Pavlov's Dog Meets Mornin' Grog

Those of you who know me know that I have only one vice. Ok, so there may be more, but the only one I freely admit to is my addiction to coffee. Double-shot, whip-top, light on the foam, heavy on the caffeine. I have one of those fancy dancy high falutin’ pressure-brew espresso machines that I HAD to have since I work at home and there is no coffee house within walking distance. It’s pathetic, I know. Don’t judge me.

So this morning I witnessed yet another case of classical conditioning. You see, I have gotten in the habit of putting a bit of whip cream on top of my morning latte, and perhaps to ease my guilt, I have allowed the kids to share in this indulgence. I usually give them a little dollop of whip cream on their chubby little fingers. So this morning I started steaming the milk, and from the farthest reaches of the house, they came running, hands up, fingers outstretched, mouths open, in search of their whip cream fix. The sound of the steam was all it took. Drool doggies drool.

Not to be left out, my actual dog has been conditioned as well. Calli hears the sound of Dani’s high chair belt being latched and leaves whatever she is doing (eating her own food, playing outside, lounging on one of the many beds she thinks is hers) and rushes to the scene of the crime, where Dani is usually pushing her cheerios over the edge to their unfortunate and untimely death. I’ve learned that Calli will eat anything that falls from the chair, even if it is a barrette. (Although to her credit, she did have the sense to spit out the barrette when she realized it wasn’t candy.)

So the point is, we are all classically conditioned around here. And some of us (the grown up human ones) are also uncontrollably caffeinated. So when you see me salivating at the mere glimpse of a coffee mug, it’ll all start to make sense.


Deep Thoughts

by Dani & Jack Handey
(Can you guess which ones are original and which ones are borrowed from Jack Handey? If you can, you are a good guesser.)

1) Sometimes I dump sand over my face, and then I wonder, what are those tiny granules I feel in my mouth? Are they little nuggets of goodness? Or did I just eat sand again? Bleck, I just ate sand again. This stuff’s even worse than paper, and I’ve tasted my fair share of paper, so I would definitely know.

2) Whenever I need to “get away”, I just get away in my mind. I go to my imaginary spot, where the beach is perfect and the water is perfect and the weather is perfect. The only bad thing there are the flies. They’re terrible!

3) If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.

4) If hats could talk, my hat would probably say, “Hey, that’s enough sand. And also you shouldn’t take me for granted, because someday I will fly away, and then you’ll really wish I was still on your head. And I probably will wish I was still on your head too, because I will be up to my rim in saltwater and totally out of my element.”

5) Why do the caterpillar and the ant have to be enemies? One eats leaves, and the other eats caterpillars. Oh, I see now.

6) Here’s a good tip for when you go to the beach: A sand dollar may look like a nice cracker that someone left, but trust me, they don’t taste like it.


Twimmin' Lessons

I’m not sure if it's parental pride or just a sense of relief, but I’m delighted to say that Caed’s second swimming lesson went beautifully this morning. Today was his first time trying the lesson on his own, without me getting in the water with him.

Larry was still at work, so that meant I had Sheridan with me, making it difficult, if not impossible, to be able to help Caed. The class was small enough (1-3 ratio) that he got plenty of attention from his teacher, and he did great!

He swam all by himself (that is, with the help of a floaty and paddle bar!), put his face under, and jumped in, all without a hint of hesitation. He loved every minute. I, on the other hand, spent most of the lesson preventing Dani from diving in. She was very eager to join her brother in the fun. Maybe next year, Darlin’!


I've got the power

The power to make my kids’ day or to break their precious hearts.
The power to mold them, or to scar them.
To calm their fears, or to give them reason to be afraid.
To inspire them to dream, or to dash their hopes.
To teach them well, or to stifle their learning.
The power to build and model good character or to confuse them with my hypocrisy.
I’ve got the power, and it terrifies me.

Caed asks so many questions, ranging from “where are the dinosaurs now?” to “what happens when people die?” He hears every word I say, and picks up on the exact tone in which I say it.

And I generally hear my words echoed in his little voice as he yells at the dog to “get outa here and stop your begging!” or as he admonishes me-- “You need to stop arguing with me right now!”

When I have a bad day (and a bad attitude), like I did yesterday, it doesn’t escape their watchful eyes. When I get bent out of shape about the little stuff, they see it. And then later, when I attempt to get Caed to “let it go” when his legos get knocked over, my parental hypocrisy is fully revealed!

I so love these little ones, and am painfully aware of the impact my words, attitudes and actions can have on their impressionable little hearts. And I pray that by God’s grace, far more good than harm will come from this incredible power that has been entrusted to me!


Wheels & Waves

We woke up at 5 a.m. to a beautiful Maine morning. Wouldn’t change a thing, except maybe the 5 a.m. part. But once we’re up, we’re up. So we saw Dad off to work at 6 a.m., finished our breakfast, and then headed out for a morning adventure on wheels.

The kids took it easy in the bike trailer while I labored my way over to Higgins Beach. As we road, I heard the kids giving each other “hugs” in the back. (If you’re wondering how I can hear a hug, Dani makes a “mmmmmm” sound effect whenever she leans in for a hug.) At some point Caed became an unwilling participant in the chronic hugs from Dani, and thankfully used his words--and not his body--to ask Dani to stop smothering him.

Also overheard on the ride:

“You can do it mom. I know you can. You just have to try a little harder.” This was in response to barely making it up even the slightest incline with the trailer, gasping for breath as if I was in the middle of a mountain stage in the Tour de France.

“Dani, the tide is going to be coming in, so the water will be high, but you don’t have to be scared, because the sharks are only in the warm water, and our ocean is still cold.” He heard that thing about the sharks from me. Not even sure if it is true. But apparently he is not only believing whatever I say--he is repeating it to others.

Which leads me to my next post.


The Many Names for Dad

As we were finishing up dinner tonight, Larry ran upstairs to get ready for work. (He’s been working nights lately).

Caed yelled out as he left, “Doctor Myyyles....calling Doctor Myyyles.”

I wasn’t sure whether he was pretending to be a doctor, or whether he was referring to his dad. So I asked, “Who is Dr. Myles?”

His blog-worthy response was, “You know, mom. He’s our dad--of me and Baby Dani. You remember him, right? He is called Dr. Myles sometimes. But you usually call him Larry.”

Ohhh. Yes, yes, I remember him now.


The No-Cavity Club

Lately, whenever I “lose” Dani in the house, I have to look no further than the bathroom. She is either standing in the corner next to the toilet, unrolling the toilet paper or she is up on the stool brushing her teeth (all four of them). I obviously prefer she focus on the latter activity.

Tonight after dinner, but before bath, she kept running up to her stool to brush her teeth. Caed helped her get the water turned on, and they entertained each other for nearly five minutes, just long enough for me to actually find the camera and get a snapshot of their antics.

I’m glad they like brushing their teeth. It’s one less power struggle, and so far, so good. They both went to the dentist this week for Caed’s second appointment and Dani’s first, and were given a clean bill of dental health. No cavities!

In Dani’s case, avoiding cavities is not that difficult, considering she still has only four teeth. She does have some molars poking through, and the dentist assured me that while her sequence and timing is abnormal, she is perfectly fine! Although at this rate, she may still be gumming her food when she’s five....


Dani's First Haircut

All it took was a half dozen animal crackers and a few snips with the scissors. Though she cried when I first buckled her into the salon chair, when the animal crackers came into view, the crying quickly subsided and the begging began. Once her mouth was stuffed to the brim, she became blissfully unaware of the hair trimming that was going on behind her.

Note that this glamour shot was taken after she had a wood chip facial at the park. Indeed, just as the scab from her previous pavement altercation was healing, she opened an old wound with a tumble on the playground this morning. She added a new bruise to her collection as well. The bow they put in her hair at the end of her first haircut seemed somewhat out of place with her rumble-tumble face. That’s my girl!


Up to No Good

Today Dani emptied out my tote bag. I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt and say she was just searching for a mother’s day present that she could re-gift me.

Anyway, once she removed all contents, she then had a good deal of fun prancing around the house sporting the purse that is almost as big as she is.

Other mischief (duly noted in the pictures that follow) include rock tasting (thankfully not rock swallowing), hugs from big brother disguised as a dangerous neck hold, and ripping flowers apart after I made the mistake of trying to pose her sniffing the flowers like a gentle little angel. Yeah, she pretty much tore the thing to shreds.


I Feel Gritty, Oh So Gritty

“I feel gritty, and pretty and soaked! And I pity any girl who isn’t me today!!!” Ok, so I just butchered a West Side story classic. But it was all in the name of good sandy fun.

Today marked the first day back at the beach after a very long winter. It was about 60 degrees by 9:00 a.m., so not quite toasty enough to take a dip in the 40 degree water. But it was just right for playing in the sand and chasing the surf.

So now that we’re back on the beach circuit, I realize I am a bit rusty on the post-beach clean-up drill. I may have spent more time de-sanding the kids, changing their clothes, loading up the car, gathering up the toys....than we actually spent playing on the beach. I also realized that I was missing that “chill-lax” mindset that must preside over every beach excursion with two kids. I think I need to do some meditative chanting. Something to the effect of, “Ohmmmmm. Sand is our friend. Ohhmmmm. Getting wet and dirty is okay. Ohmmmmm. Enjoy these moments and quit obsessing about the sand that is inevitably caked in every crevice of Dani’s chubby little legs. Ohhmmmm”.

Anyway, it was a lovely morning at the beach. And there will hopefully be many more to come this summer!


On a Road Paved with Books?

Earlier this week, Caed had “quiet time” in lieu of taking a nap. I encouraged him to read books or do puzzles quietly in his room. He was quiet, I’ll give him that. But he decided that the books and puzzles could be put to better use as part of massive road construction (which went from his pillow fort around his bed and out into the hallway). He was having so much fun lining up his books to create a road that he didn’t want “quiet time” to be over. Which was perfectly fine with me!

“Sure, stay in your room as LONG as you like!” The fun didn’t end until every book had made it from the bookcase to the floor, and every square inch of carpet was covered in his picture book road. He was pleased as punch with his creation, and I was glad to see (but not hear) him spending his quiet time so constructively!

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