31 December 2010

The Eight Days of Christmas/Birthday

OR: Get Ready, This is a Long One, Provisions Highly Recommended

The end of December is packed with festivities and celebrations for most people, but even more so for us because all the males in our family decided to be born during this time. So not only are we celebrating Christmas and New Years, but also the days that Aaron and Eamon both entered into this world. Therefore, our week of vacation transforms into a never-ending celebration of excitement and, perhaps more importanly, presents.

Let's start with:

Friday, December 24: This was Eamon's second Christmas (hereafter, Christmas 2.1). We spent Christmas Eve with my parents teaching Eamon how to open gifts. It did not take him very long to learn this concept. He received a lot of great stuff, like a Leap Frog Junior and an mp3 player for kids--but nothing could compete with the small plastic dinosaurs* (1) that we put into his stocking. And the bows. He liked the bows on the presents, too. But mostly he liked the dinosaurs (2).

The maracas were cool, but...

...they couldn't compete with the bows...

...and especially not with THIS present.

Saturday, December 25: We sojourned up to Aaron's Aunt Linda and Uncle Rob's house for Christmas 2.2 with the Meredith clan. This is generally a gathering of epic proportions; in stark contrast to my family's celebration of 5 people total, there are usually upwards of 30 people there. The best part is Aunt Linda's basement, which probably has more toys than Toys R Us. Of course, because all her grandchildren are girls, nearly everything is a shocking shade of pink. To fortify himself Eamon took 2 of his small plastic dinosaurs (3), Chomper and Don, but only Don came home. I have a feeling that Chomper is somewhere down in that basement, perhaps now acting as a pet for a Barbie**

After this family gathering, we got in our car and headed through the snow to Ocean City to spend the next few days with Aaron's parents and his sister's family.

Sunday, December 26: We awoke to a raging snowstorm, and therefore decided there was nothing else to do but have Christmas 2.3. Eamon was there with his cousins Elise (aged 4) and Lucas (age 2, exactly 3 months older than Eamon). We exchanged all the kids' gifts. Among some other cool presents, Eamon received a jar of FIFTY dinosaurs (4). Thank goodness we had several dinosaurs (5) to hold us, because we ended up being more or less snowed in for the rest of the day.

Monday, December 27: For the first time, the focus moved away from the kids and onto Aaron's birthday. Aaron's fabulous parents offered to take the kids all evening so that we could go out with Aaron's sister, Meredith, and her husband, Marty. We drove up and down Ocean City, but almost everything was closed, either because it was the off-season or because of the 8 inches of snow that had been dropped onto the city the day before. We finally ended up at the Sunset Grille, which was far away but had yummy food, so all was well. Later we went to the Greene Turtle for more libations, and Aaron and Marty discovered that they are actually not young men in their early 20s, and cannot drink like they are, either.

Tuesday, December 28: Even though his birthday wasn't until the 29th, we decided to celebrate Eamon's Birthday 2.1. We had bought him dino (6) cups, plates, napkins, a happy birthday sign, candles, and even cake pan shaped like Chomper; and in one genius move, we left it all back in Newport News. Therefore, he had a regular ol' sheet cake, but it was decorated by his cousins Elise and Lucas and declared to be the BEST CAKE EVER. Eamon couldn't actually tell you, since he refused to eat any of the cake. But the other kids really liked it. His favorite of these birthday presents was (surprise) the box of soft, plastic dinosaurs (7) from his Oma and Opa.

For the most part, the kids got along really well during this trip. Eamon did his best to keep up with Elise and Lucas, but even though his speech has blossomed in the past few weeks, it wasn't enough to keep up with the whirlwind of conversation. There were also some tense moments involving who got to play with the yellow car and to whom the blue car actually belonged, but overall everyone learned some important lessons on sharing and taking turns. You could tell that Eamon really enjoyed having people his own age to play with. The best story, however, happened on one of the last nights when the grown-ups discovered Eamon sitting in a corner by himself, looking forlorn and dejected while Elise and Lucas played merrily a few feet away.

"Why is Eamon sitting by himself?" we all inquired of Elise and Lucas.

"I put him in timeout!" Lucas proudly sang out.

"Why would you do that?" we asked him.

"He touched my cars," said Lucas, solemnly. A transgression of epic proportions.

