Monday, February 11, 2008

O-speak and N-doings of late

--N was on my lap this evening as we made some Valentines to send out (we're big into sending mail lately -- O is fascinated by the mailman, mailboxes and the post office), and was very agitated, wiggling all over the place and flapping her arms. I'm pretty sure she's convinced she could walk across the room if I'd just let go of her already. I said "Geez, sweet girl, you're going to fly right away here if I'm not careful!" O looked up from his coloring and said "But if she does that, we won't have a baby anymore!"

--Every night before he goes to bed, he asks, How many hours until the sun comes up, Mommy? After I wake up, what will happen then?

--Last night, J. reported that he carried on a long conversation about his bed, asking for a new one and then when J. told him that it was a special bed, the same one that Daddy slept in when he was a boy, O asked "Daddy, when you were a boy, did you have safety scissors too? Were yours blue like mine?" (essential to the mail preparation is a cutting up mulitple pieces of paper with these highly prized scissors)

--N is eating cereal, actually eating it, a new experience for me. O. showed very little interest in almost all baby food except for plain fruits. Surprise, he currently survives on junk food and fruit. She makes a big mess of course, but actually swallows a good deal of it. We also tried some bananas today. Still no connection to food and sleeping longer at night, but we'll keep trying for whatever magic combination accomplishes that.

--N also loves to roll around on the floor -- she keeps going until she bangs up against something, so we're going to have to get a lot more careful (and clean) around here quickly.

--O has also started to monitor emotions: "Mom, are you happy now?" This, usually after he's done something naughty and I have snapped at him. "Mommy, when you yell so loud, it makes me sad."
But then, in the car he randomly says "Mom, I am so happy."
"That's great, buddy," I reply. "What's making you happy?"
"Mommy, you make me happy."
Oh, okay. I'll just give you all the candy you want for the rest of the day, okay?

--We're also adventurers lately, thanks to a backpack full of camping related gear given by Grandma. We have to pack up our "snack" and check our compass, and then head to the next room with the backpack on, and use our "noculars" to check out the wildlife out the window. Luckily, we have started to attract a quite impressive array of woodpeckers to our birdfeeder lately, so there's often something to actually look at. The photo above is our friend Woody snacking on suet. Before an excursion to CVS with Daddy yesterday, he had to pack up his backpack with all the normal gear, but also added his rocket balloon pumper in case there were any boats there that needed air. When he got home he reported "But Mom, they didn't have any boats there," with a clearly disappointed tone.

Crayons are not for pockets

Maybe I'll blame Elmo. After all, he was featured in our latest "pocket themed" Sesame Street magazine producing a box of crayons from his pocket so that he and Zoe could make paper bag puppets. He also had a teddy bear sticking out of his overall bib pouch like a kangaroo, which made O. want to go put HIS overalls on, but he was already dressed and we were trying to leave the house to go to Cleveland, and so I said fine, put a crayon in your pocket for the trip.

This is really a story about what a great mother in law I have. So, KJ, if you're reading, this one is dedicated to you. (She's recuperating like a champ from knee replacement, by the way)

We arrived in Cleveland to visit said mother-in-law, and soon after arriving, discovered that O's pants were wet -- we're not sure if it was pee or spilled water, but better not to take the chance, eh? Beloved green blankie was also a little damp. Both jeans and blankie go into the dryer. No! No! you scream, in the manner of a horror film audience watching the blond woman approach the scary abandoned house to scratchy violin music. Ah, but that would be dramatic irony that I, the dark haired sleep deprived mommy, am on the ignorant side of, having forgotten all about the pre-departure green crayon bargaining.

Have you ever seen what a crayon does to a dryer drum?? Or to a light green blankie?? It is not pretty, I assure you. I pulled the blanket out, looked at it in a puzzled way for a few seconds before it all clicked, and as I saw that crayon going into O's pocket in my mind's eye, IT DID NOT HAVE A WRAPPER. Therefore, it could have been either a Crayola washable OR a Cars who-knows-what-the-heck-pretreater-could-ever-get-that-out one. On a trip out to the kitchen to casually ask "so, anyone know a home remedy for getting out crayon?" holding the injured blanket, O's eyes got very big and panicked. "What is on my blankie, Mommy?" I tried to act casual. "Oh, it's no big deal. It's probably a washable crayon. It'll come right out."

