Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Beyond the Boo-rricade

In recent weeks, Benjamin has developed an unhealthy obsession with Oliver's food. I call it an "unhealthy" obsession, not only because dog food is a choking hazard for babies, but also because Benjamin truly has become a baby obsessed. Benjamin seems to sense the moment Oliver's food bowl has been filled. It's as though the kibble sends out a homing signal to him that he is to drop what's he's doing and crawl like mad towards the kitchen. As a result, I've had to fashion a barricade to keep Benjamin out of the kitchen when Oliver is dining.

Unfortunately, Benjamin has figured out how to get around the barricade, or "boo-rricade," as we've come to call it. It's actually quite impressive how quickly he's able to create a baby-sized opening in it to dart through.
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Once inside the boo-rricade, Benjamin frantically attempts to cram as much kibble into his mouth as possible before mommy stops him. Shockingly enough, Oliver doesn't seem to mind a bit that a tiny intruder is pilfering his food. To be able to really appreciate just how much of a shock it is, take a look at this video of Vince trying to steal Oliver's bone:

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This video was taken in Oliver's younger days, so perhaps the pug is getting soft in his old age. Either that, or he's just softening up to his little brother. Not that he'd ever admit it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Benjamin the Banshee

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Benjamin may have inherited his father's good looks and sweet disposition, but those pipes came straight from his mama's side of the gene pool.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

His Own Magic Kingdom

Vince and I aren't big fans of Disneyland. For us, Disneyland conjures up images of long lines, creaky old rides that end in shiny stores filled with expensive goodies, and overtired children cranky from too much sugar and stimulation. And what about those exorbitant ticket prices? We'd rather take the money we'd spend on one day at the Magic Kingdom and spend it on something else. Like a year of college tuition for Benjamin.

I guess it's a good thing that Benjamin finds his own home to be magical enough. His days are filled with exploring caves, banging on drums, and hunting for treasure. The best part is that we didn't have to spend a dime on any of it, because everything is right here already. Take a look at that picture of Benjamin above and on the right. He's sitting in front of a step stool holding a spatula, right? WRONG! He's actually sitting in front of a bongo drum holding a drumstick. And when he gets bored with his bongo drum, it will morph into something else, perhaps a walker, a climbing wall, or a table. And that spatula? He'll probably use it to poke Oliver in his oshiri. And then I'll use it at a later time to cook dinner. Ew, gross!
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I could fill pages listing the different "toys" Benjamin has discovered around the house, but I'll just name a few of his favorites. Before I do, however, I have to add a very important disclaimer: INSPECT ANY HOUSEHOLD OBJECT BEFORE GIVING IT TO A BABY. Make sure it's reasonably clean and free of potential choking hazards. And, of course, adult supervision is strongly suggested. Now on to the fun stuff...

Dryer balls - These spiky plastic balls are the perfect size for Benjamin's little hands to grasp, they don't roll too far away if dropped, and they make great teethers.

Empty tissue boxes - I remove any dangly plastic bits first, and then I stuff them with objects of varying textures and sizes for Benjamin to discover: nylon bibs, small toys, and baby washcloths, to name a few.

Empty cardboard boxes - The mega-size diaper box pictured above has been reincarnated as a clubhouse, table, toy chest, and/or hiding place. Make sure that any boxes you use are free from staples, old tape, or dangling flaps.

Gladware - This is a favorite! Smaller Gladware containers are the perfect size for Benjamin to bang together as noisemakers or to chew on. Larger ones can be turned into rattles by filling them with baby-safe objects such as pacificiers, spoons, or plastic toy links. I'll also dangle toys off of the lip of the containers with plastic toy links.

Paper - I had to include one section devoted just to paper. Benjamin LOVES paper: tissue paper, magazines, wrapping paper, waxed paper, and the list goes on. He loves the satisfying sound it makes when he balls it up or flaps it around, and he loves how it changes shape based on how he crinkles, folds, or rips it. When we finally got window treatments for the big windows in his playroom, I stuck the temporary shade we no longer needed onto the sliding glass door, and watched Benjamin amuse himself with it. He crawled beneath it like it was a cave. He grabbed it with his hands, shrieking with delight at the sound it made. He sat quietly and observed the sun streaming through it. It was such a treat watching him enjoy himself in this simple way.

I could also devote an entire section to the things around the house that I'd rather he NOT turn into toys. Oliver's water bowl is one. My stash of expensive yarn is another. I've learned to remove both from his reach when he's on the prowl.

The most prized "toy" in Benjamin's Magic Kingdom, however, is always within his reach. This toy has served as climbing wall, armchair, jumperoo, hammock, and jungle gym.

And you know what's kinda neat thing about this particular toy? There's not one, but TWO, of them! So if one wears out, there's always the other one to step in and keep the little guy going.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Going... Going... Gone!

After writing the last post in which I mentioned that I'd gotten a haircut, I received a flurry of emails. "How short is your hair?" "Did you cut it ALL off?" "Does Vince like it?" The answers to those questions are, "Pretty damn short," "Yes," and "Does it matter?" Actually, it does matter, but right now, it matters more that I save fifteen minutes every day by having short hair. Still, I feel slightly guilty that my new coif looks nothing like the shiny mane I used to first lure him in. Ok, it wasn't the shiny mane that did it. It was my winning personality, quick wit, and gentle nature. HA!

When Vince and I first started dating, I had long hair. Ridiculously long hair. It was so long that I could tuck it into my pants. It was so long that it got caught in the car door if I closed it too quickly. It was so long that I'd wake myself up at night by rolling over on to it. It was so long that yo mama went to the movies and sat next to everyone. You get the picture. Vince loved my hair, I loved Vince, so the hair got to stay. For a while.
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A couple of months passed, and I developed a theory that Vince might love me for more than my hair. To test this theory, I decided to cut off about half of it. I still had plenty left. In fact, I used some of it to tie all these old clothes into bales after this failed yard sale.
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My theory proved correct, because Vince proposed to me not too long after that yard sale. I decided to throw the guy a bone and grow my hair out for the wedding.

The week we returned from our honeymoon, however, I made the bold decision to test our love by cutting my hair drastically. The man had married me, so I was safe now! Muahahaha!! And as the vows went, "through richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, for long or for short."

Fast forward one year later: I'm standing in the middle of my home with a baby crawling up my legs, a pug shedding all over the floor, spit-up on my shirt, clutter up to my ears, a sinkful of dirty dishes, three baskets of laundry to fold, and no time to even finish my coffee. I made the decision then and there to simplify my life and chop off the rest of my hair.

It's great! I just wake up in the morning, comb some water through it, and that's it! And the best part is that I'm pretty sure Vince still digs me even though we have practically the same haircut. Ain't love grand?

Now excuse me while I go finish my coffee.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Long Time No Blog

Yes, yes, yes, I know it's been a while since my last new post, but there has just been too much going on lately! Here are some of the things that have happened within the last five days:
  1. We celebrated Nolan's first birthday;
  2. Benjamin reached cruising speeds of 3 mph;
  3. Benjamin figured out how to climb stairs;
  4. I reconnected with two friends whom I hadn't seen in fifteen years;
  5. Benjamin got his first cold;
  6. We made a few trips to the doctor's office;
  7. Benjamin started pulling up on everything in sight in an attempt to walk/break his neck/scare the living crap out of me;
  8. I chopped all of my hair off; and
  9. Vince got Benjamin's cold.

As you can probably guess, #2, #3, and #7 have kept me the busiest. And as a result of #5, Benjamin hasn't been sleeping very well at night, napping much at all during the day, or going in his potty consistently. On the flip side, #8 has actually been a timesaver, but I would have eventually pulled out all of my hair anyway dealing with #9. Men can be such babies.

I'll expound on some of the above in a later post, but for now I think the following clip will sum up my past week quite nicely:

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It's a sample of the bedlam that has overtaken my home: a half-naked baby cruising past the makeshift barricade (and against a backdrop of utter chaos) I had futilely erected to keep him out of the kitchen while I was cooking dinner to say "hi" to Daddy. But that little smile at the end of the video? Yeah... That makes it all worth it. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Point and Schtick

One of the sweetest experiences of parenthood is the simple act of gazing into your child's face. I remember the first time I saw Benjamin's scrunched-up, angry little tomato face and thought to myself, "Wow. That's my son." The Angry Tomato Face was soon replaced by the Crying Tomato Face. As he got older, we came to know more of Benjamin's faces: the Give-Me-Boobies Face, the I'm-Crying-So-Hard-My-Face-Is-Going-To-Turn-Inside-Out Face, and the I-Want-More-Cheerios Face. And let's not forget the Pooping Face, which is often confused with the Deep-in-Thought Face. Then this week, a new Benjamin Face unveiled itself: the Maniacally Happy Face.

Vince is the one who should be credited with "discovering" this particular face. Vince realized that if he made a maniacally happy face and then pointed at Benjamin, Benjamin would respond by making a similarly maniacal right back at him. They went back and forth like this several times until Vince's cheek muscles started cramping up. Later on, I gave it a shot myself, and found that Benjamin would reward my facial acrobatics in the same way.
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If there's one thing I've learned from this whole exercise, it's that nothing escapes Benjamin's attention. Baby see, baby do. I suppose this means I should be careful about how I behave when I'm around him. Especially in the car while I'm driving. As funny as it might be, I don't think it would good to have a baby who flips the bird and curses.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Never Too Young to Rock the Vote

Benjamin may be 18 years away from being able to cast a ballot, but that didn't stop him from coming with me to cast mine yesterday. At 7:30 am, we headed to the polls along with neighbors Julie and Nolan. We figured that since that it was so early, there wouldn't be too much of a wait.
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Two hours later, Nolan and Benjamin were over-tired and on the verge of a meltdown. Julie and I let them crawl around to expend some energy to the amusement of some and the irritation of others. Oh, well. Can't win 'em all. The important thing is that both babies hung in there just long enough for us cast our ballots.
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Later that evening, my friend Yvonne and her pup Girl came over to wait for the results. We cracked open a bottle of bubbly and, with tears in our eyes, watched history being made.
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Though you and I may have cast our ballots for different candidates, I think that we can both agree that our nation has forever been changed. Here's to the future.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Horror, The Horror

I promised in my very first post that my blog would not contain any deep thoughts on politics. I have to break that promise for a moment here, but it's for a very good reason: in the past few days, some pro-Prop. 8 ads wound up on my blog through Google Adsense. I have to take a moment to just clarify that I am against Proposition 8. Let me say that again: I am voting no on Prop. 8. I apologize to anyone who may have visited my site in the past few days and seen ads that may have suggested anything to the contrary. Unfortunately, I'm not technologically savvy enough to figure out how to block those ads, and until I do, I won't be running any Adsense ads on my blog.

On a lighter note, here are some pictures from Halloween:

All of these pictures were taken during our Parent Education Class at Emerson. Clockwise from the top left: Gemma, Lisa's daughter; Avery, Jackie's son; Mr. T; Mr. T with Auntie Debbie, who couldn't resist an invitation to hang out with adorable babies for an hour; and Mr. T and his buddy Luke the Sushi Chef.

Hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween!