Saturday, January 30, 2010

On Easy Nostalgia

Every once and a while, you get one of those opportunities like I've had this weekend, to remember former times in a physical, not just mental, manner. It is too easy to romanticize the past, especially when the present is as difficult as it always is, and forget the true lessons of life in favor of easy nostalgia.

This lesson was brought home yesterday while I was having tea with a former grad school colleague. We're both finished with the degree, officially with Dr. before our names, and so spent time catching up on shared friends and experiences. Stories, as they often do, turned to those who didn't make it through school for one reason or another and our own times preparing for comprehensive exams.

I bring this up because I'm drowning in comprehensive exams from the other side at work. We're gearing up for the comps in history and theory that all DMA students take, I'm writing my own comps for student committees I'm on, and I'm also part of a committee re-examining our comps process and making changes. In all the discussion about current and future comps, it is too easy to romanticize my own experience, to talk about all I learned and mastered and conquered without remembering the struggle and long sleepness nights and attempts to connect the process to my ultimate goals. Meeting with my friend was a good reminder that when dealing with students and milestones in their career, easy nostalgia is no substitute for honest appraisal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Neglectful Parent Sleeping Lesson #1

Last Sunday night, we had a visioning session at our church that went very late into the night: we finally left at 8:30. Now, 8:30 might not seem all that late to you, but when you have a 4-year-old and an 18-month-old, and the church is 18 minutes away from your house, 8:30 might as well be midnight.

Our neglected children chose not to fall asleep in the car on the way home, even though I put in Sam's "Naima" music. So by the time the kids were asleep it was 9:30, a full hour and a half after bedtime.

Then, a miracle happened. Noah, who usually wakes up around 1:00 or 1:30 and fusses until I bring him to bed with us, slept until 5:30. That's right, he slept through the night. Our neglectful style of parenting worked in our favor! Go us!

Until we realized that we merely reset Noah's body clock so 5:30 is now an acceptable time to wake up - and stay up. *sigh* Maybe if we kept him up until 10:30 tonight he'd sleep until 6:30?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Noah's Words

For the past month and a half, Joy and I have watched Noah's language begin a slow burn. He picks up a new word every day, chants it at length, and then moves on to the next one. At this point we might as well give him a dictionary to chew on.

What is most adorable about his language learning is that he still speaks in that early toddler drawl. He doesn't quite get what middle and especially ending consonants are for, so we get "baaaa" for ball and for bath and only those attuned to his slight vowel fluctuations can understand him.

That basically means me and Joy.

But I never stopped to consider the downside of Noah learning to speak until last night. In the middle of the night I heard him saying "Mama...mama...mama " over and over again. Worried that something was wrong, I got out of bed and trudged over to his room only to find him sacked out in his crib. That's right, Noah has inherited Joy's tendency to talk in her sleep. It never meant much before now - he just would babble in his sleep. But with words he now wakes me up. So my new plan is to get him saying "Sam" so that his brother will come and take care of him in the middle of the night and I can get some sleep.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Today's Important Lessons from Sam

Sam is at the funny stage of development. By that, I don't mean his ears are bigger than the rest of his head or anything, but that his imagination is running so wild that he says funny things all the time.

Coming out of Kindermusik today, he turned to Joy and announced that Annemarie, the older sister of his good friend Cole, was going to have a baby in her belly. Joy asked when and why and Sam responded, "We are going to get married, and then she will have a baby in her belly." At least he has the order right, but I'm afraid that, like many men, he's overreaching. Annemarie, while fun to play with, is in Kindergarten while Sam won't even start preschool until the fall.

He's also evidently figured out the purpose of all big red buttons, because he declared "If you push a button that is connected with electricity at the firestation it will start the siren."

