Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Jacob Makes a Breakthrough

Special guest blogger - Mommy.

Executive Summary - Today we had an amazing breakthrough - Jacob overcame his fear of story time crafts!

Jacob used to like story time at the library. Who wouldn't? There are stories, songs, dances, sometimes even puppets and bubbles and crafts.

Who wouldn't like this? Jacob.

He's always been very dubious about story time crafts and the dreaded hand stamp at the end of story time. A hand stamp, in Jacob's mind, is basically a boo boo and he can't understand why the other children are lining up to cheerfully receive an injury. For some reason, crafts (sometimes simple crafts are offered at the end of story time) are also a no-no. Jacob has been known to scream "No craft! No craft!" when we try to coax him to the craft table during story time. I've always marked this down as some sort of general fear of all things related to Martha Stewart. In Jacob's mind, perhaps there's a slippery slope - one day you're attaching stickers to a bookmark and the next you're knitting custom lampshades.

Recently, Jacob has been refusing to attend story time at all. However, I felt strongly that this was ridiculous and that he would love story time if we could just coax him in. So, I've been making a special point to take him to Pajama Time, a nighttime story time, after dinner on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We've only been going for 2 weeks now, but Jacob loves it. He has a smile on his face pretty much the whole time. The story leaders are very energetic and dynamic and the other kids are all following along enthusiastically. This week we even broke through the craft barrier and Jacob "made" this charming 4th of July hat.

OK - so his contribution was mostly in getting glue stick all over me and the hat in general. But, at least he was trying. Also, he never screamed "No craft". He did, however, refuse the offer of a hand stamp at the end.

I'll close with a quote from that great patriot, President Whitmore:
"And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: 'We will not go quietly into the night!' We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!"

Let's all celebrate our independence from craft fears.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lucy's new habits

Now that Lucy has passed the one year mark, she is trying out new things. First, she is following in her mother's footsteps and is starting to grab as many books as she can. Here Lucy is trying to decide which book she will consume next:

Since I can't read yet, I guess I'll just chew

We went to the library today. For the first time, she got more books than Jacob did. Oddly enough, I checked out items for Lucy, Jacob, and Angie but nothing for me. As Jacob says, "Oh well, maybe next time." Though he usually says that about sitting on the potty and not having anything to show for it.

Lucy is also crawling around like crazy. She can pull herself up to standing on furniture, cabinets and knees. Sometimes she pulls herself up on the back of your knees which makes it awkward to lift her (which is what she really wants). She'll cruise around on the furniture when there's something she wants, like a toy Jacob is playing with. I'm sure walking is only weeks away.

You'd pick me up, wouldn't you?

She's begun the habit of sticking everything in her mouth except for food. Consider what she did with this scoop:

She kept blowing it out, maybe expecting some musical note like she gets from the recorder. Hopefully we'll snag some video of her playing the recorder. So far she only has one note down but can vary the volume quite a bit.

Today's lunch required that I tempt her to open her mouth with a cheerio while I snuck in a spoonful of veggies and meat mixed together. I did giver her the cheerio after each bite. I think of it like a chaser. What does Lucy think of it? If only she'd start using words. Maybe next meal.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles V

This Sunday, we made it to church with plenty of time to spare. Jacob asked if we'd see our friends Brian and Teresa there. Since we went to the Clarksville Picnic yesterday (held on the church grounds) and saw them there, he assumed they'd be there today. Alas, they don't go to the 8 a.m. Mass. Maybe after they have their first child, their Mass habits may change.

As usual, we were the first in the children's chapel and had to turn on the lights and TV. We didn't hear any sound, but once Mass started we could hear everything. Our friends with the two boys came in a little later. At one point, the younger boy was sobbing uncontrollably. The father took him to a corner (presumably for a time out or cool down). The corner treatment wasn't making a change. The dad took his son out to walk him around in the hall. I guess it has to be pretty bad if you're taken out of the cry room for crying. Personally, it wouldn't have bothered me if they'd stayed, since that's the main purpose of the room.

Another example of misbehaving came from Lucy. Crawling around wasn't so bad until she decided to crawl over and stick her finger in the socket. Luckily, it was an Ethernet socket. Considering it a bad precedent, I told her "no playing with the socket" and dragged her away. She cried. Then she crawled back and tried that socket and the electrical outlet. I wound up covering both with my hands, much to the chagrin of Lucy and the laughter of Angie.

