Saturday, December 30, 2006

The baby whisperer

Matthew recently gained the ability to interpret Melissa's babblings.

Or rather, he thinks he can. If he wants ice cream, he'll tell us, "'Lissa say she want get ice cream" as a way to bolster his case.

But other times it's kind of bizarre. Today he told Rachel, "'Lissa say I not a big boy!" He was really mad! In fact, a lot of his interpretations involve tattling on her. Sheesh, she's not even two yet.

In completely unrelated Matthew news, I found out today that he can tie knots when he tied off the end of a newspaper bag to put his "bomb" in. (This is some hemispherical piece of plastic, entirely inert, that for some reason he decided looks like a bomb. We do not plan to let him take it anywhere near an airport.) Rachel says he's been knotting things for a couple weeks now, but this was the first I noticed.

Monday, December 25, 2006

In the kitchen

Rachel got this extremely cool play kitchen for the kids. It has things to do on all sides, so fighting should be minimized. Both of them like it, but Matthew's play is a little more literal than his sister's.

He came rushing in just now: "Mama, mama! I burned my finger!" On your kitchen? "Yes! It hurts!" Mama took it in stride: "Well, run your finger under the faucet in your kitchen." "Okay!"

We heard him making "shhhhhh" noises for the faucet, and his finger was all better.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Ray of Sunshine...

...on an otherwise cloudy day. I am sooo glad the kids are in bed now. Let's just say that Matthew was stinky today and leave it at that. However, he did play well with Melissa for part of the day. He got out his yellow dump truck and was hauling toys around when he got the idea in his head to push his sister in it instead. She thought this was a grand idea and happily sat in the back of his truck while he pushed her all over the house and made appropriate "truck" noises.


Silver linings

It's Christmas time. With all the present-wrapping going on, Matthew's had ample opportunity to appropriate some scotch tape and get it all over the house. On the positive side, it occupies him for far longer than it has any right to. On the negative, I've been peeling tape off furniture, toilets -- he taped the seat closed -- and socks for the past few days.

Then he lost his tape roll. But this morning he found it again. Great.

(Rachel's addendum: and tape on the windows, major appliances, the floor, his sister, the couch, his toys....)

Friday, December 15, 2006

Matthew and the Nativity

We invited the Casslers to come to the nativity our stake puts together each December. Unfortunately the night they could come was also the night Jonathan voluteered to help with parking, so he didn't come with us. Matthew was SO excited when he heard the Casslers were coming. They have four boys and baby Eve. I think Matthew is a little covetous of so many brothers, because he informed me that he wanted four brothers and some more sisters too... As soon as he saw their van, he ran out of the house waving his arms wildly and yelling. It was pretty bitter so we all bundled up and walked to the church. Little Eve looked so snug in her bunting and carried in her sling. She is such a peaceful, happy baby.

The nativity our stake puts each year has sheep, goats, a goose, a donkey, a camel, and a lama (for good measure I guess- our neighbor owns the lama). Many people come, so there's a long line to get to the stable. While waiting in the line you see Isaiah writing prophecies, people strolling along dressed in Bethlahem garb, shepards, animals, the three wise men, ect. Thankfully, there are barrels of burning logs along way, because it was COLD. Matthew was okay with the scenery for about 20 minutes and then started to get restless.

"Mom I ready to go home now."

I told him that we still needed to see the camel and also baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. After that we would go home and drink hot chocolate. He accepted that (it is nice to be able to reason with him some of the time). However, Jimmy Cassler was not so easily pacified. He got upset about the wait. Matthew saw this and tried to comfort him.

He patted him on the back and said, "It okay, we see baby Jesus, then go home, drink hot chocolate and eat cookies!" "It's okay, Jimmy." Matthew's comfort measures, though well intended, were not effective. Only being held by his Daddy would do.

While waiting Matthew also made a friend. She looked about his age, so he went up to her and said, "My name Matthew Browning Ellis. What your name?" She told him and they struck up a friendship. They held hands and looked at a busy goat. He came up to me, "Look Mama, my new friend!" Pretty cute.

So, we finally get into the stable which is heated. This was good because Melissa was getting pretty restless herself. A publican counted taxes, a carpenter carved, a potter molded clay, and a leper rang a bell inside the stable. Matthew asked countless questions about everything. Then we got to the manger scene and he got silent. He went down on his knees and just watched the baby held by Mary. After a few minutes I tapped him on the shoulder to go, he stood up and then went back down. It was a powerful moment. The Spirit touched his heart and he didn't want to leave. Our friends had left a while ago, and we really needed to leave, so I gently extracted him, though I hated to leave too.

As we left, he told me, "Mom! That was great!"

This from the little boy who couldn't wait to be done so he could have hot chocolate. We raced home to keep warm and enjoyed steaming mugs of hot chocolate and cookies. Despite the cold, a good evening.


A concert to remember

I took the kids to Rachel's concert tonight. It went about as expected: they lasted through one song in their seats, then no force on earth could keep them still (and quiet), so we got through another song roaming the aisles, then I had to take them home because Matthew kept noisily calling for us to "Follow me!" despite shushings.

What was interesting was how going to see "Mama ortess'ra [orchestra]" jogged his memories of the last time he saw Rachel in concert. That was their Independance Day concert in the summer, part of the Riverton fair, and great fun for Matthew. There were all kinds of things to do, but his favorite was the rocket ships kids could make for a dollar, then put on launching tubes to be blasted hundreds of feet high by compressed air. Matthew had a TOTAL blast with this; once he found that, he lost interest in everything else.

So I had to tell Matthew the bad news, that this one wasn't going to have any of that; just music. It wasn't even going to be outside. He was a little bummed, but still excited to see Mama Ortess'ra. And he did have a good time -- too good -- exploring the hallways at the concert hall cum high school auditorium.

But on the way home he returned to his subject: "There was a boy, not a nice boy, he took my rocket -- it had my name on it, not his name, it said Matthew -- he took it and put it behind his back and that wasn't nice and I was MAD, so I told him that I spank him, and my Daddy spank him, and he gave it back, but he wasn't nice." The orchestra really unleashed a flood of memories! "The mean boy" made quite an impression on Matthew when it happened -- he went back to playing afterwards, but kept talking about the mean boy. Still, I didn't expect him to remember so much six months later! I mean, it has been only six months, but that's 1/8 of his lifetime and an even larger fraction of how long he's been verbal. So it still catches me off guard, a bit.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Where's Matthew?

When Daddy comes home it's time for play! One of M&M's favorite games involves one child ridding on Daddy's back horsey style, and another being chased. Incidentally, I remember playing this game with my Dad when I was little. I think daddies instinctively know the fun games.

Jonathan had already tossed the kids in the air (Matthew counts to 10 for 10 tosses and Melissa mimics Matthew. She can't count, but she calls out "one... one... one...") and he'd just settled on the floor to read the paper. He'd hoped to get a few minutes of rest after a long day at work. Ha! Melissa toddles over, clambers up on Jonathan's back and calls out "Wher Ma'shoo!" (where's Matthew?) This is the rallying cry of the game. Jonathan chases one child while saying "Where's Matthew or Where's Melissa?" To further get her point across, Melissa bounced up and down on Daddy's back repeating, "Wher Ma'shoo!". Giddyup Daddy! And Daddy couldn't resist. Daddy chased and tickled kids. Then he tossed them on the bed where it was mutually agreed upon to have a pillow war. Aren't dads great!


Tuesday, November 28, 2006


We tried Fantasia out on Matthew 8 months ago or so, and he was bored stiff. (Well, actually, bored wiggly.) I thought I'd try it out again today, and he was totally into it. "Dancing flower! Everyone flower dancing! Dancing leaves! ... Dose brooms are truhsol [trouble]." Meanwhile Melissa enjoyed the music. She really is a musical baby.

Speaking of Melissa, we're still working on "Yes." Instead, she prefers to nod her head up and down. She does use it correctly: "Do you want more?" [nods] "Are you all done?" "No!"

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Matthew's first talk

Matthew was assigned a talk in Sunday School. We forgot about it until Sunday morning, but fortunately, it's not hard to help prepare a talk to be given by a four year old, when you're trying to keep it within his own theological purview. "When I'm eight I'll be baptized and follow Jesus. Temples are where you get married. My mommy and daddy got married in the temple." When I was discussing this with him, he added, "An' you get RING, that mean you married. An' it take ALL DAY." I think Uncle Grant's marriage made a big impression!

I didn't actually get to see the delivery because Melissa had a cold, so I stayed home with her. But Rachel told me that Matthew kept stage whispering to her, "What next, Mama?" I don't think anyone thought it was too short.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Big Girl II

Today Melissa stayed in nursery all by herself for the entire 2 hours. Apparently it went well too. When I picked her up she was busy trying to catch bubbles. She was all smiles for her Mama though. I admit I was a little apprehensive. I kept checking on her through the little window in the door. Each time I looked in she was busy playing with toys. For the past 3 months Jonathan or I have spent time in with her, but now that she's officially 18 months we thought we'd see how she'd do by herself. So far so good!

I guess we've been very lucky in this area. Matthew was pretty easy about going to nursery. He liked it most Sundays. It seems Melissa is set to follow in her brother's footsteps. I feel bad for the parents that can't ever leave, but I feel even worse for the kids who are left in nursery and really can't handle it. I don't want nursery to ever be a misery for my kids. I have not seen parents leaving their kids to "cry it out" lately, thank goodness!

Potty-training deja vu

Well, I figured we were getting low on bathroom stories (collective groans), so it's time to potty-train another child! Actually Melissa wants to do everything her big brother does and that includes sitting on the potty. Most of the time she just sits on the toilet and swings her legs back and forth. She then insists on a piece of toilet paper to "wipe." Most of the time nothing but toilet paper goes into the potty, but we've had a few successes. She also likes to "read" on the porcelin throne. When she's all done (usually after 1 minute) she washes her hands in the sink and streaks off before I can diaper her. She runs away giggling while I give chase. Such a fun game! (I admit I'm not quite ready to do diaperless training just yet. We gave it a try one morning and it was interesting... Maybe in a few months...when I'm even more tired of washing diapers than scrubbing floors. Hmmm.) For now she's happy imitating her brother. Just as long as she doesn't try standing in front of the potty to go, I'm happy to oblige her baby whims.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Baby love

I was heading out on an errand solo. Melissa had had enough of the car, and Matthew wanted to watch Kim Possible with her instead of coming. So I headed out, but paused to talk to Rachel from the door. Then Melissa came running after me. "Na na na na! Dada!" So I closed the door in a hurry and turned away, and sure enough Bang Bang Bang went the door, and I heard baby frustration on the other side.

