Archives for category: Play

It was inevitable.  The Smush Monster is spending more time on two legs than four now.  She began her bipedal trundle over a month ago, and as with all things Smushie, she bulldozed over toys, insects, and sometimes brother, with little regard to their respective muffled screams beneath her pudgy, sweaty feet.

If you recall, months ago I was overwhelmed with the idea that my little girl NEEDED to walk as soon as possible.  With her walking, I could lessen my burden by about 25 lbs and free up an arm or two for carrying other things (or just letting them sway in the breeze like normal people do).  So I put Smush through a sort of baby boot camp with pushups, wheelbarrows, squats, and situps.  She added strength, stamina, and muscle to her chubby and ‘oh so cuddly’ little body.  But, my efforts have recently turned into more of an exercise for me than for she.  (I know it’s supposed to say ‘her’, but ‘she’ rhymes with ‘me’ and I like it!)

I thought I’d eventually take both my kids for leisurely strolls in the park, free from the three-wheeled BOB that limits our mobility, flexibility, and creativity.  We’d play with the freedom bestowed upon young minds and bodies.  (When I say ‘we’, I really mean ‘they’.  I’m getting old!)

The truth is that I’m chasing the walking version of Smushie everywhere and sacrificing my body to minimize the potential perils of her climbing up the stairs, swinging from handrails, and jumping from the curbs.  She may be physically ready to walk, but her brain isn’t quite ready to take on other functions.  Her brain power is spent doing a lot of this:   “Left foot forward.  Now, right foot forward.  Hey, a tree!  Um, which foot goes next again?  System error.  Shutting down legs.  *PLOP*

Now I’m looking into exercises that will keep Smushter from walking so quickly:  overfeeding her, tying a mini parachute to her back, binding her feet, etc.

There’s an old adage that goes “Teach a baby to talk, and you’ll get a headache.  Teach a baby to walk, and you’ll get a backache.  But teach a baby to stay in a confined place and neither cry nor try to escape, and you’ll have found nirvana.”  (No, the other nirvana.)

The real lesson for me is that I should have just let things happen on their own.  I could have allowed her mind ample opportunity to wire itself for some measure of self-preservation before her body was able to find harm’s way.  Stupid, stupid, stupid….me.  Whoops, gotta go!  I’ve got to go save her from walking straight off the stairwell…again…for the eighth time…today.

 

Smush, Now That You're Trapped, I Can Get Some Work Done!  See You Tomorrow!

Smush, Now That You’re Trapped, I Can Get Some Work Done! See You Tomorrow!

 

The Worm is officially fwee years old!  Wow, time flies when you’ve got kids and they suck you into their personal black hole time-space vortex twenty-four hours a day!  I can remember the night he was born, with me standing ready to push him back in until the clocked ticked past April Fool’s, me arguing with the hospital staff about how their fetal monitoring equipment worked, and me wondering if Worm would look exactly like his dad or just 99%.  Ah, memories…

Two years ago, Worm’s first birthday party was spent with a whole lot of people.  It was a decently sized party with some invitees eager to see how much he’d grown in a year and others feeling socially obligated to honor our first successful reproduction of ourselves.  We went crazy with a theme and decorations and all sorts of minute details.  There could have been a thousand people in the room and I don’t believe the experience would have affected Worm any differently.  His poor brain was busy processing how best to get cake icing from the table to his belly without using his hands.  Everything else was insignificant.

This time, Worm knew the event was all about him.  I’d been told by other parents that it’s wonderful to see a child “get” that the party is all about him or her.  I, never having been that excited to play leading man at birthdays in general, had a hard time understanding what these parents meant.  Until I saw our little Wormie’s face last week!

Every mom and dad loves to see their children happy, especially when it doesn’t require monumental physical effort or gobs of money on their part.  We didn’t go crazy with decorations and food.  There was no dancing clown (if you didn’t include me).  There was no 30 foot tall inflatable theme park with water slide.  It was just an afternoon spent with some cool people hanging out on a warm spring day.  Sure, Worm was happy to be entertaining at his house.  But when the moment arrived for cake and candles, his mood heightened.  He filled up with (hopefully non-alcohol induced) giddiness.  He beamed when everyone sang the “Happy Birthday” song and he blew/spit out his birthday candle flame.  It was as touching for me to witness as it was for him to experience.  (Thanks to our family and friends that shared the day with us and with him.  I think it’s the first birthday that he will be old enough to remember!)

Worm is still at an age where he appreciates the little things in life…imported chocolates, fast cars, motorcycles, and women.  He’s growing out of toddlerhood and into quite a little boy.  At the party, Worm played with all the kids (even his little monster sister, Smushie), but another little girl was by his side almost the entire time.  Maybe it was the way they were gazing into each other’s eyes, or the way they were feeding each other cake at the table.  (It kind of reminded me of my wedding reception!)  I have an odd feeling they’re dating now or something.  I don’t really know, and I’m quite scared to ask because I’m not ready to deal with that yet!  So for now, I’m going to hold on to my little boy, close my eyes, and enjoy his moment of exuberant youth and innocence.  Because when I next open them, 20 years will have passed and the moment will be his wedding.

Worm, I Think it's a Little Early For You To Start Dating...Like 30 Years Too Early!

Worm, I Think it’s a Little Early For You To Start Dating…Like 30 Years Too Early!

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted.  I’ve been recovering both mentally and physically from our trip to Disneyland.

Why would any parents take their kids to Disneyland?  Termite tenting.  (It’s the #248th reason families visit the theme park.  It’s right below “Wanting to hear thousands of screaming children screaming and barfing in giant spinning teacups”.)

Our house was being sprayed and we had to leave.  We needed to go SOMEWHERE.  And silly us, we thought that visiting the “happiest place on earth” would be worth the two-hour drive.

We were wrong.

My marbles haven’t completely come back to me, but let’s recap.  Two hours in a car with anyone under the age of 21 just plain sucks.  I’m not sure why anyone would go through that type of confined suffering, unless it was to drop the kids off at the grandparents…

They’re awful in the car on long trips.  Smushie has become more, um, opinionated.  When she wants something, she’ll let us know.  Usually, it’s by screaming and crying.  But mostly, it’s by screaming.  She has to hit at least 120dB with her wail.  (My ears ring like they would after a rock concert.)  It only gets better when the Worm tries to match her intensity.  It’s the only time I think stereo sound is overrated.

When we booked the hotel room for our trip, there was no double crib option.  Instead, we got another queen size bed.  We only have one portable crib, so that meant one child was going to have to sleep in a bed with a grownup.  (Remember, bot of our kids are still in a cage crib at home.) Wormie nominated himself to spend the night with me.  And that first night, he marked his territory by peeing on it.  (I remember jumping out of bed at midnight with a wet hand, yelping “Steph!  STEPH!  What is this?” as if there was radioactive waste on me.  Ah, memories.

Now for the theme park.  We get to Disney on Superbowl Sunday (supposedly the best time of year to visit)  and the rumors were valid.  It’s not as crowded.  The longest line for a ride was 30 minutes.  Not that we went on many.  The environment was so new and different, the kids’ brains overloaded within the first hour.  They fell asleep in their strollers, steam pouring from their ears.  Though, it wasn’t as bad as you’d think.  Steph and I got to enjoy a walk with some uninterrupted conversation:

Me:  “You look nice today!  You did something to your hair, didn’t you?”

Steph:  “Honey, I got it cut and colored two months ago!”

And we spent the rest of their nap time trying to remember who it was that we had married.

If I could really just list 8 things I learned about taking a 1-year-old and a 2.5 year old to Disneyland, it would be these here:

  1. The fake mustache trick to get on the big kid rides doesn’t work.  It’s not that believable on a baby girl.  Besides, it’s a height restriction not an age limit.  Most rides are 40″ or 42″.
  2. If your kids want to ride something and you think it’s a bit out of his/her league, scream and run away as fast as you can.  Later, tell your child that you saw a ghost and you don’t want to go near that ride again.  Works every time.
  3. You will walk 10 miles carrying 30 lbs of gear and still be unreasonably expected to feed, change, and cater to your children.
  4. If you have any grand ideas that you will be videotaping and snapping photos of your toddlers doing cool stuff at the theme park, don’t.  Especially if it’s your first theme park visit, you’ll be much too busy saving them from eating food off the ground, running full-bore into random strangers, digging up plants from the landscape, and swimming in the pond with the ducks.
  5. Don’t go into the gift shops unless you want to buy everything inside…and/or hear your child whine about wanting everything inside.
  6. If you’re not a fan of mobs of people, hop the Disneyland gate after it closes.  Otherwise, Superbowl Sunday really is the next least crowded day to visit.
  7. The amusement park isn’t nearly as fun as the telephone and plastic cups in the hotel room.
  8. Stay for the parade.  It’s the best part of the day for little ones.

Worm, I came home exhausted from our trip.  I didn’t feel like it was the happiest place on earth like the brochure said.  (I may have missed the fine print disclaimer.)  And from the looks of it, you slept through half of the Disney experience and cried for pretty much the entire other half.

