Thursday, April 26, 2007

Weird Art Collage

The kids' daycare requested, oh maybe a week ago, that each family take home a scrap of paper and decorate it "to represent your family." It was due on Tuesday, so of course I completed mine during my lunch hour on Wednesday. Thanks to Dover's weekly free clip art sampler (that I love and download every image) I had all sorts of wacky images to print out, trim (I used my x-acto!) and glue in. Unfortunately (or bonus to those of you who loved those neon marker poster art kits in the 70s & 80s), all I had to color with was highlighter pens.


And the fear begins.

Dash has been such an easygoing, take-it-in-stride little guy, but I knew this was coming. He has rarely expressed fear, at least not strongly. One episode I can think of is when Tina, Kelly's puppy, rushed up and licked his face; he was upset and mildly afraid. (But that's just what puppies do. We need to give him more time with Tina to acclimate him better!)

So, yesterday evening, we went outside to play on our playset (what else? Yay!) and it had an interesting selection of springtime bugs on it. Ants, inchworms, caterpillars, some kind of beetle. Rosie is afraid of everything, so I was trying to empower her to use a stick to knock ants off the slide instead of me coming over every 30 seconds to remove bugs.

Dash was watching Rosie, like usual, and pointing out "bug" and a new word, "worm" for caterpillar. I was showing him a small caterpillar on the canopy over the slide (above his head), and then saw that he was scooting away from the slide, toward me. I asked, "Don't you want to slide, honey?" no answer, more scooting. Then I asked, "Are you scared of the worm?" and it was like I set off a siren. Bloodcurdling SCREAMING! Dash was rigid, practically jumped into my arms and gripped me with his entire body for dear life.

It was sweet later; he was telling AJS "worm" with big eyes. We called Auntie M. and he told her "worm" with the most serious expression (um, that's all he would say into the phone, so it was pretty hilarious!).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Have I introduced you to "Ghostie?"

Hi, my name is John, but Rosie likes to call me "Ghostie." I am very small and live in Rosie's pocket. Nobody else can see me, so I like to follow Rosie around. My favorite foods are fried chicken wings and rice. Rosie says I snore while I'm sleeping.

Sometimes I tell Rosie not to listen to her mommy. This weekend, when Rosie was running away from her mommy, I scared Rosie's mommy by pushing Rosie really fast toward a busy street. That was funny, but Rosie's mommy didn't think so. Rosie ratted me out, but that's okay; we were just having fun.

Anyway, I'll check in with you later.

John (a/k/a Ghostie)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

We are officially play-equipped!

Here is our fabulous new playset, in OUR yard, in beautiful afternoon light. BIG THANKS go out to Bill E., Jeff C., and Phil H.!! You all are the greatest—you enthusiastically brought your entire tool boxes to my house (including dremel tools, just in case) and took care of your power-tool joneses to our benefit. I appreciate the help Chalin and Cheryl gave, keeping the kids out of the danger zone, and special, enormous thanks go as always to AJS. He cooked a beef brisket on our smoker that he started yesterday and tended through the night; it was mouth-wateringly delicious.

As soon as the playset was staked (what Phil is doing in this phone-photo) our 9 and 10 year-old neighbors, who were checking up on us periodically (the chosen spot for it is in full view of the street), the two of them were swinging while Rosie, Dash and Matthew all bustled up the ladder and down the slide as quickly as toddlerly possible, complete with happy screaming.

This 2nd phone-photo (thanks, Bill!) shows all 3 of our tots crowded at at the top of the slide, while Cheryl and Phil keep them from falling off.

A quote from Rosie, which I wholeheartly endorsed, "WOO HOO!"

In support of Earth Day, I recycled all the packaging from the playset as well as a large amount of cardboard that had been taking up space in our shed. I intend to buy some pansies or small plantings and plant them with the kids; I hope Earth Day will give us a rain check.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Rosie and Dash's Great-Great-Grandparents

Mariah Havens Daley and her husband Owen Daley are pictured here in this photo taken circa 1890(?). James and Bridget Daly emigrated from Ireland's County Westmeath in 1872 with their 15 children (including Owen) and settled in central Connecticut. Owen's son Edward is Rosie and Dash's great-grandfather, and father of Granddaddy Jim.

When I traveled to Ireland with Jim and Auntie M. in 1999 on a cycling tour of the southwestern coast, we took a side trip and did a bit of family history research. We actually met up with some Havens and Daly relations!

Here is another photo of Mariah Daley, later in life (the handwritten date on the photo's margin says 1922-3):

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Dash loves Boo, too

This post is just a cute vignette, to get my mind off the more serious worldly (and personal) matters.

Back when we saw Pixar's Monsters, Inc. for the first time in 2003, we were amazed at how much Rosie looked like Boo. She noticed right away, too, asking, "Where'd the Rodie go?" (her name for herself) whenever Boo went hiding in the movie. So we bought her a Boo doll, which was quite a hit for her. For a while anyway; she got her face crayoned, like most of Rosie's dolls (and lately the furniture in her room: she is making it "beautiful" with colored markers and who am I to curb her urge to creatively decorate, as long as it's not an item I care about. But I digress.)

That Boo doll now lives in Dash's crib. He loves her. He carries her around and covers her in blankets (just as he sees Rosie do with her dolls). All his other favorite toys are birds (like our parrot?), but my theory on why Boo is one of the most precious of his toys is that it looks like his beloved big sister, Djo-Djo. (His pronounciation changes daily, that's the latest.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A note from daycare

I love the messages we get from Dash's teacher Ewa at the bottom of his daily sheet. Here was today's:

"Hello Mommy and Daddy. Today NO! is my favorite word. I've been establishing my independence by playfully running away from my teachers when they ask me to do something. I am showing that I am very close to age 2!"

It's going to happen. This Sunday. I mean it.

On April 22, Earth Day 2007, we will have our playset assembled. Dammit.

A recap: our swingset was delivered on April 2nd, and we invited many of our friends over to have a playdate & assembly party for that Sunday, April 8th. And, I know, I could pay someone to do it for us or I could drop the kids with my parents and AJS and I could make a valiant attempt to do it ourselves, but some of the folks we know have powertools and WANT to use them!

The kicker is that the instructions require several tools that I don't own and the online description of two hours for assembly was off by four to ten hours. The printed instructions say "assembly will take two people 6 to 12 hours, depending on experience". THAT'S what made me call in the troops.

So, Sunday April 8th, it snowed. SNOWED! We still had everyone over. It was a fun time, AJS grilled burgers and we had an egg hunt for the kids. But nobody wanted to be outside building anything; it was just too wet and cold. Last weekend, we invited fewer friends over, but had to call it off again because very, very early Saturday morning, AJS came down with a nasty stomach bug.

I'm making the calls today. We will do this! By the end of this weekend, there will be swings, ladders, and a slide in our yard!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Picture Day Today!

Today was yet another picture day at daycare. I picked out outfits for Rosie and Dash the night before (it was important to get prior approval from Rosie, to avoid the usual morning's outfit struggle), and even performed a hasty haircut on Dash in the bathtub. I hope the cut looks okay in the photos—it was a bit choppy. For the past year or so, I am the only one in the household who pays for a haircut. I've been cutting everyone else's, without any training I might add.

Rosie is wearing a cute top that I love (brown cotton with a pink panel and a profusion of glittery, faceted rhinestones) and gray swing pants also with rhinestones (both a gift from Auntie M.), and Dash is wearing a rugby shirt with wide white, green, and brown stripes and brown plaid pants. I'm counting on them having a photo together!

Anyway, when we saw Rosie's teacher for the first time this morning, she asked me, "It's picture day today; is Rosie wearing that?" Not a glowing reaction. However, when the next child arrived, she gushed and went on and on about how cute, how ADORABLE, the child looked in HER special picture day outfit. I had to look. It was a white t-shirt and a plain, black leather vest with denim jeans. I don't get it? Best I figure is that she was trying to bolster the child's self-esteem?

Reading about Virginia Tech...

I'm horrified and at a loss of words regarding the shooting deaths of the 33 students and teachers at Virginia Tech; I'm also with this commenter from the Situation Room blog on CNN:

Gun control laws aren't the problem. Please tell me, what's the current ideal body count to get CNN's patented 24-hour Bloodstained Hallway Coverage? Dead-end, no-life psychos all over America will want to be sure they've murdered enough innocent people to have their death in a hail of police gunfire properly glamorized. - Dave, Ontario

I don't know why yesterday's shooter did what he did. I'm more than a little worried that this guy is right in accusing the media of glamorizing the horror, encouraging others to join the fray. Look, do this and you'll get on TV!!

A note: AJS just told me that a woman he used to work with was the mother of one of the female students killed at Virginia Tech. My heart goes out to her.

Our tasty little man

When bitings occur, daycare is very careful to not let us know which of our children's "friends" did the biting. Their discretion is getting undermined by Dash, as he becomes more verbal every day. When we asked him who bit him (he's had two bites in the last week — that scrumptious boy!), he smiled and clearly answered, "Molly bite."

Not that we are thinking of retaliating at all; daycare has a biting-control process that works. I'm just amused that Dash is so forthcoming. :-)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Jimmy, as a toddler

Isn't this a happy scene? It speaks of youth, carefree summers, and fun times with family.

