Saturday, April 30, 2011

S is for Save

Sometimes when I'm working in the office at home, Flik likes to hang out in there with me. The trick is always finding something for him to do that will entertain him longer than 45 seconds and will not spark of flurry of questions from him. That latter part is actually quite a puzzle. Everything sparks questions. But last week my solution was to offer to let him go through one of the desk drawers. This particular desk drawer contained miscellaneous computer accessories that aren't currently being used, such as keyboards and cables and a mouse or two. Flik loved it. (Though of course, he did want to ask about every piece he pulled out.) Flik began setting up the different items on the floor for his own "computer". Once he had everything arranged, he sat down and began typing away. He told me that he was "sending emails and stuff." When Z woke up from his nap, I asked Flik if he would come with me to get the baby. Flik protested.

Flik: If I leave, everything might get erased.

Mommy: It's not going to get erased. I need you to come with me.

Flik: But what if it does????? (lots of whining)

Mommy: OK, why don't you save it so that it doesn't get erased?

Flik: (Perplexed) How do I do that?

Mommy: Just hit the "S" key. S is for save.

Flik: No. That won't work. If I hit the S key, it will just make an S.

Mommy: OK, sorry. You have to hit Control-S.

Flik: No. I told you that won't work.

Mommy: Come see. (I sit back down, he crawls up on my lap and I open a blank Word document.) Hit the S key.

Flik: (hits the S key) See. I told you. It made an S.

Mommy: (holds down Control and S key) See when I press the Control key, it doesn't make an S, it saves it.

Flik gets a huge grin, hops off of my lap and goes to his keyboard on the floor. He presses the Control Key and presses the S key. He stands up and says, "OK. We can go now."

So now I know:

  1. Flik will not be satisfied with pretend answers, even for his pretend computer.
  2. Flik now knows more keyboard shortcut keys than some of my co-workers.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Worst Game Ever (For a Four-Year-Old)

In general, I am not one of those mommies who wants to protect their child from everything. Flik is only four, so I still protect him from a lot of things, but hope that he'll learn a lot through his mis-steps and failures.  I stand back at the park and let him work things out with the other kids. I cringe, but usually try not to step in unless there is a particularly obnoxious kid terrorizing the entire park. When he gets to middle school, I will let him play dodge ball, and duck duck goose, and musical chairs - you know, all those games that are no longer "good" for kids. But the other day, I noticed that I am not totally immune to the modern-mommy syndrome. The classic behavior of those afflicted with modern-mommy syndrome occurs when a mommy sees something that was perfectly innocuous in her own childhood, but now appears to present a threat to the healthy development and well-being of her child. This has now happened to me.

Flik got a three-pack of game notepads last Christmas. Each one has a different kids game on it. The first pad had Tic-Tac-Toe. Flik is a huge fan of Tic-Tac-Toe, provided you follow his directions and "avoid" the squares he has deemed "off limits." The other two pads have gotten less attention... until recently. The second pad was dots. Still not interesting to Flik. But Flik is very into letters and words right now, including reading them, writing them, etc. So I'm guessing that when he pulled out the Hangman tablet with our Nanny not long ago, it looked like lots of fun. I'm assuming that our Nanny explained the game to him, because he now likes to "play" with me. I say "play" because although he does sometimes spell real words, he's also been known to just write random letters, in which case I don't get to look at the pad, I just call out random letters while he draws the hangman.

This is all well and good, except of course that Flik is going to be an engineer when he grows up. He wants to know how everything works. Everything. And I, wanting to encourage his curiosity and learning, do my best to answer all his questions about how stuff is made and how it works and where stuff comes from. That is, of course, until he starts asking questions about Hangman!

  • "Mommy, what is this thing anyway?" (Points to the gallows.)
  • "Mommy, why do we draw the man here?"
  • "Mommy, what does hangman mean?"

What the heck!!!! I'm sorry, but who thought of this game? And why are we still playing it in 2011? And WHY did I not think of any of this before I let him keep this notepad in his box of craft supplies?

I know, I know. I played hangman a jillion times as a kid and I am not scarred for life. In fact, I remember prolonging the game by adding turns to draw X marks for the man's eyes. But the kid is four, and I am not about to explain to him what a gallows is.