Of course, we assured Eamon that he was not really in timeout, and Meredith explained to Lucas that he does not actually have the authority to put anyone in timeout. The incident was highly amusing, however, because 1) Lucas was smart enough to think of a non-violent way to keep the cars to himself, and 2) Eamon actually went into timeout on the orders of someone only 3 months older than him.

Wednesday, December 29: We traveled home. We were very tired by this time.

Thursday, December 30: A day of great excitement! We got diapers and dogfood. We picked up Aaron's car from the service department. We went grocery shopping. We also went to lunch with my friend Ryan and his fiance, and that actually was quite fun because they are both fabulous, cool and childless people who nonetheless were very gracious about us lugging our 24 month old into a very nice restaurant. And because we were in a very nice restaurant, Eamon decided to act exactly like a stereotypical 2 year old. But because he's generally of a pretty mild disposition, his performance just wasn't up to the standards of most kids and we got through it without any real incident (ie, the restaurant was still standing when we left, and we have not been officially banned or anything).

Friday, December 31: Eamon's Birthday 2.2. We started by PLANNING to go to the Richmond Children's Museum, which was going to be fantastic and have an exhibit on dinosaurs (8) and everything...but then I had a bout of insomnia and only got 5 hours of sleep...and I am not a person who does well with a lack of sleep. So instead we stayed home and cleaned, which isn't nearly as cool. I broke out the ol' crockpot and made Eamon a pot roast (I had made one in Ocean City, too, but didn't cook it long enough and therefore it couldn't be served with a spoon, which is the WHOLE POINT of pot roast, so I felt it justifiable to make another one 3 days later). My parents came to this "party" and once again, Eamon received, yup--DINOSAURS (9). At some point, my mother joked that we probably now owned more dinosaurs (10) than actually existed, and my dad informed us that actually, there were probably 800 species of dinosaur (11***), to which I firmly replied that that was not our goal.

I spent a lot of time making these silly cookies. Eamon spent 0 time eating them, because oh yeah, he doesn't eat sweet things. Next year, I'm sticking a candle in some pot roast and calling it a day.

After dinner, we adjourned to the castle, as all good dinner parties are wont to do (The castle was a present from Christmas 2.1 that was not assembled until Birthday 2.2).

In summary, it's been a busy end to a wonderful year. The Eamon 2.0 version proves to be an exciting upgrade to the 1.0 version, and even though there are still some bugs and kinks to be worked out, I can't wait to get to know this great little man as he continues to change from a baby into an interesting and wonderful person.

*For those readers in their early 20s (but over 21, of course), there are going to be a lot of references to dinosaurs in this entry. I'm sure that you know what to do with that.

**Since this entry was written, Chomper has been found! A rescue mission discovered him on the floor of the car backseat, probably in an attempt to hide from all the estrogen and maintain his reputation as a fierce, manly dinosaur.

***It goes to 11, which is coincidentally the last 2 numbers in our new year, because I am just that good.

25 December 2010

Where Do They Learn This Stuff?

Today Eamon and I were trying to walk up the stairs. He was holding: 1) his stegosaurus; 2) his triceratops; 3) his apatosaurus; and 4) his lion. It was utterly ridiculous.

At one point, of course, he dropped the stegosaurus.

"Of course you dropped the stegosaurus," I told him loftily. "You are holding too much in your hands. It is dangerous to try to navigate stairs with that many things and you really should know better."

He pointed to the stegosaurus, which had fallen down a stair. "Help," he said, wanting me to pick it up for him.

Which of course I couldn't do because I had a laundry basket crooked under one arm and a large suitcase in my other hand.

(because I know that some of you are wondering):

He finally managed to get the stegosaurus while not letting go of the other three things and then finished climbing up the stairs.

Moral #1: Mommy is slightly hypocritical.
Moral #2: Never leave a man behind.

Discussion Questions
1. Are YOU ever hypocritical? No? Good for you. You would make an excellent parent and should have a whole mess of babies right this instant.

2. If you were a dinosaur, what kind of dinosaur would YOU be? I'm voting triceratops. An herbivore, so technically still one of the good guys, but with a head that even T-Rex teeth can't pierce (source: Oh Say Can You Say Dinosaur (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) Boo-yah, T-Rex.

3. Why does Eamon keep handing me the Pledge dusting spray while I am trying to write this? What is he trying to say? Doesn't he know that in this house, writing almost nonsensical blogs is far more important than dusting? Actually, this is more of a rhetorical question and I would prefer no one to comment on it because I can already feel your rays of judgment leaking through space, time, and the internet.

