Monday, March 31, 2008

Against my better judgement

Against my better judgement (which some might say is an oxymoron) Brad took Zander to the Washington Nationals home opener last night. I was simply concerned that going to a baseball game at 8:00pm (Zander's usual bedtime), after a day that included his first soccer class and a sold-out Laurie Berkner concert, might be pushing it a bit.

Alas, both of my boys came home (at 11:30pm!) so excited, so thrilled, that sometimes it seems best to go against my judgement. Note that I said "sometimes" and in this case "sometimes" means "once."

And it wasn't just the home opening game, it was THE opening of Nationals Park.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Soccer Champ

Okay, so that's a tiny bit of an exaggeration considering today was Zander's first official "class." (We are lucky enough to live in a county that offers all kinds of programs at local rec centers for a nominal fee. In this case, ten soccer classes for $75.00.)

And while I'm fessing up, the one we are enrolled in is actually a "Parent and Child" class to avoid this from happening. So, yeah, most of the time I was right along side of -- or behind -- Zander.

Also in the class is Zander's friend named Champe, who really is a Soccer Champe just by being in the class!

Friday, March 28, 2008

More than you ever needed to know about a child's blanket

Zander loves himself some Taggies (as all the cool kids are saying now).

We have two of the exact same Taggies blankets (or so we thought), since I am anal careful like that. One day, after we thought we had surreptitiously switched them for routine cleaning, Z spread out the new blanket and excitedly said, "I got new tags!" Turns out the tags differ a bit from blanket to blanket.

We also have a Taggies book and a "school" Taggies, which is smaller and is left at...guess where? School! Truth is, Z doesn't really mind substituting the different versions. In fact, sometimes if he is tired in the car (or elsewhere) and Taggies is no where to be found, he'll just ask for something "soft" and any old t-shirt or even a towel will do.

I've heard of folks making their own version of Taggies, but that would require me to know how to sew, and I can't even sew on a button forgot that skill some years ago.

Yesterday, I got an e-mail from the Taggies company and I can't quite decide whether or not they've gone too far with a good thing or if these outfits and stuffed animals are really cute...

P.S. And for some photos of Zander with his beloved Taggies (different pattern than the one pictured above), see here and here.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Outstanding Female Masters Runner

Not me, of course (although I *was* rather outstanding at running to the outlet shops while away this past weekend).

Seems my sister Janet (mentioned here, here, and here) was selected as "Outstanding Female Masters Runner" by the DC Road Runners (DCRRC) for 2007. I'm *trying* to refrain from making jokes about "masters" being another word for "old," especially since folks usually guess that I am the older sister. Obviously, I'm not trying hard enough.

Congrats Janet!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Glad I STILL don't take things personally

I just record them on a blog for future reference...

At dinner last week, Zander told us -- out of the blue -- how when parents argue, sometimes one parent goes to live someplace different and then the child gets to go visit that parent. He heard this from a child at school whose parents are separated. Then he said this:

"I want to live here with daddy and have mommy live someplace else." Well kid, you're welcome for squeezing you out of my you-know-what, months and months of nursing on demand, umpteen gallons of pumped milk, lost sleep, etc. Hmmph. Kids these days.

Brad quickly came the rescue and said he would be sad if I didn't live here b/c I'm his best friend (awwww) and then Zander said he would be sad too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Speed. I am Speed.

As I mentioned yesterday, last weekend we enjoyed a quick get-a-way with some friends. One of the families brought along a toy car that the children can actually drive. And Zander loooooves to drive.

Here is a somewhat uneventful clip of Z behind the wheel. His first passenger is Anna (18 months) and his second passenger is Champe (3.5). I doubled the speed of the video to make it quicker (and to make Grandma Susan nervous), 'cause I'm thoughtful like that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rub-a-dub-dub...

...three kids in a tub.

From left to right: Zander, Champe, and Macy.

We're just back from a quick jaunt to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, joined by two other families, both with two children each. Pictured above are the three-year-olds (actually all are closer to four-years-old now).

