And now, a moment of Ewwwww…

So I’m in the backyard picking–yum–more tomatos. I’m getting to the point where if the tomatoes are plucked just as they ripen, they start to split open, disgorging their insides. As long as the splits are small and there’s no mold on them, I’m guessing they’re still good, but it still is gross to look at.

Anyway, I’m picking tomatos when I come across one that feels more slimy than usual. I pull it out, turn it over, and there is a tiny slug, about the same length as my pinky nail. It’s parked itself right on the open split and presumably sucking out the tomato yumminess. I sense a potential learning opportunity, so I bring it to Daniel, who’s playing on the patio. “Look, Daniel! Look at the slug.”

He makes the required, “Oooo! That’s a slug!” He wants to hold it, so I give him the tomato and he turns it around in his hands, watching the slug as it creeps along. His grandma had given him a bug cage for his birthday, so I figure now is a good time to utilize it. I go inside to get the cage. When I come out, the tomato and slug are gone, and Daniel is just standing there, making chewing motions with his mouth.

“GAAAAAHHH! DANIEL! YOU DIDN’T!”

Daniel grins. Yellow pear tomato mush pepper his teeth.

“WHERE’S THE SLUG? DON’T TELL ME YOU ATE THE SLUG?!”

He blinks, then points down. Near his bare feet, the slug is crawling away, probably a little discombobulated from having his dinner stolen from him. I breathe a sigh of relief. It turned out that Daniel didn’t get a little extra protein with his veggie after all.

Then Daniel spots the bug cage and gleefully steps forward, smooshing the poor bug flat under his bare foot.

As I stare in dismay at the smeared remains on the patio, Daniel says, “Where’d the slug go? Maybe it’s hiding.”

Yes, Daniel. Maybe it is hiding. Hiding for a good long time…

MWW Aftermath

That Matrix dial-tone is back.

I had promised myself not to write anything when I got home. I didn’t even want to blog. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about writing, period. It’s just that, I have a whole lot to think about. It’s like when I finish writing a story–I need to let it sit and percolate at the back of my mind for a while. I think I need to do the same thing for the conference.

My hubby, of course, is very glad to have me back. It’s good to see that he hasn’t killed the boy. And apparently, Daniel has got over his idea that once you get in the crib, you stay in the crib.

Naptimes from now on are going to be fun.

Screw you, King George! I’m watching Higgley-Town Heros! (or the overthrow of the crib…)

It is now 7:02am as I write this. I’ve been awake now for about half an hour now. Whenever I sit down to write at this early time, I usually do it of my own volition (and those have been becoming increasingly rare as of late. I’m just not a morning person). But not today.

As of this moment, my son is downstairs. Watching TV.

I can see some of you moms out there rolling your eyes. So what? My kids are up at the crack of dawn, running about the house, yelling. They are my alarm clock. So why are you being so grumpy. Suck it up! It’s our job! Yeah, but you gotta understand–this is not the norm around our house.

I can say that I’m blessed with a little boy who likes to sleep in. His usual waking time is 8:30, but he’s been known to sleep until 9 or 9:30, and sometimes in the rare occasion of the 10:00 realm. This is due to his late bedtime. Yes, yes, I know the stories: have your kids in bed by 8pm. But since Daddy is usually the one to put him to bed, well, there you are. (To give my hubby some credit, his bedtime lately had been also due to the fact that Grandpop and/or Grandma was about, and whenever they stay at our house, it is a Great Thing, because Daniel so rarely sees them, so he wants to spend as much time with them as he can.) So I could usually count on Daniel sleeping in, and if I wanted to get up early to do some work, I could do so without getting up at some ungodly hour. And, I had gone to bed very late last night because I was working on Willow (two major scenes down, one more left to do). So I was looking forward to sleeping in today.

But it didn’t happen. Why? To explain, I need to tell you about our TV.

My hubby has set up our entertainment center so that it has all the glimmerings of the Death Star. He actually set up a computer that is able to run TV programming through its video card, and to this he has hooked up all kinds of amplifiers and gadgets that I’m pretty sure we don’t use all that much–he just has it to make it look complicated. To watch TV, you use a remote to turn on the gizmo that switches on the sound, then you use a mouse to wake up the TV and turn on the TV program(which is actually a large-screen monitor), then you use another remote to flip the channel, and if you really want to, use another remote to turn the sound up and down. You would think that my hubby’s flipped and have gone all geek on me, but the thing is, he’s been that way ever since I’ve known him. In fact, one of the things he joked was that if I was going to marry him, I had to learn how to turn on his TV using three remotes. And what do you know–I actually did.

