Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sick little Maow

I was just musing last week in this post about how the cats are fascinated with the bathtub.

Well, a few days later, it turned out to be not so funny. After a few days of Maow vomiting, not eating, hiding, and being lethargic, Joe took her to two vets. To cut to the chase, she had surgery this morning. The vet wasn't sure if she'd survive because she's so small.

But good news - she lived! It turns out there was a piece of Theo's rubber bath toy lodged, obstructing her bowels. Theo has rubber cars and buses that stick to the tub wall, and the cats like to chew them. We always tried to stop them, of course. But for some reason we were stupid and didn't get rid of the toys. We also didn't have pet insurance.

But the important thing is for my little girl to come home safely. She'll need to recover at the vet a couple more days. I won't be fully relieved until she's bugging me by trying to climb on the table, or purring on my lap.

I love you, Maow. Come home safe to your brothers, they miss you.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gingerbread Houses and Puzzles and Swings, Oh My!

Each visit to Theo’s preschool brings mixed emotions to me, but my most recent was the best visit yet.

Previously, I had been there in the mornings during breakfast and the afternoon at lunch, so this time I wanted to observe the time in the middle. I got there at about 11, and when I walked in, the kids were all seated around the tables, which had been pushed together. They were about to start an art project. When Theo saw me, his face lit up. “Hi, mommy!” he waved. “Hi, Theo’s mommy,” the class chimed in. I said hello to all the kids and told them how Theo talks about them all the time, and sings about them. Because of this, I know their names well and felt like I knew the kids.

I sat next to Theo at the table and listened to his teacher, Grace, give instructions on how to build a gingerbread house. Each kid had a mini empty milk carton on a plate in front of him. She showed how to take icing and spread it on the house, and put on graham crackers to make a roof and walls. Then more icing. She decorated her house with all sorts of candy to make windows and doors. The kids watched her, enthralled. Many shouted out suggestions of what color and candy to use next.

Now it was time for the kids to build their houses. Theo enjoyed the project thoroughly, although he was the only kid who didn’t understand that he was making a house. As other children chirped about their windows and how they’re building two doors, or uh oh their roof broke, Theo just liked spreading the icing and putting candy on the house. His was the only house without a roof. But he had a good time, and responded well to the help he got from me and one of the TAs. (There are three assistants in the class.)

Grace had instructed the class not to eat the candy. I giggled, figuring it’d be like telling a cat not to play with the ball in front of him. But they really obeyed! I was very impressed by Theo’s class. Sure, a kid or two snuck a piece. Including mine, who couldn’t hide the evidence – icing on his face. But even the teachers snuck some candy. At the end, it became allowed.

I’m glad I got to sit in on this project, because whenever Theo comes home with art projects I wonder how much he did and how much a teacher did. Now I see how the kids really do have to do everything themselves. It’s great for them.

Next was free play. Each kid gets to choose a station to play at. There’s a kitchen area, train area, puzzle area, a library, etc. Theo was the only kid who stood there, a bit lost, while the others ran to do what they wanted to do. Finally, he chose puzzles. Another boy sat at the table with him, but Theo had no interest in interacting, he wanted to work by himself. However, I did see him bring a Blues Clues book to a boy and say “Look, Paul, Boos Coos.”

The free play was adorable. A boy brought around freshly baked (fake) oreos from the kitchen to share with everyone. Other kids had on hats and dresses, even boys. And while Theo played I got to talk to Grace and Jeannie, the speech therapist, for a bit.
They said he still needs to be pushed, but he is progressing. He is starting to ask for assistance more. And the Theo I saw at school was much more the Theo I knew from home. Last time I went, he was a different kid. But this time he was talking and “with it,”
just not as much as the rest of the class. I couldn’t figure out why the other kids in his class were at that school. They didn’t have speech problems, so I guess it had more to do with PT or OT, although that wasn’t evident either. And I saw my favorite kid (besides Theo) go off with a psychologist. What could a 3 year old need to see one about? Poor guy.

Lee, the physical therapist, came in to take Theo with her. Theo said “bye, mommy!” I laughed and told him I was going with him. We went upstairs. Lee is great. She adores Theo. First, he chose to ride the tricycle. For the first time I got to see him pedal on his own! The steering needs work, but he’s getting there. I bet he’ll be a pro by summer.

Next, we went to the mat where a rubber cylindrical swing hangs from a rope. I wish I had a picture of this swing, but it kind of looks like a small punching bag, around which he wraps his arms and legs. Theo loves it! He looks in the mirror as he swings with an enormous smile. Lee has him hold on tight and spins him. She says it’s great for the soft muscle in his back. I got on the swing with him (I couldn’t resist, it looked too fun!), and we both had a blast soaring together. How Theo laughed! He probably thought the notion of mommy on the swing with him was silly. At that point I had to leave, but Theo begged me to come back and get back on the swing with him.

I left feeling good. I had a great time visiting Theo, and watching him learn, socialize, and have fun, as a little boy should.

Day out with Grandma (Joanne)

Grandma Joanne took Theo, Joe, and me to see Disney On Ice. Theo had a great time, but who are we kidding, this was Elyse heaven. Each prince/princess duo did a skating dance to their respective love song, all in a row. I almost cried. It was the most beautiful thing ever. Joe reenacted my face for me later; I looked like SUCH a dork watching.

Lots of people brought their daughters dressed up as princesses. I had multiple heart attacks. The boys were cute in their crowns and shark hats, too. And there was lots of great boy stuff in the show. Theo loved it. He was jumping in his seat, dancing, clapping, cheering. Toy soldiers, Mulan warriors, the Incredibles...boy stuff.

He especially got a kick out of the tech stuff, however. For a Finding Nemo sequence, bubbles came out of an overhead machine. Theo's reaction was, "uh oh!"

Toward the end of the second half, Theo fell asleep. But Joe woke him up for the Circle Of Life finale, which included every Disney character you can think of. Theo got to shake Minnie Mouse's hand, which pleased him almost as much as the popcorn he consumed. He had been looking forward to the popcorn all day.

After the show, grandma took us to Outback Steakhouse. For the first time, Theo ordered steak. He didn't want mac and cheese or a hot dog. "Steak," he insisted. He ate steak and broccoli. But he washed it down with chocolate milk, so he's not completely an adult yet. (And neither is his mommy who stole a sip of his chocolate milk.)


Michelle taught Theo the Spanish word "beso," which means kiss. (I don't think anyone reading this doesn't know that, but whatever.) So when I took Theo to visit Nonny and Aunt Donny this weekend, I had him impress them with his Spanish. I told him to give them a beso, and he did. They think he's a genius. Especially because he also read letters upside down on his shirt.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Zombie Meatloaf

Yesterday Melanie came over for our "Evil Dead" date. We had seen the musical, so we wanted to watch the cult movie. For the occasion I served Zombie Meatloaf, as seen here.

Even though the eyeball eggs were perfectly edible, no one wanted to eat them. Luckily, I was able to count on Theo. He had no problem eating eyeballs and shoved them down.

Also thought I'd throw in a picture of my stepson (giggle), who joined us for dinner. Ain't he handsome?

Photo of Melanie pending.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Aunt Isa

Lisandra was over on Friday night. We baked brownies, which Theo simply called chocolate. "Gimme chocolate peese."

After a bit, I told Theo it was bedtime. This was his response:
"No bedtime. Isa!" (He calls her Aunt Lisa, but often just says "Isa.")

He ran over to her, and she rocked him into sleepyland. Thanks, Isa! It's so wonderful having Theo so loved by the people dearest to me.

A Story of Bedtime


Bruce and Maow aren't normal cats. They are fascinated when someone's in the bath, and always hang out. They get even closer than this. As you can see, Theo gets a kick out if it, too.

Here's Theo excited about his new robe. When I was buying this robe, it came with booties. The set was 4T, and came with pjs too. The pjs fit, the robe fit, but of course, the booties did not fit. As always, Theo's feet are much bigger than what designers imagine a boy his age's to be. It was a case of deja vu that made me smile. Even when he was a baby and got little sets that came with booties, the booties were always too small.

Well, Joe had the camera in his hand already, and he couldn't resist...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Guitar Lesson


Joe was shooting Dad's next album cover when a curious monkey hopped up next to his grandpa.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No, He's Not Imitating Harry Potter, He Just Likes to Sweep

Theo just loves to help sweep. Any time something spills he runs and grabs the broom and the other thing. You know, the thing you sweep stuff into. What's that called?
For instance, the other day we were taking down the Christmas Tree, and he rushed to sweep up the pine needles. He is hysterical trying to sweep.

Joe and Theo have worked out a pretty good system where Theo holds the thingamabob and Joe sweeps into it. I take no part, because I'm awful at sweeping. Theo has officially surpassed my sweeping abilities.

This picture is from a few months ago, when Theo ripped up a paper towel just so he could clean it up.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Little Boy Land

Congrats to Jodi and my mom-in-law for the new house in Ringwood. They're moving on up to the country. We all took a trip out on Saturday to see the house, and it is truly fantastic. Not only is the house beautiful and enormous, but there are four miles of woods in the backyard, and a stream. It's a lake community, so there's a nearby lake for summer fun. Nice for Jod; she won't have to maintain a pool anymore. Instead, they're installing Joanne's hot tub! Even better.

