Saturday, December 29, 2007
To help you come to your own decision, we present you with Exhibit A, a photo of happy, smiling Helios, eyes sparkling during a recent visit with the gloved wonder (no, not Michael Jackson, which would decide the scary v. splendid question easily enough). Santa would make light conversation with Helios, inquiring as to his behavior, whether he was good to his little brother, and other such appropriately paternal inquiries. In every visit with Santa or one of his helpers, Helios asked for the same thing: "a big present, a really, really big present. I want a big wrapped box for me to unwrap." Several people tried to pry into Helios' Christmas request, inquiring what should be inside that Christmas-wrapped box. Every time, Helios said, "nothing. I want a really big box to unwrap and Santa needs to bring it. He needs to, Mommy!" Every night, along with a prayer for his family and friends, sandwiched between "Good night, God" and "Good night, Jesus" was "Good night, Santa Claus. Don't fall out of your sleigh!" Clearly, Santa Claus is held in very high esteem. Love and concern for Santa emanated profusely from every pore on Helios' 3-year-old body.
Now, please consider if you will, Exhibit B. This is Hesperos, screaming in bloody terror during a preschool visit by Santa. This was not a single occasion. Every time Hesperos was approached by the hairy elderly guy who liked to have children sit on his lap (hmm...), his reaction was the same. Whether Santa came bearing candy canes, toys, coloring books, or just a jolly laugh, Hesperos recoiled in fear from the plentiful beard, suddenly wanting to cuddle with anyone in the continental United States who could take him far, far away. Since Hesperos still wears diapers, it's unlikely, but in the picture at right, the shading on his pants looks like Hesperos lost his bladder control during this visit to Santa.
Santa: scary or splendid? Include this among the important decisions you must make in 2008.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Something else the preschool takes care of for us is pictures. While we take plenty at home with the digital camera, we've never taken the boys to a real photography studio (or even one of the shopping mall drive-thru style photo stores). Given that the boys are the only grandchildren on Daddy's side, we know that good, frame-worthy photographs are a requirement.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Unfortunately, all our sneakiness was for naught. Daddy got distracted by some shiny things and some perceived inadequacy of our garage door, so he started working on that, creating a ruckus that awakened the boys from their mid-day slumber. We heard a few "pad pad pad pad" sounds, with increasing speed as little feet made it down the stairs. The door to the garage swung open with a gust of air and Helios, sleepy eye dust barely rubbed out of his eyes, ran in with his "DRUM SET!" war cry.
Quiet time no more, Helios sat down to work on his rendition of "Jingle Bells" using drums and cymbals as his only musical backup...and this time, caught on video!
A little later, Hesperos was able to get into the action, too, with a couple of well-placed thwacks when his brother wasn't looking.
(Postscript: The drum set was listed on craigslist.com this weekend. Two prospective buyers have already contacted us. Here's hoping!)
Sunday, December 23, 2007
However, Mommy still had a bit of cooking to accomplish to do her part, specifically a pumpkin cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, stuffed mushrooms, stuffing/dressing, and cranberry sauce. (Note that the very excellent recipes were authored by Mommy's extremely talented friend, Rebecca.) Children running amok is not conducive to working in the kitchen. So what to do with the little darlings?
That's right...send them outside with Daddy to decorate the house for Christmas! While our neighbors may have thought that we were either holiday-decorating go-getters or overly-endowed with Christmas spirit, those inside the house knew the truth: shiny lights, inflatables, a hammer and nails, and anything with a hint of electrical shock or danger are all great ways to occupy human beings with Y chromosomes.
Daddy donned his warmest working-outside outfit, complete with 1980s Flashdance-style headband (what a feeling!) as he nailed the icicle lights into place on the front porch. Meanwhile, Helios was overseeing the inflation of the Santa train while Hesperos looked on wistfully from the warmth of inside. Standing next to Hesperos is a musical, roller-skating Christmas bear, a gift from Grandma Joan (the toy is much-loved by Helios, tolerated by Mommy and Daddy, and capable of inspiring a paralyzing fear in Hesperos when it's moving).
After the lights were hung on the awning with care and the train inflated, it was time to assemble the skeletal snowman. This was possibly Hesperos' favorite part as now he'd finally found a Christmas icon that was more his size.
With the house decorated and the very-tasty-if-I-do-say-so-myself cheecake made, we clambered into the car to go to Thanksgiving dinner. The kids ran and played, we ate, drank, were merry and the womanfolk praised each other's cooking skill (with tones hinting to our spouses that they had not complimented us sufficiently). Stuffed like a traditional turkey, we left just a little heavier than we were upon arriving.
Once home, it was very late, very dark, and the kids were surprisingly very awake, allowing the rewarding feeling of hearing they both coo from the backseat "oooo!" and "wow!" at the sight of their recently electrically-upgraded home. The boys chomped at the proverbial bit to get out of the car and get a close-up look. Helios stood there and, doing his best Santa Claus/pregnant Mommy impression, put one hand on either side of his imagined big belly and shouted "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!" Hesperos, a bit more intimidated by the lights and fanfare, needed some coaxing. Daddy walked him over to the train and held him aloft to see the reindeer the pops out every 15 seconds with a little gift. (We don't know what the reindeer does for the 15 seconds he's inside Santa's train out of sight, but I assure you that under the influence of beverages, the adults have speculated!). Hesperos is a little scared of the reindeer's jack-in-the-box style popping action, but we believe with counseling and psychological care, his aversion to reindeer should be overcome by next Christmas.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Halloween day started off with the boys cramming down breakfast, possibly the last semi-nutritious food they'd have for the day, before clambering into their costumes. Because Mommy didn't want the boys to wear their "real" costumes to daycare, we pulled out Thomas the Tank Engine for Helios (this costume's second annual engagement!) and threw together a Bob the Builder ensemble for Hesperos. Off they traipsed to school with Daddy, carrying with them boxes of homemade pumpkin cupcakes with cheesecake frosting and pumpkin cookies to share with their classmates (because there's nothing better than 40 children under 4 years old pumped full of Halloween adrenaline and sugar...and knowing that only 2 of those kids will be coming home with you!).
After work and school, the family gathered together to put on their real costumes, created by Mommy and inspired by Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat. Helios and Hesperos made their appearances as Thing 1 and Thing 2, respectively. Daddy helped make it a trio of motley characters through his appearance as the Cat in the Hat (looking a little bit like the Cat was recovering from a weekend bender). At the time this picture was taken, Hesperos wasn't too keen into wearing his fluffy wig, so we just told people that Thing 2 was going through a coming-of-age hair style crisis.
Following trick-or-treating activities, we ran into Uncle Elmo, Aunt Sully, cousins Oscar, Rose, and Jasmine, and Aunt Tiffany and Uncle Igor at the local burger joint, where Helios was appropriately horrified by perhaps the most terrifying event of the evening: being hugged by Uncle Elmo. But, Helios was revenged upon Uncle Elmo. Mommy tossed Uncle Elmo the black cat tail that Daddy had used (and been sitting on). Uncle Elmo rubbed it against his cheek, casting lustful cow's eyes in Aunt Sully's direction as he waxed eloquent about how soft the tail was and how sexy it'd look being worn. When Mommy told Uncle Elmo that the tail being caressed had previously festooned Daddy's bottom, Uncle Elmo dropped it like a hot potato, with an appropriate amount of horror.
After dinner, we went home and did the requisite, time-honored fight for candy privileges, filled with the normal, labored arguments and negotiation. ("No more candy until tomorrow." "That has nuts and you can't eat it; give it to Mommy." "That's too small for Hesperos, he could choke." "No gum because you'll swallow it and it'll stick to your teeth." "NO JAW BREAKERS! DO NOT PUT THAT INTO YOUR MOUTH!" and on and on...) Helios was distracted from the debate a few times when we finally gave into his desire to try on Daddy's Cat Hat and tail (apparently everyone wanted a little tail that night). He walked around the foyer, shaking his bottom, saying "meeeeow! I'm a cat!"
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
The drum set will still definitely be sold (it'd be a shame to deprive another family of the barely-muffled enthusiasm we experience through the garage walls), but for the next few days, we think we can delay the sale.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
- Yes, they can do that (whatever "that" is, but it's probably destructive or involves contortionism).
- Yes, it apparently does look edible to him (and the more undesirable it is, the more edible it apparently looks).
- No, he has no sense of timing and is perfectly capable of dirtying a diaper immediately after changing.
- Just because he's small, cute, and a baby doesn't mean he's not sneaky, smart, and stealthy.
- Almost every new experience (unless it's immunizations or having teeth brushed) is an exciting (and possibly delicious) one.
The last item is the most fun for us, although it often causes the most work. Let's use rice as an example. Hesperos loves rice. When we say he "loves" rice, we don't mean that he just enjoys eating it. We mean he l-o-v-e-s rice. If it weren't bullying to tease a 16-month-old (and if he even understood what we were saying), we might ask him if he plans on marrying rice and having little rice grain babies...that's how much he loves it.
Rice, whether white, brown, pilaf, or covered in cheese, is a 3- or 4-times weekly affair in our home. And if we go out to eat, woe betide the person who has rice on their plate if Hesperos does not! He immediately stakes claim to it by stretching his chubby fingers out and whimpering "mo, mo, mo!"
When rice is on his serving dish, Hesperos immediately ham fists it into his mouth, generally taking the fist with him. Sometimes we wonder whether he's preparing himself for a life as circus freak act as his short limbs seem to be crammed impossibly further into his mouth (we often catch our breath waiting for the gag reflex to kick in and the dinner to come out), all in the name of getting that rice inside his gullet. When his hand emerges, Hesperos generally carefully examines his digits with a care surprising for one so young and, with the eyes of a hawk and the sticky tongue of a frog, proceeds to lick every grain of rice off his hand and fingers, no matter how small.