Poor kid wanted Dad. I decided that if she thought she wanted to come, fine, even though she'd be ticked before we got far. So I opened the door, and Melissa reached for... the slice of homemade bread in my hand. Satisfied, she waved. "Ba bye!"

Babies are born to keep daddies humble.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Big girl

Matthew was stubborn today; he didn't want to eat his soup for lunch, and he didn't want to eat it for dinner, either. I can only chalk it up to sheer cussedness, because he admitted that it was good soup.

As an olive branch, Rachel offered to let him eat it with a straw for dinner. It was a soup thick with vegetables, so he wouldn't get far with that, but it would be a start. Matthew agreed, but Melissa was indignant when she saw such goings-on. "No no no no!" she pointed at this outrageous breach of etiquette. I guess even babies know: straws are for glasses, not bowls.

Then after we got Melissa's teeth brushed for bedtime, she headed for the bathroom sink, climbed on the stool, and made "puh! puh!" sounds. We were puzzled, but Rachel realized: "She's trying to spit!" Big people spit after brushing their teeth.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Why daddy is tired

"Bedtime!" I announce. Melissa takes off and hides in her best hiding spot, behind the DVD bookshelf. Then when I find her she goes and grabs Mom. "Night night," she tells me, and waves.

So yeah, Rachel is both kids' favorite bedtime-putter. Melissa's, because she nurses her. Matthew's, I don't know. Maybe because Melissa wants Mama so it's part of this perpetual imitation/competition thing they have going. But with some exceptions, both kids get Mommy bedtimes. (Although Matthew doesn't mind if Dad brushes his teeth and helps him get pyjamas on.)

But as of two nights ago, Melissa has graduated to her own bedroom and Daddy taking the night shift: no more midnight snacks courtesy of Mom.

The first night was pretty rough. I went in 3 times to quiet her. She woke a fourth time but went back to sleep on her own.

Last night was worse. She woke up at 2:30 and wouldn't last more than 5 minutes without Dad. Finally, to keep peace in the marital bed, I went in to her room some time after 4 and let her sleep next to me. I hope this phase passes quickly.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Gimme the beat

Last night when Rachel turned Melissa over to me at 3:30, she was inclined to complain that she didn't want Daddy. Plus her nose was stuffed up and that made her grumpy. I sang to her, and she quieted down. Then when I stopped, she started singing "Happy Birthday." She doesn't know what it means, but it's a happy tune and she likes it. So we sang Happy Birthday twice, then we both went to sleep.

Today I stayed home with Melissa while Rachel taught Matthew's class at church. She hadn't slept well due to her congestion, and she was cranky. I took her for a drive, and she howled her dislike for the mellow classical music I played, and possibly me personally too. After twenty minutes of unsuccessfully waiting for her to get tired of yelling at me, I switched channels to some grunge rock song with lots of distortion. She got quiet then, and her eyelids started drooping. Five minutes and two rock songs later she was out. (Then I changed it back to classical.)

When we got home, I took her out of the carseat somewhat against my better judgement. She snapped awake and started reproaching me immediately. Efforts to get her back to sleep were futile. She was too mad for singing to work. After she dissed the soup I tried to feed her, I left her in the bedroom to her own devices. Half an hour later it finally started to get quiet, so I went in and offered to sing her to sleep again. This time, worn out, she accepted.

Tonight, she was inclined to protest when Rachel tried to put her to bed too, but was willing for Mom to sing her to sleep.

This baby likes her music.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Musings of a four-year-old

Matthew has been discussing "when I get big..." a lot lately.

"I eat all my dinner, lots and lots, and get 'nough rest I grow BIG!" When I get big like Daddy, I build my own house. I have my own wife and kids."

"Yes, Matthew, that sounds like a good idea."

"I don't want to be big yet, just a little bit big."

"OK, I like having you as my boy."


Just today he's informed me that he's picked out his wife.

"When I get big, Emma gonna be my wife."

"Oh really?"


Emma's one of Matthew's buddies. There aren't many girls his age in our neighborhood, but a plethora of boys. As such, Emma's had to adapt to the wild running and chasing games of her peers. I guess Matthew figured that she was fun to run around and play with, therefore she'd be a good wife. I don't think at four he has a crush- Emma's just a good pal. Pretty cute.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A day that will live in infamy

Well, okay, it wasn't that bad. But Matthew did not go trick-or-treating tonight, and great were the ensuing tantrums.

I got home from work early, took the kids to walmart to get more candy -- we had a three-gallon punch bowl full, but that was only barely enough last year -- and brought them back for a hearty dinner of chili before setting out.

Melissa scarfed hers down. Matthew took a couple bites, pronounced it good, then demanded "help" with the last three or so. (That's right, he only had five or six bites worth to start with -- we figured that with trick-or-treating to be done, he probably wouldn't be very interested in food.) I told him I'd be glad to help him with the last bite, but he needed to eat the rest himself. He just sulked. Meanwhile Rachel got Melissa ready to go out, so I told Matthew I'd be glad to take him after Melissa was done if he finished his chili.

Melissa and I hit three hours and came back -- she had fun but didn't really get it. She was more interested in going to see the decorations in the yards, than going to the doors for candy.

We arrived to howling from Matthew's room. Guess who didn't finish his chili? Matthew had been looking forward to trick-or-treating all month, but it looks like he was ready to cut off his nose to spite his face.

I went to his room and offered him two more minutes to eat, in case he was just tantruming because he misunderstood and thought I wasn't going to take him out at all. He agreed, and I set the timer. It rang two minutes later with no more bites downed, so we put him to bed. Howling.

Like I told my dad on the phone, "You have a stubborn grandson."

(Rachel's note: Truly a sad day. He was such a good boy earlier too... The evening was made all the tougher because every two minutes the doorbell rang and Matthew was reminded anew about what he was missing. Perhaps next time he will think twice about gambling whether Mom and Dad really mean it, especially when the stakes are so high. Oh well, at least we don't have to figure out what to do with a lot of extra candy in the house.)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Tough guy

We signed Matthew up for an indoor soccer "league" that started a month ago. It's for 4 and 5 year olds, and Matthew's team is probably the youngest in the league. "We're the team the makes the other kids feel good about themselves," one mom told me. But the kids have fun running after the ball and kicking it so it's all good.

The kids mostly have fun. Matthew was the King of Tears for the first 2 games, collapsing in a heap when he trips, or gets jostled in the croud of 4-foot bodies chasing the ball, or when he doesn't get to kick the ball enough, or when he does kick the ball but doesn't score a goal... He's averaged about a minute between being subbed in and being subbed out in tears. Maybe he's just too young.

Last week, though, Rachel and I talked to him about how big boys are Tough. He was impressed. "I going be tough," he vowed. And today he was a lot better; he only came off once, too frustrated to continue. It was even more lopsided than usual today; it was something like 8 or 9 goals to 1. But Matthew went back in and lasted until the end of the game, the first time we haven't had to go home early.

Friday, October 27, 2006

...and after Thursday comes Friday...

One of Matthew's favorite topics of conversations lately is "what comes next?" Everyday he wants to know what day it is and what comes next, so we cycle throught the weekdays a few times until I'm tired of the topic. He, on the other hand, has NEVER tired of dicussing the days before I do. He also likes to talk about the activities that happen on particular days. Tuesday is the library and the park (if it's nice), Friday is gym class day, Saturday is soccer, Sunday is church, on Monday Daddy goes back to work...etc.

At dinner tonight he started up: "After Friday comes Saturday"

Jonathan got excited, "Did you know he knew the order of the days of the week?"

I figured he just got lucky.

"...and after Saturday comes Sunday..."

Hmm. I guess he does!

"...and after Sunday comes Monday..."

He got a little tripped up on Tuesday, but not too bad I think. The child has an impressive memory. He can tell you about cuts and bruises that happened months ago, and tells stories in precise detail about events long past. He even remembers holidays from a year ago!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas?

Last night we got a very light dusting of snow; small flakes that melted immediately that later turned into rain. Matthew was intensely excited by the snow (and angry at the rain); "After it snow it going be Christmas!"

I tried to explain that it doesn't exactly work that way -- Christmas and snow are independant occurences . That pretty much bounced off the wall of 4-year-old enthusiasm. I had a bit more luck explaining that Christmas came after halloween and thanksgiving, but this morning he was excited again by the frost on the ground, chattering about how it was going to be Christmas soon now.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Matthew takes care of Mommy

Yesterday I had another bout of mastitis. Fever, aches, sore tender breast- the works. Both kids were down for their naps so, I lied on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Matthew awoke shortly thereafter and saw me on the couch groaning.

"Why you not up?"

"Uhg"- I was not ready to take care of kids.

"Mommy is feeling sick, Mommy's head hurts." He put his little hand on my forehead.

"Your head is hot. I get you water." He then opened the dishwasher, got a glass, and filled it with water.

"Here, dis help you feel better."

"Thank you Matthew. You're a big helper." He just beamed.

Whenever he's sick I encourage him to eat, so I guess he figured I must need to eat too. After giving me water, he got into the refrigerator and grabbed a yogurt and spoon.

"Here Mama!"

To further help Mama, he decided to empty the dishwasher. Since he can't reach the cupboards where the dishes go, he put them all on the counter. "Matthew help Mama feel better!" Pretty sweet. He even cleaned his room without complaint. My little boy is growing up!

Today I'm feeling much better- but I'm still taking it easy. I've had real nasty cases of mastitis and don't want to tempt fate.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"I is four- not 3 anymore."