The little boy in the front, who probably isn't more than two years old, is my dad, Jim. His older siblings, Bob and Dot, are playfully supporting him on what is likely their front yard, circa 1943 in central Connecticut.

In 2007, Grandaddy Jim takes Rosie and Dash on weekend walks to a local Alexandria park and focused on giving them a solid social foundation with extended family connections. Having several generations of relatives around was something taken for granted when Jimmy was growing up. I'm very grateful that my parents are available to my children and are so willing to visit and care for them. It's pretty uncommon these days.

Thanks, Dad and Mom!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dash ADORES "Dju-Dju"

At 22 months, Dash wants to do everything that Rosie's doing. If she's painting, he wants to be painting, too. If she's hiding in her room, he wants to squeeze right next to her, giggling, until somebody finds them. It only gets frustrating when Rosie becomes annoyed by all this love and attention and begs us to "take Dash away!" But otherwise, I know she is just as enamored of him!

Dash came up with his version of Rosie's name, which sounds something like "Dju-Dju." It took us a while to figure out that he was trying to say Rosie, go figure. When I asked Rosie what she thought of being called Dju-Dju, she said, "I like it! It means he loves me."

Friday, April 13, 2007

Happy birthday, sis!

It's my sister's birthday today & she'll be, um, continue to be 21 months younger than me!

I wish you the chillest b'day today, Auntie M. Hope your spa adventure is everything you envisioned.

Cool Cookie!

Hey, I discovered this new magazine that looks just darling!

It's a cute little mag for "smart, sexy, stylish" moms, which of course is a club I want to join.

My subscription card is in the mail.

(and it doesn't have anything to do with the 2.5 yr girl pictured in the promo who is named "Dashiell")

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thanks! To all my devoted fans... (Kelly, that's you.)

Yay! I was nominated! WOO!

In light of this, I think I'm going to try to step up my content...

For a sickie, he's got energy.

Last Friday, I stayed home with Dash because he had a fever recorded on Thursday and daycare won't let kids back in till they're fever-free for 24 hours. Despite the fever, he was otherwise symptom-free, which lasted through the weekend and ended early Wednesday morning, when he hurled Tuesday night's dinner all over his sheets. Bleagh. A quick cleanup, two more rounds of hurling, fresh sheets, new pajamas, and a trip to the laundry room later, I was back in bed by 4 a.m. We dressed both kids for daycare at 6:30 and headed in, hoping that it was an isolated incident, but more hurling happened on the car ride. So, AJS stayed home with Dash yesterday.

According to AJS, Dash was cranky, didn't eat all day, but was otherwise symptom-free. Again. He even became cheerful when AJS took him down to the creek across the street to toss rocks in the water. (Who doesn't love a satisfying ker-sploosh!?) After I came home, Dash and Rosie started the silliest antics, prompting AJS to record some video of them singing at the top of their lungs and dancing/spinning in the kitchen. I'm sure there's some great footage of my butt, because they were right behind me while I was doing dishes.

Dash is back at school today, despite grand protests this morning. He's really figured out the power of "NO!" Here's a transcript from this morning:

ME: morning, Dash! let's get you a fresh diaper.
DASH: no! no! no! no! (swatting at me with his closest hand)
ME: all right, now let's get your pajamas off.
DASH: no! no! no! no! (trying to pull pajamas back on)
ME: okay, now it's time to get your morning clothes on!
DASH: no! no! no! no! NO!!! (pulling new clothes off as soon as I get them on)
ME: all dressed! let's go see Daddee now, okay?
DASH: da. (think of the Russian da, here, like "yes", sweetly, with a smile.)

Thursday, April 05, 2007

cherry blossom walk (that was nicer than AJS thought it would be!)

Color me surprised when AJS volunteered to go on a family outing to *gasp* downtown D.C. *eeek!* to view the Cherry Blossoms and see the Kite Festival on Saturday, all the while intermingling with the hordes of tourists and otherwise repellent examples of humankind. Even when we lived in D.C., he would avoid any type of ethnic festival, chili cook-off, or large gathering like a pestilence and virtually refuse to leave the house.

Then, I learned that our dear friend Mel, who has been very unavailable for the last several months had agreed to meet us there, along with her dog, Walter. So, AJS was not going to miss this fleeting opportunity!

The only way this would work for AJS was to get to D.C. before 8 a.m. so we could get a parking spot and so avoid the other repulsive congregation of the unwashed, the Metro. We found a space just in time at one of the Hains Point area parking lots and have an easy walk to the Tidal Basin. Another sacrifice that was necessary for this to be a workable outing was NO STROLLERS. In order to navigate the sidewalks that are choked with tourists mesmerized by the beauty of the fragile blossom petals, walking in slow motion, taking photos in the middle of thoroughfares, we would have to allow our children to walk or carry them. This worked out to mostly carrying them.

It was truly a beautiful day! The weather was sunny and brisk, the blossoms were in full, white-and-pink fluffy loveliness, and Dash and Rosie were in good moods. We saw the signage with the silly safety mascot of the festival, a beaver named "Paddles" who advised that we refrain from picking the blossoms. Hee! Oh, so badly drawn...

As we walked through the Jefferson Memorial, Dash cheerfully circumambulated the statue (at high speed), pointing and yelling "MAN! MAN!" Thankfully, most of the other folks there seemed to find it endearing (except when we were in their camera's viewfinder). Rosie chased him around or wandered on her own path, taking in the views, watching the paddleboats make their way across the water.

From there we walked to the FDR Memorial (well at this point, AJS and I were personal transports), where Dash also yelled and pointed, "MAN! MAN!" at all the statues of Mr. Roosevelt. Rosie got up close and personal with Fala, while AJS took some nice video of her gently patting her bronze, spiky fur. Dash and Rosie both enjoyed the waterfalls, which I found to be serene and violent at once as they crashed over the geometrically carved stones; I wondered if this effect was considered by the architect/sculptor?

We all ran across the grassy field and then I carried Dash up the steep steps at the Lincoln Memorial. Again he had an opportunity to yell at The Man, although by this time of day (9:40?), the tourists were quite thick at this popular site and we wandered down to rest at the less-populated reflecting pool. Rosie and Dash tried to locate rocks to hurl in and make ripples; hopeful ducks occasionally glided over to see if we'd feed them. Another baby that was ahead of us toddled waaaay too close to the edge for my comfort, but set a bad example for Dash, so both her parent and I struggled to keep our toddlers from dumping into the drink as they barreled ahead. We passed them, as the wee lass distracted easily and my boy can be focused, once on a path. As we headed toward the Washington Monument, a loudspeaker started playing music to announce the kick-off of the Kite Festival.

We were crossing 17th Street as a quavering, older, female voice, possibly of Japanese origin, came on the PA, launching into our National Anthem. As soon as we crossed, I took a call from Mel, who was nearby and wanted to establish a meeting spot. We had been pointing out the different kites to Rosie and asking her what they looked like; Dash just pointed, except when he saw Elmo and then couldn't stop talking about his beloved little red monster. I recall there was a pretty well made upper-half of a soccer player (torso, head & arms) reaching for a soccer ball that was the kite's tail! There were some speedy and tricky stunt kites, some beautiful birds and butterflies, and plenty of scary pirates, spidermen and sharks. The wind was very strong, so many, many kites were in the air.

Mel and Walter appeared and we walked with her all the way back to the car, which seemed to be soooo very far away, especially since Dash was cranky, trying to twist out the carrier. He fell asleep when we were almost to the parking lot. Mel tried valiantly to catch up with me, but I was tired and concentrating too much on walking and my aching shoulders to really keep up my end of the chatter. I learned that she's enjoying her new job, is considering leaving her second job, is doing consulting work for her previous job, and also that academia is calling to her: is another degree in the making?

We drove to an Irish pub in her neighborhood, and while we were in the car, Walter gave Mel and AJS happy-dog kisses, then looked expectantly into the back seat, where kisses weren't welcome. Sorry, Walter. At the pub we learned that they served deep-fried tater tots and that the waitress was indulgent enough to give our kids slices of cheddar cheese and crispy bacon (no bread, please) for their lunches. Sorry, no milk. Mel tried to advise Rosie that once you pass 22 years, you'll want to cut back on the bacon and cheese unless you know a good cardiologist.

After parting ways, I fell asleep in the car, then dropped the kids off at my parents' house for a few hours. I went back home, took some Advil, crawled into bed and took a serious nap. Oh, I didn't mention that on Friday afternoon, I took a turbo-step aerobics class? I was tired. But it was a nice outing overall!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Feng Shui is a good idea

A tenet of Feng Shui: rearrange furniture in rooms regularly; this helps release the good chi and disturb the bad wa.

In reality, this is a recommended plan because when moving heavy dressers periodically, you also disturb nasty bug colonies, such as, say carpet beetles, that take up residence under furniture.


BTW, despite all the information on the bug-page linked above (they eat dead skin and animal fibers), I am 99% certain that these bugs have been biting Dash on the head over the past few months. I don't know what else would have been causing the bites and I usually found the beetles in the carpet or on the wall near the head of his crib. Ew.

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