4. Do YOU think I need to be getting more sleep? Use three specific references from this entry alone to justify your position.

22 December 2010

Define Intelligence

Hooray! Winter Break has started! And what better way to celebrate than to try out an IQ test on my dog, Nesta? Because...why not?

I looked up "Dog IQ test" online. That's right. I did research for this.

The first part involved hiding a piece of food under a cup to see how long it took Nesta to knock over the cup.

Easy enough. I showed Nesta the piece of food, made her sit, and then walked about a meter away (per the instructions, but I admit that I didn't actually measure it) and put the food under a plastic cup.

Nesta went right over to the cup. No tricking her there.

She nosed around it for about three seconds when Eamon, sensing trouble afoot, ran over screaming, "DOG! HELP!" He then launched himself at the cup, knocking it over and revealing the piece of food for the dog, who snapped it up.

He stood up, very proud of himself. He had Helped when someone was in Trouble.

The dog seemed proud of him, too.

So, I still don't know Nesta's official Doggy IQ, but I'll say this: she's got the boy well-trained.

20 December 2010

Oh, Baby

In swim lessons this week, it all came together: Eamon figured out how to kick with his legs at the same time he was reaching and pulling with his arms. If only he was buoyant, he would have been swimming. He can hold his breath underwater, he jumps while standing on the side when you count to three, and is all around doing great.

Currently, Eamon is officially a Waterskipper, because that’s what kids are from ages 18 months to 3 years. At the age of three, they can enter the Sunfish class, which does all the same skills as Eamon has already mastered, and then after that comes the Tadpoles, where the kids finally get to go into the water without a parent.

So at the end of the lesson his swim instructor, Jennifer, asked, “When does he turn three?”

“Um, December 2012,” we told her. “He’s not even 2 yet.”

“Oh,” was her response.

The problem is, he swims like he’s three, but he still acts like he’s two. He might be almost able to swim, but you can’t always count on him feeling in the mood to follow directions.

See, most of the time Eamon is a wonderful kid. Last Sunday Eamon and I went out while Aaron watched football. We drove to the mall, walked around, had pretzels, and he was the best behaved little man. Everyone smiled at him and you could tell them were all thinking, “Wow, what a great little kid. Wish I had one of those.”

Then this Sunday, he had a case of the Terrible Twos. Instead of walking, he wanted to sit on the floor of the mall (ew). When I made him stand, he threw down his Lion. When I made him pick it up, he threw it at me. Suddenly, people looked at us like, “Wow, glad I don’t have to deal with him.”

Needless to say, we high-tailed it out of the mall, me carrying Eamon as quickly as I could, him crying because…I don’t know. Because I wouldn’t let him lie down in the mall? Because I wouldn’t let him throw his Lion at random people? It’s hard to say. All he would whimper was, "Home...home." So home we went.

When we got home, Aaron had already left to enjoy his monthly “Guy’s Night” at his friend’s apartment. Therefore, it was just Eamon and me. Everything I did seemed to annoy Eamon, and we were both just ready for a break, so I put on some Sesame Street, put him in his playpen with all his toys, and went upstairs to take a nice, hot shower.

As soon as I got out, I heard terrible screaming. I went downstairs, and Eamon was absolutely hysterical. He wasn’t hurt and nothing had happened to scare him…he just wanted to be held and hugged. Usually, he’s happy to spend some time on his own, but whenever I left the room the rest of the evening (to cook dinner, get his bath ready, etc.), he followed me with pathetic cries of, “Mimi? MIMI?”

And that’s when I realized: as hard as his being two is for me, it’s just as hard for him. Maybe harder.

He wants so much to be independent, but he doesn’t know how. Last night, he didn’t get a choice about running errands, or his daddy leaving, and so instead he tried to control the few things that he could: sitting when I wanted him to walk, throwing his Lion, etc..

And normally, Eamon goes down to bed without a hitch. Read him a couple of stories, say goodnight to all the pictures on his walls, put him in bed with his lion and a board book, and he’s quiet and drifts to sleep without fuss. Last night, though? I put him in his crib, told him I loved him, turned out the lights…and within seconds, he was crying again.

I wanted to get things ready for the next day, I wanted to check email, I wanted to read my own non-dinosaur book...but instead I sighed and went into his room. I picked him up and took him to my bed for a snuggle, quietly promising him over and over that tomorrow would be a better day.
I hope it is.

15 December 2010

What's in a Name?

This is our usual conversation on the way to my parents' in the morning:

EAMON: :::weird fish noise:::?

ME: Yes, we're going to see Grandpa.

EAMON: Nini?

ME: Yes, we're going to see Grandma.

EAMON: Deedore?

ME: No, no dinosaurs. You know you can't watch dinosaurs until after your second nap.

EAMON: Deedore aw gone?

ME: Yup, dinosaurs all gone.

EAMON: Aw gone?

ME: Yup.

EAMON: (thinks) More?

ME: No, no more until after your second nap.

EAMON: (pauses) :::weird fish noise:::?

And on it goes. It's not the most intellectual of conversations, mind you, but it fills the drive.

The most interesting part of the conversation is that I know that he's thinking more than that. And while he adds more and more words every day, and is communicating so much better since he had the frenulum surgery, I know that his brain is still developing faster than his mouth will allow.

I know this because not only does the child know all 26 letters and most of their sounds, and not only can he identify all numbers through 10, but today from the backseat, my parents heard this monologue:

EAMON: E (clap) A (clap) M (clap) O (clap) N (clap)

The funniest part of this? If you ask Eamon his name, he'll just smile at you. He can't say "Eamon." It comes out like "Eeeem," and he doesn't approve of this mispronunciation (which is kind of hypocritical, since he still calls my father this weird fish noise, but whatever).

Now, he's not reliable with the spelling yet. He did it in order that one time, but tried it again a couple of times afterwards and either left out letters or got the order mixed up. And though on the car ride home from my parents' today, he was reliably singing "M (clap) O (clap) N (clap)" in the right order...but my point is that it's not like he's ready to write any sonnets anytime soon.

Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder if one day, a stranger will ask his name, and instead of "Eamon," we'll get the "E-A-M-O-N" as a response. It will make for some very interesting conversations if he decides to just spell everything to get around the speech issues.

Until then, though, let me reiterate, Eamon: The deedores are still aw gone. Sorry.

12 December 2010

Joie de Vivre, I Think They Call It

What I find funny is the fact that Eamon is almost hyperventilating in this video.

As for what he finds funny...

I have no freakin' clue.

But whatever it is, it's one of the things that I love most about him.

06 December 2010

An Illuminating Experiment

Research question: How will a 23 month old (specifically, Eamon Wolfe) feel about fireworks?
Importance of the research question: Eamon has never before seen fireworks. Fireworks are cool. We hope he likes them.

Hypothesis: If we take a 23 month old (Eamon Wolfe) to see the fireworks at Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg, then he will enjoy them.

Independent (manipulated) variable: The fireworks at Grand Illumination in Colonial Williamsburg

Dependent (responding) variable: Whether he will like them

Possible confounding (extraneous) variables: The weather is expected to be very cold (lows in the upper 20s). We will therefore attempt to control for these variables by dressing Eamon very warmly. This leads into the bigger issue, however, of whether Eamon will put up with being dressed very warmly.

Materials: Diaper, socks (2 pair), pants, white long sleeve t-shirt, red flannel shirt, blue sweatshirt, "bubble" coat (see A Christmas Story), winter boots, mittens, hat, wool blanket, large stroller, Lion


1. Ensure long nap for child so he can stay up an hour past his bedtime (fireworks are from 6:15-6:45ish; takes about an hour to get home with traffic)

2. Dress child warmly. Attempt not to laugh as he tries to walk with his new winter boots, which are heavy and go up higher than he is used to, therefore causing him to walk like a miniature Frankenstein.

3. Leave house around 4:45 after prying Aaron away from the Cowboys-Colts game

4. Drive to Williamsburg, find a parking place, put on the rest of Eamon's accoutrements, including his hat (he left it on!), his mittens (he left those on, too!), and his bubble coat ("I can't put my arms down!" NOTE: Not an actual quote from Eamon; see A Christmas Story)

5. Allow Eamon to walk from Bruton Heights (the parking lot) into the historic area. Note that in order to navigate his boots in non-Frankenstein manner, he has compensated by picking up his feet really high, and therefore march-running. Again, try not to laugh.