Matthew is getting big. For months he has been telling us his birthdate, discussing how big he'll be, and what plans he has for his birthday. He also felt compelled to share this with complete strangers in stores and parks. A typical conversation went like this:

"Hi! I Matthew Browning Ellis. What your name? I three, but soon I'll be four. My birthday en October 9th. What your birthday? I'm getting bigger and taller."

Pretty friendly guy. I have to keep very close tabs on him! Most adults are charmed by this, and more than once he's scored a treat from a nice cashier or baker. Occasionally someone will ignore him, and he will ask, "Why he not say Hi? Matthew say Hi!" I've explained that sometimes people are busy, don't hear, or don't feel like talking. Course, Matthew always feels like talking!

Jonathan's birthday falls 4 days before Matthew's, and Matthew knows that first comes Daddy's birthday and then comes his. Consequently he has been looking forward to his father's birthday almost as much as his own. On the Jonathan's birthday we took a cake and some ice cream to his work. On the way there Matthew asked, "how old Daddy turning? 17?" Seventeen was the biggest number he could imagine- therefore Daddy must be seventeen. "No, Daddy is 30." "Oh. Wow!" Matthew was impressed.

Jonathan had his annual "guy" party with lots of pizza, StarCraft, and my dark chocolate cake drizzled with semi-sweet chocolate sauce. The kids napped (sort of) and I kept them mostly out of the way. I even got a game in myself. A good time was had by all.

The morning of Matthew's birthday he requested a spiderman cake. I guess he has more faith in my decorating skills than I do. I baked and frosted a round cake red. Then I pipped dark chocolate icing in a web design on the cake. It didn't look to shabby when I was through. Most importantly, he was pleased with the results.

Many of Matthew's buddies turned four in the past few months and he's been invited to numerous parties. As a consequence, he wanted a friend party. We decided we'd try a small party with 5 kids max. One of Matthew's friends had 17!- yes, 17 kids at his party. After prunning down his guest list considerably, we went ahead and wrote out the invitations. Matthew was very excited all week. He had three little boys and one girl at his party. It was a busy crew- but they were good and had a fun time. Suprisingly one of their favorite games was the button game (button, button , who has the button?). We subsituted a small eraser for the button and they wanted to play over and over. Another hit was "ghost, ghost, goblin" or duck, duck, goose. I learned that crafts and boys don't really mix at a party. I had these little foam finger puppets that you could make into a witch, ghost, bat, pumpkin, or cat. They were cute and not too difficult to make, but the boys quickly got bored and wanted to move on to more action oriented activities. So we did a lot of moving. I was ready for a nap by the time it was over...


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Singing for his dinner

Tonight Matthew sang us a song for dinner. It was not very musical, but it was cute. He sang about how he liked turkey and corn and so forth, and how after dinner was bedtime, after bedtime was morning, after morning was nap time, after nap time daddy comes home, after daddy comes home is dinner.

Friday, October 13, 2006

The Weavers kind of suck

I was in the mood for some folk music in the vein of Peter Paul and Mary or the Kingston Trio. I tried a CD by The Weavers, and I don't think of myself as a music snob, but the production quality was closer to the song a friend of mine recorded in ten minutes at the Seattle Music Museum's open-to-the-public studio than what I would expect from professionals.

I'm tempted to blame sucky recording technology from the early '50s, but the Mills Brothers recordings from the same time are much much better. So is the KT from only a few years later. So I'm putting The Weavers in the "maybe influential in its day, but hasn't aged well" bin.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A mind of her own

Just now, Melissa was whining about something. Probably she's just hungry.

"Come here, little one!"

"No!" And she tried to run past me (but I caught her).

Guess she's turning two early.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


It's 10:00 PM. Rachel just jumped off the couch to go see why Matthew had started sobbing -- probably fell out of bed, we thought.

No, it turns out that he was crying because he had five shirts on -- over his full-body sleeper -- and got stuck putting on a sixth. Then he cried some more when Rachel declined to help him get socks on.

It goes without saying that he hasn't done any sleeping since he was put to bed 90 minutes ago. And Matthew never sleeps in, so he'll be cranky tomorrow at least until he naps.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

I <3 baby wipes

I usually close my laptop when I'm not using it, but today I left it open briefly when I got up to take care of something. When I got back, Melissa was at it, pen in hand. I closed it quickly. I didn't notice until I opened it later that my screen was festooned with pen scribbles.

I wasn't sure what to try; a lot of cleaning chemicals will damage laptop screens. I didn't think a baby wipe would be strong enough to clean pen off, but Rachel urged me to try it anyway, and it worked! Hurray for baby wipes!

Saturday, October 07, 2006


It's hard to say who was more excited when I brought my birthday balloons home yesterday: Matthew or Melissa. Melissa calls them "B'woo!" and was extremely pleased to get her share of three balloons. Baby bliss comes so easily some times!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Daddy's big girl, part 2

We ate at Winger's tonight. There were fries, and Melissa stretched out hers to dip in imaginary sauce, but there wasn't any. Just blue cheese sauce for the wings, placed far away from her.

She was happy with that for a while, because she had crayons in a little metal bucket and a kids menu to draw on. She loves drawing. It held her attention almost the entire meal. Even Dad and Mom sneaking food into her mouth was only barely tolerated.

But when she had enough of drawing, she demanded to get out of her high chair. I picked her up, but I was farther from the blue cheese, so she demanded I put her down too. She climbed over next to her mom and the blue cheese, appropriated some fries, and started dipping away.

Rachel was sure that she wouldn't like the blue cheese, but she proceeded with gusto. I'm so proud.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A sudden realization

As we ate dinner tonight, Matthew chose a bad time to harass Rachel about something. She was trying to keep Melissa from climbing on the table again, while simultaneously cleaning up the mess she made the last time she climbed up. (I was cleaning up too.) Rachel finally cut him off with a frustrated growl: "Rrrrr!"

That's where he gets it! I realized. Matthew growls a lot when frustrated, just like that. I've been curious about it for a while -- I never did figure out where he picked it up; I don't growl. (Matthew's exasperated sigh? That one's mine.)

I said as much to Rachel and she laughed. "Well, he does it a lot more than I do." Which is true, since I'd never heard it before. (No doubt when I'm around there's less to get frustrated about. :)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Daddy's big girl

Melissa's already at the stage where where she wants to do everything bigger people do. She's been fascinated by our broom for a while, and now she's finally big and coordinated enough to can manhandle it around a bit herself. She did this after I fed the kids brownies after naptime -- with Rachel's approval, lest you get the wrong impression -- and I swept up the crumbs raining down from Melissa's high chair. She ran over to the broom when I was finished and "swept," too. I wish I had a picture of her posing with the broom and dustpan when she was done, infinitely pleased with herself.

Another item: on a whim, I gave Melissa a piece of junk mail this afteroon. "Put it in the trash, please!" I said. She took off as fast as her baby legs could carry her, and strained on tiptoe to get it in the trash bag. Amazing how much they can understand at this age.

Final item. Two thursdays ago, I took the kids to Carl's Jr for dinner while Rachel had orchestra practice. Melissa charmed everyone in the restaurant instantly. She went up to one couple and held up her arms in the universal Pick Me Up sign, smiling winningly. They picked her up and offered her a french fry. I didn't mind. Then Melissa wanted to dip it in fry sauce. She went through quite a few fries this way, and the young couple went through piles of napkins wiping the sauce off of just about everything. I congratulated myself that it wasn't me going through the napkins that evening. Then, today, I met Rachel for lunch at a burger place and Melissa insisted on fry sauce again.

Yes, the pile of napkins on my tray was large indeed.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


I just noticed a couple days ago that Melissa calls Matthew's name, too. I probably wouldn't have made the connection except Friday morning when Melissa got up before him, she kept escaping and running to his door, calling, "Dadew! Dadew!"

Saturday, September 30, 2006


Like Matthew, Melissa has grasped the importance of shoes early on. "When we put shoes on, we go places!" When she wants to go out, she'll bring me my sandals as a hint. And the other day, when Rachel told Matthew to go get his shoes on, Melissa heard and brought Matthew's shoes, Rachel's shoes, and her shoes.


I've mentioned that Melissa started calling me Mama a few weeks ago. I didn't much care for this, so I stopped picking her up when she called me Mama. I didn't require being called Dada; I'd pick her up if she just held her arms out in the universal Pick Me Up sign, but Mama was Right Out.

I'm happy to report that my campaign was a complete success. Nothing like a baby happily calling out, "Dada!" to brighten your day.

Rachel is a little chagrined, though, that now Melissa sometimes calls out Dada to her, too.

Monday, September 25, 2006


  • Summer is over. Last week was cold and rainy. Friday morning Rachel took the kids to Matthew's gym class with the rain coming down in sheets and the temperature about 45. Before getting in the car, Matthew ran out into the rain and stood there looking up at it. "What a nice day! I like the rain!"
  • Saturday was the first day of Matthew's indoor soccer. I felt bad for him -- he looked forward to it so much, and started warming up (running across the gym, and jumping jacks) with such enthusiasm, but standing in line to do drills drained that completely. Three times he came over to me and asked to go home. I encouraged him to stay to the end and get his soccer shirt, which he was pleased with. Next week they should jump right into games, so we'll see how that turns out.
  • Sick babies are no fun. Last night Melissa barfed three times, once right after we set off for Rachel's cousin dinner, once at the dinner, and another time before bed for good measure. (She wasn't acting sick, or we wouldn't have taken her to dinner. Remember, this kid pukes when she gets angry enough, sick or not. So we're perhaps a little more blase about this sort of thing than we were with Matthew.) Today she emptied her stomach all day; Rachel lost count. Poor kid. Poor mama. She was so sick that when Rachel put her in the shower after one of her purges and sprayed some shaving cream on the wall, she just stood there. Normally there are few things she enjoys more than smearing shaving cream around the bathtub.
  • Melissa enjoys reading. She'll point to the pictures and tell you all about them. "Bjabwablabjabja." When Rachel asks her questions like "Where's the dog?" or, "Where's the ball?" Melissa will point to them.
  • Melissa can actually hold still during Nursery snack time, more or less. When Matthew was this age no force on earth could keep him in a chair. Melissa sits there swinging her legs and eats her crackers. (Water is still beyond her unaided abilities. Or maybe it's so much fun to smear on the table that she spills it on purpose. Either way she is not to be trusted with a glass, unattended.)
  • Matthew enjoys reading too. Rachel is teaching him phonics now, and he's learning the sounds letters make. He's pretty sharp: yesterday he was asking me how to spell his friends' names on his computer (not at all phonetic, except for Emma), and when he got tired of that he busied himself for a bit over his keyboard and announced: "Bwock! [block]" And there on the screen was: bock. Pretty close!
  • They usually play together pretty well these days, but sometimes Matthew gets a little tired of his sister. "I don' wan' this Lissa anymore. Le's [let's] get diffren' sister," he announced one morning after she'd swiped something of his again.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Bedtime, part XXXIV

First, the good news: Melissa is getting better at going to sleep. Sometimes she lets her mom or I nurse or bounce her to sleep and that is that. When she does not she usually only yells for 5-10 minutes instead of 30-60.