(It was pretty funny having the inlaws over trying to figure out the whole setup. “How the $@*%! do you turn this *@&_!@ thing on?!”)

I actually like the computer setup, because we could do things that you can’t do with a normal TV, such as surf the web or listen to podcasts. It also made it easy to record programs using the timer. So, in a sense, we have a homemade Tivo of sorts. I record Daniel’s programs for him to watch later in the day, and when he’s done watching it, I just delete it. Granted, since the monitor stays on, the picture still plays, but there’s no sound, so you don’t hear it while it’s being recorded. All very nice and simple.

Unless you leave the amplifier on all night by mistake.

At 6:25am, the TV jolted to life playing the Higgley-Town Heroes theme. And that served as a very effective alarm clock. We were not only startled awake by the They Might Be Giants blasting from downstairs, but also by the sound of a very surprised and angry Daniel, shocked that his favorite program was playing and that he wasn’t downstairs to watch it. To explain this, I must also explain about the crib.

Daniel is still sleeping in a crib. Yes, I know he just turned 3, but until now, Daniel had never really shown much initiative for climbing out. He’s been perfectly content to sleep in his crib, with no thoughts of scaling the sides to freedom, so we’ve pretty much been content to let him do so. I think once, when he was two, he attempted to break out, but the drop I guess traumatized him enough to never try it again.

You see where I”m going with this, right?

As Daniel screamed bloody rage from his bedroom, I was in the process of running downstairs to turn off the bloody sound. The show’s only started, I thought. Maybe there’s still time to convince him to go back to sleep, that it was all in his head. I snatched up the remote and shut off the amplifier, then turned go back upstairs just in time to see my boy standing there, his face lit up in glee.

“Hooray! Higgley-Town heroes!” he said.

I blinked, then went to the stairs and asked my hubby, “Did you let Daniel out of his crib?”

“No….”

Crap.

Well, what could I do? I could either sling the boy over the shoulder and take him back, kicking and screaming to his crib. Or I could let him watch TV.

As I turned on my laptop as my son laughed downstairs, my hubby joked, “Well, it is Independence Day.” Then he supplied the title to this blog. Ha. Ha. Ha.

‘Course, there is an upside to this. Once Higgley-Town finishes, it shuts off. Which means no more TV. My son is now currently cuddling with my hubby in the bed, falling back asleep. I think I’ll go join them. This is way too early for my tastes.

And, oh yeah, Happy Independence Day.

When it rains, it pours…all over the bathroom…

I’m thinking about renting “Daddy Day Care”.

I know it bombed at the box office, and I’m not usually one who go for stupid sitcom movies, particularly if they star A-name stars attempting to be funny (and yeah, I know Eddie Murphy starred in many comedies, but when was the last time you really had a side-ripping laugh from one?)

The reason I want to watch it because I remember in the trailer Eddie sending a kid to the bathroom, and after the kid does his thing, Eddie pokes his head in and stares aghast at what is presumably over the floor, the walls, the sink…and possibly the ceiling. Mere exaggeration to induce a comedic effect, I had thought at the time…

…until my boy became the human sprinkler last night.

Yes, toilet training has started up again in our household. Something I had pretty much been dreading, thanks to the failure we had last year. It actually started sometime last month. I didn’t say much about it, though, because I’ve learned my lesson–crowing about your kid going potty can be premature sometimes. There are days when things move swimming along; they get it, you get it, and everything stays nice and dry. Then there are yesterdays, when you hear the flat, unmistakable tinkle-tinkle on ceramic tile, and you dash like mad to the bathroom, and there you stand, pulling an Eddie Murphy face as you stare at the floor…and the walls…and the…sink…

(I didn’t look up. I just didn’t want to risk it.)

Before I started wailing on my kid, let me first tell you that Daniel’s got a better handle on the potty than the last time around. There is something to waiting until kids are around three years old to attempt potty training. First of all, Daniel actually wants to use the potty. I’ve been using the winter months to play tons of potty videos, both DVD and online, and sometime during those months, it somehow clicked in his toddler mind that going potty can be fun.