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mother Nature's Son

Mother Nature's Son is a Beatles song that Brad introduced to Zander. How we ended up printing out the lyrics and how Zander ended up reading them is a longer story. He can read, but here is singing from memory as much as reading.

It's a really pretty song. You can hear it via YouTube here.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My First Meme!

Everybody sit down -- this is so exciting -- I've been tagged with my first "meme" thanks to wrekehavoc! A meme (rhyming either with dream or with the letter "m," depending on who you ask) is:

An idea that is shared and passed from blog to blog, such as a question posted in one blog and answered in many other blogs.

It was all I could do not to take the day off and do some research on how to do it right/perfectly (and then put off posting it because it's not right or perfect). I'm good at that. But, of course, I *had* to work. (Darn that menacing social insurance non-profit I work for -- might as well be a sweatshop, what with all the health insurance and retirement benefits they give us.)

Regardless, the meme in question is to post a favorite quote and then tag three other bloggers. I was going to go with "only the good die young," but figured that one was probably taken and besides, I'm not in high school anymore. So here goes...

I recently started reading the book, Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane), by Gavin de Becker. (Okay, so I actually started reading it a few months ago and am still only half way through.) Regardless, this paragraph jumped out at me:

Don't ever wonder why women think about risk more often than men do. It is in the cells--and with good reason. Throughout human history, women have protected the children while men protected the village. As the primary caregiver, a new mother must be more than just a careful person, she must become an explorer who can find hazard no matter how cleverly it disguises itself. Little wonder then that mothers become creative geniuses at imagining frightening scenarios. Little wonder that they sometimes see the shadow of danger where there is no danger.

I like it not only because it justifies my every parenting neurosis, but mostly because it, um, justifies my every parenting neurosis. And makes me feel good about it too.

I tag these folks, most of whom are familiar with my general neurosis:

The McAlevey Family. The Internet home of one of my college roommates, who actually *still* talks to me after I accidentally left the oven on, left the door ajar over Thanksgiving break (although I dispute the facts on that one), and did a variety of other nonsensical things no one should have had to live with. Granted she was the one who nuked the popcorn for so long that the building had to be evacuated until the firefighters could figure out the cause of the smoke.

4M. Another DC-area parent (and good friend) who also *still* talks to me after I 'accidentally' graffiti-ed the calendar on her refrigerator and despite the fact that her younger son looks at me and starts to scream. (And she can worry enough to qualify for an honorary jewish mother badge, if I don't say so myself.)

and

And the Beat Goes On. A brand new blogger and old friend from middle (!) and high school.

Uncle Kevin = Guitar Hero

Yesterday evening, we were treated to a somewhat impromptu visit from Brad's older sister, her husband, and their youngest child, who are visiting the DC-area for a few days. Their youngest child, who as you will see in this video, isn't so young. He is now over six feet tall, a sophomore in high school, and plays the electric guitar.

Uncle Kevin was an actor in an earlier life and is now a science teacher. Let's just say, I'm not sure who had more fun hanging out -- Zander or Kevin. Here is a clip of Kevin pretending Zander is his guitar with cousin Logan playing a real electric guitar in the background. Lots of silliness had by all.

(The messy shelves in the background at our neighbor's house, well ignore them. I keep telling those darn neighbors of ours to neaten up, but they don't listen!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Who knew the letter "z" would be so popular?

And speaking of Zander's school, would you believe that almost 40 percent of the children have names that start with the letter "Z?" Granted, there are only 9 or 10 enrolled children, but it's still amazing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Discovery Woods

As I've mentioned before, Zander attends a cool Reggio Emilia-inspired preschool called Discovery Woods. (It appears that the website is down, but I'm including the link anyway for future reference.) And I don't mean "cool" in an "all the cool kids are doing it" way. I mean cool in a "Man, I wish I could go there too" way.

Here are some photos from last week's "hammering/nail/bottle cap" project that I mentioned in this post:

These photos are from the *same* day:

Also on the same day but not shown (because other children were in the photos): getting to know the school snake, holding a puppet show, and reading books. For the record, the other school animals are a turtle, a tarantula (really), a cockroach (really), two geckos, a guinea pig, a rabbit, two cats, two dogs, a toad or two, and three birds.

