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!"