Wednesday, September 02, 2009

No Words Exchanged

Quick hits today:

  • Had an interview on Monday for a potential promotion. Also applied for a potential lateral move. Keeping my fingers crossed. I was nervous, but I think I did fine in the long run.
  • Finally adjusting to my new carpooling schedule (which requires me to get up before 6am two days a week and I am NOT a morning person). It's been a challenge but caffeine has helped.
  • Almost all traces of high fructose corn syrup removed from my house. A bit of residual left in barbecue sauce, ketchup, and a jar of jelly that's almost gone. Did you know baked beans have HFCS? Now working on banning aspartame; I'm down to only one bottle of Diet Pepsi a day. I've been cold-brewing concentrated green tea and mixing with 100% juice or lemonade.
  • Farmer's markets start up in a couple weeks. I'm excited. There's monthly one that will be within walking distance at the new ballpark, and another within reasonable driving distance. They're offset by two weeks. I'm going to have to learn to play my cards right.
  • CJ drew a picture the other day--a tiny version of himself lying in a half-box, a big circle above that with little circles leading from the half-box to the big circle, and a large version of himself standing in the big circle. Tom asked him what the picture was. CJ responded, "That's a picture of me as a baby dreaming of me as a big boy!"
  • I think the arrangement with Tom staying home with CJ full-time is going very well.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Music Requests

I was pondering this last night, and was spurred to post after reading Suze's blog this morning. I need a bit of advice--both on how I should perceive reality and what actions I should take.

Tall order? Possibly. Allow me to 'splain:

We have been aware that CJ has a love for music since shortly after he was born. I sang to him quite a bit in the early months, but he didn't have a great love for lullabies. He liked it much better when I sang Mahna Mahna or Mr. Blue Sky. As a toddler, he loved to watch us play Guitar Hero and we got him his own toy guitar to "play". I lost count of how many batteries I've gone through from his incessant playing of his Ocean Wonders aquarium, and I recall one night, spent in a hotel room in Burlington, when Tom and I had to hum the aquarium songs to lull CJ to sleep. For almost a year, his bedtime story was singing--all the songs from a book of lyrics and pictures that had come with a CD. The CD was lost a long time ago, but he knows the songs.

Before he was 2, he was singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. By 3, he'd figured out that Baa Baa Black Sheep and his ABCs were the same tune, and he could play it on a toy xylophone (one octave, each key a different color). He would sing on the ride home from daycare, asking us which song he should sing. He had a catalog of at least thirty songs, full words and melody, by 4. Some of those songs were tough--I've Been Working on the Railroad, The Green Grass Grew All Around, and the Ants Go Marching. He had the sixth from My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean down pat. He didn't belt out the songs or scream them--he sang strongly, on pitch, in tune, and with proper emphasis and phrasing.

I've shared some songs that he likes based on what he hears from around the house and in the car. He has a few childrens music CDs, but he has a strong preference for songs with guitars, especially acoustic guitar. He likes Rolling Stones, Beatles, and Grateful Dead--he even dances like a true little Deadhead!

Now that he's home with Tom, Tom is encouraging the music play. He brought out the old Casio I got in high school and has been teaching CJ to play on it. Over the last few days, CJ has learned to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and scales. Yesterday, he learned do-re-mi (which he sings with perfect pitch while he plays it).

Here's where the help comes in:
1) Do I gush too much about his seeming talent for music, or is this normal for 4 1/2? I'm pretty impressed, but I impress easily when it comes to this kid. I used to sing, but could never play an instrument so I'm always taken with those who can.

2) Since this is play, I don't want to impose any firm structure or expectations. This is about his discovery and his love. I don't want to make him learn to play a song or follow some technique. But, I don't want a lack of structure to harm him later--for example, I am a terrible touch typist because I tauight myself to type when I was a kid, and I have never been able to make the right connections in my brain to overcome the bad habits I taught myself. His brain is making connections at lightning speed. Should I be concerned that a lack of discipline could harm future ability?

3) At what point do I consider lessons? I never had music lessons, so I don't know how early is too early, or how late is too late. How do I encourage him to develop his talent without killing his passion? How do I keep it from becoming a chore? I'm thinking that we should look into getting him piano lessons when he starts kindergarten next year--am I on the right track?

