Tuesday, August 31, 2010

We may have to bring Lucy to the next craft...

Has jealousy reared its ugly head in our home?

Two weeks ago, Jacob made a craft at the library's pajama time. The theme was reptiles and the craft was making a snake. Snake making turns out to be quite easy, following these four simple steps:
  1. Take a colored paper plate.
  2. Cut it in a spiral. 
  3. Paste on two yellow circles for eyes.
  4. Paste on some red yarn for the tongue. 
The helpful librarians completed the first two steps for Jacob. All he needed was a little glue and the gumption (and help from Mommy). He brought the snake home, as proud as could be.

The next day, Lucy got a hold if it and tore him limb from limb. At least it would have been limb from limb if snakes had any limbs. Here's a reconstruction of Snakey, post-Lucy:
Okay, maybe treading on me wouldn't have been so bad.
Try as I might, I could not put Snakey back together again. It's just as well, since we probably would have a strict "No Reptiles" policy in the house if we thought about it.

Tonight, pajama time was craftless. Jacob still managed to come home with something, though. He habitually checks the vending machine slots at the library. My impression is that he thinks they are buttons needing pushing. Today, he found two cents:
Watch this magic trick!
Jacob's will probably ask to go to the mall tomorrow so he can throw the pennies into a fountain. Surely that's a better fate than what Lucy might have in store.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles XI

This week we were back on schedule, walking in three minutes before the beginning of 8 a.m. Mass at St. Louis. In the children's chapel we discovered our old friends James and Colin with their parents (the mom is still pregnant). We said our hellos before the Mass started. Colin even said Lucy's name!

James is on a new program where he is following along the parts of the Mass, giving responses and standing or sitting at the appropriate times. It gives me hope for Jacob. Colin was carrying around a blanket with his hand up by his shoulder. His mother took this as a "ready to strike" stance and was very watchful when he was around Lucy and Jacob. Jacob and he had a lot of near interactions. Colin was generally peaceful. So much so that he even gave the sign of peace early to everyone in the room. Jacob did his usual wandering around the room and reading out loud from any book he could find. He asked to go see the violins, not realizing that we weren't at the 9:30 Mass.

We did go upstairs a little early for communion. I gave Jacob a nickel for the poor box. He just wandered around with it. Putting coins in the poor box has lost its appeal for Jacob but has gained appeal for Lucy. She took a couple of coins from me. Not able to reach it on her own, I had to hold her over the box while she put some spare change in. At least one of us is financially supporting the church.

After Mass we went to the playground where we caught up with Timmy and his parents Kim and Luke. We hadn't seen them since August. There wasn't much news to report. We were all bummed about the canceled pool party in the neighborhood (you know, the one I didn't write a blog about because it didn't happen). Other than that, the summer has been quiet. Then we headed home for special muffins (Jacob and Lucy still don't know that the green vegetable zucchini is the key ingredient) and some fun outside.

The sermon was a bit of a blur since we were trying to convince Jacob he needed his diaper changed. He countered with his need to read more books. Finally, we gave him two minutes to read and then he'd get the diaper change. Lucy didn't want me to leave the room so Angie wound up with diaper duty. Heaven help whoever went into that bathroom after us! Anyway, the gospel had the famous line, "every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted." (Luke 14:11ish) I do remember the priest talking about how we need patience and understanding, especially in situations that we can't control and feel are extremely annoying and inconvenient, like a delayed or canceled flight at the airport or being stuck in a grocery line behind very chatty and seemingly slow checkout attendants. That touched me because I have felt umbrage at the grocery store checkout before. I hope to mend my ways in the future.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles X

For the past three Sundays (since the last Cry Room Chronicle), we've varied up the Sunday worship routine.

