Friday, October 31, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Tucking Tizzy into bed, I lean in to kiss him good-night whispering, “You’re the best little ten year old I know. Or are you seven? I always forget.”
“Hmm...” he smiles, thinking about it. “Um,” his face falls slightly, “I just don’t know.”
“What don’t you know honey?”
“I don’t know the words.” He looks crestfallen.
“I know,” I say. “Remember the lady who you met last week? The one who played the games with you?”
“She’s going to help you find the words. She will help you bring the words to your mouth that are stuck in your head.”
He gasps. The light springs back into his eyes.
“That’ll be great!”
“Yes, that will be great.”
He throws his arms around me in a grateful hug.
“Mama, I love you.”
“I love you too sweetie, I love you too.”
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
"Where are you mama? – Here you are – WAKE UP!"
Opening my eyes I see a one eyed Zippo monster, forehead glued to my forehead, fishing deep into my soul.
"You awa-eeek mama?" – Lopsided and a crooked grin.
"I GONNA tick-ow YOU! Tick-ow, tick-ow, tick-ow..."
"Now you tick-ow me. TICK-OW ME!"
"Eee-Hee-Hee-Hee!!! Tick-ow me, tick-ow" –
Flat of his foot – SLAMMED in my forehead.
~ STARS ~ *** Oh MY STARS! ***
Fifteen hours later and I feel as though the frontal lobe of my brain has dislodged and settled at the base of my neck. Two inches lower and my nose would have been broken. – I guarantee it.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Because I’m tired of my living room looking like Toys-R-Us, and because it seems silly to have 3 toddler beds crammed in a room for two children, I removed the extra bed and replaced it with the train table.
You would have thought I’d made Christmas come early. Here’s a trick... if your kids are sick of their toys, move them down the hall – voilà – what’s old is new again.
Then, having bestowed upon them such joy, at so little cost, I lost myself in the grande ballroom that had been, only moments before, a cramped and tiny living room – the idea of having a fire in the fire place that has been, for the past 3 years, a parking garage, seemed suddenly feasible.
The sound of screams and panting broke through my fantasy. Moments later, standing in their doorway, I found the boys entangled arms flapping wildly, Slap - slap - slap! Grunts and growls accompanying a crying chorus. I managed to pry them apart carefully – never put oneself between fighting dogs – and sat their sobbing bodies side by side.
Four outreached arms pleaded to me in unison, and I stepped back and said “Uh – uhh!’
“Beating your brother is totally unacceptable! You BOTH need to make it better! Now give each other a kiss and a hug, and say your sorry!”
Sob • hiccup • hiccup • sob • snuffle – drag a sleeve across ones nose – they leaned in, wrapped themselves in the others arms, Tizzy pinching Zips face to haul him in for a kiss.
“I’m sauwwy. So sauwwy.”
“I sauwwy too.”
“Oh mama, I’m so sad. I’m feeling angry.”
“I angwy too.”
“Then, I think another hug’s in order.”
Hug - hug - kiss - kiss - Sigh
“So what’s going on? What could possibly come between the two of you to make you behave this way?”
“Took my engine - he took my engine away!”
“My steam engine mama - Oh mama, I’m so very sad.”
I turned toward the bed I’d disentangled them from, and picked up a small train.
“This is what you were fighting over?”
“This is the wimpiest train EVER – why we even still have this , I can’t be sure!”
“BWAAA-Ha-Ha-Ha” their sobs turned to hysteria.
“IZ EN - GIN! Iz Weem-Pee! Ha-ha-ha-ha- Ahhh...”
And that, was that.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Tizzy went for his speech analysis yesterday, and I have to admit I was getting a little nervous about the fact that he has suddenly blossomed conversationally. In the time it’s taken for them to receive the forms and make the appointment with us, he has suddenly started telling me all kinds of profound things like, “This is a heel mama,” pointing to the heel of his sock. “It’s BURSTING out of my shoe!” Pure genius.
