Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ice Bat to the rescue!

Last night was probably the worst night of sleep I've had in a very long time. And I have no one to blame but myself.

Probably 3 nights out of the week, I fall asleep in Lucas' room while telling him a story or rubbing his back. It's my own fault. I usually am pretty tired by the time he goes to bed at 730 or so. And I just can't help it.

The other night Lucas even laid down the law. He said, "Mommy, I have a rule. You have to stay in my room for a long time. You can't sneak out and go cuddle with daddy." I knew then that this accidental co-sleeping had gone to far.

Anyway, this morning, after consulting various sources, I came up with a plan. It's actually the same plan I've implemeted a couple of times in the past year and a half, but it was time to dust it off and breathe some new life into it.

I told Lucas that we would go to the toystore after school and get him a special toy for bed. We went to 5 Little Monkeys. My only advice to him was to pick something he could cuddle up to in bed. After much deliberation, finally between a weird penguin with vinyl feet and Ice Bat, Ice Bat won!

I said to the saleslady as she rang it up, "We are hoping that this will solve our problem of monsters at night." She assured Lucas that it would. He seemed to believe her. But then about an hour later when we were talking about the Ice Bat at home, Lucas reminded Kevin and I that "He isn't really real. See, his mouth doesn't open." Kevin and I assured him that if a monster was around, his mouth would open wide enough to eat the monster.

I talked about what was going to happen during dinner and then again before we started the whole bedtime routine. Basically, Ice Bat could stay with him, as long as he stayed in his room. Needless to say, it was a tearful farewell. But I reassured him I would be in the next room, on the couch reading my book and that I would peek in on him once he was asleep.

Lucas continued to cry for about 2 minutes. I told him it was too loud and if he kept it up I'd have to read upstairs. He quieted down.

He said he wet his diaper and asked for a new one, so I changed him and tucked him back in. He asked what I was doing. I told him I was trying to read. He asked if he could come out and peek, I told him, yes, really quick and just once. He came out to check up on me and then went back to bed. Then he asked if he could come out of his room when he was a grown-up. I assured him that at that point, it would be fine. He asked if he could have his bear vitamin, vitamin C and fish bubbles (cod liver and fish oil gelcaps, with a pleasant strawberry flavor) when he woke up. I said yes. He then reminded me that I hadn't peeked in on him yet. I reminded him that I was going to do it after he fell asleep. "Okay," he said. Then about 5 minutes later, he fell asleep.

So it's been about an hour now and he's still fast asleep as I type. I hope that I'm not jinxing myself. We shall see.

Ants...a different perspective

I guess we can't feel so sorry for ourselves about our run-of-the-mill ants. They are nothing compared to these driver ants that my friend experienced while living in Liberia.

Anyway, we used to fight them with a blowtorch, literally. (Now I am not exaggerating for effect.) You can read about driver ants online, but when they would swarm we would know they were coming because all of the animals in the bush would run ahead of them. They literally kill everything in their path and have been known to kill a few drunk or unconscious people and babies . . . so I guess I shouldn't complain about Albany ants but they really get on my last nerve.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Legos + No TV = Stanford ??

I was chatting with one of our neighbors who works at Stanford. He asks the incoming freshmen what they did to get into Stanford and has found two common themes: Legos and no TV.

I told this to Kevin, who then busted out the Lego Mindstorms Robotic kit I got for him (yes, for Kevin, not Lucas) about 6 years ago.
There was no lag time in getting Lucas up to speed with the new Legos -- they are a big hit! Besides, he's really been in a building phase lately. Legos and the Kapla blocks have been taking up a lot of indoor play time.
As far as TV goes, no, we still don't have one. That's not to say that Lucas hasn't been exposed to any screen-based entertainment. Thanks to YouTube, we watched the original Frosty the Snowman a number of times during the Christmas season. And the Incredible Machine is perennial source of amazement for all of us. Because of Lucas' fascination with the skateboarding kids at the school playground, I showed him a video of the amazing skateboarding and waterskiing dog that I saw on Yahoo. Plus, Lucas has watched some Animal Planet at my mom's house, though I've since asked her not to after he told me that some of the things he sees on Animal Planet are a little scary for him, like the lion chasing the animals and eating them (thanks mom, for making sure the shows are age appropriate).