I did mention that a couple of months ago, Daniel had started asking to wear underpants out of the blue. It surprised me, because the only video that actually showed a kid wearing underpants and appreciating them was the Japanese one that’s on YouTube. He also could be interested in underpants because my daycare person is also training her son as well. Man, if there is anything to this potty-training business, it’s that it’s a lot easier if you personally know other kids going through the same thing and try to get them all to go together. Mass potty trips sounds icky, but it’s a great way to learn.

And Daniel has been learning. He can now pull down his pants, something he couldn’t do last August. Instead of me asking him constantly if he needs to go, he takes the initiative himself and goes into the bathroom, somehow backs himself onto the toilet (he’s bigger now, so he apparently he doesn’t have the fear of falling in anymore) and goes. And afterwards–and this, I think, is the big thing that helps him learn–he gets to put a sticker on the sticker chart.

I didn’t do the sticker thing before. I did fruit snacks. I had figured that if Daniel wanted a reward, then he could earn it. Trouble was, Daniel just didn’t get it. He asked for a snack, I tell him that he had to potty first, and I’d wind up with a screaming toddler and feeling pretty frustrated myself. I love the sticker chart, because this time, Daniel has a visual representation of his progress with the potty. We put a sticker on, then count all the stickers that are on the chart, and it makes Daniel happy, because it’s something he really enjoys (and it helps him in his math skills too–gotta sneak that in). Yesterday, Daniel got his 30th sticker, which meant that he got a ‘present': a pack of Thomas the Train Engine underwear.

I’m not saying that using the snacks was wrong–I just think that last year, he simply wasn’t ready. I can admit that now without feeling any guilt. I think that he’s a lot more ready now. And though the potty training last year was like doing a root canal on my son’s tooth all by myself, blindfolded, at midnight, I think that last year’s attempt had some benefit: it helped me prepare for this round and gave me a measure to compare against. And though I still have from time to time the occasional urge to rip the locks from my head whenever my son looks down at the puddle at his feet, I don’t have the urge to burst into tears and scream that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Because now, instead of blithely going on his merry way, Daniel will look at the puddle and say, “Oh, no! Wet! Let’s clean it, mommy. Let’s clean it!”

He ain’t trained yet. But we’re getting there. We got all summer to do so.

Happy Birthday, Kiddo…

Three years. That’s how long my son’s been on this planet now. Three full years.

Actually, I don’t know if there’s anything I can write here without it coming across as trite. I can gush and say how much of a sweetie he is, or I can wax poetic on how I carried him for eight months (that’s right, I said eight).

Three. He’s not a baby anymore, nor is he a full-blown kid yet. He’s somewhat stuck in between. I got me a threeager. Out of the blue, he doesn’t want to wear diapers anymore. He wants underpants. but he doesn’t understand the mechanics yet of the potty, so usually the underpants get full of pee (of course, I’m copping out by using Pull-ups instead of true underpants). He rages with the full force of his lungs now. At night, he has discovered that the use of “Mommy!” shrieked as loud as he could gets Mommy storming in…as opposed to when he was simply content to lie in his crib, quietly playing.

He’s going through another word explosion again, testing out phrases like “No, thank you,” and “That’s a F1-Bomber!” I fear the Word of the Day/Month will soon perish, because he speaks so clearly now. The other day, he bent down with his head on the floor and said, “Look Mommy! I’m upside down!” No more ‘uppy-down’, huh?

Ah well. I knew this will happen. Insert “Ah! my baby’s growing up!” comments here. But you know what? I don’t have time to sit here, feeling nostalgic, wishing for the days when he just laid in my arms and cooed. The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s pretty warm outside. I think I’m gonna treat my boy to a couple of hours at the park. Watch him run, arms and legs pumping, big fat grin spread across his face. Maybe put him on the big kid’s swing. Yeah, he’s old enough for that now.

Adventures in Potty Training, Prelude (or Thoughts of the “Chair” again…)

So a few weeks ago, my hubby says to me, “Looks like it’s getting warmer.”
I says, “Yep.”
He says, “Nice days again. Sunshine. Washing the car. Going to the park…”
I says, “Yep.”
He looks at me. “You know what that means, right?”
I look at him. “Nope.”
At this point, his mouth goes into super slo-mo, and I can see his lips coming together, then stretching out in a horrible rictus of revelation:

POTTTTTY TRRRRRAAAAAAIIIIIINNNNNGGGGG….”