Luckily, it did. And I've found that Magic Erasers are pretty magical -- the dryer drum is now just slightly tinted pale green (ironically the same color as the blanket when NOT splotched in a failed tie-dye pattern). Thankfully I thought of using one of them instead of the paint thinner I first saw on the shelf of cleaning products. Have you ever read the warnings about flammables on washers and dryers -- death by explosion and such?

My mother-in-law was seriously so calm about the whole incident, telling me not to worry about it, she'd just throw some rags in there before her next load. She did say "wow, that really IS green" when she found the Magic Eraser for me, but hey -- IT WAS.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Do you think Cesar makes house calls to Cincinnati?

Where's a dog whisperer when you need one? For the last couple of weeks, my poor dog Scout (she of the no hands) has been behaving very neurotically. Scout is a 10 1/2 year old Australian shepherd mix -- we don't know the mix, but probably some Lab? Of all the dogs in our extended family, she's mostly the most low maintenance -- preferring to spend much of her day outdoors as long as there is a sunny spot to lie in. She needs love, but not much walking (or so I like to tell myself). She's been known to act more like a cat than a dog, actually. We've been through a lot together, Scout and I -- at last count we have lived in six different homes, with three other dogs as one time roommates.

She's always had her behavioral quirks -- in one apartment, she wouldn't step foot in the kitchen as it appeared she was afraid of the vinyl flooring. She had to get over that in the next apartment when the only spot for her bowl was in the kitchen, but she still ate and ran so as not to spend much time on the vinyl. She also has what appears to be even more sensitive hearing than most dogs I've been around, reacting strongly to high pitched noises by shaking all over. Smoke alarms send her into a shaking frenzy, as do fireworks, thunderstorms and high winds. Our current home has woods surrounding it that somehow intensify winds, and the screens in our windows whistle if the wind hits them just right, so she heads outdoors quickly on days that it's windy.

The shaking involves a full body vibration, usually starting in her hindquarters, but occasionally spreading to her entire body. Imagine you have chattering teeth, and you'll get the idea of the shaking. It is usually accompanied by panting and drooling, and then finding someone to paw at until she gets some attention. Once, when we had a Fourth of July party in our backyard, we put her inside to try to get her away from the sound of fireworks. One of our guests, a friend of a friend, went indoors to use the bathroom and came back with the report that Scout had stuck her nose in her crotch while she was peeing. Umm, nice to meet you, too.

These episodes are usually manageable, since they only come periodically, and on advice of the vet, we just dose her with some Benadryl and she calms down (read: is tranquilized) soon after she gets her little pill "treat" in some American cheese. However, lately the shaking fits are coming on a daily basis, and as far as we can tell, are triggered by any signs of cooking -- the oven being turned on, a pan being removed from a cupboard, the smell of toast in the toaster oven. Judge what you will about what this says about my cooking, but I have hypothesized that she has developed a Pavlovian response to the signs of cooking because she fears an impending smoke alarm. My smoke alarm is awfully touchy, I have to protest -- it goes off any time I use my bottom (non self cleaning) oven or the broiler.

I have no idea how to treat this behaviorally, and hate the idea of giving her Benadryl on a daily basis -- her life has been disrupted enough by the appearance of two children in her life. So mostly we just yell at her and stick her outside. I fear it is a sign of her advancing age, though I'm consoling myself that this is not the first time in her life that she has acted so strangely. In one of my apartments, she spent much of her time either trying to get into a coat closet and dig through the floor, or hiding curled up underneath my desk.

We gave her a good brushing on the theory that maybe she was frustrated she couldn't get rid of her molting winter coat. We've also put new batteries in her electric fence collar -- not sure what that was going to do, except I was afraid she was going to get so freaked out she'd bolt from the yard. She looks a lot better, but I'm not sure either helped.

J. is threatening that if we don't figure something out, he's going to go to the pound and adopt another dog, hoping it would be a good role model and calm her down. We better find a solution soon, as I really don't need ANOTHER poop producer around here.

(Do you think the torture depicted above has anything to do with it?)