Now, the way we got to that point is, Daddy decided that he was not going to go console his daughter while she yelled and pounded on the door for that 60 minutes. (Mama concurred with the decision but Daddy was doing the dirty work at this particular time.) This was hard, because she seemed genuinely distressed, but enough was enough, and, being a smart girl, she could tell that the pattern was, "if I bang on the door long enough, Daddy will come back." Not the right lesson to teach in this case. Her stubbornness was leading to sleep-deprived crankiness on her part and ours.

In preparation for battle, since having your daughter yell and bang on the door for you when she's supposed to be going to bed sucks even more than just yelling in her crib, we lowered the crib bottom as far as it would go to prevent her from climbing out. The top rail comes to her neck.

She climbed out anyway.

The first time she did this, I figured she was using our bed mattress as a step up in her climb to freedom, so I moved her crib away from the bed and left her there while I cleaned up the baby puke by the door. (Yes, she's still literally puking with rage if she works herself up enough.) Then I heard a clunk and more yells from the floor by the crib. In her rage, or the darkness, or both, she didn't notice that the bed wasn't there anymore and climbed over anyway.

We moved the crib back by the bed since we didn't want her to get hurt. After much banging on the door and wailing, she grew silent. When I dared check on her, she had climbed back into her crib and gone to sleep there.

A few days later I thought I'd give the crib trick another try when I was trying to get her to take a nap. Bang bang bang at the door, with screaming. It was daytime, so she could easily see when I pushed the crib away from the bed. Maybe she'd be intimidated by the memory of last time.

She was not. Bang bang bang again.

Obviously it wasn't working, but I was curious to see how she managed it, so I put her back in the crib one more time and watched through a crack in the door: she starts in the corner, pulls herself up a bit, gets an ankle over the rail -- it helps to be baby-flexible, because this is neck-level, remember -- and levers herself on to the top of the rail. Then she slips over, holding on with her hands so she's hanging by the rail, then lets herself drop to the floor.

Pretty sophisticated for 16 months if you ask me. Her mother's genes bred true.

(She uses the same leg trick to lever herself up onto our smaller rocking horse. I have that one on film: pretty impressive, if you're like me and the last time you were that flexible is roughly never.)

Sean Russell rocks

Seriously, he rocks.

Initiate Brother duo was great. (I wrote about the first book briefly here. Too bad the Vinge book turned out to be something of a disappointment.) The two River into Darkness books were also great. Now I've ordered the Moontide Magic Rise books, and that makes me sad because after that there is only one more series to go before I have run out.

On the bright side, he's pretty young. So hopefully he still has a long career ahead of him.

I realized that the other thing that makes Russell's work a candidate for comparison with Dune is the sense of a vast world behind the tale, of which only a small part is exposed in the book itself. Not many authors manage this, probably because it's a lot of work. But when done right it makes fantasy more engrossing than it can possibly be otherwise. This is one reason Tolkien's work is so amazing.

And Russell's books move. Kind of like if Tom Clancy wrote fantasy, back when he didn't suck. No Robert Jordan "how much more pointless exposition can I fit on this page" crap. (Does Clancy even bother writing anymore, or is he too busy with licensed properties to bother? And does anyone care?) (And Wheel of Time, Book 11? Seriously, Mr. Jordan, it's time to muster the courage to try something new.)

The early Russell books can be found used on Amazon for under $1. Go get some.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Stick a fork in it

Melissa wants to feed herself. Often she will refuse food we know she likes unless she is allowed to feed herself. This can get messy. (And she can usually out-stubborn her parents on this, since we would rather stick her in the bathtub afterwards than fight an hour-long battle over every meal.)

But, she is getting pretty good with a fork, on foods she can stab. She'll stab it with her fist around the handle, thumb pointing up and tines down, then she'll do amazing contortions to get the business end in her mouth. "Proper" fork positioning eludes her.

Often she will just pull the food off the fork with her other hand and put it in her mouth that way, after she gets it stabbed. But she is pleased with herself.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

M&M games

Matthew and Melissa are playing together more now. They liked to chase eachother and hide. They zoom around the couch, and up and down chairs and stairs, all the while giggling madly. Yesterday, when Matthew lied on the floor, Melissa toddled over and started tickling him and making "bee" noises. She then grabbed his shirt pulled it up to expose the belly button and said "there it is!"

For the most part Matthew is pretty gentle with his sister, but sometimes he forgets that she is littler. He's still a high energy kid and can be too much in her face. We've had to institute rules such as "no wrestling with your sister" and "no picking her up." He does get frustrated with her a times too. He'll explain a game and expect her to go along with his rules. Melissa mostly doesn't understand his more sophisticated "pretend" games and does her own thing. At other times she does get it, but has ideas of her own. This causes great consternation in Matthew. "MOOoom! Melissa not listening me!!!" Welcome to the club kiddo.


I'd pretty much given up on signing with Melissa. Yesterday I offered her some more yogurt and didn't bother with the sign. Matthew, however, signed "more" and low and behold Melissa signed back to him! And she really did want more! Today she did it again at lunch time. Wahoo! She's finally signing back! 'Course she's getting more and more verbal all the time, so she probably won't sign very many words before she's chattering like Matthew.


There are few things that motivate Matthew more than competing (and winning). Last week his room was in an abysmal state. After spending an hour trying to prod him to clean the mess, I was getting frustrated, he was getting bored, and the room remained in the same sad condition. Knowing how much he likes games I decided to make cleaning his room a contest of speed. I would clean my room and make my bed while he had to clean his room, and we would see who the victor would be. Well, I beat him, and he was extremely dismayed (though he had been cleaning his room at a frezied pace). Seeing how much he wanted to "beat mama," I set up new parameters. Mama would strip and make his bed and he clean his room. That time he won hands down. (Melissa assisted by being very cranky and wanting to be held, so I was handicaped somewhat.) He was thrilled, and the room was clean in record time. Since we had both done such a good job, we decided that a treat was in order.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bedtime redux

Since I wrote last time, Melissa has had to howl herself to sleep twice after exhausting both her parents' patience, but we haven't yet institutionalized Thou Shalt Go To Sleep By Thyself.

Night-time sleep is still a mixed bag. Some nights she only rouses a little to make sure I am still there and goes right back to sleep. Other nights she kicks and squirms and makes it impossible for me to sleep for an hour or more.

Matthew sleeps fine, of course, once he finally lies still in his bed long enough for gravity and sleep to overcome his natural tendency to remain in motion. But I do have a Matthew story: a couple weekends ago, I took an afternoon nap and invited Matthew to nap in the guest bed with me, under the theory that maybe the novelty would get him to settle down faster. It did, and a good nap was had by all.

But that night when Rachel went to check on him after his bedtime, he was not in his room. He'd moved to the guest bed! Rachel evicted him, but let him keep the blanket from the guest bed that he envied.

As the peanut turns

Bouncing on the trampoline with Matthew and Melissa today brought back memories. After all, it was the same trampoline that Matthew and I bounced on together over two years ago when we first moved here. Matthew was the age Melissa is now, and Melissa wasn't even a name on her mother's baby list yet.

I sent Matthew off to run around the house before rejoining us. Melissa took a few steps, but much faster than I thought possible Matthew was back, climbing back up the trampoline.

Matthew was a lot more sure of himself physically at this age than his sister is. A little too sure, really; he fell down a lot more, but usually picked himself up again cheerfully. This fearlessness extended to the trampoline, where he'd try to jump himself, or just crawl around and encourage me to bounce him around. Now he's this (almost) four year old with the proportions of a boy, not a baby, bouncing ME around with Melissa on my lap. Melissa took a few tentative steps away from me but her brother's jumping kept her coming back to sit with me. Not for her being bounced around like a ball by someone larger.

Funny, the similarities and differences. Melissa also enjoys me chasing her, but she doesn't like being tickled or tossed about as much when I catch her.

They're both at fun ages right now. Matthew is communicating more and more (really, it's getting him to stop communicating everything he thinks that's the trick, sometimes), and Melissa is just starting developing that ability. They are both good-natured kids. It's a good time to be Dad.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Matthew can hold a several-shot rally with the computer in Virtua Tennis, but he doesn't know how to direct his shots to make it hard for the CPU to reach them, so he always loses eventually. This makes him mad. Fortunately, the worst word he knows is "stupid," which he pronounces without the D.

On the other hand, he's surprisingly good at Sly Cooper 3 which I would have thought would be more challenging. I guess the extra buttons involved aren't as tough for an almost-four-year-old as the more subtle interaction of the buttons and analog stick for VT, after all. Sly 3 ("new fox game" -- yes, I know it's a racoon) is joining We Love Katamari ("ball game") and Burnout Revenge ("car game") in Matthew's favorites. He was really into Ratchet & Clank 3 for a while, too ("ratchet game") but I think his mom banned him from that for a while. (Really into it...) He racked up over $400k doing some of the earlier missions over and over -- I'd beaten the game, so Ratchet was really buff, and Matthew was able to breeze through the early missions, calibrated for a significantly less buff protaganist, with ease. Basically he just wants to blow stuff up and not worry much about dying.

