Thursday, December 23, 2010


These past couple of days I've been scrambling around to get everything all set for our trip to Florida. Oliver has decided he doesn't want to go to bed anymore, and also that he must use a fork to eat everything. Even Cheerios. And apple sauce. It doesn't work out nearly as well as he pictures it in his head.

I don't know how we're going to lug all of this junk to the airport We have our suitcases, our carry on, the diaper bag, stroller, and car seat to figure out.  Plus, of course, Oliver.

He won't let us carry him. He won't ride in the stroller. He insists on walking, but his tiny legs just can't keep up with us. Worse still, he momentarily "forgets" the rule about staying close to us and chases after strangers, store displays, vending machines... It gets to be a lot of work. And as much as I hate the idea and refuse to become one of them, I'm starting to understand the people who leash their children. Just a weee tiny bit. Maybe.

Instead, I try not to think about the airport and choose to focus on the tasks at hand.

I was taking down our Christmas tree and running loads of laundry when I kept noticing a distinctly fecal odor. Oliver had a massive poop explosion this morning which had gotten on his back, legs, feet, and clothing. He was an obvious first suspect. I sniffed him, but he was clear. In a moment of paranoia, I started to sniff myself and my clothes, but I was clean. I decided it was all in my head (as is sometimes the case) and went back to my work.

After getting the last ornaments off the tree, I looked down and saw a small pine cone on the floor. I thought about it a moment, then realized... Wait a second. This tree has no pine cones.

Upon closer inspection, it was a small brown turd, forsaken in the corner under the chair. One of Oliver's favorite pooping destinations.

I asked, "Did you poop here?" Oliver violently shook his head pointed at the door and waved byebye. Like I'm supposed to believe somebody came in here last night while we were sleeping and left this neat little turd for us in the corner. Right.

Looks like Santa came early to our house.  Joy.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Teaching a young dog new tricks is still pretty hard.

Recently I've realized Oliver's true pupil potential. I never really thought about it, but I can teach him a lot of stuff. He's getting very good at new words. He's getting better at commands of "bring me ___" or "show me how to ___." Yesterday I said, "Daddy forgot his keys! Go let him in!" And Oliver did.

The best thing I've taught him so far is, "Can you show me how to put this away?" Telling him to do something in the form of a question gets the best results. If I tell him to, say, stop throwing everything out of the fridge he'll ignore me. If I physically take him away, he'll scream. Instead, I ask, "Can you put this ketchup away? Will you show me where the yogurt goes?" AND HE DOES IT. It's a miracle trick.

Since we're sitting at home today doing nothing in particular, I thought I'd try to teach him something new. I want him to hug me. I decided to teach him. It was going pretty well. I could say "hug your doggie!" and sure enough, he'd hug the doggie. I got him to hug the dump truck and the ball, so I thought for sure he'd hug me. Right? I'm his favorite mom in the world!

"Oliver, hug mommy!"
"Nuh nuh nuh!" (While frantically flailing arms back and forth.)

Then he picked up the dog  ("Woof, woof!") and hugged the dog.

Oh, the cold harsh rejection of a toddler.  We'll see how he feels when it's dinner time and that stuffed dog doesn't put food on the table.

I picked Oliver up to try and hug him, but he yelled and kicked, reaching for the dog.

"Woof woof!"

Fine. Be that way. I went and got two crackers. Bribery is what puts me above dogs, right?

"Do you want a cracker?"
"(Pl) ease!"
"Then hug mommy!"
"Nuh nuh nuh!"

I gave up for a while, but when I went to put him to bed tonight I picked up his half conscious body and hugged him. Except, he wasn't unconscious enough because he still said "nuh nuh nuh!" and bit my shoulder.

This force is strong with this one. Maybe after a night behind bars, he'll change his mind and hug me in the morning. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The only hting to fear is fear itself. And Sesame Street.

Up until a few weeks ago, Oliver was completely fearless. Big dogs, strangers, climbing up high - nothing was scary to him. It was terrifying for me because, without any fear, he could and would attempt to do anything.

