Friday, October 31, 2008

I Am The Organ Grinder's Monkey

What can a 19 month old kid get out of Halloween? A phobia of safety pins, maybe, and a nosebleed from throwing a tantrum.

We did manage to salvage the evening but man, it was tough! I think the worst thing was the timing. Mike had to work until 5:30 and by the time we got home it was after6--and the Fine City of Pittsburgh had mandated trick or treating would be between 5 and 8. Hmmph. So we get home, change the kid into his costume, give him a bottle to stop the shrieking, try unsuccessfully to get a photo of him, get him halfway down the sidewalk and realize this is not going to work. Mike took him in and fed him a cereal bar and I gave out candy to the few kids brave enough to come into our poorly lit yard. Mike and I each thought the other wanted to take the boy and I decided that, since it was more or less my bright idea, I'd better do it. And once we started walking, a miracle! A happy baby! A happy baby running thru the twilight in his Organ Grinder's Monkey costume.
Allow me, please, to comment on said costume: I put it all together last night. The brown fuzzy suit was part of a package of German baby clothes sent to us by our dear friend Caroline. The monkey head hat was a minor miracle: when we went to visit my folks, my Mom had gotten Donny a hat and mitten set that just happened to be a monkey head, which saved me the trouble of making one. The fez and vest I sewed up last night using felt and embroidery thread. While I'm pretty proud of myself, the fez is way too tall and it looks like a stovepipe fez; like Abraham Lincoln as an organ grinder's monkey. The tail was cut from a cheapo fleece blanket I bought at Goodwill with that and the monkey hat in mind. Its a good thing I put a tail on him because I had to use his tail as a belt to keep his pants on. Its been a long time since I've had to really pull something fun and not work related out of thin air. I've always prided myself on being able to rise to such occasions and it really gave me a boost to make it all work.

That all being said, trick or treating was a little revelation to me. Obviously, Donny won't be eating the funsize Snickers bars but what was really great was walking him around a little corner of our neighborhood, letting everyone enjoy him and letting him pull me from house to house to house. Seriously, at times he had me running as he dragged me by the hand. By the end of the night, he knew how to take the candy out of the bowl and put it in his bag. He can't say "Thank You" yet but he did clap, which brought down the house everytime. And I'd forgotten the fun of emptying out the bag to see what you end up with. So, yeah, it was alot of work and the kid was really getting on our nerves for a bit, but it turned out to be a nice, all American good time.

And maybe we'll get better costume pictures when he goes to see his Pittsburgh grandparents on Sunday...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Babysitting in the Days of Yore

I packed up this mug to take to work today and it got me thinking. This mug was a gift to me from a family I babysat for in the summer of 1987. Sheryl and I lived in Oberlin that summer--we lived in this crazy Victorian house that belonged to a woman named Jeanne Butts. I met her when I interviewed with her for a job (which I don't think I got) but, during the interview, it came up that Sheryl and I needed a place for the summer and she needed to find a housesitter. The family who gave me the mug lived next door to her.

Think about that: total stranger gets 2 total strangers to live in her house for 3 months. Next door neighbors hire one of the total strangers to watch their kids. No resume, no references, nothing. Those were very different times.

I don't remember much from my babysitting--I remember the 7 year old son explaining, very scientifically, what constitutes "good legs" on a woman. I also remember teaching the 13 year old girl how to apply eyeshadow and using that same eyeshadow to make her brother look like he had a shiner. I don't remember their names but I do remember that Sheryl and I regularly referred to the boy as "Devil Child Spawn of Satan."

