Monday, December 31, 2007

The Stove Pipe

One of my son's favorite books is a story, based on the three little pigs, called The Three Little Javelinas. It's a terrific book. I would know since I've read it about 900 times. My husband's brother and his family live on a Navajo reservation in northeastern Arizona and bought this for my son since it kind of has a southwestern/multicultural twist. Plus the illustrations are awesome. Anyway he loves this book.

Toward the end, the coyote (not the big bad wolf in this telling) can't blow down the adobe house that the sister javelina built (as a third child and only girl I closely identify with her ingenuity and forward thinking) so he climbs up on the roof, makes himself really skinny and tries to slide down the stove pipe. And so beings my cognitive journey into the mind of a three year old...

On this particular page of the book, the coyote is standing on one foot in a prowl posture with a big sinister and toothy grin. I noticed that every time we would read this book my son would roll onto his stomach and look away. Then one day my son ask to wear his "skinny" red shirt.

Me: What?
Him: With the skinny!
Me: With the what?
Him (pulling down the shirt): With the skinny alligator.

He shows me his red shirt with an alligator on it and the alligator is showing all of his teeth so my son says Mommy, he's doing the skinny! with kind of a nervous, yet enthusiastic giggle. And now I get it. Sort of.

For weeks he continued to ask for this book but then roll away when the skinny coyote page appeared. Then he started asking me to turn the page back so he didn't have to see the "skinny". Okay. Then we went on a hike near our house and he saw a water drainage pipe and he pointed and shouted It's the stove pipe! And then he showed all his teeth and said he was the skinny which sent him into hysterics.

And since then every time we pass by something that's tall and cylindrical or even just cylindrical, he points out the stove pipe. In the airport on the way to Israel we saw about 57 stove pipes - lots of exposed architecture in airports. Yes, sweety, there's another stove pipe. Imagine that.

Then it gets even more interesting. We get to my in laws and there's a picture of his aunt Jenny (my mother-in-law's sister) in the office and she's got this big toothy grin and my son asked if we could turn the picture around because aunt Jenny was acting like a skinny coyote. What I wouldn't give to spend some time in his little brain...

But our journey came to a climax later that week when something blew up at the potash factory where my father-in-law used to be a project manager. They asked him to come down and figure out what to do so he went with my husband and my son for some generational male bonding time. This place is literally a gazillion stove pipes all welded together. I only heard the story second hand but apparently my son was in total shock when he went in there and saw these giant furnaces and pipes and lord knows what else is in that factory.

Me: Where did you go?
Him: To Saba's work.
Me: Where does Saba work?
Him: In a stove pipe!
Me: You went to Saba's factory?
Him: No, his stove pipe where he burns the skinny coyote.

So I give a big smile and he says, you're being skinny mommy. And I say, thank you. Who doesn't like to be called skinny? Even if, in his world, it means sly and toothy.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Meaning to Wean

We're still in Israel and thankfully everyone has adjusted to the ten hour time zone difference. We're having a terrific time. Grandparents are doing plenty of babysitting and my husband and I have been taking full advantage.

But this isn't a travel log so I won't bore you. With the travel details anyway. I'll bore you with other details. My daughter's been slowly weaning herself over the last few months, basically since I went back to work when she was six months old. I pumped twice a day at work for nearly three months after going back but it was getting to be too annoying to spend twenty minutes on the pump only to get one ounce of milk. Plus there wasn't exactly a designated place to pump so I'd end up hiding in the corner of an empty office with no window blinds hoping that no one would barge in. It wasn't super conducive to milk flow. So of course my supply dropped. And my daughter was eating a lot more food by then so that was fine. But I wasn't ready for her to give up the boob altogether. I actually really like nursing. So I continued to nurse her in the evenings and the mornings and once at night.

But then she sort of wanted a bottle more than a boob before bed and then sometimes I'd leave for work in the morning right after she woke up so I didn't have the chance to feed her...and little by little those feedings went the way of the pump. But I continued to indulge her night feeding(s) because I didn't want her to give up on nursing altogether. And that's where we are right now. She cries at 4 or 5am and we nurse together. I think once we're home after the trip she'll have to give up her early morning beverage just because I need my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. So I'm trying to savor these last few pre-dawn sessions and all of my daughter's funny nursing idiosyncrasies. For example...

Sometimes she spends the whole time twirling her hair. So adorable. Or she'll have one arm wrapped around my back and be whapping me on the chest with her free arm. Less adorable. But by far my favorite move is when she takes out her pincer and tries to pull the freckles off my chest. Or the flowers off my pajamas. One by one she goes in with her little claw trying to remove whatever markings, blemishes, or loose threads are in her field of vision. All the while making her snarfle noises. Sometimes she catches my eye and gives me a smile which I always appreciate. But then it's right back to work de-pilling my sweater.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Out of the Office

So we're in Israel right now and I'm not really finding the time to write. Not for lack of good material. Let's see...the 17 hour flight...jet lag with a three year old and a baby...the duck that chased my son at the petting daughter sucking down three falafel balls, a whole banana and a bowl of cauliflower...I'm sure that will look lovely on the other end...

Anyway, I'll recount the stories at another time, when I'm a little more lucid.

laila tov...and to all a good night...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Joy ride

Some days you have a near miss and for that reason only you can laugh about it.

