Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ni Hao, Calliope!

A few days ago, we received a large package in the mail from cousin Matt and Amy Chan and fam in Chicago. Imagine our suprise when we opened it up to discover a plush Calliope doll inside! Fine, fine... The doll was actually a likeness of the title character from the cartoon "Ni Hao,Kai-lan," but you must admit the resemblance is remarkable. Now when people comment that Calliope's a doll, I can say, "Why, yes, she is!"

Many thanks to Matt, Amy, Taylor, and Drew for the thoughtful stuffed Calliope!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Song for My Calliope

I've written countless songs for and inspired by the Boo. Some of the songs-- Ok, most of the songs are kind of silly. The Booby Song comes to mind here. But some of the songs are more poignant. The first one was a little ditty about how his birth created a family and how, no matter how much he grows, he will always be my darling little baby. He asks for me to sing it to him almost every night before he goes to sleep.
.
As Calliope's gotten older and more aware, I've started singing to her, too. The problem, however, is that I had not yet penned a song for her, and I'd begun to feel quite guilty of the fact. So in recent weeks, I began trying to come up with melodies and lyrics to capture the essence of my daughter. I realized quickly that Calliope's song would have to be different from Benjamin's song because Calliope and Benjamin are two different creatures. Terrible Two's notwithstanding, Benjamin is a fairly mellow child with a calm demeanor. In this way, he resembles his father. Calliope on the other hand... Well, Calliope resembles... me.
.
Even at four months of age, I can already tell that I'm going to have my hands full with this one. Her rather vocal nature became apparent even as a newborn. I remember that after I had already checked out of the hospital but was still returning daily to see her in the NICU, the night shift nurses would shake their heads and laugh when they saw me, saying, "You've got a feisty one on your hands. When she wants something, oh, she will let you know." And it was that very feistiness that ended up shaping my first song for her.

Before you start thinking, "What are you talking about? She looks as sweet as an angel in that video!" check out this previous take:

video

Calliope, I love you so much - feistiness and all!

It's Monday Alright

Only three more hours until backup-- I mean, Vince comes home...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Framed

Benjamin has taken sibling rivalry to a new low. The other day, he ran to me screaming, "Mei Mei took wheels!" When I checked, I saw that her chubby little hand was, indeed, grasping a wheel from one of Benjamin's toy cars. What Benjamin didn't know was that I saw him place the wheel in her hand. I'd read in some study that lying by young children is actually a sign of intelligence because it requires higher order thinking. At least this is what I told myself as I witnessed this brazen act of fibbing.
.
But then - as I stood there watching - Benjamin once again gave the little wheel back to Calliope, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "Mama, I saw Mei Mei took wheels." What!!? I saw him give the wheel to his sister, and what's more, he knows that I saw him do it! But I guess that he wasn't lying, because technically his eyes did see his sister take the green wheel from him. So I ask you what is the playing mind games by a young child a sign of? Extreme intelligence? Or an omen of future psychotic behavior?
.
I'm going to go with extreme intelligence.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Graduation Day 2010

Last Monday was a bittersweet day. It was the day my firstborn child graduated... from his Mommy and Me class.
.
Before you laugh, consider this: Benjamin has been attending this school for more than half of his life! He first started in the fall of 2008 when he was barely six months old, and now, at the ripe old age of 2 years and 4 months, he's received his diploma and is ready to take on the world.
.
After the commencement ceremony, fellow Emerson grad CJ told Benjamin, "You look like Obama." No, it wasn't Benjamin's oratory skills or his calm, unflappable demeanor that led CJ to make such a prouncement; it was Benjamin's collared shirt and tie.
.
Benjamin and Nolan took a few moments to visit the playground one last time. A bright yellow schoolbus pulled alongside the fence, and the two boys ran over to get a closer look. As I watched them, I wondered at how quickly the last two years had sped by, and reflected on what exciting new adventures might lay ahead for Benjamin as he continues to grow up.
.
I just hope that he doesn't do it too quickly!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I'm Just a Jealous Boo

