Monday, March 12, 2012

He said what?

I was getting ready for work the other day when Coben started grilling me on my mascara. Does it make my eyes feel good. Do I like it? How come he can't have any? And then it evolved into this....
Coben: Mommy, did I used to be in your tummy?
Me: Yes, yes you did.
Coben: Did you talk to me all of the time?
Me: Yes, I talked to you a lot.
Coben: (thinking) And then I had to come out so I could play with your hair

I thought that those of you that know about Coben's total and complete obsession with my hair might get a chuckle out of this. I did!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Almost six and nearly three

It's about time to check in and write about some things that I don't want to forget but probabaly will if I don't write them down. We have two birthdays coming up and it's added to my awareness that time is flying fast. Both kids want to have their rooms decorated for their birthdays in lieu of presents. We are still about $10K away from fixing the foundation so that we can patch up the walls and make it a true make-over so we'll see what happens but how very cool that they each wants rooms that represent their growth. Coben is ready for a BIG big boy bed and Cady is ready to incorporate a desk to do her school-work and hopefully a space-saving bed.

Coben is still a toddler but not for long. I LOVE the toddler years and knowing that this is our last child and that this stage is wrapping up is kind of sad. I love that Coben spells his name, "C-O-B-E-N. That spells my name!" and wants everything under the sun spelled to him. Mostly fastfood restaurants. How do you spell McDonalds? How do you spell Taco Bell? How does Burger King spell?  I love his chubby knees and thick thighs but I can see them lengthening and thinning out. When Coben smiles his whole face smiles. He wrinkles up his eyes and nose and flashes his big teeth. And when he gets excited all ten of his fingers wiggle around. He has no endurance for staying up late and rarely makes it through a movie. He even asks to be taken to bed when he's ready but says, "carry me like your baby" which means cradling him and I gladly oblige.  He's very gentlemanly in that he ALWAYS puts the toilet seat down (although he forgot ONCE and I sat down without thinking. But he was present and informed me that my butt is too big to fall in anyhow). He says, "thanks for cooking this" when he likes dinner and when he's eaten all of his vegetables he says, "feel my muscles" and squinches up his fists how someone normally does when they want to make a muscle but then wants us to actually feel his fists (he thinks those are his muscles).
His birthday is in about three weeks and I know there is no going back or freezing time. The most imporant thing on his mind right now is a "Yo Gabba Gabba bed" (guess what? they don't make twin sheets!) and a Yo-Gabba-Gabba party.


When I was a kid I often had these crazy ideas. "Let's organize a community service group", "Let's listen to 45's and make-up weird skits". Some of the ideas weren't too safe. Once, in fifth grade, I found a chunk of wax  on the way home from school. It seeemed like a good idea to make candles from the wax. I invited Sonya over and doled out instructions (based on idea only and  NO scientific evidence that this would work). Let's melt the wax in a pan on  my mom's stove. Let's cut up strings for wicks. Let's melt crayons in the wax. When it's done we'll pour it in an egg carton (lighting candles in an egg carton? Clearly I hadn't though that part thorugh either) and we'll put the strings in for wicks and we'll have candles. The white chunk of wax melted down nicely. I remember very well that we then added RED crayon and then suddenly as our faces are hovering over the pot the wax bubbles and explodes. Red wax splattered our faces and various places throughout the kitchen (I know this because my mom complained for MONTHS afterward as she was scraping newly found wax with a butter knife). I don't remember how Sonya fared but I clearly remember having splatter burn marks on my face as a result of this hair-brained scheme. I wish that had been a learning lesson for me but no. Not too long later I decided that a doll sauna would be a fantastic idea. We made a sauna out of a  cardboard box and then heated rocks up on  the stove in one of Sonya's mom's pans. (Warming up dry rocks in a pan does NOTHING good for pots by the way). The idea is that we would put the pan of hot rocks in the carboard house, throw the dolls in, and then wet the rocks with water to create steam. And again, another failed project unless you consider a ruined pot and melted dolls a success. The real success is that Sonya has remained my friend after all of these years.
So my point with these stories is that I am afraid I have inflicted this character trait onto Cady. I can tell when I walk into her room and see the art work that she has put together and the elaborate way that she has decorated that she has some big ideas in there. It's fun to watch but it's a little scary to think of her having the same trait of creativity+impulsivity and the potential for disaster. Maybe I should be teaching  her about safety goggles and science while she is still young.
It's so much fun to see her growing up. She climbs up on counters to get her own cup. She rifles through the trash cans for art supplies. She uses cute words like "delightful" and "elegant" that cause me to have to suppress a smile when they pop up for the first time. I try not to think that in a couple of months she will already be a 1/3 of the way to grown-up.
School is clipping along well for her.  She won an award for being an outstanding community member and learner. And her teacher always reports that she is doing great. Ocassionally I get to pop in and have lunch in the cafeteria (I think my taste-buds preferred the old school cafeteria food before they healthied it up) and sit with all of her friends who tell me stories and address me as, "Cady's mom". Her best school friend is second grade Sophia who plays with her every other day (she splits up time between Cady and her second grade friends) and Cady loves Sophia days. Cady started attending after-school enrichment classes so for three days a week she has Art (Mondays), Zumba (Wednesdays) and Creative Dance (Thursdays) and it buys me a little more time to pick Coben up and still get her on time since Alicja isn't able to do regular pick-ups anymore.