I was waiting for the talkin’ to you get when your contractions stop minutes after you arrive to labor and delivery... you know, when the nurse looks at you and your flat fetal monitor and says “Mmm-hmm... you just think you’re in pain now, but you’ll know for sure when it’s actually happening.” This despite the fact that you KNEW you were contracting five minutes before – and that you are not now – and despite the fact that you’ve done this already, less than 21 months before.
A parents pride in their child’s development can be a bit distorted, however, and although he’s conversing more readily, he still needs help.
Watching him sit proudly in his teeny plastic chair, my heart was BURSTING with love for this child, my child, who may not be able to recognize the difference between a newspaper and a magazine, because we read our news online, but could identify nearly every other image presented to him. He was told repeatedly that he was doing an awesome job, which he reported to me mid-session by shouting, “I’m doing AWESOME Mama!”
He did do awesome – and he does need help. He has great cognition, but he has difficulty with spontaneous conversation. He can recite full books and videos, but it’s very difficult for him to hold up his end of a conversation that isn’t scripted. He will frequently give irrelevant answers to questions that he doesn’t know how to answer, as well as make up entirely new words when he can’t access the appropriate ones.
I was sent home with the assignment of documenting his conversations for the next few days, as well as filling out a packet of forms that will better help her diagnose his condition, which she suspects is simply a speech delay.
Not having had the opportunity to be the fly on the wall at his current school, I was humbled and encouraged by witnessing how much enthusiasm he has for learning, and for pleasing his teachers. It’s so fascinating to watch your child independently navigate the world around them. I have high hopes that this early intervention will help him continue to enjoy school, and give him the tools he will need in order to navigate his way toward adulthood without the frustrations that perhaps would plague him if we were to just let him muddle his way through. The program is sponsored by his home school, which will give him the advantage of having a kindergarten teacher pre-selected to best meet his needs. And its free. I’m feeling very blessed right now.
While we were there, she suggested that she evaluate Zip as well, since he will be turning three in December. She figured if he was having any trouble we could get him started right away. She determined, correctly so, that he’s right on track for his age, and I confided to her that Brad and I had been joking with one another the other night about sending him to be evaluated, and having him turn to her and clearly say, “My mother suggested I speak gibberish for you. After all, how many opportunities are there for FREE preschool? What with the economy and all...”
Monday, October 20, 2008
Yesterday was a lazy Sunday. Zip’s a little under the weather, and Brad was out of town, so the boys and I stayed in our pajamas, lolled about, and then ate popcorn in bed while watching Mary Poppins. (I know, I know... who in their right mind lets their kids eat popcorn in their BED?! It just shows you how committed I was to being IN that bed. Sheets can be changed. Or not.)
With all the talk about popcorn this past week, I thought I’d share my favorite way of popping up the corn! The boys will eat it just like candy, so after trickin’ it up a bit, I know that even if it’s the only thing they eat, at least it’s working for them.
On medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8 quart pot. When the oil’s hot enough to spit and sizzle with a drop of cold water, pour 1 cup chilled popcorn into the pan and cover. Let the popcorn do its thing, and remove from heat when the pops an pings have quieted.
Pour popped corn into as big a bowl as you can muster, drizzle with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast, (or savory yeast for those of you in the southern hemisphere) and liberally douse with parmesan cheese. Toss lightly and enjoy!
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Friday, October 17, 2008
Tizzy, was a screecher as a toddler. No tantrums, just high pitched, shrill, alarming shrieks, which would activate like a defunct smoke detector, at totally inopportune times. One never knew for sure when these outbursts would take place, but we could pretty much count on them involving food and an audience. Whether in response to ice cream dripping down the side of his hand, or in reaction to an unsuspecting do-gooder offering up a piece of fruit – he would slip into, well – a Tizzy.
The outbursts were generally easy to mollify – a quick swipe with a wipe, or removal of the offending fruit would tend to ease his ails, leaving me to pick up the pieces, with apparently insufficient explanations.
“Oh my goodness!” People would tremble. “Would he like another ice-cream cone?”
“No-no, he’s just very texture sensitive. He doesn’t like anything wet on his hands”
“Would he like bananas instead of pineapple?”
“No-no, he doesn’t eat fruit actually.”
“Oh my! I’ve never heard of a child who doesn’t eat fruit. How peculiar.”
“He’s two, people – TWO! Can’t we all just recognize that and move on?!” – This is what I’d wished to say. Instead I’d grimace and nod agreeably.
Nearly three years later, he still has food aversions, but he’s much more likely to respond under the radar, by squirming uncomfortably in his chair, or releasing a low guttural growl, sounding like a pair of cats stuck under a house, trying to avoid attack.
Zip, on the other hand – well, there’s a reason I haven’t been posting much lately.
We knew when he was a baby that this day would come. He was the kind of baby who HAD to cry himself to sleep. Holding him would just exacerbate the situation. He needed to burn his fire out, and succumb to exhaustion. Now, however, he’s unconfined and uncontrollable wild fire, jumping the fire lines, and coming uncomfortably close to burning down the very house that shelters him.
The grocery store tantrum was only one of MANY we have been enduring for the last few weeks. I am painfully exhausted. He is a willful lion cub. He screams and hisses and lunges and bites, and he doesn’t give up. No, he doesn’t give up. The other day he screamed for two and a half hours. I finally had to put him in his room and hold the door shut as he made every attempt to crash it to the ground. I have tried to remain calm. There’s no point in reasoning with him, it just fuels his fire. One can try to distract him, but he always resumes his mission. He’s very focused.
My mother wrote to me yesterday, from the shores of Hawaii, undoubtedly with a lei around her neck, to let me know that her host used to place her screaming children, clothes and all, into a cold shower until they would cool off – so to speak. I may try it, but I imagine he’d just fling himself to the ground, knocking himself out on the faucet, and then I’d have to explain to his doctor why I’d brought her a wet and unconscious child. Ideally, I’d just go to Hawaii, and let the host do it for me. I’m sure I’d find that very relaxing.
Two weeks ago, my cousin came to stay with us, and we spent most of the night talking – until three in the morning. I made the mistake of kissing Zip and adjusting his blankets, before going to bed myself. He woke up, and immediately started tearing off his diaper. Unresolved, and not wanting to wake up the rest of the household, I put him into his car seat, where he was incapable of undressing himself, and drove him downtown to try to ail his wiles. We drove and drove, the only ones out, but he was unfazed and would only be happy, it seemed, when he was naked and diaper free. I had almost lost my resolve when I reminded him of the poop that had fallen out of his loose diaper just days before, landing unpleasantly on the kitchen floor. He hadn’t liked that at all, and I pointed out that his bed would be covered in poop and pee if he insisted on sleeping au natural. This, remarkably, was funny to him.
“Yuck!” he giggled. “Poop is yuck!”
“It is yuck, and it will be all over you and all over me if you insist on sleeping in my bed.” Which, I knew inevitably, was the only way we were going to get any sleep that night.
Apparently we were onto something.
“You will get to go without a diaper, if you start to pee and poop in the potty. Until then, you will have to wear a diaper”
“I not want to wear a pie-per no more.”
“Well then, you are going to have to learn to use the toilet. We all had to start out that way. Me, daddy, Tizzy, we all wore diapers once, and now we don’t, but you don’t see any of us walking around pooping on the kitchen floor.”
“Hee-hee... oh No-ooh!”
“So you are going to need to do some practicing if you want to go diaper-less as well.”
“I not wear a pie-per no mo-oore.”
“Let’s make a deal – let’s go home, and you finish sleeping in your diaper until morning so you don’t pee or poop in the bed –”
“Hee-ho-ha-ha! – Poop in the bed is YUCK!”
“Yes, yes it is, – and in the morning, you can pee in the potty and get a sticker. When you fill up your sticker chart, you will not have to wear diapers any more, and we will get you some big boy underpants.”
“I’m gonna have a Batman and Spiderman big boy pants, and not wear my pie-per no more!”
We all know these things don’t resolve themselves over night, and I’ve been very aware these past two weeks, that this too shall pass. Not to say I haven’t had my share of disappointments. I’ve been working diligently on a writing project that I truly thought I was ready for. Each night, when he’d finally acquiesce into sleep, I’d fight my exhaustion, getting a little closer to completion, and say to myself, “if the time is right, I will get the position.” As I was rounding out the finishing touches, I discovered the position had been filled. There will be more projects, but it was clear to me, that the time is not yet right. He’s still secretly plotting, knowing that if I can get paid for my work, I can hire a babysitter.
He’s not ready for that yet. Not yet.
Not to say I haven’t gone just a little bit crazy. I called Brad at work the other day, and broke down in tears. I’m frequently more of a scowler than a crier, so when Zip saw me, he stopped dead in his tracks.
“Mama – calm down...” he whispered, stroking my back. “Is o.k. mama, is o.k.”
I’d forgotten about the crying mama trick. It used to be quite effective at stopping me too, now that I look back on it.
Alas, I cannot cry forever. Yesterday, he woke up with a dry diaper, pointed to his pelvis, and said “It hurts. It hurts mama, it hurts.”
I led him to the toilet and sat him down and he peed.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” I told him. “That’s how it feels to pee in the potty!”
He’s still faltering, but then yesterday, he was a little bit happier.
Baby steps. Every day, we both take a few more baby steps.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Last year, the boys and I went to the harvest festival at Ardenwood Farm, which is a sustainable working farm smack dab in the middle of Fremont. Those of you familiar with the San Francisco Bay Area know how astonishing it is that there could be a working 19th-century farm in the middle of Fremont, but there is!
We had an incredible time. The boys lost themselves harvesting corn in the corn field and, later, brought hand-picked popcorn to school for Show & Tell. It was such a memorable experience for Tizzy that he’s been talking about picking corn since the first signs of fall. There was no arm twisting this morning when we asked them if they wanted to go back to "the farm."
Once again, they had a wonderful time. They ate fresh-baked cookies and popcorn, helped hand-crank ice-cream, and ate that, too. They rode on the farm train, which was pulled by an engine for the festival, but is usually pulled by a horse! They danced to fiddlers, admired quilters, ran a hay maze, picked maize, and filled their buckets with enough popcorn to again share with their classmates.
For those of you who live close enough to make the trip, the festival is still on. You can visit the farm all year round, but if you go tomorrow, you can go home with as much popcorn as your arms can carry!
Friday, October 10, 2008
It’s not easy being two-and-three-quarters.
“I NOT do [fill in the blank]_______ NEVER AGAIN!!” Is the sentence that precedes every occurrence.
“Take pie-per OFF!! I not wear pie-per! I not use potty NO MORE!!!”
“No pants! No want them! I not wear pants again!”
“No! I not wear a shirt – NEVER again!”
“I not go to Chally’s no more! Is not a Chally day! I not go to school! I not!”
“You get my juice! Not THAT juice! My ORANGE juice! NAHHHHH! I not drink that juice!!! I need GRAPE juice! NOT water in my juice! You throw it away!”
“Need my cereal! My gorilla food cereal!!! Not eat it with MILK!! This BAD now! Need my toast! My HOT toast! WANT MY TOAST COLD! Throw this toast away!”
“You not put my shoes on meee-eee! Need my sneaker shoes! You take THESE shoes OFF! I not wear shoes no more!”
Needless to say, I felt no remorse handing him over to Chally in the morning, and, of course, when I picked him up in the afternoon, he was a happy little tulip.
“It’s all for your benefit,” Chally said as she handed him over, which was evident, because, as soon as we got into the car, it started all over again.
“Need some water and some ‘emen-ade! You go to store and get me a bar!”
Sadly, for all of us, the store was where we were headed.
Into the produce aisle:
“You NOT get those apples! Put them back! I said put them BACK!!! You throw those apples AWAY!!! WAHHHH!! Those apples!" *hiccup* *hiccup* "WAHHHH!!! Said put them BACK!”
Into the cereal aisle:
“Said PUT those apples BACK!" *sob-sob-snuffle-sob*
I covered the apples with a box of cereal:
“Not THAT gorilla food cereal! Not put THAT munch food on the apples! You NOT!”
I started getting conspiratorial nods from other parents.
Freezer aisle: the sobs got a little louder.
We swung through the chips aisle and found the loose energy bars. As I carefully opened one, a miniscule piece of it fell off as I handed over this last hope for respite, and all hell broke loose.
“AHHHHH!!! THAT BAR’S NOT BIG!!! Not big, not big, not big!" *guttural growl* "TAKE IT AWAY!”
We picked up some yogurt:
*high-pitched, painful scream* “NOOOO YEE-GURT, NOOOO!!!”
Eyebrows were raised. People with children were laughing; people without were glaring. Elderly women were pinching my elbow and saying, “we all think you’re doing a marvelous job, dear.”
One more aisle... I was getting HIS almond milk... HIS comfort... HIS strength... One, two, three boxes .... he was SCREAMING, and, “oh for God's sake!”
He was climbing out of the cart. How did he get out of that seatbelt?
I wrestled him out of the cart, and carried him, facing outward, kicking and screaming to the check-out counter. A man with three items let me take his place in line.
“You need this more than me,” he said.
A mother smiled behind me and said, “we’re all with you babe!”
“In what?” I gasp. “Getting the worst mother of the year award?”
“I’ve seen worse,” she said. “Right here in this store, and not everybody handles it well.”
My transaction went through, the checker handed me my receipt, and a woman one aisle over looked me dead in the eye and said, “OK, Now I want to hurt him!”
I fully expected her to lift up the crutch from her cart and give him a whack, because, as we all know, that’s the best way to end a tantrum.
Somehow, we made it to the end of the day.
We ate. We bathed. We played games and read stories. We tucked into bed.
“You not put that blanket on me! You throw it away NOW! You throw that blanket in the TRASH!!!”
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
At one point, I was trying to explain to a parenting acquaintance, what blogging was.
“So let me try to understand,” she pondered, “it’s where you go to hang out with your imaginary friends?”
So there you have it blog friends... you are all a figment of my imagination. Oh – Except that last night I got to hang out with one of you for real! At least I think I did. After a pomegranate martini and 3 decadent desserts – we shared – maybe I did just dream it after all. That’s right, after meeting at BlogHer ‘08, and establishing that we are more or less neighbors, Leah from Califmom, and I finally got up the hutspah and coordinated a girls night out. We agreed on a meeting place, and indulged our sweet tooth's at Esin Restaurant & Bar, where we talked about what all good mothers on their one night away from home talk about – our families. We closed the place down, and I would love to say that the waiters kept checking in on us every five minutes because they couldn’t get enough of our MILF-iness, but I suspect it had more to do with them wanting to close out the registers and clear our plates. (Move along ladies.) Oh well, It was good fun, and I fully intend to do it again in the not so distant future.
When I got home, more evidence to the contrary of you all being imaginary! Vanessa, of Chefdruck Musings, had contacted me to tell me that she had nominated me for the September Perfect Post Award, awarded by Suburban Turmoil and Petroville. Thank you Vanessa. It was the pièce de rèsistance to an already lovely evening.
And then today, Athena, over at Hot Child in the Suburbs, tagged me for this Meme. And if my answers aren’t enough to convince you that I’m not just a figment of YOUR imagination, than I don’t know what is.
1. Where were you 10 years ago?
Slogging away in art school. Ever see Art School Confidential? It’s not so far fetched after all.
2. What’s on todays To-Do list?
Get to bed before midnight!
3. Name five places you have lived.
New York, NY
San Francisco, CA
All over the SF Bay Area – North Bay, South Bay, East Bay and Peninsula
That’s right... I’ve been around the block a few times, but only coast to coast, never in the middle.
4. Name three of your bad habits.
I stay up too late with the hopes of being productive, but usually just fritter away my time, leaving me tired the next day. I’m usually late because I always think I can do more than I can at any given time – again due to hopes of being productive. I over multitask – I guess my #1 bad habit is an unquenchable desire to be productive.
5. What are your favorite snacks?
You want me to keep talking about food? My tendency to snack usually takes place when I’m tired, so I’d have to say chocolate, first and foremost. For that gotta have something to munch on snack, I’m shamelessly addicted to Trader Joe’s “SAVORY thin mini CRACKERS.” Zip calls them chips, and in this house, they are.
6. Who will you tag for this Meme?
Sus at Wiggle Rooms... Show me what you're made of.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
For those of you still salivating over the wild turkeys walking down our street, all I can say, is that we experienced quite the "Gastronomical" weekend, which far exceeded the likes of those gamey foul.
Saturday afternoon, was a child's culinary dream come true. We attended the birthday party of one of Tizzy's four year old girlfriends. Not only had a bounce house been rented, but, packaged with the rental was a hot dog rotisserie consul. From the moment we entered the yard, Tizzy was mesmerized. I first noticed him standing about 4 feet from the contraption, watching the dogs spinning round in their sizzling, ferris wheel baskets. The next time I looked over, he was alternating between pinching the air, and systematically lunging at the dogs with a pair of tongs. Looking for him a third time, I saw that he had reeled in his prey, tongs tenderly clutching a dangling dog, and I finally left my perch by the swing set to properly assist him in netting his catch. I showed him how to open the drawer full of buns, and from that point on, every time I turned my head from Zip, Tizzy could be found devouring and procuring more dogs. At times I would watch as he delicately extracted more meat from its cage. Frequently, I would witness him finishing off his last bite. And, on more than one occasion, I observed him carefully munching the contents of his sandwich, superfluous bun, draped over his hands like the empty remains of a banana peel. All told, I believe I witnessed him eating ten dogs on my watch. I will never know for sure how many he ate while I wasn't looking, and while he did not follow on the heels of his own dear mother, on the night she decided to eat more junk food than one little body could possibly handle, I was called on for multiple glasses of water throughout the night.
While I was pregnant with Tizzy, my mother was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. It had already made its way into her liver before we even knew of its existence. She has managed to harness it into remission three times, and has beaten the odds by staying alive for five years now. On Sunday, along with the support of United Way, her friends in the culinary world pulled together a remarkable fundraiser to help offset the costs of the liver induction surgery she underwent last spring.
We had the pleasure of attending this benefit, which was simply spectacular.
Matching Tizzy's indulgence of the night before, we spent the afternoon, perusing banquet tables and sampling the remarkable dishes that were brought forth, many infused with the vanilla my mom has provided through her online business over the past seven years. Each chef created an appetizer to be sampled. My favorites were a succulent crab salad, served on crostinis, sprinkled with cherry tomatoes, and a tender lobster mac-n-cheese. There were fabulous chocolate creams, and tarts and profiteroles in abundance. One chocolatier had even embellished a chocolate candy with my mom's image in edible gold. Local restaurants and businesses offered services to auction, there was a jazz band, and two friends put on a hula performance.
The most touching aspect of the day, separate from the fact that friends and associates would honor her in such a way, was the turn out. Hundreds of people showed up to support her, some who we haven't seen in decades.
Cancer is such an unpredictable and mysterious illness. It manifests itself in so many different ways, and what works for one, may not for another. I feel so grateful to have had my mom remain in my life for these past five years. Each passing year is a blessing. I don't know for certain which of the treatments has best served her, but I do know that knowing you are loved by so many, is something that does wonders for a persons soul.