Thursday, May 15, 2014

All About the Ducklings

I am getting to know these little people more and more each day, and I marvel at the interactions they have with one another. The first time Phil and I went anywhere with both of them, one of us said, "The kids are in the car. Wow! We can say that now. We've got kids."

We're a little family, a crowd, a bunch, a little gathering of people with customs and routines and traditions that no other family has. How strange!

Since the coming of Rose, Lee has become more cuddly and clingy. He requests to be held and is shy around strangers. We'll be walking down the sidewalk and he'll crawl up into the stroller when he sees someone walking the opposite direction. When away from home for long periods of time, he often looks at me and asks, "Home?"

He doesn't mind being alone and without toys. I often hear him talking to himself in his time-out box or in his crib before he goes to bed. Any sort of physical punishment on the other hand reduces him to tears. He always wants to cuddle after a flick on the hand. It's like he wants to know that we still love him even after he's been naughty. 

Being naughty these days looks like scattering his play beans across the kitchen floor, throwing food off his tray, hitting our windows with his toys, going past the line on our front yard sidewalk, or throwing hard objects inside.

One morning before nine, I left Lee alone in the backyard for awhile, and when I returned, I found he'd thrown dirt in his hair, down his diaper, and into his shirt and shoes. He was actually throwing dirt into his own face when I arrived. Phil calls this the self-flagellation picture. No punishment. Only a photo, bath, and hair cut. 

I've had it with cutting his hair with scissors. He gets too much sand and dirt into that scalp. Thus, this had become our new method for cutting his hair. He doesn't seem to mind.

Since Rose's coming Lee has also learned a dozen new tricks. He knows how to nurse. He knows how to swaddle his bear and put him to bed. He knows how to make bug and bean soup. He knows that going to work means taking a lunch pail out the door and going to the car. He knows how to season food with salt. He knows how to swing Rose in her bouncer swing. He knows how to hug and kiss. He knows how to drink out of the side of his sippy cup like a cigar. He knows how to play quietly with his own toys while I'm nursing. He knows how to pick up all his nursing toys when Rose is done eating. He knows how to count to three. And he knows how to sing. He imitates the ABC's by saying, "No me no me no me," which is him trying to say, "Now I know my ABC's." The rest of the song just goes like, "E O E O E O" 

Rose thinks that everything Lee does it great. He's made her giggle twice now. Once when jumping on his crib mattress and once when dragging a bottle brush across the sofa. She watches him incessantly and I'm so thankful for it. Rose is far more attached to me at this age than Lee ever was. Probably because I'm breast feeding Rose and fewer people have watched her for me. So having Lee around as another person to watch is a life saver. I can leave Lee with Rose for short periods of time and Rose won't feel abandoned.

She is like that little girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good she was very very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.  Horrid usually means she's tired, hungry, or has gas. The gas has been the worst. Her little belly tightens and she gives off the worst screeching cries. It pierces the ears. I can't hear Philip. I can't hear Lee. I can't hear anything but her when she gets going. So far gas relief drops, a change of scenery, or running the vacuum have been the best cures to her screaming. However, when it gets to be too much, I'll just put her in her bed, turn on the fan, and shut the door. Still not sure what's causing the gas. I think it might be dairy products. Boo! I like milk.

That's been a new development with this baby; I've let her cry herself to sleep. It's been liberating. I make sure she's been fed, changed, had her gas medicine, and then I leave her to herself. That's how I've established a nap routine and bedtime routine. She goes down at 8pm and sleeps through until 4am. It took about a week to get her to do this, a week of putting in my ear plugs and dragging her crib into the bathroom and shutting the door. Poor Phil. He doesn't sleep with earplugs, so he had to listen to Rosy cry it out. 

Oh yes, that's another act that Lee has learned to mimic: Rose's crying fits. He'll lie on his back, kick his legs, and say, "Waaa waaa!" He'll also sit on the couch and slouch down like Rose does, then hold out his hands for me to lift him back up. He has yet to find her funny or a playmate, but he'll obediently show her things when I prompt him. "Show Rose how you drive your cars along the couch. Show Rose that little grasshopper. Would you like to put one of your necklaces on Rose?" He'll drape his fuzzy blanket on Rose or stroke her chin with a corner of it. Sometimes he'll kiss her. And every morning when I take him out of his crib, he looks to find the "Bebe!" He'll not remember life without her. Come to think of it, neither do I.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In the Middle of Nowhere

My parents were pretty gutsy to take four kids on a motorhome vacation for three weeks. Especially because so much of the time was spent driving and because our motorhome didn’t have four beds.

Jacob was 13, Joni was 15, Jessica was 6, and I was 11. And I recorded the entire vacation in my journal with unbiased accuracy. 

The motorhome had three beds. And that included the large twin-sized bed where my parents slept. The couch pulled out and became a bed, which had to be shared. And the kitchen table converted into the most desired bed of all. One unlucky kid slept on the floor or could sleep outside in the tent. I’m sure my mom created a system to rotate kids into all the beds, but my journal records an awful lot of times where I slept in the tent, and one sweet entry: “That night I slept on the table bed all by myself.”  
I can only guess as to why all the kids slept in the tent this night.

I must commend my mom in her preparations for this trip. Every 200 miles, we were allowed one item from a goodie bag. We drove through South Dakota, Nebraska, Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming; we covered a lot of territory. However, I only made note of four items: a packet of Big League Chew, a roll of paper (intended for doodling, I suppose), a copy-cat game similar to the Bop-It, and a “dum basketball thing.”

She also brought along Adventures in Odyssey cassettes and On The Road Bingo. I think the bingo game must relate to one of my journal entries that reads, “We figured out how to notice cows.” I offered no further explanation.  

My dad did his part in keeping us kids busy too. He gave us each an envelope with vacation money. I can’t remember if we all received the same amount or not. It doesn’t matter. Jacob blew most of his money on fireworks—“We found this big firework store and bought a lot. Jacob went crazy.” Jessica bought whatever looked good to her. And I usually returned home with money still in my envelope. Joni? Who knows what Joni did with her money, although one journal entry records that she painted my nails.  

Our fireworks were without a doubt one of the highlights. My dad took our motorhome on many an unpaved road in order to find a secluded place to camp and set off fireworks. I recorded six times where I bothered to mention that we camped “in the middle of nowhere.”

July 15, 1995: “Yesterday we had this big firework show that Jacob made in Joni’s light house. When Jacob started the fuse at the bottom, the house started to burn and then it blew over. The fire works went off sideways and the whole thing was so scary.”

I also recorded many instances of rain. I don’t recall it making much of a difference to us. The moment the skies cleared we were outside hiking, biking, swimming and damming the streams.

July 19, 1995: “We camped in a forest and in the morning I climbed this great climbing tree. I broke one of the branches. It started to rain and (inside) it was cozy. The sun came out and we went for a dip in the river. Then it started to pour. We bundled in the motorhome. The rain stopped and the sun came out. Mommy said we should get some exercise and to bike on our bikes five times around. I was freezing. This is the road. Pink me. Orange Jacob. Jacob said that mommy said that I had to put on this dumb hat.”

I’d like to point out that I rode my bike around the entire campground while Jacob made a smaller loop. 

Yes, we saw Mt. Rushmore and Old Faithful, Crazy Horse, Devil’s Tower, the Royal Gorge and the Headquarters to Adventures in Odyssey. But I remember the adventures were really found in damming rivers, taking hikes, riding my bike, and setting off fireworks. That’s where we used our imaginations and ingenuity to their fullest. That’s where we played without fear of making too much noise or digging up someone’s planters or riding over someone’s property. We were in the middle of nowhere after all.