This blog is dedictated to our son, Zander.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

The past month has been a barrel of laughs. The best story so far is this:

Me: "Zander, does Uly have a secret compartment like Mega Byte [the robotic dog he got from Santa]?"

Z: Nooooo.

Me: What's the difference between Mega Byte and Uly?

Z: Uly is a meat dog. She has meat alllll over her.

Matt and I could not stop laughing. To the point that Zander finally asked me what was so funny. What indeed? I lamely explained that what he said was true, but a funny way to say it.

A friend commented that perhaps Zander would be the next Terry Bisson. Indeed! (I am a huge Bisson fan.)

In arguably bigger news, Elinor started walking. It was just after Hanukah started, about the 13th of December. She loves to practice walking. In fact, she got two walk-along toys for Christmas, bringing the total in our house to three. But at least they're all different. One turns into a scooter, one breaks down into a largish lap toy (above), and the other folds flat.

What else do you get a nine month old?

Elinor, who may turn out to be our adventuresome child, helped herself to her first bite of cheese a few days ago. She snatched it right off my plate while I was sitting in the couch. (Between her and the dog, the couch is not a good place to have a snack any longer!) The good news is that she LOVED it. Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar, of course. She was practically climbing my leg to get more. This is a quiet relief for Matt and I because Zander really does not like cheese and it is baffling to us how this happened. Did our mutual love of cheese somehow cancel out in the gene pool? Apparently we just needed to keep trying.

Zander's work on writing continues. He will try out all letters if you show him how to draw the more difficult ones (R and Y were our big challenges last night but he did awesome). Last night he wrote you all a special message:

"Happy New Year!"

If you look closely, all the letters are there (even the exclamation point), just not in the order you were perhaps expecting.

We'll ring in the new year quietly tonight with a nice dinner at home (and probably that bottle of lambic that was overlooked at Christmas), maybe a pay-per-view movie, put the kids to bed, watch the ball drop, then go to bed five minutes later.

Have a safe and happy new year!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Reading, Writing, and Walking

Baking and decorating cookies the day after Thanksgiving, 2009.

Zander has become quite the artist in the past few weeks. He loves to draw pictures of his dad, me, Phineas and Ferb characters, his friends from preschool, and on and on. You know what this means now? I need a card for a party, I just ask Zander to make me one and he does so gladly.

At the same time, he's also trying out letters. He knows how to type his name but he has skated around handwriting for a long time. I haven't it pushed it, figuring he'll get there eventually. Seems we are there now, although still at the threshold. He likes to write Z and S and E and O. About two months ago, if he wanted to add something to the grocery list, I told him to write. His reply, of course, is "I can't" so I offer to write it down lightly if he will trace over my letters with a pen so they are darker and I can read them. This has worked well! This morning he "wrote" COCOARAGEOUS. Yes, as in chocolate cereal. It's a treat we sometimes indulge in.

Speaking of treats, we've stopped giving candy for using the bathroom because potty training is done. Now Zander can earn treats by helping around the house. This is going brilliantly.

He loves to do crafts and continues to love anything to do with space and robots. He can dress himself (socks are tough, though). He has been spending more time lately online playing games on PBSKids and Club Penguin and seems to be especially taken with word games as he works on learning how to read. We have a standing agreement that he can get a Club Penguin membership once he learns how to read (he's a freebie user right now). He and Matt have also been playing Pokemon: Battle Royale or somesuch on the Wii which Zander loves so much that the first thing he says to his dad when he gets home from work is not, "hi dad, I missed you" but "can we play pokemon?" because I won't let Zander loose on the Wii during the day. The TV and computer are enough screens to manage.

Thank you, Crayola, for washable nontoxic markers.

Elinor, oh, Elinor. She is still cruising and particularly enjoys hanging on to your pants or hands and walking with you. She has yet to take her first independent step although there have been many close calls (aka face plants or butt plops).

Her bad habit of late is scratching. She gets frustrated, tired, or excited and wildly flails her clawed hand up and down my neck and chest, face, arm, or whatever skin is within reach. I am usually the victim--and look it. I keep trimming her nails but that only helps a bit. So I've been telling her firmly, "stop scratching," and setting her down if she doesn't obey. She understands. After a few days of this, she now stops when I ask her to. I also try to redirect her attention from whatever is exciting or frustrating her. Sometimes this means putting her to bed because she's too tired to be held and fall asleep. She'll cry for a few minutes and, poof!, go to sleep.

Elinor's favorite word lately is "bah." It previously was "ahgoo." We've been trying to teach her "ma" and "da" -- for obvious narcissistic reasons. Or practical, depending on how you slice it.

Her favorite foods lately are banana, pears, squash, peas, and plain organic cheerios. She does not prefer the gerber melty stars now that she has cheerios; I have no idea why. Sometimes she will gnaw a barley teething biscuit (Earth Made brand I think) but she does not so much love them. Since we are heading into winter soon, we started a liquid baby vitamin (no rickets in this house!) and that has received a lukewarm reception for the past two days. If she won't take it from the dropper, I might try mixing it in with her water even though she generally only drinks 3/4 of her water (I think the last 1/2 inch is hard for her to get out so less water isn't the answer). Better than nothing.

Elinor is sleeping better as the routines we have been putting into place for the past few months are taking hold. She chooses whether or not to nap and when during the day, which is the typical mid-morning and mid-afternoon naps. Like her brother before her, she is flexible enough about sleep so that our lives don't revolve around being home for her naps. When she gets sleepy I put her in her bed and sometimes she will cry out a few times but goes to back to sleep. She goes to bed for the night around 9pm, give or take an hour, usually waking to nurse around midnight and then going back to bed until 7am. She still sometimes wants to nurse at 3 or 4am but that schedule was more sleep deprivation than I could handle so we stopped the middle of the night nursing.

Due to her and I both being light sleepers, we had to put her in a pack'n'play in my office a month or two ago when I got very sick and needed to sleep. We want to move her to her crib in the kids' room (where she naps during the day) with Zander but she needs to get a little better about sleeping through the night. Maybe by the new year. Zander is excited to share his room so otherwise that transition is going well. I figure we'll get a year or two out of this arrangement before Zander will be too old for sharing with his sister.

Elinor is a solid little girl. She's just so solid and here. A few months ago Matt marveled at how easily Elinor fit into our little family. I figure if we bread 'em and raise 'em, that is just what is going to happen, but I agree, it is pretty awesome nonetheless. Earlier today, I put Elinor in her crib for a few minutes so I could take care of something. When I went back for her, Zander was in the bedroom, jumping up and down for his sister, who was giggling madly. A good fit indeed.

November 21, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Me & You

(from 11-11-09; Zander asked me to take this photo)

It has been six weeks and in that time, Elinor is now soooo close to walking. She figured out how to crawl not long after the last post and now speeds around the room. She chases me while I vacuum in the morning; she has no fear of anything. Nor should she. For the past few days, she's started letting go of the couch to play with a toy in her hands, balancing all on her own. It's amazing to see. She'll be eight months old in a week and I would not be surprised if she takes an unaided step before the 18th.

She is very vocal. Her two favorite sounds we call "wildcat" and wookie." She also laughs if she sees something that amuses her (that usually involves her brother)--rather than only when you tickle her. Yesterday I introduced her to the game of chase and she doesn't quite understand the part where she's supposed to run away from me but she does love me to "sneak" up on her and then for me to hide (very obviously behind a corner of the couch) so she can come find me. This game makes her squeal with delight, quite literally.

Zander has settled in to preschool and is having a great time with it. Matt went to the first ever parent-teacher conference on Friday where we learned that Zander is a normal kid. For the record, because I discussed this in a post some months ago - four is not easier than three. He is stubborn as all get out and we fight all day long. Some days are easier but I am SO DONE with crap like telling him it's time to go (doesn't matter what our destination is) and having him dive under a blanket, giggling. This happens every day. I have never given chase. He often gets in trouble for it. I hate it. He knows it. If I get really mad he gets worried and asks if we're still friends. Ugh. Makes me wish I was the one getting a time out.