The boys were in little boy heaven over there. We went post-rain, and so the woods were damp and fresh with dew. I was brought right back to my childhood in Alleypond Park. My woods were two blocks away instead of two feet away, which was fine with me. My mom didn't have to worry about maintaining the park...worked out for everyone!

I'm glad Theo is as much a nature boy as he is a city boy. I like giving him both worlds. He loves running through the woods and walking on logs. He also loves people-observing on crowded blocks and enjoys the action of our city. Between Central Park outings and visiting our family in Jersey, Theo will grow up in the best of both worlds. Except for the school system, but that's another story. Our schools will never match suburban schools, but a true New Yorker's education is unmatched.

Rice and Beans

There's a to-die-for Argentinian Steakhouse a few blocks from my house called Moment's. It's one block past the playground.

Yesterday, before we walked there to meet mom, Ell and Glo, I told Joe how we should brace ourselves for the tantrum we'll get when we walk past the park and Theo realizes he's not going in.

So, we set out for the steakhouse, telling Theo we're going for rice and beans. If only you could have seen the excitement that ensued for the next four blocks! Walking past the park proved to be no problem. The hungry monkey was focused only on the rice and beans he was about to chow down on.

The meal went off without a Theo-hitch. He was well-behaved, ate a bunch, and drew pictures with Grandma and Aunt Gloria. By the way...thanks for the yummy feast, mom!

Theo's a little Spanish-foodguy. Rice and beans, flan...he's definitely a product of Sunnyside!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Boogie Woogie Booger Boy from Apartment 5B

It is with great pride that I write these words: Theo has learned to deal with his own boogers.

He gets a tissue or napkin (apkin) or toilet paper and rolls the corner of it to make it thicker, then puts it in his nostril to collect the booger. He then holds up the tissue triumphantly and tells us, “Look! Boo-gah!” Accent on the “boo” (not buh, like we say).

I am fascinated that nature teaches little boys to show off their boogers. It is not learned. It is an inherent little boy trait. The booger-showing-off gene associated only with Y chromosomes.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A Fine Product

I feel the urge to spend a blog entry celebrating the joy my son brings to my life.

Theo Jack is an amazing child. There are so many things about him that I say not just as a mother, because everyone says it. Primarily, that he's the most loving boy. He really is. He is the sweetest, most loving guy. He has a huge smile, hug, and kiss ready for those who want it. He gets excited by anyone who talks to him or pays attention to him. He's just a giant sponge of affection and reciprocates. As a baby, many people called him the happiest baby they'd ever seen. He was always smiling. In fact, that's what landed him his K-mart catalogue gig at 5 months old. The woman auditioning him was overwhelmed by how much he smiled at her as she took his jacket off -- this wan't even the audition, she was just prepping him! And Joe and I were always remarking at how many people Theo would choose to randomly smile at on the subway. He would target a person and crack a smile so large that they'd always inevitably melt and smile back -- even the thugs and bums and cranky old people.

Next, he's stunning to look at. Again, I am not just a mother saying this. I've heard it too much for it to be untrue. His nose is a work of art. His hair has an amazing silky texture and vibrant blonde color. He has never been chubby. Even as a baby he was long and slender. Now, he is tall, firm, and muscular. He has giant feet for his age -- always did. He has an elegant neck and a full face, with the smooth skin of a cherub. He has baby-red lips. He has long, long eyelashes and a killer tush. He has big eyes that get very focused when he concentrates on a drawing or TV show, or when he gets lost in thought. So often I wonder what he's thinking about. And his face, my god, his face. Whether it's his fantastic laugh, his gigantic smile, his hysterical sad face, his heart-shattering pained face, his maddening mad face -- he's gorgeous. And he wears all outfits well. He looks killer dressed up in a suit, or sporty t-shirt and jeans, or sweatpants, or preppie outfit. He looks adorable in a towel or diaper, and especially in underwear. I think my favorite is Theo in pajamas -- it's when he's my little boy the most.

Here, these two pictures illustrate my point best. Both were posted in the summer, so you haven't seen them in a while. Look at his eyes, his nose, his focus, his exquisite beauty. I dare you to find a flaw.