I did let him try Ratchet & Clank 2, but that wasn't as much of a success. In 3, a lot of missions will auto-replenish your ammo when you start them. Those were the missions Matthew liked. In 2, you always have to remember to buy new ammo, and there isn't a "max out all" option to keep things simple. So Matthew was always running out of ammo and getting frustrated.

He's a little better at Guitar Hero ("youtarr [guitar] game") than a few months ago but it's still just a little too hard for him to really get into, past the first couple songs.

I also picked up a copy of Toy Commander for the dreamcast based on some guy's slashdot comment gushing about how great it was. For a game about toys, it's extremely complicated. Each toy controls differently, but the missions also have very narrowly defined objectives barely within a four year old's ability to remember, and far beyond his ability to achieve. Too bad. He wants to like this "plane game" -- one of the first toys you can use is a biplane -- it's just out of he league for now.

Most gameboy advance games are also just a little too hard for him. He can do most of Sonic Advance, with the exception of the bosses. By far the easiest game we have is a Donkey Kong Country (#2? #3? I forget) but he doesn't like that, for some reason. He does like Metal Slug because it has tanks, but it really is too hard for him. His favorite was Metroid Zero Mission -- Rachel had beaten it, so Samus was super buff for the early areas, like Ratchet -- but then he deleted the save with that data on it. We should have made a copy; he does that eventually to pretty much any game he gets to play, since he can't read the prompts when it asks, "Are you sure?" Given this handicap, he actually navigates menus amazingly well. Just keep him out of the Save menu.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bedtime update

Melissa ended up howling for only about 40 minutes total on Thursday. But that was howling accompanied by climbing out of her crib and pounding on the bedroom door. So we chickened out of continuing with the Thou Shalt Go To Sleep By Thyself thing.

Melissa is learning words now! She can say eyes and mowff [mouth] (and point to them), she's trying to say shoes, and this morning when I took her in to Rachel she said desheeii [there she is].

But she recently decided that both parents were mama. I guess because that's the most important one? Dada's ego is bruised. She used to say dada; it's not like she doesn't know how.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Tonight I took Melissa to bed, bounced her on my knees, patted her back while she lay on my chest, put my arm around her with her next to me, and still she squirmed and fought sleep. For an hour.

I figured I'd turned in an honest effort, so I told her Good Night and wished her well. Fifteen minutes later she's still yelling angrily. I'll bet she lasts another hour easily.

We started on No Night-time Snacks on Sunday. I guess we might as well start Going To Sleep By Yourself while we're at it.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Singing and Chattering

Melissa sings now. The words are her own, but she can carry a tune. Her favorite is "Are you Sleeping?" She is immensely pleased when she begins singing and I join in with her. She'll also sing to "Baa Baa Black Sheep" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Both she and Matthew like to dance to music.

Matthew too loves to sing, but he started around 2 yrs, and not 15 months like Melissa. The other day Matthew went to "talk to the Mayor," and I heard singing coming from the bathroom. I've heard of singing in the shower, but not singing on the porcelain throne!

Melissa Vocab:

"Aw don!" All done!

"tank ew" Thank you

"amen" - spoken very quickly and the letters slurred together. She says this whenever she feels a prayer should end whether or not the prayer is truly finished.

"at!" cat! - with high pitched squeal!

"entle" gentle

"ut's dis?" what's this?

Melissa also says Mama and Dada of course. She doesn't say no yet, but she is quite clear in her intentions. When she refuses anything offered her, she shakes her head very emphatically.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Savage Uncle

Last night Matthew got out his action figure Batman and decided to play with it. When I say "play with it", I mean run at his Uncle David and jam Batman's pointy bat-ears into my chest. The first time this occured, the singularity of the event amused me. The second time it happened, I grabbed the figurine out of his clutches, pretended to bite Batman's head off, and then threw the figure a few feet away.
Mathew, who had been laughing the whole time I pretended to attack Batman, became mortified and ran off whaling when I tossed his toy.
I went back to writing my email and ignored the upset Savage Peanut. Family home evening soon started up and I brought my dinner into the family room. I sat down and commenced enjoying the savoury wedding leftovers. Matthew had his own plans for my dinner and and ran at my head superman style with Batman's pointy ears. I was not amused. He nearly made me spill my food on the rug.
I took Batman and sat on him. Mathhew in a panick quickly said he was sorry. I knew he was just working the system and told him that was not good enough. He ran off to Momma crying. Luckliy, Uncle Nolan gave a great family home evening lesson which heavily involved Matthew and his little helping hands.
At the end Matthew gave the closing prayer. He then gave everyone a kiss goodnight. I gave him his toy back then and told him I loved him.

Last night's events have not been entirely forgotten by Savage Peanut. This morning while I was sitting down in the kitchen, he came up to me, smiled, and then gave me a couple of light punches to the side. He was testing Savage Uncle. I knew it, and he could tell.

-Uncle David

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Melissa update

A couple months ago, we tried to teach Melissa "baby sign language." She didn't show any interest after several weeks, so we pretty much lost interest too, with the exception that Rachel continued to demonstrate an opening-and-closing-fist motion for "milk."

Just recently, Melissa finally started using this sign. But she uses it for "I want." She'll come up when you're trying to fix lunch and start reaching for the things on the counter, opening-and-closing, adding "Ba, ba, ba" for emphasis.

Melissa's also reached the "I want to be like Dad" stage. Last night, Rachel tried to feed Melissa some of her excellent potato soup. Melissa would have none of it, shaking her head vigorously and pushing the spoon away. But when I sat down and started eating my soup, she came over and ate mine with relish.

She even drank her cough syrup without complaining after she saw me drink some... but that only worked once.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

My daughter is a girl

Tonight after Rachel left to perform in her concert, Melissa toddled up to me holding her Hawaiian outfit, top and bottom. She handed them to me; I thanked her and set them to the side.

She handed them to me again, and started tugging at the shirt she had on. She couldn't get it over her head, but it was clear what she was trying to do.

So I helped her out of the old outfit (the one that she'd been wearing for about 20 minutes, after she got far too enthusiastic with some cherries in the previous one) and into the Hawaiian one. She toddled away again, content. (And then I grabbed her to change her diaper, because I detected a smell...)

Thank you!

Today Melissa said "Tank-ou" after I gave her some cheese. She's been a pleasant little Miss lately.

Matthew often has to "talk to the mayor" during meal times. He has yet to develop the coordination to do an adequate job of wiping up after himself, so usually the honor is bestowed on me. He recently relayed to me, "Mama, you best at wiping Matthew bottom." A title of dubious distinction if you ask me. Jonathan cracked up when he heard him and made comments along the lines of "high praise indeed," and "I guess only the best will do for Matthew." Personally, I think he is trying to shirk his share of t.p. duty.

Monday was Pioneer day, which means fireworks. Naturally they are loud and colorful, and as such, right up Matthew's alley. Our neighbors took turns setting them off until very late at night. Matthew was thrilled and informed us that he wanted to grow "big and tall" so that he too could set off fireworks. Pioneer day is more like Pioneer extended weekend though so the noise started Friday night and continued through Tuesday. Unfortunately Matthew has been staying up late and been exceptionally grumpy all week. I'm wondering if he's just got in the habit of staying up too late and not sleeping well, or if something else is going on. It's as though someone has spirited away my sweet cheerful boy and left a whiny, crying, unpleasant fellow in his place. He also complains of headaches in the afternoons and has not taken a nap all week despite his exhaustion. In fact he complains and loudly voices his disapproval of most everything. (And I mean everything- the way I fix my hair, any food offered, books, what I dress Melissa in, songs I sing, and on and on. Nothing is right.) I feel bad for him and want to help him feel better, but it's also trying on his parents!!! Maybe next week my pleasant boy will return. I pray.


Monday, July 24, 2006

Initiate Brother

I just read Initiate Brother by Sean Russell in about a day. I haven't been that into a book in a long time. Highly recommended, especially since you can find it used on Amazon for basically free plus shipping.

I'd never heard of Mr. Russell before; I bought it based on Orson Scott Card's recommendation. Now I can't wait for my copy of the sequel to arrive.

One Amazon reviewer compares Initiate Brother to Dune. I wouldn't quite rate Russell's work that high, but then, I think Dune might well be the best novel of the 20th century. The main point of commonality is very well-done political intrigue. I'm drawing a blank trying to think of another author who really pulled that off well, so maybe the comparison is more apt than I thought at first...

The only real cloud marring my silver lining here is that I suspect I'm likely to agree with the Amazon reviewers who think IB is Russell's best work. The set of authors who manage one high-quality piece of work is much larger than the set who pull it off consistently. (My favorite of the latter is Vernor Vinge, whose Rainbows End just came out a couple months ago.)

I'm going to give Beneath the Vaulted Hills a try next.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Cleaning skills

Matthew is almost done cleaning his room. It's taken him about half an hour. (Plus an hour and a half shrieking, but hey...)

He actually doesn't need much in the way of direction now. He still can't do it efficiently -- "pick up all the blocks" -- because his area of attention is about two feet square. But he's quite able to pick up the nearest object and put it somewhere off the floor.

It's quite nice, really, to sit and not have to direct him to each object that needs picking up.

Matthew is useful.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Soon After We Got Married....

Composed by Jonathan after a particularly harried day.

(Sung to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas)

Soon after we got married, my true love did conceive,
   One little Peanut and we were busy.

Three years after we were married, my true love did conceive,
   One big boy Peanut and a baby Honey Bee.

Five years after we were married, my true love said to me,
   ONE big boy Peanut, ONE Honey Bee are quite enough for ME!

-so no, another one is not in the near future plans, maybe after I start sleeping through the night again. Mmmm sleep. Or better yet after our Bee is potty-trained. Not sure I want to train again while pregnant. Uck. My Grandma trained all hers by 18 mos. Yeah no diapers! Sounds good to me. 'Course we'll have to see if Melissa will go along with this.

(I say all this tongue in cheek, fulling realizing that plans can go awry. Our next door neighboor is expecting her 4th anytime now and her last three (including this one) have all been 14 mos apart. Not quite how they had planned things.)