Okay, I’m exaggerating. What I meant to write was that he said, “Potty training,” and a chorus of red devils rose up behind him, shrieking and pointing their pitchforks at me. “Potty training! Potty training! Potty training! Bleahhhh!!!” Then they wrapped me up in toilet paper and took me to a place where the Potty Song played over and over 25 hours a day and tiny naked urchins stomped and hooted and threw their body leavings on the floor and the walls and the ceiling, but never, never, the clean, pristine potty chair sitting in the middle of the floor…

You see? This is what happens when a writer gets upset. I only have to think about putting Daniel on the chair again and I start to hyperventilate and my hands start to shake. After the humiliating setback last year, I don’t even want to consider potty training again. They make size 6 diapers anyway. I can go on blissfully changing Daniel until the day he starts kindergarten and all the kids point and laugh at him because he’s still wearing a diaper, then he runs home, crying, and I will stand, pointing my finger at him, and say, “Well, that’s what you get for not learning to use the potty like I told you to when you were 2. Did you listen? Noooo…”

Yeah. Okay. Forget that last paragraph.

Truth is, the thought of trying to potty train Daniel again makes me cringe. My head says that I’m reluctant to do so only because I’m afraid of it failing again. I don’t want to get my hopes up for a week, then go into a major relapse. I don’t want to force Daniel into potty training if he doesn’t want to. It’s not like I have a magic button that automatically makes Daniel say, “Mommy, I have to go potty.” If I did, I could put that button to far better use (“I want a book contract.” Bzzz! “Done!”)

Granted, Daniel is a little older now than the last time we tried. He knows how to pull his pants down and up, which he didn’t do so well last time. And just yesterday, he completely surprised me by coming up to me and saying, “Mommy, change my diaper.” It seems that he’s no longer content to let his diaper fill up anymore. According to all the ‘books’, that indicates a certain ‘readiness’ for ‘clean underwear’.

I guess the only reason why I’m writing this entry is to psyche me up into doing it again. ‘Cause, after all, I will be the one doing the training. I’m the one who will have to patiently tell Daniel, “Let’s go to the potty!” And I need to realize that if he’s still not ready, then it’s okay. I haven’t failed. It just means that I’ll have to wait a little longer…

So I guess I’ll have to dig up the Over the Rhine’s “The Poopsmith Song” again…

Don’t Blame the Weather (or a life without Daniel, at least for two days)

Friday Night

It’s icky outside. A dark drizzle mists the world and we need to drive through it at the height of rush hour to get Daniel to his Nana’s. There’s a buildup on the I-290 extension that’s really a slowdown before you get to the real mess on I-55. Visibility is poor and tempers are high. I decide, Nuts to this–it’s quicker to take side streets. But the weather messes with my sense of direction. All I want to do is get to York Rd and take that to 294, which I know is nice and clear. But my windowshield is not. We make a couple turns through unfamiliar streets, and before I know it, we’re back on 290, but going the opposite way. Ironically, as I shout “Oh, no!”, They Might Be Giants “No!” starts playing on the CD player. Daniel is taking great delight in my frustration. “No, Mommy! No!”

It takes us 2 hours to get to my mother’s place whereas it normally takes 45 minutes.

Daniel loves his Nana. Dropping him off is easy. It’s like daycare. “Goodbye, Daniel!”
“Briana! (garbled) Nana…Auntie Krissee….(something, something) T.T!” Translation: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Beat it already. I’m gonna hang with Briana for a bit, then let Nana spoil me good and rotten. If I can work my charms on Auntie Krissee, I got it made. Then tomorrow, Auntie T.T. comes and it’s gonna be nothin’ but fun! fun! fun! It’s late, I don’t plan to go to sleep until 2am, and I don’t want you around because you’ll start crimpin’ my style, so get lost. Take your time comin’ back, here?

By the time we leave my Mother’s, sans Daniel, fog has rolled in and cut visibility down to a small patch in front and behind us. My hubby this time takes the wheel while I pass out for a bit in the passenger seat. I wake up later on to see the exit we should’ve taken pass right by us.

“Hey, uh…”
“Yeah. I think we missed our exit.”

Seeing that the next exit is not for ten miles, we wind up taking a huuuge detour. I’m in a waking dream, watching signs and cars emerge out of nothingness, a reverse dissolving, growing real until dematerializing back into misty gray. There are no landmarks; the fog has gobbled it up.

