Archive for November, 2008

All of a Sudden, He’s Bigger

Posted by julie on Thursday, 27 November 2008, 0:53

I’ve occasionally considered the question (wavering in and out, taking up valuable brain space) of when my son is going to seem less like a toddler and more like a boy. I’m not hoping he’ll just grow up, you understand. I’m not trying to push him along. I really can, at least once every day, appreciate his three-ness (although I just read on another blog, Mighty Junior, that a three-year-old has “all the fury of the two-year-old, only [he's] smarter.” Yes.). But I sometimes wonder.

And, this past week, Sylvan has seemed like a boy. First, I took him to the dress rehearsal of an M.F.A. thesis dance performance last Thursday night. It started at bedtime, 8 p.m., so I knew I was embarking on a risky adventure. I told him, though, that if he was tired or if he just didn’t want to stay, we’d leave. I’d stacked the deck, of course. This was a show created for Sylvan’s dance interests, with modern dance that included African drumming and Carnivale costumes in the first half and a second half comprised of three hip-hop pieces. One of Sylvan’s three idols, Master’s student Chris Gorney, also known as Craze G, is a hip-hop and breakdancer with a sincere interest in preserving the history of breakdancing and hip-hop through contemporary hip-hop performance and competition. Whenever Sylvan’s around Chris, he breaks into a goofy grin, stands by Chris’s knees, and regales him with stories of yellow sneakers (or whatever else is on his mind. Sylvan’s remarkably undeterred, even if Chris simultaneously fields comments and questions from other adoring fans.).

So Sylvan sat through a dance performance that was an hour and forty minutes long! That’s more than his Dad can handle — to be fair, that’s longer than most adults can handle. When the show was over, Sylvan still didn’t want to leave: the stage crew was using a Genie to take down Craze G’s spraypaintings: graffiti signs introducing the dancers and DJ.

Then, on Sunday morning, I asked Sylvan if he’d like to ride his bike, a heavy little two-wheeler with training wheels that Chris (Daddy, not Craze G) serendipitously found on the side of the road with a “FREE” sign on it a couple years ago. Sylvan donned his helmet and didn’t look back. He’s been on this bike two or three times before, for a few minutes each time, but it’s been many months since he’s been on it. He fell over a few times, always when he was paying more attention to silliness than the sidewalk. A new four-year-old friend was riding HIS bike, too, so the two boys pedaled together, around the block and down the hills.

Finally, later on Sunday, Sylvan earned the 50th star on his star chart. He accrues stars for going to bed at bedtime, using the potty by himself, helping out, putting his toys away, and taking showers. Sylvan can choose what he would like — a toy, in this case, but I’m all for a trip to Sweet Life — when he reaches 50 stars. I’ll admit that I’m still of two minds about essentially using bribery to get my son to go to bed; I know that external motivators can backfire. Nevertheless, we’ve decided to try bribery, hoping to make these tasks habitual. And, after over a month, Sylvan got 5o stars. He doesn’t pay much attention to the chart, so I didn’t think it motivated him, but, after I counted 49 stars and told Sylvan he only needed one more, he immediately went in, used the toilet, washed his hands, and went to the back door to put on his shoes and wait for me to take him to the toy store. And he waited patiently. No whining, just excitement about going to Eugene Toy and Hobby, where he played with the train table, marveled at the plane models, and chose a little bulldozer, Byron, from the Thomas the Tank Engine series as what he’d like to take home with him.

He just seems big.

Happy Birthday, Elena: 3 Months!

Posted by julie on Saturday, 22 November 2008, 0:02

These are my lips

Dear Elena,

Your little fingernails scratched my face, pulling me from dreams so apparently dull I’d forgotten them before they were over. In the past three weeks, Elena, you have started to touch anything that looks interesting — my mushy face in the morning, chimey lion, who makes pretty music, the red trousers lying near your head, or the box of wipes in the bathroom. I actually don’t remember reading soft, crinkly books with Sylvan, or at least I don’t remember him enjoying them like you do. You reach right out and feel the soft noses and satiny wings.

Are you taking a picture?

And you’re talking! It’s in a dialect that I haven’t learned yet, but you’re stringing together subjects with verbs, creating phrases about how exciting it is that you have this newly discovered voice. Sometimes you talk to yourself, and, if I enter your field of vision when you’re feeling chatty, you’ll converse back and forth with me.

Great Gramma Jo would like this hat

Touch, talk, and Tephra. You’re such a quiet, gentle presence that Tephra cat doesn’t run as if the Dementors are reaching for her with their cold claws when you enter the room. She will, in fact, come up and ask for my attention when you’re on my lap. You don’t understand the significance of this yet, but you will. Tephra is afraid of everything. Most recently, she’s realized that monsters live in Daddy’s office skylight at night — but only when the light is on. The monsters wave at her when Daddy waves at them. She pretends they can’t see her, but she keeps one eye turned upward, awaiting disaster.

Daddy says that you’re laughing with him when he plays peek-a-boo with you. I think he’s hoping you are. But keep flashing those pearly gums and playing innocent. It’ll work wonders when you get arrested for [CENSORED] when you’re fifteen. Just ask Aunt Jenny.

I’ll learn to hug him back soon

You had your two-month check-up on Halloween, when you were two and a half months old. Dr. Weiner placed you on your tummy and asked if you’d rolled over yet. “No,” I said, then looked at you, flipping effortlessly onto your back. “Um, I guess she has now.” You can’t depend on your roll-over muscles yet, but you’re getting there. And, in your manic desire to reach the wicker hamper, you’ve even rolled from your back to your front, a more difficult maneuver. That hamper is such a good friend that you’ve even rotated 180º around your head, like the hands on a clock, in order to see it better.

