Tuesday, March 31, 2009


P, cackling at the height of the skyscraper he has built to collapse upon BB...

Sometimes, as I play BB with P, the ol' psychopath statistic (1 in 100) pops into my head. Now, I jest, of course I don't think my lovely child is a psychopath :) though the pleasure he derives from torturing a small pink monster often catches me off guard...

But I am amazed daily at his empathy and sympathy, BB aside :) Our dry cleaner burnt down a little over a week ago. Inside it lay our enormous (too big for our washing machine), favorite bed blanket that had been blessed by P's flu. As we stood outside the smoky remains the morning after the fire, P patted my leg, knowing I loved that blanket. We headed into the subway and I gawked at the Nicolas Cage set, lights and cords going everywhere. We settled onto the sub platform to watch the show and wait for our train, but P's mind returned to the fire rather than the movie set. He wanted me to remind him which blanket was there, was it my Very favorite? From Grams? The green or white one? Then he patted my cheek and said solemnly, "I'm sorry you lost your blanket, Mama. Maybe it didn't burn? Maybe it was somewhere else?" His sympathy was adorable, as I hadn't done much more than shrug my shoulders and say darn, I really liked that blanket. Then he paused for a minute, thinking, and then suddenly asked "Mama! Was anyone hurt? Was everyone ok?"

I had read about the fire on a neighborhood email and knew everyone was safe and sound. He was visibly relieved to hear it and I was a little surprised at the level of his sympathy.

But really, I shouldn't have been. Playing wildly in one room with Ethan he can hear a sharp intake of breath from me in the kitchen and yell in, "What, Mama? You ok?" If I bonk myself he always says "Sorry, Mama." and pats my ouch. When his buddy crashed his bike today, breaking the handlebar, P patted his buddy's back and solemnly told him, "My toys break all of the time. Don't they, Mama? Yah, they do. Toys' break. But sometimes you can fix them and sometimes you get new ones! I'm sorry your bike broke." Pat pat pat.

So while his concerns for his friends, parents and community is pretty obvious, its true, the pink monster seems to be the ideal outlet for all things un-sympathetic (As we rode an elevator in Florida, two biddies chided P for biting and chewing on the monster he had just introduced to them as his friend. He stopped mid chomp, obviously confused, and then bit Big, for good measure. Oh! They said. You don't bite your friends! To which I smiled sweetly and said that with the monster around he never needed to bite his friends....) But BB Does receive the benefits of P's thoughtfulness too. P constantly gives his monster gifts and shares all of his food with him.... until he feels ornery and won't let BB have a. single. bite :) He gently tattoos him, lovingly watercolors his belly, diligently brushes dirt from his fuzz and generally feels so strongly about him that a hug won't suffice, an enormous chomp is required. Watching his buddy this morning to help out his buddy's sick mama, I was more frazzled than usual (two kids have the ability to go two different directions!). After we all planted a felled tree that P found and BB climbed to the top, I ushered the two kids out of the park to meet our timeline. I ushered them out WithOut grabbing the tiny pink monster from the tree. We dropped off the friend, hurried home to drop off the bike and rushed out the door to meet our next playdate (an atypical day for us typical introverts) when I smacked my head and said "shit." P, ever attentive, wanted to know my predicament. 'You didn't happen to grab BB from that tree branch, did ya P?" Of course not. Its the mother's job to keep the children rounded up :) P instantly called out to BB, "BB! BB, where are you? Are you still in the tree? What does it look like where you are? Has another kid grabbed you???" We nixed our burrito/cracker run in favor of rescuing the lost monster, made some sandwiches for the playdate and sped out the door on my scooter. P, on my back in the mei tai, chattered away the whole ride, trying to get BB to spill the beans about his current location.

As we reached our transplant I could see the tiny pink outline dangling from a branch and heaved a huge sigh of relief. Those tiny ones are a Pain in the butt to sew. P also heaved a sigh and shouted "BB! You just had your eyes closed! You're still here! No one took you! You aren't in anyone's bag! Did anyone try to take you BB? Were you scared? I'm sorry we forgot you BB. I'll NEVER forget you again."

Now, if the empathy could just be extended to the cat.... do I sound greedy?

Monday, March 30, 2009

The omnivore's dilemma

P listens to Everything. Sideways remarks on the street. Wisecracks between E and I. Serious chats. Everything. And so we find ourselves editing quite a bit to save the child from the worries and weight he willingly puts onto his own little shoulders. We wait until the rare moment he seems involved by himself or the even rarer moment that we are both awake and he is not :) But still, he hears, seemingly involved or no. (Its one of the classic traits of the Active Alert, described here ) And then surprises us with a zinger.

