Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Repetitive stress syndrome

Going through another posting lull, mostly because I've really thrown my efforts into the NFL blog and there was much other stuff to do this week. Today, I'm going to write about one of Eldest's favorite songs. No, not from Paul McCartney, but from children's television.

For several weeks now, Eldest out of the blue will start singing "Hold tight, hold tight, hold tight, hold tight." We couldn't figure out what song he was singing. I thought maybe "Hold on Tight" by ELO, but when was he going to hear that and internalize it so much. Maybe it was something he learned a Terrific Tots? We had no clue.

Then, Saturday morning, Wife wakes me up, and on the TV is "The Backyardigans." On this kids show, the Backyardigans are singing "Hold on Tight (hold tight)" The characters are pretending to be Vikings and are stuck in a ocean whirlpool. It now made more sense: Every time Eldest sang this song, he was running in a circle around a dividing wall in our house. He was pretending to make be stuck in the whirlpool while he sang.

I then made an egregious mistake -- I bought the songs on iTunes, put it on my iPod, and hooked up the iPod to our car radio. Naturally, the Eldest wanted to hear it while we were driving. Over, and over, and over. When I synced my iPod today, it uploads all the data into iTunes, where I discovered we had listened to "Hold on Tight" 19 times in one day. The song is only 1:20 long, but that's 23 minutes of auditory use I'm never getting back.

The worst part -- the last few days, I have found myself randomly singing it. Thankfully, I'm not running around at the same time.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm having dalmatian aggravation, it's such exasperation

Eldest's new favorite movie is "101 Dalmations." My new least favorite movie is "101 Dalmatians."

We decided to get some of our older Disney videos, the ones on tape, not DVD, into circulation. Though some are scary and not quite allowable for a 3-year-old, we decided "101 Dalmatians" he could handle. He's handling it very well. Since its first airing in our house last week, he's watched it about 15 times, always asking for the "puppy movie." It was cute at first, now it's becoming tedious. I've seen "101 Dalmatians" more in the last week at least three times more than I did in my childhood. I joked today that I'm about to start rooting for Cruella, which didn't sit well with Wife. We've tried to deflect Eldest into "Lady in the Tramp" -- no luck, we think he might think it's too scary -- and "The Aristocats" for which the jury is still out.

Oh, Littlest likes the opening credits of "101 Dalmatians" and laughs at them. He's pretty indifferent on the rest of the movie so far. Critics!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

This is it, we'll hit new heights

I relented and decided to let Eldest get a Happy Meal today. It was my fortnight big shopping day, and my thought was to pick him up from pre-preschool, hit a McDonald's with a Playland, then go to the grocery store. We should have just went to the grocery store.

At McDonald's, neither child wanted to eat, odd because it was around lunchtime when both are normally hungry. Eldest wanted to play right away, which isn't unusual, but didn't a couple minutes in when he was the only kid at the Playland. For a strange few minutes, he didn't want to eat or play, saying he was afraid of the Playland. He got over his fear a few minutes later when about 12 kids showed up. He had fun, and managed to eat a little of his cheeseburger.

Littlest was sitting in the high chair while Eldest played. I tried to give him food, he kept throwing it on the floor. Eventually, I thought I'd let him try the Playland. Now, most Playlands have an area for younger kids. This one didn't. Most playlands have multiple ways to go up to the slides. This one didn't. It was a series of continuous tubes (some with mini-steps to help kids climb) that snaked their way up to a single, big, twisty slide. Near the bottom was one little turnoff that dead-ended, I was going to let Littlest play there while I made sure he didn't try climbing farther up.

Of course, it didn't quite work out that way. He kept crawling back and forth, trying to climb skyward, and I kept pulling him back, until ... another kid got between us, and Littlest was off and climbing. I told Eldest to try to bring him back down, but strangely, every time he tried, he'd somehow emerge at the bottom of the slide. It looked like he was trying to get Littlest to reverse directions, then a bunch of kids would crawl by and he'd follow them.

