gets when the bell rings. Just had to try out the new video feature of blogspot...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Uh Oh

So first it was Ma-ma.

Just Tuesday, it was ba-ba. Nic called me excitedly to tell me that Random was saying it over and over. "Ba-by hungee."

I didn't believe it. I know that Random's speech is getting clearer, but I'm so not ready. Until I heard it over the monitor at 5 am. "Ba-ba. Ba-ba. Ba-ba."

They're in Ohio for the weekend. I needed to paint, and Nic's hosting a Tastefully Simple party there. But she called me today to give me the good news.

"Da-da."

Monday, October 1, 2007

First Week at Home

From Mommie:

Well, Gamble, Random and I made it through our first week together. While Daddie started his new job on Tuesday, we all started our new lives too. At least for now. As many of you know, I worked diligently the week before preparing lesson plans, meals, and outings so that we could not only have a routine but ensure that we could get things done throughout the day and that Gamble would continue to learn. We have succeeded!

A sample schedule looks like this:

7:30 Breakfast - which is usually pancakes, waffles or cereal with fruit

9:00 Lesson time. There is a new theme each day. Last week we learned about Occupations, Native Americans, Leaves and Pancakes. As you see, the themes are scattered but they are based on themes and celebrations around the world.

During lesson time, we also read a book, based on the theme and change our weather board and our days of the week board. Today’s weather is… and Yesterday was…, Today is… and Tomorrow is…

Gamble is doing very well with all of this. Some topics he likes and some “aren’t his favorite”.

10:00 Time for a walk. Mommie is trying to incorporate exercise into our daily routine, mostly for selfish reasons but to also get some outdoor time for the kids and energy expended.

11:00 Free time. During this time Gamble can work on a puzzle or play with his toys in his room.

11:30 Lunch, which has been anything from Mac and Cheese to Meatballs, Chicken Nuggets, Rice or Soup. All is served with fruit and veggies. And he can watch TV.

12:30 Quiet time. Gamble doesn’t have to take a nap but he does have to play in his room. He usually ends up playing for a little bit and then falling asleep for a little bit.

2:15 Snack time. This is usually crackers and cheese, yogurt, canned fruit or cereal. He can watch TV during this time too.

3:00 Workbook time. We choose a workbook to practice our counting, sorting, spelling, reading, tracing, writing or pattern recognition skills.

4:00 Decompress time. Gamble can watch TV, play video games or play outside. He usually ends up doing all of the above. This is also the time that Mommie starts making dinner.

6:15 Daddie gets home and our evening begins with dinner, play time, baths, snacks and story time. Daddie is now helping to reinforce the theme of the day by helping Gamble read the book from the morning for comprehension.

7:00 Bed time for Random

8:30 Bed time for Gamble

So, this is our schedule and this has actually worked out very well. I even manage to get time to myself, which usually means that it’s time to clean the house, put clothes away or take a quick nap too!

Some funny things that happened last week:

On our first walk, within 2 blocks of our house, the pedal on Gamble’s brand new bike broke. This was not so funny when it happened but the irony of it happening on Day One.

On our second walk, within 4 blocks of our house, Random lost the two blankets that I had given her for the walk. I didn’t realize it until we got home and by that time G was tired and CRANKY, so we didn’t go back out for them. So, I thought I go out to find them once K got home. Unfortunately it rained the rest of the night. I found one the next day on our walk. YUCK. It had even been run over by a car or two.

On our third walk, Random dropped one of her favorite teething toys. Gamble and I had to go back for it on the way back from our walk.

I think our walks need some adjustment, don’t you?

Other things that happened include:

Gamble got special pancakes on Pancake Day. He got them in the shape of a “P” for pancake and a “G” for Gamble.

On Native American Day, we made homemade Pumpkin Soup and Cornbread.

Leaf Day. Our outing last week was to a daycare that was open to the public. In it they had 2 inflatable bounce toys that Gamble could run around in and scattered leaves everywhere for our leaf theme. At the end of our time there, Gamble was instructed to find matching leaves, so we also got a lesson in. We were also lucky enough to have Gamble’s friends, Matthew and David, join us for the fun. In the afternoon, we came home and collected leaves to make a Leaf Rubbing.

Occupation Day, well, Gamble decided that he wanted to be a Pro Bowler and I learned that he likes to color pictures for the themes of the day, so he colored a picture of being a bowler.

Themes for next week:

Celebrating Grandparents, Learn to tie your Shoes Day, German American Day, and World Farm Animal Day.

Throughout all of this, Random is just PERFECT. She is watching, listening and squealing with delight. I think she is loving having both of us around and is enjoying playing with all of her toys, taking walks again (daycare didn’t take her outside but Jessica had her out most of the day) and having fun time with Mommie and Gamble. I, of course, am trying to work with her on sitting up better and crawling. So far, she is doing okay but seems to have no interest in my direction. Random seems to do things on her own timing. She is very laid back. This is just fine to me! She is saying Ma-Ma and scooting. It’s all good to me.

More next week! Oh and check the web page for pictures soon. Gamble is letting Mommie take lots of pictures now and Random is always up for a smile or two. ?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hot Doug's

Nicole and I were tossing around the idea of going down to Hot Doug's, since Uncle John and Aunt Sam have always raved about them. On Saturday, they have "duck-fat fries" and their daily specials usually include sausage made out of all sorts of game.

Today's menu, for example, includes sausage made of alligator, sausage made of lamb, sausage stuffed with bacon, and so on.

I was telling Gamble that we were thinking about going to a place that served all kinds of sausages, made out of about any animal he could think of eating.

"Okay," he said, "How about giraffe?"

"Touche," I thought.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Lives for Snack Time

Of all the little things that Gamble does to get on our nerves daily (he is four, and that seems to be his job), perhaps the worst for me is the holy time of eight o'clock, when Gamble receives his much desired snack.

I don't know exactly how it happened. Snack time has become the meal between dinner and bedtime, though much closer to bedtime than dinner, and it's become an entitlement. Possibly because he was such a good boy for so long that it was hard to refuse a healthy request later at night. Perhaps because he's four years old and his 2T pants still look gangsta hanging off his waist.

Note, just because we call it snack time, doesn't mean that it's junk food. Most nights he settles for a yogurt or a half a can of pears, but there are rare nights when he receives a treat during the day and knows that if he's good all day, he'll get to have something really yummy before brushing his teeth and heading off to read in bed.

But he nags. As soon as he's done with dinner (could be as early as 5:30), he's asking whether it's eight o'clock. He can tell some times, and if he really thinks about it, and it's on a common half hour, he won't need to ask. But he doesn't have a concept like "how much longer" in his mind, so he asks.

And asks.

And asks. Sometimes as frequently as every five minutes. The other night, he was warned that he would be told when snack time was and continued to question so persistently that his special snack was taken away in favor of something else (he was asked to choose a different snack).

I think the Taco Bell commercials are affecting him.

Rolling

Not only is Random babbling. She's rolling and scooting. Put her on the floor, and she's figured out that she can continuously roll in one direction to get farther.

On the other hand, this morning, she was crawling backwards in a straight line. "Look, Nic!" I said. "She's receding!"

First Words

Random's been babbling a lot less randomly these days. Very purposeful sounds.

And Saturday?

"Ma ma ma ma ma."

Over and over. All day. Mama mama mama.

Mama mia. Those who didn't see it coming, raise your hands. Right. No one.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Shortest Distance From Type A to Type B is Random

She used to sit and smile so complacently.

