Friday, October 31, 2008

"I Pity the Fool!"

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's the day when we're allowed to dress up however we want, and use the excuse "This is my costume!" to explain ourselves. Well, at least that's what I did back my wilder days when I'd prance around looking like a you-know-what. But I digress... For new parents, baby's first Halloween is chance to get the little one dolled up and looking even more precious than usual. For most, that means dressing up their little one as a pumpkin, a teddy bear, or a bumblebee to a chorus of "ooooohs!" and "aaaaaahs!" For me, it means draping my baby in bling and waxing up that mohawk to a chorus of "I pity the fool!" If you're scratching your head quizzically at this point, then you're too young to be reading my blog.

Because I wanted to make sure that I didn't sacrifice Benjamin's safety for the sake of his costume, I had to fashion my own Mr. T bling. I purchased some basic materials at the local craft store - velcro, fabric glue, gold braid, and felt - and got to work. It was actually surprisingly difficult to put these two necklaces together. I can't tell you how many times I accidentally glued the materials to my own clothing or to the couch. Don't tell Vince I said that. He loves that couch.

It's a good thing that we had a bazillion Halloween events to attend, or all that work I'd put in would have been wasted! There was a get-together in neighborhood park, where Benjamin kicked it with his neighbor Franken-Nolan and classmate Grant the Friendly Dinosaur.

We also attended a green Halloween event at Eco Station with Nolan (who had to chuck the costume in the heat), his dad Shawn, and mom Julie. Shawn and Julie dressed up as a mad scientist and the Bride of Frankenstein, and in a stroke of genius, Vince put on his own clothes and told people he was Murdoch from the A-Team. Nice try, Murdoch.

Of course, Playa Vista put on its own Halloween party, where we met up with neighbors Holly and Isabelle, who were dressed as a chef and a crab. Dad Rusty (not pictured), was a crab fisherman. Not to be topped by our neighbors' ingenious costumes, Vince upped the ante and came dresssed as an accountant on his day off from work who was very lucky to have scored a date with me, Foxy Brown.

The great thing is that the fun isn't over yet! Benjamin and I still have a few Halloween events left to attend today. I don't think I'll be wearing my costume again, though. This was Benjamin's face when he saw me in my wig:

Scary indeed!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Teaming Up On Mommy

Take a look at the above pictures. You may think you're looking at an adorable little pup and a cherubic infant. But do you want to know what you're REALLY looking at? A conniving old cur and a mischievious little imp. Yup, the inevitable has happened: my two boys have started to team up on me.

I'm actually kind of happy about this new development. Not too long ago, Oliver and Benjamin could hardly have been described as friends. Actually, Oliver did his best to ignore the fact of Benjamin's very existence. When he finally realized that Benjamin was here to stay, Oliver did his best to conceal his utter disdain. Well, not really.

As the months passed, Oliver grudgingly began to show some affection for his new sibling. Benjamin ingratiated himself to Oliver by scratching him in his hard-to-reach places.
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In turn, Oliver allowed Benjamin to use him as a footstool while performing his bathroom duties.

I'm thrilled by the camaraderie they've found, but boys will be boys, and what boys love to do most is cause trouble. Last week, I was trying unsuccessfully to clean the kitchen, and I decided to occupy the boys with snacks - a bowl of dog food for Oliver and a teething biscuit for Benjamin. To my relief, calm descended over the room. The barking and whining had been replaced by sounds of contented chewing. Ahhhh, peace and quiet at last! Then I looked down, and to my dismay, this is what I saw:
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The little devils had traded snacks! Oliver was polishing off Benjamin's teething biscuit, and Benjamin was about to shove a handful of dog food into his mouth. Needless to say, we survived the incident, and Oliver's food bowl is now banished to the kitchen counter whenever Benjamin's at large. I wonder what they'll try to swap next. Beds? Toys? Toilets? Actually, I wouldn't mind having Oliver relieve himself in the loo, but only if he learns to put the toilet seat back down when he's done!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oshiri 2

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After months of moving backwards, Benjamin has finally figured out how to crawl forwards. You want to know how I convinced to him to put his thang down flip it and reverse it? Food. Before, I'd tried using everything under the sun to lure him forwards. He turned his nose up at favorite toys. He wouldn't budge for the pug. He wouldn't even scoot for me, his own mother! But then I put a few Cheerios on the floor in front of him, and he took off like a bat out of hell. Ok, fine, it was more like a very slow and chubby hamster.

My elation over his newfound crawling skills was tempered by concern over the fact that we had barely performed any babyproofing on the place. That first day he started crawling forwards, he managed to tip over Oliver's water bowl, catch his fingers in a drawer, get into the garbage, and nearly climb into the dishwasher. And all this happened within the hour that it took me to cook dinner that night!

The good news is that Benjamin is getting to expand his horizons. He is now able to move around freely and observe things which have previously escaped his attention. This has its ups and downs. On the upside, he finds toys which have gotten stuck under the couch or stray Cheerios that escaped the vacuum. On the downside, he sometimes finds himself face to face with-- Well, why don't I just let you see for yourself...

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Benjamin's World

One of the best parts of being a new mom is seeing the world as a baby sees it. Ordinary, everyday objects are transformed into exciting new things. In Benjamin's world, a wooden table becomes a playground on which he can hang out with buds Lucy and Presley. And if you ask Lucy, an everyday picnic blanket is no longer a boring old bed linen; it's actually a beach in Ibiza.
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At our class on Friday, squashy playroom toys become a fortress and a tunnel for my wee one, and a mundane file box becomes his podium.
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But my favorite part of Benjamin's world is seeing the transformation of something - rather someone - who has been in my own world for a while. In Benjamin's world, Vince is no longer husband and leaver-of-dirty-socks-on-the-floor. He is transformed into a big friendly monster, a protector, and a partner-in-crime.

It's an amazing transformation to watch, and I can't help but smile when I see it happen. I might, however, smile more if he would take that transformation to the next level and become a big friendly tile-scrubbing monster or partner-in-laundry. Then again, I guess that means that I would have to become a partner-in-plant-watering or a protector-of-counter-space-from-unread-fashion-magazines. Yes, I suppose no one's perfect. And to be honest, I'm happy with our imperfect world, because to Benjamin, everything in it - including his Mommy and Daddy - is perfectly fine the way it is.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Potty-sey: Part 2

There have been some interesting developments in Benjamin's Potty-sey these past few weeks. Some of these developments are fantastic: he's started scooting towards and reaching for his potty when he needs to use it. Some developements are less wonderful: because he's not yet able to pull himself onto the potty, he's nose-dived into it on a few occasions. Then there's the development which is just downright puzzling. It seems that Benjamin has developed something of a stool attraction. No, no, no, it's not what it sounds like. You see, when he's sitting on his potty, he likes to have a barstool to hang on to. I'm not exactly sure why this is so. Perhaps he needs it for balance or for leverage. Or maybe it's there for inspiration. It is, after all, a stool.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Backseat Pug 5 or The Road to Absolution is Paved with Toys II

It's official: Oliver has truly become the Backseat Pug. He had a birthday yesterday, and I completely forgot. Come to think of it, I also forgot Oliver's birthday the year before. And the year before that. But in my defense, I forgot my own birthday last year. And as for the year before, I was in the throes of planning my wedding, so I was hard pressed to remember anything at all. So I guess this means that either Oliver has always been the Backseat Pug, or that I'm suffering from early senility.

To make up for my forgetting Oliver's special day, I did what any mother would do: I bought back his affection with toys. You may recall that I used a similar tactic last week when I bought my way back into Benjamin's graces following an agonizing blood draw. This time, I went to the local mommy mecca (Target!), and purchased a bag of Oliver's favorite treats and a new toy. I'd also originally planned to buy him this cute Halloween costume, but then decided against it after realizing that was more a gift for me than for the Pug. Anyway, Oliver seemed to enjoy his belated birthday presents, and all was forgiven. At least that's what I told myself.

Perhaps Oliver can find some comfort in the fact that there is one member of the household who always pays attention to him. In fact, he pays attention to him so much that he's adapted one of the Pug's more distinctive mannerisms: snorting. Here is Oliver...

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And here is Benjamin...

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As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moms Gone Wild!!

Last weekend I got to revisit my old life. No, I did not take to the stage at the Viper Room brandishing a microphone and a shot of tequila, nor did I pay a visit my favorite tattoo studio. What I did do was even better - I got to go to two social events - TWO of 'em! - where there were grown-ups and NO children present! Friday night was my buddy Nancy's birthday party at a local bowling alley. Turns out I wasn't the only Mom who was in dire need of some grown-up time. Fellow Mom Tara was also kid-free that night, and she took the opportunity to show me her best dance moves. I hate to disappoint you, but that was about as wild as it got. The only other wild thing that happened was that I had a glass of wine. And about ten barbeque chicken wings. And three fried mozzarella sticks. And half a basket of chili cheese fries. Geez, maybe it would have been better if I'd just gotten plastered.

The next night, Vince and I got all gussied up for his fraternity's 40th anniversary dinner. Not only did I get to wear lipstick for the second night in the row, but I also got to put on a dress AND high heels, too! Vince didn't get to wear lipstick, a dress, or high heels, but he did have the honor of carrying my breast pump with him into the restaurant. Luckily, none of his fraternity bros asked him what it was. Maybe they just thought it was more beer.

On Sunday, we took things down a notch and got back to basics, which meant getting back to baby. We spent the day chilling with our favorite be-mohawked dude in the world, and then that evening, we headed to my inlaws' place to celebrate my sister-in-law Leslie's birthday.

If there's anything I've learned from this weekend, it's that seven and a half months of parenthood have turned us into wusses. We may have had a good time yukking it up with grown-ups out on the town, but we found that nothing compared to hanging out with the tiny person waiting for us at home.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Like Mother, Like Son 2

As I mentioned in a previous post, Benjamin's figured out how to crawl. Backwards. I was hoping that he's soon learn how to shift gears from Reverse to Drive, but that hasn't happened yet. He has, however, become pretty proficient at moving backwards. I've even seen him back up to a desired toy or destination, sit, and then pivot so that he's facing it. Pretty nifty, huh? Unfortunately, he's not always able to do this. About once a day, he reverses so quickly that he actually wedges himself beneath the couch before he knows what's happened. At that point, sitting and pivoting is no longer an option, so he turns to Plan B: crying for Mommy.

All that reversing, sitting, pivoting, and crying must have really taken a toll on my poor baby, because on Friday he was barely able to keep his eyes open through our Parent Education class. As the party raged on around him, Benjamin slept soundly.

His superhuman powers of slumber were a source of interest to parents and babies alike. Classmates Caroline and Calvin were especially curious, and they crawled over to investigate what was going on.

As I watched him doze through the din, I scoffed that this ability surely must have come from his father's side of the family tree. Even if Benjamin did inherit my ability to crawl backwards, there's no way on God's green earth I would be caught dead snoozing through a party! You shoulda seen me back in the day - I loved parties! I was a veritable party animal! But then I had a flashback to one particular party at Vince's place several years ago, and the scene before me suddenly seemed strangely familiar.

I also remembered the cranky expression on my face upon being roused from my slumber.

Hmmm... I guess maybe I wasn't as much of a party animal as I remembered.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Road to Absolution is Paved with Toys

The other day, Benjamin and I made a trip to UCLA for his regular checkup with the friendliest hemotologist in the world, Dr. Feig. I mean, if Norman Rockwell were to paint a picture of a hemotologist, that hemotologist would be Dr. Feig. We're talking about a man so cheerful and warm that he could earn extra dough on the side as Santa Claus. And I don't mean a shopping mall Santa Claus; Dr. Feig might very well be Santa Claus himself! Maybe this is why Benjamin was in such a good mood after we left his office and headed downstairs where we waited to get his blood drawn. He smiled at all the other patients in the waiting room and treated the seats like a carnival ride.

However, as soon as we entered the room where his blood was to be drawn, his good mood evaporated like a fart in the wind.

I was amazed by how quickly the shift happened. After all, the only thing we did was walk into what I saw as a very kid-friendly exam room.
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But I guess that perhaps this is what Benjamin's unfortunately experienced eye saw:

He continued sobbing until we got to the car, where his wails escalated to such a fever pitch that he knocked himself out cold. I drove out of the parking lot consumed with feelings of guilt, sadness, and worry. I wondered to myself, when Benjamin wakes up from his shaky slumber, will he remember the events of the morning? I decided that there was only one way to ensure my return to my precious son's good graces: toys. So while he continued to sleep, I made my way to Ikea, mecca for college students, poor actors, and guilty moms. I mean, where else can you buy a playmat for $17? A wooden toy for less than $5?
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The proof was in the pudding, because when we got home, all was forgiven. I realize that a hug alone is all I probably would have needed to see that sweet smile once again, but I'm never one to turn down a reason to dote on my baby boy.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Booby Song

It's the song that's sweeping the nation (or at least my living room)!

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Boowarmers - The New "It" Thing

That's what I'm telling Benjamin to say to anyone who looks at him funny on our next playdate. And I'm hoping that he'll be able to do so with a more enthused facial expression than the ones he has here:


Hmmm... perhaps Boowarmers are an acquired taste.

In case you'd like your little one to acquire a taste for Boowarmers, I've included the pattern I created for the ones you see on Benjamin. NOTE: I *strongly* recommend knitting a stockinette test swatch first. Feel free to massage the pattern however you like to achieve desired size and style.

BENJAMIN'S B*TCHIN' BOOWARMERS

Finished size: Boo-sized. Yarn: Vanna's Choice Lion Brand Yarn (100% Acrylic; 156m/100g): 1 ball each of #134 Terracotta and #173 Dusty Green. Needles: Size 5 dpns (or size needed to achieve gauge - again, KNIT A TEST SWATCH)

With MC (Terracotta), CO 40 sts. Divide equally-ish onto 3 sz 5 dpns and carefully join rnd.

Rows 1 to 5 - k2p2 to end of rnd. Rows 6 to 12 - k Rows 13 and 14 - Join CC (Dusty Green) and k. Rows 15 to 16 - k with MC. Rows 17 to 18 - k with CC. Rows 19 to 20 -k with MC. Rows 21 to 24 - k with CC. Rows 25 to 26 - k with MC. Rows 27 to 34 - k with CC. At end of Row 34, leave a tail long enough to weave in, and cut yarn. Rows 35 to 37 - k with MC. Row 38 - k2tog, k18, k2tog, k18 - 38 sts. Rows 39 to 40 - k. Row 41 - k2tog, k17, k2tog, k17 - 36 sts. Rows 42 and 43 - k. Row 44 - k2tog, k16, k2tog, k16 - 34 sts. Rows 45 to 47 - k. Row 48 - k2tog, k15, k2tog, k15 - 32 sts. Rows 49 to 51 - k. Row 52 - k2tog, k14, k2tog, k14 - 30 sts. Rows 53 to 58 - k. Row 59 - k2tog, k13, k2tog, k13 - 28 sts. Rows 60 to 65 - k. Row 66 - k2tog, k12, k2tog, k12 - 26 sts. Rows 67 to 72 - k. Row 73 - k2tog, k11, k2tog, k11 - 24 sts. Rows 74 to 78 - k. Rows 79 to 83 - K2P2 to end of rnd.

BO in patt and weave in ends.