Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Pesach roundup

Late, and incomplete, but it's been sitting here as a draft so days so here you go.

1. My CSIL commented to me last week that she loves the stage that both Avtalyon and his youngest cousin are in, where all they want to do is walk around and pick things up and put them down. Add to Avtalyon's list, though, going up and down stairs. We live in an apartment, and ergo have no stairs; my CSIL lives in a three-level house with an extra set of stairs to the basement. That means no fewer than three flights of stairs, conveniently carpeted for your stair-climbing pleasure. Avtalyon got quite good at going up. Going down, however, was more of a problem, because he was convinced--in the absence of any evidence whatsoever--that he could go down like an adult, as in, standing up, one foot at a time. I caught him most of the time; he does have a couple of pretty shtark bruises, too.

2. The city that my CSIL lives in has a very large indoor mall complete with a rather impressive amusement park. As in, with a rollercoaster and everything. None of us were about to get on that, but both Barak and Iyyar had a blast on the kiddie rides--especially the one where you could get into various vehicles (firetruck, tractor, forklift, helicopter) and go around and around. The helicopter even went up and down. As soon as the ride stopped, instead of getting off, they'd just run to the next appealing-looking vehicle and get on (the operator was very nice about it, since there wasn't a line). Next to that was a similar ride with motorcycles. You can just imagine Iyyar on that one. He came off it looking dazed. "Go onna motorcycle. Go vroom vroom. I like it!"

3. The house that my CSIL lives in is equipped with not only stairs, but two couches with paranormal properties. When you sit in them you can't... get... up.

4. Today (This is where I am starting to finish off this days-old draft) I decided to try to start in earnest with the toilet-training business. I have enlisted Barak's help in this by promising him equal share in any available potty treats, thereby acquiring for myself a more than willing assistant. He has, a few times, demonstrated the Art of Pishing in the Potty without Getting Your Pants Wet to Iyyar. Iyyar has been impressed, but uninclined to follow suit. Today, I saw Iyyar look like he was about to poop, and whisked him off to the toilet--only to have nothing happen.

Barak turned up helpfully with a box of trucks, and sat there entertaining Iyyar for a while, periodically exhorting him to poopage. No dice. I was in the kids' room with Avtalyon, listening in, feeling it better not to interfere. After a while, Barak popped his head in the door.

"Imma, I needa poop potty right now."

"Okay, go in the other bathroom."

"No, I think I'm going to show Iyyar how to do it. Then he'll know how."

"Um, okay. That's a great idea." Right?

You'll have to forgive the graphic nature of the following, but it was so hilarious I can't resist. This is the conversation (one-sided) as I overheard it from the next room:

"Iyyar! I'm going to poop potty now, Iyyar. This is how you do it, okay? First you take your pants off. Not all the way, just like this. Then you sit on the potty. [Sound of Barak ascending.] Then you put your penis here, so that you don't pish on the floor. Then you let all the pish come out. [Sound effects left to imagination.] Then you need to poop. You have to wait for the poop to come out. When you hear [I swear I am not making this up] a squishy sound, that means the poop came out. Okay? [More sound effects here.] That's the poop coming out. Do you hear it? I have to let it all come out. [More sound effects.] There! Now I pooped. Now I have to wipe my tush. [Pause.] Imma! Where are the wipes? There aren't any wipes in here, Imma!"

I attempted to deliver the desired item with a straight face. I think I failed.

For the record, Iyyar spent most of the afternoon naked from the waist down and did manage to pish, but not poop, in the potty. He kept asking for a diaper, and I kept returning him to the bathroom; eventually Abba got home and clearly was going to have a nervous breakdown when he saw the diaper-free child on Shabbos afternoon, so I gave Iyyar a diaper, into which he promptly pooped. And Abba got to change it.

5. Avtalyon, for the first time, showed me his nose today! I've been trying to get him to do this for a few days. "Iyyar, where's your nose? Barak, where's your nose? Abba, where's your nose?" Everyone dutifully puts index finger on nose. "Avtalyon, where's your nose?" And Avtalyon puts his finger in his... mouth. But today--nose!

Avtalyon is being particularly hilarious lately. Today he figured out how to get on and off the blue living room couch, a situation which requires close monitoring because once he's up there he's so excited he jumps. He's also very, very into books lately. He'll bring me books to read, and sit on the floor looking at books, pointing at things, explaining them to me in great detail, and--funniest of all--laughing, a lot, at whatever it is he finds so funny.