And finally, the evolution of the sibling relationship has been amazing to watch. They have always loved each other but 90% of the time I've questioned whether they like each other, even a little bit. It took a bedroom brawl that resulted in a bloody nose (Coben's) to turn the corner. I'm not sure why that particular event was the catalyst but there has been such a dramatic change and it happened so suddenly after the fight. Cady ASKS Coben to play with her. She INVITES him into her room. They play toys together, they wrestle, they play hide-and-go-seek and chase each other around the house. They even play board games together. Of course they fight. I never expected that they wouldn't fight but it feels like it's a "normal" level now and not the constant fight fest that was happening previously. Coben will talk to Cady and tell her stuff that he won't tell us. One day, now I can't remember what the particular incident was (which is why I blog) but I think that Coben had hurt himself. I asked him what had happened and he wouldn't tell me. The moment I left the room I hear Cady say, "what happened buddy? you can tell me"  and he told her! Particularly heart-warming was what happened last week. It was a tiring week. I arrived home at 5:30 with both kids and had to get dinner going but Coben was getting into EVERYthing. So much so that I could not read more than a line of the recipe at a time without having to intervene. When I'd had enough I snapped at Coben, "Coben. Knock if off!! I am trying to cook and you are getting into everything STOP IT!" Cady says to Coben, "c'mon buddy let's find you something to do" and takes him into the living room to play. I was BLOWN away!!

And that is that. Like I said, if I don't write it down, I just won't remember. And I want to remember. There may come a time when the kids are teenagers that I NEED to remember a time when I liked them and a time when they liked us! And one day they might like to read these stories and how the stories will take on a whole new light once they have kids of their own. I just hope at some point, they read them and know how much we love them both.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Nutcracker

Finally, the day of the Nutracker has arrived. The moment that Cady woke up she put on the purple dress that her Aunt Sophie  sent to her. Seven hours later we found ourselves front row center (discount tickets) with a few of our friends to watch the performance. It was the same show that we went to last year but an entirely different experience. Last year, Cady watched and didn't say a whole lot. This year Cady had a lot to say and it was fun to watch her try to figure it all out. "How do they get their dress to stick straight up in the air like that? Boy, you have to be strong to do that (as the sugar plum fairy is being lifted through the air), That man must be very embarraseed to be wearing a pink shirt. Is that ballerina from Japanese? Is she from Babesia? (Asia but almost LOL'd at this one as it seemed like a line straight out of a Bill and Ted movie) Is he from Africa? Why are the girl and the nutrcracker just sitting there watching?" and my favorite was when she would try to explain the show to me. "The nutracker came to life and it's because the brown man is magic"  I was super proud of Cady for getting on stage this year. At the end of the show they invite all of the little girls (and boys but only like 2-3 in the whole audience) on stage for Q&A with the performers and then they teach them a dance routine. Last year I could tell that Cady wanted to so badly but she was too nervous to do it. This year she didn't hesitate and she shook her little tail-feathers up there. The problem with sitting in the first row is that all of the other camera-happy parents rushed down and crowded in front so I didn't even try to get a video but just enjoyed the moment instead. You'll have to take my word for it that she looked like a little fairy princess in her purple sparkly dress dancing up there.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Second Time Around

Here's another lesson learned. The terrible twos are no easier the second time around. I can think of two reasons why. Reason #1 is because we are dealing with a completely different child. Reason #2, and probably the most important reason, is that we never mastered it the first time. We just got through it because as with any stage we realized if you wait long enough "this too shall pass".    
You probably wonder what are these terrible twos that we are just now speaking of seeing as how Coben has been two for 10 months now. It's all coming back to us now. It wasn't the twos that were so bad for us, it was the threes. We have all kinds of names for the threes but this is a family blog so we won't go there. So, Coben is now approaching those %$&! threes and he has been in rare form. Dinner time has become the battle of the wills. Nothing is right. Everything that was okay before is suddenly not okay. And he isn't afraid to speak, I mean whiiiiiiiine, his mind about it. We have a rule, if you don't eat then you don't get anything else. So, we eventually throw in the towel and resign to the fact that he is not going to eat and we hold firm on the no dessert rule but nevertheless we not only get to endure the dinner time meltdown but the post dinner time I demand to have something else meltdown. Our mantra is "hold firm, consistency pays off" but what is really running through our heads is, "Come ON! For the love of sanity, KNOCK. IT. OFF!" But we do hold firm so this too shall pass, right?

We have been very lucky to have inherited hand-me-downs from a friend. Not only do we get hand-me-downs but hand-me-downs times twos since they have twins. Coben has a drawer-full of blue jeans. Maybe 15 pairs. He won't wear blue jeans. He will only wear sweat pants these days of which he has only a couple pairs. It's very hard to even think about buying more when there are FIFTEEN pairs of jeans sitting in the second drawer of his dresser growing cobwebs. So, he has to have his sweatpants and typically only his "O-dabba-dabba" (Yo Gabba Gabba) unders and lately this Christmas shirt that he started wearing frequently before Thanksgiving (two days in a row at one point, unwashed, GASP!).
One day he refused to wear any shirt at all. When a toddler gets into a certain mindset there's a series of events that follow. Let me break it down. It usually starts with a very routine thing like in this situation putting on a shirt to go to school. But for some reason (usually when you are running late) the toddler is vehemently against this part of the routine on this particular day for no apparent reason. Barring sleep deprivation or hunger, there is almost always some underlying reason for the toddler meltdown that you are not privvy to and that he is in no shape to share. You only know something is wrong because you start to put on the shirt and he backarches, turns to jello, refuses to stand-up and starts screaming and flailing. And this all happens in the course of one half of a second. So you are standing there completely dumbfounded holding the shirt and wondering WTF (Why the Face, right?) happened!  So now you lodge into your parenting pattern that usually starts out strong and quickly weakens. So first it's the empathetic approach which includes validating those little feelings and playing guessing games "ohhhh, something is wrong. You don't like the shirt?" "You want a different shirt?" "Does the shirt bother you?" Almost always this is met by zero response and louder wails.  At this point even if you DO guess right they won't give you the satisfaction because they are already too far gone to come back.  Then come the negotations, "If you put the shirt on you can have a sticker for getting dressed" or "If you put your shirt on you won't have to have breakfast in the car" which are basically meaningless as there is still too much wailing, whining and body throwing going on so it evolves into empty threats, "If you don't put your shirt on you'll have to stay home by yourself because mom and dad have to go to work", or "if you don't put your shirt on you're going to freeze and catch a cold (I know, you don't catch a cold from the weather but you get desperate) and then if all else fails the wrestling match. And the wrestling match gets you NOWHERE because if you can manage to get the shirt around the neck and the arms in the sleeves they will pull it off immediately after you wrestle in on. So on this particular morning I'm walking out the door fifteen minutes late for work because of all the tag-teaming with Rob to try to get Coben dressed. Coben is standing at the door shirtless and crying and I tell Rob. "Just send him to school without a shirt!" And I meant it. I didn't care that it was cold and I didn't care if the school thought we sucked as parents. At that moment Rob and I were defeated. But finally there came a moment a little while after I left where the switch flipped, calm was restored and Coben was able to finally discuss the shirt issue (which turned out to be that he didn't like the shirt that Rob picked out  and wanted the Christmas shirt).

 And these patterns continue through bedtime. He wants footie jams. I try to talk him out of footie jams but there is no talking him out of footie jams. So we put on footie jams and I tuck him into bed. Then I go to sit down and try to relax and I'll hear "Moooooom!" the moment my butt hits the cushion.  I already know. I know that I am being called back in to take off the footie jams because they are too hot. But we will do this every.single.night. There is no reasoning with Coben. "Coben, you always get too hot in the footie jams why don't we try one of these other pairs." "Noooooo. I want the dino footie jams!!" And I know. I know that I could stand firm and refuse to let him wear the footie jams but I also know deep down that if it's not the footie jams it WILL be something else. So in my head I think of the footie jams as the potential lesser of all evils.
So right now the little guy is in bed. He is laying on the bare plastic mattress because his sheets are being washed and I didn't get them in the dryer before bed because of laundry back-up. No other sheets would do. I pulled 3 different sheets out of the closet and each suggestion just seemed to provoke a bigger emotinal response.  So I offered to put the "snuggie blanket"down on the mattress and  fold it over him. OUT OF THE QUESTION. So there he lays. On a cold plastic mattress. Once his sheets are dry I will sneak in after he is asleep and make some adjustments. And I'll look at him and wonder how that sweet little boy could possibly rage so big. And I'll decide that it's just not possible.  No matter how rough the day has been, watching a sleeping child is a lot like childbirth. You forget as soon as it is over.

Friday, November 18, 2011

It's coming!

It's heating up around the Keenan house. The Christmas frenzy has begun! Saturday morning cartoons are now plastered even more-so with toy commercials. "I want that!" "I want that!" I have a rule that they have to tell me what it is and what it does before they can put it on their list. It's hilarious to watch them (Cady) try to actually figure out in a hurry what it actually is and does before the commercial is over. Half the time she has no clue but she knows that she must have it. I can't help but smile to hear Coben ask Cady, "Cady . You buy me dat?" He doesn't get the concept of Santa yet but he does have two year old imaginary thinking that his sister's pockets are lined with gold and she's just waiting to spend it all on him.
So, what is Santa going to get this year? I really really wish that Santa was not going to bring Emma a new puppy. That's going to be a tough one for Cady. For a moment Santa entertained the idea of getting her the mouse she has wanted or some fish as a consolation but instead it looks like he is going to get the Costco special which is a giant wooden dollhouse. And for Coben it's a Black and Decker tool bench. Okay, maybe they're not the only ones already in the spirit since I just so happen to be blogging about it and it's not even Thanksgiving yet.
Speaking of. We are having Thanksgiving at the Shaw's again this year. I have no idea what we would do without them. Gretchen and I are going to cook together while the kids run wild and the honeys watch "the game". Sounds pretty near perfect to me.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Awakening

It's 2 a.m. and I am awakened by the sound of a door slowly creaking open and then being forcefully shut. I hear loud footsteps coming down the hallway, stomp, stomp, stomp, Stomp. The bedroom door flies open and I open my eyes to see all of three foot something standing in my doorway with the hallway light creating a sillhouette of wild hair and an armful of lovies. I groan and roll over. But still he appears by my bedside. "Coben, it's not morning. Come cuddle when the sun comes up." His response is to start throwing objects up on the bed one by one. This time it's Buddy, Long Dog and Swiper and three blankets. Some of us don't function well at 2 a.m. so I'm in awe that he can manage to not only locate all of these objects in the dark but to make the long toddle down the hallway without losing a single friend. I'm now buried with blankets and lovies but I can hear him pulling out the under the bed rollaway storage containers to create a step stool and then hoisting himself up onto the foot of the King Sized mattress and start making his way to the top. He throws a few elbows and snuggles in between his Dad and I. I start to protest but he wraps his arms around my neck and whispers, "Hi mom. I missed you. I love you". And I surrended to the bittersweet realization that these moments don't last forever. Within moments we are all asleep again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween, just around the corner!

I went to Cady's parent-teacher conference tonight to find out that she's doing great socially and academically. She's starting to really settle in and adapts to changes easier than those first weeks. Her teacher informed me that our school district does not allow Halloween celebrations so the kids won't be able to dress up for school. I just don't get it.
Was it just me or wasn't the annual dressing up and parading around the school followed by a Halloween party one of the best school holiday celebrations? Why does our culture, a mixture of all cultures, find that celebrating other cultures are okay but then do away with long-standing American traditions which have become a part of our culture? Christmas parties have become holiday celebrations even though Santa Claus long ago broke out of the religious box. I loved Cady's last school that instead of not celebrating, used the time to introduce many different ideas of how different cultures celebrate which meant the kids not only got to have a Christmas party but all kinds of parties. What better way to learn than to celebrate?
Wow. I didn't expect to go here tonight. The only reason I signed on to blog tonight was to share that Cady jumped into my car after school and gleefully announced that she had "Jimmy cracked corns" today. I didn't laugh. But I wanted to. She was referring to Candy Corns.
Coben on the other hand gets the right words in there. He told me that he is going to try Jicama one day at school and that he had gouda cheese the other day. He retains the craziest things. Pronunciation is where the work comes in for Coben. Last night we had a request for Word-els. What? Wordels. You want what? WORDELS!! Oh, noodles? Is that what you want? Yes, wordels. Coben, try saying N-n-n-noodles. N-n-n-Wordels! At least he tried.