Angie was also happy to see Jacob playing with the older boy, who had a little bucket of dinosaurs. They looked at the dinosaurs together and discussed anatomy and such. Boy: "This is triceratops." Jacob: "Triceptops." Boy (producing new dinosaur): "It's a triceratops." Boy's mom: "No, it's a unatop." (I'm guessing it had only one horn?) Boy: "Feel his spiky back." Jacob: "Spiky back!" Boy: "There's his tail." Jacob: "That's his foot." And so on.

When the sign of peace came, I got to shake the dinosaur's foot. Also, the younger boy shook hands with me; when Angie tried to shake his hand, he gave her a look like she was a dinosaur ready to stomp him into the ground. Maybe next week she'll get a handshake.

This week, I was able to hear most of the homily, in spite of monitoring Jacob's playing with the other boy. Father said this week's gospel always makes him nervous. Jesus seems to be short and/or bad tempered with people who are going to be his disciples. One asks to bury his father before he follows Jesus, to which Jesus replies, "Let the dead bury the dead." Another says he wants to go home and say goodbye to his family; Jesus basically says he's unworthy of the kingdom of God. Father asked in his homily, was Jesus just having a bad day? Was he more loving and kind (like the typical idea we have of Jesus) the next day? Or is this really consistent with the good news He proclaimed? After considering some possibilities, Father came up with an answer. A lot of people look at faith in Christ as one of many different things in their lives: job, family, leisure, religion, exercise. For a Christian, this attitude is completely wrong. God isn't just for an hour on Sunday. He's not one of a multitude of goods; He is goodness itself. Nothing should take priority over Him. Not even making sure two kids don't fight over dinosaurs. Father didn't say that from the pulpit, but I can hear it now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles IV

You'd think that a special Father's Day breakfast would delay our Sunday morning routine and force us to go to a Mass later than 8 a.m. Somehow, we arrived two minutes early. I am sure of this because when we walked in Father told the deacon (who was ready to process into the church) that they had two more minutes before starting. That gave us plenty of time to get situated in the Children's Chapel at St. Louis.

The children were fairly well behaved this Sunday. Lucy did get fussy half way through the homily. I heard the beginning where Father discussed how we are always being tested. We see this in this week's gospel, where Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do people say that I am?" They reply, "John the Baptist or Elijah or one of the prophets." Jesus follows up with, "Who do you say that I am?" with Peter's reply, "You are the Christ of God." Father then challenged us to consider who Jesus is in our lives. More importantly, how does our faith in Jesus impact our lives and our actions. At this point, Lucy became more of a distraction, so I missed out on the end. But even that much is a good challenge to any Christian believer.

Lucy was also very distracting later on. Our friends with two young boys were with us again. Lucy was sitting near the door and the younger boy (I guess he was one to two years old) took his mom's keys and tried to give them to Lucy. At first, he would lay them on the floor in front of her out of her reach. She just looked at him, doe-eyed. He would pick them up and then lay them closer to her. Eventually he started trying to hand them to her. Lucy kept up the coy act until he practically put the keys in her hands. Both were all smiles at this. We parents thought it was cute too.

We had more than the usual good time at the sign of peace. Among the four adults and four children in the room, I shook hands about nine times. Jacob still sings along with the parts of the Mass and the hymns to the best of his ability.

After Mass was over, we decided to go to the playground on the church's property. Jacob really enjoyed playing there. All sorts of ladders, stairs and climbing rocks led to an upper level with slides and other toys to play with. Jacob liked to run around all over and wanted me to climb up the rock steps with him. I obliged, though I didn't follow him down the slide. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Jacob and Cell Phones

Jacob loves cell phones. He loves to play with them. He loves to push the buttons and see what happens. He likes to take pictures and play games on cell phones. And he has no reservations at all about asking people for their phones.

Usually, he harasses his mom and dad for their phones. My cell phone has about 200 pictures on it, 10 of which I took. The rest were by Jacob. I'll have to do a picture gallery of his work at some point. He also recently discovered my Sudoku app, which he loves, though he calls it "whodoku" every time. He even enters numbers though he has yet to complete a grid successfully. Angie's phone is also mostly a camera to Jacob.

The rest of the family gets to share with Jacob. Aunts Rosemary and Regina have recently upgraded their mobile phones. Jacob likes to play with the new phones and the old ones. He is always asking for whichever one isn't currently in his hands. They are very good natured about it.

Our friends are also targets for Jacob's addiction. "Uncle" Brian has a Droid cell phone, which has a lot of games including animal noises, fireworks and bubble wrap popping. Jacob has been too fascinated to even ask for camera mode. And Zahra's mom Patricia (from play group) also always receives cell phone requests. She is very patient and generous in loaning Jacob her phone. He is totally shameless in asking for it in his charming toddler way.