And here I sit, 21 years later, drinking Tension Tamer tea out of their mug. OH: I just remembered! They got me a mug with a unicorn because unicorns are "magical" and, at the time, I was at my superwitchiest. Which was pretty easy to do in Oberlin, what with the herb co-op where you could buy chamomile and licorice root by the ounce. Ah, Ooooooberlin. That was a good summer.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Symphony in Pampers

Forgive the poor lighting and the cellphone camera quality:

Honorary Baby Buckeye

Mike, Donovan and I made another one day trip to Ohio to see my family and I have to give Donny the Best Baby Ever Award. He was heroically happy and cute for everyone we had to visit, including my Dad in a nursing home and my Aunts across town. He had a grand time at the nursing home as my Dad is on oxygen and the oxygen pump not only has a clear plastic hose but it also makes noise--fascinating. The visit with my Dad was difficult as he is currently without a hearing aid. Even so, it was obvious he was happy to see his namesake and we were happy to see that he's doing better than he was when he was checked in.

I'm not sure what I looked like when we finally got over to my Mom's family's place but the first thing my Aunt Carolyn said to me was, "This must be a tough visit this time--you look exhausted." Well, I've never been accused of having a poker face. Again, Donny made with the cute for them. He also discovered, as I did many years ago, that their house is perfect for running around. He did laps around the first floor, stopping every now and then to smack on his reflection in the mirror on the living room door.

I will mention too, tho it probably goes without saying, that my Mom was over the moon to have her grandson in proximity. This woman was made to be a grandmother and I will probably spend a few centuries in purgatory for making her wait as long as I did. Donny is still very much an action baby but he's been getting more affectionate in the past couple of weeks. He did let her hold him--not as much as she would have liked but more than last time--and he gave her a few hugs as well.

If he's this good now, I can only imagine how badly he'll act out when he hits puberty.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

All Grown Up (Weep!)

Mike and I have a running mock-argument: Is Donovan a boy or a baby? I argue that he's still a baby. Mike says he's a little boy. I counter with the He'll Always Be Our Baby routine. As with any joke, there's some truth at the bottom of it all. He's my baby but...

Now that the cooler weather is here I got out the coat and hat that I bought for Donny at some crazy sale at Kaufmanns: it was something like, everything is half off and if you buy 3 things you get an extra 20% off, if you buy 4 you get another 50% off. At any rate, the sale made it possible to get Donny this great little peacoat and earflap cap set. Having dressed him in it for about a week now, I'm thoroughly enjoying the tongue in cheek design: a real peacoat is itchy, scratchy, dryclean only wool. This baby version is soft, machine washable, indestructible polarfleece. Pretty clever, I must say. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't like all the oohs and ahhs he's been getting. Its definitely a throwback look--very John-John.

ANYhow, you see him above all decked out and ready to go on his big adventure today: To get his first haircut. We went to Supercuts on Highland and, at 5pm on a Saturday night, we were the only people there.
One of the stylists put Donny on a booster seat in her chair and I warned her that he does not like new things and there would probably be screaming and crying. She brushed that off and started wetcombing his hair. She got the scissors out and snipsnipsnip--had it all under control. When I complemented her on her baby hair cutting prowess, she said, "I have 26 nieces and nephews." That would explain it. Donny proved me wrong and was a perfect little customer--no crying, no squirming, nothing! And when it was done, he looked so grown up.
I did'nt actually get teary but I will admit I had no idea he would look like that and it did throw me for a loop.

Tomorrow we're going to Ohio for a one day visit, mainly because my Mom's birthday is today and she needs some grandbaby lovin'. Also, my Dad is back in a nursing home to gain back some strength after having a heart attack and pneumonia. He's doing very well but he's all kinds of pissed off that he needs to be in a nursing home again. Sounds like he needs some baby therapy as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Not the Gourds! Please! Not the Gourds!!!

First, if you are like us and still need to get a pumpkin for your Halloween altar, I would like to draw your attention to this fine public service. Mike and Donny and I are going to Ohio this weekend and I don't know if we'll have time to go looking for pumpkins but its nice to know where we could look if we do.