P grew up in a vegetarian household. It wasn't ever really a discussion and he was surprised when he first learned people ate meat. Offended, really :) Eventually, he saw how common it was and his dismay went by the wayside. Then E had some help, health wise, with a strong, strong recommendation to start eating fish. He scoffed and said no way. As the months went by and he attempted to give his body what he needed without crashing, he finally realized his new reality. Eat fish or feel like shit.

We weren't sure how P would handle the change. He asked me if I was going to eat fish, I said no, he said okeydokey. And that was that for him. The next time we went to the Co-op, I purchased a couple cans of salmon for E. As P unloaded it onto the conveyer belt, he apparently felt the need to explain our new meat purchase. "We're vegetarian, but my Papa, he's an omnivore cuz he's hypoglycemic." The lady blinked at P, looked at me and then just laughed. As did I. P, of course, didn't see what was so funny - he'd been giving out some important information :)

P-O-O-P spells poop

I've mentioned before that we love John Holt's work and love everything about organic learning. This means we skip the teaching/quizzing in our house. First, even were we not Holt inspired, P hates to be "taught," he likes to discover or request :) And second, if a child is quizzed about something they don't know, you've just put them on the spot (real nice, I always love my inadequacies pointed out...). If they do know the answer (and you do too) then what's the point in asking (really? Morbid curiosity? Judgment? ) We trust P's curiosity implicitly and know from his Endless Questions that knowledge acquisition is a constant for him. So we're satisfied we're supporting him - and he's respected and retains his fire. Sure, to some, unschooling sounds like an invitation to call CPS, to us, it just sounds right.

Adding to many people's discomfort, unschoolers are often a late reading breed. Waldorf schools famously don't focus on reading until second grade, and ages 8-9 seem to be a pretty typical starting point for organic learners. By then, the world's words have inundated a kid's consciousness enough for reading to be natural and non-intimidating. I had half assumed that P would fall into this late reading category since he hasn't shown much obvious interest (ie direct questions). (The last time I blogged about reading (I think!) was over a year ago, here: P reads ) So, these days, I merely knew he loved to announce trains as they came into the station and ask the Occasional question. "The "F" train, Mama! Yay!! We wanted the "F!"" Other than that, we enjoy reading, A Lot, and trust that he'll read when he wants to.

And then, as I was washing dishes a couple of days ago, P grabbed his Wish List to the Universe off of the fridge and asked me to read it. I told him I'd be done in a few, would he mind waiting? After a short pause, I heard this:

"D-I-N-O-S-A-U-R ... that spells dinosaur!"

I turned around (honestly, mouth agape) and there he was, pointing at the word dinosaur. Whadyaknow? He was beaming with success and I beamed back seeing his smile. That little piece of competency was apparently what he needed. He pulled me into the playroom blackboard and instructed me to write other words for him. We went with a few faves: car, cat, zip, dinosaur, no, yes, stop, BB, crunch, boo and book. With each word he smiled from ear to ear and read them, first to me, then to BB. He took some chalk and slowly measured out a p, then an o, then another o and then asked what it said. I told him and he screamed to BB, "BB, I wrote "poo"!!!" We chuckled, and eventually it came out that an extra "P" would make it poop and he scribbled that on like lightening. Then he tossed up the word "pie" and read all of his new acquisitions over and over to BB.

The next morning, he requested we erase and repeat his words on the chalkboard first thing. Once they were all moved to new locations, his proficiency dropped a titch, but he still knew almost all of the words and asked to add a few new. Then he was Done and moved on.

Or so it seemed. As we rested on the couch this afternoon (up late last night, up early this morning...) he grabbed his well loved carpenter's ruler and requested I make letters out of it. Its a game he discovered with Ethan a month or so ago that grew out of P's habit of making letters with a necklace chain in lieu of chalk. Its a fabulous challenge, really :) He cackled as I struggled with the letter "B" and chanted our way through all 26 shapes. Miniscule Imaginary BB was instructed to climb to the top of each completed letter and jump off, with the Hollywood Sign sized letter then collapsing onto the tiny monster amidst crashing sounds and roars of laughter.

After some train play and snacks, his exhaustion ruled out moving around and even books ("no thanks, mama") and he favored a video. As he sat and asked endless questions about vocabulary and the character's emotional reactions, he simultaneously manipulated the ruler into letter after letter. He discovered how "M" and "W" are one another, just turned upside down and, Wow! "V" is half of a "W" and almost an "A" turned upside down and on and on and on. His hands aren't quite coordinated enough yet to write the letters perfectly (his preference :) so the folding and turning wood helps him accomplish his goals. And, honestly, its sheer brilliance. I can practically see the synapses firing; angles, proportions, right vs left, curves vs straights etc. But, best of all, he Owns it. He discovered his way to learn letters comfortably - rather than double lined paper and boring repetition of shaky lines, weak imitations of perfection, that would frustrate the holy heck out of him.