Last play date, we went to a neighborhood park with swings, a slide, a sandbox, and some riding animals and cars. Jacob had a fun time running around and playing, but he did load up Patricia's phone with pictures. He put some on my phone as well. While we were playing, another lady came with a child to the playground. I had to take Lucy back to the house to feed her a bottle. When Lucy and I came back, not ten minutes later, I discovered Jacob playing with the new lady's iPhone! He even convinced her to download the bubble wrap app so he could play it. I can't believe he got her to let him play with her phone. I can't believe how shameless my son is. And how successful. At some point he'll have to learn to ask not for their phones but for the ladies' phone numbers!

Here's a sampling of the photos he took on my cell phone from Tuesday's playgroup:

Jacob got a little bit of himself in this shot by accident and lots of slightly blurry wood chips.

Less Jacob, more blur.

More Jacob, less blur.

Apparently, Jacob was abducted by aliens at some point during play date.
None of the moms mentioned it to me, though.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Free Swim Day at Columbia Pools

The second Sunday of June, July and August is free swim day at the Columbia Pools if you have a resident ID card. Since Lucy got her photo snapped and laminated on Wednesday, the whole family could go to our local pool for some fun in the sun and water. Jacob walked there with enthusiasm if not with speed.

Lucy was concerned, as was her father, about the bathing suit she had to wear. It was free from a friend. That friend has fled to Hawaii and won't be back for three years at the earliest. Hopefully she'll forget by then. I hope she doesn't start reading this blog at just the wrong time!

Who are these Teletubbies on my suit! I want hobbits!

Once at the pool, we wasted no time in getting to the fun. Jacob charged right in to the wading pool and walked all the way across it. The water rose to just above his navel, but he didn't mind the cold. He had a great time splashing around.

Lucy stayed with mommy and daddy. She's not ready for the toys or long stays just yet. I tried laying her back in the water, but she looked nervous. She became more used to the water quickly.

Jacob's old nemesis from last year, the frog slide, is still in the wading pool. Last year he went down the slide and went fully under water and got a noseful of water. He apparently remembered the incident, because this was as close as he would get to the business end of the amphibian.

Whoops, I guess Lucy did play with one of the toys we brought! Yay, little red cup.

Jacob asked to change shorts when we got out of the pool. I think he wanted something dry to wear. Alas, we hadn't anything to change into. Consequently, he walked very slowly all the way home. I had to hold his hand and keep his momentum forward. I asked if he wanted to ride in the stroller. He insisted on walking. We made it home just as Aunt Regina arrived for her quartet practice. This perked him up enough to make it into the house and dry clothes followed with a good nap. We can't wait for July 11 to come!

Cry Room Chronicles III

Somehow this morning we were running late again, so we got to the church parking lot at 8 a.m. By the time we got into the building, Mass had already started so we made a beeline for the Children's Chapel.

Luckily, when we entered we could hear Mass. The lights were out and the TV off, but both were easy to fix. We were the lone Reningers until the second reading, when a dad came in with a boy and a girl. Later on, a mom and dad with two boys came in, maybe seeking refuge from the sanctuary. I've seen them before on previous weeks both upstairs and in the Children's Chapel. We haven't formally met yet.

Jacob and Lucy were both very well behaved this week. They still walked/crawled around a lot. Lucy cleaned off a shelf of toddler books and bent up a copy of Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. It was pretty easy to clean up at the end of Mass, though we may have to make an extra donation to St. Louis. Jacob only asked to go home once and was pretty receptive to instructions and directions.

Jacob was especially good at doing responses this week. In addition to singing the Alleluia, at the offertory he kept repeating, "Blessed be God, blessed be God, blessed be God," which I guess was his way of saying "Blessed be God forever." And after the consecration, he repeated two or three times "Christ is risen, Christ will come."

Even better was the sign of peace. All the little boys were into giving the sign of peace, so handshakes were had all around. Lucy didn't participate since I held her up too high. Maybe next week.

Lucy was a little distracting during the homily. The homily emphasized the clear theme of the readings: forgiveness. Father went into great detail about how awkward and astounding the gospel story was. Jesus is invited by a pharisee to dinner which is interrupted by a woman of ill repute who washes Jesus' feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. Imagine a formal dinner party that's going in full swing. Then a local prostitute crashes the party and goes after the guest of honor. How would the host react? How shocking is Jesus' response? Not only does He forgive her sins, He also tells a parable that shows that her love is greater than the pharisee's. The priest made the point that when Jesus says that she has loved much therefore she has been forgiven much, she isn't earning forgiveness because she loves much. Rather her love opens her to being forgiven. The homily was pretty good but I felt like there could have been more.

Also, we ran into another family that we've seen at St. Mary of the Mills and now here at St. Louis. They have a boy about Jacob's age and we had seen them Friday night at our village center and finally introduced ourselves. Now we know Luke, Kim and Timmy by name. At church, we met two of the grandparents on the dad's side.

Since we had such a good time at church, we decided to stop for a treat at one of our favorite bakeries, Touchet Touchet. We had a blueberry muffin and a lemon poppy seed muffin. They were pretty yummy. I hope next week is just as good.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Everybody loves a parade

Part of the Columbia Arts Festival this year was the Kinetic Art Parade. We thought it would be interesting for Jacob, so we decided to go. It might have been the shortest parade I've ever seen. The time span worked well with Jacob's attention span.

Naturally, the parade started with a police escort, the sort of police Jacob likes:

It also starts with a banner from the parade organizer or host or sponsor:

Jacob was more interested in the flags that came behind the banner, but after that came the police that he didn't like. These cops blare their sirens at full volume!

You would think the cutesy vehicle's full volume wouldn't be so bad, but Jacob wouldn't agree. The next car was better because it threw candy at us:

We went from old guys to old friends as Jacob's favorite man in black came marching by:

I'm not sure if Darth Vader was waving or doing Jedi mind tricks on the crowd. All I know is Darth is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life. Not as cuddly as a Jawa, but who is?

Jacob loved the next group the most. Not only did they have a dragon (notice Jacob pointing excitedly)...

...but they also had what Jacob was really pointing at, a big big drum!!

Jacob also liked the city bus, but was still looking with longing after the drum:

We passed this car driving in to the parade and we wondered if it would be part of the fun. You can't really tell here, but that's a sand castle on the roof. A lot of sea shells were on the back bumper too.

Another loud entry, at least according to Jacob, was the lone marching band in the parade (I think they had to have one in order to qualify as a parade):

We knew it was the end when we saw the cops coming again, leading another parade of sad drivers who didn't know they were on the parade route until too late.

I'll bet they too were glad that it was the shortest parade I've ever seen.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Library Summer Reading Program

On Saturday, we went to the East Columbia Branch of our local library for the kickoff of the Summer Reading Program. We signed up Jacob and Lucy for the Wee Splash reading program, which included tickets to a local minor league baseball game in August and our favorite, coupons for Chick-fil-A. We also participated in lots of fun activities.

At one of the craft tables, Jacob had the chance to decorate a fan. He didn't use any of the stickers but he did doodle on it with a purple pen. Outside, he put some dirt and seeds in a cup. Unfortunately, we've already lost track of the cup, so the seeds may not get to grow.

Jacob and Lucy listened as County Council member Calvin Ball and his daughters read stories at 10 a.m. Unfortunately at 10:10 the overhead speaker announced that the bubble lady show was starting immediately. The children went wild for the bubble show and the poor councilman was left reading to his own kids. My only consolation is that Jacob lost interest about 10:05, so he and I had already wandered away. The bubble lady was impressive. She made gigantic bubbles while the crowd oohed and ahhed. I took Lucy and got in line for the balloon guy during the bubble show. The line had little to no progress, so we didn't get a balloon there. As we checked out, Lucy swiped a balloon from the front desk. I guess she really did want one.

Unfortunately, the only pictures we got were on the way out with my cell phone of Jacob with an unrecognizable mascot/gigantic cat. A prize will go to anyone who can identify this creature:

Jacob tries to avoid an embarrassing photo op by sneaking past

Lady tries to convince him it won't be embarrassing

You judge the result; all I can say is, "Jacob, I'm sorry"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles II

Lucy in her going-to-Church outfit, now with shoes!

We parked our car in the Church lot at 7:59 a.m., so we were as close to almost on time as you can get. The procession had already made it to the altar by the time we got in, but the first hymn was still being sung. We made our usual way down to the Children's Chapel, only to discover no sound or picture of the Mass.

We climbed back upstairs and Angie let the junior usher (he looked about 10 years old) know about the problem. Entering the church, we filed into the backmost pew we could. Lucy and Jacob were pretty squirmy today throughout the Mass.