Adjusting to life with two kids has been easier than I'd anticipated. Don't get me wrong - most days I run around with an empty stomach and undone hair trying desperately to keep up with my life. Still, I pretty much knew what to expect before I had Calliope because I'd already had Benjamin. The only thing that I wasn't experienced with was dealing with sibling issues, and I had some concerns. I'd witnessed some pretty vicious acts of sibling rivalry and heard endless horror stories. Would my sweet, good-natured Benjamin turn into a jealous, unreasonable brat? Much to my surprise, he... did.
.
Benjamin's jealousy took a while to emerge. For the first few months, everything was great. Whenever another mom asked me how Benjamin was taking to the new baby, I'd wax on and on about how faaabulous things were. "Oh, he absolutely loooooooves Calliope! He can't stop kissing and hugging her! I just feel soooo lucky!" Man, I should have kept my mouth shut, because Benjamin's green-eyed monster was just biding its time. If only those moms to whom I'd bragged about my angelic children could see me now, they'd laugh. I'll bet the moms who already had two children were laughing on the inside, because they knew what was coming.
.
Trouble in paradise began about two weeks ago when, out of the blue, Benjamin walked up to Calliope and whacked her on the head with a plastic golf club. Calliope immediately started wailing. I had no idea what to do because up until that point, Benjamin had shown no hostility towards his little sister. So what did I do? I snatched the golf club in one hand, grabbed Benjamin with the other, and sternly (a little too sternly) said (yelled), "BENJAMIN, NO!!!" He went back to his playroom, and - thinking that this had been an isolated incident - I went back to reading my book. Ten minutes later, I heard Calliope shrieking and saw Benjamin trying to pick her up by her hair. Once again, I said/yelled, "BENJAMIN, NO!" and tended to a sobbing Calliope. While I was distracted, Benjamin went into his playroom and calmly peed on his toy chest. This. Means. War. But instead of a war over land and oil fought with tanks and guns, this is a war over mama's attention fought with plastic golf clubs and wanton urination. I felt the urge to holler at Benjamin again, but seeing how it worked so well the last couple of times, I bit my tongue. I'd need a new way to deal with this problem.
.
A few days ago, Calliope was hanging out in her jumper and Benjamin in his playroom. She was happy playing with her dangly toys. He was happy playing with his puzzles. But then Benjamin forgot that he was having a great time and became focused on the fact that his sister had a toy that he didn't have. He hovered over her, great interest showing in his eyes. After I took her out to nurse her, he seized the opportunity and...
.
...got in! I opened my mouth to object, but then realized that no real harm was being done. Calliope was safe in my arms, and Benjamin was barely over the twenty pound weight limit. So I let him bounce around in there until he grew bored and climbed out by himself. I wondered if it would be this easy to deal with the next object of Benjamin's envy.
.
Yesterday, I put a blue flower in Calliope's hair to match the blue flowers on her shirt. Benjamin wandered over her to her and examined her head. Then with eyebrows furrowed, he turned to me and said, "Ben Ben blue flower!"
.
Luckily, I had two blue flower pins. I clipped the second one into Benjamin mohawk, then, as if to assert just how his adorable little sister had nothing on him, he climbed into her jumper once again. A few minutes later, he got bored, got out of the jumper and yanked the flower out of his hair. Whew! Crisis averted once again. Looks like the path of least resistance is working for me!
.
For now anyway. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when he decides he wants to get into that!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Three-Hour Vacation from Reali-- I Mean, Julie's Baby Shower

Me, Julie, Mona, and Kathleen at Royal/T Cafe

My dear pal and neighbor Julie is going to have her second baby next month. To celebrate, me and her friends Mona and Kathleen (who also recently had baby number two!) decided to throw her a shower.
. It wasn't readily apparent what the color scheme should be, because Julie and Shawn are keeping the sex of the baby a surprise. I know, I know... How utterly selfish of them, right? Don't they realize that they made the shower-planning harder because we were restricted to a few gender-neutral colors? And how about the fact that they're closing their friends and family off from a veritable universe of adorable but gender-specific baby gifts and clothing? GEEZ.
.
Kathleen though it would be cute to have a "tea" theme (after all, both boys and girls drink tea!), so we chose Royal/T Cafe in Culver City as the venue. In between bites of Kobe beef burger and sips (gulps) of vino, we played fun baby shower games and chatted with one another. Then we went on to the de rigeur opening of gifts.
. I wanted to give Julie something special. She's my closest mommy friend, and Nolan is Benjamin's best buddy. The fact that I've heard Shawn and Vince say to one another "Save me! I lost my meatshield!" leads me to believe they have a special bond, too. So for Julie, I sewed a diaper clutch with matching changing pad and zippered pouch. For Baby Bowen, I made a blanket lovie with a snap-close tether for a pacifier or favorite toy.
.
After several hours of laughter, food, and revelry, the party wound to a close. It had been a lovely afternoon, and it was hard to decide what the best part of it was. Was it getting to see the other wonderful women in Julie's life and celebrating this exciting time with all of them? Was it having the chance to toast a dear friend? Was it getting the rare opportunity to put on make up and high heels instead of my daily uniform of jeans and flip flops? To be honest, I think the best part of the shower was the fact that it gave me a break from this:
.
Since Calliope's birth, I've been running on empty. I mean, having one kid is tough, but at least then you can hope to get a little time to yourself once in a while. Having two kids is a different story. Your personal time disappears like a fart in the wind. Yeah, having two kids is h-a-a-a-a-r-d. God, I hope Julie isn't reading this. She should be spending her remaining days in sweet ignorant bliss. Pretty soon, she'll have twice as much of everything - twice the laundry, twice the mess, twice the headache, twice the tantrums.
.

