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."


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

"Ok. Who's there?"


"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.


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.


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...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Boys' Weekend - Part One

Well, it's just us boys this weekend. And we're having a blast.

Nicole took Random to Ohio this week. She had a Tastefully Simple party she was throwing in Wauseon, and I really didn't want to be on the road again. I have a million home projects to work on, and I thought I could get quite a bit done if I had a weekend to myself.

But taking both kids on the road is a bit much (even though she's riding with her dad, who's in these two weeks for training, but needed to tractor the lawn), so I agreed to keep Gamble here for a boys weekend. I figured I could still get quite a few things done and have lots of fun with him.

Before they were even gone last night, I was already working. I was putting the first coat of joint compound up in the nook in the garage that I'm going to paint. I'm planning to put a couple shelves there instead of the stuff that was there before. Gamble helped me with all sorts of things in the garage while I worked, and we saw the three of them off.

By the by, I'm using the mix-it-yourself variety, because I wanted it to dry quickly between applications. I'm notorious for messing up my coats, so I thought I'd at least shorten the overall time, if not the number of cycles.

Dinnertime came, and Gamble and I were off to the McDonald's with the playland. Nothing terribly special, but he got to play a lot. He ate his nuggets, apples, and drank his apple juice dry.

When we got back, he got in the shower, and I got started ripping out one of the two sinks in the upstairs bathroom. I put him to bed, and finished pulling out the sink parts. I discovered that I needed some parts, and I was done for the night.

This morning, I got started on drywall round two. When he came down, I was finishing up, so I told him we could go to breakfast if he got dressed. He rushed to dress himself.

We drove out to IHOP, since he asked for pancakes, and it's by Menards, where I intended to go for supplies. I've never seen the IHOP so busy! We had to leave, because there were already three cars circling to find a parking spot, and I imagined a half-hour wait.

So we went to Apple Villa. I figured breakfast would be fairly cheap, but I was so wrong. Little tip: Apple Villa charges $3-4 for a side of meat. I got sausage and bacon with my blueberry crepes. Gamble got cranberry juice. Breakfast wasn't cheap.

So we went to Menards, and after I got my supplies, we walked over to Poplar Creek Bowl. It cost $3.50 to get shoes, but Gamble bowled two games at $1 apiece. Note to everyone: it's $1 a game until Labor Day for open bowling there. I can see taking G several times a week. I didn't bowl this time, but at $1 a game, shoot... It's almost worth going and getting new balls drilled for us.

He loves bowling (this is not the first time this week he's gone. Vince took him the other evening and bowled three games with him) and on several shots today, put the ball straight down the alley without hitting the bumpers. He got a 78 and a 58. Not bad for 3.

Because we went bowling, he didn't even balk at going to another store. We went to Ikea to buy a couple Gorn shelving units. We were in and out in no time.

We got home, and I finished the first bathroom sink, replaced the kitchen faucet, removed the caulk and recaulked around the windows in Gamble's and Random's rooms. Gamble followed me throughout, getting me tools, paper towels, throwing out garbage. He was a tremendous help, and I couldn't be more grateful to have such an enthusiastic helper.

Each one of these tasks took well longer than I thought it would, and now I know why plumbers get paid so much. Have you ever been on your back with your head and the one arm that will fit in the tiny bathroom cabinet under the vanity? You can't see, and you can't get comfortable. You're lucky if you're not in constant pain while trying in vain to see the threading underneath the faucet. And so it's not as easy as it looks. That said, it's not conceptually hard at all to handle faucets and drains. I just wish I had longer arms.

But it gets better if you have someone to hand you the right wrench when you want it. Saves on the up and down. And Gamble's been the best.

We went back down to the garage, and I taped the area off in prep for painting. Gamble started getting excited, since he likes painting. I realized that I screwed up and needed to patch one more hole before we painted, so we put the shelves together.