As Nonny likes to say, not only is he gorgeous but he has to be smart, too? Theo is incredibly smart. He may have had learning delays, but that doesn't take away from how incredibly intelligent and perceptive he is. Theo is an observer. Ever since birth he's always taken in everything that's around him with incredible depth. He has developed a great memory. You can't pull a fast one on Theo. If I try to hide the raisins, he won't give up on looking for them or he'll making ME look, because he'll know they're around somewhere. And he's so persistent. If he decides he wants to accomplish something, he's not going to give up until he does it. A puzzle, finding a missing ball, a new playground thing like a rock-climbing wall or spider web - he'll keep at it with fierce loyalty.

Theo the physical specimen is an amazing climber. When he was younger he could climb better than older kids, and other parents were often impressed.

And is he ever good-natured! He is so enthusiastic about so many things. He can't wait to take the school bus in the morning and get to school. He absolutely loves school and had zero problems getting used to it. When Theo was a baby it wasn't always easy to take him places or leave him with other people. Now, he gets ultra excited about taking a train or bus or car ride, and he loves taking walks. I have no problems leaving him with most people...he loves staying with grandma, his cousins, his favorite babysitters -- he is so easy and doesn't give anyone a hard time.

Theo is a fun, fun kid. He is so easy to crack up, and he cracks me up every day. As all kids do, he has a huge assortment of his own rules. When we roll the ball to each other with our legs in a V, I have to keep my legs down, not bent. After he gets out of the bath, I have to lift him up to the mirror so he can see himself in the towel. He has to eat his food out of a certain bowl, in a certain chair, which happens to be the least comfortable chair. He has to sleep with his legs out of the blanket (we cover him once he's asleep, although usually he kicks out by the time he wakes up). He has to lie in the middle of me and Joe, never on one side or the other. If as we're walking we pass by a ramp, he has to go up before we can proceed. I can go on and on.

Life with Theo is never-ending entertainment. I love watching him put extreme effort into mundane adult activities. This morning I poked my head into the bedroom to watch him get socks without him seeing me. The socks are in the top drawer of Joe's dresser next to our bed, about 2 feet from the wall. He got on the bed and instead of just walking to the drawer, he had to make it difficult. He got on the bed and leaned forward so that his hands were on the wall and his feet were on the bed. In this manner he walked sideways over to the drawer. Once there, first he took out a black sock that had no mate. He studied it, tongue out, and determined it was not his. He put it back. Next, he pulled out a rolled pair of socks. He studied it a few seconds and then and approved that pair.

Like most moms I wonder daily if I'm a good enough mom. If I spend enough time with him, if I do enough, parent well enough, teach him enough, discipline enough, etc...
All I know is if I am the manufacturer and he is the product, there will be no recalls any time soon.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Jekyll and Hyde, Pushing Dem Buttons

Theo has been Jekyll and Hyde lately. One minute he’s the sweetest, most darling little boy. The next, he’s pushing, biting, and throwing. Joe wrote to Grace asking if he is aggressive at school. (Because his precious angel had to have picked that behavior up at school, of course!)

Grace wrote back saying that yes, lately he has been aggressive at school, and that he doesn’t seem to understand what he’s doing when he pushes someone.

At home, he understands, all right. He’s got the devil face going when he pushes. Usually it’s a pay-attention-to-me-now face. But I can see what Grace means. There are plenty of times when I see him pushing without knowing it’s wrong. At the playground the other day, there was a kid sitting on a bench, and Theo wanted to sit there and so he tried to remove the kid from the bench. He wasn’t being mean, and he saw no reason not to do that.

But I don’t really worry about that, he’s still only 3, and kids do that stuff. He just happens to be enormous, and so it’s easy to forget how young he still is.

Saturday, What a Day

There’s nothing like global warming to promote mother-son bonding. Theo and I spent a decadent, lazy, balmy Saturday going to parks and snoozing. First, we went to our local park. We came home and fell asleep on my bed; he was in my arms, with his head on my chest. When I woke up I had a pool of drool on my shirt.

Later, we met up with daddy to take an unexpected January stroll through Central Park. Theo finally attempted to climb the spider web at the playground, and he got very good at it. He can be very coordinated, my little spider.

That night, we headed to Joisey for Maryann’s Christmas party. Maryann’s husband collects pinball machines, so there were 4 there for all the kids to play with. After inhaling about 12 meatballs (they were small, but still) Theo pulled a chair up to the pinball machine, and that’s where he stayed until we left. He was at the machine a good 4 hours. Only he wasn’t actually playing pinball. His only interest was in pulling the lever to get the ball out, and then watching the ball do its thing and inevitably fall through the hole. He had no desire to use the flippers.

Every time the ball went into the “gutter” he peered over the machine and into the hole to try to see where the ball went. The party guests were getting a big kick out of it.