Lately, however, I've been noticing a little hesitance in his actions. He will not walk into the elevator anymore without holding my hand, because he's afraid of falling down the big crack. We took him out to eat at a Japanese Hibachi place, and for the first time since he's been born, he was scared of the big fire show. In a department store, he cried because there was a woman near by yelling at her children.

Last night, he was scared by a Sesame Street skit that showed Mr. Hooper in danger. He sometimes wakes up at night screaming, which makes me wonder if he isn't having bad dreams.

And while I feel bad that he's afraid, I'm actually very glad inside. The bigger he gets, the crazier the ideas he gets in his head. I want him to know to be afraid of, say, jumping off the table head first. I want him to fear fire and the stove so he doesn't burn his arm off.

 Still, as scared as he was for Mr. Hooper's life, he doesn't seem that concerned about his own. Today he leaped face first off my bed.  He got a carpet burn on his forehead.

Yesterday, for the first time ever, I left him in a daycare center with a stranger and he didn't even look back. When I picked him up after an hour of being gone, he was still having a great time.

This morning he hit himself in the face with a plastic hammer. When I said "ouch!" he just hit himself again and again. He thinks pain is funny.

So, all things considered, he's still a tough little guy. Next time you see him, don't mention that scary incident concerning the grease fire on Sesame Street.

Because he could totally take you.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Picture Day Again.

Today was another picture day for Oliver. It went very well, and I was surprised. We woke him up twice last night to give Jared rides to and from school. He didn't get his nap in before we left. We skipped our morning Sesame Street ritual. I made him wear strange dress clothes. We rushed out the door and I didn't take the time to let him push elevator buttons and try to buckle himself in. On top of that, he's never really had his pictures taken in a studio before.

I was expecting a meltdown, but it never came.

He wore his ridiculous outfit. He was more or less open to the photographer's pose suggestions. He smiled, he danced, he played. There were many good pictures to choose from.

While pictures were being edited, we let him run around in the mall. Typically after being cut loose, he won't go back into his stroller. But today? No problems at all. He even took a tiny nap while we shopped. He woke up and ate part of a chili dog with me. We shopped a bit more and we left the mall, no tantrums to speak of.

So my question is this: Was I being negative when I assumed he would throw tantrums today? Or was I merely being a realistic parent to a toddler?

I don't want to go into things gritting my teeth and expecting the worst, but I don't want to be stupid & naive, either. On the whole, Oliver is a very agreeable little boy. He's friendly. He's outgoing. If you're willing to slow things down to his pace, he is very helpful. For being 14 months old, he's a fun guy to be around.

I want to try really hard to remember that when we set out to do things, because I just can't shake this guilty feeling I have. I feel like I was dismissing him before I even gave him a chance to be happy.  I know I've said this before, but I don't ever want my negative thoughts to pull him down. What reason has he got to be cheerful if I'm always expecting him to be grumpy?

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that he proved me wrong, but I would have deserved it if he hadn't.


(Some of you asked about his squeaky shoes. This is what I meant.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Post Office Conversations.

Today I had to pick up a package at the post office. Per usual, the line was long.  We waited.

In front of us was an old man talking about bunions and gall stones and peripheral artery diseases. He was talking to another old man, who, believe it or not, was a stranger he just happened to meet in line. And they talked about rupturing cysts and festering wounds like a normal person would make small talk about the weather.

"Oh, yer wouldn't believe it! This one time in Arizoner I gat bit by this big spider, whoo-ee! My skin shriveled an' fell off. And the smell! It smelt rotten! Just plain rotten!"

I tried to give the lady behind me a conspiratorial look that said, "Are you hearing what I'm hearing? Is this really happening?"

Only she wasn't having any of that. She scowled at me. And at Oliver, who just happened to be saying "Cah! Cah!" at every car driving past the window. Sorry lady, didn't mean to disturb your festering unhappiness at waiting in line.