Lucy started burbling during the first reading, so I don't know what the reading was about. She started making more noise during the homily, so I pulled out what was left of her 7:30 bottle and quieted her down. It seemed like a brilliant idea until I discovered some spit up on her dress and chin! Luckily we keep extra outfits for both children in the diaper bag. Even better was the changing table in the men's room (a lot of men's rooms don't have that). I missed the heart of the sermon but didn't have to change Lucy on the floor. As a side note, I was surprised by how many guys were using the restroom during Mass. The total must have been four or five, not counting Lucy and me.

Jacob did a lot of squirming throughout the Mass. He needed a lot of holding in our laps or blocking from escaping the pew. At one point, he banged his head into the pew by accident, so Angie had to take him out to calm him down. After they came back, Lucy wanted to switch parents, so I held Jacob through the end of Mass. He wasn't as enthusiastic about the sign of peace as he usually is. He did shake a few hands besides mommy's and daddy's. He told me he wanted to leave after that. I told him we had to go to communion and sing another song before leaving. Jacob replied, "We get body of Christ!" He was still pretty antsy to get things moving.

As we were driving home, Angie said it was a toss up as to who was the more troublesome child today. Personally, I think spitting up during the homily wins easily. I did think of telling Father that his sermon made my daughter throw up, but then I would have been the most troublesome child. What I did hear of the sermon was quite good. He started with a short overview of the history of the Feast of Corpus Christi, including its origin in 1264. Thomas Aquinas was commissioned to write part of the Divine Office and some hymns for the feast. The feast became very popular and two cities in the USA are named after it: Corpus Christi, Texas, and Sacramento, California. Sacramento is the Spanish word for "The Sacrament," since the Eucharist is the central sacrament of our Faith. The rest of the homily was lost on me, alas.

Hopefully next week the Children's Chapel will be back online!

Lucy in her post-church outfit, still with shoes

Friday, June 4, 2010

Jacob's Right

Jacob has entered the phase of toddlerhood where he wants to argue with or correct everything, especially what I say. Consider some examples:
  • I suggested we go to the movies. Jacob said, "No, daddy, we go to movie theater." So much for that outing.
  • Of the three or four songs I've made up for diaper changes, only one is the right one according to Jacob. If I start singing Super Fast Diaper Change he says, "No, no, sing Change That Diaper!" He'll even sing the first few words to get me started.
  • One of his library books has this line: "Thanks, D.W." whispered Aunt Lucy. When I read it, I whisper what's inside the quotation marks and use a normal voice for the end of the sentence. Jacob corrects me by saying "Thanks, D.W." out loud and whispering the rest. He usually isn't satisfied until I say it his way.
  • We argued today about a big mess that he made in the play room. I said he had to help clean up. He said no. When I insisted, he told me, "Jacob said no!" So I replied that he could help me clean up or have a time out. He countered with asking to watch a video. After he refused to choose two more times, I gave him the time out. He was pretty upset, but we were okay afterward.
  • At meal time, Jacob often wants to leave before he's had enough. I usually say, "Two more bites and you can get down." Sometimes he goes along with the offer, but other times he replies with "Jacob said no!" Luckily he is not too insistent. Maybe he knows that two bites really isn't too much. Sometimes he tries to renegotiate the terms and says, "No, Jacob wants five bites." I usually cave in to such a tactic.
  • At nap time and bed time, we read three books and then he goes to sleep. Here he also tries to renegotiate and says, "No, five books." Angie and I don't give in this situation. He's tried it on babysitters Carlos and Rosemary to no avail.
  • Jacob has learned to climb into his seat in the van by himself. Consequently he wants to do it by himself every time. Sometimes he goes quicker than other times. If he's too slow (e.g. I've already put Lucy in her car seat, taken out some trash, loaded the car with canvas shopping bags and library returns, etc.), I count to ten and if he isn't sitting by ten, I pick him up and put him in the chair. The first two or three time he was really upset about being picked up ("I wanted to do it myself!!!" amidst sobs of anguish), but lately it is just a game. He makes some token protest but is grinning as a strap him into the car seat.
  • Yesterday he went out to the sprinkler with Mommy but protested he couldn't go because he didn't have a swim diaper on. Luckily he was persuaded that it was okay without it. Even luckier, he didn't insist that Mommy and Daddy have swim diapers!
The pediatrician warned us that Jacob would be testing his limits and trying to get away with as much as possible in his second year. He's also giving his parents a lot of opportunities to develop patience. I'd like to say, "Thanks, Jacob" but I don't know if I should whisper or shout.