Now she flails around wildly. Not unhappily, mind, but in a crazed, I'm-a-party-girl sort of way.

No, not Nicole. Well, not right this minute anyway.

It seems our cute little Type B has begun to learn the ways of her environment and appears to be taking pages from the First Letter of Gamble to the Party-On-ians (no, not the party-onions; they're way too small).

She's nuts; she's wild; she's boogie fever on crack. Nicole said that she doesn't want to cuddle anymore in the morning, and will only settle down if Nicole lets her lay on our bed without touching her. Not only do I know how she feels, I think I'll look a bit askance at her the next time she suggests that it's only Gamble and I that are cut from the same cloth.

All this energy just in time for Nicole to stay home with them full time. This has Reality TV written all over it.

Blankets Have Birthdays

Unbeknownst to us, blankets have birthdays, and although only Aunt Masha is qualified to give us any kind of reasonable date, Gamble announced that "Greenie" and "Blue-ie" not only have the same birthday, but that said birthday was last week.

On the same day as one of his classmates.

This sort of weirdness is daily with him. It's only really recently that Greenie and Blooey (as I think of it being spelled, kind of like "Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie") have become first class citizens of planet Gamble, up there on par with the immortal Poole and the transforming Kim.

He occasionally will jump up, run out of the room, and get both his blankets from wherever they were. "They were crying," he'll explain without ceremony.

He'll occasionally talk to them, kiss them, etc.

Does he just need more attention?

Articulate

You can hear it coming.

She's trying to get words out. It seemed to happen overnight. I don't see her as much, but Nicole said Random's been babbling real syllables for a couple days now. It's absolutely amazing to hear, and music to my ears.

For example, tonight she said, "Dadoo-gliarma". See? See?

She said, "Dadoo? Grab me in your arms-a."

Wishberries

One day, while Grammie and Gamble were playing throwball, Gamble picked up a dandelion, not the yellow flower, but the kind with the white fuzzy stuff on top.

He said, "Grammie, these are called 'wishberries'. You have to make a wish and blow it."

We weren't aware he'd ever heard of wishing on a dandelion.

With a huff and a puff, he blew real hard and said half out loud and half to himself, "I wish if I could play baseball day and night."

How cute is he? We are thinking maybe baseball camp...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Moving on

Not everyone who reads this is in such close contact with us on a daily basis that they would know about all our ins and outs, but I wanted to at least mention here that I'm excited that our lives are starting anew in a whole new chapter.

I'm leaving Allstate on Friday. It has been an incredible five years of growth at a great company with great products. Through my various roles there, I have met some incredible people, and I will miss them all, but I am very excited about my new role at Calamos Investments, located in Naperville at the corner of 59 and 88.

As part of the transition, Nicole is going to stay home with the kids for a spell, and I know she's going to be as fantastic for them as they will be for her. I just wanted to let everyone here know that, if you have only been using my work email, you can always get in touch with me at daviskevinp at gmail dot com.

And I'm sure Nic will feed me plenty of stories from their times together.

Guess Where I Peed

On the drive home from day care today, Gamble pipes up from the back seat: "Daddie? Guess where I peed today."

I don't know of any good conversation that ever started that way.

"Only in the toilet, I hope," I said, thinking back to the recent episodes of wanting to pee outdoors.

"No, Daddie. Christopher and I went to the bathroom and we peed..."

"Gamble, are you allowed in the pottie with anyone else at school?"

"No, we went in when Miss Jenny wasn't looking. And you know where we peed?"

I was beside myself at this point. It was like a frosted mini-wheats commercial. The adult in me knows this conversation is all business, but the giggling kid in me sees two four year-olds whizzing all over the bathroom and each other, which is probably what I would have done as a kid. I'm nearing breaking up. Luckily, he's in the back seat, and only sees my serious, dead-pan (I hope) eyes in the rearview. I didn't know what to do, Nic wasn't there, and I'm the last guy you want in this situation.

I did my best to adult one out of the park.

"Where did you pee?"

"We peed on the paper towels."

"Oh yeah? Where were they when you peed on them? Were they on the floor?"

"No."

"Where could they have been?"

"Well, we pulled them out, and we peed on them then put them away."

I'm horrified to say that I wasn't able to learn much more about the crime. He wasn't really able to articulate it, and I couldn't tease any more detail out.

I changed tactics, toeing the parental line equivalent to, but not nearly as tried as, "if Christopher jumped off a bridge..."

You know, I always wondered if there was any practical purpose to the whole "one person in the restroom at a time" thing. I thought it was maybe a prudish, puritanical heritage of dirty, dirty private parts. I now see why it's so practical.

Because little boys think this stuff is hilarious. That's why.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Scared

Gamble's always been a great socializer. At parties he's always moved around, talking to people. Sure, he was a little apprehensive at day care drop off, but he's never been scared at a relative's house.

("Movie trailer guy" voice) Until now.

He wigged out late the other night when at Nic's folks' house. Her Aunt Mary and Uncle Shrek had come over to see the kids (oh yeah, and us). Well, typically Gamble loves playing throwball outside with Uncle Shrek, or even air hockey.

But this time, they brought a couple friends, and Gamble freaked out.

He came downstairs with me, and while I got online on my laptop, he hid under a blanket on the chair.

I went upstairs and suggested that Shrek go down and turn on the air hockey table and say something like, "Sure wish I had someone to play air hockey with. Boy, I love it when my friend Gamble is here playing with me."

He came upstairs a few minutes after that, defeated. He said that the bump under the blanket on the little wooden chair never moved.

The Grandabear went downstairs and returned a couple minutes later with no better results.

I went downstairs to see him, and as soon as I sat down, he took off his blanket. His eyes were really red, and he was soaked. He'd obviously been sobbing, scared out of his mind, but bravely sitting very still and silent.

I don't know what brought this on, but now he's scared of the dark, too. And monsters. And bad guys. And apparently strangers.

Of course, when I told Sam about this, she was thunderstruck, reminding me that he'd always been her intrepid adventurer, boldly going into their basement armed with nothing but a flashlight and cold blue steel nerves. I remember those days, but alas, they seem to have gone missing.

Run

Gamble and Isaac got to play together in a big box at Grandma Pat's the other morning. Yeah, it's true. Toys all around, bikes, even acorns, and they wanted to play in a big cardboard box.

Well, I got the idea that they should get in the box, face opposite directions, and try to run.

They tried it, but they didn't quite get what I was saying, so one of them turned around and they both tried running in the same direction. One behind the other. In a cardboard box.

They took one step and flopped over.

This was the funniest thing ever. So they did it again and again.

Eventually, they did try running in the opposite direction, with disastrous results. Isaac got whipped backward over Gamble's shoulder and hit his head on the floor. He cried, but he shakes things off fast. Sis says that if he and Lukie didn't, they'd be in trouble, since they roughhouse all the time.

And then it was back to more single-file, falling over fun.

Party Girl

Random is getting excited.

And when she gets excited, she lets you know. If she's lying down, she starts wiggling her torso back and forth, shaking her head "no", and pulling her hands to her shoulders with her arms twittering nervously. Her mouth twists open in a gleeful smile, and she squeaks. When she does this, I call her "Party Girl."

Over the weekend, she cut her second tooth - her lower right tooth.

She turned seven months old on the 4th, and who can believe it's been so quick?

The Apple and the Tree

Gamble's pretty funny.

And he knows it. He's always doing silly things, and trying to get laughs. He's my little joker.

Well, Nicole recently noted a certain pattern to his humor. Everytime he gets a really good laugh from any size audience, he follows it up with another joke.

A poop joke.

And it could be as inocuous as saying the exact same thing he just said, and then adding "Poo poo head" after it.

We groan and say, "Oh, Gamble, that's not funny. Please don't talk about poop."

I wish I knew where he gets some of his little foibles.

Oh the Fours

The fours are definitely our biggest challenge so far. Gamble's got two new tactics that he employs at every turn.

The first is the ol' reverse psychology. Whenever we get upset with him, or we tell him he can't do something, he says, forlornly, "Okay. Oh well. I guess I'm just a bad boy." Or "I guess I'll just go to my room, then. I really don't want to, but..."

The second is outright defiance. The other day, he told Nicole adamantly that she needed to go get one of his toys before he would wash his hands.

I'm sure I know where he gets the second one. All the time we tell him that he can do something he wants to do if only he'll do something for us now.

I guess the foot's on the other hand now, huh?

My Culprit

This evening, after G was done talking to Nicole's folks on the phone, she caught him out of his bedroom. Once he saw her, he quietly whispered "I'm sorry Mommie. I..."

"What Gamble? What is it?"

Humbled, and contrite: "I shouldn't have come out of my room. I know I shouldn't and I did. I didn't mean to, Mommie."

"Oh, Gamble, it's okay. Let's get back to your room. Got any huggies for me?"

"I was a bad boy Mommie."

"Oh no, Gamble, we all make mistakes and we all forget to do what we are supposed to do."

"Like you, Mommie, when you made me hurt my back?"

"Yes, Gamble, just like that. Mommie wasn't being very careful, and I mistakenly pulled the rug right out from under you. Mommie is very sorry. See? Mommie is still learning too! You, too, are learning and so you will make more mistakes than even Daddie and Mommie because you are younger than us and have more to learn."

"Hmmm. Can you send Daddie in?"

"Sure, Gamble. Love you!"

Hm. I think I found my culprit for the excuse...

The Excuse

Gamble was yelling at the back team while playing Wii tennis (he's now officially better than I am at it). He kept calling them jokers and babies. Taunting them.

I asked him why. He said, "well, that's what you do. You have to do that."

"No, Gamble. It's not a nice way to play, and if you can't play nice, I should probably take the game away."

"Well, Daddie, I don't think I can remember that."

"I'm sure you can, Gamble. I believe in you."

"I'm a four year-old, Daddie. Sometimes I forget. I'm not a five year-old or sumpin. I mean, come on..."

Ok, so who fed him the line that he's not old enough to know any better? Whoever you are, you may be laughing now, but I sure hope you babysit for him soon.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Cry of the Lonely Ket

We're home from the long weekend, and I was letting Gamble catch up on some Spongebob while I worked on some stuff I've had pending.

At some point, he vanished from the room. I waited to hear him upstairs bugging Nicole for a snack, but he didn't. I heard him come back into the room, but he didn't say anything.

I noticed that he now had his blankets with him. He now calls them "Greenie" and "Blue-ie".

I asked him what happened.

"They always cry when I'm not there," he said, kissing each one in turn.

Ah, yes. Of course.

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Googies

Gamble received a copy of Shel Silverstein book "Where the Sidewalk Ends" for his birthday from the Greens, and I thought I'd try to read to him more often, so I offered to read him some poems before bed one night.

He agreed, and we've been reading quite a few. The way we do it is that I hand him the book, and I read everything on the pages he opens to.

We do this four or five times before he requests that I read "The Googies are Coming" on page 50. He loves this poem, for some reason, so it's always our finale, like fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.

What's really funny is that when I was first describing what to do, I said, "Open the book at Random."

He looked around the room and asked, "At who, Daddie?"

Oh, yeah. Gotta watch that.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Drifting

Random's drifting.

That is to say, her sleep cycle's drifting off true.

Used to be that she would fall asleep around 7:00 or 7:30 every evening, and that she would wake up around 6:30 or 6:00 every morning.

She's drifting early.

I think it's day care, really. Ever since she's been going, she comes home tired from playing all day, and she's tapped out. She's winding down. Shutting down.

And now she's passing out as early as 6:30 or starting to shut down even earlier.

Which means that she's starting to wake up earlier. Sometimes 4:00, sometimes at 5:00. You know, early enough to make you tired, but late enough that getting some more real sleep in is not practical.

She's messing with us again.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This Means War

So we were bored from our gourd over the weekend, but didn't really want to make any effort to get out, either. So I ended up teaching Gamble how to play War, the card game.

He got the concept, and learned what beats what very easily. I even got him to call a two "a deuce."

I just hope calling it that doesn't cause him to drop one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jammies

And another from before I started blogging, though obviously after Gamble was born. Very interesting. I remember cracking myself up with this one.

"Things I learned today:

1) Never set a child down on anything that's not either plastic, or plastic underneath something washable. Even if he's got a diaper on. New dads don't always get the diaper on right or tight enough. After a 5 minute struggle to put on new jammies (see point 3 below), that's when I found out that the back of the jammies were soaked. Luckily we have two down comforters, so if you stay with us, you'll never know which one was whizzed on. (Actually, he just got the duvet cover, and it's already washed...)

2) This little boy farts. A lot. And according to Nicole, it's only me he does it for. She claims that "you get what you give." Hee hee, but I get back at her, since once he gets going, I cropdust him all around the house, so we can all share in His Royal Pungence. Oh, and I was changing him today and he farted. It was a cute little "tweet," but it did not smell like a cute little anything (except perhaps a dead bunny).

3) I just love the word "jammies." I can't say it enough. Jammies, jammies, jammies!

This little boy is a joy to behold and be holding. Especially when he farts and whizzes in his jammies!"

I seem to be dementedly happy in this blog. It's interesting how time and kids have worn me down a bit. I think I need a daily dose of jammies more now than ever.

Pre-Birth

My.

Oh, my.

I didn't always blog. I used to just send out a longer mass email to friends and family to tell what I considered an interesting story. I found one from before Gamble was born and thought I would share:

"Well, the day is finally drawing near. We talked with the doctor today, and he recommended that we should probably start considering what to do with this baby of ours.

We're told he's big.

He's measuring 8 lbs. 15 oz. right now (+/- 1 lb, though), and he's big enough to be worried about shoulder dysplasia and potential nerve damage if he were to be delivered normally. So we made the decision that for safety's sake, we ought to have him excised a little early.

Nicole's got another Dr. appt. on Monday, and then on Wednesday, she'll have an amnio to ensure that his lungs are ok to come out. It should be fairly straightforward, as his practice breathing looks good thus far.

He's scheduled to be born at roughly 9 o'clock next Thursday, June 26. Please pass the word around to everyone. Please pass this onward to anyone you think may be interested and may not have heard yet.

We'll be contacting as many people as possible briefly afterwards with all the relevant stats (yards rushed, rebounds, RBIs, and shots on goal) to facilitate information dissemination.

Now if only we can figure out what to call him by then.

Cheers,

Kevin, Nicole, and Baby D."

Oh ho! Like we didn't know what we were going to call him...

Age-Old Maxims For Kids

Random has gotten a tooth in. Lower left bottom. You typically can't see it for all the drool and the tongue lolling out, but it's there.

She really chews on a lot of stuff. She's no end of trying to pull my hand up and chew on my fingers. If I've very recently washed my hands well, I'll even let her.

Gamble came up to me and asked if he could do the same. Mommie and I conferred on the matter, and we decided if he was washed up, it would be okay.

"Ouch," I said as she bit particularly hard.

"What happened, Daddie?"