Lucas has only once asked about TV.

Lucas: Mommy, why don't we have Animal Planet?

Me: Because we don't have a TV.

Lucas: Oh.

People tell me how much their kids learn from the educational videos and I don't doubt it. Lucas has been learning the same things whether in school, from us, or from books, so I don't really think he's missing anything from not having a TV. And he's definitely having fun with his Legos and other building projects. So for me, that's good enough.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The new math

Lucas educated me of some "new math" concepts yesterday.

- 5 and 1 plus 6. After he said this, I said, "that's right, five plus one equals six". He insisted I was wrong and the way he said it was right.
- 4 is next to 5, but it's more than 5, and it's even more than 18
- he is 3 and 7 quarters and his friend Arlo is 4 and 19 quarters

I guess I need to get up to speed on the new math.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The weekend starts on Friday!

Yesterday was my first Friday off work and home with Lucas. And I have to say it was very nice.

We did a whole lot of, well, nothing... actually, that's not true. This is what we did:

8:00 Lucas ate breakfast consisting of oatmeal and some tangerines.
8:30 Lucas and I set up some trains in the living room.
9:00 Lucas was determined to somehow hammer these two baskets together, using nothing but a train track.
9:30 Lucas got hungry again and eats 2 scrambled eggs.
10:00 We played indoor soccer - he wins. Then we played memory.
11:30 We headed over to the copy shop so I can make some copies.
12:15 We met up with my friend Wendy at 4th Street for lunch. Lucas ate a little pizza and orange juice.
12:45 Lucas is done with lunch and no longer wants to just sit there. I asked him to do some running exercises as Wendy and I finished chatting and eating.
1:15 We all headed over to the toy store to get a birthday gift for one of Lucas' friend's, plus a little toy race car for him. We spent a bit of time there.
1:45 We went over to Sketch for a chocolate chip cookie for him, molassess ginger cookie for me.
2:00 We went to Cody's books to get a book for his friend.
2:30 We returned home. By this time, for some reason, I was totally zonked out. We went upstairs because he wanted to play more memory. I set up the cards for him and asked if he could play by himself while I "closed my eyes for 10 minutes". I closed my eyes and woke up about an hour later.
3:30 Lucas informed me that he could set up the cards all by himself. And I guess that's what he must have done, over and over again while I napped. We puttered about the house for a bit more, had a snack of apple and peanut butter.
4:15 We went to the school playground across the street. For about an hour, Lucas sat quiet and watched the big kids do tricks on their skateboards.
5:30 We headed out for a sushi dinner.
6:45 Back home again for good.

Because of our leisurely pace all day, there were no tantrums, no time-outs, and minimal whining. All in all, it was a great kick-off for the weekend!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Post-mortem on Lucas' shitty day

When I picked him up from school, he had had yet another accident (with #2 again). This time it only got on his pants, so I didn't have to wash another pair of shoes. I was totally clueless into why he had pooped twice during the school day.

Later that night, I talked with a friend about it. She asked if he had eaten anything out of the ordinary. I told her that Lucas and I went to Toot Sweets that morning for a muffin and some juice. She asked what kind of muffin. Turns out the muffin I had given him was basically a bran muffin. Oops!

Dealing with Lucas' shit

Literally, I need to figure out how to deal with his shit.

Today was the 2nd time that his school called me saying that he had an accident with #2 in his pants. He says that he still doesn't poop at school. (Except there was one time that he had said he had a stomach ache so one of the teachers took him to the toilet and they made it just in time.) He's never had an accident with pee, just both times with poop.

Anyway, the last time, it was all over the inside of his jeans. I just about barfed as the teacher handed me the bag. I could barely drive home with it in my car and just put it in the outdoor trash as soon as we got home.

This time it mostly got on his underwear (which I promptly threw out along with his socks), but some on his pants and shoes. I know my mom would tell me to wash it in the toilet. And that's what I was going to do, but the stench was so strong! I used some paper towels to wipe up as much as I could, applied generous amounts of Spray and Wash and put them in the washing machine on hot.

Is there a better way to deal with his shit?

Getting on the "A" list

Birthday parties are a big topic around here. Lucas' birthday is not until July, but you'd think it was tomorrow the way he talks about it and makes plans.