Now, these were Ikea flat-pack specials. The bolts they used required a ratchet wrench. I taught Gamble to twist that wrench, but after putting in two of them, he kinda lost interest. I kept giving him things to throw out, but he helped by doing all sorts of things. When I needed the next shelf, he brought it over to me.

But when it came time to put on the cross pieces, he brought me the drill. I got the screw started, and then held it steady. Turns out he loves power tools as much as he loved using the axe. He screwed in all the screws for me.

So it's already been a full weekend, and I suspect we'll get more done. He's sitting watching SpongeBob while I type this. As soon as I send this out, we're off to dinner. I'm sure I'll follow up with the rest of the weekend at a later date. I sure hope Mommie and Random are having this much fun/getting this much done.

Tail-on Shrimp

I think I forgot to mention it. We went to Red Lobster last week for a celebratory dinner. We split a 45-piece shrimp plate.

Gamble wasn't that thrilled with his Mac 'n Cheese, so he kept reaching for the tail-on shrimp. He loves it! I can't believe how much he liked it. He's requesting it semi-frequently now. I can't believe what expensive tastes he has.

Of course, then again, I bet this is the parental payback I get for having king crab as a favorite food. Every birthday or special occasion, my parents would look at my face across the table at the restaurant and say, "Go ahead. We know you want the king crab. It's okay." I'd always look for a price, and it would always say, "Mkt."

I can't wait to take him for shrimp again.

Don't Tread on Me

So we had quite a mishap at the house yesterday. Gamble really likes walking on the treadmill, and he was on it yesterday. Nicole was watching him carefully, standing right next to him, and he had a great time.

When it was time to get off, he pulled the kill switch and was getting ready to get off. Nicole got a couple steps away, toward the desk area of the basement.

It was like it was in slow motion. She heard the beep of the kill switch being put on, and the beep of him pressing a button. As she turned toward him, he had broken from a fast walk into a run and started screaming as the speed on the treadmill edged up.

Now our basement is pretty tight quarters, and there were two chairs in the way, as well as the vanity I plan to install soon downstairs. In going over it to help him, Nicole sustained a great number of bangs and cuts on her left arm.

And she was too late. She watched as the speeding treadmill got the best of him and sent him slamming backward into the wall behind the treadmill.

In the "Guide to Setting up Your New Treadmill", which sits right next to the treadmill itself, it says clearly that it needs six to ten feet of clearance behind it. We don't have that kind of room. There's about two feet behind it. Folks, if you have kids, they mean it.

She called me to tell me what happened, and watched him like a mother hen all day. He seemed right as rain. Right before he fell asleep, I checked his pupils. Houston, we have dilation.

He's going to have to get back on the treadmill soon, though. I don't want him afraid of it.

By the way, when I asked him about it, he said he put the switch on and pressed "7". Oh my. I never let him on above 2. No wonder he flew.

So he's okay, and I couldn't be more grateful. He's the coolest little guy.

Spaghetti Affinity

Chicken nuggets, Mac 'n Cheese. Sure he likes these foods.

But few realize his spaghetti affinity. Gamble eats spaghetti frequently, and he loves it.

Trouble is, spaghetti is messy. Very messy.

So he eats it... naked.

And rightly so. Almost every time he has spaghetti, he gets it on his chest, in his lap, on his cheeks, sometimes on the back of his arms, everywhere.

And then the other day a friend was watching him. She told Nicole that she'd be serving spaghetti, and of course Nic warned her that he might need to take of his shirt.

When she put the plate on the table, Gamble went to the corner of the room and started matter-of-factly taking off his pants. Thank goodness he warned her. When I picked him up, he was topless, and the spaghetti sauce around the mouth made him look like a clown!

Swear. No other food gets him this messy, and he's not slurping.

Oh, and for completeness, he's not that big a fan of other pasta. He eats it, but he's a spaghetti fiend.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

S(p)itting Up

So here's the thing. Random's mostly sleeping through the night. We're getting some rest, but still not the best. We're so paranoid about her being okay that we sleep fitfully, and both our jobs have gotten a little crazy.

