Sunday, January 27, 2008

. . . but where are the dinosaurs?

Sunday afternoon the W, the O, and I went to Krannert Center. The C-U Symphony was performing a family concert with an instrument petting zoo prior to the show provided by the Music Shoppe. The theme was dinosaurs, a natural attraction to our O.

With the success of O's trips to Illini men's basketball games this year we are a little more confident in taking him to other events, knowing (or should I say hoping) that he can make it through the event. With this concert being a Family Concert we figured it to be fairly short. And it was at just over an hour.

The instrument petting zoo was fun. Various instruments were available for the kids to get hands on with. The O stroked a chello, snared a drum, beat a bongo, slid a trombone, although he lacked the oomph to toot the horn, and made like Lionel Hampton on the xylophone. The only thing missing were cymbals. The O loves them and we have a junior pair at home that both boys enjoy daily crashing together. We figured it prepares us as parents for any future attempt at musical instruments to be played under our roof. Bring in da' noise!

The music was outstanding, but the whole dinosaur theme was mostly lost on the kids. More abstract than concrete. We kept trying to tell O to use his imagination to see how the music could sound like dinosaurs. He sort of got it, but about halfway through he exasperatingly turned to us and said, "but where are the dinosaurs?"

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Problem of Poop

To paraphrase from C. S. Lewis' The Problem of Pain,

Not many years ago when I was not a parent, if anyone had asked me, "Do you know how to successfully potty train a toddler." My reply would have been something like this, "No, but it can't be that hard." And the truth is that it isn't . . . for seemingly everybody else!

Following up on a recent post from Mrs. Chicken about the travails of potty training The Poo, the W and I must profess our own difficulties with our first born. The O is now three years and 10 months old. He successfully pees in the pot, stays dry through the night, and hasn't had a diaper on under his clothes in months. Yet he refuses to drop a deuce in the toilet. He'll ask for a diaper. We put it on. He closes the bathroom door and when finished, announces he's done. Together we take off his diaper and he dumps his poop into the toilet. A quick clean-up and he's back to his business--which is anything but pooping.

Now we can't say we've tried everything, but we've tried most. We've done away with his diapers, but the Happy Elf is 19 months so the O knows there's a diaper or two in the house. We've been through stickers, M&Ms, potty prizes, praise (and prayers), DVDs, competition from his younger brother . . . no dice and no deuce.

One long weekend we decided to "go for it." No diapers, no compromises. Do it on the stool or else . . . We didn't find what the "else" was. Instead the O flew into fits of rage, anger, and frustration. What should we do? Stick with it? What we experienced was out of the norm for all of us and we checked several books and websites on where to go from there. What instinct told us was to step back. He obviously wasn't ready . . . and still isn't. And that's cool. We know he'll get it. We didn't force crawling, walking, talking etc. Why force this developmental milestone? We're not sitting on the sidelines just waiting. We are encouraging, sometimes cajoling, but for us we've made our peace with poop.

We take great solace from the book Todder 411 (we bought our copy at Pages for All Ages) concerning Potty Training. They say, "Toilet training takes one day--you just have to pick the right day!"

That seems to echo a lot of the experiences we've read. "He just did it by himself." "She announced she was through with diapers." "He said he was going to use the potty because he was a big boy now."

And so we wait for that "right day" to potty train the O.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stink Out!

This latest posts wraps up the "* Out" Trilogy Posts of the past week. Enjoy! defines Stink Out as having only one meaning: cause to smell bad; fill with a bad smell. Synonyms: stink up, smell up.

On Friday nights, after the boys have their baths, we pull out the the sofa-bed and watch an age-appropriate movie while munching on pizza and popcorn and letting the O have his weekly ration of soda. His current favorite sippy cup is a tall, pink Disney Princess cup, with Diet Sprite and heavy ice, but I digress.

"Couch-into-a-bed-night" is a hit. It signals to the O and Happy Elf that pre-school and childcare (generously provided by the W's parents) is over for the week and they can look forward to a couple of "home days."  Once the kids are bedded, the W and I will watch a movie or catch up on tv. It's a nice way to end the work week and start the weekend.

This past Friday was no different. After baths we pulled out the sofa-bed, bounced on the thick-as-two-Wheat-Thins mattress, and settled down with pillows and blankets for the featured movie "Stuart Little." Usually the boys don't make it halfway through the movie before they are nodding off. 

That night was no different and by 8 pm we were settled in enjoying some NKT (no kids time) ... and watching "Superbad" whilst chowing on some Papa John's Hawaiian pizza. Early in the movie the W, at 2+ months prego, detected an "odor". With an almost 4 and a 1.5 year olds who run around in the house without their britches on after baths or trips to the potty, we were suspicious of some errant, unauthorized No. 1 on the carpet. We couldn't locate the source and tried to keep watching the movie, but the smell proved too overpowering and with our failure to locate the source we retired for the night.

What was interesting about this smell was that it didn't really have a specific odor. It wasn't acrid like pee, nor was it strongly sour like milk, nor pungently powerful like poop. It wasn't necessarily a body odor smell--our noses were forever changed one hot, July night at the Virginia Theater by the worst case of foot odor we've ever encountered. A sockless, sandal wearing woman continually slipping her feet out of her footware and letting them go "commando" on the balcony rail of the theater, sending wave after wave of nauseating stench pounding through our noses that we endured until intermission (we relocated to the other side of the theater). We've forgotten what play we saw that night, but we will never forget that smell. Again, I digress.

Back to "Couch-into a bed" story.

The next morning, armed with my Bissell Little Green carpet machine, I conducted a wall-to-wall odor search and destroy mission. My senses must have been sharper that morning because I quickly focused in on the source of the smell. 

Eeeww. Underneath the bed inside the couch part where the bed stores was a tipped over sippy cup that had been full of milk, but now held some sort of cottage cheesed concoction. It's hard to say if it was there for a week or many weeks. The milk had dripped out of the opening of the sippy cup and had saturated the carpet with this smelly mess. Inside the cup portions of the milk had turned gelatinous, but the center remained liquid. Pulling back the mattress to get a better look the smell was overwhelming. I took the sippy cup to the sink and upon opening the lid another wave of putrescence hit me hard. I turned my head and dumped the contents down the drain, running the facet for several minutes to get the foul smell down the pipes.

Back to the spill with my Little Green I sprayed the area heavily with the Bissell carpet cleaner. The cleaner mixed with the stagnate milk made for an odd odor--half nasty half antiseptic. The Little Green sucked up this foul mixture into its container. This was like the Seinfeld episode with the valet attendant with the BBO (beyond body order). The smell wouldn't get out of Jerry's car and I was facing a similar fate. Several Little Green cleanings, a heavy spray of Febreze, and windows open in the family room for a few hours finally started to lift the smell away. Oh there was still traces of it around for a few days, but I think I've finally exorcised this spoiled milk demon smell.

Now when we have "Couch-Into-A-Bed" Night I keep track of those sippy cups like a prison guard during a lock down. Never again on my watch!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Time Out!

Last Sunday our family went to the Illini men's basketball game. We have tried to go as a family to Illini football and basketball games in the past. We have a family pool of season tickets that we share with my parents and assorted siblings and their spouses and children.

Initially, in the past, it worked well. Our oldest, now almost four, did okay until he turned two. Then the noise of the stadium, including F-16 fly overs, and the din of the Assembly Hall during the Final Four season was too much for him. He said, through tears and screams, that it was "too big."

So we didn't take the kids to any games last season. We thought a year off would be best. 

What a difference a year makes! Sunday game time came and we entered the Assembly Hall, me, the W, the O (our 3 year old), and our 18 month old (the Happy Elf). 

Both boys did very well. We stayed for the whole game. The O's favorite part of the game was in the second half when at the 16:00 minute time out the cheerleaders ran around the Assembly Hall with the big "I" flags. We sit in low C so the big flag went right past us. The Happy Elf's favorite part was a large container of popcorn and a pack of M & Ms.

My favorite part of the game was when the Illini called a time out, my father turned to the O and asked, "Do you know what a time out is?" The O solemnly looked up into his grandfather's face and said with all the seriousness he could muster and in a whisper said, "yes."