Unfortunately, he is now TOTALLY into this game. So I guess I am just going to just humor him until this phase passes and then snag that pad as fast as I can. Because seriously, people, who thinks that this is adorable?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quite a Camera

If you've been following along, you may know that Flik has a bin of toys that we officially call, "miscellaneous toys." In reality, it is a bin of junk. Happy meal toys, party favor toys, pieces of toys even though the rest of the toy is missing, and actual junk, like an old tic tac box that he just doesn't want to throw away. It's one bin. He knows that once the bin is full, we have to go through it and remove some of the toys to, um, "pass them on to other children." You've already been introduced to one of Flik's toys that qualifies as "miscellanous": Problem Toy #1 from What the Toys Really Do When I'm Not Around. Maybe one of these days I'll do a photo spread of the other fabulous finds from the Miscellaneous Toy Bin.

Today Flik was playing with another of his miscellaneous toys: a small box that probably once contained a piece of men's jewelry, like cuff links or something. Honestly, I don't know. I don't even know where the box came from. But Flik really digs it. And with his amazing imagination, he turns it into almost anything.

Flik was playing with his box, Z and I were in the room, and Flik says, "Wait, wait, wait." (FYI, this is how a large number of Flik's sentences start.)

"Wait, wait, wait. I am going to take a picture. This is my camera." He holds out the open box. He then sees me look across the room at Z. Apparently he has figured out that I'm about to ask him whether he's going to take a picture of me or of Z, since we're across the room from each other, because he proceeds with:

"It's a whole world camera. It can take a picture of the whole world at one time. So if you want to see inside house or anything. Anything. You can see." I attempt to ask another question about this amazing camera, but I get:

"Mommy, shhh. You have to be quiet to take a picture."

And with that, he points the open box at me and snaps the lid closed.

Now if only I knew how to get the film out of the camera...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Remembering R2D2

Today while I was at work, our nanny took the boys to the park. When I got home, Flik was eager to tell me that they brought R2D2 there, but when it was time to go, they couldn't find him, so they "donated" him to the park for other children to play with. Our nanny added that they looked and looked, but couldn't find him. The donation idea was an attempt to avert a meltdown.

I have to admit, I was really sad to hear that R2D2 had been brought to the park and left behind. Flik is going to lose a lot of toys in the years ahead, but this one was one of the more special toys. This one had a story. So tonight, to honor the loss of R2D2, I will share his story with you.

Last August, when Flik was 3 1/2 and Mommy was 5 months pregnant with Z, we took Flik to Disney World for the first time. Our first day there, we went to Downtown Disney, home of the world's largest Disney Store. The goal was to buy some shirts for pregnant Mommy that were lightweight enough to wear around Disney World in Florida in August with 98% humidity. While Mommy shirt-shopped, Daddy and Flik explored the wonders of the Disney Store. One if the early finds was a display of noisemaking toys. There were several different Disney characters, each with a button that, when pressed, would cause the character to spin around and make a noise. Flik was trying out each of the characters. I just looked at each one and thought, "That doesn't even make any sense. Why would Woody spin around like that?" Then Flik picked up the R2D2 one and pushed the button. It was pretty funny. The noise he made when you pushed the button was the noise he makes in the movie when he gets fried. (Like the time on the Millenium Falcon when he fixes the hyper drive and then foes flying across the ship. OK, Mommy is a bit of a geek.) So R2D2 spinning around making this crazy sound is actually kind of funny. But we put the toy down and continue shopping. It's funny in the store, not in our house. Mommy shops. Daddy and Flik explore. Mommy buys some shirts and we are ready to leave. But Mommy is pregnant, so she needs a quick stop in the ladies room before we go. Daddy and Flik continue looking around while Mommy empties her walnut-sized bladder.

When I come out of the bathroom, I immediately see Flik sitting on a counter and Daddy standing next to him. They are sitting there, patiently waiting for me. They had gone back to get an R2D2 doll and Flik was quietly playing with it as they waited. (Well, as quiet as you can be while playing with a screeching doll.) As I approach, hearing it wail, I say, "Well, we are definitely not buying that toy."

"Um..." from Daddy.

"What? You didn't buy it, did you?"

"He really likes it."

"Do you really want to have something that obnoxious in the house?"

"Well, it's too late now."

And it was. So we brought R2D2 back to the hotel. And all week, the adults squeezed little R2 and made him squeal. And then we brought him home. And pretty much the only time he made any noise was when Mommy told the story of the crazy Daddy who bought R2.

And now R2 is no longer with us. But I'll think of him and our trip to Disney whenever I hear his squeal.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Toys Under the Bed

This morning, while Flik and I were playing in his bedroom, Flik laid his head on the on the floor and he noticed that there were toys under his bed. I suggested he try to reach them with his arm. He tried. "It's too far," he told me. I suggested we stick his feet under the bed and kick out the toys since his feet are longer than his arms. He agreed and wriggled under the bed. He kicked, but only got one of the many toys. I grabbed his arms and dragged him back out from under the bed. Finally, I bent down, lay on the floor, and looked myself. The toys were smack in the middle of his queen-sized bed. "Hmm," I said. "I guess we're going to have to go find something really long to use to reach under there."

"Like a giraffe's neck!" he suggests.

"Really?" I ask.

"Yeah. We'll just go to the zoo and get a giraffe and bring him back here. Then we'll ask him to stick his neck under the bed to get the toys."

We don't do simple here, we do exotic.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Z Is Seven Months Old

Z is seven months old today. On our monthly birthdays, I crack open What to Expect the First Year to see how Z is doing with regard to the major milestones. (I will probably never get around to baby books, so this is the closest we're going to get.) Here's the rundown.

By seven months, your baby...

... should be able to

  • feed self a cracker
    No idea. Mommy confession: we started solids very late, so we are no where near feeding him crackers. But he can stick his pacifier in his mouth, so that's pretty similar.
  • razz (make a wet razzing sound)
  • coo or babble when happy
    Definitely. This is one cooey, happy baby. Though admittedly, sometimes his happy coos don't sound very happy, even if he's got a big grin on his face.
  • smile often when interacting with you
    Definitely. Very happy baby. Lots of smiles.
... will probably be able to
  • sit without support
    Mostly. He can sit up without support, but can't do it for long, but just because he'll reach for something out of reach or turn around to see someone talking behind him and fall over. So he's got the "sitting up unsupported" part down, it's the "realize how far you can lean before you fall over" part that he needs to work on.
  • bear some weight on legs when held upright
  • object if you try to take a toy away
    Not really. I think that's due to the fact that mostly it's Flik taking toys away, and Z is usually more interested in Flik that the toy anyway.
  • work to get a toy that's out of reach
  • look for a dropped object
  • rake with fingers an object and pick it up in fist
  • turn in the direction of a voice
  • babble, combining vowels and consonants such as ga-ga-ga, ba-ba-ba
  • play peekaboo
    Not so much, but I'm not sure what he's supposed to "do" really. He doesn't really seem interested if any of us disappear and reappear. Mostly he has a look that indicates he's not really surprised we left, or that we came back.
... may possibly be able to:
  • creep or crawl
    Not really. Can roll his way to a toy that's out of reach, but it's still not really creeping.
  • pass a cube or other object from one hand to the other
    I don't think so, no.
  • stand holding on to someone or something
    Uh, no.
... may even be able to:
  • pull up to a standing position from sitting
  • get into a sitting position from stomach
  • play patty-cake (clap hands) or wave bye-bye
  • pick up tiny object with any part of thumb and finger
  • walk holding on to furniture (cruise)
  • say "mama" or "dada" indiscriminately
  • ride a bicycle
    OK. This last one isn't really in the book. But it might as well be. There are babies that are cruising at 7 months? Really? Whatever. Showoff babies.
Overall, Z is a very happy baby. The only time he cries is when he is hungry or when he discovers that the bottle is empty. He had been sleeping pretty well, but has gotten a little restless in the last couple weeks. He goes to bed at 7 and then wakes up at 8, and sometimes again at 9. He then wakes up for a bottle around 1 or 2 and then sleeps until 5:30 or 6. He is taking three naps during the day, which range from 30 minutes to 2.5-3 hours. He recently started eating solid foods and is taking to them very easily.