The most interesting thing of late is that she is trying all the time to sit up. She grunts, leans forward, and can mostly balance herself upright. She sits in her Bumbo from time to time, but just prefers sitting up on your lap.

Of course, with the reflux, she's also spitting up when she flexes her abs.

Tonight, for example. She was sitting in my lap, then leaned way forward.

I can't believe that she was able to puke in the leghole of my shorts, right down the back of my leg. Oooh, all this puking and good aim, too!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the Mothers in our lives! We wanted to say thanks for all your love and support over the years, both for us and now for our kids. And double Happy Mother's Day to N, who's been such an awesome Mommie. She's seemingly inexhaustible when it comes to our two kids, something I can't myself manage.

Happy Mother's Day, y'all!

Level 1 - Mild

It's our guilty little secret. We occasionally go out to eat dinner at the Taco Bell. Convenience food, surely, and a super-cheap way to get the four of us out of the house.

We missed an opportunity to go there recently, and Gamble was lamenting how much he wanted to go there. This was a little weird, though, since the last time we went there, I think he wasn't so keen on eating there, and didn't like anything but the nachos.

So while we were out getting haircuts yesterday, we stopped at the Bell for the lunch. I was shocked when he not only wanted to eat the rice, the chips, and the pintos 'n' cheese.

He also was asking about the hot sauces.

I offered to put the mild sauce on his rice for him. He tasted a bite, and loved it, so I put the remainder of the sauce in the rice, and he stirred it up. Apparently, it was too hot for him and he refused to eat any more.

Well, he wasn't giving up. He asked for more mild sauce to put in a cup to dunk his chips in. He took every bite with a bit of the mild sauce. I'd say he's graduated to level 1!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Kaleidoscopic Birthday

Gamble is responsible for some of the wildest flights of fancy I've been privy to. His latest one, one that came up a while ago and that he keeps riffing on:

"I'm going to have a birthday that changes color."

He first wanted a green birthday because, you know, it's special green. His favorite. He loves it.

Then, because I like blue (secretly, I like green best, but since he likes it so very much, I let him have all the green he likes), he wanted his birthday to change from blue to green. What he means by that is unclear, but he keeps saying it. I think he wants it to make me happy and him happy.

And now, he's expecting a kaleidoscopic birthday. He wants to please Mommie and Random, too, so now his birthday changes colors from green to blue to red to pink.

I can't wait to see how his Mommie plans to pull this off.

Night Shift

Random slept from 10 to 6:30 last night! Go, Random, go!

She's been in this mode for a little while now, so I just hope she keeps it up. Starts to feel more like normal life.

Monday, May 7, 2007


Probably many of you got to hear him say it this weekend, but this little boy is so polite that most of the time that I ask him to do something, he responds with, "Yes, sir!" or "Yes, Ma'am!"

I'm not entirely sure where it comes from, but he does it with a cute little salute that cracks me up every time.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Not on Purpose

Howdy, folks.

I know that you're interested in the family, and I'm very sorry for not writing more these days. It's not as if there's nothing happening with the kids.

It's that there's too much happening to Mommie and Daddie to keep up at the moment.

I wanted to take a minute and offer some significant data:

Random seems to be sleeping rather well these days. Most days, she sleeps from about 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. If not straight through, then maybe she only gets up once and goes back to sleep. On some days, those hours are extended further.

Our babysitter, who is helping out a lot more now that her school is letting out for the summer, is now watching both kids. She's great with Gamble, and she's wonderful with Random. She's adventurous, and loves taking them both to the park and even does picnics with Gamble.

Random seems way more relaxed than Gamble ever was. I don't know how Nic feels, but since her reflux seems worse than his ever was, I'm guessing it may have been the chronic ear infections that he had as a baby.

Either way, we are very blessed to have two very cute kids, and we love them to pieces!

I'll try to keep stories coming as I get them, but much of it's tempered by the time to write them down.