4) He has such a broad interest and a variety of toy (and kid sized instruments)--drums, xylophone, keyboard, guitar, maracas, noise makers, his voice--where do I start? How many lessons do I entertain? Of course, I could ask, and I have asked him what he would like to play. He either answers with a list of everything, or gives me a different instrument. Sometimes, he says no. I know his decision making capability is limited--how much of this is his choice, how much is mine, and when do the scales start to tip?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Conversations with a Four Year Old

Christopher likes to watch Noggin, and there is a Laurie Berkner song he's learned from Jack's Big Music Show. It's called I'm Not Perfect:

I'm not perfect, no, I'm not.
I'm not perfect but I've got what I got.
I do my very best, do my very best, do my very best each day,
But I'm not perfect and I hope you like me that way.

It continues with another verse for We and concludes with a verse for You, with the ending line "And you know I love you that way." It's a very very sweet song and Christopher loves to sing it. Sometimes, he asks us to sing it with him (we sometimes sing in the car on the ride home). The only problem--he is very particular about the words as he knows them. If Tom or I sing the wrong word, Christopher will shout, "No! That's not it!"

I sometimes forget that he's a little too young for sarcasm. One night, he asked me to sing with him, then yelled because I used a wrong word. I immediately replied, "I think you've missed the message of the song, buddy."

"What do you mean, Mommy?"

"Do you know what "not perfect" means?"


"It means that we don't always do everything correctly. We're humans, and we make mistakes, and we will mess up sometimes even when we do our best, but that's OK."

"Oooooh," he says, then falls silent. I turn my head, and he has a pensive look on his face, and I think maybe this is one of those impactful life-lesson moments, then he straightens in his seat and declares, "*I'm* perfect!"

Tom and I answer in unison, "No, you're not!" then laugh.


We often listen to the classic rock station since it's the only one that doesn't drive me to change stations with every other song. I've noticed some more recent songs creeping onto their playlists, and I am gobsmacked that The Joshua Tree apparently qualifies as classic rock now, but I'll try not to rail about that.

At 6pm, they play the 6 o'clock Stoner, a block of 4 Rolling Stones songs. I'm sorry to say that we often catch this during the commute home. Three times in two weeks, we caught "You Can't Always Get What You Want" in the block, and Christopher was entranced with the choir and the acoustic guitar.

A few nights ago, he asked, "Can you play my song, 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'?"

"I'm sorry, honey," I told him, "but I don't have that on CD."

"Can you make it play on the radio?"

"No, I can't make it play. We have to wait for the station to play it."

"But I want to hear 'You Can't Always Get What You Want'."

"I know, but sometimes, you *can't* always get what you want."

"But I *want* it!"

I wanted to tell him that if they play it, maybe he should really listen to it, then I remembered about the sarcasm thing and said nothing.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Joke from a Four Year Old and Phonics Lesson


"Who's there?"

"It's Pizza!"

"It's Pizza, who?"

"Haha, that was a funny joke!"


Earlier this week, Christopher and I were discussing letter sounds. He asked me what I started with (what letter my name begins with, in his parlance). I told him, "My name starts with the letter 'B'."

He looked puzzled. "But 'Mommy' has a 'mmmmmm' sound."

"That's right! 'Mommy has an 'mmmm' sound, but my name is Becca."

"Oh, yes! That's right! You start with the 'butt' sound."

Monday, June 15, 2009

Four Months?

Seriously, four months? Sorry, I didn't realize it had been that long.

Since the last post, Christopher has gotten glasses (spiffy red frames that he loves). Poor thing is farsighted, like me, and his eye was crossing under the strain to focus. He takes good care of his specs, and has improved greatly with his recognition of letters and numbers. Interestingly enough, his poor small motor skills (those used for coloring, tracing, and writing) were related to his eye issues. Once he could see, he rediscovered those activities and loves to draw. Within the last month, he's gone from scribbling to representative artwork--I'll have to scan some since it's impressive. At least, it is to me. Currently, we have to put an eyepatch on his left eye each night to help his brain recognize and accept input from his right eye. His opthalmologist is very optimistic about the patching, given how well he took to his glasses.