See below for the icing on the cake (so to speak) -- a typical school lunch menu for the week. (Morning snacks are brought by families of enrolled children, so those are not shown.)

MONDAY: Whole grain spaghetti with homemade tomato and beef sauce. Mix of carrots, corn, and peas. Fresh salad of greens. Choice of organic whole milk or water.

TUESDAY: Grilled pineapple-teriyaki pork chops. French cut green beans. Fresh salad of greens. Choice of organic whole milk or water.

WEDNESDAY: Oven baked chicken thighs. Mix of carrots, corn, and peas. Fresh salad of greens. Choice of organic whole milk or water.

THURSDAY: Broiled, lightly breaded Tilapia filets. Medley of brown and wild rice with soft wheat and rye berries. French cut green beans. Fresh salad of greens. Choice of organic whole milk or water.

FRIDAY: Grilled flank steak. Steamed broccoli rabe. Medley of brown and red rice with pearled barley and rye berries. Fresh salad of greens. Choice of organic whole milk or water.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Baby Loves Disco, Part II

Continued from Part I, here.

Now, part of the whole schtick of Baby Loves Disco (mentioned here) is that they are held in the "hippest nightclubs." As I said more than once while I was there, I don't think I had been in any nightclub since Z was born, hip or not. (Someone, please, remind me if I am cooler than I remember!)

Regardless, there are a few challenges to holding a children's event in a club-setting. The organizers did a fine job of baby-proofing the interior, but decor of the club (The Rock and Roll Hotel) was hard to cover up. Given the age group, this probably wasn't much of a concern, but I thought it was amusing, so I took pictures of some of things that I thought one wouldn't find at, say, Gymboree.

When I mentioned this to Brad on the way home, he told me that he had covered up a sign for a band called "Holy F*ck." (The asterisk was not in the sign though.) And Zander can definitely sound that one out. Now, I'm not a prude (although I did just use an asterisk for a perfectly respectable vowel), or at least I don't *think* I am. Up until this point, I was truly more amused than offended. But, had I seen the "Holy F*ck" sign, I might have been offended.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Baby Loves Disco, Part I

Months ago, our friend Laura of 4M scored us tickets to Baby Loves Disco before it was sold out. What is Baby Loves Disco you ask? Here is some language about the event from their website:

Baby Loves Disco is slowly but surely transforming the hippest night clubs into child proof discos as toddlers, pre-schoolers and parents looking for a break from the routine playground circuit let loose for some post naptime, pre-dinner fun. Make no mistake, this is NOT the Mickey Mouse club, and Barney is Banned. Baby loves disco is an afternoon dance party featuring real music spun and mixed by real djs blending classic disco tunes From the 70s, & 80s guaranteed to get those little booties moving and grooving.

So, we went this past Saturday.

We had been talking it up with Z for a week or so even though we didn't really know what to expect. In fact, the other day on the way home from school he asked me if he could take his latest "project" with him to Baby Loves Disco. I said that probably wouldn't be a good idea because his latest project involved nails, bottle caps, and hammer (more on that soon). Zander said, "I know what I can take -- my disco moves!"

Here's a short clip of Zander's disco moves during some kind of "freeze" dance:

T0 be continued...

Friday, March 14, 2008

Frog Baby

And you thought I was exaggerating when I joked about the frog baby yesterday...here is Zander at two weeks old. Oh, how we swooned. Ribbet.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

“New Gifts for New Babies”

Yesterday, a message with the subject line, “New Gifts for New Babies” showed up in my inbox from the store Red Envelope. I thought the subject line was somewhat amusing since -- what else is there -- “Gifts for Old Babies?" or "Old Gifts for Old Babies?" Maybe it's just my undergraduate journalism training coming through. (Finally. I knew it would be good for something!)

Regardless, I open the e-mail to see this:

That folks, is definitely NOT A NEW BABY! Just a few years ago, it was photos like this that caused a clueless first-time mother (who shall remain nameless) to shop and shop trying to find outfits that would make her frog-looking baby look this cute.