This has seemed (to me) to unfold rapidly over the last few days. And then I realized that what he is driven to read (subway signs, exit signs, toy names :) etc), he has already been sight reading for a while. It just seemed so natural that it was almost unnoticed. It took a big word surprise like "dinosaur" to really jump start our reading journey - to make him comfortable enough to invite me along. But sans priming and pressure, I'm interested to see if an expansive interest holds out. I'd guess extensive reading is still a Long way off for P. He likes the "idea" of perfecting anything, but requires innate inspiration to do so. A really strong internal drive to read to himself just isn't present quite yet. He'd much rather snuggle while I read to him than sit by himself (um, the child doesn't want to sit or stand by himself to do Anything, why start with an enjoyable group activity like book reading? :) At any rate, it was exciting to discover that we've actually started the reading journey and that he is so very excited about it. Now if I can just make sure that My excitement doesn't ruin his, it will all be well :)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Robin Hood

Grams is very clever. She sweetly honors our one present preference come holiday time... and then joyously observes a multitude of holidays :) She's left the complaining about limits behind and creatively solved her conundrum (hmmm, the P apple doesn't fall so far from the tree, eh?) I can't gripe, as she is sticking to the, um, Letter of the Law, and P's prizes are also spread out quite nicely. And Grams, of course, is quite pleased with herself. A win-win-win situation, no?

So it was with great pleasure that P opened a bow and arrow set for St. Patrick's Day/Easter. He's really loved the Robin Hood tale of late, and this gift thrilled him to no end. I know learning is everywhere (when Blaine and Micki were visiting, Blaine asked P how he knew something and P just shrugged and said "I learn from life.") and we feel no need to "teach" P anything, but it is still Amazing to watch learning. just. happen. The set seemed like a toy, something fun, something clearly torturous for BB. Ha! First there was the manual dexterity. Watching him wrap his fat little fingers around an arrow and fit the string into the notch, all while holding the bow with his other hand was fascinating. Then the timing of letting the arrow go. And how to stand to allow room for the string to stretch. And how to aim to hit BB. On and on the learning went, not a physics lesson or PE class in sight.

After a few hours with his set P looked at me seriously and whispered, "Do you think I'm better than Robin Hood?"

He slept with the bow and arrow that night and we made more arrows with fuzz filled felt points the next day. These have proven quite popular - it combines his devotion to sticks and swords in one fell swoop. So he shoots them at BB, runs to get one, sword fights BB with it (hint: wear doubled up gloves when sword fighting with dowel rods and a four year old. Your knuckles will thank you) and then runs and shoots again. He proudly took it all to the Mulberry Street library on Friday to show his favorite librarian, who helped him find another Robin Hood book to feed the frenzy :) She also showed him next week's craft: a Robin Hood inspired recycled hat to celebrate Earth Day. If the kid wasn't so sure he's going to marry me (he told me a couple days ago that he'd give me purple crocuses on our wedding day:) I'd say he was working on his first crush. (She even looks a little like Maid Marian!) Who, of course, is typically played by BB in a princess hat...

Cold day at Coney Island

P's shark tooth fossil didn't weather its moon sand burial very well. Ever the problem solver, P figured he'd find his own. So we googled shark tooth hunting. P was sold and ready to venture to Coney Island to collect his booty Right Then...

The weather site said fifty degrees, but it was freezing by the water. Less bundled than necessary, we shivered our way through our picnic and then started hunting. In our hurried excitement to leave the house, we hadn't researched whether or not shark's teeth ever wash up in our area :) just that they do wash up... somewhere. Nevertheless, the little man was "sure, mama, I'm Just Sure, we'll find one." So we schlepped back and forth in the sand while the wind beat us until P, true to being four, forgot the temperature and jumped into the water, twice. Muttering pneumonia under my growing grumpy breath, we headed back to our train. I felt bad shutting down the show sans discussion, but it turned out his chilliness actually outweighed his stubborn search and there were no hard feelings. So I made a mental note to not rush next time and we happily defrosted our underdressed bodies on the toasty train.

While we were short a tooth triumph that day, our trek gave P a glance into the movie business - better than any stop motion clay project I could dream up for sure! Nicolas Cage was filming a scene at our sub stop, so P saw the trucks and cords and lights and cameras and actors that go into one of his new interests. Ahhh homeschooling :)

BB's world, take three

After the moon sand was scraped away, the table had to be reincarnated to take the little man's mind off of the sandy stuff. I tossed some boards E found on a stoop over the top of his table and asked P what we should make. Here's what he did:

"Mama," he said excitedly, "Mama, I need to borrow your favorite blanket. K? Help me spread it smooth like grass." And so it went. BB got a pond for his well, rocky paths, and his tree house atop a lovely lawn. Then a castle was built in the canyon below with a stable to the side for horses, a dragon and a pig (which Yoav recently gave to P that P Adores.) The animals did Not like living at the castle and doo-dah-doo! BB to the rescue! He and P knocked down the fortress and used the crane as elevator to raise the horses and pig up to the tree house. Then a stable area was made on BB's property with a lovely bridge. What were we missing.... hmmm.... oh! Fairies! So out came the iron fairies, the large one is P's, the tiny one BB's. BB's Tia lived in a rocky cave at the edge of the pond. But the pond was missing something.... fish! So out came the wooden shapes and there were fish. Then, a mosasaur, for every pond needs a mosasaur :)

P flies BB's fairy out of her cave as she casts spells and sprinkles pixie dust on BB:

Its hilarious to perform BB as directed by P (as P still adamantly refuses to make BB talk or move). He waxes and wanes between heroically sweet brother and torturous sadist. At one moment he is helping BB to save his fairy from a mosasaur and at the next he is forcing BB to dive off of the highest tree house branch into the mosasaur infested waters below:

"Jump, BB, Jump!!!!"

On and on the world went for the rest of the afternoon. That night, Phoenix laid Little P and Little BB under the stars, by the warmth of the felt fire, for a good night's sleep.... until the next day when the moon sand came out, again :)

Counting cards

I've mentioned that counting has been big with P lately. He counts his candy, his trucks and his postcards. Every month or so, he pulls out all of the postcards Grams sends him and the birthday cards he's received and looks through them, asking them to be read. Then he talks about his family and the silly pictures and then recounts. The numbers often change from the first count to the last :) but he enjoys it greatly. Of course, 14 and 15 are famously missing, but he digs through his twenties and thirties. He recently started adding things too, my eyes and his eyes makes four. BB's eyes, my eyes and his eyes make six. Or, sometimes 5...
(Thanks again for the postcards mom - you rock!)

Moon sand madness

So, there's this stuff out called moon sand. It gets mixed reviews. Apparently, there are kids everywhere ending up in hospitals with crazy rashes from the stuff. Or there isn't. And its a faaabulous toy. Or, its a hellish mess. We've cleverly avoided it and opted for the beach instead... until I saw a homemade version on a homeschooling group. P was pumped.

We had a partial bag of cactus sand, some cornstarch, cream of tartar and, of course, peppermint oil to protect the little man's sensitive schnoz. Add some water and you have... a huge mess of fun.

The cornstarch and tartar gave the sand a wonderfully sproingy quality and gelled it all together. We poured it onto P's work table and he went to town. There were dinosaur footprints to be made, slicing to be done, pouring, molding into shapes. It was quiet and fun and completely absorbed the little man.

Then BB had to get in on the fun. He was buried. Deeply and repeatedly. To the sound of cackling :)

As the hours passed (yes, hours :) the wood absorbed much of the water, leaving the goo crumbly. So we pulverized and pummeled until we had cornstarch covered sand.

And let me tell you, the little man hit Nirvana at that moment. His adoration of flour play (that tactile sensation of smoothness) was combined with his love of sand/dirt play in one fell swoop. He snowed on BB's head and raced trains through the snow filled wonderland.

The clean up was fabulous compared to flour play and I thought we'd hit the jack-pot. But after a few days of sideways sprinkles and occasional accidents the little man fell into a frenzy mid play. He had just created quick sand (by adding more cornstarch mixed water)

and watched people sink to the sandy depths when his hands, seemingly innocently, shook the sand Hard to get free. Oooo! There it flew - through the air. Before you could say Whoah! it was flinging Everywhere while he shrieked with four year old delight :) Once the snow storm passed, I was pleased to find that the cleaning was simple... and the moon sand less numerous ;)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blaine and Micki: a sweet filled trip

P, ten days old, with Uncle Blaine and Aunt Micki, flagged by Bric and Marielle...

So, after puking (and such, as P would say) for 5 nights (yes, the popcorn did produce the expected, yet nevertheless unfortunate, result) we were blessed with a regurgitation reprieve just in time for house guests. Uncle Blaine and Aunt Micki came for a visit! P was Beyond excited. As his skeletal little form climbed out of the bath that morning, he asked, for the millionth time, "when will they be here? When will Blaine say he's going to get my toes?"

I lived half a country away from my maternal family growing up. And it felt that far. I understood, everyone was busy, there were lots of kids, work and different schedules. It was the same for E. But we love our families so much we hoped it would be different for our baby. Thus, we moved back to Kansas for P's birth. Ha. So, leaving Kansas a short while later, we swore we'd practically push P on family, give them the chance to be a part of his life as much as possible, regardless of distance. We didn't want guilt to follow us 800 miles. And we freakin' love the fact that they reciprocate - cuz family is the End All Be All to P.

The visit was lovely. (It broke my heart that my camera wasn't able to document the family fun.) P showed them his park as soon as they arrived. We wandered to the center, by his favorite waterfall, where he pondered rock hopping. Blaine shadowed him, hoping to avoid the inevitable.... fortunately it wasn't too cold out that day :)

From then on out, P was fabulous, traipsing about the city for hours on end, sitting through numerous restaurants and sub rides. I was amazed that the kid who spent last winter inside, refusing almost any outing available, went with the flow so well. One outing took us to the Chelsea Market, a lovely indoor space for a cold, rainy day.

And lo and behold, there was a candy store inside. P is used to picking whatever he wants at the coop or Whole Foods, but here there were the traditional plastic bins full of brightly colored gummy whales and Hershey bars. He felt Need :) I mentioned his food allergy, would he like to look around at the other options? No way, there were Gum Balls. So he picked and scooped a mixed bag full of noxious, chemical filled happiness and skipped out of the store. I'm snide here, but it really was sweet and I couldn't help but be excited for his New Adventure. Then we all sat at a table and enjoyed beverages while P picked through his prizes. But he wouldn't eat any. Instead, he fed them to us and watched our reactions :) Then, much to his horror, he spilled the bag onto the floor. "Its ok!" he chirped, "there's still a couple left in the bag! Oh, and I'm still holding my gummy "i." His optimistic mask killed me. After the floor was cleaned he whispered that he wanted to get another bag, so off we went for a re-do...

From there we headed uptown to another indoor mall, of the Trump variety. P, however, wasn't interested, he was ready to go home. But I knew he wasn't jonesing for the cat or anything, he just wanted to spread out his new beauties and fondle them to his heart's content. There was organizing and counting that needed to be done, asap. So I promised we'd hunker down at a table and play with his candy while the other's meandered and he was then happy to schlep.

P, ensconced in my lap, rearranging his candy and feeding it to imaginary BB:

The goods, all arranged and counted, thrice:

The following day we escorted Uncle Blaine to Time's Square to land some Broadway tickets. Extensive line waiting isn't a four year old's forte, so we explored the nearby Hershey's store. Another first for P. Having carefully (and of his own accord) avoided all but one piece of his colorful candy from the day before, P asked me to help him find candy without food coloring. When he found a container of chocolate bars he ran for the register :) The rest of that day is a chocolate filled blur...

I feel a picture of P, savoring a chocolate ball after he finally outgrew his chocolate allergy, is necessary here. The child savored it so thoroughly, he would hardly swallow :) Its been a love affair ever since...

The next day took us to Dumbo, also for candy :) Micki wanted to hit Jaques Torres, the Brooklyn chocolatier. Always up for cocoa filled fun, P prioritized, beach first, fine goods second. So we slid under the bridge and rock hopped by the chilly water. The little man wasn't on the same schedule as the rest of the group (a growing issue as the days passed) so I suggested we choose rocks to bring with us - and visit again the next day. I grabbed a lovely swirl in the sand and P stamped his foot atop a big boulder, telling me That was his choice :)

The chocolate shop was decked out for Easter, eggs everywhere. P picked one, apparently laid by a large, chocolate ostrich. As everyone enjoyed a Blaine dubbed "bio-break" at Starbucks, P squiggled into a chair and unwrapped his prize. He lovingly broke off bits for everyone to try and was egg-ceptionally (yuk-yuk) pleased that his large egg held two tiny eggs, Russian doll style.

The big beauty that evening:

We followed our break with a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, P lolling on the scooter base in a chocolate daze, topped by his alligator hat from Aunt Marielle. (As a total aside, P has No concept whatsoever that children are supposed to be "cute." As we entered a restaurant the day before, a group of teen girls were leaving. P yanked the door open, waiting for them to move, and was met by a chorus of "awwww!" He gave them his glare and stood his ground until I ushered him past their grinning gazes. As we moved through the second door he asked me "Mama, why did they say "awww?" Then, as we walked over an unusually busy Brooklyn Bridge, the combo of the chocolate smeared face, racing glasses, crocodile cap and diminutive size all coupled with the royal scooter throne proved too much for many a staring tourist. P seemed to completely ignore the points and Awwws coming his way. That, or he was completely offended and therefore purposefully ignoring them. With him, its hard to tell....)

As we reached the Manhattan side, E headed to work and I led Blaine and Micki home with Alicia's help. For whatever reason, P was in quite a state as we headed home. True to form, his family didn't flinch. Blaine rolled with the punches on the sub platform (notice the blur that is P)

and Alicia humored his insanity on the long sub ride (that didn't take us where it should have):

Blaine and Micki left the next day, much to P's dismay. He'd happily have them on his floor, for forever. And I've heard every day since then "Mama, when will I see Aunt Alicia again?" Yah, P loves his family :) And I must admit, I love the fact that he ate three bowls of vegetable soup tonight for dinner, instead of chocolate :)

Sling Swing

After the third speck of metal magically appeared in P's eye, E and I went into seek mode. We had theories for the first two specks (the airplane that was jammed into an ice patch, the scooter wheel that whirred by his left eye). They all went out the window with the third mishap. The house was searched from tip to tail. At which point, we realized almost everything we own is second hand metal that scrapes, bangs and sheds scraps.... During our detailing, P overheard us pondering the metal swing swivel that rubs against the metal swing clamp. We discussed the resulting dust and determined it to be too small to become a Speck. But from that moment on, P wouldn't swing with his eyes open :( Sad and pitiful, yes. But also dangerous since his head veers towards the wall corner with regularity :) So we chatted about it, reassured him. No go. (Understandably) he was taking No Chances. So the next day P and I brainstormed and took down the swing. His baby wrap became his new sling swing and he Luuuuuuvs it. The kid can twirl at light speeds and fly with the greatest of ease. And he can do it all wrapped in stretchy (metal speck free) comfort. Whenever my camera gets better, I'll post a video for laughs :)

Peter P

P, happily returned to his Peter Pan costume, deafening BB and I with his "I can fly" kazoo rendition...

Final Bits of Florida

Just a couple of snaps from the camera phone to finish documenting P's trip (heaven forbid my photo-snobbery deprive the child of his properly prepared journal :)

P, watching Gramps win a polo game from the hood of Grams' car.

And here he is, picking the millionth grapefruit from Grams' fabulously productive tree. After repeatedly trying mine at breakfast (mom, dad and I had to average about 2 a day to keep up with P's picking habits;) and declaring them too "sour," P thought of yet Another reason to pick Another grapefruit. "I bet they are sweeter if they are just picked." So we went to the tree for the experiment, and ya know what? It was the sweetest, most vibrant grapefruit I have ever had in my life. Guess fresh really is best :)

P, at his post. Half of his vacation was spent on this sandy road, digging. Here, he is accompanied by the bamboo stick, with which he was quite smitten...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

This flu takes the cake

P, figuring out this whole "food thing." He finally started eating solids at 14 months (after a nasty reaction to rice cereal at 7 months left him completely uninterested in food untill those awful bile filled memories faded... )

And speaking of bile :) P's had the stomach flu. Nothing awful, nothing projectile. In fact, he's unusually snuggly during the day, leaving me feeling a titch guilty for enjoying his pain... But his nights are a different story. We were both in the bath at 2 am last night after he spread his gifts allllll over us.

P usually dislikes me leaving (despite having No issues with it while in Florida!) and when he's sick he really hates it. Unfortunately, tonight was my coop shift. (E's not, um, attached, to the coop, so there was no way I could ask him to clean public toilets in my stead :) So, I left a weepy wee one and a determined father and had a lovely evening of quiet cleaning.

After my shift ended and the groceries were lugged upstairs, I smelled chocolate. P was GLEAMING. He hadn't gleamed all day (well, he was pretty psyched when his poo was solid today, but it didn't quite get a gleam going :). And E didn't wear the worn look he usually has after I've been gone either. Turns out, they had a Wonderful evening Cooperating. P even asked E to brush his teeth tonight instead of me. An unprecedented occasion.

So, apparently, after I left, the little man was quite beside himself. When he tired of angrily beating on Ethan, he turned to problem solving. He wanted to go stand outside of the coop until I was done. E said there was a restaurant next door that they could go to and watch for me while they ate. "No, Papa," E said P said, "I want you to think of a solution that I would like."

E's ideas weren't inspiring P, so he worked on a solution himself. And the most soothing thing P could think of was to have E count. Until I got home. So, he burrowed into E's arms and E wandered our flat counting. After hitting 400, he asked P what else they should do. "Just start back over at 1, Papa," P said with a sigh...

Eventually, soothed by the cadence of time passing, P plotted another plan. He told E that he loved me SO much that he wanted to make me something. A chocolate cake, in fact. Now, E doesn't cook. He can pour a mean bowl of O's, muddle his way through toast or scrambled eggs, but that's about it. (And even then he'd rather just order in :) So accepting a baking decree from P was a mark of extreme dedication. They looked for a recipe online, then started scouting ingredients. A deli run was necessary for two items. (There they also purchased snacks for the four year old that had been puking for three days and was therefore on a soft food only regimen today. Wanna know what they bought? POPCORN. Is there anything harder for the stomach to digest than Popcorn??? And gingerbread cookies. At least the ginger might help us tonight... :) Then they returned to bake. E admitted to knowing where none of the ingredients or mixing appliances lived. P knew it all. So E read the recipe, P got the goods and measured. Then the little man chose the bundt pan for the sheet cake recipe E had chosen - heehee - and they poured it alllll into the pan. Needless to say, it baked for about 2 hours :) and finished up right after I got home! P was So proud of himself.

The cake crumbled as I released it from its (non-buttered) pan, but P, ever the optimist, said "That's great that it crumbled! Now we don't have to cut it or anything!" He wanted no cake himself, said it was all for me as a gift. In fact, it was a birthday gift - he had decided today should be an extra birthday for me. Then he snuggled into my shoulder and told me he loved me and he hoped I liked my cake.

And while I typically have a rule about accepting food made by those with gastroenteritis, how can you reject a cake of love? Needless to say, it was delicious:)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Super P: Anarchist, Atheist

Phoenix, 11 months old, on his first Halloween, was Super Baby (really just a bib and jammies with a felt plaque, but I think he felt pretty powerful nonetheless :)

P has been Big into Super of late. I'm guessing it has something to do with needing to feel more powerful after the eye ordeal, but who knows, really :) He hasn't seen any super-anything shows or books, but its made its way into his consciousness nonetheless :) This manifests with him running pell mell through the house, lifting chairs with toys stacked on top, jumping from unusually high heights, all the while saying "Look, Mama! Look how fast/strong I am!" :) He measures his height against the wall with regularity (Funny side note. BB has a small height strip too. Apparently, I was a bit sloppy when marking it the first time, as the next time we measured BB, sure enough, he appeared to have Grown. P was Thrilled. "BB," he whispered as he hugged his monster close, "you really Are magic... Do you sneak out of the bedroom at night to eat your food?")

Then, while in Florida, seemingly happily playing with the box of critters loaned to him, he suddenly declared "I don't like god, mama."
Me: Really? Ok. Any reason in particular?
P: Yah, I don't like god cuz he kills us.
Me: Oh! He kills us, huh? Oh.
P: Yah, and I don't want to die. So I don't believe in god.
Me: Ok. You don't have to believe in god. Some people do, some don't. Some people think god kills us, some don't...
P: Well, I think god kills us, and I won't die, so I don't believe in god. You can't believe in god either mama, ok?

We've had a few iterations of this chat since then, me letting small amounts of info leak about various belief systems, P still claiming god is not his bag :) I really don't know where he's getting his info from (despite knowing Exactly where he gets all of his info!). E and I never talk about god in our house. I give thanks up to the Universe, we put out our hopes and dreams to the Universe. We've talked about the idea of karma and creating our own realities. When cornered I've admitted to believing in something like "god." But other than the multi-cultural religious story-books portraying typical God situations that he's occasionally picked up at the library, there has been no god chat here. Nevertheless, its hilariously entertaining to listen to his process :)

Then we were having a discussion about China this morning. He wanted lots of info and the subject of dictatorships came up. P was enthralled and repelled by the concept. (Remember, this is the same kid that stood atop our table at two and yelled "Down with the government!!" when he found out the "government" was behind his airport baggage searches. And no, we've never uttered these words in front of him, nor complained about bag searches. He just seems to naturally channel a Che'/Chomsky combo on a regular basis...)