At first, it was cute to watch Littlest's progress. I was amazed he climbed as much as he did -- he was about a third of the way up and visible to me. I tried to take a picture with my phone. Then it got frustrating. Eldest's efforts were unsuccessful and halfhearted, though there were a couple times I thought he was going to get him down. Then it got scary, as Littlest climbed out of view and I assume up to the top. And I was getting annoyed with Eldest. I know it wasn't his responsibility or his fault Littlest went on this adventure. but he was my best chance to get Eldest down safely. I tried climbing up, and I supposed if I got really desperate I could have, but the Playland was designed for people under 4 feet tall.

I pulled Eldest aside and told him he had to get Littlest down or we weren't going swimming tomorrow (OK, I was desperate). Another mom offered to send one of her kids up to get Littlest. I could see Eldest near the top, and though I didn't see his brother, he seemed to be moving something along to the slide. Visions of Littlest breaking a leg on the slide went through my brain as I got a little more frantic. I could hear the boys on the slide, Eldest was moving him down. I crawled up the slide to meet them, looked around a corner and saw Littlest ... smiling!

Relieved, I noticed Littlest didn't have his shoes (I kept them on when I brought him in). I asked Eldest about that, and he pointed to the shoe cubbyholes -- he took his brother's shoes off and brought them down at some point while leaving him up there. Basically, he was an accomplice. I did tell Eldest I was proud of him for taking care of his brother (eventually). While holding Littlest as we were getting ready to go, he started squirming and complaining -- he wanted to GO BACK IN THE PLAYLAND. We went to the grocery store, and Littlest fell asleep on the way home.

I'm a little nervous. It turned out all right, but if Littlest turns out to be more fearless, more adventurous, more strong-willed than Eldest (who already displays all those qualities), we are in big trouble.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

No Happy Meal, just a Grimace

Haven't posted in a few days, been working and also busy with the other blog. Yes, the other blog, I'm writing an NFL blog for Skinny Moose Media. There's a link to the second blog on the side of this page; it's not too flashy yet but I'm hoping to get some more work done on it this week.

Enough with the advertising. Eldest was a classic 3-year-old today, missing a chance for a Happy Meal for the second straight swim lesson. Both boys take 10-minute private swim lessons at our old pool, which includes a kiddie pool. I've been letting Eldest play in the kiddie pool after his lesson while I get Littlest changed out of his trunks. The last two lessons I've been offering to get a Happy Meal for lunch on the way home, and for two lessons, Eldest misbehaved himself out of the Happy Meal.

Simply, he hasn't removed himself from the kiddie pool when I asked him to. I've given him plenty of reminders ("10 minutes!", counted him out, provided warnings that he was losing his Happy Meal. For two lessons now, he didn't obey and we simply went home for lunch. I know he's 3, which isn't the best age for listening, and yes, he was having fun and I don't want to cut that short (and wouldn't have if Littlest wasn't tired and shivering, the little dude is sooooo skinny), but I'm amazed (or maybe just discovering) that repeated instructions, with consequences, just don't get through sometimes. I almost wavered because he wasn't as belligerent as last week, but decided against McDonald's.

Hopefully he learns (he wasn't happy that I said no to the Happy Meal), maybe for next time, especially because I'm in the mood for a Big Mac.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Mabye we'll see on the Fourth of July

One of the last lines on the last episode of "The Wonder Years" was said by the Dad (and I don't know if I have this exactly right, but this was the gist): "It was a good Fourth."

It was a good Fourth.

We went to the neighborhood bike parade, and it was fun. Eldest got off to a little slow start to the parade, he rode the whole thing (about 5 blocks). There was a potluck picnic after, and we stayed about an 1 1/2 hours -- it was starting to get hot and the boys started getting tired. Oh, the other highlight, during the singing of the national anthem before the parade kicked off, right at the part at huge sporting events fighters might fly overhead, four fighters flew overhead! OK, we are with 30 miles of an air base and we've seen fighters before, so it was just a coincidence, but that was some great coincidence.

The afternoon wasn't too eventful. Wife and I got a few things done around the house, nothing major; Littlest napped; Eldest was crabby but never napped. His mood eventually improved and he played some games on the computer. Our goal was getting Eldest to stay awake long enough for fireworks. A big fireworks celebration is at a big park a few blocks from us, and we were hoping to see most of it from just outside our house.