News alert: Newborns do not sit up. Heck, they don’t even smile unless they are passing gas.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

White-Knuckle Terror

I was hesitant to post this clip (from our excursion this weekend, mentioned here) because it documents to the world the kind of parents we are -- the kind that allows their child to go on these types of dangerous rides. You can see Zander gripping the steering wheel for dear life. But, alas, one of the reasons we maintain this blog is to keep track of such important milestones, so here it is:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Ball-sy Kid at Chuck E. Cheese

We went to Chuck E. Cheese on Sunday to meet Elizabeth, one of Zander's close friends from his old school, and her family.

E and Z wanted to take a turn on a car ride. There were three children in the ride when we arrived. After we waited while those three children went twice, I asked them to get out so Z and E could take a turn. Two of the kids hopped out. A third, older boy stayed.

He then tried to convince me that there was room for him and the two younger children. There probably was room, but it would have been very tight. It was the point anyway.

And let me tell you, this kid did not give up. He kept scooting over saying, "There's room!" He'd look me right in the face and just ignore my requests for him to get out. Actually, I was surprisingly firm and did not make requests -- I told him matter of factly that his turn was over and he was welcome to get back in line if he wanted another. Meanwhile, I'm thinking to myself, "I know nothing about how to deal with this age group!" Finally, he appeared to be getting out, so I lift up Elizabeth and Zander and put them in. Turns out the older boy just hung on the site of the ride the whole time!

P.S. My suggestion for an honest Chuck E. Cheese marketing slogan: Prepping children for casinos and adults for migraines.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Food for Thought

A good article in yesterday's Washington Post by Deborah Tannen (author of You Just Don't Understand: Men and Women in Conversation) about gender and how we view Hillary Clinton:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/07/AR2008030702844.html

Family Movie Night: Pooh's Heffalump Movie

To follow-up on really important matters (election, what election?), here is my long-awaited, much-anticipated review of Pooh's Heffalump Movie, mentioned a few weeks ago in this post about family movie night.

It was pretty darn good.

Now, I'm not going to compare it with say, Silence of the Lambs (one of the all-time scariest movies in my book). But I *will* compare it to Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo. It's not that I didn't enjoy Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo because I very much *did* enjoy them. But, they are not the ideal movie for our somewhat, possibly, maybe, highly sensitive 3.5 year old. Both have significant scary parts (where parents either die or get separated from their offspring), have menacing and/or potentially scary creatures, and are on the long side. (I will note, for the record, that my brother says I need to loosen up a bit and expose Z to these things before he is exposed to them at a friend's house. And I readily that admit I tend to air on the over-protective side.)

But, like most parents of preschoolers, we already deal with a host of scary things each night and don't need to add any more just for kicks. And although I'm trying hard not to pigeonhole my child, he does tend to be on the sensitive side. (Example: playing "Duck, Duck, Goose," for the first time yesterday, he broke into tears when he was tagged "Goose.") It's not good or bad, it's just sensitive.

Enter Pooh's Heffalump Movie. Up until very recently, Z had minimal exposure to the whole series so I wasn't sure he would even be interested in the film. (Can I call it a "film?") But, I read about it on commonsensemedia.org and thought it would be perfect for our next family movie night.

Indeed, Z was enthralled for the entire 68 minutes. The story, about diversity and friendship, is sweet and just about the right speed for children Zander's age. He did end up a bit afraid during some of the more suspenseful parts, but did not ask that we fast forward through them. Granted, Brad and I were not exactly on the edge of our seats, but we weren't completely bored either.

The only major drawback that I could see is the rampant commercialization of the Winnie the Pooh characters. Why just yesterday I *had* to buy Z a cute little stuffed Lumpy. FYI, you can see a trailer (after a short advertisement) here.

P.S. Friday night we were treated to some spontaneous babysitting by Grandma Paula and, for the record, No Country for Old Men, very good but definitely not for children.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"That was easy!"

For reasons I am not totally sure, we have one of those annoying "easy" buttons from Staples. (You can see and hear it in action on YouTube here.) I hid it at some point a few months ago but, unfortunately, Zander stumbled across it again this evening.

"That was easy!"
"That was easy!"
"That was easy!"
"That was easy..."