When other people, like Uncle Jimmy, wanted to play pinball they just stood behind Theo and let him pull the lever. It was a team effort. One woman had Theo practicing all his colors with the machine. He was so sweet and charmed everyone, as usual.

Justin, a friend of Jodi’s boys, told Joe he couldn’t play matchbox cars with them because he was wearing a “man suit.” We laughed about that all night. I’m still laughing about it. I can’t wait for Theo to say things like that.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tye Dye Stars

Theo opened up 4 cans of new, unused play dough yesterday (thanks, Grandma, for the xmas present).

Theo has a star cutter that cuts stars -duh- into the dough from the set we already have, where the colors are all mangled up by now.

He took the clay and played while, ironically, Clay was visiting. Theo made red stars, blue stars, white stars, and yellow stars. He was so funny, he always gave me the leftover clay and had me roll that for him. Anyway, after playing a while I joined Joe, Clay, and his sister, Rachel, for a game of Scattegories. After a round or two I looked over at Theo and I couldn't believe what I saw!

There on the ground were a bunch of fantastic, beautiful stars just bursting with intricate color patterns and lovely designs. We all agreed that when we mixed clay colors as kids, it always just turned brown. So how was it that Theo pulled off this magnificent display?

I so wish I had a picture to post. Joe and I stole two stars to dry and keep before Theo squished them all back into balls, so I will photograph them when I get my camera back from repairs. But you won't really get what I mean until you see what it looks like. Even Clay and Rachel, the artists, were amazed at how cool Theo's stars were.

Raising a Yes Man

Kids typically learn "no" before "yes." Big surprise.

I made it my New Years Resolution to get the bug saying "yes." He has certainly got the word "no" down to a science.

So far, only 5 days into the year, things are going well. He has said it a few times now, as well as "yeah." I think it was just a matter of working very hard to cram it into his head. I've been saying yes to everything and reinforcing everything with yes. I should have done it a long time ago. I emphasized the rest of the sentence and not the yes.

Theo - Look! Eggs are cooking!
Mommy - Yes, right, the eggs are cooking!

Theo - Look! Eggs are cooking!
Mommy - Yes! Yes, that's right! YES! Eggs are cooking. Yes. Theo, are the eggs cooking? Yes! Yes, Theo, yes, the eggs are cooking!

OK, it might sound obnoxious to you, but you already know the word.

He has gotten it quickly, using it functionally. Do you want milk? No. Water? No. Soup? "Yes." That was my first yes from him, it happened some time last week (I made the resolution before Jan 1).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Happy Birthday, Grinch!

Yesterday I asked Theo to practice singing Happy Birthday as we got ready to call Cousin Jo (Happy B'day, big 'tiv...a milestone!)

He sang it all right... Happy Birthday dear Grinch, Happy Birthday to you

So far he is still attached to his stuffed Grinch! This lovey is lasting a while, a long with two other teddy bears. He now calls the Grinch "Teddy Bear Grinch."

Over the vacation Theo talked quite a bit. Aunt Pia commented on his progress. Let's just say it's been very encouraging for mommy.

Magna Doodle

Ell and Glo gave Theo a Magna Doodle, and so lately he's been making us sit with him to draw him picture after picture. It's so cute - he looks around the room and names something for us to draw. Chair, TV, table, piano... the most common request is cat. At first I was drawing elaborate cats who were licking themselves but now I draw stick figure cats, because he's satisfied either way! The second most common is to draw a "presents tree." I know, I know, awwwwww!

Sometimes he randomly thinks of someone to draw. Classmates from school, Grace, Grandma, Mimi, Gigi. Mommy and Daddy of course. And he asks me to draw Theo, too!

He played said drawing game at Stacy's house the other day and went from being wild and rambunctious to still and focused. She was amazed at the transition. She said he's going to be an artist. Great, another artist in the family... ahhhhh!

His drawing is still mostly scribbles but sometimes he produces something good. Of course, no matter what it is, it warrants a place on the fridge or in his scrapbook.

A couple of days ago I brought some work home and he stole a paper and drew on it. He brought it to me and said, "look!" I hope my boss finds it acceptable when I hand in what looks like a pencil drawing of an amoeba.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Post of the Year

Happy New Year. The holiday week was a wonderful one. As usual, everyone was incredibly generous - an understatement - at Christmas, especially with Theo. I still have wrapped presents for him under the tree. We're trying to go little by little so he can appreciate each present more, and because he is not yet of the age where he begs to open the gifts. Still, the living room is littered with toys!

Theo enjoyed unwrapping presents. My favorite reaction of his was to the batteries Aunt Gloria wrapped up to accompany several of her gifts. He opened them and said, "oooooh!" She and I cracked up.