Being able to come to Lucas' birthday party is akin to getting on the "A" list for some nightclub. It's totally subjective and based on his mood or latest whim.

Here are the rules for getting on the "A" list.

1. Do something nice for him. Like read him an extra Japanese folk tale after dinner or give him a bite of whatever it is you're eating.

2. Choose something that is the same as his, like the same fork or wear dark blue when he's wearing dark blue. When he notices he will announce that "you must come to my birthday party".

3. Be 5 years old, or at least 3 and seven-quarters.

4. Be subjected to random scrutiny, which usually plays out like this:
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
If his finger is pointing to you on the last "moe", then yes, you can come to his birthday party.

5. Be the right gender. Sometimes Lucas is not the best with gender equality. He has been known to say, "You can come to my birthday party even though you're a girl."

When he notices any of the above Lucas will announce, "You must come to my birthday party." Lucas will give you a preview of the party menu: chocolate vanilla cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies and cake!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Two-wheeling, again

Once again Lucas amazed us with his agility on two wheels. This time the vehicle of choice:

We met up with Owen and his parents at the school playground. Craig brought his scooter and put the handlebars all the way down so Lucas could try it out.

It didn't take more than a couple minutes until Lucas was zipping around the playground like a pro.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Competition heats up

I have some breaking news in the world of hot chocolate. Semifreddis is still #1 in my book, but now there's a #2.

On Saturday night Jennifer and I went to see an evening showing of "Pursuit of Happyness". Afterwards we wanted a hot chocolate. Semifreddis closes at 4 or 5, and most of the places on Solano Avenue close at 9 or 10, but who really wants to go to Starbucks anyway.

I suggested the Pub on Solano, which is open till 1am. I went there before once after a movie and recalled having a pretty good hot chocolate.

I knew I was in the right place when after we ordered the guy asked, "How chocolate-y do you want your hot chocolate?" I replied, "Very chocolate-y. Thanks for asking." That was the most coaching I gave to the guy and the hot chocolate was quite good.

Jennifer and I sat there for close to two hours chatting away. It's a nice comfy place, it's like you're in someone's house. They even have board games that you can play there.

The Pub's hot chocolate is definitely a close second just behind Semifreddis. Its generous scoops of good old fashioned Ghiradelli chocolate, cozy atmosphere, close proximity to home, and late hours make it a new destination for me. A great place for a late-night fix.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nature vs. nurture

I'm now thoroughly convinved that many habits are nature, not nurture.

1) Lucas' obsession with planes, trains and automobiles - From when he was a little baby, Lucas loved all things that go. And we're not into cars at all. I mean, we drive a Volvo!

2) Competitive nature - Is this a preschool thing or what? When I see Lucas with other kids, especially boys his age, he seems to be all about being bigger, faster, better. The other day Whitney and Julian were over and Julian's dad came up in conversation. Lucas said, "My daddy is bigger than your daddy." (No he's not). Earlier this week we had a playdate with Miles and Miles said he got a scooter for Christmas. I heard Lucas say, "So did I." (No he didn't). I have no idea where he gets this competitive spirit from. (Though I know Kevin will snicker when he reads this.)

3) Bathroom habits - Last night, Lucas was going to the bathroom (#2). He called out to me, "Mommy, can you bring me the paper on the couch, it's the instructions for the blocks." I got the brochure and gave it to him. He was flipping through it as he was sitting on the toilet. I know this is something many guys do. I've seen many bathrooms that have reading material for the guy, but ours is not one of them. Kevin doesn't do this.

Where the heck does he get this stuff from?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The "ouch" report

When I got to Lucas' school to pick him up today, the teacher was in the middle of interviewing Lucas and another boy so she could fill out an "ouch" report, which was a lot like a preschool version of a police report. Just before I showed up, another kid bashed Lucas in the shoulder with a wooden car, which resulted in a small bruise. (The name of the felon has been changed to protect the guilty party).

Teacher: Lucas, tell me what happened.
Lucas: I was playing on the rug with the cars and George came up and hit me with the car.
Teacher: Now George, what happened?
George: I don't know.
Teacher: I saw what you did. Now tell me what happened.
George, buckling under the pressure: Lucas was in my way and he didn't move so I hit him with the car.
Teacher: Was that a nice thing to do?
George: No, it wasn't.
Teacher: Tell Lucas that you're sorry.
George: [[silence]]
Teacher: George, say you're sorry.
George: Sorry Lucas.
Lucas: That's okay.

About 15 minutes ago, we got a call from "George's" dad, who was very concerned and wanted to make sure that Lucas was okay. I assured him that Lucas was okay. He said that George was going to write an apology letter to Lucas.

Case closed.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Change of job, change of pace

I recently left my full-time job at Kodak Gallery and got a part-time marketing gig with See Jane Run, for many reasons that are too tedious and boring to even write about here. But to sum it up, I wanted a faster pace at work and a slower pace at home.

So far, everything is going exactly as I hoped it would, especially on the home front. Working full-time, I was in a huge hurry beginning at 5pm to get Lucas from school, then home around 6pm, getting dinner and his bath before 730 (his bed time), it was a crazy and challenging schedule for everyone. And we all know how much a 3 1/2 year old likes to be rushed! Suffice it to say, I wasn't getting much quality time with Lucas during the week.

Now, in just the first week or so of working part-time, I can already see a huge change. I pick up Lucas between 3-4, we have some good quality time before the whole dinner, bath, bedtime routine. It's been awesome. Now if only I could shake this cold!!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Sushi with sprinkles

Not wanting to face another night of cheese toast or oatmeal, Lucas and I went out for sushi. Since it was just the two of us, we sat at the bar for a change. Besides being mesmerized by a show on Panda bears that was on TV (did I say this is an authentic sushi restaurant that features Animal Planet?), he was very interested in watching the sushi chef prepare the food.

Lucas loves going for sushi and we ordered some of his favorites: edamame, unagi, and spinach salad (yes, he actually really does love this, or more likely the sweet miso dressing that they drench the spinach with).

All of a sudden Lucas pointed to something the chef was making and said, "I want that thing with the orange sprinkles!"
I wasn't sure if he could finish a whole thing of rolls, so I asked for one order of tobiko, aka the "sprinkles", which comes on top of two small beds of rice, each piece wrapped in seaweed. Lucas was probably able to discern right away that it was different than the sprinkles you put on a cupcake, but he loved it anyway. He ended up shovelling it into his mouth with a spoon. The sushi chef was very pleased with Lucas' enthusiasm for sushi.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

1. Drink hot chocolate only on the weekends. This is a big year for me. It's the first time I didn't list "Don't eat as much chocolate" as one of my resolutions. I think I'm much better at self-regulating this now. It's just the hot chocolate that I need to watch!
2. Cook three real dinners a week. Peanut butter sandwiches, quesadillas and cheese toast don't count.
3. Keep the car clean. For those of you who have been in my car, you know this is not easy for me.
4. Do something active 5 days a week. I kept my resolution of working out 3 times a week last year. I started going to the Ice Chamber 6am bootcamp 3 mornings a week and will continue this year. But I want to up the ante a little with doing something active two additional days, which would include the 30 minute round trip walk to and from Semifreddis for my hot cocoa.
5. Read more books. I didn't read much last year, even with my book group. I didn't read some of them because I either didn't have time or they didn't interest me, and that's fine. I don't want to spend time reading books that don't sound interesting to me.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Since Christmas there has been a lot of lounging around and eating sweets around the McKay household. Aside from trips to the school playground across the street for Lucas and Kevin and my covert missions to the gelato place in North Berkeley, we haven't ventured out much.

Saturday we decided to take advantage of the clear skies and go to Lawrence Hall of Science. They have a very cool Grossology exhibit, most of it was over Lucas' head, but he really got into the pinball machine there.

We just got back from a 24-hour eating fest at my mom's for New Year's day. Last night Kevin and my mom stayed up till almost midnight making wontons for the New Year's party. While they made wontons we watched "Little Miss Sunshine" and had some laughs.

Today the Hendricksons came out to Moraga so Lucas and Owen could run around like wild monkeys, which is exactly what they did, while the rest of us enjoyed a wonderful meal of wonton soup.

Here they are, one of the few times they were both sitting down together, enjoying some of Lori's homemade sugar cookies! They both had 3 cookies, but as Kevin says, what the heck, it's New Year's day!

Speaking of New Year's, I did pretty well on my New Year's resolutions last year, so I will come up with a new list this year, to come in the next few days.