Sunday, June 30, 2013

Boy number 2

I've been trying hard not to call Baby Plum the middle. I read a book on birth order, and the impression I got was that middles always feel cheated and squeezed. I don't want him to feel that way. But what to call him? At this point, I doubt he cares, but I hate to get into a habit that later upsets him. Little Elvis is the oldest. Cheese Puff is the baby. At this point, I'm saying, "Little Elvis is my 6-year-old, Baby Plum is my 3-year-old, and Cheese Puff is my 1-year-old." This evening, I was trying to get them to go inside for bed. I ended up saying, "Boy Number 1!" to Little Elvis. And Baby Plum yelled, "I'm Boy Number 2!!" Maybe I'll do that for now.
Here Boy Number 2 drew on his face with a pen. See the lines? I think Little Elvis took this picture.
I made lasagna last week. I do not like making lasagna. So much work! Why did I make it? Because Baby Plum loves cottage cheese. For a while, he would happily eat from a 3 pound tub (yeah, he would eat from that thing all by himself.) But then he decided the Sam's economy priced cottage cheese was not tasty. He likes Kroger's brand better. We found some Brookstone on sale, and tried that. He was NOT a fan. So, I had a big tub of cottage cheese to use up. I use it instead of ricotta, because it's cheaper. I slaved in the Mississippi heat to make it. All three boys did end up eating some if it, but the oldest two had to be coerced. I took a picture of Baby Plum while he ate to encourage him to continue eating.
He's not really into his Cookie Monster shirts anymore. I laid this one out for him. He much prefers a hand-me-down shirt from a boy at church. It's purple, and has the name of that boys' school on it. Baby Plum doesn't go to that school, but that doesn't matter. He likes that shirt. He dresses himself most days. He likes to pick out his own clothes. And he likes to dress himself with his undies on backwards, his shorts usually on backwards and his shoes on the wrong feet. It's intentional. I'm not sure what his message is, but I try to just let him do it.
Poor baby passed out the other day. He's been trying to keep up with Little Elvis who doesn't need naps. If Little Elvis doesn't go down for a nap, then neither will Baby Plum. And they stay up late at night playing and bickering in their room. He just can't keep up with Little Elvis. He napped for a long time that afternoon. We've been taking one step forward, and two steps backwards with the thumb-sucking. I think it's tied into his sleepiness. If he's tired, he's much more likely to suck his thumb. He's also much crankier.

Baby Plum is our most laid back child. He is. Not much bothers him. Except when it comes to Little Elvis. If Little Elvis runs ahead, then Baby Plum stops and screams for Little Elvis to stop. He doesn't run to catch up. He just makes what I call his "Robert DeNiro" face and cries.

We were playing with friends at the mall last week. The little girl we were playing with is Baby Plum's age. And she loves babies. She wants to pet Cheese Puff. Cheese Puff does not like being petted. He doesn't like  other people getting up in his grill. She needed to pet a head, though. So I told her to pet Baby Plum's head, because he wouldn't care. He didn't. He just put his head in her direction.

It's fun listening to Baby Plum express ideas and thoughts now. He was playing with Woody the other day, saying, "Don't say cowabunga, Woody!" He picked up that phrase from Little Elvis. Who learned it at theater camp. They did a Rock-n-Roll theme, and Little Elvis' line was in the part about the Beach Boys. He had to speak surfer words. We think cowabunga was one of those words.

We love that he's talking so much now. He will sometimes say, "Yeppy-yep" for yes, and "Nopey-nope" for no. And instead of nothing, he says, "No thing."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Changing so quickly!

I guess summer's almost halfway over for us. We start summer a little earlier down here. It's been a busy time for us, getting the shed finished. And it's been a busy time for Cheese Puff. He's hit a point where he's learning and trying so many new things!
This baby loves swinging. Sometimes when I push him, I will sing-song "Swing. swing." Obviously, I'm not the lyricist of the family. He's also got a song where I say his name over and over again. He loves both songs. But now, when he swings, he will also try to sing, "Swing, swing." He really loves his little swing, and he enjoys when his big brothers push him. They are lots rougher than I am.
Here, he's posing and saying, "Cheese" for the camera. He loves to say "Cheese" for anything that he thinks is a camera. He's also taken to saying, "Uh oh" whenever I get a text or phone call.
Here, he's wearing one of Baby Plum's shirts. He's gotten into dressing in his brothers' shirts. He's also worn one of mine. When he finds a shirt he likes, it's a huge battle to get him out of it.
Here, he was willing to get out of the shirt, because he wanted to put on Baby Plum's purple shirt instead.
My mom bought them all shirts that say "Trouble." Cheese Puff wore his for two days before I could get it off of him. It was messy. He's a very messy eater.
But he ate that meal fairly neatly. For him.
He's just getting so big. So big.
But he's not big enough to wear Little Elvis' shirts. How cute is he?
He's trying to get Little Elvis' attention.
Two brothers, same shirt size.
Here he's in an outfit that fits. Look how old he looks walking in his big boy shoes and Hawaiian shirt.
Guess what his favorite food is? Actually, it might be bananas or grapes, but peanut butter is right up there at the top. We got some at Kroger, and he had to hold it in the little car. We forgot to pay for it, and had to take it back in. As soon as the manager rang it up, we had to give it right back to him. He was fussy, and tired. I thought this was so cute. Who needs a teddy bear when you have a big jar of peanut butter?

