Saturday, March 31, 2007

Springtime and Cheap Labor

It's that time of year again when the persistent dreariness of the Pacific Northwest in the winter is broken by the occasional respite from rain and bolt of sunshine. Seeing these felicitous tidings of springtime promise spur local residents into a hubbub of landscaping activity, eager to take advantage of those moments of relative good weather by pruning back some of the swamp-like foliage that has grown over the past few weeks.

Helios got into the swing of things by helping his parents with their gardening efforts. First he helped by dumping dirt and seeds into Jiffy-Grow starter pots. If mama doesn't manage to kill the fledgling sprouts with her brown thumb, we should have some cucumber, onion, cabbage, watermelon, and cantaloupe starts pretty soon, as well as some Thumbelina flowers. But, mama's brown thumb won't be our only challenge. Helios was a little less than discriminating when he put seeds into the little pots. We're pretty sure that there are some onions co-mingling with the cabbage, and the fruit may be a new and previously unheard-of breed called "waterloupe". But, who knows? Maybe this will be Helios' claim to fame ... to have a new breed of fruit named after him. It really has been a fun learning experience for Helios though. Every day we show him the progress on the new plants, although he doesn't seem to quite get it that his beloved watermelon is in plant form right now -- he keeps asking to eat it now!

After working on the edibles, Helios helped out by trying to shovel out some of our not-so-grassy turf. Due to Helios' meager 28-pound weight, he wasn't able to pierce the ground as he would've liked. So, he compensated by having mama hold the shovel up straight, and he proceeded to jump up and down on it like it was the landscaper's version of a Pogo Stick.

Okay, so are you ready for your gardening jokes now?

Q. What do you call a stolen yam?
A. A hot potato.
Q. Why did the girl mushroom go out with the boy mushroom?
A. Because he was such a fun-gi.
Q. What do you call two young married spiders?
A. Newly webs.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Potty Time for Me!

Any conversation about "parental honeymoons" and "little efficiencies" is not complete without mention of potty training. We're quite excited and proud of Helios because for the last three weeks or so, he's been wearing his "big boy underpants" all day long with nary an accident! At 2-and-a-half, we think that's pretty good since we've been told the target is to have the kids potty trained by 3 years.

(Sure, Helios looks a little angry in this picture, but, I'm willing to admit that we just might be infringing a bit on his private time by photographing him reading while on the potty. So I suppose a bit of irritability is expected.)

He now wears only diapers when he sleeps at night and sometimes during nap, although we're trying to figure out how to manage that. We know we need to manage the amount of liquid Helios has before bedtime, but it seems like there's a fine line between supporting wet-free nights and dehydration.

A little surprising to us was the importance books played in helping Helios potty train. He has an Elmo book about potty-training, which has been helpful, but his favorite one seems to be "A Potty Time for Me" which was an impulse buy at Pottery Barn. There are a few grammatical errors in it, which Mama in her persnickitness corrects every time she reads it, but other than that, it's a pretty good book. The best part is the end where it says, "No more diapers now, I'm as happy as can be. I get to wear big kid underpants. I'm so proud of me!" We always finish the book by saying "I'm so proud of Helios." So, now, whenever Helios sees one of us use the restroom, he comes over, gives a hug and says, "I'm so proud of you, too, Mama/Dada."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Splish, Splash, Bathtime!

For the past few days, we've enjoyed a second parenting honeymoon, of sorts. No, it doesn't involve chocolate, strawberries, or quiet time. We're not so foolish to think that's remotely achievable with two young ones. But, little "efficiencies" translate into huge happiness when you're running to and fro to keep after little people. Our latest honeymoon has come in the form of slightly more time as we're now able to bathe the children together. Hesperos adores the extra time with his big brother, and Helios likes taking Hesperos' toys away. (As with any two children, the toy held by the sibling is always more fun.) We're happy with the time, effort, and water saved by having two children in the bathtub simultaneously. So, really, we all win!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Helios and Mozart?

Supposedly Mozart authored his first composition at three years old. But, how often do we hear his first opus (K. #1?) played by the Boston Philharmonic?

Based on so little knowledge, then, there's no reason to think that Helios' little composition tonight (his 12-tone interpretation of "Old McDonald Had a Farm") isn't just as good at Mozart's first piano work. Certainly, Helios' enthusiasm could rival that of any fledgling composer.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Yum...Remote Controls!

At over eight months, Hesperos has yet to pop a single tooth. While that's good news for the person who nurses him, it's high time that he gets working on this. I finally had to break down and tell him a few days ago that if he doesn't start some teething action soon, he's going to be the laughing stock of all the other crawlers. It's a baby-eat-baby world out there and staying a gnaw above requires some chompers. Apparently, given the recent increase in drooling and the use of the remote control as a gum massager, I can only assume that Hesperos listened to me. Tonight we noticed a tiny little nub of a tooth trying to poke through. It's too faint to see in a picture, but if the ridges are any indication, his bottom left tooth should be popping up pretty darn soon. Remote controls, beware!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Laughter and a Day at the Park

Hesperos' middle name means "laughter" and that was never more evident than this past week when he took his first ride in a real park swing. If we hadn't known better, we would've thought that this was his first trip in any swing period because he was so happy. But, I suppose those little Graco swings aren't secured by a 6-foot length of metal chain, allowing the little innocents to go at mach speeds. It was probably the exhileration of the chilly spring air compounded with the adrenaline rush of not knowing whether he was going to see his first birthday that made him so giggly.

Helios, on the other hand, wasn't so much giggly as smug, paling around with his six-year-old cousin, Rose. Other than "Mama" and "Dada", Rose's name was the first Helios learned to say. We're not entirely sure if he thinks of her as a big sister or if he's entranced with her long blonde hair and willingness to play with trains. In fact, if they weren't cousins, Rose could be the perfect girl for Helios -- from his perspective, that is. She feigns interest in Helios' passions (trains); she plies him with his favorite foods (animal crackers, popcorn, bananas); she protects his ego (lets him win at foot races); and she makes him feel like a big boy (lets him go on the slide first). In fact, if you just substituted these activities with adult male interests (football, hamburger and fries, video games, and going on the slide first), it becomes clear that childhood relationships are based on pretty much the same components for success as adult ones.

The day ended with a family picture. At the bottom are Helios with Hesperos (being held by Dada). Next up are Oscar, and then at the top are Jasmine and Rose. They don't all normally look like such dorks but apparently the presence of a gnat, particularly around two small girls, set the entire group of children into a frenzy. Most amusing was when Oscar saw the gnat land on his uncle's head. Oscar was just ready to slam his hand down, killing the gnat and smacking his uncle hard on the head, when disaster was narrowly averted by the gnat flying off. I heaved a sigh of relief. It just doesn't do to have innocent little gnats killed for no reason.

Friday, March 9, 2007 CAKE!

Helios doesn't care much for sweets -- he never eats candy (unless it's chocolate) and we have to fight with him to get him to try ice cream. But, if you're a loaf of banana bread or pound cake, then you're an endangered species around here.


Generally, when I bake, I make 4-8 mini loaves, freeze the extra ones, and bring them out whenever Helios remembers what they are and requests them. This past week, he asked for pound cake every morning before going to daycare and every evening before bedtime. Finally, yesterday, he got some of that much treasured pound cake.


Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall...

No "baby" post for the moment, but instead a link to a very interesting article that is close to home.

Thank goodness no embarrassing pictures are posted...yet.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Who, Me?

In a tribute to the terribly obnoxious uncle that Hesperos has yet to meet, we are sharing this picture. We think that Hesperos looks a lot like his father's youngest brother here...although more handsome, charming, personable, likable, cuddly, endearing, and, on the whole, with the light of intelligence in his eyes that appears only in his uncle's eyes when something shiny catches his eye. Other than looks, though, there are two striking similarities: One is the copious amount of drool they produce when they see breasts. The other is that they both have urinary "accidents" when they drink too much.