If we do take him to the pumpkin patch, I hope it goes better than his trip yesterday to the farmers market. Everything was fine until I took him over to a crate full of festive gourds. You'd think I'd asked him to stick his hand in a laundry mangler. I keep reading about how important it is to have kids experience the outdoors and/or to connect what their food is to where their food is coming from. All very noble ideas, unless your kid only seems to connect with empty yogurt containers and a melamine lunch tray he keeps dropping on the kitchen floor so it sounds like bombs are falling in the backyard.

The other thing to mention is that I got out the old sewing kit this weekend and put two darts in a pair of 6-12 month pants for Donny. They are a little short on him but he's so skinny that they slide right down. Even with two darts he's still got a little bit of Pampers Plumber Butt going on but we can hide that with his shirt.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Fotos OR Phriday Photos

Just a quick entry posted during my lunch hour: I had amassed a little pile of photos on my phone that I wanted to post and Friday seems like a good day for that sort of thing:

Baby's first Hot Chocolate!
Donny had on a really good outfit that afternoon but he never stood still long enough for me to get a good photo. This is at the little fishpond in front of his daycare. Note the big goldfish and note also the big head of big loopy curls
I took this yesterday morning. Makes me sleepy just looking at him...

Our neighbor Eric came over one day with this toy tool bench for Donny. He'd found it at a garage sale and thought of the boy, which was super sweet of him. As with all his toys, it had to sit in his general vicinity for a couple of weeks before he warmed up to it but now its part of his In The Kitchen ritual. The action shot is my son wielding a plastic hammer. We can't get him to hammer with it yet, he just likes to throw it.

Tomorrow is Saturday! A Saturday with Mike off of work! Will we make it out to a pumpkin patch? Stay tuned...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And the First Word Is...


Ms. G at daycare said that one of the kids was saying "Mine!" about everything all day yesterday and all the other kids picked up on it, including Donny ("We all said, 'Did he just say what I think he just said?'") We tried all night for a repeat performance but it was not forthcoming.

"Mine!" That does not bode well. My Mom thought it was the funniest thing ever but I'm a bit worried. Its like that one character in one of the Faulkner books. The first time you see him, he's a little boy running with his hands in his pockets and you just know this character is going to grow up into a tightfisted, moneygrubbing study in greed.

Maybe I'll try to work on his next word being, "Yours!" or "Seriously--take it!"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

His Secret Life

For a great photo and a brief write up of Donny's date with Sheryl, go to her blog If you click on the photo, it will take you to a whole set she's taken of the boy. Nice work, Aunt Shirley!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Quick update and some Phone photos

A very quick entry on worktime just to let you know that things here in Donnyland are fine. It was a busy weekend, which included a trip to the Waldorf School here in Pittsburgh for their open house. Donny is on their daycare waiting list and we wanted to go look at the space, which is in the lovely old Ursiline Academy building in Friendship. Its not quite the starry eyed wonderland of the Cyert Center but it certainly has its charms and I'd love for Donny to be involved there. Fingers are crossed.

Before we went to the open house, we stopped at Coldstone Creamery for Mike to renew his Free Birthday Icecream coupon (I'm sort of a coupon geek and I signed Mike, Donny and I up for a variety of birthday freebies). Donny continued not being interested in icecream, tho he did like looking over the table and out the window at all the traffice on Forbes and Murray (see above photo). After the open house, we thought he'd fall asleep in the car but that was not going to happen. I gave him a book and he read to himself for awhile, which just proves he's genetically connected to me.And now, I get back to work. Hope you all had a good weekend.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Faint Echoes from the Ossuary

Hello Friends--please forgive the recent silence: I've been recovering from whatever it was I had.

I was trying to hold out until we had new photos of Donny to put up but that will have to wait a day or two. Just wanted to let everyone know that things are fine in Polish Hill. Yesterday was trash day and the sheer avalanche of used Kleenexs were cleared out. The house almost looks normal.

No real news on the Donovan front, tho Mike did email me that, at daycare dropoff, Donny was "mobbed" by Abigail and a couple other kids from his class who started petting him. He has that effect on people.