Escape artist

Rachel, just now: "I just took Melissa out of the tub, dried her off, and diapered her. She ran off and before I could catch her she dived back into the tub again, diaper and all!"

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


I got to the part where you fight the Flood; let's just say that now I agree with the M rating and the age when Matthew will be allowed to play went up about 5 years.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Space Rangers All

"Matthew is Buzz, Lissa little dirl Buzz, Dada is Buzz, Mama is Buzz."

Matthew loves being Buzz Lightyear. In his 3 year old generosity, he extends the same honor to the rest of his family.

I'm partly responsible for encouraging this. Yesterday I told him to build a Robot Buzz out of his blocks. He did, and he's extremely pleased with the result. Since then it's all been about one Buzz or another.

In non-Buzz news, Rachel's brothers got me playing Halo in Washington, and I was hooked. I borrowed my neighbor's copy yesterday and despite breaks to watch kids, entertain company, and so forth, got almost halfway through by the time I retired at Midnight. (Which is an indication of what an old fart I've become, incidently. I remember playing Starcraft until 4 AM, back in the day.)

I'd avoided Halo partly because I'm not a huge FPS fan in general, and partly because it was rated M. But the gore level turns out to be really minimal (no "gibs", very little blood). I guess it is pretty intense, but I'd let Matthew play it in a few years.

I noticed another oddity in a different rating system the other day. I picked up a copy of Mad Hot Ballroom (a movie about middle school students taking dance classes) and noticed it was rated PG. This movie was less disturbing than Bambi, for crying out loud. Why not rate it G?

Rachel postulated that maybe parents assume that G = suitable for children, so they rated MHB PG since young kids would be bored stiff. I suppose that's possible, but I think using the rating system to convey that sort of information is a bad idea.

It turns out that the PG in this case is officially for "some thematic elements." What, kids need to be protected from learning about competition? That not everyone finishes #1 all the time in real life?


Sunday, July 09, 2006

The case of the midnight pee

I've probably mentioned already how our custom of late is to wake Matthew when we go to bed and have him go to the bathroom. This improves his chances of waking up dry from "almost never" to "almost always."

He's tremendously sleepy when we do this. Sometimes he can't even walk to the bathroom, and I'll carry him to and from the toilet.

A couple nights ago, at Rachel's parents' place, I took him to the bathroom as usual. I put him in the general vicinity of the toilet and instructed him, "Pull down your pants and pee."

He pulled down his pants and peed... nowhere near the toilet.

I yelped and picked him up, still spraying, and pointed his stream towards the proper receptacle. Then I had to clean up the cabinets and floor. There was far too much to clean up with toilet paper, and there were no paper towels in the house; I settled on the hand towel, which I left on the floor where, I hoped, nobody would use it until I could put it in the wash in the morning. (Everyone else was in bed and I didn't want to wake someone just to ask where to put a dirty towel.)

In the morning, the towel was back in its place on the wall. Somebody had picked it up and, presumably, used it. Eww.

(Rachel didn't want me to write about this, but I pointed out that I was, in fact, exercising enormous restraint by writing about this instead of a far grosser incident that also occurred at her parents' house. She had to agree when I put it that way.)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A good time was had by all

Matthew had a great 4th of July. All of Rachel's Washington relatives came over for a barbeque and fireworks. Matthew was shy at first, but he quickly made friends with Rachel's cousin Ryan and Andrea's finace, Scott. He roughoused with them outside, and when he was done with that, Ryan and I played "big boy ball." (He's too big for "baby ball" now, after all.) He enjoyed that enormously and kept urging us to "teep dohing!" [keep going]

Then it was time to set off the fireworks. All told we had around $300 worth (at last-minute discount prices, too). It was quite a show, and Matthew got to stay up until about 10:00 watching it. Amazingly, Rachel got Melissa to sleep while it was starting. These were not your wimpy legal firecrackers, either; these were "tribal." Meaning, of course, that you could get much bigger ones from firework stands on reservation land. The big ones made me wish I'd brought ear protection.

Melissa had a great time, too. Before she went to bed, she wandered from relative to relative, grinning her dimply baby grin, charming everyone. When she saw food she liked, she went "mmmmMMMMMmmmm!" and usually got some. Lots of cherries (cut in half first) and juice from her parents, and chips and cake from practically everyone.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Come Fly the Unfriendly Skies

Here is my email. More later.

Dear Sir or Madame,

Yesterday I arrived with my two small children (a baby and a 3 year old) at the airport and discovered that my flight had just been delayed for 2 1/2 hours. So far no problem, I could keep them amused for a few hours and then they could nap on the plane. An hour and a half later I found that the plane would leave at 5:15 (probably). Okay- I figured we're here at the airport with one of the car seats checked- we'd manage somehow.

At four o'clock the departure board listed the departure at 5:50, and I thought I'd check out at the desk to find out what was really going on. In addition, my children were very tired and I wanted to find a quiet place in the airport were they could rest. When I finally got to the front of the desk I found out the flight had been cancelled, but no one had bothered to inform the passengers or update the departure board. I was pretty displeased at this point and my babies very tired and cranky. My ticket was rescheduled for the next day with an arrival at noon.

I went down to baggage claim and requested my bags. Forty minutes later they still hadn't appeared. I went back to baggage claim and spoke with a different lady and found the claim hadn't even been processed. The first women I spoke with announced that she didn't even recognize me or remember my claim! Anyways 20 minutes later I finally got my baggage. My husband picked me up and we left.

When I got home I found out that my current arrival would cause me to miss the funeral. So I called delta. After waiting an hour I got through to someone from India who spoke poor English and had difficulty understanding me. He told me that no earlier flights were available but I could book one later. Not sure if the times would work for my family to pick me up in Seattle I asked if I could book and then call immediately back to change the times if they didn't work. Nope, that would be an additional $50 a ticket. Ahhhh! So I hung up and called my family to work out the time, waited another hour on hold. This time I got the ticket change, but when I received the email confirmation was charged $140.00! I'd already paid full price for the 3 tickets, was missing Pop pop's funeral, had two less days to spend with my family to mourn and comfort them. Both times when I talked with the reservation agents and explained the circumstances and my frustrations I never got more than, "I'm sorry Ma'am" I have never had so much difficulty flying before and I am angry at the poor treatment I and my children have received at the hands of Delta. If this is "customer service" is it any wonder that the company is facing finacial difficulty?

Delta cannot make up for the loss time at a funeral that I will miss today. At the very least I expect the $140.00 refunded.

Thank you for your prompt attention,

Rachel Ellis

Little monkey

Melissa is a climber. I've written about how she climbs the backs of chairs at church. I haven't mentioned others, like climbing a near-vertical picture frame, or the bookshelves, or others.

But sometimes she bites off more than she can chew. This morning she went off to play and all was well for a time, but then I heard hoots coming from the guest room. She'd climbed onto the coffee table, but wasn't sure how to get down, so she called for help.

Pretty handy with a multidisk gun

Matthew beat the 16-round weapon-switcheroo challenge in Ratche & Clank 3's Annihilation Nation, but then got tired of the arena matches. He prefers the "maze" ones now. He hasn't beaten any yet; the timed jumps are tough for him. But he's getting close.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A call from a friend

Uncle Grant called Matthew yesterday.

Uncle Grant called Matthew yesterday.

Matthew was thrilled. He kept telling me about how he talked to Uncle Grant on phone!

If making a three year old's day is not good karma I don't know what is.

Walking update

Melissa has been increasingly confident in her ability to walk. At first she'd only go in straight lines, but now she's starting to be able to turn without falling, too.

Today was another first: she got to her feet without holding on to anything. I wonder if this is another skill that she'll only do unconsciously until she gets more comfortable with the idea.

Babies are so easily amused

[Hands Daddy some object.] Daddy: "Thank you!"
[Holds out hand for Daddy to give back object.] Daddy: "You're welcome"
Melissa: [giggles]

Repeat until Daddy's attention span runs out.

(Sometimes she will play this with Matthew, too.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Baby talk

Melissa's starting to say words besides mamamamama and dadadada.

Yesterday she said "aw duh" [all done] when she was finished eating her beans (black, like her older brother at this age); today Rachel said she said "kiss" in an appropriate context.

My dad thinks when she said "meh" in church that she was imitating the "amen," but that one's close enough to random baby noises that I'm less sure of that one.

I suspect Melissa will be speaking with facility sooner than her brother.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Patience? In Matthew?

I came into the kitchen and was confronted by Matthew in superhero costume, holding an extra "cape" in front of him.

"Dada," he announced, "dis [this] dae'."

Matthew's pronunciation still leaves a lot to be desired.

"Uh... Cape?" I guessed hopefully.

"No. Dis tape [cape, motioning towards the one he was wearing]. Dae'."

"Jake? Day?"

"No. Dae'."

I repeated my earlier guesses but I was drawing a blank. Usually at this point Matthew would get increasingly frustrated. Instead, he explained himself:

"Dae'. You tant [can't] go troo [through] it."

"Oh! Gate!" (Normally the purpose of gates is to be passed through, but Matthew meant it was impassable without his august permission.)

"Yes. Dae."

Crisis averted.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Correction: Matthew REALLY likes being a superhero

The blue mask I wrote about several days ago is now Matthew's essential accessory. He wears it at all times except when he sleeps. I've been to the library, outside, and stores while accompanied by SUPERMATTHEW. He's been especially helpful lately too. All I have to do is ask SuperMatthew to assist me in someway, and he cheerfully says, "Sure!" and zooms off to accomplish the task.


Tuesday, June 06, 2006

At the cabin

This last weekend we went up in the mountains near Huntsville (absolutely gorgeous! I'd love to live there, at least until the first winter.) and had a cousin get together. Lot of fun. Matthew and Melissa had a grand time in the house. Matthew was thrilled that the house was laid out so he could run circles around and around. Melissa enjoyed the stairs to the loft. Up and down. Up and down.....