I must say that for a total of one hour of the forty-eight we spent in Anaheim, you were grinning from ear to ear.  And every time you got that big, cheesy smile, I was elated.  For me, you are the happiest place on earth.  You’re my Disneyland.

This Was a Dream Come True for Worm!  A Life Size Mater!

This Was a Dream Come True for Worm! A Life Size Mater!

Gavin – 30; Honeydaddy – 17 (Worm, the look on your face when you saw Mater was unforgettable.  I’m glad your eyes didn’t pop out of your head!)

I yelled at my son last week for the first time ever.  He’s four months shy of 3 years old and I held out for as long as I could.  The event was exasperatingly awful.  It was not at all how I pictured what being on the ‘other’ side would be like.  I don’t like to raise my voice (unless I’m arguing with my wife…because that’s a contest to see who can be the loudest!), but I felt that Worm needed to hear me (which doesn’t always equate to listening.)

I’m usually pretty relaxed as long as the kids are orderly.  (Read:  I haven’t been relaxed in over 2 and a half years.)  I don’t get rattled real easily.  But when I’ve had enough, I will overreact to certain situations.  This time warranted a little extra vocalization on my part.  (I channeled the “stern dad” voice!)

The day started out with breakfast for Worm.  That meant pouring milky cereal onto his tray and pants.  Ok, no problem.  When I tried to clean up, he cried and screamed for me to stop, as if I was ruining his ‘Mona Lisa’.  (If Worm is the next Jackson Pollock, I’ll be kicking myself later for stunting his artistic fervor.)  When the kid and floor were 80% clean, I offered Worm a refill.  He refused.  And found a way to whine about it.  An hour later, Worm stated that he was hungry and casually left off the part about being grumpy.  (It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that when you don’t eat, you get irritable until fed.  But the idea looks like it takes more than the mind of my toddler to grasp.)  I gave Worm some cheddar goldfish to satiate his belly only for him to decide that the dogs were more deserving than he.  I promptly took the remaining goldfish away from him and forced the dogs to vomit up their share.  (Just kidding.  I wanted to see if you were still paying attention.)  That situation didn’t go over well.  Apparently, I was interrupting Wormie’s reenactment of Jesus feeding his disciples with a few fish and bread.  I screwed up the miracle, the dogs were going to starve to death, and I would become the devil.  He cried for them…as loud as he could.  For the next 10 minutes.  (Does anyone else think that toddlers should have a mute button?  Add a reset and sleep button to them and I’d be happy.)

Lots of whining, crying, and horseplay (as my dad would say) happened between snack and lunch time, which was surprising since it had been about 15 hours since Worm’s last meal.  At any point, I thought his energy would fizzle and he would barely have strength to sit upright in a chair let alone gallop around the living room.  So when noon rolled around, I made a nice (and tasty, I might add) sandwich and cut it into perfectly ideal sized morsels.  I placed the food in front of him and even turned on the TV to ingrain mindless eating habits at an early, impressionable age.  Three episodes later, not a crumb had moved.  I asked Worm if he wanted to eat.  He said no.  I repeated the question two more times.  I got the same answer.  (No means no after the third time.  It’s one of my new parenting techniques…)

“F#*k it.” I said to myself for the 9th time that day, which had barely concluded the morning.  It’s time for nap.

I scooped Worm up from the play area, put him into his crib, closed the door, and left.

I was called back in multiple times over the course of an hour for: one ice in my water bottle; get me big ‘Mater; I need tissue for boogies; turn light on;  ‘what are you doing, daddy?’; I want to brush teeth; get me my train with blue wheels;  and a few other things that I can’t remember at the moment (because anger causes the brain to block out negative memories so that I will most likely repeat the same parenting mistakes again at a later time…sorry, I digress.)

I was pushed over the line.  The last request, unbeknownst to him at the time, had me fuming.  I began screaming from the hallway, before I entered his room, hurling my words through the door at him.  I was so pissed about all the whining, crying, and misery of the morning that my voice was reverberating off the walls.  When I saw him looking at me as he never had before, his eyes pasted open and jaw dropped I said one last thing “GO TO SLEEP NOW!”  He said nothing.  Immediately he turned and huddled himself into the corner of his bed and cried himself to sleep.  I walked out feeling like the biggest asshole in the world.  Sometimes I love parenting more than other times.

Worm, You're So Dramatic!

Worm, You’re So Dramatic!

Gavin – 29; Honeydaddy – 17 (Worm, what sucks is me getting to a place where I have to yell at you to stop doing what you’re doing.  But, it’s still my fault for getting so heated.)

