Update October 2015

We've been living overseas since about the time this blog petered out. There are lots of funny Mo-and-Curly-abroad stories to share -- I'm exploring the best way to do that.

Thanks for tuning in!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Don't choke on your peas, Babycakes

I've always sort of looked up to Gerber. It's the brand for babyfood, right? And yes, I've strayed into the cheaper brands, as well as the fancy kind with lentils and garbanzo beans. I make some of my own babyfood too.

But the wholesome tubs of Gerber squash and carrots and peaches seem to call my name, daring me to throw at least a handful of containers in my cart every time I pass the baby aisle.

So I was feeding the Babe his #2 Gerber peas tonight, and the little rubber-tipped spoon rubbed against something... crunchy?

I tapped again.

Hard.

Without a second to pause, I got up and dumped the peas down the sink. Then I rinsed out the container.

Was I overreacting? Wouldn't be the first time. I should have been celebrating that Babycakes will actuality eat peas - his big brother would spit them back in my face.

But upon closer inspection, I did the right thing. Chalk another one up to mommy intuition.

A chunk of jagged, melted plastic, almost glue-like, had peeled off the inside of the container. It was about the size of half my pinky fingernail. It was still attached to the container, but could have easily come loose if I would have stirred the peas a little harder.

Disaster averted.

The offending plastic didn't find it's way into Babycake's precious little mouth. Thank goodness. As you may know, he's had a few surgeries to his digestive tract - so we're extra careful about what we feed him. His system is more sensitive than most. Plus, of course, there's the whole choking risk.

But it goes to show that you can't trust anything - even the squeaky clean Gerber brand. With little ones, you have to trust your gut, second-guess and always be on the watch-out. In fact, that should be in the job description for "parent."

Postscript: I did call Gerber to let them know about the defect. They were appropriately concerned and are sending me a postage-paid container to return the "bad" pea container, as well as the other four unused peas that I bought from the same lot (time stamped 20DEC09 09:21). They're also sending me some coupons or vouchers, and they thanked me up and down for notifying them. I guess I did my civic duty for today - and perhaps saved someone else's baby from choking on his peas.

Postscript 2: Yes, I'll continue to buy Gerber. I'm chalking this up to a freak accident, which could happen anywhere.

Postscript 3 [Yikes, that's a lot of postscripts!]: I have a photo of the offending container, but I'm having some technical difficulties downloading photos at the moment. I will add the pic as soon as I can.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Good news on the sleep front (but shhhhhh)

I'm about to jinx myself, but with all the past posts on Operation Nighttime, I should update the masses...

Babycakes slept through the night on Monday. All the way, like 8 p.m. until 5 a.m.

And then he did it again Tuesday.

And Wednesday.

I really, really want to do a happy dance. This has been a long time coming. Almost 10 months ... but I'm still cautious to call it a trend. In fact, I'm getting nervous even writing this.

Plus, our older son was up each of those nights, so for us, it wasn't a try "sleep through the night" experience. In fact, the big guy is learning to play us against each other. Last night, he came to my side of the bed.

"Mom, I need to cuddle."

"Wait 'till the beeps," I told him. He knows he can't get in our bed until the alarm clock goes off, and it was all of 11:30 at night.

"OK," he says.

I hear his little feet patter around to the other side of the bed.

"Daddy, I need to cuddle."

Daddy lifts up the blanket and gives him a big hug. (He denies any recollection of this.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The, um, ladies bathroom

My preschooler is very interested right now in the differences between boys and girls. And he understands that he needs to be with Daddy to go in the boys bathroom and with Mommy to go in the girls bathroom.

So the other day we're at the store, and my son has to use the restroom.

"I want to go to the boy bathroom with Daddy," he announces.

My husband looks up warily. We were shopping for TV antennas, and he had done all the research.

"I'll take you!" I chime in.

"No, I really want to go in the boy bathroom!"

My husband interjects, "Daddy's busy. Can you please go with Mommy?"

He stomps his foot, defeated. "Fine! I'll go in the 'gina bathroom!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

Little bodies, big appetites

I should have known.

