Sunday, January 25, 2009

Robert Burns Day

Happy 250th Birthday! We didn't do much to celebrate this year, mostly because I haven't had the energy. Usually we have corned beef and hash and other Americanized-Scottish food, plus root beer in place of actual beer. And we always read Burns' poetry.

It is so much fun! He was a prolific and diversified poet, filling his poems and songs with thoughtfulness, passion, and a great sense of humor. He proudly proclaims to be a lover not a fighter:
"I'm better pleased to make one more,
Than be the death of twenty."
-I Murder Hate

Address of Beelzebub addresses his passion for America's freedom:

"Some daring Hancock, or a Franklin,
May set their Highland blood a-ranklin';
Some Washington again may head them,
Or some Montgomery, fearless, lead them"

and Scottish oppression:

". . . what right have they
To meat or sleep or light of day,
Far less to riches, power or freedom,
But what your lordships please to give them?"

And of course we finished off with Auld Lang Syne. One day we'll be able to read more, when the children's attention spans lengthen.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Speech development

I've often heard that girls develop communication skills sooner than boys and that boys tend to focus on sounds. My experiences didn't entirely convince me. Samuel started talking early, and people thought he was older because of his speech. Conversely, Elisa loves growling like dinosaurs. (Benjamin is right on the money here.)

As toddlers the boys loved singing "Old McDonald Had a Farm" in the car. We liked that it calmed them down and gave them something fun to do. They loved making the animal noises as loud as possible, and they made up sounds for unusual animals, like aardvarks.

Lisy is at the perfect age to enjoy "Old McDonald." So while driving down the road last week, we energetically launched into the first verse. She just looked at us. We tried several more animals, each with the same result. She eventually started singing, but without the animal noises. (She loves to sing, especially songs with hand gestures. "Do As I'm Doing" is at the top of her list, sounding more like "dewey doing.")

Now I'm wondering if this is indicative of her female leanings to communicate rather than make noises. And is that why the boys loved it so much? An excuse to make noise and experiment with sounds - because they're boys? Just in case it's because she isn't familiar enough with the sounds, I've been reading more animal books to her. Her favorite part of Sandra Boynton's Moo, Baa, LaLaLa is the singing pigs, of course.

Potty Training Update: Benjamin averaged 1 accident a day this past week. He even wore underwear to church today without any problems! Turns out I didn't need that quick exit strategy I planned.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Self Understanding

Sunset from my kitchen window

My normal routine includes a nap right after lunch, because I feel exhausted and a bit more irritable. I just never realized how vital that nap is, until I put away the Christmas decorations this week. (3 weeks sooner than last year!)

Just after snack time I pulled out the empty boxes. I put off lunch until the children started pestering each other and my voice grew louder. I made lunch. Everyone calmed down. I went straight back to packing, feeling an intense need to get it all out of my house right now. Lisy started clinging to my legs, and I realized I forgot to put her to bed.

peacefully sleeping toddler should mean quicker packing. Well, not when I'm constantly yelling at the boys and putting them in time-outs. At one point Sammy tried to explain that I was wrong about something, but I knew I was right, and my yelling made him cry. When we both calmed down, I discovered he was in the right. I felt worse than awful.

By this time, most of the decorations were packed, including all the breakables. I finally put myself to bed. When I woke up, I was me again - happy, playful, loving.

That night, while ruminating about the day, I realized that I need a daily nap. Up until now I felt guilty every time I fell asleep, leaving the boys to themselves for 1 to 2 hours a day. But now that I see what happens when I don't sleep, the guilt is gone. They are old enough to work the tv and dvd player; they can get their own snacks; they can survive. Conversely, everyone suffers when I stay awake; everything irritates me and I am incapable of speaking at a normal volume. I just hope my children remember the real me, and not the hormonal pregnant monster I sometimes turn into - kind of like the Incredible Hulk.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Potty Training, take 32

Or so it seems. It's been about 10 months since I first introduced Ben Ben to the potty. There have been several stops and starts, with plenty of progress and backsliding. He was doing pretty well until we moved, when I couldn't handle any more and just pulled out the ol' diapers. However, over the last 2 months he often told me when he needed a diaper change. Yesterday I thought, why not?

First, I asked him if he wanted to wear his underwear. Yes. Good start.
Next, I made him a deal: try to stay dry until lunch, then he's back in his diaper. He agreed.
Finally, his incentives are 1) keep Spiderman dry (thanks for the superhero underwear, Llama!) and 2) we started using 2000 Flushes, and he likes to make the blue water turn green when he pees (thank you, chemistry!).

Results so far: yesterday he kept his underwear dry until well past lunch. But we put him back in a diaper to go to the store; my crutch, not his. Today he wore his underwear for several hours until the accident - he was too busy playing to stop. He was so upset that he cried. This is really important to him. Even though he wore a diaper from then on, he successfully used the potty the rest of the day.

It boils down to extrinsic versus intrinsic motivations. At first I wanted him to learn, but although he enjoyed the candy and stickers, he never really cared. Now he wants to do it to be a big boy like his brother. (Let's hear it for peer pressure!) The only physical rewards are dry pants and hugs.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Silliness runs in the family

If you're wondering about my last post, it's because my sister mentioned that website with the personality quizzes. They are very silly, and Dominic says they are as accurate as a horoscope. But he thought their description of me as a breakfast food was fairly close, so I shared it with you. To be honest, I was answering those silly quizzes until Dominic went to bed, and then I realized how late it had gotten. Oops.

So the children aren't the only ones who act silly sometimes. Here are some recent conversations that made me laugh.

Me: "Do you want some more?"
Lisy: "No"
Me: "Do you mean yes?"
Lisy: "Esss" or "Esshh"

Dup = cup

Me: "Hey, get your toes out of your mouth."
Benjamin: "They're not in my mouth. They're in my eyes."
Me: "You're poking yourself in the eyes with your toes?"
Benjamin: "Yeah, hehehe."

Benjamin's new name for me: Mommy-uel (spin-off of 'Ammy-uel, aka Samuel)

Samuel: "We need to order more milk from the cows right away."

Both the boys, when they want to emphasize how hungry or thirsty they are: "I'm 99 hungry/thirsty!"

Me, as I was putting the kids to bed tonight: "This is bedtime, not jump-on-your-brother time."

Monday, January 5, 2009

I am:

What Kind of Breakfast Are You?

You Are Cereal

Playful and lighthearted, breakfast is likely your favorite meal of the day.
(In fact, you're probably the type who sneaks cereal as a midnight snack.)
Your culinary skills are probably a bit lacking... and you are a sucker for junk food.
Some people accuse you of eating like a kid, but you prefer to think of yourself as low maintenance.