Twice the love.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Absolutely Puzzled

Since Calliope was born three months ago, the amount of time Benjamin spends watching TV has gone up dramatically. Though I have no problem turning on the tube for brief periods when I need to finish dinner, use the restroom, or shut myself in a closet to quietly sob out the day's frustrations (kidding!), I really was starting to worry about just how much TV he was getting. The fact that the first word out of his mouth after he wakes up is sometimes "Dora!" (as in the title character of his fave cartoon "Dora the Explorer") doesn't help. So in an effort to find an engaging activity for him that doesn't involve the TV, computer, or any other electronic babysitter -- I mean, device, I bought him some simple wooden jigsaw puzzles. I picked a set of four 12-piece puzzles with pictures of Benjamin's favorite vehicles on them - a bus, a choo choo train, a car, and a fye-uh twuck.

At first, Vince and I had to sit with Benjamin and assemble each puzzle with him. Benjamin would try to fit the pieces together incorrectly and throw them across the table when they wouldn't fit. But soon, we noticed that he was becoming more focused and more patient, taking the time to slowly try out each piece until they all fit together. Granted, there are only twelve pieces in each puzzle, but it wasn't bad for a toddler who is so impatient about wearing his favorite boots that he doesn't mind if he puts them on the wrong feet!

One particularly hectic morning, I popped Calliope in a sling, turned on Dora the Explorer, and went in to the kitchen to do some cleaning. I realized ten minutes later that I hadn't heard Benjamin shouting at the TV like he usually does when Dora's on. I went to the check on him and and almost passed out when I saw that the puzzles were assembled. My delight at seeing him successfully complete each puzzle was matched only by my joy that for once, the TV didn't win out over another activity. But as you can see here, sometimes Benjamin manages to, um, "multitask," though:

Even though he loves puzzles, he can't resist Dora the Explorer's siren song!

Vince likes to mess with Benjamin by combining his puzzles. He'll take several complete sets, break them down, and totally mix them up like they're mah jong pieces. Sometimes, he'll even chuckle this evil little chuckle. "Muahahaha! Take that, hapless little toddler!"

Benjamin's voice plaintively saying, "Uh-oh, missing piece!" just breaks my heart. I found that missing piece a little while later. It was inexplicably placed in a plastic cup inside one of the drawers of his toy chest. By then, Benjamin had moved on to the next activity, but I swear I saw Vince smiling to himself behind his paper.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Best Job in the World

My direct supervisors, Boss Benjamin and Chief Calliope

If there's one thing a stay-at-home mom hates being asked, it's, "So what do you do all day?" What don't we do all day?? It's 11 am, and this is a list of things that I've done so far:
  • Gotten up before everyone else to finish a sewing project
  • Put away the laundry
  • Dressed the kids
  • Fed the pug
  • Fed Benjamin
  • Nursed Calliope three times (and a fourth as I type)
  • Made a grocery list
  • Started a load of diaper laundry
  • Allowed Benjamin to watch TV so I could clean up the kitchen and drink a cup of coffee while browsing Etsy
  • Built and dismantled about twenty Magna-Tiles structures with Benjamin
  • Attempted to explain to Benjamin why crayon goes on paper
  • Scrubbed crayon off of the walls
  • Taken Benjamin to the potty and wiped his tushie three times
  • Wiped Benjamin's runny nose three dozen times
  • Gone to the bank
  • Made a trip to the doc's office for an ear infection (Benjamin's)
  • Changed four diapers (Calliope's)
  • Picked up several pairs of dirty socks (the Dirty Sock Fairy's)
  • Hopped on the computer to do some writing and reclaim some sanity (mine)
Being a full-time mom is a full-time job, and a thankless one at that. At least when you have a "real" job (meaning a job for which you receive a W-2), a paycheck quantifies your efforts. You're entitled to a lunch break, and you get to go to the bathroom whenever you need to. I usually squeeze in brunch at around 2 pm, and I've mastered the art of the Ten-Second Potty Break - while nursing a baby and yelling at a toddler at the same time. Don't worry - hand-washing takes up most of that ten seconds.

So the other morning when, bleary-eyed from being up with Calliope all night and attempting to feed oatmeal to a tantruming Benjamin, I heard my husband say to me, "You're not looking forward to going to your job today?", I nearly fainted. Finally, I was getting what that every SAHM craves: the acknowledgement that what I do every day is a job! If I wasn't already weeping from exhaustion, I would have wept with joy.

There is, however, one very important thing that this job has that no other can offer. Make that two very important things:
.Sure makes the long hours, the lack of sick time, or the absence of year-end bonuses seem like a small potatoes. I could go on, but right now, I have to run. The bosses are calling.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Don't Forget the Lyrics

When Benjamin was just months old, his Auntie Yvonne bought him a CD with songs that featured his name. He's been listening to that CD off and on for the last two years, and he's finally picked up some of the lyrics:

Ok, so he's really only picked up a single word of the lyrics, but to be fair, it's the only word that really matters! Good job, Ben-ben-ben!