I had to chuckle as our morning played out. P, driving his new tank with BB, dressed in a Tic Tac costume (the tic tac fit into the tank), alternating with the "Phoenix Doll" we made that is sized properly to little BB. They crept through, first China and then the Sudan, taking down dictators and rescuing innocents. He couldn't decide if he wanted to lock up Jong and Bashir in jail or throw them into the ocean where they had to swim to an island he made with his "mind magic" that was inhabited by large monsters. That would eat the dictators. That way P wouldn't be responsible for their deaths. It was quite the toss up. The socialist minded pacifist in me could only chuckle in awe. The rebuilding process for each country was rather humorous too. First he contemplated a puppet government run by the US, but this didn't seem quite right either and eventually it all veered towards anarchy... but supplemented by dolls to take care of the highways and energy production. Who they got their orders from is beyond me ;)

Then he combined all of these things before bed. He's suffering from the stomach flu (we were up puking and such last night and the night before :( ) and feeling a little off from it all. So he was unusually tired and angry that something didn't go his way last night before bed (missing autonomy in an anarchist is a big deal :). Generally being on the other side of his brief hitting period, he started swinging, big time. He ended up trying to smash our door down.... and was then unbelievably irked that he couldn't physically accomplish his goal despite putting his all into it :) He surprised me with a break in anger with this seeming non sequitur:
P: I'm Mad at god!!!
Me: Yah? Why's that P?
P: I'm mad at god! He took my super strength! I'm going to kill him and take His super strength.

I swear. I've lived an interesting enough life and see more and more of the world every year. But I'm pretty sure that the world of my four year old, despite the massive amounts of things he hasn't yet experienced or seen, is infinitely larger than mine, because Anything is possible in HIs universe...

Defiance or Defense?

Sorry for the horrible blogmanship :) The little man and I have been busily celebrating our good fortune. Plus, my camera is still dead, and blogging just isn't the same without some photo back-up :) E says to use my phone camera more, to which I remind him that such an act is semi-painful to a camera snob ... nevertheless, thank gawd for the camera phone...

Back to the good fortune. The third speck came out of P's eye the day before his surgery! All on its own!! We went to sleep, stressed beyond belief about doing something the child Did Not Want Done (again) and when we woke up and looked, it was gone. I wish you could have seen his face when I told him his eye was clear :) He told me he had let it go - imagined it flying out of his eye. And so it did.

The doc said to leave the rust ring alone, since he's still seeing 20/20, and to do a check-up in a YEAR. The kid liked the sound of that. "Did you hear that, BB? I don't have to go to the eye doctor until I'm FIVE."

The changes in his little persona over the last month have been extraordinary. P doesn't dally in defiance land. Sure, when punchy from high energy play or overly tired, the kid could have a hard time hearing requests or reason. But typically, he's pretty willing to work with us to achieve his goals. He certainly has a "strong" personality, but I'd never have used the word "defiant" when describing him, ever. Then he was held down against his will and "scraped" (as he puts it.) Then there was the eye cream that he hated, every night. And you know what? When you feel the need to defy something, apparently you become a bit defiant :( He began doing things we dislike. On Purpose. The child who would discuss a situation for an eternity to reach a solution ("let's talk, mama") didn't want to talk anymore, just Do. Unfortunately, such sadness beget more sadness. An unreasonable four year old with a knife is never a pretty picture. And so his original loss of autonomy bore behavior that required him to loose even more control in crazy scenarios and it was a nasty spiral. We did everything we could to avoid sticky situations, but vacations and life go on. Our mantra at night was "just three more weeks, just two more weeks." We figured when his eye cream was done and his autonomy restored, so would be his will to cooperate.

That third speck just about derailed our lighted tunnel :) But here we are, just a few days after the lingering threat of doctors and the nightly cream battles have stopped and he is P again. Strong-willed and independently minded, but thoughtful and reasonable again too. Can ya'll hear the sigh of relief coming from our house? It just makes me think of all of the kids going through Real hospital woes and how the hay their parents help them overcome their feelings of powerlessness and fear. Yah, we're feeling pretty blessed around here....

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Metal eye: take three...

Sooo, the camera is still dead, thus the baby pic. This is Jac, limping along, minus one limb.

And we've all been yucky sick for over a week, just recently returning from Florida, with said yuck. This is Jac, investing in Kleenex Brand Tissue.

And P has a third metal speck in his eye and surgery under general anesthesia scheduled for Thursday. This is Jac, whimpering like a lost puppy.

And we can't, for the life of us, figure out where the freakin' metal is coming from. This is Jac, pulling out her graying hair while simultaneously realizing every piece of furniture in her house has old metal on it.

Ok. Fine. This is Jac, packing up the melodrama for the night:) (And ceasing with third person, cuz, really, its kinda creepy.)

But seriously, if you don't have your sense of humor, what do you have? I'm sure the child will just Skip, happily, right into the hospital and drink their nasty drugged drink without a single question or fuss.

That's Jac's story, and she's sticking to it.