One of his biggest accomplishments now that he's 16 months -- aside from the walking and constant addition of new words -- is singing. He sings "Twinkle, twinkle little star" all of the time. It is so cute. When we stop to listen, or look at him, he stops and smiles. I have to get video. It is so cute, and we think it's very impressive for one so young to start singing. Bob is thrilled. His plans for a family band a la Hansen are coming together nicely...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Questions

Little Elvis has entered into a very questionable phase -- and it's not "whys." No, he's got much more focused, specific questions.

They mainly concern cars and electronics.

If he sees you, he will ask you what brand of TV you have. He doesn't say, "Hi." or "How are you?" No, he just dives right in, "What brand is your TV?"

Not many people get asked that question immediately upon introduction, but I've been surprised at the people who actually know the answer. I wouldn't have known the answer before this phase began.

If we go into someone else's house (or a place of business) we have to inspect all electronics for their brands. All big appliances. All small appliances.

I can now tell you the brands of just about every appliance or electronic in our house. He can tell you the brands of the ones in our house, my parents' house, my grandparents' houses, etc. He remembers. And pretty much anything that plugs in counts.

He wants to know the brands of TVs, DVD players, clocks, alarm clocks, radios, coffee pots, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, can openers, etc.

But don't think that we get off with just questions about specific brand names. We don't. Once we've determined the brands, then he wants to know how old that brand is. Is it really old? Not too old? Kind of young? What's the oldest brand? What's the youngest brand? What else do they make? What was the brand of TV we had when I was a little girl?

I rarely know any of these answers. I give him guesses. He accepts my estimates, sometimes. Other times, he just rephrases his questions. It's like he's trying to trick me into giving him the right answer, which I'm hiding for some odd reason.

And one answer, just leads to way more questions. I told Bob one day that I was not "Moogle," or Mommy Google. And I refuse to turn on the internet during the day. That child spaces out when presented with any type of screen. If the answer's not in our set of encyclopedias from 1992, then we just guess. We guess a lot.

We've spent lots of time at Lowe's this month, thanks to our shed. Little Elvis LOVES Lowe's. It's got lots of appliances, and they are all shiny. And there are all sorts of brands that are new to him.

This weekend, we were walking around the appliances while Bob shopped for something. A very nice woman was working in appliances. She heard us talking about a Bosch appliance. It was new to him, and I knew nothing. But she seemed nice, and not too busy. I asked if she would mind answering some questions for him, because he loved appliances. She said she would try.

He managed to ask her about Bosch. It's pretty old. It's a German brand, but it's built in North Carolina. Then the questions stopped. She was willing to answer more. He didn't know what to do. He wanted to ask a good one. He wandered up and down the aisles, trying to come up with a good one. He couldn't. But she was very nice to ask that one question. I don't know why he ran out of questions with someone who was way more of an expert.

When he's not asking about electronics and appliances, he wants to know the first car that I drove. Or that Bob drove. Or my parents. Or my aunt. How old is that brand? What does its logo look like? We have a friend who is an old car aficionado. We saw him this evening. I told Little Elvis to ask him some questions, and he might have the answer. Did Little Elvis ask him? No.

I'm not really complaining. Don't think I am. For the most part, it's funny. And I think we're lucky that this child is so interested in facts. I checked out a DVD for him last week at the library. It was a set of 4 Popular Mechanics for Kids shows. I thought it was about slimy things. That show didn't work very well. But he loved the one about subways. He was thrilled to learn that Popular Mechanics was a magazine. This show was made in the late 90s. He wanted to know about the production company, the publisher, and one of the funders.

I got Baby Plum a DVD about parrots called "The Parrots of Telegraph Hill." Little Elvis wasn't a fan. I didn't know what it was. I thought it was a nature show about parrots. It was a documentary about some parrots that lived in a neighborhood. Surprisingly, Baby Plum loved it. He likes parrots. It had a music video about some of the parrots. He watched it several times in a row.

Little Elvis took exception with the production company of the documentary. The company's tagline is "Everything else is fiction." But he says if there was a George Washington documentary, then it wouldn't be fiction. There you go production company. You just got served.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bob the Builder

Bob here with another cameo appearance on Mere's blog. Little Elvis has been set on getting a treehouse this summer, ever since he saw the plans for one in a book, Handy Dad, that I received as a Christmas gift. I managed to put him off during the school year, telling him that it was more than just a weekend project. However, once the school year wrapped up, the pressure was on. Turns out that our backyard is full of oak trees, the trunks of which go straight up at least 20 feet with no branching -- not good treehouse material.