Back on August 8, we were up in Boston for the Catholic New Media Celebration. Boston is also the home of Leslie, maid of honor at our wedding four years ago. Sunday morning we joined her at Saint Ignatius of Loyola, a very beautiful church near Boston College. Lots of wood carving, good stained glass, etc. adorn this church. The vestibule is separated off from the rest of the church by wooden doors that were open throughout the service. When the inevitable came and Jacob had to wander around, we could still hear the Mass. I'm sure people inside could have heard us but Jacob is getting better at whispering in church. On the other hand, Lucy started practicing her vowels, at first whispering, "Eee ahh, eee ahh." She slowly gained confidence and increased her volume slightly each time. Angie had a hard time deciding when to take her out. We wound up drifting in and out during Mass, mentally and physically. In spite of the kids' shenanigans, we had a good time at church and seeing Leslie.

Last week (August 15) we went to the Saturday vigil at 4 p.m. at St. Louis. The children woke up early from their naps and we had Sunday morning plans, so it seemed like a good plan. Uncle Brian (godfather to Lucy) was a lector for the second reading. When Jacob heard him talking through the TV, Angie asked who it was. Jacob shouted, "Uncle Brian!" and smiled. After Mass we got to see Brian and Teresa along with friends Kevin and Amanda, who happened to be volunteers at the blood drive I went to that day. Sunday morning plans were a bust since the kids were a little under the weather the next day.

Today (August 22) we again did not go to the usual 8 a.m. Mass. Lucy slept until about 7:30, which made it extremely tight to get her fed and to church. As a result, we decided to attend 9:30 Mass. Thinking we had plenty of time, we dawdled at the house and wound up late getting to Mass. Another dad (or maybe grandpa?) was in the children's chapel with a boy and a girl. Later, a mom and dad arrived with a boy who seemed just a little younger than Jacob. He and Jacob did a lot of wandering around the room. Occasionally they'd be interested in the same item, but luckily parents were there to defuse the situation before it became critical. Also Jacob pretended to push buttons on the ethernet outlet in the room. The outlet cover had no buttons; this did not deter Jacob. He was so distracted he almost missed his chance to put money in the collection basket. Jacob hardly ever gets to do that at 8 a.m. Mass because the usher doesn't come through the children's chapel. He clued in just as the usher was leaving. I handed Jacob a dollar and he stopped the usher just before he left. Jacob gave his usual fist-clenching bow of excitement after his success. After communion, we stayed upstairs so Jacob could watch the musicians and choir. He truly was in awe.

Hopefully next week we'll be back to the regular Mass time, but you never know what will happen.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How to Beat the System

With my sister Rosemary doing some daytime babysitting, I had the opportunity to get some errands outside the house done without the children. I decided to renew my license at the Motor Vehicle Administration for Maryland and get a hair cut at least. It made sense to go the MVA first to deal with the notorious long wait and see if I had enough time left for other errands.

Arriving at the MVA at 12:40 p.m., I got my ticket at the self-service kiosk and saw that my number was B135. The monitor on the wall listed the current B number as 104. The place was packed with people, some loitering in the vestibule and two even standing outside. I had a book with me, which is a good way to pass the time.

Guessing my wait would be at least an hour, I decided to get back in the car. My favorite barber is across town, about a 10-15 minute drive.  Having a book also seems to guarantee that I will not have to wait at the barber shop. The book worked its magic there and I immediately sat in a chair upon arrival at the barber's. The haircut was swift and efficient. As I paid, I discovered a "buy ten get one free" card from Rita's Ice Custard that had ten stamps on it. Rita's was in the same shopping center, so I enjoyed a chocolate custard and banana ice gelati for free. I even ate it on a bench out in front of the stores. Then I headed back across town.

I returned to the MVA at 1:35. I saw the number B129 on the screen. Sitting down to read, I had an eight minute wait before my number was called. I was done by 1:50 and able to get home in time to write this blog before the children even woke up! It's a happy day.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

They used to get my sweat and tears, now just blood

Today I tried something new: donating platelets at the American Red Cross blood donor center here in Columbia. I received a call about two weeks ago asking if I'd be interested in donating platelets. Why not? With no objection springing to mind, my appointment was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 14 (today, at least as I write).