Matthew was pleased that Alycia's husband, Justin was there. Now if anyone can keep up with Matthew my bet would be on Justin. And for about the first hour and a half he did. They discovered the water pump, a little stream, birds and raced across the property and house. Then Justin pettered out. He looked over at Jonathan as Matthew zoomed by, "Is he always THIS busy?" Jonathan just smiled.

Matthew was exceptionally good on the trip. He only had a minor fit when he realized we would not be driving home to put him in his bed for the night. Once having a new bed was phrased as an adventure, he was cool.

Makes me hopeful that traveling (by my lonesome) to Grandma and Grandpa's in a few weeks will go smoothly. Please?


Naughty Goat!

Yesterday for family home evening we took the kids to a petting farm. Matthew enjoyed the pony rides and Melissa liked petting a baby goat. It's nice to go this time of year because of all the baby animals, from tiny chicks, to little calves. There were "dairy themed" activities for kids this time. Matthew got to "churn" butter by shaking cream in a small container and then ate it on crackers with a carton of chocolate milk to wash it down. He also made a cow mask out of paper. A good time was had by all until Matthew met his nemesis.

As we were preparing to leave Matthew decided he wanted to feed a goat some corn. Fine. I boasted him up to reach the goat. All of a sudden, the goat climbed the rails, and lightening fast snatched Matthew's mask and proceeded to eat it. I recovered part of the mask, but wasn't fast enough to rescue all of it. Matthew was distraught.

Today his favorite topic is that "naughty goat."

The first thing he said to me this morning-
"Naughty goat eat Matthew's mask. Make Matthew cry." "Bad-guy goat."

While picking up his room this afternoon, he ran across some goats that went with his barn and that started another discourse on the failings of goats in general. All other animals have risen in his esteem.

"Dog good. Dog not eat Matthew's mask."

As consolation for the loss of his mask, we made superhero masks out of blue foam. Matthew likes being a superhero.


Sunday, June 04, 2006

Boys are different from girls

Matthew's baby doll was sick when last he played with it. (A couple weeks ago.) Now it's All Better.

And flying around the house, shooting things. Whrrrrw. Prrw prrw prrw! Tschhhh!

The amazing transforming bear

Matthew has three teddy bears, but Melissa's was the one he wanted to play with. I can see where he was coming from, though, because Melissa's was a transforming bear. It looks like a normal teddy bear, but when Matthew scrunched down its head and folded in its limbs it was a ... spaceship bear! Whoosh! Zoom!

With age comes wisdom

This morning, Matthew saw the bowl his mom and I had been eating popcorn out of last night. Naturally, he wanted popcorn for breakfast. Being the pushover that I am, I said he could have some after a bowl of cheerios.

He ate his cereal in record time and I made him some popcorn. He ate a little, then took a 5 minute break to get a piece of kernel out of his teeth. (He loves popcorn but he has had a completely unreasonable phobia of kernels lately, thanks to a joy school lesson that he blew all out of proportion.)

So he got the one kernel out, then started trying to get another one out. "Matthew," I said, "did you know that if you just eat more popcorn, it will often dislodge the kernel in your teeth?" Matthew decided that was worth a try. A couple minutes later he ran over excitedly. "Dada! More popcorn get kernel ou' [out of] my teeth!"

That's your dad, the Sage of Snack Food.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Sweet Dreams

Matthew told me that he went to the "candy land factory" last night.

(There's a candy factory not too far away and I've taken him a few times to watch the lollipops and candy canes being made.)

"Last night?"

"Yeah. And Michael there. (Michael is Matthew's best friend.) The candy roll round and round. Get longer and longer."

"Was it good?"

"Yeah! Matthew eat it all gone."

Well, now I know what he dreams of. Sweet dreams indeed!


The facts of life, three-year-old style

Tonight was tiring. Rachel had orchestra practice, and Melissa was sick, so Matthew didn't get a whole lot of attention from Dad, who was kinda of snappish anyway.

I put Matthew to bed first. (Otherwise, he'd come and chatter at me while I was trying to get Melissa down.) When Melissa was asleep in her crib I went back to Matthew's room and sat with him in the rocking chair. I told him what a good boy he has been tonight and I was sorry I was impatient with him. "Das' awight, Dada," he said. "Iss not you fault."

Then he started talking about all the body parts he had. I pointed out his heel and his ankle. He probably already knew what they were, but he asked anyway: "Where ankle come from?" Our favorite question of late.

"Mama made your ankle before you were born. You were inside Mama. Mama and Dada made you."

"Really?" "Really."

Matthew thought for a bit. "Mama, Dada sad -- no Matthew. Mama, Dada make Matthew. Mama, Dada happy have Matthew!"

Yes, we're happy we made Matthew.

(Then he postulated how Matthew help Mama Dada make Llissis. I told him that No, Mama and Dada made Melissa without Matthew, but Matthew was a good older brother all the same.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Melissa is in no hurry to walk, unlike her brother who walked at 9 months and change. This doesn't bother us, except it IS increasingly difficult to keep her in pants -- now that Winter is over it's hard to find long baby pants, and she's worn holes in the knees of all the ones she already has.

But despite encouragement from her mom and dad, she just couldn't be bothered with walk practice. If she consented to it at all, she insisted on holding both my hands.

Today, then, was a breakthrough: she walked holding one hand to her mom in the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the kitchen, to the bathroom, to the living room, where she found something more interesting than walking. (A mostly-deflated balloon.)

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Mom went to play with the Riverton orchestra tonight. Daddy had the kids.

Matthew went to bed with reasonably good grace, or at least no worse than usual, but Melissa did not. She fell asleep while I rocked her, but as soon as I put her in the crib she sprang up madder than a wet hen. She yelled if I rocked her more, yelled if I bounced her on her knees, yelled if I tried to tuck her back in and pat her back.

So I told her if she was just going to yell anyway, she could yell by herself in the crib. And I left. Half an hour later the yelling subsided and I figured she must be asleep.

When Rachel got home she went to check on her baby and found her on our bed -- next to the crib. Looks like Melissa, like Matthew, is truly an heir of her mother's climbing genes.

There's such a thing as too much imagination

Matthew is very into imagining things. This is great, because he can entertain himself for a lot longer than he used to. But it does have a downside.

Tonight Matthew was playing on the neighbor's slide. Whatever game he was playing involved a blue gameboy, a ticket, and money. When we came inside, he started to get agitated. "I lef' gameboy, ticket ou'side!"

Daddy thought quickly. "I picked them up for you, Son. Here they are." And I mimed handing him the gameboy and ticket, and all was well.

When boys play with teddy bears

Matthew was playing with Melissa's teddy bear last night. (He has a couple of his own, but playing with Melissa's is more fun, somehow.) Bear swooshed around the house, shooting bad guys, until Matthew had an even better idea.

Bear could turn into a spaceship.

Matthew folded up its arms and legs and tucked down its head until he had a compact Bear Cubeship. Then the cubeship swooshed around the house, shooting bad guys.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I'll take blue-collar bed sheets

I remember reading somewhere that really high-threadcount bed sheets are a waste of money because you can't tell the difference between them and cheaper ones, past a count of 2 or 3 hundred.

This is incorrect.

Rachel got some really high-count sheets, 6 or 8 hundred or so. They're supposed to feel cooler in the summer. They do. They also feel slippery. Like I'm risking a friction burn every time I get in bed.

So they have been relegated to the guest bed for now.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

60 seconds

Matthew's latest thing when Mom puts him to bed is being rocked while they count to 60. (So it's really more like 3 or 4 minutes.)

He's very pleased with being able to count and likes to find new opportunties to practice.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

It's 10:30. Do you know where Matthew is?

I know where he is: in bed. Wide awake. Alternately singing the
ABC's to himself and talking about Bad Guys.

Tomorrow he will wake between 6:30 and 7:00, as he always does no
matter how late he is up. And then he will be grumpy because he
really needs 12 hours of sleep to have his happy-batteries fully
charged. And his Mom will bear the brunt of the grumps. Poor Rachel.

Old news: after I wrote about Matthew learning to type his name, my
friend Mark told me that he gave his niece a really old laptop for
that sort of thing. Oddly enough, my Dad just shipped me my mom's old
486-33, I think it is, with grayscale (passive matrix) LCD. Windows
3.1 and DOS!

Matthew thinks it ROCKS.

It works fine except the battery is totally dead, and it seems to be
very sensitive to dirty AC, or something. It will work for anywhere
from 10 seconds to 10 minutes, then die without warning. Sometimes it
dies during the boot process. I'm tempted to get a UPS for it but
that seems silly given how much more the UPS would be worth than the

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Why I didn't sleep much last night

(Graphic descriptions of gross bodily functions ahead. You have been warned.)

Shortly after 2 AM last night, Melissa started making kind of a choking coughing sound, like you might make if you were trying to hack up a really big loogie.

Then BAAAAAARF she puked all over the bed. Got some on the quilt, too.

Trying to clean Melissa off was clearly a lost cause, so Rachel bathed Melissa while I changed the bed sheets. (I have to give "Totally Toddler" props for living up to its billing in getting the puke smell out of the mattress where it had soaked through the sheet.)

Melissa enjoyed her bath. It was like she was thinking, "Hey, this isn't so bad after all."

We got the sheets changed and Melissa bathed and dressed in under half an hour. We congratulated ourselves that it could have been worse.

It got worse.

Ten minutes after we went back to bed, and before anyone really got back to sleep, the hawking sounds started again. "Oh no!" I ran to get a cloth diaper for her to barf in. I was too late. And anyway, the way she flails around, it probably wouldn't have done any good.

Rachel bathed her again -- she didn't enjoy it as much this time -- and I changed the sheets. Again. At least Melissa didn't get quilt #2.

By this time Melissa was pretty awake. Rachel took her into the front room to rock her to sleep. I went to bed. For about 5 minutes, until she puked again. Poor kid.

This time she nailed Rachel pretty good. And the floor. Not so much on herself. I changed her onesie and wiped her off while Rachel showered. While I was rocking Melissa I heard crying from Matthew's room. I figured maybe the noise had finally woken him up. I didn't really want to, but I went to see what was wrong.

Matthew had puked on his bed, too.