…for a few days while we go to my best friend’s wedding.  We are pretty sure we will return for you, for our magic 8-Ball keeps telling us to “most likely” come back.  If something ties us up forever, we made out a will (no, seriously).  I know you may have your heart set on the dogs raising you in case we depart, but legally it can’t be done.  We tried to convince the judge that you two are closer in nature to hairy beasts and would be best raised in a situation (such as in the backyard with the dogs, Frodo and Duncan) where cleanliness and verbal communication were kept to a minimum.  He declined our request.  (That really tipped the scales in favor of us coming back to get you…if the government won’t let our pooches raise you, we will, even if we have to raise from the dead!)

I’ve just got a couple of things to tell you before we drop you off to terrorize play with the grandparents.

Worm, your grandparents are old, especially grandpa.  Your screaming may make my ears bleed, but it may not be enough for pops to hear what you’re saying.  Since he’s too stubborn to get a hearing aid, you may need to grab his ear and yell directly into it (kind of like how you speak to your sister).

Smushie, there is no dog bowl at the GP’s house for you to drink out of.  You may have to hydrate with baby formula instead.  Also, the GP’s don’t have any dog toys for you to chew on.  It may pose a problem, but I’m sure you will find some power cords or old house slippers to bite into.

Worm, I don’t know how you’re going to manage at bedtime.  I think the old folks go to bed before you do.  So if you would kindly tuck them in and sing a song for them, they may fall asleep faster.  Grandma needs to have the TV on to watch in her sleep (I’m not sure how that works), so just turn the volume down on the ‘mote.  Try to put yourself to bed at a reasonable hour, possibly before midnight.

Smushie, there’s a lot to explore in the grandparents’ house.  I suggest wearing a helmet for when you pull the doilies, table runners, and placemats down.  A lot of grandma’s knick knacks are delicate and your head may leave a dent in some of them.  Plus, grandma thinks that she moved all of the decorations to a higher location.  I’m somewhat concerned about this because even though you’re almost two and a half feet tall, you’re almost as tall as she is.

Worm, make sure Smush doesn’t put anything in her mouth that isn’t food.  Also Wormie, don’t push your sister into the walls, doors, floors, toilet, etc., basically don’t push her into anything not resembling a couch.  That’s pretty much all I got.  I want you, Worm, to love the GP’s like you love eating gummy bunnies.  Smushie, I want you to love them like you love…well…you love everything.  So just keep the status quo!

While we’re away from you guys, we’ll be:

  • Sitting down for dinner (without having you and your sister crawling on top of me, grabbing my plate, spitting in my food, putting your hands in my glass of drinking water, or any combination of these things.)
  • Going out to eat and actually enjoying a hot, nice, hot meal (did I mention hot? As in, I’ll get to eat as soon as the food is served? Yay!)
  • Sightseeing (and seeing more than just cigarette butts, candy wrappers, and sprinkler heads on the ground)
  • Waking up to birds chirping (and not to blood-curdling screams from either of you at 6am)
  • Listening to music (rather than the Curious George theme over and over each day)
  • Holding each others hands (instead of holding you, your sister, your bike, your helmet, your wagon, your cup, and your diaper bag all at the same time)

I know it sounds like we’ll be having more fun without you, than with you.  Well….it’s true!

I will miss you two for a while, but then I’ll adapt lots and it will be very strange being without my babies for 3 whole days.  (It’s the longest I’ll have ever been away from you.)  It will be a good test for me before we send you off to boarding school to see what life will be like when you start going to elementary school.  Be good to your grandparents and uncle Faldo, for we will be back to see them again at Christmas!

This is the Cheapest Playpen we found!  U-Haul - $3.  Fits Two Children.

The Cheapest Playpen We Found! U-Haul – $3. Fits Two Children.

…our candy haul would be huge!

I looove Halloween.  It’s my favorite holiday.  The candy is the best part, but I’m too old (and have been for some time) to seriously knock on doors for any of that stuff anymore.  Last year, Steph and I took the Worm (and a still-baking-in-the-oven Smushie) out.  I went as a businessman-turned-worn-out-stay-at-home-dad.  My disheveled hair, unkempt beard, stained gray sweatpants and sandals garnered me zero treats, even though the idea was original and my garb, tres authentique.  (A bum on the street did feel sorry for me, though.  He tossed me a nickel and half a jelly sandwich to raise my spirits.)  Our stroll around the block (without our generous friend) brought me back to the good old days.

I miss my prepubescent Halloween excursions where I’d hang out with friends all evening and come home just before midnight with the fruits (yeah, ‘fruits’) of my labor, a pillowcase full of yummy, gummy, gooey, chocolatey, fudgy sweets.  I still remember getting the post-Halloween sugar rush that gave me powers to bounce off bedroom walls, leap over creeks in a single bound, and pedal my bike through my neighborhood for hours with no rest.  I was a superhero every November.