Elinor is easy by comparison. She wants to play with nightlights and power strips and so requires constant supervision to keep her safe from herself but she is still easier. The six hours a week that Zander is gone at preschool are a peaceful balm in my busy week. If Elinor takes a nap at the same time it's better than winning the lottery. I lay on the couch reading a book and enjoying my slice of silence.

All bitching aside, these kids are great. Zander takes care of Elinor, pulling her away from danger and conscientiously giving her a new toy if she gets into something of his. Elinor adores her brother, laughs at everything he does but also lets him know that she isn't really fond of "wrestling." That's when he grabs her in his arms and starts rolling around on the floor. When she takes a nap, Z and I often cuddle on the couch to read a book or watch a cartoon. He likes to help us cook. He enjoys playing with crafts. I think it's safe to say he's potty-trained now. Accidents are few and far between. One hurdle safely cleared.

(taking a breather on the couch at Sloan's rockin' Halloween party)

For Halloween, Zander was a pterodactyl and he trick-or-treated until he was the last kid from our house left standing (there were eight kids and two babies). Elinor was a skeleton/pumpkin.

The Halloween candy is almost gone, the trees in our yard have dropped all their leaves (61+ bags worth!), and the basement has been cleaned for winter use. Today, Grandma Terry and I set up a kids play area in one of the big basement rooms; I hope it helps provide some variety this winter.

(from 10-6-09; I think Zander requested this photo op also, smart boy.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Workin' it like a nine month old...

Elinor went in today for her 6 month appointment and her doctor said she was behaving like a 9 month old. Go baby! She can roll both ways, sit up unassisted, eat first foods (applesauce, rice cereals, mashed banana), pass a toy from one hand to another, babytalk ("ahgoo"), and she is creeping across the floor. She is not officially crawling, as in using hands and knees, but she rocks back and forth, flops onto her belly, reaches, squirms forward--it all happens so fast--before you know she's grabbing your cell phone.

One of her tricks is to creep over to me and try to pull herself up, awkward and unsteady, to get me to pick her up. Talk about 9 month old behavior.

The creeping is important because we are always fending off concern that our babies are small. Elinor's growth curve had flattened a little bit--which is exactly what happens when babies hit the milestones of crawling and, later, walking. Are we worried? Not a bit. This girl is very independent. She really would rather feed herself but we are having trouble finding things that are safe for her to self-feed with. We are avoiding high-allergen foods such as corn, wheat, eggs, peanut butter as well as honey which isn't an allergen but can carry bacteria dangerous to infants. Well, there are all kinds of nifty products for self-feeders that melt and do not pose a choking hazard. But they all have wheat. Sheesh. What did I do with Zander?

I found rice crackers for babies which melt on contact with moisture--something we can probably get for a song at the local Chinese market. What's even more fun for Ellie is a glob of sweet potatoes on the high chair tray. It is, of course, not as much about hunger at this age. She just wants to do what we do.

In other equally important, if not more important, news, Zander started preschool yesterday. He is quite taken with his teacher and is already making friends. When we asked him what he did in school, he told us he ate a snack. "Carrots and strawberries."

Apparently my children are foodies.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


This morning I watched Elinor try SO HARD to roll from her back to her front, getting stuck (about 90% of the way there) on her shoulder. She can already roll from front to back - when she feels like it, which isn't often.

Wasn't often?

'Cause now she's got it. She's on her playmat, rolling onto her belly repeatedly to get to her toys. She wishes she could crawl, always pumping her arms and legs. After all, she has a big brother to keep up with.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Just another perfect storm

A little story:

Zander, Elinor, and I are getting ready to go to the park to play with Zander's preschool classmates, a weekly event.

I gather the things we always need for an outing - hats, snacks, sunscreen - and buckle the baby into her car seat. Zander is still in his pyjamas as he refused to get dressed before breakfast and I didn't press the matter. I tell him to get changed so we can go to the playdate. He ignores me and plays with the baby.

Threats ensue and ten minutes later he has used the bathroom and is running around the house shrieking in mock fear of me, stark naked.

That's when I smell it. You know what I'm talking about. The mysterious stink. Which one is it?

Despite the fact that he just used the bathroom, there is no reason to assume Zander is innocent. We go into the bathroom but he checks out fine. I tell him to get dressed while I change his sister. I take Ellie to the changing table and as soon as I unsnap her onesie, I know this is no simple diaper change.

I will spare you all but one gorey detail: it was pooled in her belly button... and she has a very deep innie. I wipe her up and strip her down for a bath. Zander is still not dressed and showing no sign of listening to me anytime soon. I tell Zander that my patience is officially exhausted and we are not going to the playdate. He howls with despair. Ellie gets a quick bath--she is my little fishie; I think she actually likes the water!

I take the naked baby to her dresser and settle on the floor to diaper and dress her. Did I get my pants wet from her bath? Is the carpet damp? Oh no! Ellie stealth peed before I could put a diaper on her! Unlike this morning when I carefully dressed her in something cute that she had never worn before, I cannot slap the clothes on her fast enough. I am so done with the bodily fluids. We emerge from the bedroom and I tell Zander I'm going to also cancel his afternoon playdate if he doesn't get dressed. And guess what? He got dressed right quick.

Growth notes:
Zander still loves LEGOs and cars and is getting more independent and creative with the LEGOs. He's also showing interest in letters and words. He still thinks Elinor is the best and adores her.

Ellie at four months has discovered hands and might be checking out her feet now too. She loves to grab things and seems to me to be pretty well coordinated. She has rolled over (front to back) a few times but seems more interested in pivoting to get around. She recognizes her immediately family members and cannot get enough of watching Zander, her marvelous brother. She still likes to talk. In two months we've made a lot of progress in the sleep dept. She will now take naps on her own, in her bed and she will sleep all night long, usually waking me up at 4 or 5a for a feeding then going back to sleep for several more hours. Yey! She likes her paci but not as much as Zander did. She also takes comfort from holding small stuffed animals which Z never did. She is small like her brother and just started wearing 3-6 mo size clothes at 4 mo old. She is very attentive and observing. She is less patient with sitting her bouncer so meal times are becoming an interesting juggle. Everything goes in the mouth so we are wondering if it will be time for teeth or solid foods soon.

The first year is fun and exhausting but it sure does fly by.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This and That and Then Some

Believe it or not, this is post #150 for this here blog, which began back in May 2005 when Zander was born. Blog-o-versary is May 22 to be precise (which we rarely have time for here at Zeebob blog). It's been a wild four years!

May 15, 2005

Zander has recently grown in some indefinable but unmistakable fashion. The best way I can describe it is that his reasoning and communication has matured, which sounds bland. Maybe his sense of time passing is better? He's been going through the terrible threes this past winter and it has been a nonstop fight along the lines of "the sky is NOT blue." Ridiculous. I could never say the right thing to him. I had to trick or coerce him into anything I wanted him to do. We had 178 fights each day. Exhausting. This past week, he seems suddenly less argumentative. I try very hard to not automatically approach him in a combative mood and when I am successful, he responds like a normal person rather than an angst-ridden toddler.

He's a boy now. That's what this all really means.

He did this to himself.

My neighbor said her son, who is about a year older, seemed cured of the terrible threes all at once on his fourth birthday. I had my doubts. But Zander will be four in two days. There is hope!

Can I take my nap now?

Ellie is two months old this week. She smiles big toothless grins. She likes to "talk." Loves to have her diaper changed. Dislikes having her clothes changed. She watches us eat, shoving a fist in her mouth (I count this as mimicry rather than interest). She really enjoys being sung to. Still has trouble falling asleep without being held and rocked, or staying asleep without being attached to someone's body heat.

She enjoys sitting in her bouncer for brief spells, watching the dangling critters. In the past few days she has realized her hands can do things and she's been brushing them (mostly just the right one) against faces or toys held nearby.

Ready to get his luscious locks chopped.

We tried to sign Zander up for peewee soccer two days before it started. The woman at the township office was astonished. All but laughed at me. If it's so damn popular why don't they have more teams?

Weekend naps are the best.

Elinor's hair still sticks straight up.