Fortunately, Matthew was sleeping on top of his quilt, which, unlike ours, was machine-washable. None of the small amount of barf got through to the other sheets. Also, Matthew's old enough now that he knows that there are Good Places To Puke and there are Bad Places To Puke, and his bed wasn't on the good list. (He probably wasn't very awake when it first came up.) He said something about having more business to do, but he wasn't in any hurry to go to the bathroom, so I picked him up and deposited him in front of the toilet. He finished things off there, washed his mouth off with water, and went back to bed. Took it quite in his stride, really.

I got him a bowl in case he had more later. He said he didn't need it but I told him to humor me.

He needed it.

Fortunately that was the last incident for the night, and he kept it in the bowl. Rachel took Melissa again to settle her down while I went back to bed to try to get back to sleep.

Elapsed time: over 2 hours. It was probably another 20 minutes before Rachel got Melissa down.

* Rachel's note: Actually Matthew threw up 2-3? more times and I got up with him each time to console and clean the bowl. He mostly took it in stride. Poor kid. Poor parents. What a night.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Matthew is BIG!

...and don't you dare say otherwise Michael.

Yesterday Matthew went to Michael's house to play. Michael decided to boast about his size relative to Matthew (all two inches!)

Michael: I big! Matthew is short. Matthew is little.

Matthew: I big too!

Michael: No you're not!

Matthew: Matthew IS BIG. Michael's big too. We're both big!

This back and forth started to get heated, so Michael's mom found something to distract the two debators.

We have learned long ago to never suggest that Matthew is anything but big and getting bigger still. Even Jonathan's affectionate nickname for him, 'my little man,' was met with indignation, and hence is no longer used.


Friday, April 28, 2006

A night from Hell

Last night Rachel felt like she was in the beginning stages of mastitis. Not cool.

Even less cool when Melissa decided to wake up 4 times that I remember. But these were not "wake up and go back to sleep when Daddy pats my back" wakes. These were "wake up and get angrier and angrier until Mommy nurses me, then grudgingly drift back to sleep."

It sucks that we can't just train her to sleep better by herself, because this training would necessarily involve a lot of yelling, and Rachel understandably can't sleep when her baby is yelling. (Daddies have less compunctions about this. At least I do.) So to keep the peace we do what she says, more or less.

Makes me feel like Neville Chamberlain.

(Even Melissa was tired after last night. After she got up this morning and refused to go back to sleep, I took her to the living room where she sacked out on my lap and slept there until her brother woke her up half an hour later yelling for Dad. Stubborn baby!)

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Sam's choice: best float root beer on the planet?

Sam's Choice is strong root beer. Almost too strong. "Almost as strong as my Dad's root beer, the kind that blew up," says Rachel.

But it is fantastic root beer for floating ice cream in. Wimpier root beers get overpowered by the vanilla and surrender. Not Sam's Choice.


More "Mercs"

Matthew really loves this game. He'll beat it 2 or 3 times in a row sometimes.

This morning as the ending credits rolled and it showed the two mercs driving away, Matthew told me, "He need go home, say Hi his kids."

"Mercs: he saved the president. Can he change the dirty diaper?"

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Every boy wants to be a fireman or an astronaut

(Or possibly both at once.)

Matthew went deep into astronaut mode today. Rachel thinks this is a delayed reaction from the "imagination" lesson he had in joy school a week ago. (Matthew also figured out which symbol on the CD player corresponded to the theme song from that lesson and played it over and over.)

So today at the library he wanted nothing but astronaut books. With the aid of a helpful librarian he came home with around a dozen. Some are too advanced for him. That's okay; we'll talk about the pictures.

I read one of them to him tonight for bedtime. It was about different things astronauts do in the space shuttle. It was very short, so when he asked me to read it again, I did.

Gaming sophistication

Matthew's favorite game recently is Mercs, from the Capcom Collection. It has two main things going for it:

  • Infinite lives
  • Every life you start with 3 "bombs" that blow up all the bad guys on screen

So even a fairly impatient boy can beat the game fairly easily. Still, I've noticed that he's a lot better than he was when he first started: now (even though he has infinite lives) he dodges enemy fire and uses his non-bomb weapon occasionally -- as well as the more powerful vehicle-mounted weapons that you come across occasionally.

Monday, April 24, 2006


  • I've mentioned before that Matthew helps with the silverware when it's dishes-doing time. (When he's awake for it, anyway. Which seems seldom, come to think of it.) Sunday was the first time I saw him sort the little spoons and little forks separately from their larger counterparts. He usually got the forks correct; spoons were harder, for some reason.
  • Spring is here, the time when a young man's heart turns to... Mama! Practically every time he goes outside, he picks her a dandelion: "Here, Mama. Matthew give you flower! Put in water!" He's very insistent about the water. So I come home and there's a glass of water on the counter with a dandelion head floating in it -- he only picks the heads.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Daddy does dinner

"Finish your goldfish [crackers], Son. Then you can have a popsicle."

(And they were good popsicles, too. Even though the prominent "90% juice" declaration on the box turned out to mean that all the popsicles were 90% apple juice, even the "orange" and "grape" ones.)

Saturday, April 22, 2006

My obsessive-cumpulsive son

I've written about this before, but here's a couple more examples.

Matthew came down with something today. He was bouncing around normally this morning, but after Rachel left to have lunch with friends, he grew listless. Unfortunately I'd already told him we'd go to a slide while his mom was gone, so I took him. (I did ask him if he was too tired, and of course he said no.) Once we were there he just sat on his bench and sipped root beer. Too tired to play on the slide basically means he's sick.

And he was sick. Oh yes. "Matthew is sick," he told me. Uh-oh. "Do you need to go to the bathroom?" "Yes." "Right now?" "Yes." He still didn't move, so I picked him up and ran to the restroom, where we found... a toilet whose previous business had clogged it. Matthew just stood there and moaned. So I whisked him to the sink where he promptly puked all over. Fortunately he didn't get any on himself or me. (But he did the next time a couple hours later...)

Sick as a dog, but not going to use a dirty toilet!

This afternoon after two more purges, he was feeling a little better. Wandering through the living room, he noticed a box of flash cards that was upside-down. Absently, he came over, righted it, and moved on.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

An night of firsts

Last night at dinner, Matthew was playing with his food. He split his green beans apart to extract the seeds and wouldn't shut up about it. "Dada! Two seeds! Dada! Three seeds!" etc.

Finally I said, "Son, I don't care how many seeds there are! Just eat them, okay!"

He turned back to his plate and rebeliously grumbled, "Dada stupi'."

Somebody got a timeout in the bathroom.

On a happier note, Melissa had a first last night, too: she's old enough to play "Daddy chases Melissa;" she giggled and giggled as I crawled around after her and occasionally grabbed her foot.

She only wanted to be chased to the open bathroom, though. Maybe the thought that she was going somewhere she shouldn't added spice to it.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Tigers in Matthew's house

Today they had a lesson on imagination in preschool. This is right up Matthew's alley. When we got home Matthew wanted to go on a spaceship ride.

"You sit here in spaceship Mama."

"You need buckle up."

He then turned the "ignition," pressed some buttons, put on his pretend helmet and goggles, grasped his steering wheel and we were off to the moon.

Once we arrived on the moon it was time to go on a tiger hunt. He uncoiled his pretend rope and tossed it to catch a tiger. After petting it for a while he decided to let it go so it could go home to his mama. So we went back to the spaceships and flew back to Earth.

Ever since, there've been tigers everywhere in our house. Whole families of tigers.

"Tigers not dangerous Matthew. Tigers like Matthew."

Melissa Shares

I gave Melissa some crackers during dinner tonight. She was quite content to crumble and munch on them. After a while she slowed down so I made mmmm! and smacking sounds. She looked a me, looked a the cracker in her hand, and then offered me the cracker! At first I tried to graciously decline, but she held her hand out still, so I nibbled on it and said "Thank you!" She thought this was pretty funny. She took a bite herself and then offered it again. This time I was able to decline the soggy cracker by distracting her. Still, a sweet gesture.


Sunday, April 09, 2006


I was talking to Rachel last night. Matthew was off in the bathroom washing his hands, but just to be safe, I spelled something out that I didn't want him to understand. I don't remember what it was last night -- we were talking about bedtime, and I can't figure out what I would have considered sensitive information wrt that -- but I'll often say things like, "Should I take Matthew to the S L I D E?" or, "Would you like some C H O C O L A T E?"

I think he's on to me. He came back and asked, "You take Matthew E R T?"

E R T?

Okay, so spelling isn't his strong point yet. But if he's figured out that "take Matthew [group of letters]" means something exciting, I need to come up with a new strategy.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Old is such a relative term

"Daddy, sha' dis! [watch this]"

Matthew spun around on the hardwood floor on his back and his hands and knees. "I spin 'round! You try, Daddy?"

"No thank you, son."

"Why not?"

"I think I'm too old."

"I old! I three! I do it! You try?"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Reason #435 I'm glad I married Rachel

A couple weeks ago, I was playing Guitar Hero with Matthew while Melissa crawled around on the floor. It was a good evening. Baby was happy. Rachel was probably organizing things or something. (I don't remember exactly, but it seems like a pretty good guess, since she does that a lot.)

So Matthew and I were shredding away when Melissa decided to crawl through the guitar cord. She's a very ... determined girl, so when it arrested her forward progress she simply applied more force. I watched in horror as she dragged the PS2 off the shelf, crashing onto the floor.

It was not a happy playstation. The disc drive would not open. Repeated reboots only got "disk read error." It was dead.

Figuring that, hey, what brute force broke, brute force can fix, I got my vice grips to pry the drive open. I only succeeded in breaking off a piece of the face plate, then tearing off the rest -- which was not insecurely attached!

I tabled it in disgust. I knew I could open it up with a screwdriver, but there were a lot of screws, and I wasn't in the mood, that night or the next. Matthew was disappointed that we no longer played "yutarr game."

Then a couple days later when I got home, Matthew told me the good news: "Mama fix playsasion! We play yutarr game!"

Rachel said she just jiggled it the right way to un-wedge the disc inside, and that was that. Some people are just better at these things than others, I guess!

Guitar Hero is in the house again.