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...

video

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. ?