As much as it pained me to say it, I had to say it.

Had to.

"Well, Gamble... The tooth hurts."

Where Does He Hear This Stuff

Oh, man. Gamble has a little headlamp that looks like a bluetooth headset. It clips on his ear, although it's a little loose. He asked me to help him put it on tonight. I did that.

Immediately, the giggles.

"Oh, man! Hey, Daddie! Do I look like... a scientist?!? Haw haw haw!"

I was almost indignant. I wasn't sure what he was getting at. Do all scientists have bluetooth headsets these days? That's one way to run a lab.

He continued laughing and said, "With a pencil behind my ear?!? Haw haw haw!"

I didn't quite know what to say, so I burst out laughing. I mean, come on! So we went about our evening routine as usual. After his shower, I put a little mousse in his hair and combed it back, so it stuck up.

"Oh, Daddie! I look just like Harry Potter!"

Ok, so I'm a Potter fan, but I wasn't aware that he'd ever seen it, or even knew what it was. So where does he get this stuff, anyway?

Oh, yeah. He's in day care...

More Quick Hits

Sorry, folks. Days slip by, and still I don't type.

Thing is, not much seems that funny these days. Gamble's growing an attitude, and sometimes it's funny, and sometimes it's not.

Like this morning, Nicole tells me that Gamble came up to her and said, "I'm going to start calling you 'Nic'. Is that okay?" And when she said that it would not, in fact, be okay with her, he responded with 'tude.

"Good, then I'm just going to call you Nic from now on all the time."

Telling him that would not do caused him to blow up.

Boom!!! The sound of the four year-old, which, as I may have noted earlier, is far worse than three or two.

And then there's all the things I've forgotten to mention, like Random drinking out of a cup for the first time, which happened a month ago. She always seems to want to drink or eat whatever we're drinking or eating. You can tell when she gets excited about getting her mitts on something, because her arms start pinwheeling, her lower lip drops, her tongue peeks out, and she starts Fudding: "eh eh eh eh."

Well, Nic caved and let her drink water out of her glass. Just a little sip, but she loves to do it. Must make her feel like a big girl.

And maybe it just makes her feel like a big kid. She sees Gamble doing all this stuff, and I think she just wants to be like him. She sure lights up whenever he's around. She never seems annoyed that he wants to hold her, give her kisses, or anything. Of course, they don't have anything to fight over... yet.

And he sure likes her. Nicole spent some time at dinner talking to him about life before Random. When asked how he felt before Random was here, he said "sad". When asked how he felt on days he doesn't get to see her, he just got a very sad face as if to say "I don't even want to think about it." He really loves her.

Everyone's doing fine. Largely happy, healthy (when not croupy or poopy).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Anniveretrospecticus the Third

Well, I'm writing this from Ludington, Michigan. I'm going charter salmon fishing on Lake Michigan with Grandpa Buttons, and I already feel more human. The commute here is five hours from home in Hoffman Estates, and it's amazing what kind of transformation you get on such a ride. What with the music blaring and the sunroof open, you kind of start hearing that old voice in your head, the one you heard before. When there were no kids.

Consider this an Anniveretrospecticus, which is what I called the blog I did one year after I started blogging. I started Gamble's blog on 81204, and can't believe I've been doing it so long. In fact, on the way here, that little voice that used to be me piped up, "You're like a week late for your second Anniveretrospecticus."

That little voice in my head can't do math, either.

In fact, I altogether missed my second anniveretrospecitus, and I'm now over a year late, so I'm just calling myself a week late for the third anniveretrospecitus, and givening myself a "D" for introspection.

What's funny about all this is that when the little voices start up, and your internal voice shuts down, time speeds up. Like nobody's business it speeds up. You forget things. You're just hanging on. It's not all about you. It's all about them. And that's okay. They're so cool.

From Gamble's unrelenting but unbelievably mature speech patterns to Random's newly acquired babbling, gurgling, growling, and squealing (which she does when she's happy to see someone. Especially Gamble), it's great to hear their voices. It's a beauty that they have them, and for every "Shhh." and "Gamble, would you please let Mommie and I talk for five minutes" I'm genuinely sorry. I can't wait to get back home to hear their little voices. The phone's just not the same.

Mommie's taken on both of them alone for three days this week, and I love her for it. I don't know how she manages. I think it's her turn for a break next.

Thanks for another year everyone. Love from all of us to all of you.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Overdue Update

So Nicole keeps sending me things to write about, and I continue to fail to report on them. I thought I'd send out some quickies just to let everyone know how things are going.

Random is an unbelievably good baby. She sleeps through the night, and she really doesn't do much but smile. If she cries, she's really really hungry. She jabbers, squeals, and blows razzies.

Oh, and she has boogie fever. For the longest time, I stood her up in my lap and would jiggle her, singing "Boogie Fever" to her. Now, I can stand her there, sing the song, and she wiggles her hips and bounces her knees.

She's on solids now. Still with the bottles of formula, but now she's on veggies. Loves her peas and green beans, maybe not so hot on carrots or sweet potatoes. And she's a rice eater.

Nicole got her a little dollie. Her first. She started daycare a week ago, and they all love her. It's hard not to. When you walk in the room, and she recognizes you, she positively lights up. She's a Mommie's girl, too, meaning that no matter how many people she lights up for, she always lights brightest for Mommie.

On the other hand, Gamble has learned that there are things he can't do now, because it would "set a bad example."

Even with his new position in the family as a role model, he has announced his intention to marry a girl at his day care. But not until he is tall, like Grandpa Buttons. And then he'll be the Daddie and she'll be the Mommie, and he'll be a firefighter, but first, he has to learn how.

At least that's how he tells it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Knock

Gamble has already been noted for his fondness for the knock-knock joke. You may recall his "Bonkie-head banana" version, for example.

On the way to tee-ball the other night, we asked Gamble to amuse himself while we talked. We started talking about our days, and we heard him jabbering away.

Eventually, we caught on to some of the jabber.

"Knock knock," Gamble said in his normal voice.

"Who's there?" in a small, almost faraway, falsetto.

"Hi, it's Gamble!"

"Gamble who?" Same falsetto.

"Aren't you glad I didn't say 'banana'?"

Then we twigged. Gamble was doing knock-knock with Random, and he was filling in her part, since she can't talk yet.

Well, it's probably better than talking to Poole.

Quitting

Gamble and I have been playing Super Paper Mario, trying to rid the world of the evils of Count Bleck. It's no Harry Potter, in terms of narrative, but it keeps a kid interested.

Mommie was across the room, listening to us play, and she overhears:

"Ok, Gamble. We should do one more. Then do you want to quit or keep going?"

"Daddie, we can't quit. Quitting is for Jackals."

I like his style and 'tude!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Helpful Little Boy

Mommie and I were talking the other night in our bedroom, and Gamble came in for a visit. He went and got some lotion, and started rubbing it onto Mommie's leg.

"Mommie your skin is dry."

"Oh, honey, that's so sweet."

"Yeah, well, I have to take care of you and Daddie."

Wow, such care and love from such a little guy. He continued putting lotion on Mommie and offered to put it on me, too. He made sure we were smiling when he left.

Beaming, actually.

Dialing for Fun

"Mommie? Can you help me dial the phone number? It's 11 numbers long, and I'm having trouble."

He's done it before, but it's not that he's having trouble that's an issue. I'm just impressed at how he phrased his request. He can be so polite and charming.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

For The Love

Gamble's very expressive, and we're trying to find alternatives to help him express frustration in a positive way. He hears people around him expressing their feelings, and wants to do the same.

Recently, he's been saying "Oh, for the love..." in exasperation. Of course, when I heard that, I kept saying "Oh, for the love of Jeff!" so now he says it all the time. I can find only one reference to this online, attributed to Moe Szyslak.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Latest Bad Guy

Today in the car on the way home:

"God is the mostest magnificent bad guy."

Where Gamble gets this stuff is beyond me.

Random Babble

This morning at 3:30, Random was fussing enough that Nicole went to her. When she walked in, she heard Random say clearly, "Baby... Hungee..."

Yesterday, I could swear she said the world "girl" as she was lying there kicking her little aquarium to start and stop the music. I repeated it, and she said it again, sounding more and more like "guhhhl".

Eerie coincidences? Overactive parental imagination? Either way, it's too cute not to write about.

Poole's Tragic End

On the way home from baseball practice today, Gamble started off by telling me and Nic's dad that the first Poole had died.

"What?!? Why?!?" This is an increasingly common response to things he says.

"Well, he died, because he became a bad guy."

I think I know what he's talking about but I dig a little deeper. "Gamble, how did Poole get to be a bad guy? He's a good friend of yours"

"Well, he was really sad and then he died."

Oh dear, I guess I didn't see any of this coming. He continued, "It was because God made the Jackals, and that made him so sad that he just died."

What I'm most impressed is how this short conversation integrates so many of the things that he's had on his mind lately. He occasionally asks about God, the Jackals are all the people in the world that we don't like (especially traffic), his best imaginary buddy Poole is semifrequently present, he's been talking/worrying about dying lately, and of all things, he understands that extended and extreme sadness can turn an otherwise good guy into a bad guy, who often dies in the end.

You know, like Count Blumiere turns into Count Bleck because he lost his love Timpani in the Wii game Super Paper Mario? Right?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gamer Style

So Nicole was doing pictures last night, uploading them to phanfare, and I was sitting down in my little floor-rocker, playing a little "Sonic the Hedgehog" on the Wii virtual console. We heard a familiar bump, bump, bump down the steps.

The sound is reminiscent of Christopher Robin dragging his chubby little cubby downstairs behind him.

Gamble comes around the corner and sees me playing, and he lights up. "Daddie! What are you playing?!?"

"I'm playing 'Sonic', Gamble. We play it at your haircut place." Cool Cuts 4 Kids, way the hell out in Algonquin. They have a Thomas table, there are three stations with Gamecubes for games, and while the kids get their haircuts, they can watch DVDs or play games. He loves going to get haircuts almost more than going bowling. And most recently, he's been playing Sonic there.

"Oh yeah? Ok, well I'm going to watch."

Keep in mind it's about 10:00 p.m. What could I say?

"Uh... Ok."

So I played a little bit, and he kept yelling to dodge the bad guys, avoid the hot lava, generally prompting me to thank him for his sound advice. I loved it. At this point, I noted that he was doing the peepee dance.

I told him to go to the potty, and he told me that he didn't want to miss anything, so I had to pause the game.

While he was gone, Nic looked over to me and said, "Well, you wanted a gaming buddy. Looks like you got him."

Well, maybe not forever, but for now, I'm going to enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Dying of Thirst

So I've been watching a lot of Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel. So sometimes Gamble watches with me. It's a survival show, so sometimes the topics turn that way.

We were talking about the idea that you need to eat and drink to live. I pointed out to Gamble that you need to have food, but that you can survive for a week without it. I pointed out that without water, you wouldn't expect to last three days.

I was tucking him in the other night, when he looked up at me very seriously and said, "Daddie? I'm going to die tomorrow."

"What? What makes you say such a thing?"

"Well, Daddie, I haven't had any water for two days, so I'm going to die."

I had to explain to him how many things water is actually in, and that he was, in all likelihood, not on the chopping block for the following day.

Sigh. I forget how literal they can be.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I Don't Do Poopie Diapers

I'm pretty busy, these days, so Nicole's sending me quite a few stories to put up here.

Yesterday morning: "So Gamble, Mommie is going to be home late tonight so it will just be you and Random."
G: "But Mommie, I am too little to stay by myself."

Finding this cute, Nicole ran with it.

M: "Oh, but Gamble, you are four now. I think you can handle it."
G: "But, Mommie, I don't know how to mix up a bottle for Random."
M: "Well, what if we left it sitting out pre-measured and you could just add it to the pre-measured water."
G: "Well, I suppose that would work, Mommie... But what about the diapers?"

Impressed by his thinking ahead, I told him that we would lay those out too. Adimmantly, he agreed that if we could lay it out, he could change her diaper but very matter of factly said "I don't do poopie diapers."

M: "What? Why not? Don't you want to help your sister if she has a poopie diaper?"
G: "Yes, Mommie. Of course! But that is when you will need to come home."

Pointing North

Overheard in the car this morning (or would have been, if anyone had been there with them)

Gamble: Mommie, you are going North.
Mommie: Wow, Gamble! You know about North, South, West, and East?
G: Sure do. You are going North.
M: Actually, Gamble. I am going East.
G: No, Mommie. You are going straight, and so you are going North.
M: Well, Gamble. That is true sometimes but sometimes, like now, I am going East.
G (Indignant): No, Mommie! You are going straight and so you are going North. It's okay, Mommie. You just haven't learned that yet.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Forehead Stickypants

Occasionally, Gamble really gets us good. This time, it was Mommie's turn.

I can't recall how it started, but Gamble started saying "Forehead Stickypants" as a name for something. He was dancing around all over the place and repeating it.

Mommie was amused. "Hey, Gamble. That's a really funny name... 'Forehead Stinkypants'... HA!"

Gamble didn't hesitate. "Ok, Mommie. I'll just call you that from now on."

Luckily, he soon forgot, and Mommie does not have to retain the sticky, stinky moniker.

Feeding Time

Random is now on solid foods. It's a testament to how much I've been focused on other things that I've not mentioned it here until now. She's been on solid food for a few weeks now.

We started her on rice, and the first day she was not happy with it. Not at all.

The second day, however, she couldn't get enough. She ate as fast as she could, and she had both her hands up, trying to grab the spoon to shovel the rice into her mouth.

She continues to eat the rice for lunch, but at dinner time, she now gets to start up veggies. For the past week, she's had green beans for dinner, and she loves them!

This week will introduce peas or carrots, depending on what Nicole wants to give her.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dancersize

Gamble had a free Dancersize session this past week, and he really enjoyed it. The problem is that we've currently got him in JungleBus (next two months, courtesy of Nic's folks for his birthday), and don't want to overload him with stuff.

When asked, he said he really enjoyed Dancersize.

"Why?" asked Mommie.

"Because I get to dance. And then I get to size!"

Monday, July 2, 2007

Poole the Phoenix

Just before bed tonight:

"Daddie? My friend Poole is up past the sky."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, that Poole died. There's a new Poole. He's the same, except the first Poole died. He flew up into outer space."

I personally think that his theology lessons are getting mixed up with his astronomy lessons in a "hey-your-chocolate's-in-my-peanut-butter" Reese's kind of way.

Kim

Ok, and if having an imaginary friend named Poole who's never around isn't bad enough, Poole's friend Kim is a riot.

Gamble told Nic's parents the other day that Kim was both a boy and a girl. "You know," he said with confidence, "a transformer!"

But no, that's not the kicker. I was talking to him the other day and asking if Kim went with Poole to baseball practice.

"Nah," he said. "She doesn't have hands."

"What? Why not?"

"Well, Daddie, she got bit by a mosquito, and then she went to the doctor and he cut off her hands."

I was always warned my children would be a handful, but I'm not sure I expected this from a four year-old.

New Motions

Well, Random is now using both hands to pull Nicole in for kisses, and she's now holding her bottle in both hands.

This, as you may imagine, is a blessing. You'd never think of having a free hand as being such a treat, but it can be.

Also, when she's hungry, she starts tenting her hands as if reaching for a bottle. She's so cute, and so amazing to watch.

Play Ball

So although he didn't get Batter Batter Baseball for his birthday, Gamble did play a lot of baseball on Saturday. He demonstrated himself to be a little slugger, so we enrolled him in Tee Ball.

He starts Thursday.

The only real potential issue I see is that he likes to hit the ball, but not off the tee. He said he likes it pitched to him. We'll have to see how it goes.

Watch this space.

The Age of Aquarium

Almost 5 months.

That is to say, she's stopped the satanic growling, but she still sounds like a little aquarium...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Octopus

Another quickie from Mommie:

I asked Gamble to carry his own blanket down the stairs like a big boy.

How does he respond? "Mom, how do you expect me to carry that down the stairs? I am not an Octopus!"

Oh, he's discovering the typical parent's dream of having many arms to handle everything.

Poole and Company

From Mommie:

Well, apparently, Poole has a friend. His name is Kim and yes, he is a boy. In addition, he has another friend. His name is Sorry, which is his nickname. It's short for Surath (I think). There is also this whole story that Pool is never around for Gamble because he is always at practice. He apparently takes softball, soccer, and tennis lessons and in fact, is never at school because he is always practicing.

Have you ever known a kid to have an imaginary friend who is never around?

This reminds me, we really should get him into a sports class.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Four

I put my boy to bed tonight.

He was three.

When he wakes, he'll be four.

I'll never see my three year-old boy again. I'm kinda sad, I think.

I'm going to really miss my little three year-old. We've had a really good year together.

Happy Birthday, baby boy! We love you!

I'm going to go check on my three year-old one last time before bed, I think.

Chow

We've been watching Random closely, and one thing we noticed is that she's been watching us closely.

Especially when we eat. All the time. Whenever we're putting something in our mouths, she's watching, fascinated.

So Nicole decided to give her what she wanted.

With the camera ready and a little bowl of rice, Nicole set out to feed her some solid food.

She hated it. Cried and spat it out. Sometimes, she spat it out forcefully.

Tonight, Nicole tried again. It was a huge success. Somewhere recently I heard that you have to introduce a food to a baby seventeen times before it will like it. For Random and rice, the count was simply two.

She went through it, and everytime Nicole stopped feeding her, she freaked out. She giggled and squealed. And she lit up every time she saw the spoon, arms waving in a frenzy.

Chow on, baby Random!

Action Hero

Well, it's Gamble's birthday tomorrow, and I stopped by Toys R Us on the way home tonight to see if I could find something cool for him. I typically don't get him presents at all, but with him getting a little bit older, I thought I would pick him up stuff we would like to play together with.

You know. Man stuff.

He's been playing a lot with action figures. He has Dora and Swiper, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael, some number of evil looking robots with light-up swords, and he mixes and matches them with great delight, creating stories and having adventures.

So I figured on some figures.

Full disclosure. I got him a Spiderman "Bump 'n Go" Web Rider (with motorcycle). He'll almost certainly like it, but I'm really hoping he likes my other two action figures: Bumblebee of the Autobots, and Barricade of the Decepticon. Transformers were the bees knees when I were a lad, and I'm looking forward to showing him how they work.

I'm expecting to hear a Spidey, Swiper, Michelangelo, and Bumblebee melee within days.

Poole

"Well, I don't want to do that. My brother doesn't like it either."

"You don't have a brother, Gamble. You have a beautiful baby sister."

"Well, actually, yes I do have a baby brother."

"Lukie?" For the longest time, he kept calling his cousin Luke his baby brother. He still can't get the whole familial relation thing yet.

"No, Daddie. Pool. He's my brother. He's right here," and he gestured with a sweep of his hand.

Uh huh.

You know, I'd always heard about this imaginary friend thing. I always thought it was kind of a joke, or something the parents suggested so the child would occupy himself while being able to talk to a "friend."

Or maybe a psychosis.

Now I know for sure that it's not something I suggested. It's something he seems to have come up with on his own (or better yet, he probably got it from day care. Yeah, that's it. Day care).

And on occasion, he refers to his good friend Pool, which I always see in my head as "Poole", and sometimes, there's another friend with Poole. That other friend's name is Water. Except that Water isn't always around, and Poole's his brother.

Oh, brother.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day

I wanted to go to the Cheesecake Factory for father's day, so we went. Aside from the great time, the great food, and great dessert, it was overall a wonderful treat from Mommie to this Daddie. I didn't mention this particular event to her at the restaurant, however.

There was this guy with a group of tattooed friends who walked by on his way out, and he was wearing a "Danger: enormous penis" novelty T-shirt. I wanted to jump up and yell, "OH MY GOD! HE'S GOT AN ENORMOUS PENIS! RUUUNNNN!!!!" and book out the door, leaving the other restaurant-goers to gawk at him embarrassingly.

For some reason, I find myself with a strong dislike for novelty T-shirts that have messages I don't want my children to see.

And that thar? Means I'm too old.

And a father.

Happy Father's Day, everyone!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Exorsister

Random growls. She does. She's trying so hard to talk, but in between and around the coos, ahs, and bbbbs, she growls.

It sounds, no kidding, like the sounds Linda Blair makes on the bed in The Exorcist. The sounds between the talking. The ones where you can hear her voice, but you can hear the demon talking through her as well.

For some reason, that's almost literally what it's like. She seems to be of two voices. There's the normal voice that she coos and caws in, but there's another. An undertone. And that's the one that's growling.

It's a bit cute, and a bit freaky.

Jessica said that Thursday morning, she slept until almost 10 am. When Jessica woke her up to give her Zantac and her first bottle, she apparently growled first thing.

Just like her momma, she likes to sleep in, and if you wake her up early, she growls.

Just kidding, honey!

(Alternate blog title: Twisted Sister)

Updated to include video.

Monday, June 11, 2007

G Dizzizzle

So on the way home last night, Gamble was playing with words.

"Mommie, sometimes you call Random 'R'."

"Yes, that's true."

"That means I can call you 'M'." This is what I call my mom. Two peas in a pottie.

"Yeah, I guess you could."

"And Daddie is 'D', and that means... I'm 'G'!" he cried proudly.

And I had to go one further: "Gamble, next time you call your grandparents, you can call yourself 'G Dizzizzle'."

Sure enough, a little later, he was on the phone to Nic's parents, calling himself 'G Dizzizzle' and laughing hysterically.

Fo' sheezie.

New School Lunch Programs

First day back at school today, after a prolonged outage. Gamble had some separation anxiety, but according to the Kindercare director, he did great.

I'm a little concerned about the changes they've made to the lunch menu, but I'm not sure how to approach it with the director. Check this out:

On the way home, "Daddie? I need to go home and have lunch."

"What are you talking about, Gamble? You had lunch at school."

"They served yuckie stuff at school for lunch."

"What was it?"

"Daddie, it was rice."

"That doesn't sound so bad. You love rice."

"But Daddie? They put diarrhea on it."

"What?!?"

"Yeah, and I really don't like diarrhea for lunch."

"I don't blame you."