6. One more Avtalyon thing. While we were away for Pesach, I was sure he was close to stopping nursing. He never nursed for more than a few seconds during the day, a few minutes at night. He was just too busy, too distracted--more than once he'd slide off my lap after an abortive nursing session and go straight for a sippy cup of water. Well, fine! But the day after we got home, that was all over--he's back to a nice luxurious nurse first thing in the morning, after naps, and at least once at night, not to mention a snack or two in the afternoon. He's only just fifteen months, so I'm glad--I wasn't ready to stop yet.

7. I'm going to post this now, but remind me to tell you about Avtalyon and the grape ices. I want to do that one justice, but it's time for me to go to bed!

Monday, April 20, 2009

One more

I almost forgot this one, so before I do:

Iyyar had a cold over Pesach, complete with abundantly runny nose. It ran so often and so fulsomely that he did not object to nose-wiping, but, on the other hand, he did not have any inclination to stop what he was doing to go wipe his nose himself on, say, a tissue. Too much trouble, you see. The result of this was layer upon shiny layer of snot on both forearms of all his shirts, deposited before he'd even finished with breakfast, and me chasing him, mostly futilely, with Kleenex for much of our stay.

Usually he'd get to his nose with his sleeve long before I got near him with the tissue. Sometimes, though, it was close. And on one memorable occasion, as I reached toward him, tissue in hand, to stem the tide, he looked right at me and held up his hands in the manner of someone about to graciously and generously, with great self-sacrifice, save another the trouble of a particularly distasteful task. Hands out, shoulders up, head a little back:

"It's okay, Imma. It's okay. I just gonna use my sleeve."

Home, no place like.

We are back after a lovely and fun-filled Pesach trip to my CSIL, formerly known as my DSIL. (Formerly Domestic, now Canadian). The ages of the children in residence during our stay: 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and 1. Parent: child ratio of 1:2, which sounds like it should really be manageable, doesn't it? In fact it was: the "big kids," defined for these purposes as any child 4 and over, played so independently that much of the time we weren't sure where they were--upstairs or in the basement? The babies spent their time doing what one-year-olds do best: walking around in circles picking things up, chewing on them, and dropping them for something more interesting a few minutes later. As for Iyyar and the cousin a few months older than him... well. Some of the time they played beautifully. There were a couple of memorable afternoons of peaceful playing of Lego. But there was also cousinly war on a scale only seen at that exact age, an age where a particularly offensive wave of the hand can be cause for... well...

Scene: the van. We are all piled in on the way to the airport, to which we are being chauffered by Uncle Yaakov.

Me: Iyyar, did you have fun at Tanta Sara's house?

Iyyar: Yeah!

Me: Did you play with [cousin]?

Iyyar (less enthusiastically): Yeah.

Me: Is he your friend?

Iyyar: No.

Me: Why not?

Iyyar: He bited me. He bited me with his teef. He bited me like DIS (giving graphic reenactment of teeth on fingers.

Well then.

That aside, the kids had a fantastic time, which I may or may not recount more fulsomely later on if and as time permits. However, I won't postpone what was possibly the sweetest moment of the whole stay. To wit:

Tanta Sara's house has three floors. (This is not the sweet moment. This is exposition.) There is a basement, where we were sleeping, which has two bedrooms, laundry and a playroom; a main floor; and the upstairs, where the kids' bedrooms are. Iyyar is still not enthusiastic about stairs, but he was going up and down them a lot at Tanta Sara's because he didn't have much choice. He does seem to be doing better on them (and continuing to eat like crazy and sleep 13 hours a night--he's got to be growing). At some point last week I was in the basement with Iyyar when I noticed that he had a dirty diaper. I'd changed the last diaper in the main floor bedroom, and had left the diaper-changing equipment up there.

"Come on, Iyyar, let's go change your diaper." I started up the stairs, with Iyyar coming along behind, surprisingly cooperatively. Once in the bathroom I realized, oops--no wipes. Oh no, wait--I left them upstairs. So I started up the second flight of stairs, meaning to grab the wipes and meet Iyyar downstairs. I didn't expect him to follow me up, but he did. Which is why, as I started down the second flight of stairs, I heard, around the bend in the staircase, Iyyar, huffing and puffing his way toward me, hand over foot over hand, giving himself a little pep talk with each step:

"My Imma's up dere. My Imma's up dere." Pause. Heavy breathing, gathering of strength for the next step. Then again, "My Imma's up dere. My Imma's up dere!"

His Imma came down to meet him.

Monday, April 06, 2009

From the mouths of, &c.

1. On Thursday, I was feeling in a generous kind of mood and decided to bake cupcakes for No Reason At All. (Well, Yehudis's kids were coming over, so that was the excuse, but really it was because I was so relieved about Iyyar.) I had meant them to be for Shabbos too, but by the time Friday afternoon rolled around there were only 6 left and we were having lunch guests. This is how I found myself baking another batch of cupcakes at 5 PM on Friday with all of my children in eager attendance in the kitchen.