After dinner, there is a perfect circle around Hesperos with rice strewn everywhere (whatever escaped his meaty fists and landed on the floor) where it looks like the Great Rice Monster suffered an itchy dandruff attack. Hesperos lolls about looking a little like a satiated Jabba the Hut. Mommy or Daddy, before letting Hesperos off his chair, strip him down to a diaper (by the way, yes, there is often rice in the diaper, too) in order to capture as much of the sticky rice-iness as possible before it is littered throughout the house like Hansel's and Gretel's breadcrumbs.
Hesperos, ever courteous in spite of his feasting habits, always takes his dish to the sink. In spite of eating a cup or two of rice (yes, he can put away up to two cups of rice, net of spillage), he'll carry his dish into the kitchen, eyes bright, smile wide, still saying, "mo, mo, mo!"
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Helios stood up like a shot and said, "Oooh! Who is that?!" with the sort of wary suspenseful anticipation that he invokes when he sees unfamiliar wildlife in the backyard or some strange vague shape under the bubbles in the bath. (In the last case, the wariness is well deserved, since Helios takes his baths with Hesperos.)
The cause of the doorbell was the mail lady, dropping off a box from Helios' and Hesperos' great grandparents (Daddy's grandparents). Helios carried it into the family room to Mommy, straining all the way saying, "It's too heavy!" in a groaning, quasi-constipated sort of voice. When we told him the box probably had Christmas presents in it, the pitter-patter of his feet increased as he said, "Oh, presents!" with all thoughts of its weight gone.
In a very paternal fashion, Helios stood over the box while Daddy opened it. Hesperos stood there, clapped his hands, squealed and drooled. Gifts for Helios and Hesperos were pulled out and immediately ripped open with the type of vision-blurring speed that is generally only seen in cartoons.
Inside were fleece blankets, one for each. Hesperos pulled his out, pointed at the white snowmen on his blue fleece and giggled. He plopped down on his diapered bottom with a swishy thud, and tried to fan the blanket over his legs, but apparently that wasn't as satisfying as walking with a corner of it stuffed in his mouth, risking tripping.
Helios clambered up on the stuffed chair to sit with Mommy, pulling his red snowflake bedecked blanket with him, and tried to shake it out over his legs yelling, "look! It's a parachute!" That fascination lasted only until Mommy opened the card that accompanied the gift. Out fell a $5 bill. Helios saw the floppy green paper with a sharp eye that we would've expected only pre-teens to have. Breathily he exclaimed, "Money! For which to buy things!" (for some reason, talking about money prompts Helios to start talking like a Prohibition-era gangster ... "for which to buy things"??).
As he clutched and grabbed with Gollum-like intensity, Mommy handed over the dough, prompting him to run upstairs screaming, "I am going to put my money in my wallet now. Don't come upstairs!"
Monday, November 26, 2007
Daddy filled in as assistant coach, the role for which he must've been preparing throughout his entire adolesence when he was a soccer player himself. Daddy's assistant coach title not only entitled him to help keep Helios in line, but also allowed Daddy and Helios to have matching t-shirts.
As possibly the youngest child in the room (the requirement was for the child to turn 3 by first game and Helios had aged like a fine cheese just two weeks before the start of the "season"), Helios was a bit intimidated by the other children's size and speed, and maybe a bit put off by the slight belligerence of some of the parents. (Truly, no parent is truly immune from the 'my-kid-is-the-best-but-why-is-he-playing-so-poorly' syndrome, although some control it better than others.) So, as like as not, Helios spent the first ten games or so climbing over the rubber barriers and running in circles on the field by himself.
The last game of the season brought with it a celebratory party during which Helios received his first trophy, as well as a couple of doughnuts that made the napping attempts later just that much more special. A little tuckered out, Helios rested his head on little brother Hesperos' lap -- Hesperos always being Helios' greatest fan.
... and starting next week is basketball!
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Mommy, bound by good sense to not interject into this heated soliloquy while the quality of her hair style was at stake, sat in peaceful silence, listening to an exhaustive list of the stylist's children's accomplishments.
Included in this litany of milestones was the stylist's claim that both of her boys were walking fully unassisted by 8 months. Eight months?! Helios was rolling around like a dung beetle on the floor at that time, barely able to crawl -- due primarily, we think, to stubbornness since he was perfectly able to stand and climb into the dishwasher (climbing into the dishwasher being one of those strange interests my children happen to share).
Hesperos is finally trucking along at 15 months, although he's been walking with the assistance of people or stationary objects for several weeks now. And just to prove it, here's Mr. Hesperos himself, semi-live, semi-nude, and in person, walking around the foyer.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
After a slightly incomplete night's sleep (periodically interrupted by cheers and hoots from the locals proud of the winning home team), we pulled ourselves together the next morning so we could make the long trek home (along with a studious Aunt Elspeth who drove along with us).