Rather than a treehouse, I managed to sell LE on plan B -- a storage shed with playhouse loft. I have been wanting to level an old rickety shed (in fact, that was supposed to be my project last summer) so a shed/playhouse would kill two birds with one stone.

The demolition of the old shed was the easy/fun part. Mere and I were able to take care of that in an afternoon.

That left us with a 8 x 10 concrete slab and two problems. The plans that I ordered online were for a 12 x 12 building and the existing slab didn't have enough anchors in the concrete. I wanted to make the shed according to the plans, but was stuck between a property line and a tree so compromised with a 10 x 12 plan.

My father-in-law, who has a lot more construction experience, helped get things off the ground with a plan to build on posts and use the existing slab to support most of the weight of the building. I'm off for the summer (with the exception of teaching an online class) and he is recently retired, so we put in the better part of two weeks in construction.

Notice the playhouse loft has a small balcony -- LE calls it his "watch porch." The cantilevered beams support the porch so there are no posts to run into. I made a super sturdy ladder that will provide fire-fighter training for the boys. At the top of the ladder is a trap-door that Little Elvis and Baby Plum think is so cool -- it gives them a few more square feet on the porch.

I've taken to calling the entire building "Shed-zilla" as it required so much sweat and hard work. Here's hoping it gives the boys years of enjoyment and, when they're done with it, it should give us some nice extra storage. I'm pretty thrilled with the results and I think the boys are as well.

Next project -- attaching a zip line from the "Watch Porch" to "Oakie" (the oak tree that LE had originally imagined would be home to his treehouse). Thanks Handy Dad!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Prodigal kitty

Slappy snuck out of our house last week. We bought one of those Made for TV screen door things. In concept, that thing is great. It lets more air flow through the house, and it does snap back closed. But, it lets bugs in, and it lets the cats out. Slappy ended up spending a day and a half in the wild.

This is an old picture of our wild child cat. While I will be the first to admit that she is one of the neediest cats I've ever met, which isn't always welcome, we still felt awful. She's declawed on her front paws, and is not equipped for life in the real world. There are lots of dogs in our neighborhood. There's lots of wildlife in our neighborhood.

I stayed up until 4 that morning waiting for her to come back to the door. She didn't. While we were outside working on the building, I kept looking for her.

Finally, at 5 that afternoon, Wally spotted her outside our front door. She eagerly drank the fresh water I put out for her, and then hid for most of the night. We assume she was sleeping.

She's back to her typical neediness, which means loudly meowing at me (only me) several times a day, including while I'm trying to put Cheese Puff down for a nap. But I'm trying to be more patient with her. Bob didn't appreciate her waking us up at 4 the other morning, though.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Enjoying the summer

We're well into our summer now. Bob, my dad and I have embarked on a huge project -- we're building (they really are, while I mainly hand them tools) a shed/playhouse for the boys. It's a two-story beauty with a balcony.

While we're doing that, the boys have been entertaining themselves. At first, they fought. A lot. But by Friday, they were playing pretty well together. They had taken to creating forts in different rooms and playing some sort of pretend game. Even Cheese Puff was involved. He loved it when they made the fort on the couch in the playroom, because he's figured out how to climb onto the couch.
These are pictures from two weekends ago. Both of the older boys went boating with my parents.
My mom took them to an old general store. Little Elvis is very interested in how old everything is, especially brands and stores and electronics. We get asked some really specific questions, and our answers aren't great.
My mom also took them to Dairy Day at local store.
They got to pet a cow, hold up cow fans, and...
even got milk moustaches!
How cute is that?
They both ripped those things off as soon as the pictures were taken.

Cheese Puff had fun with Mommy and Daddy. No pictures.
But my mom did take some of him last night. He likes climbing into things, like this truck. Baby Plum was pushing him while he made vroom sounds.
They also pretended to ride a roller coaster last week together.

I'm glad they've been having fun. Hopefully, this super-big project is almost done!

Monday, June 03, 2013

Little baby

Cheese Puff's not so little anymore, but I still call him my little baby.
He was having a super rough night the other night. I finally managed to get him to sleep while sitting in our big green chair. It was hard getting out of the chair with a sleeping baby, but I was so thrilled to have him sleeping.
He was playing one of Bob's harmonicas the other day. It was so cute that I tried to take a picture. But he had other ideas.
He knows he's supposed to smile for the camera, not play the harmonica.
Here he's saying "cheese!" He likes to get as close to the camera as possible, and tries to look at the screen after I take the pictures, just like his brothers do.

His little eyes still look blue in this picture, but they are slowly changing. We think this baby will have my eyes. At least my eye color. I think Baby Plum has my eye shape if not my eye color.
This shot shows his curls. You can barely see them, but they are there. Little Elvis noticed them the other day, and said that Cheese Puff's curls were growing in.

My grandmother keeps saying his hair is coming in dark, but I think it's pretty light when you consider that his parents both have brown and dark brown hair.