On one of my first dates with my husband, we went for coffee in the middle of the afternoon. Rest assured, he had already eaten lunch. He proceeded to order coffee and four bagels, then turned to me to ask if I wanted anything. Sure enough, he ate them, one after the next. A little snack.

My dad's nickname in the Army was Sgt. Garbage, since he was known to polish off his buddies' leftovers.

So I should have know that my boys would be big eaters. But as a girl who grew up with a sister, I had know idea what I was in for.

Tonight for dinner my 9-month-old polished off a whole big jar of #3 baby food (broccoli with carrots and cheese), followed by a container of applesauce. Plus a teething biscuit and some of the spaghetti we were eating. An hour later, he breastfed.

The other day my preschooler had some crackers and lemonade at a play date. In the car ride home, he ate a granola bar. When we got home, he ate a soy corndog, apple slices, raisins, a 100-calorie bag of popcorn - and then asked me to make him mac-n-cheese. I made a packet of Easy Mac and he finished about half of it.

I'm starting to wonder, should we be looking for farmland? How else are we ever going to make it through their teen-age years?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Child-proof, schmild-proof (Part two)

One morning as I was backing out of the driveway to go to work, I noticed an odd collection of items on our front porch. A couple toys. Some canned goods. A shoe. A magazine.

I realized that our toddler had figured out how to open the door. Thankfully the high chain-lock prevented him from wandering away, but it didn’t stop him from throwing some goodies out the door.

I knew I needed to invest in some door-handle locks pronto, before he attempting getting into the garage or down the basement steps on his own. I was happy to find the door knob covers with buttons, which mean your hand must be large enough to fit around the cover and press buttons on either side in order for the door knob to work. Perfect. There’s no way he can make his hand bigger!

We had one week of success, and I thought I had finally thwarted the little stinker. But no. As I always say, I love having a smart kid. I just wish he would use his powers for good and not evil.

So the door to our basement is directly across from our bathroom door. If opened at the same time, they’ll slam into each other.

My son realized that if he just flung the bathroom door open as hard as he could, it crashed into the basement door, right at the doorknob, and the doorknob cover popped right off.

Now, he could only get away with that once, because we heard the crash.


Time out ensued.

But when he saw the doorknob cover off, he learned something - it was in two pieces.

From there it didn’t take him long to figure out that if he jimmied his little fingers into the crack between the two pieces, he could just pop the cover right off (similar to how I’d popped it right on, after I bought them). Now he can do it in one quick motion. In fact, just the other day he wanted to show one of my friends a new toy in the basement. I saw him take her by the hand, pop off the cover and open the door for her without missing a beat.

Maybe I should see if someone in child-proofing business is in need of a consultant...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Child-proof, schmild-proof

Now that Babycakes is fast-crawling and pulling himself to stand, I'm getting flashbacks of our first round of child proofing.

What a joke!

Example one: The fridge lock

Our son kept sneaking into the fridge. Sometimes he wanted a snack, but he also gets a kick out of opening yogurt cups, just for fun. He also likes turning the temperature-control dials, which I discovered after noticing ice crystals in my soda on several occasions.


So we bought a fridge lock. It lasted about three days. After that, our then 2-year-old started showing guests how to open it and lock it back up again – just press the button and slide it out.

Example two: The cabinet locks

I knew we were in trouble when he couldn’t yet crawl on his hands and knees, but I caught our older son in a cupboard that had been child-proofed. If you’re familiar with the locks, you know that you can still open the door about an inch, give or take.

My little guy would lay, belly to the floor, and squeeze his little arm up and into the cupboard. Through the small opening, he’d pull out rubber gloves and packets of dishwashing detergent and whatever else he could get those sneaky little hands on.

Once his arm got too big to dig into the cabinent (he can still get his fingers in, if he wants), he figured out that if he just pulled on the cabinet with all his might, he could muscle through the child-proofing if he was desperate enough. Today he knows to just press down on it, easy as pie.

The toilet lock was a total joke, so I won’t even go there.

But the doorhandle-covers with the buttons are my favorite. I thought that there was no way he could get through those, but I was oh-so wrong. (Story to come tomorrow.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Munchkins, davenports and other inherited colloquialisms

For other moms, it's a big deal the first time they utter, "Because I said so!" That dreaded symbol of turning into your own parents.

For me, it was when I realized that I rarely refer to my sons as, well, my sons. Or my boys. Guys. Children. Kids.


No, they're my munchkins.

And then I noticed that this isn't the only inherited colloquialism that's crept into my vocabulary when I wasn't looking.

I never visit my parents these days. I go see my folks.

And last week, I was talking to my son about something he did that was relayed through his day care provider. When he asked, "How did you know about that?" Without a second's hesitation, I replied: "My spies."

You see, I grew up thinking my dad had "spies" everywhere. I'm sure I gave him the same wide-eyed, awe-inspired look that the my three-year-old gave me, just imagining that people behind closet doors and crouching in bushes were taking fastidious notes on my every wrongdoing, discreetly slipping them to my dad when I wasn't looking. In fact, it's a little disappointing to learn the not-so-sexy truth that his spies probably consisted of my mom, teachers and babysitters.

Maybe by the time my munchkins are teenagers I'll be driving them to the show instead of the movies. Or inviting their friends to have a seat on the davenport instead of the couch.

I think instead of, "Time to go" - I'm going to start saying, "Let's rock-n-roll!"

Yeah, why not? Let's rock-n-roll!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beware the quiet toddler

I've come to realize that a quiet toddler can only mean one thing: Danger ahead!


And when you have a baby in the house, it becomes increasingly more difficult to stop the trouble-making toddler before things get messy.


For example, the other night I was putting Babycakes to sleep. I came downstairs to find every single one of my CDs and DVDs, out of the containers, in a giant pile in the middle of the living room floor.


So maybe I should have known better. But today while I was feeding the Baby his lunch, I let the toddler watch a video in the other room. He even picked out an educational video about bugs - so I was feeling rather proud.


From the kitchen I could see that he never even got up from our dark red wingback chair - one of my husband's favorites.


(Now, I should qualify that there was a tiny, tiny hole in the fabric on the arm of the chair - like a white pinprick, hardly noticeable.)


When I went back in the living room, here's what I found...

...

...

...






He sat and picked at that hole during the entire show, leaving this gaping wound in what used to be a rather nice chair. I guess we won't be buying any new furniture for say, another 10 years...




Monday, February 9, 2009

Operation Nighttime (Try Again, Suckers)

The signs are all there: My husband still drinks coffee two-fisted. The dark circles under my eyes ain't gettin' any lighter. And I haven't seen my copy of the stupid Ferber book in weeks - I must have misplaced it in the foggy haze that is my life.

Basically, Operation Nighttime was a bust.

After a few shiny, glorious moments, where it seemed like perhaps I might sleep through an entire night for the first time in a whole frickin' year - bam! Baby gets sick. Then I get sick. And then those two front teethers decided to pop on in, giving Baby a whole new reason to fuss and fight the night away.

So as we stand, everytime Babycake lets out a nightime yowl, I plop him in bed with me and nurse him to sleep. And that lets Big Brother know it's fair game for him to jump in too.

So we're back to being one of "those families" all smooshed in one bed, none of use getting much sleep.

I guess it's time to start Operation Nighttime (Try Again, Suckers) and jump back on the Ferber bandwagon. You see, I keep hearing that all the answers are in this magical Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems book by Dr. Richard Ferber. If only I could find the flipin' thing.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Potty humor

Our deal is that every time we go to the library, I let my preschooler pick out one video. In fact, he's so well trained that he goes right to the kid's shelves, and never even asks for more than one -- though he sometimes picks out one for himself and a Baby Enstein video for his baby brother, which I think is really sweet, even if his true motive is just to get an extra movie .

So with Thomas the Train, Dora and Elmo to choose from, I was dismayed to see him pick out a potty training video recently. It was the same videa that we'd seen ad nasuem when he was younger.

I earnestly pointed out the merits of the other selections. "In this one Dora turns into a mermaid and a princess!" and "Oh, wow, a new Blue's Clues."

I even went so far as to point out Cailou and Little People. And they are about as annoying as they come.

But he wasn't going to budge. So to keep myself from begging in front of the other moms, I gave in.


Proud as can be, he clutched the video as we headed to the check-out counter.

Thinking about how adamant he was, especially since he's been potty trained for a good six months, I asked him, "Why do you want this potty video so bad?"

I thought perhaps he was thinking about his upcoming play date with a 2-year-old who's in the process of potty training. Or maybe he's thinking ahead, looking out for his baby brother.

But no.

"I like the naked butts mom!" he says excitedly.

And sure enough, I can picture several places where they show the cartoon character's butt in the potty video - and there's even a flash of a "real" butt when a kid streaks by the scene during another section.

"Yeah," he says, proud of himself. "I picked this movie for the naked butts."

Well, I guess I can't argue with that.

At least he knows what he likes.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How not to get help with clean-up time

We're all about 1-2-3 Magic. When he was just shy of 2-years-old, our son started banging his head on things in order to get his way - and that's when we had to get serious about discipline, even though it's completely against our nature. (A picture comes to my mind of my husband trying to rationalize with a month-old baby, "You've been fed, changed and have a mommy and daddy who love you. So you can stop crying now, OK?")

So with 1-2-3 Magic, you give the little trouble-maker two warnings, and if they don't shape up they go to time-out. With bigger offenses, like hitting or head-banging, they're banished to time out right away.

Well, we have great difficulty getting our older son to help clean up, though he's a prodigy at making messes. So my brilliant solution: If you don't help clean up, you have to sit in time out for as long as it takes me to clean up by myself.

He HATES time out in the normal course of life. But when it's a time out during clean-up time, he doesn't mind a bit. Doesn't squirm, doesn't complain. Doesn't constantly ask when he can get out. In fact, I think he enjoys sitting back and watching me clean up his messes. It's like, "Look, I've trained her to do all the work for me!"

So in the school of "what not to do," that's my thought of the day. (Many more to follow.)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Breaking into song, part duex

As I said earlier, now that we have kids, breaking into song is a somewhat regular occurance in our lives.

My husband recalls this story. He was in the locker room with our toddler after we took the guys swimming. A very demure older man who had been swimming laps had just finished showering and sat down on a bench in just his towel.

As my husband digs out some clothes for our kiddo, he hears a familiar little voice.

“OH! You better watch out, you better not cry…”

Looks up to see naked little boy standing on the bench singing to the old man –

“Santa Clause is coming to town!”

“He sees you when you’re sleeping!”

Dancing a little jig –

“He knows when you’re awake!”

And singing his little heart out to the white-haired gentleman.

“He know if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

And the older man began cracking up, laughing his head off with tears coming down this cheeks, thanks to the impromptu, au naturel performance by our three-year-old.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Breaking into song

My inner-teenager scoffs at the concept of breaking into song during everyday life. That’s the stuff of Bollywood or cheesy middle school musicals. Right?

Well, actually, no not in my experience. It’s actually happened to me a few times, completely unprompted.

Once was in college when a roommate threw herself onto our dingy, disgusting couch and began sobbing her eyes out. No doubt, more drama with the boyfriend-of-the-week. Those of us who had been amicably playing rummy looked at each other, unsure of what to do next.

And then it happened. My dear friend J. began, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em. Know when to fold ‘em.”

Naturally I joined in, “Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”

And then everyone joined in, including some friends who wandered in from the kitchen.

“You never count your money, when you’re sittin’ at the table. They’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.”

Yeah. We burst into song. And in the end, our distraught little roommate was laugh-crying. You know, that wonderful combination of laughing-after-crying.

When I later asked J., “Why in the world did you pick ‘The Gambler’?”

He shrugged, “I only know the actual words to a few songs. And that’s one of 'em.”

Now, as a parent of a toddler, breaking into song happens a little more routinely in my life. (Stay tuned for tomorrow's story.)