Z adores his brother and Flik is a great big brother. Today Z was sitting in his Bumbo seat and kept dropping the toys off of the tray. Flik was always willing to go get the toys that were out of Z's reach and pile them back on the tray for him. They are going to be quite a team.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Daddy's Home

Yesterday, I saw Daddy's car pull in the driveway at the end of the day and I sent Flik to the front window to, "see if there's anything out front." You'd think by now he'd know that this means that there definitely is something or someone out there, but he doesn't. The second he saw Daddy's car he erupted into a full-blown, full-body spasm of glee with a smile the size of the moon. Arms flailing, feet dancing, Flik finally gets himself together enough to remember that he needs to run and hide. This is part of the ritual. I don't remember how it started, but he's been doing it for over a year. When Daddy comes home, Flik runs and hides and Daddy goes looking for him. It's not that hard to find him. Flik has two, maybe three go-to hiding spaces, though there are at least twenty good spots on our main floor alone. But it's still the cutest thing ever to hear Daddy "looking" for Flik. Some days he walks around and around, looking under tables and inside closets all the while wondering out loud, "Where could Flik be?" Some days he goes straight to Flik's #1 spot and peers over the back of the chair at the little curled up boy behind it. Either way, the game always ends with giggles from Flik and then the question, "How did you find me?" Daddy answers, "You always hide in the same spot, bud." Flik is starting to catch on. Yesterday he hid in primary spot #2 instead of spot #1.

I love the entire scene from start to finish. I just really wish that Daddy could see the sheer joy that envelops our little boy when he realizes that Daddy is home; a joy that shakes him into a giggly frenzy.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sugar-Coated Demon Child

Let me begin by telling you that Thursday was very educational. The day began so sweetly. Flik and I went to a play date with our playgroup that has largely disbanded now that our oldest kids are now all in pre-school (all on different days) and we all have second children. Schedules have just made regular get-togethers impractical. But at playgroup, Flik was so well-behaved. He was good with the other kids, and when it was time to go he didn't fuss a bit; just walked right to his shoes and coat to get ready to leave.

When we got home, we had more fun, playing in the kitchen making a "stew" in the kitchen sink by filling it with water and then adding various "ingredients": coffee grounds, puffed rice, Lawry's seasoning salt, maple syrup, etc. Lots of stirring. Our final ingredient: Capn' Crunch Berries.

Quick aside for some background. Flik's breakfast cereal choices are Cheerio's, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Rice Crispies. We also have some Total Raisin Bran for Mommy and Daddy, which Flik sometimes chooses as well. Flik dies not eat sugar for breakfast. In fact, he doesn't eat a lot of sugar at all. He gets a glass of juice for breakfast and occasionally some candy. A while back, Daddy took Flik with him to go grocery shopping and came home with a box of Cap'n Crunch Oops All Berries. It's like Crunch Berry, but with all berries and no Cap'n Crunch. When asked to explain the non-standard purchase, Daddy's reasoning: "Flik asked to buy it." Now there's a Daddy reason to buy something for you. I suggest you all take my husband with you when you go shopping. Maybe he'll be feeling equally generous. So I stuck the cereal in the back of the pantry and figured Flik could have a small handful as an occasional treat. It's about equivalent to a snack-sized candy bar, I figured.

Anyway, when I gave him the cereal to add to his stew, he of course wanted some to eat. I gave him a small bowl with about ten to fifteen colored puffs in it and told him he could add as many to his stew as he wanted, or he could eat as many as he wanted. He, of course, ate the whole bowl. Now normally, this would have been the end of the cereal, but my sister was visiting that day as well, and she had a handful of cereal, too. "Mmmm. Haven't had this stuff in ages. I'm having a bowl." So she poured herself a bowl of cereal. Of course Flik wanted some in a bowl with milk, too. So we had a talk.

"This cereal is really sugary and it's not very good for you. In fact, it's really like candy. So I'll make a deal with you. You have one reward token for a piece of candy. If you want, you can give me your candy reward token for a bowl of cereal."


Flik hunts down his reward token and gets himself a small bowl of sugary cereal. Thirty minutes later the chaos begins. Jumping, running, climbing, kicking, squirming, yelling. Oh it was insanity. The child could not sit still. He could not stand still. He climbed on the back of the couch. I told him that it is not allowed. He climbed on the back of the couch again. He went into timeout. He came out of time out. He climbed on the back of the couch again. And oh the meltdowns! Perfectly happy and squirmy one minute, full blown meltdown the next. Five minutes to recover. Pretty happy again. Oh no, did you not play the game the exact way that I wanted you to play? Full blown meltdown. Eventual recovery. Three minutes later... you guessed it: MELTDOWN.

He had transformed into a completely different child before our eyes. Now I'm not entirely sure what they put into that cereal. Sure, Flik doesn't get a lot of sugar in his regular diet, but we have had very sugar-filled days before. Halloweens, Christmases, Easters. They are all days of pure sugar in our house. Yet I have never seen him turn into the crazy emotional basket case jitter bug that he was yesterday.

When Daddy got home, I informed him that the cereal would be going into the garbage, once I was sure it wouldn't induce another meltdown.

Yesterday morning, while I was still in bed and Daddy was feeding Flik breakfast, I received a text from my husband recounting the following discussion:

Flik: Can I have some of those colored balls?

Daddy: No.

Flik: Why?

Daddy: Because they make you crazy.

Flik: Please!

Daddy: No

Flik: If I have some... I'll promise to keep the craziness inside... I promise.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Pre-Tickle Giggles

My favorite thing that Z does right now is that he giggles right before I tickle him. A few weeks ago, I started doing this thing where I would put two fingers on each of his feet. I'd then "walk" my fingers up his legs, up his torso, to his armpits where I would tickle him. He'd giggle and smile. That in itself is pretty cute. There are, of course, sound effects to go with this game, basically "doo-doo-doo" that gets higher in pitch with each "step" of my fingers. But what I REALLY love is that it only took a few days before he started smiling when my fingers to his belly as he anticipated the tickling that was about to come, but hadn't yet. It's so cute, as well as being indicative of where he is developmentally. I just love that he can actually recognize and anticipate the tickles. It's awesome.

How Many Boys?

My sister is having a baby. She is due in August. The other day, she and I went to Babies R Us to begin the baby registry adventure. We brought Flik with us.

The first thing you do when beginning your baby registry is fill out a little form so they can give you a scanner gun & put your information into the system. While we were waiting for my sister to fill out the form, Flik was sitting very patiently, waiting for the scanner gun we had promised him. The BRU lady was really good with kids and was asking him lots of questions and keeping him from getting fidgety.

BRU lady: How old are you.

Flik: One. Two. Three. Four. Four years old.

BRU lady: And are you going to have a baby cousin?

Flik: Yes.

Mommy: And are you going to have a boy cousin or a girl cousin?

Flik: A girl cousin.

Mommy: And what kind if baby did Mommy have? A boy or a girl?

Flik: A boy. We have three boys at home.

Mommy: (Hmm. I wonder who this third baby is.) THREE boys?

Flik: Yes. Z, me, and Daddy. (Duh!)

Mommy: Aaaahhhhh! Well then What about Indie and Boo? (our dogs)

Flik: Oh yeah. Five boys.

BRU lady: Wow. You know you are very smart for a four year old? (to me) That's really impressive.

Flik: Yes.

BRU lady: (to me) That really is impressive for four.

Lessons learned during this exchange:

1) Even though I LOVE observing my boys (what they comprehend, what they don't, how they see the world) there are still things that I miss. In this case, I didn't notice that it is pretty impressive that my 4yo added 3+2 without skipping a beat. No fingers. No pause. Just, "oh yeah, 5." He's cool.

2) If you want to get on a mom's good side, a) befriend her kid and then b) sound sincere when you compliment her kid. Call her kid smart, polite, well-behaved, whatever. If you sound sincere, she will believe it. She wants to believe it.

3) My kid might be smart, but he is not modest. Apparenty, "yes," he does know how smart he is. My guess is that this will not change substantially until he hits his 30's.