Iyyar dropped the paper liners into the pans for me and Barak was standing at the counter observing. I was using a mix, because of the time constraints, and thought I'd try to save a bit more time by pouring the batter directly from the bowl into the cupcake tins instead of spooning it in. Bad idea; predictably, I spilled it all over the place.

"Imma, you spilled!"

"I know, I know. " I got a paper napkin and wiped off the top of the pans.

"I don't think there's enough in there. Are those ones going to be filled?"

"When they're baked they'll be full. They rise in the oven. If you fill the cups up all the way with batter, they spill over the side."

"You spilled it over the side."

"I know, but that's because I was in a hurry and I wasn't being careful. I wasn't being careful and that's why I made a mess."

"Yeah, I noticed that."

2. Iyyar is still not feeling great, still kind of wobbly on his feet, and still not into stairs. If I try to get him to come up or go down, mostly he just cries and waits for me to carry him. Most of the day he's happy, but he definitely seems off to me. I guess I'll just bring him back for another checkup after Pesach if he's still out of sorts. In the meantime, he does seem to be growing. He's certainly eating enough. Yesterday I wanted to make some pre-Pesach pizza, which was a challenge because I had a) no tomato sauce and b) no parve cheese for Iyyar. So I made myself a pizza with regular cheese and Trader Joe's red pepper dip (adequate, but not really recommended) and made Iyyar a pizza with dough, olive oil, and a little sea salt, and a bowl of dip for, well, dipping purposes. His pizza was a good inch thick and filled a 9" pie pan. He ate the entire thing, singing the happy food song the whole time.

3. Iyyar's speech is really picking up, and I hear him also using some of Barak's turns of phrase. "I willn't" instead of "I won't," is a big one. He also gives great kisses. Sometimes I try to get one by pretending to cry. "Iyyar, I need a kiss!" [sob, sob]. He comes over and diligently gives me a kiss on the cheek, sometimes even two. This week, I asked for a kiss without first going through the crying routine. He promptly came over and gave me the requested peck on the cheek, then, eyebrows up, in a tone of voice that was sort of preemptively scolding: "No cry. Don't cry, Imma, kay? Don't cry."

4. Avtalyon likes to wave. He's been waving for months, but lately he's been getting more of a kick out of it, just as a way of sort of keeping the lines of communication open. Sometimes he even waves at me while nursing. Hi, Imma! It's me! It's me down here! He doesn't nurse that much during the day anymore--places to go, people to see, you know--but is back to waking up once or twice a night for a nice long nurse. I know it won't last long, so I don't mind much.

5. Barak is really, really excited about our upcoming Pesach travels. For days he's been asking me when it's going to be Tuesday, how many airplanes we're going to go on, when we're not going to be eating chametz anymore, etc. However, he seems to have a little bit of confusion over our actual destination and the cousins who await us there, and Israel and the cousins he knows there. The other day he let me know that really, he'd rather be going to Israel, and when are we going to be moving to Israel to live the whole day? I told him not for a while, but first we're going to go away for Pesach. And on the way, we will stop at the doughnut store. He seemed satisfied with that, for the time being anyway.

Friday, April 03, 2009

In which we return to our regularly scheduled blogging

Still wobbly-legged with relief and feeling like someone who has just dodged a hailstorm of bullets. It seems slightly unreal to just go back to cute kid stories, but that's why I'm here, right?

This is what happened this morning:

(Background: I am a little bit of an, um, eclectic dresser. I don't pay much attention to what I wear and do not stop to think, say, what color my tichel and shoes are before putting on a purple raincoat, a bright pink backpack, and multicolored gloves made of sock yarn. Sometimes the tichel is orange with sparkly stripes and the shoes are light blue and the socks are... oh, well, you get the picture. I tend to be pretty colorful, and most of the other immas and mommies around here tend to wear an awful lot of black.)

This morning I came into the kitchen wearing a black Parkhurst beret, for no reason other than that it was on the top of my tichel drawer. Midway through breakfast-cooking (I made scrambled eggs) Barak noticed this.

"Imma, why are you wearing a hat?"

"You mean, why do I wear a hat, or why am I wearing a hat and not a tichel today?"

"Why are you wearing a hat and not a tichel today?"

"I don't know. It was the closest thing to my hand. Do you like it or do you not like it?"

"I don't like it."

"Why not?"

"I think it's not so pretty."

"Why isn't it pretty?"

"It's just black. I think a tichel is more prettier than that."

"Black hats aren't pretty?"

"No. They're just boring. I think you should wear a tichel."

"Okay. Go find a tichel in my drawer and I'll change."

He ran and got me a long pink stripey tichel, which I put on. He looked pleased.

"Is that better?"

"Yeah. That's much more prettier than just black."

Personally, I agree with him.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

In which I am delighted to assume the role of mother who worried herself sick for no reason

Iyyar does not have Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

See, I can say [horrible disease] now because he DOESN'T HAVE IT.

Although, from reading this list and looking at him, you might understand why both the doctor and I were worried. More than half the list is applicable to him to some degree. But there is a blood test that, while not diagnostic if positive, rules it out if negative, and it was totally, definitively negative.

Thank God.

The doctor thinks he's just a little weak and uncoordinated, which is what I thought before I noticed the stairs. He doesn't have a good explanation for why stairs have suddenly become a problem, and just said to keep an eye on it; my regular pediatrician put in a referral for physical therapy. I don't see any other new changes, and am not worrying about anything (else) dire. I'm assuming it's just a growth spurt.

Thank God.

* * *

We now return to our regularly scheduled kid updates. Want a few? Oh, I knew you did:

1. Iyyar (Iyyar! Who is fine!) has had nary a whisper of tummy trouble since the triple whammy of pinworms, dairy sensitivity and tonsils were all dealt with. He is, however, now having multiple bowel movements a day--usually two or three. Tonight, I'd changed his diaper and gotten him into pajamas and I heard a suspicious noise. Iyyar knew I'd heard it, and gave me a somewhat defensive look.

"Iyyar, did you poop?"

"No! Not poopy!"

"Can I check!"

"No! No want you to grab it!"


"I don't want you to grab my pants!"

2. We are, B"H about a billion times over, going away for Pesach, to visit my husband's sister and her family (Hi Sara! Iyyar's fine, Sara!). We are all tremendously excited about this and, secondarily, I am personally thrilled not to have to be making Pesach. I always feel that I owe sort of a karmic debt to the universe when I don't have to make Pesach, which I attempt to repay by facilitating the Pesach-making of others. So tonight, we had over most of Yehudis's kids so that she could turn over her kitchen. Dizzy with relief this afternoon, I decided to make cupcakes AND franks in blanks in addition to the spaghetti and meatballs I had planned; when Yehudis's kids walked in the door, they were mightily pleased.

YK: What smells really good? Did you make pretzels?

Me: No, I made cupcakes.

YK: You made CUPCAKES? For Shabbos?

Me: Some of them are for Shabbos, but I made enough that everybody can have one right now.

YK (reverently): Wow. And we also get meatballs and spaghetti?

Me: Yup. And also franks and blanks.

YK (quietly): Wow. You use your oven a lot. You use your oven a lot to make all of your really great food.

I will point out here that I do not make franks and blanks OR cupcakes with any regularity. I just made cupcakes for the second time in about a decade; the franks and blanks are Yehudis's favorite so I usually make them when she's involved. I would never consider such a menu for just my own kids, certainly not on a weeknight. But I don't think I have ever heard such total mealtime silence from so many kids as when everyone was shoveling in dinner tonight.

3. Speaking of food, one of my more reliable vegetable delivery vehicles is carrot pancakes. I make the Joy of Cooking basic pancake recipe, with no sugar, whole wheat flour, and three large carrots, peeled and grated fine, added at the end. Everyone loves these and I let Barak and Iyyar eat theirs with maple syrup, or, as they both call it, "maple syriup." Avtalyon ate four and a half of them, and they are not small. After dinner, Barak had an announcement.

"Imma! Imma, you know what Imma? You know what I think? I think you should make just carrot pancakes. I think you should make them for dinner every night. That way, I'm not ever going to kvetch. I'll just eat them all up. Okay, Imma? JUST carrot pancakes. EVERY night. Okay?"

I didn't agree to that, but I appreciated the compliment.

4. Avtalyon has recently figured out how to climb onto Barak and Iyyar's toddler beds. He had about one day of doing this with some difficulty and now can do it in a heartbeat with no trouble at all. The only trouble involved is that once he's up there, he's so delighted with himself that he stands up. And jumps. That part is a problem.

5. A friend of ours gave us some pirate hats lately, left over from Purim. She gave us three. I had in mind that the big boys would have two and the third would be in reserve for the inevitable Hat Tragedy. But no. Avtalyon wants his hat as well. He can't quite get it on himself, and when you put it on for him it is so huge it sags all the way to his shoulders on both sides. But he is about the cutest little potbellied pirate you ever did see.

I am so, so, so relieved I can't even begin to express it. I am so grateful to be able to just write updates on my kids. My kids, who are here, and safe, and healthy, and fine.

Thank God.