We took a trip to see Jenn and Jamie, driving to San Antonio. We thought we could make the drive in one day. We were wrong. Driving through West Texas from El Paso is a fat lot of boring, and San Antonio was nothing like we expected. We saw the Alamo. Christopher loved the fish. I was surprised how small it was. I was rather moved by the carvings on the walls in the rooms where soldiers held their ground while woman and children huddled. I couldn't stay very long as I felt guilty being that close to tragedy in a voyeuristic capacity.

We also visited the Witte Museum, the Riverwalk, and had a great day at the Children's Museum. We didn't make it to the beach, but there is always next time. Christopher greatly enjoyed the Easter egg hunt he had with Jamie, and asks to go back someday. He even points to the picture of the Alamo on the Texas piece of his America puzzle, and tells us that's where Jenn and Jamie and Buddy and Ziggy live.

In May, I introduced Christopher to the library (and how to say "library" correctly, which he does, as well as the word, "correctly"). The actual branch is due for construction next year, but there is a room off City Hall where the county has put up shelves of bestsellers and popular childrens' books. Christopher likes to go and play with the puzzles while I browse the shelves, and then he helps me check them out using a scanner. He's signed up for the Summer Reading Program, and is already 25% complete. We're due to go this weekend--the check-out times are very generous, three weeks, and I try to make an afternoon of it with him. We go to the library, then Goodwill, then someplace for lunch, then home. It's like our date. He loves Goodwill. I don't take him very often since that's one errand he typically runs with Tom at least once a week.

Speaking of Tom, we received news in June that his job was eliminated. His last day is July 3rd. Since CJ starts school next fall (2010), Tom will stay home with him full-time and continue his-pre-school education. We've told Christopher that he won't go to daycare anymore to start the conversation. We know he doesn't recognize the full impact, but we know he will ask questions as information sinks in, the more we talk to him about it. We wanted to give him plenty of time to adjust to the idea. The daycare has been fantastic--they'll keep his information and place him in drop-in status so we can take him at anytime for the day should the need arise (like, if Tom gets called for jury duty and I have to go to the office). We knew this was a possibility since last fall and have planned quite a bit for the eventuality. We'll be fine, so please don't worry too much. Tom is very excited about staying home, and has wished to do so for some time.

Oh--nothing major, but I quit smoking last month. It's been over 5 weeks. I'm very pleased. This time, I did it cold turkey--just decided I was done after that pack was done, and held to it. It's been tough at times, and I take it moment by moment. I may be consuming more caffeine and tea, but I haven't killed anyone, so I consider it a success. Now I'm just trying to adjust to the way my body reacts now--I breathe easier, my senses of taste and smell are improved, but I'm often tired, and my brain is slow. I forget I've been using a stimulant constantly for 14 years. My body has to remap itself and my body has to adjust to finding a different form of motivation and energy. I've found some excitement in food; I'm even now with my weight from when I quit, but I've been experimenting in my kitchen. Tomatoes have been lovely, as has fruit, so I'm eating fresh foods, little red meat (more seafood), and trying my hand at making my own "staples". To date, I've made sherbet, banana muffins, bread, gingersnaps, granola, chex mix, and yogurt. Yes, yogurt. Which was awesome this morning with grapes, banana, and fresh granola.

Maybe in another four months, I'll get around to posting the recipes.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sad Day

This morning, I took my 12 year old cat Zeke to the vet. Unfortunately, Zeke did not come home with me.

He's been in gradual decline since Thanksgiving, which accelerated over the past two weeks. Xrays this morning showed he had cancer through most of his major organs with nothing we could do. The vet kindly talked me through the euthanasia procedure and I was present when it was done.

Zeke was always an stubborn right bastard, but we loved him very much. I am very sad, as is Tom. We have no idea what to tell Christopher--so far we've only told him that Zeke had to stay at the animal hospital. We were very clear to him this morning that we were taking Zeke to the vet--an animal doctor--not at all like his doctor.

All Christopher knows about death is from Lion King--he tells me, "Lion King fell down and got dive." He doesn't know the actual word. Any tips on how or what to tell him when he asks?