The plan almost didn't work, as Eldest almost fell asleep -- it was past his bedtime. Before that, Littlest tumbled off a kiddie chair outside and gave himself a fat lip. But we managed to get Eldest outside again, and Wife and a sleepy Littlest came out too. With Littlest dozing off, and Eldest getting antsy seeing people walk toward the park, we agreed I'd take Eldest near the park to watch his first fireworks show.

It was about a 3/4-mile walk. Along the way, we saw some people lighting off small fireworks, getting Eldest excited for the big show. There were a lot of people in the park, many who staked out their space early and waited in the 100-degree heat. But we didn't go all the way to the park, finding a nice spot in a soccer field in the high school next to the park. Still, there were enough people that I insisted Eldest stay close. The fireworks began around 10, and Eldest was captivated. Not giddy insane, but he watched the whole show. I tried to explain to him to say "Oooh, Ahhh, Ohhhh" after impressive fireworks, but he was kind of silent through the whole show. It helped we had a great view from where we were, about parallel from where the fireworks were being launched. I could tell he was getting tired near the end, and he said he was chilly, even with a blanket wrapped around him.

The show ended, and I put Eldest on my shoulders to go home. There were so many people streaming out from the general area (not only residents from the surrounding neighborhoods, but people whose only option to park was the residential streets), that rather than hold his hand, I knew he'd wouldn't get lost up there. Did run into run tree branch (I'm not as used to Eldest, and his clearance, as I am with Littlest up in my shoulders), and my neck is going to be sore tomorrow from carrying 45 pounds for almost a mile, but we made it home and Eldest was asleep after about five minutes.

Like I said, it was a good Fourth.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I think it was the Fourth of July

On the eve of the Fourth of July, perhaps the first our kids will see a fireworks show (we'll see how tired they are tomorrow evening), I was trying to recall my most memorable Independence Day from my youth. A few came to mind (and no, I don't remember anything specific about the Bicentennial, though check out my new Back in time video):

-- My godparents' old house was near the end of a suburban parade route, and we went there about every year in the morning to watch. Sometimes we'd stay and see the big fireworks or whatever my dad and uncle procured (fireworks are very illegal in Illinois).

-- There was one year Dad somehow snagged a couple bricks of firecrackers and a bag of M-80s (they actually might have been M-100s). He gave a lot of the booming things to my older friends, but those M-whatevers were fun.

-- We went to Arlington Park Racetrack one year to watch fireworks, and a tree on the infield caught fire. Kind of prophetic -- a few years later, the whole place burned down.

There were others, visiting my grandparents' camper, spending the day blowing off fireworks with friends, etc. But the one I'm going with as most memorable is 1987, not for any patriotic reason, but because I was such a videogame geek. We were at the godparents again, but this was their new house away from the parade route. We did go see their suburb's big fireworks show, there was grilling before, it was fun. The real show, for me, was the new Nintendo my cousins had. It was just as the NES was getting popular and the next videogame explosion was occurring. I was 16, and I shouldn't have been as giddy as an 11-year-old, but I was.

My cousins had Super Mario Brothers, Baseball and Duck Hunt. I was so impressed with Super Mario, that my aunt offered to let me stay overnight so I could play it more. I know I eventually got to sleep, but not before watching a little MTV (we didn't have it at home) and seeing the video for "Heart and Soul" by T'Pau, which was one of my favorite songs that summer.

After high school, most of the good July 4s were at or around Summerfest in Milwaukee (including the first summer Wife and I were dating). The last few years have been fun with our neighborhood's bike parade, this year Eldest will ride his. Time for new memories, and hopefully there won't be any videogames involved with these.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

O Brother Where Art Thou

Eldest was feeling much better today, just in time for Littlest to get the same bug his brother had. We're not sure if Littlest has the sore throat -- he's been alternately crabby and in a good mood all day -- but he's definitely got the fever, up to 103, which is a lot scarier for a 1-year-old than a 3-year-old.

If Littlest is at 101 tomorrow, he'll match the temperature outside -- it got even hotter today, and it's supposed to be in triple digits all week. I let Eldest get some chocolate pretzels at one of the stores we visited today (we hit about five stores, to get about 1-2 things at each) that started to melt before we got home. Our neighborhood's Fourth of July parade should be fun if it's this hot.