I really don't blame him. I don't prefer that as a rice topping, either. I don't really know what he meant. Honestly.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hello?

Gamble's started a number of new behaviors, and started using a whole bunch of new phrases. Probably the most annoying to have come through is the ol' sarcastic "Hello?"

As in, "Daddie, I didn't want the waffles for breakfast. I wanted oat-a-meal. Hello?"

Oh, so much like a teenager that you just want to take away his car keys.

I mean, he's only three. Hello?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Gaming Firsts

Ok, so he's a junior gamer now. It's no secret that one of my biggest time sinks is playing video games. It helps me relax and keeps me mentally active at the same time. The biggest obstacle to getting this prized time, however, has been the fact that most games are too complicated or too violent to play in front of children.

Gamble and I picked up Super Paper Mario the other day. It's tame enough for kids, interesting enough for me, and best of all, the controls are simple enough for him to start picking up.

And he loves to play it.

Now, instead of begging to watch TV all the time, he's now asking to spend time with his dad, playing Mario.
Interesting firsts:

1) Yesterday we had the first time Gamble suggested something Daddie had not thought of while playing a video game. There was a puzzle in front of us, and I didn't think it was obvious what to do next.

"Daddie, try switching to Slim. He can make you skinny."

Ah, yes. He's outfoxing me already.

2) A couple days ago we had our first video game tantrum when I told him that we were done playing for a while. He wanted to keep playing, and he had a fit.

3) First use of Mario characters out of context. Kid's got quite the imagination, and he started involving the Mario universe in his bathtime play. Mario and Bowser got to interact with the diver and the dolphin. Hilarious!

4) First use of video games as an incentive. "Hey, Gamble, I was thinking that if your room were clean, we could go play that Mario game." Like a charm.

5) First unsolicited tag-team play. "Mommie? Can Daddie and I go play Mario?" She raised an eyebrow at me, and I had to shrug to indicate that I had totally not put him up to it.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Aware

Random is so much more aware now. When you walk into the room and say something, she tracks you. She looks at you.

If the TV is on, she tries to watch it. The doctor recommended Baby Einstein time for her, and she just loves watching the colors.

Between that and the jabbering, she's really getting interested and interesting.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Gamble News

Two new G thangs:

He seems to be frightened easily. It's probably a stage, but now he's panicking all the time about "bad guys" that are going to get him. He's even started being frightened of "Swiper-da-fox" (as he says it), from Dora.

Second, he's really crying, flying off the handle, and whining a lot. This is definitely an age-related thing, and we're going to get him through it. Our new technique is to send him to his room. If, on the way to his room, he cries or yells, we dispassionately tell him we're going "shopping" in his room, meaning that we get to come in and take away one thing.

Sometimes we even take a blanket, if the episode's especially bad.

Now, even at the mere mention of shopping in his room, he turns his attitude around saying, in his big boy voice, "No, thank you! See? I'm not crying. I'll be a good boy!" And the times we've had to do this have dropped off somewhat already.

Sleeping Parents

We may just be the luckiest parents alive. On top of two cute kids, we get a lot of sleep, relative to othre new parents. Gamble mostly sleeps through the night, though he has his freakouts.

Random, on the other hand, sleeps through from 9 pm to 9 am pretty much every night. She wakes up at 6:30 every morning and fusses a little, but Mommie found that if she let Random sleep next to her, she could get another three hours out of her.

So typically around 6:30 every morning, Nicole sleeps in Random's room in the day bed. Gamble usually gets up at 7:30 and plays by himself until he can't stand the hunger any more and goes looking for someone. This means that on weekends, I get the treat of sleeping in until about 8:30, and Nicole and Random have been able to sleep until almost 10!

The Baby Giggles

And the baby giggles. She laughs all the time. When you play the tongue game with her, for example, or just if she hasn't seen you in a long time.

But no one makes her giggle more than her new best friend.

He lights up when you squeeze his tummy, and so does she. It's a Winnie the Pooh doll whose face lights up and he plays music when you press a switch on his belly or hug him tight. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes her as happy as that Pooh.

Except maybe her Mommie.

Oh, and when her eyebrows go up, she looks like a little Pooh. Because her head seems Pooh-shaped, I would call her Pooh-head, but that isn't very nice, now is it?

The Baby Speaks

No, I don't mean that I've got a first word yet. I don't count "Ungh-ee and Ungh-aa", or even the ubiquitous "Ha" and "Hi" that all seem to indicate hungry.

But just in the past couple days, she's really started to jabber. Shorter bursts of sounds, punctuated by bursts of non-talking. It doesn't really sound like anything, but she's definitely showing interest.

And she's giggling now. It is so cute when she does. If you've been following the photos at phanfare, you know exactly how cute she looks when she smiles big.

Full of Love

Full of love for his family, he his. Witness the exchange between him and Mommie at bedtime:

G: Mommie, what was your favorite part of the day?
M: Watching you play with Random. What was your favorite part of the day?
G: Going to get ice cream with Jessica.
M: Do you have a 2nd favorite part of the day?
G: Yes, Mommie, loving you.

(sometimes the struggles of parenting go away in just a heartbeat)

M: Oh, Gamble. You are melting my heart.
G: Well, Mommie, you can't melt my heart! It's not made of ice. It's red.

Just like his Daddie. So romantic sometimes, yet so practical and literal others.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Knock Knock

This morning at breakfast:

"Knock knock."

"Huh?"

"Daddie, whenever someone says, 'Knock knock,' you've got to say, 'Who's there?'"

"Ok. Who's there?"

"Bonkie-head."

"Bonkie-head who?"

"Orange you glad I didn't say 'banana'? Isn't that a funny joke?"

Hilarious. He cracks me up. That bonkie-head.

A Mural of the Artist as a Young Man

So Gamble painted today. Not ordinary painting, as you can see. I hooked him up.

You see, I needed to paint the little alcove in our garage, and I had primed it yesterday with his help. It was tough managing him while trying to paint, and it didn't go as well as it could have.

Today, I decided to give him something a little different to do.

I had some stands that I made for a garage sale and a long piece of plywood (2 x 8). Gamble helped me drive some screws to hold them together. I was originally going to let him use the paint we picked out, but I found some old paint I was planning to get rid of anyway. The paint was brick red, teal green, and light blue, all colors found in our house.

I had to rig up his smock, which was all ripped up, by taping it around his midsection with packing tape. Then, to cover his legs, I cut the top off a drawstring garbage bag and drew the string tight around his waist and tied it.

Then the pride. Oh, the pride. I was talking to him about some of the rules about painting, being careful, keeping the paint on the board, not on the Gamble or the floor, the walls, etc. I gave him a brush for each paint can, so he wouldn't mix them. And then I wondered aloud where to put the brushes when he wasn't using them. I talked him through laying them across the top of the open can.

"Daddie? I have an idea."

I like when he says that. It's music to my ears. He's really thinking.

"What's that, G?"

"Well, Daddie, you can just take the lids off, and we can put the brushes on the lids."

Man, do I love this little boy. He was so right, and as silly as you may think I am for not thinking of it, I was just as proud that he had thought of it. And that's exactly what he did.

And everything went amazingly smoothly. The only hitch was that as he leaned over to dip the brush in, he swabbed some of the paint off the board with his hair. He ended up with some blue and some green in his hair. I asked him what he thought Mommie would do if she saw what we were doing.

"Kill us," he said, in a hilarious matter-of-fact tone.

So what's it a mural of? Gamble loves his family so much, it's a portrait of us. The biggest green blob is him, of course. The big red blob is Mommie, while the little blue blob with the green slash is me. Random is represented by a little red blob to the northwest of Mommie, kinda like Alassica, but not to scale.

Cuddlebug

There's no two ways about it. Random is a cuddlebug.

Blankets, stuffed animals, anything soft. She'll hold it, snuggle it, cuddle it, and you, if you're holding it. Drape a blanket alongside her face, and she'll grasp it and snuggle.

Gamble was an anti-cuddler. He never wanted any part of anything cuddly. He actually seemed to dislike cuddling at the same age.

The stark contrast is just so amazingly weird.

Jealousy

Clearly, Gamble has issues with sharing the spotlight.

Why, just the other day, he asked if we could put Random back in Mommie's belly!

Boys' Weekend - The Other Lost Episode

While we were in Borders, I was looking for The Undercover Economist. I knew what section it should be in, but I was having a devil of a time finding it. Gamble was fussing, so he asked me, "Can I look at this book?"

I told him he could look at it without checking what he was showing me. I didn't care, honestly. He handles books gently, and it was getting him to sit down on the bench nearby.

When I finally found him, I had to laugh at what he was holding.

A middle-aged man rounded the corner just as I told him, "Gamble, I know you're fascinated by small business marketing, but maybe we should just go down and get some steamers and talk about your business plan first."

I gave the guy a mischievous nod and we wandered off.

Agog. That's how we like to leave people.

Boys' Weekend - The Lost Episode

And I forgot to mention it. Saturday morning, when we went out to go to breakfast, we found an old picture he had drawn at day care in my car.

"Daddie, look! It's a treasure map!"

"Oh yeah?"

"And see that orange spot?" Well, you're in the back seat. No, I can't see it.

"Yeah, I see it. What is it?"

"It's Alassica." Not Alaska, though I'm sure that's what he was going for.

"Oh, yeah? Hey, are you planning to take Jessica to Alassica?"

"Yeah. She's going to help me find the tweasure." Still no R's.

We drove to breakfast and Menards. As we went through the store, he kept telling me whether I was going toward or away from the treasure.

And then he said that the treasure was the bowling alley, and that we'd have to walk from Menards to the bowling alley to earn it. Well, I never found out what the treasure was, but it sure made for an interesting diversion.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Boys' Weekend - Part Two

Oh man. I'm so exhausted.

Picking up where I left off yesterday, we left for dinner. Gamble had announced what he wanted for dinner early in the day. I hadn't believed it, so I wrote it off. I asked him again to make sure that he still wanted it.

So off we headed to Red Lobster. Which was just fine with me.

Just as they were seating us, the waiter asked if he'd had a chance to see the lobster tank. Well, we'd seen it a week before, and Gamble wanted to see it again. As we were walking up there, the waitress said, "And ask one of those pretty girls up there to pull a lobster out and let you pet it."

What? I've gone to Red Lobster now for like 30 years. I didn't know they did that. But sure enough, Kaori raked up a lobster and let him touch it. Let both of us touch it, in fact, since I'd never touched a live lobster, either.

We got back to the table, and we perused the menu. There it was, right on the kids menu, the thing he'd asked for. Crab legs.

Yes, he wanted to order crab legs.

And immediately I hearkened back to the feeling I had last week when he started going after the tail-on shrimp, and how I'd always gravitated to the market price crustaceans. Well, I wasn't going to say no.

But I did the smart thing as a parent. I ordered a plate of 30 tail-on shrip for myself, just in case he didn't like the crab. I'm a crab freak myself, and I figured I could always trade him.

When it came, he was excited about the crab cracker, and the cracking of the legs. He dipped his first piece in the butter and chowed it down. He seemed to be loving it when he asked me for some shrimp. He said that he liked it better than the crab, and offered me his remaining legs. It was so exciting just to see him try them.

And then we went to the Meijer at Golf and Algonquin. They were having a carnival in the parking lot, and I was taking Gamble. I bought a bunch of ride tickets, but then was kinda bummed about the 42" height limit to ride most of the rides, even the Merry-go-round. I found out that they were just kidding about the height requirement.

I guess carnies aren't the most reputable lot. In fact, the first one told me that for most of the small kids, they just want a parent to go on the rides with the child, and they weren't charging the parent. So I rode the Merry-go-round with him, and then I went down the slide with him.

But the third ride was the Dragon Wagon, a small roller coaster that I couldn't ride with him. He clambered in a little tentatively, but he quickly changed his tune. I remembered one of his Hi-5 songs, the Dragon Dance. As he was leaving the station, I sang out one of the lyrics, "Dragon will set fire... to your underpants."

And he rode gleefully, with a huge smile on his face. His eyes were huge and happy, and I couldn't have been prouder. I'm a big coaster buff, and I'm not altogether surprised he loves it. I could see him on the coaster, his mouth repeating the chorus, "to your underpants!" It only took him three times around to figure out that you were supposed to slap hands with the ride operator as the coaster moved past.

And he got off, and we walked around the carnival some more, but he wanted to go back. He ran over to the Dragon Wagon and was first in line. When he got to choose his car, he sat right in the front car. Someone next to me saw me cheering him on, and commented on how cute he was. We were both feeling glorious.

And after that we came home. We were both tired, and we argued at bedtime about where to take a shower and what to wear for bed, but other than that, it was totally a full day. And we had one day left of our boys' weekend.

He came in to see me crying at 5:30. His big comfortor had come off the bed and it's too unwieldy for him to put back on. I helped him out, worried that meant he was up for good.

Next think I knew it was almost 9:00. I never sleep that late. I bumbled out of bed and went to the living room. He was looking at family pictures and saying how much he missed Mommie and Random. I promised him that he'd see them today.

I got my shower, and we went to breakfast. Apple Villa again, at his request. This time, he had waffles, and I avoided being overcharged for meatsides.

We came home, and I put up a coat of primer in the corner of the garage. Then I put in the new vanity downstairs.

We went to Menards to return a part we didn't need, and then, since it was right next door, we went bowling again.

I have to say that Gamble has the best attitude when it comes to bowling. He's all jazzed when he gets three pins, and when he gets two out of three pins for a spare, he yells, "Yes!" not "Arrgh!" like me. We did a lot of high-fiving just for getting the ball down to the pins.

The second game was probably the worst game I've bowled since seventh grade. No kidding. In the ninth frame, we were tied at 85. Tied. Me and Gamble. He's three. And he had already bowled 85 in the 9th. What a mixed bag of emotions. Really, I couldn't believe he was only three and he was close to breaking 100. And here I was, tied. Was this really going to be the first time he beat me bowling?

I'll let you speculate as to how it turned out. I don't think there's any point in telling. We had a great time. And when I got a spare, he was the first to yell, "Hey, Daddie! You're doing great!" It's good to see the encouragement you dish out sometimes comes back.

So we went out to lunch at Portillo's, and then went to Border's to try to find a maze book. Do you know how hard it is to just find a book of mazes with nothing else that isn't too hard for him? We ordered steamers and sat there drinking them and singing and looking at a giant activity book (that had some mazes in it).

We came home, and I checked in on the two sinks I'd installed. Both of them leaked at first blush. A few more twists of the channel locks, though, and they seemed ok. Will have to keep our eyes on them. I collapsed into the chair to grab the laptop and write this out.

As I write this, Gamble just won his game of Wii Tennis. He's hilarious to watch playing it. His latest quote: "I won! I smoked both of them. Watch Gamble!"

Off to play. Mommie, Random, and Vince will be here in a bit...