My sister said that they provide the donor with a DVD player and movies to make the time pass. So I brought Sunset Boulevard, a Netflix movie that's been waiting to be watched for quite a while. When I arrived, I forgot to bring the DVD in with me. If only it'd fit in my pocket!

Friends from church were volunteering that day, so checking in was extra pleasant. The medical assessment was almost entirely the same as the whole blood assessment. I did have to sign a special form for permission to use my platelets. The technician explained the process and said it would take about 90 minutes the first time. He sent me off to the bathroom before we started. I used the opportunity to call my wife and let her know I'd be late.

I came back to pick a DVD from their collection. I almost took Rooster Cogburn (I must have seen it but can't remember at all) but then saw Sunset Boulevard. Figuring I'd watch this copy and then finish it at home, I was set. I sat in the chair. He marked both arms and stuck them with needles. The blood came out of my right arm, into their machine for separating, and red blood cells with a saline solution were put back in my left arm. The time went by quickly (thanks to a fabulous movie). I never freaked out like I thought I might and I was able to keep my arms still. The donation experience was quite good.

Once free of the needles (yay two bandages!) I had the usual juice and cookies. The thank you gift was some Red Cross flip flops especially designed to leave ads in the sand! Check them out:

I may have to go to a park with a sand box to check these out in action.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jacob's favorite part of the trip

Tonight at dinner, we asked Jacob what was his favorite part of our trip to see Uncle John and go to the CNMC and visit Leslie in Boston this past weekend. He concentrated on Uncle John's house: "I liked cutting fruit, playing piano, going downstairs to the basement." Uncle John has a basket of plastic fruit in his living room which Jacob would pretend to cut up and feed to all of us. John also has a piano which Jacob tried to play, with halfway decent results for a two-and-a-half year old with no training at all.

I take requests! (and tips)
 And the basement is home to the big movie screen. We watched the beginning of many fun movies with Jacob. It's not that he fell asleep while watching but his attention span needs to grow longer. During the trip, we watched the beginnings of Finding Nemo and The Lion King many times. Someday, we'll make it to the end of one or the other, I'm sure.

On a side note, visiting Leslie was lots of fun and I had a lot of new inspirations and encouragements at the Catholic New Media Celebration.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cry Room Chronicles IX

Jacob was extra-enthusiastic about misbehaving this week at church. I don't know if he wanted to show off for Granny (who is visiting) or he's discovered that we haven't come up with any negative consequences applicable at church. Angie tried giving him a time out after he drummed too long and too loudly for the second time. He enjoyed it so much that he asked for another time out when Mommy brought him back into the Children's Chapel. Yikes! We can't take away toys or videos since there aren't any. We are in quite a quandary.

Lucy did her usual crawling around and playing with books. She didn't do anything too naughty until she went to another row and filched the hymnal from under some one's chair. A dad with two well-behaved sons was the victim of purloining Lucy. Afterwards, Angie and I couldn't figure out what they were doing with us. The did a little coloring and a little wandering around but seemed pretty quiet and easy to manage.

Today's sermon, based on the parable of the rich man who stored up treasures for himself so he could live the easy life while his life would be forfeit that very night (check it out here), was all about being detached from material things. The stuff we own might give us pride in accomplishment or security from fear but the whole value system such attitudes are based on is not guided by the Christian perspective. The true Christian is grateful for material possessions and is generous in using them because they are not the final end. Material goods are for the greater end of working towards God's glory.

We did see our friends Luke, Kim and Timmy after Mass. We all hung out at the church's playground for a while. Chatting with them is always fun. I wonder if we could threaten Jacob with no playground time for misbehaving. Unfortunately, the consequence is probably too distant from the behavior to create the desired effect.