He also seems to be internalizing our lessons. He must have heard someone at school mention a bad baby, because lately when Noah does something he doesn't like, he proclaims that "Noah is a bad baby!" We've patiently explained that Noah is not bad, but his actions are and so you should tell him to stop what he's doing that is frustrating you. This afternoon he let out a grunt of anger and yelled "Noah is interrupting my story!" which is Sam code for "not playing the right way." He then started "Noah's..." but stopped, thought, and then finished the sentence, "...actions are bad!"

Yes, he's learning a bit of empathy, which we heard in his final important lesson from today when Sam told us that he had created a friend for the unloved dinosaur. Those poor dinosaurs. At least they have an advocate in Sam.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

And So It Begins

Yesterday, a good friend at work gave me a piece of chocolate to take home to Sam. I had a late meeting at church, so by the time I arrived home, Sam was already in bed, so the chocolate had to wait for tonight. After supper, Sam sauntered back into the kitchen and asked if he could have any dessert. My memory finally jumped into gear, and I told him that Ms. Laura had sent him a piece of chocolate. He gobbled it down and licked every last bit of chocolate off the wrapping. Then, he turned to Joy and said, "I'm still hungry."

Joy responded, "well, you can have some triskets if you want."

Sam's whine kicked into high gear, "no, I think a piece of candy would be better."

Joy kept her cool and replied, "well, you've already had candy. You could have some yogurt."

Sam's brain processed this information for a bit before he declared, "then ice cream would be best."

I finally asked him if his tummy only wanted dessert and he said yes, going off to find a corner to contemplate the tragedy of his life. I'm surprised we lasted this long, but Sam has finally succumbed to the "dessert is dinner" point of view. I can't say that he'll ever grow out of it. I certainly haven't.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Time to Get Out of the House

We've been home five days, and I've shoveled snow four of them without completely clearing our driveway. It is so cold that Sam could stand playing in the snow for 10 minutes before demanding hot chocolate and Elmo. My iPod shut down while I was shoveling because music evidently only sounds above 10 degrees. We've watched our two Elmo DVDs so many times that Sam recites them almost verbatim. Every toy from the bottom of the toybox has come out, been played with, and deemed passe. We've actually gone through our bread and milk and needed to buy more.

All this, and you know how I knew today that we've been isolated in our house for too long?

Going to the post office today seemed like the social event of the season, and not just for me. Noah was beside himself he was so enchanted by a room he hadn't seen in days that he stood, staring at it all and wouldn't respond to my voice.

Perhaps it's time to play in the basement. Or the bathroom. There has to be some place in our house we haven't played.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Stuck in the Snow

While we were away for Christmas in balmy Arkansas, Kansas City got sacked by snow. To give you an idea of how much snow we've gotten (and how strange the amount is), last year the city received 18 inches of snow throughout the entire winter. The amount for the past week and a half since the snow started falling for a White Christmas? 16 inches. And there is 2-4 inches forecast for this afternoon with wind over 30 mphs tonight and tomorrow.

Some of that snow fell on Sunday when we drove home. We were fine until we got to northwest Arkansas, an area of the state that seems to own one snowplow. It was amazing to see that the moment we crossed into southwest Missouri, the roads instantly cleared and we were able to make good time back to Kansas City.

When we arrived, though, our driveway was covered under snow. I bravely (read foolishly) tried to pull on in our garage, but the car got stuck on the snow that snowplows had piled at the foot of our driveway. As the sun sank, I frantically dug the car out and cleared enough of the driveway to get the car in the garage. But I still had to unload the entire car (and all the boy's Christmas presents) before it was light enough to move again.

While the snow is giving us headaches, the boys are loving it. They were thrilled to watch all the snowplows pass our car as we drove up Missouri's spine Sunday afternoon. Sam "helped" me shovel snow Monday morning and both have been begging to get outside (though I think it is a clever plow to then come back in and have hot chocolate). But as much as we're getting tired of being stuck inside or at the base of our driveway, at least we're not stuck in an airport. Though if we were, hopefully we'd be as resourceful (and contagious) as this singer stuck in Newark on Monday: