Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Owen Helps

Owen always wants to help us do whatever it is we are doing these days.  He will forcefully say, “You help me!” by which he means, having mixed up his pronouns, “I help you.”  In the morning he wants to help me feed the cats (which means he wants to sit up on the counter and play with all the stirring utensils while I feed the cats and try to make sure he doesn’t fall off), and help me feed Dorothy (by using the scoop in the kibble bin, although generally not using it to scoop kibble into Dorothy’s dish), and he absolutely insists upon “helping” me wash dishes (which of course means he pours water out of a cup, often onto the counter and always on to the front of his shirt).

Unhelpful though his helping is, it is always much worse to not let him help, unless of course one enjoys tantrums and crying.

Lately he has become obsessed with scissors, and kept sneaking the cats' nail clippers and then trying to cut something with them.  So last weekend, I bought him a preschool pair of scissors, green, with all sorts of safety mechanisms in place.  He can’t use them with one hand yet, but loves for me to hold paper up so he can close the scissors on the paper with two fists.  After he has done this for awhile, and we are surrounded in little scraps of paper (that were more ripped using the scissors as claws, then cut using the scissors as scissors), he will happily run and get the dustpan and handbroom and sweep up (some) of the paper and run it to the trashcan.  We do have to be a little careful with his helping to throw things away, because he tends to throw the baby out with the bathwater—he’ll throw out food, for example, and the bowl that the food is in.

Last weekend Owen helped Sean make me a birthday cake for my birthday.  He very much enjoyed watching the mixer mix the cake and then the icing, and then he helped Sean ice the cake.  Ever the picky eater, he wouldn’t trust me and take a lick of the icing from the bowl, but loved it when it was served to him on the cake.  In general, he does not trust our food profferings, although he will still be polite about it and say, “No thank you.  I don’t liiiiike it.”  The cake was the first cake and icing Sean had ever made from scratch and it was delicious!  Owen would tell you the same—he kept saying “It’s deeee-licious!  It’s a perfect cake.  It’s yummy in my tummy.”  Although we weren’t quite sure if he was saying a “perfect cake” or a “birthday cake”—it can still be a little difficult to decipher his language.  But trust me, the cake was both.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Doctor Doctor

Owen had his two-and-a-half year doctor’s visit yesterday morning and it was a relatively uneventful visit, which was good.  He was calmer than in previous visits, and only really got upset for the shot and the measuring (which he thought was going to be the shot, since both take place supine on the table).  He also hates the weighing out in the hall in nothing but a diaper—but what’s to like about that?

We were waiting for the doctor to come into our exam room, and Owen was marching around in nothing but a diaper, and kept suggesting hopefully, “Doctor went home.”  Nice try, kid!

He is in the 43rd percentile for height, so I guess he is following in his father’s footsteps, since I’m told Sean was on the short side until 9th grade when he became a very non-short 6’4”.  Owen is 69th percentile in weight, and most of that is thanks to pretzel sticks.

He was able to be social with the nurse, and gave her a high five when she asked.  He was fine with the ear exams and the mouth exams and even giggled when the stethoscope was used.

I wouldn’t say Owen is a really shy kid, but he still tends to not want to fraternize with the enemy.  He is at his friendliest when the doctor or nurse is leaving the room, and then he is all smiles and “Goodbye, doctor!”  “See you soon!” “Have a day!”

Owen commanding an orange cat who is often in our yard
 to Stay Away From Our Birds!  
The cat was nowhere to be seen when the scolding was being administered, 
but I suppose that is neither here nor there.

Monday, February 16, 2015


This is a strange winter, no?  We made it through January, which is always my month to wallow in glum, but then things remained very wintry.  We are not getting snow like they are in Boston, where my sister, Martha, is battling 6 feet of snow and ice dams.  And it is not as cold as it is in Maine, where my parents daily wake up to negative temperatures and new arctic birds for their life list -- some snow buntings!:

And I am also very glad that we have not experienced any electricity outages this year like we did last.  But it has been very cold for very long, and also very gray.  The snow storms (until perhaps tonight) have all come towards us but then swerved at the last moment, leaving us with the inevitable “dusting.”

Two weekends ago it made it to the high thirties, so Owen and I  went out to play for a bit.  

But then this past weekend it was single-digit cold and we were once again rather housebound:

So there you have it: almost a whole post about the weather.

Miss Dorothy is probably the only one happy with it—she loves going out for a quick snow romp and then coming back inside and recovering for hours on the couch.  Here she is, having spotted danger from her comfy perch:

Owen is getting a little stir-crazy.  When he gets slightly tired and slightly cranky these days, he starts being Destructor, and rampaging through all his toys and books.  I had vague recollections of my nephew, Henry, doing this at Owen’s age, and Martha confirms that he did:  it’s good to know it is a phase that will pass, as it is rather annoying to follow behind him saying no in increasing tones of aggravation.

He is still loving watching Curious George, and his new thing is to say, when Sean and I are talking to each other and not to him, “Stop talking about ANYthing.”

Friday, February 6, 2015

Plum In Recovery

Poor Plum had dental surgery on January 21st and it turned out they were not able to salvage a single tooth.  At first our vet was thinking she could leave him with two teeth, but alas! they were too far gone.  After a very long surgery, we were able to pick Plum up at 8:00 that night and bring him home all conked out on pain meds and looking half dead.

He pretty much stayed that way for the next 24 hours – he looked miserable, and he lay around my bathroom (where we had secluded him with many comfy beds and food and water) with a truly awful smell emanating from every pore.  At first we thought he was urinating everywhere, because the smell was so bad, but I think it was just fear and pain and pheromones.

Poor guy.  To make matters worse, we had pain meds that we needed to squirt in his mouth, without touching his mouth or lips or gums in any way.  That is, the meds could touch all those places, but we weren’t allowed to pull his lips back to get the meds in, or to touch his upper or lower jaws.  We had some luck the morning after the surgery, but after that it was IMPOSSIBLE to do.  We ended up having to go back to the vet and get some pain meds that we could put directly in his food.

By Friday he seemed to have turned a corner, and by the weekend he was purring up a storm.  Part of the reason why we were doing the surgery in the first place was because the vet had said he would feel so much better, even without teeth, and we would notice a difference right away.  (She also said that his spraying issues were almost without a doubt a result of his mouth pain, and that the behavior would stop once his mouth no longer hurt him.  It did not.  We got a shelf from Ikea to hold some of Owen’s toys, and a few days later Plum sprayed the shelf.  Sigh).  And I have to say that I do notice a difference in mood.  Partly in how often and loudly he purrs now, but he is also much more up and about and getting into mischief and talking and scolding and whatnot.

So now Plum can no longer have dry cat food, and we have to buy twice as many cans of the wet as we did previously.  But Sir Plum is happy!  And always wanting to be picked up and cuddled….so there’s that.

Plum thinking, you thought my mouth would be puckered, didn’t you?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Owen's Outfits

Once Owen reached toddlerhood, he remained pretty easy to dress, in that he didn’t really care very much about what we put on his person.  He had no color restrictions or problems with tags or anything like that.  Since the jeans, corduroys, and khaki-type pants for toddlers are so stiff and restrictive around the waist and torso (as I have complained about here before), we basically put him in soft gray, navy, or black pants made out of sweatsuit material and then a long sleeved shirt and sweater when needed.

Lately, however, he has started having an opinion on some of his clothes – probably because he is now two and a half, and thus dealing with the dreaded half-year fussies.  He always wants to wear one particular white t-shirt with bats on it and it takes a long time for me to convince him that it is in the hamper.  He also now gets very upset when I put a sweater on him – no matter which sweater I choose.  He’d prefer to wear a zipper hoodie, which is fine, although even getting one of those on him is a hassle.  I do always end up putting the sweater or jacket on him, so it’s not a battle that he wins, (it’s cold out, after all!) but it is still a battle he chooses to fight.

The other day I put him in red pants and then wouldn’t put him in the bright orange shirt he wanted to wear with the red pants.  Does it matter if a 2 year-old matches?  Probably not, but I didn’t want to have to look at the red and orange all day.  I then picked out a pair of argyle socks that had red in them, and when Owen saw them he said, “No kites!”  So I had to find a plain pair of socks for him to put on. 

He will also lose one shoe often, accidentally on purpose, and then when he brings it to me to put back on and I sit him down so that I can do so, and lift the shoe to his foot, he’ll exclaim, “Not that one!”  Um, okay.  But since he only has two pairs of shoes, not counting his boots, his options are rather limited….

Last night I was getting him dressed after his bath and as usual, he had the toddler equivalent of the post-bath zoomies and was being very kicky.  All of a sudden, however, he stopped kicking me and said, “I’m sorry my leg kicked you, Mommy.”  Sort of not unlike “mistakes were made,” but hey!  I’ll accept that apology.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Mini Book Reviews January 2015

I’ve decided to keep a short record of the books I finish each month – which with Owen on the scene varies wildly.  (Plus every other month I probably spend the majority of my reading time catching up on the previous month’s New Yorkers.)  But here are my capsule reviews for the month of January:

Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham -- I expected to find this book entertaining and a good read, but I must admit I wasn’t expecting her to be as good of a writer as she is.  She’s funny, and she has a great way with unique phrasing.  I found myself laughing at how she worded things for a long time after I read them. 

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson --  Hmmm, I found this novel to be a one-trick pony.  The concept – performing artist parents who basically force their kids to participate in their acts of social disruption – is original and generally well-executed, but halfway through the book I got a little tired of it.  But then there is a plot change just in time that made me a bit more intrigued.  On the whole, a fair to good read but it had no urgency to it.  The idea was better than the book.

Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn -- I found the whole story of “Clark Rockefeller/Christian Gerhartsreiter” fascinating, so was pleased to see that Kirn’s book had made it on a lot of Top Ten Nonfiction of 2014 lists.  And it is a good read, as long as you don’t mind your good reads peppered with bits of misogyny, which I actually do.  Mind that is.  When he summarizes Rockefeller’s ex-wife’s testimony with one dismissible sentence, I was officially angry with the book.  I will say that Kirn doesn’t try to excuse his own gullibility in believing some of the lies Rockefeller told him, but as a reader, I was still amazed.  (For example, Kirn believes, or at least doesn’t question, Rockefeller when he tells him that on one day Britney Spears visited his house in NH and on the same day, Helmut Kohl did.  What?!)

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlen – Anna Quindlen has such a great nonfiction writing voice.  These essays were all about aging and being in one’s late fifties/early sixties, and what she knows now that she didn’t know when she was younger.  It’s an interesting topic to me—but she could make anything interesting.  I wanted to immediately get her other nonfiction collections when I finished this.

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? By Roz Chast – a wonderful graphic novel about taking care of aging and ailing parents, Chast does an excellent job of portraying her parents’ good and bad qualities, as well as the vortex dementia and infirmity cause.

I Can’t Complain by Elinor Lipman -- Elinor Lipman’s book of essays made me realize how good a writer Anna Quindlen is.  Lipman’s novels are hilarious and I am fond of them, but her nonfiction writing voice wasn’t quite as charming.  She often seemed worried and/or petulant, and I can’t imagine that was the tone she was going for.  It was a quick read, but not one that I would recommend.  (Read her novels, though!  All of them!)

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.  A well-written novel about, in part, the restrictions smart women encountered in the sixties and seventies, and also how a family can pigeonhole its members at cross purposes.  It was very good and very very sad.

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews -- I wanted to like this book more than I did.  It’s the story of the relationship between two sisters, one of whom is actively suicidal.  I don’t think Toews did a good enough job conveying the sadness of the suicidal sister.  We know she wanted to end her life; we witnessed the aftermath of several attempts; but her points of view were rendered unemotionally, which ultimately made it hard for me to care.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra – This novel had too much torture in it for me.  It also was strangely unpinned down to location:  the characters could have been any civilians living through any war, and I don’t mean that as praise.  Marra can definitely tell a story and I liked the characters and how their lives intersected, but I continued reading just to finish it.  Too much ugliness.

The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling) – I enjoyed reading this novel and will happily read the third in the series if one is written.  I like the main character, Cormoran Strike, and his assistant/detective-in-training Robin.  I don’t think the actual mystery of the book was very well done – nothing is really discovered until the last chapter and then it is all revealed in a “I would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids” kind of way – but that didn’t affect my enjoyment in the reading of it.