When I got up to the window, the man looked at the clock and announced, "Cheryl! It's 15 past! Break time!" He put up a "lane closed" sign, sending me back to the front of the line.

I thought the woman behind me might knife me for reclaiming my spot in line. She whipped out her (smart) phone and started complaining about me and my kid to her friend. Like we couldn't even hear her. Like maybe that would make her wait in line any more pleasant. We weren't even doing anything!

At that point, (because I am a vengeful, rude person) I decided to take it upon myself to give her the best waiting experience possible. I put Oliver down so he could walk around with his obnoxious squeaky shoes. She loved that. Squeak squeak squeak, with every step! Delightful!

I played a game with the hood on his coat that made him squeal with laughter. Ms. Smart Phone was even more disturbed.

Some old ladies in line flirted with Oliver, which only encouraged him more. He stomped his feet to squeak as hard as he could, loudly snorting/laughing.

It was too much for Cell Lady to handle. So much that she left  in a huff without buying her stamps or whatever it was she set out to do.

Lesson of the day learned?

Yes, I will use my child as a weapon.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

So festive it hurts.

We put up our first Christmas tree as a family. It is hideous.

Ever other tree I've ever put up has been beautiful. Manicured. Themed, usually. Perfect.

So how is it that this one came out so hideous? How did we ever end up this way? Here's how.

The whole thing started off well. We found the farm alright. Oliver seemed to like being pulled in the sled. The countryside was beautiful after a fresh snow fall.

The weather was fine. I wore my furry trader hat and ran around with a saw, two things that always signal a rollicking good time. We found a tree. I cut it down with no problems. The bald spots/asymmetry of it were minimal.

We got back into the car and drove home. We had fun and Christmas carols in the car.

Until Daddy took the camera away, anyway.

Accusatory finger of The Doob.

We made a pit stop at my parents' house, and I realized that we don't have a tree stand. Or lights. Or ornaments.

My parents offered to lend us the use of theirs, and we accepted. We grabbed the two boxes labeled "Christmas" and headed home. Jared and I cut off a fresh stump and a few of the lower boughs before setting the tree in the stand. We went to tighten the bolts when we realized that half of the bolts were bent and couldn't be tightened.

So what did we do? We tightened the ones that would work, and settled for a crooked tree. Who would let a few bent bolts get in the way of Christmas spirit? Certainly not these people. Not in our house. We were determined.

I then cracked open the box of lights. Only colored strands, and about 50 odd replacement bulbs for sets they definitely no longer had.

Well, that isn't my style, but okay. We could deal with that. 

I plugged in a strand and it played obnoxious Christmas music, and it wouldn't stop. Also, the red bulbs didn't work. 

We vetoed that one.

The next strand was silent, but only the green and blue bulbs worked. The third strand had all working lights and colours, but was too short for our tree and could not be extended. The last set of lights had the green, blue, and red lights working. Feeling a bit like baby bear looking for the best bowl of porridge, we said, 

"Well? Green and red are the main Christmas colours, plus we get blue as a Hanukkah bonus! Good enough!"

We strung the lights on as best we could, and they looked okay. With all things considered, it looked great! Our tree was crooked and the lights were weird colours, but it would take more than a crooked tree and some funky coloured (seizure inducing & flashing) Christmas lights to slow down all of this festivity. After all, we couldn't give up at the first signs of trouble. What are we, grinches?! Certainly not.

We opened up the ornament box and realized that the only bulbs we had were red, with some sort of floral gold glitter on them. Tacky, but fine! I've seen worse! I put them on the tree.

 Underneath the bulbs were compartment after compartment of home made Christmas ornaments. Some of these handmade gems were molded with the help of an ashtray. Others were made from construction paper and Elmer's. Still more were festooned with glitter glue and tinsel garland. 

Every one of them featured a tiny, fading, red tinted picture of the kids who made it. Jared and I  strung them up, guessing which face belonged to which of my sisters. Each year I'd looked at those ornaments, but they were never hung. The trees I decorated always had themes - silver and red, blue and white, or candy cane stripes. I never used the hand made ornaments because they just couldn't fit in with the perfect, factory made beauties.

But this year (partially because we had no alternatives) I busted them out. 

Every. Single. One.

I put them all on, each one assigned a prominent spot to shine in garish glory. It felt right. It felt like us -  a family tradition that is a little bit embarrassing, a lot bit tacky, but well intentioned.

We stepped back, and took in the whole blinking, glittering, crooked hot mess of a Christmas tree.

We put up our first Christmas tree. It is hideous. And it is perfect.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Evil Genius.

I think I can say this without prejudice.

Oliver is smart.

It's hard. Very hard for me, anyway. I feel like I am always trying to run 2 steps ahead of him so that I can diffuse his next offensive. And, while you may be thinking, he's a baby! How hard can it be?

Very hard.

As some of you know, we recently purchased a little dining table and chairs. Those chairs will be my downfall. He dragged them down the hall and stood on them to open the pantry door. By the time I found him, he had his head stuck in a Cheerios box.

On several different occasions, he has climbed up onto the chairs then onto the table so that he can take the pictures off the wall.  Yesterday I caught him trying to climb over the gate with the assistance of one of those chairs.

Today he had me halfway convinced I was crazy. I looked over, saw him in his high chair and thought... oops! Forgot about him eating breakfast. Better go get him down.

Then, mysteriously, twenty minutes later he was back in the chair. I thought.. oops! Could've sworn I already got him down.

By the third time I realized he was climbing onto a chair and the climbing over his tray and sitting down in his highchair. Sneaky, sneaky boy.

Even without the chairs he's still a force to be reckon with. He's used his little broom to knock things off of ledges he can't reach. He turns the TV on for himself while I'm not looking. Sometimes I forget that he isn't supposed to be watching, so he gets to watch a whole show before I realize what he's done. He's learned to knock on the wall, making me run to the door like a stupid dog barking at the doorbell on TV.

My baby is outsmarting me, and he's not even one and a half years old.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Over the last couple months, Oliver has really made strides in the language department. Most of his words are (to me, at least) pretty useless but he has them nonetheless. But something I don't get, is how he comes up with his words.

Why does he say "poop" and "burp" but not "up" or "mommy" ? He says "my, my, my!" but not "eat", "food",  or "hungry."  The words I try hardest to teach him are the words he has no interest in saying. I get the feeling that most of his conversations are going to center around bathroom humor. (Which, unfortunately, I get enough of from his dad.)

Very rarely does he use the actual noun for what he means to say.

Horses? They're neigh neighs. Dogs are woof woofs. Ducks are quack quacks. Babies are mamas. Cars are sometimes cars, but more often vroom vrooms. Cold is Brr!

Since I caught on to that pattern, I've been trying harder to say the noun more often than the sound effect. Still, he seems to have no interest in nouns. For now, that's okay with me. At least it's something.

New words are always exciting. We've been working very hard on saying "please" instead of just shouting "more!" It was slow going for a while, but today he decided to make please his own.

He wanted Cheerios, so he pointed up and yelled "ease!" It worked. I got him Cheerios. He wanted a bite of my sandwich, so he pulled on my arm and said, "ease!" It worked again. Later I walked into the kitchen and closed the gate behind me. He reached through the bars and said "ease!" but I ignored him. When I started walking away, he only yelled "ease, Ease, EASE!" more. Later this afternoon, he climbed up onto the table via a stray chair. He was joyfully pulling the picture frames off the wall when I plucked him off the table and carried him to the couch. All the while he screamed, "EASE, EASE, EASE!"

Suddenly, the magic word "ease" lost its magic. If you can't use it to stand on top of the dining table, what good is it? WHY EVEN BOTHER TO HAVE THE WORD IF IT DOESN'T OPEN THE BABY GATE INTO THE KITCHEN!?

While we were flipping through family pictures, he tried to say his name for (as far as I'm aware) the first time. He called himself Allah. Great. People are going to love that.