...was about all I heard for ten minutes. Then, he asked me why there was an "easy" button in the first place and whose voice was in it. As I tried to explain...

"That was easy!"
"That was easy!"
"That was easy!"
"That was easy!"

After about a 30-second pause, Zander says, "Where's the 'hard' button?" It was all I could do not to make a crack about Office Depot.

Either way, you can believe that button will magically disappear again tonight.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Indoor Playground or Acid Trip?

Locals might recognize this face from the madhouse indoor playground at Tysons Corner Center. Others might recognize it from a bad acid trip. (That means you, Mom.)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chopsticks, Vitamints, and Constructors

Some of Z's current and cutest mis-speaks...

Chopsticks. Sure, these are things we eat with and Z has a cute set all his own too. However, we introduced him to Chapstick a few months ago and now there is no telling the two apart. We don’t actually correct him directly when he says, “My lips are dry. I need some chopsticks.” And, yes, he pluralizes it. But, we will say, “Okay, here’s your Chaaaapstick.” Three seconds later: “Thanks for the chopsticks mom.”

VitaMINT. Every now and then we remember to give Zander a chewable vitamin (usually when we’re feeling especially guilty about all the sushi and chicken wings). He will always, always, call it a vitaMINT and always, always ask for a second vitaMINT.

Constructor. With our recent forays preschool gymnastics and ski lessons, we've been talking a lot about teachers and instructors. Just the other day Zander saw the pin (below) he got after “graduating” from his first ski lesson and he asked me the name of his Constructor.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Here Come the 123s

Here Come the 123s is the latest They Might Be Giants (TMBG) CD/DVD and we’re having a lot of fun with it in our house. We were eagerly awaiting the release of this CD (tells you how exciting our lives are) since we first heard their last children’s CD, Here Come the ABCs.

My personal favorite is a track called “Pirate Girls Nine.” Many children’s artists include a requisite song about pirates – but usually not one about girls! (If only they had this song when I was growing up, maybe I wouldn't kvetch. All. The. Time.)

Anyway, Zander likes to listen to the song “Infinity” over and over again. The first time he heard it, he asked how many zeros the number infinity had in it – three or four. I did my darnedest to explain, but found myself using words like “gazillion” and “katrillion” and gave up before I confused him.

Another of Z’s current favorites from this CD is “I Can Add.” There is a little segment where the band sings in Spanish, a verse Zander likes to repeat again and again. Let’s face it, “Dieceséis” is a fun word to say (and even more fun to hear a three-year-old sing it).

Here is a YouTube video of one of the track called, “Seven Days of the Week (Never Go To Work).” It’s silly but gives you a flavor of both the songs and the DVD, which are, um, silly and a whole lot of fun.

And if you can stand more, here is an amazon.com link to snippets of all 27 tracks.

Monday, March 3, 2008

A Basketball Game and a Hodpodge Pit Crew


Last night Brad took Zander to his first professional basketball game -- the Washington Wizards vs. the New Orleans Hornets. (Thanks for the tickets Aunt Janet!)

As I've mentioned before, Zander is already a seasoned fan of spectator sports (see this post and this post). And although he was really excited to go to the game, he kept saying he was concerned that his team was going to lose. We tried to emphasize that there was value in playing the game, regardless of winning or losing, but I don't think he bought it because after the game, he came running in the house and said, "Our team winned!"

He woke up a little early this morning, called me into his room quite urgently and asked if Antawn Jamison (one of the Washington Wizard's star players) could be on his pit crew with Roo and Lumpy (the Heffalump from Winnie the Pooh's Heffalump Movie). This is what the pit crew would look like:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

She does this on Sunday mornings for fun

What looked like a potentially very bad day (after leaving my delicious, decadent, steaming, Starbucks venti latte on top of the car and driving away), we headed to our old neighborhood to watch Aunt Janet run in a 12k at Burke Lake Park.

We then stayed to watch and enjoy the great weather while she picked up her medal (and $5 Subway gift certificate) for finishing 1st in her AARP age group. Kidding, kidding. (She *did* finish 1st in her age group and she is not qualified to join AARP.)