6. When it gets darker, child will no longer want to walk by himself (note: he might try to spend the entire evening in the vending machines area because it is lit). Therefore, put in stroller.

7. Walk child up and down Duke of Gloucester Street to enjoy the burning cressets, fife and drum band, and general aura of merriness and good cheer

8. Be ready for fireworks at 6:15 by Gaol area. Drape Eamon in blanket, whether he wants it or not.

9. During the first firework, bite lip and stare anxiously at child for his reaction. Breathe a sigh of relief when, after said first firework, he signs and says, "More? More?"

10. Go back and forth between watching the fireworks and watching the look in the child's eyes as he enjoys fireworks for the first time.

11. At the end of the fireworks, sit in traffic for half an hour before making it out of the parking lot. Go home, put exhausted child to bed. Declare it all a Victory.

Results/Observation/Conclusion (poor methodology, but I am lazy): Child appeared to enjoy fireworks, even if he did watch them all over the head of his Lion. Decide to go to Grand Illumination every year, in manner of new Family Tradition.

02 December 2010

Things that Make You Go RAWR!

Cast your mind back...way back...to 1988.

Are you there?

Are you back in the world of brightly colored shoelaces, folded-over jeans, and crimped hair? It was a simpler time, when Capitalism was unabashedly "the American Way", and Don Johnson ruled the Earth.

Lots of important things happened in 1988. I, for instance, turned 8. My wonderful husband turned 16 (though, and I state for this legal reasons, he was not my husband at that time, and we would not meet for another 13 years when it would be perfectly respectable, thank you very much). George Bush the First was elected, the Winter Olympics took place in Calgary, and Celine Dion won the Eurovision Song Content for Switzerland (because OF COURSE she did).

But the most important thing? More important than ANYTHING ELSE?

This movie came out:

Do you remember?! Do you remember the magic of that movie?! Of the dino kids trying to make it to the "Great Valley" after Little Foot's dying mother tells him he can get there by following the "bright circle" (sun) in the sky past the "burning mountains" (volcanoes)?!

Yeah, me neither.

(On a side note, I am pretty sure that using all the synonymous phrases was an attempt to keep the talking dinosaurs' speech as realistic as possible).

Now, I know all this because I just looked it up on Wikipedia. That is because I am a "good mother" who is trying to "keep up" with her son's "new obsession": dee-DORES! (dinosaurs)

The start to this obsession was 2-pronged. Firstly, the Virginia Living Museum had an exhibit on dinosaurs. The first time Eamon saw the exhibit, he played only with the lights and completely ignored the dinosaurs themselves, but subsequent visits made more of an impression.

Then, at some point, my parents, bless their hearts, bought Eamon a copy of The Land Before Time. It was either the movie or the animated series. (Not sure which, needless to say that they now possess any and all versions, I believe).

Like the museum exhibit, the first time he watched the movie (series?), it was not a hit. In fact, it scared him.

You see, those scrappy little dino kids? They keep getting into trouble. Rock slides, quick sand, scary "sharp tooths..." there are just so many dangers in animated Jurassic times. The first time he watched it, my parents had to turn it off, and reassure Eamon that "the kids" would be okay.

He's a little more mature about it all now that he's seen the videos a few times. When things get really scary, he just covers his ears.

"Why is he covering his ears?" I asked my parents today during one episode.

"Because it's scary," was the reply.

"Then why doesn't he cover his eyes?"

"Because then he can't see when the scary part is over."


Anyway, I am hereby declaring this to be Eamon's first Real Obsession. Lions didn't really count...because he's really more obsessed with one lion--his lion--in particular. Other lions...not so much. Then there was Sesame Street...but I don't really count that either because we're the ones who introduced him to it, and he was only obsessed because it was all that we let him watch for awhile.

But dinosaurs--dee-DORES--he came to on his own. He owns this obsession.

And it's not just The Land Before Time, either. It's ANYTHING dinosaur related. If he sees a dinosaur in the store, his cries of "Dee-DORE! Dee-DORE!" ring loud and clear. He likes dinosaur action figures, stuffed animals, and books.

How do we feel about this obsession? Well, The Land Before Time is kinda hokey, but I love that he's interested in something so...well, scientific. Like: you can actually LEARN something with this obsession. There are worse things, right?

And don't tell Eamon, but I'm already planning a Dino-cake for his birthday. He's gonna flip.

Or possibly just RAWR really loudly.