Behind us, the back seat is empty. The booster seat that normally takes up the center space is gone, currently squatting in my mother’s car. The emptiness that replaces it is a bit disturbing.

Saturday

When I had arranged this weekend for Daniel to go to his grandmother’s, my mind was rife with possibilities, most of them on the romantic side. We were going to go to a wedding reception that evening, so we would spend the full day taking advantage of us being a couple again. Lounging on the couch, watching movies, eating strawberries and cream, catching up on my reading, snuggling, sleeping. Sleeping. Sleeping…

My hubby had other plans.

We cleaned out Daniel’s room. Stripped his crib and washed his sheets. Picked up the books off the floor. Collected all the “Voyagers” lying around the house and put them in the dishwasher and/or silverware drawer. Got an oil change for the car.

We did manage to get a few romantic things in. But I ain’t gonna tell. It’s cloudy outside, but at least it’s a little warmer.

Saturday Night

The wedding reception is small, hosted by a band of Lithuanian women. I eat kugelis for the first time, as well as shredded beets and lots of pastries. There is lots of food, lots of wine and lots of drama. Everything that’s needed for a wedding reception. I’m glad we left Daniel at my mother’s. We would’ve spend the entire evening chasing him down, keeping him from getting obnoxious. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on other things.

Driving to and from the reception, I got Phil Keaggy’s Sunday’s Child playing on the CD player. One of my favorite songs is “Blessed be the Ties”:

Out of the single life into the family way,
So many scripted lines, so many roles to play.
Ever a pressure pressing, ever an undertow.
Why do the ties you’ve chosen slowly pull you low?

Over the things we love into the still unknown.
I had a dream last night I was finally left alone.
Nothing to tie me down, no one to kiss goodnight,
Never again to feel your whisper pull me to your side.

And oh, an emotion cries….
Oh, sing blessed be the ties….”

I want to play it over and over, making it into a prayer for for a friend of mine who had it rough tonight.

It’s late when we get back home, but I still want to catch up on a movie, so hubby and I watch “Sideways”. I loved being in wine country when I was in California, and I wanted an idyllic movie to put that feeling of driving past vineyards and picnicking and cruising into artistic context.

This movie is not that. It’s not idyllic. It’s not artistic. It sucks. Whoever said it was the best comedy of the year should get their own clothes robbed and they get dumped in the middle of the street, in broad daylight. Yuck.

Sunday

At church, a friend brings her 3-month-old cousin. I had looked forward to spending the morning trying to experience how life was pee-Daniel. But I can’t remember. Then my eyes fall upon this little girl, and all my maternal instincts rise up enforce, startling me with their intensity. I spend the time after church holding the girl, sitting crosslegged on the floor, watching her suck on a bottle while her slate eyes regard me. I remember that gaze from two years ago.

I keenly want to experience it again. Which is strange. Have I forgotten how miserable I was? The late nights? The little sleep? The feelings of inadequacy and absolute uselessness? Am I nuts for wanting it again? The girl sighs in my arms. Her fist grips my finger tightly. She won’t let go.

The weather is gorgeous. Blue skies. Low 70s. We go out afterwards to eat at Noodles & Company. We sit outside for the first time this year. The breeze is gentle–it keeps tugging a loc of hair into my eyes. I brush aside, then realize that this is the first time I had to do that with my hair for the longest time, ever since I went natural. It feels wonderful, that I can shake my head and feel my locs bounce about. I wonder how long they will be by this time next year.

I’m already planning my day for tomorrow, where it supposed to be in the upper 70s. Going without Daniel for the weekend is nice, but I want to see him run around in the grass. Take him to a park. Let him yell and scream.

He screams, all right, when we drive back to my mother’s. What? The fun is over?! NOOOOOOOOO!!!

Later, we drive back. The expressways are clear. The night is dark. I’m driving, since hubby needs to get up in the morning. Daniel is knocked out in the back seat–all the fun he had finally caught up with him. But then, my hubby puts on Dr. Demento, and Daniel’s head pops up. “Bridge!” he says as he points to an overpass. I glance behind me to see his dark eyes shining, wide awake and amused. It’s nice to see him back there again.

Yeah, it’s nice to have him back. Even when we finally get home and he starts shrieking in rage because he has to go to bed.

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