I want that feeling again. (Is this my mid-life crisis?)  And this time, I am prepared to use my daughter as a pawn in my plot to relive some of my childhood!

Kit-Kats!  Reese’s!  Blow-Pops!

Airheads, Nerds and Pop-Rocks!

Gummi-Bears!

I don’t cares!

Gimme all you got!

If I can get the Smushels to stand all by herself in front of a door wearing a cute costume, she’ll score some serious loot.  That’s certain.  Who wouldn’t want to treat a sweet little baby showing off her best trick?  On the other hand, if I’m holding Smush as we go up to knock on doors, she’ll get worthless smiles and a bunch of un-belly-filling “Aw, what a cute baby!” looks.  People will think she’s too young to eat junk food and withhold their delectable bounty.  I think any of us that went trick-or-treating on Halloween knows that the amount of candy you get is inversely proportional to your size (and/or amount of facial hair).  Smushie is at the prime size to rake in some serious junk food for us, but only if she’s in a vertical position.  So I’m working on her balance skills, Bela Karolyi style, which means 8 hours a day on a balance beam.  (Wobbling is fine.  It will actually enhance the candy receiving effect.)

If you’re thinking that I’m taking advantage of my daughter, you’d be wrong.  We have a deal.  She poops.  I wipe.  She pulls my neck skin.  I scream.  This is just an addendum to our current contract:

CLAUSE 49 – Smush works for Halloween candy.  I eat it.

Besides, what candy can she eat with only two teeth?  The single possibility is the “candy that melts in your mouth and not in your hand” (and that’s a choke hazard for her age group).  Everything else requires some choppers (or dentures), neither of which she has quite yet.  So, to make sure our hard-earned chocolates don’t go to waste, I’ll do the honors!

Is this going to be the greatest Halloween in 20+ years for me?  Hell yes.  I’m only telling you guys this because YOU CAN’T STOP ME!  Halloween is back for Honeydaddy!  And for at least the next two years (hopefully three), Smushter will work hard at the end of October, only to wake up in November and not remember a thing.  All I have to do now, is convince Smush that the ground is a stable platform (unless there’s an earthquake).  She just has to stand there in costume and look pretty.  We’ve got less than a week before I’m literally taking candy from a baby…mu hu ha ha ha!

Smush, You Better Bring Your A-Game on Halloween!

Smush, You Better Bring Your A-Game on Halloween!

The Thinker:  “I wonder if that carpet runner is digestible.  Hell, I wonder if it’s even biodegradable.”

The Doer:  “Nom! Nom! Nom!”

Guess which of my kids is which?  Is it a dilemma?  I’m not sure yet.  My boy is so cautious and calculated that it scares me how precise he can be with his words and actions.  And my daughter is so reckless and unobservant that it scares me how fearless she can be in exploring her surroundings.

Basically, Worm and Smush give me gray nose hairs.  (If they were only more like their dearest Honeydaddy, I would be so much less stressed out.  Where did I go wrong?)  These two have fallen far from the apple tree and in opposite directions.

Personally, I can relate to a calm, collected child.  But, my brain just can’t make heads or tails of our pocket-sized daredevil.  She’s got no sense of self-preservation and it drives me crazy!!!  (I used to be a believer in Darwin’s evolution, but I’m afraid that evolution would happen without the Smushter if I didn’t intervene twice a day!)

I know she’s only 9 months old, but isn’t protecting oneself supposed be hardwired in the brain?  I have a feeling that Smushie doesn’t think too much about anything.  From my vantage point, she pauses briefly with a look of “I think I can eat that!” before she sticks whatever it is (today, it was the kitchen trash can lid) in her mouth to see if it fits/digests/tastes good.  That only describes the oral fixation.  There’s a whole diving head first off of high ledges chapter as well.

Then I’ve got the Worm, who has to see 100 kids check that gravity works from the top of a slide before he will attempt it himself.  No amount of ‘Ritos or gummy bunnies will convince him to go sooner.  All the boxes must be checked off his list (he gets this from his mother) before Wormie puts his own body in jeopardy.  For if gravity doesn’t work for the split second he is on the slide, he will only have himself to blame.

Our life is getting much more interesting, and twice as busy.  I’m trying to keep up my blog and I know I’m way behind!  Two mobile kids really makes for a lot of eye strain and back pain for me.  It’s a good thing I own an all natural topical pain relief company.  Click Here.

If there ever was a picture to accurately describe my two little loves in a thousand words, this is it!

I Think the Picture Says it All.

I Think the Picture Says it All.

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