You can still fall asleep on your own if we catch you before you’re so sleepy that you’re grumpy. If you retain this ability, we might not have to deal with repeatedly laying down the overtired toddler who’s screeching at 2 a.m. (and, yes, fellow parents, I’m knocking everything wooden within reach)

Elena in hood

And you still don’t like the car. Car rides are, quite honestly, miserable. (Be forewarned, Grampa! The ride home from the airport might seem even longer with Miss Elena in the car.)

We love you anyway.


Sylvan Says (19 Nov 08)

Posted by jonesey on Wednesday, 19 November 2008, 10:39

A conversation while walking home from school.

S: Daddy, what is two sevens?

C: Seventy-seven.

S: What is two eights?

C: Eighty-eight.

S: [long pause...]

S: If you have two ones, you could either call them eleven or onety-one.

Happy Birthday, Sylvan: 38 Months

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 18 November 2008, 0:30

Chris just keeps smiling and waits for the flash

Dear Sylvan,

“Oh, no! I can’t find you! Oh, no! I can’t find you!” I sat up in bed and heard little feet running around downstairs. I called your name before I woke up, before I realized it would definitely wake up your sister, snoozing by my side. That panicky note in your voice broke my heart while my brain remained drowsy. I was, of course, where I always am before 7 a.m. — and often until 8. But Daddy was out running, and that threw you off. He’s usually your early morning buddy.

The reality is that you’re capable of changing out of your pajamas, using the potty, washing your hands, getting yourself some water, and playing all by yourself. Maybe we’ll put some snacks under your bed so that you can take care of everything in the morning and Daddy can sleep in! Oh, you’d be so lonely.

The wood chipper

He’s no Rick Allen, but...You recently received a new-to-you drum from Gramma Mia — a gift that was supposed to be a birthday gift, but since you were rolling in the presents already, we waited. In truth, the drumSTICKS are a bigger hit, since, boy howdy, do they make LOUD noises. You brought your drum to Dance Africa rehearsal a couple of weeks ago, and we had to ask you to play in the hallway, since you were so LOUD. You’ve got a good sense of rhythm, as your Gramma is very happy to point out, and your ability to play different tempos with each hand is remarkable. I took some African drumming after I had my little brain attack a couple of years ago, since making my right hand rub my tummy while my left pats my head has never come naturally, and the challenge of hand drumming had to be good therapy.

For the past month or so, you’ve really enjoyed your book about Apple Tree Farm. It’s a series of stories about Mrs, Boot, the farmer; her children, Poppy and Sam; and their dog, Rusty. You’ll be reading it soon, I expect, since you’re already reciting it. Mrs. Boot wears dresses with rubber boots, but I still managed to miss the Britishisms in this book. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out the read-along CD. The reader has a British accent, and the sound effects, especially the chainsaw, are very exciting; you immediately loved it and asked me to shut my mouth and turn the pages (no, you never asked me to shut my mouth, since I’d tickle you breathless if you did). You’ve fallen asleep on many recent nights listening to the Apple Tree Farm stories.

Is that an anteater?

While you express no real interest in drawing (you’ll draw if I prompt you, but you never ask to draw and you don’t want to trace letters or shapes), you’ve been taking out your clay and play dough and creating sculptures. And you still love to cut anything we’ll allow between your scissors (your pinking shears are “alligator scissors,” and your plain green kid scissors are called your “chainsaw”).

I love you,

One is the loneliest number

Halloween, a Few Days Late

Posted by julie on Saturday, 15 November 2008, 16:47

The birthday letters are coming…

Here are some Halloween photos to keep you going:

I’m taking this one home

We picked up our pumpkins at the farm from which we get our CSA share, Winter Green. Sylvan and I rode down on the haywagon to the pumpkin patch, where the Winter Greeners had arranged the pumpkins to form a shooting star.

Some purple, some orange, some pink. Now mix it around.

Although it’s always my intention to carve the pumpkins, that almost always gets away from me: “It’s too late. I have rehearsal. I’m so tired.” Sylvan painted this pumpkin, then he decorated it with googly eyes and brightly-colored mini pompoms. Our new tradition. And HE can do all of it himself; no sharp objects required.

An elephant riding a tricycle

Sylvan told me that he wanted to be an elephant for Halloween. Okay, I thought, I’ll troll Craigslist and eBay; I certainly don’t have time to MAKE anything. Then I walked into Kidstuff, looked up at the display wall, and saw this little gem of an elephant suit for $12. Tricycle not included.

Elena nestled in her Tigger hood

Our little Tigger, tongue and all.

Chris as the Tooth Fairy

Lost any teeth recently? Don’t worry if you haven’t. If you look carefully at his wand, you’ll see he has some pliers to assist.

Too much blue eyeshadow

Glittery false eyelashes and too much blue eyeshadow — how fun. The little white velvet dress and knee-high boots pulled this go-go girl outfit together.

HAPPY Election Night!

Posted by julie on Tuesday, 4 November 2008, 22:24

“Happy Election Night, Sylvan. You know, it’s an exciting night: we’re going to have a new president, Barack Obama.”

“Is he going to visit our house?”

Well, I guess you never know. He did visit the ice cream shop on the corner this summer. Dinner at the Jonemus household? Maybe.

(Now I just hope that the fireworks and screaming from the happy college voters don’t wake up my kiddos. I guess it’s a small price to pay for the good that will come…)