I took the kids to Michael's the other day to buy some glue. It's a new Michael's and the parking lot behind the store is newly paved and on a very very slight slope. I parked on the side and grabbed a cart. Put the baby in the seat, buckled her in, and then angled the cart in toward the car while I reached in the front seat to grab a piece of Hanukkah gelt for my son since his teacher wouldn't pass it out to the class. I forgot about the no candy rule. But gelt's not's traditional food for the festival of lights symbolizing the richness of life and Jewish fondness for chocolate...We get into a discussion about which piece he wants. The gold one. No, the silver one with the gold in the middle. No, the other one! when I hear a distant rattling. I look up and my daughter is about ten meters away rolling through the parking lot, clapping and saying weeeeee...

Him: Baby's flying away!

So I'm running after her and I'm laughing because she looks so cute waving her arms and smiling. It was only much later that I felt that tightness in my chest and that little wave of dread playing the "what if she'd tipped" scenarios in my head.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mind your keys and shoes

I've found that every now and then we manage to channel my son's non-clinical obsessiveness into worthwhile habits. For instance, I finally decided that we should take our shoes off at the door before entering the house. With the baby slithering around all the time and the two of them sick for weeks on end, I decided I'd had enough of dirt and bacteria. Plus several month ago, when I made this decision, the carpeting in my kids' room had reached near saturation with urine. It was time for a deep clean.

So I had the carpets professionally washed and from that day told my son that we had to take our shoes off before we went inside. And he obeyed, which was completely unexpected since he's also obsessed with shoes. But not just any shoes. My shoes. Platforms. Peep toes. Strappy. Cowgirl shit-kickers. Knee high zip-ups. Loafers. Maryjanes. Crocs. You name it. So he would come home from school and parade around in shoes for the rest of the evening. And he's surprisingly well-balanced in heels. But I was getting tired of him wearing my shoes all the time. So the new rule not only prevented tracking in dirt from outside, it also meant he could no longer wear my shoes in the house. Brilliant!

So now, shoes off is his thing. The minute we get in the house he shouts SHOES OFF! If I walk into the kitchen to hang up my keys or put down the mail I get a lecture about wearing shoes in the house. Sometimes I can't get my shoes off one-handed and the baby needs to be changed so we go straight to their room and then he lets me have it for wearing shoes on the carpet. And fine, he's right. But does he have to be so obnoxious about it?

And keys too. If I don't hang up my keys on the chicken hook in the kitchen, I get berated in a sort of "what did I just tell you?" sing-songy kind of tone. Probably the same tone I give him fifty times a day. But the truth is, if I forget to put the keys on the chicken then I end up leaving them somewhere and searching for them the next morning while I'm rushing to work. So it's good that he reminds me.

But he has so many rituals these days that I can't keep them straight and if I mess one up it could launch an hour long tantrum. I'll never forget the time I accidentally flushed the toilet for him. He used to go in a little potty on the floor and then I'd dump it and clean the potty and he would pull up his pants, flush the toilet and wash his hands. That was the routine. One time I dumped the poop and then just flushed out of habit. I don't know, you see poop in a toilet and you automatically feel compelled to flush. Well now we know where the term "losing your shit" comes from. He cried for an hour that he wanted his poo poo back.

I know that toddlers need routine and it helps them organize all of the new things they experience on a constant basis, but there are some very murky waters between creating a reasonable framework in which your child feels safe and indulgence in behavior that, should it continue into later life, would most certainly be considered neurotic.

In the long term, who knows. But at least in the short term I no longer have to share my shoes with my three year old. If only I could figure out how to curb his obsession with cell phones.

Monday, December 3, 2007


We spent the night on Saturday at my husband's aunt's house in Santa Cruz. It was great actually because my son LOVES Aunt Jenny so we dropped him off with his sister and then went to my sister-in-law's 40th birthday party. They also live in Santa Cruz. Can't beat free babysitting from a favorite auntie.

And if Aunt Jenny were a blogger she would write her own account of the evening but from this end of the wine bottle, it was a really fun evening.

The next morning was less fun namely because while I was in the other room putting on my clothes (I swear, the minute I turn my back...) my son tripped over himself and whacked his face on the brick fireplace. OUCH! So I heard the ominous thud, then the eerie silence, then the wailing. And there was lots of blood but I couldn't really tell where it was coming from because for the ten minutes before the accident he was putting Aunt Jenny's rouge all over his nose and forehead.

Did he break his nose? Crack open his forehead? In fact I think he bit through his lip. Hard to say. But it was bloody and scrapey. So I held him and pressed a washcloth against his mouth and rocked him and sang songs until he caught his breath. And once the bleeding stopped I washed off all the make-up to get a sense for the real damage which thankfully was limited to the right side of his mouth. He looked like he'd been in a playground brawl.

This morning he commented that his boo boo is brown now and not red.

Me: That means it's getting better honey and it's going away.
Him: Ya, it's going away by himself. To Aunt Jenny's.
Me: Your boo boo's going back to Aunt Jenny's?
Him: Ya, to the fire where I got it. It's going back there.

So THAT'S where the boo boo's go when they're all gone. I learn new things from this kid every day.