Wednesday, August 31, 2011

First Trip to the Zoo, or, They Can't All Be Winners

Where did I go wrong as a mother?  Why does my son not like animals?  I loved, loved, LOVED animals when I was a kid--what connection are we not making?

We took Donovan to the Zoo for the first time on Monday.  All weekend he was looking forward to it; "Are we going to the zoo today?" "MONDAY we are GOING to the ZOO!!!"  Within 5 minutes of getting there: "I want to go home.  I want to go home. Let's G-O."  He said he was afraid of the animals, which I believe--I can't even get him to pet the neighbor's cat, but I thought just looking at the animals from a long way away would be alright: Nope.

It was a tough time--he was pushing all my particular buttons and I was not being the patient mother I strive to be.  Part of it was that I was hot, part of it was all the walking, part of it was HOW FREAKIN' LOUD the zoo was (on that part, Donny and I agreed).  Also, it was very expensive.  Everything cost money.  Everytime I reached for my wallet I thought, "Leopard Chow: you are paying for Leopard Chow."

I will say we made the rookie mistake of not starting at the Kids Kingdom.  And if you don't start there, you sure as hell can't get there unless you walk the whole zoo.  Or unless you pay to take the tram.

He did like the elephants.  And the aquarium.  And the Merry Go Round ($3 for 2) and the kiddie rides ($.50 and $.75, respectively) at the end.

We need to work on this animalphobia.  If I think about it too much, it makes me incredibly sad.

 I tried to get a good photo of him in the Aquarium.  As long as the animals were encased in both glass and gallons of water, he was fine...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pure Imagination

In the past week or two, Donovan has started playing with his stuffed animals.  We have a bunch of them in his toychest downstairs and a bunch in a basket next to his bed.  As a kid, I was way too butch for dolls and my early world revolved around Ted the Bear, Simon the Kitten and a cast of supporting stuffed characters.  I would gladly spend big bucks on stuffed animals for my child 1) if I had big bucks and 2) if he paid them any attention.  A couple of years ago, despite the fine array of stuffed animals procured for him by his loving mother, Donovan's best friend was an empty yogurt container--when I moaned to Sheryl about it she suggested I draw a smiley face on the damn thing.  It gets funnier the more you think about it.

Since it's summer, we've been letting Donovan wake himself up so the past few mornings when I've gone to check on him all the animals are on his bed having a birthday party.  So far Giraffecow, RayRay and Puppy have had birthdays (Giraffecow does not like chocolate cake, apparently, but had a strawberry one instead).  Donny has also been building elaborate houses out of his architectural building blocks and then taking his Flowers (the generic term for a set of wooden play figures he has that are based on flowers and trees) and placing them in the house: "Bluebell is talking to Acorn about food.  Little Baby Mushroom is sleeping on the roof--that's where his bed is" and "Bluebell is their mama and Redbell is the sister and Buckeye is the sister and there are THREE BROTHERS!"

Love, love, love it.  Imagination: I hope it never stops.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

And Then, Kennywood...

 Yesterday, we went to Kennywood.  We were planning to go all summer but, suddenly, it was really the very last day we could go before their fall schedule and our fall schedules got all wonky.  That seemed to be the case for everyone else as it was pretty busy for a Monday.  Donovan, of course, was all keyed up about going--he's been doing this thing lately when he gets excited where he jumps up and down with this grimace on his face, going, "YEYEYEYEYE!"  Its as if he's so excited he might explode.  The first ride he went on was The Jackrabbit.  He did so well on the Rollo Coaster at Idlewild, we thought it might work.  It did'nt--but he was a big boy and did'nt cry or anything.  Mike said, right before the double dip, Donny turned to him and said, "I'd like this to go a little slower, please."  Poor kid.
 We tried to rebalance him with a stop at the Merry Go Round.  Kennywood is really marketing the fact that they are going to have events in December.  That could be why the Merry Go Round was playing "Silver Bells."  I took it very personally, in a good way, however, when they went into Bach's Toccata and Fugue and then into The Addams Family Theme.
 From there it was onto Kiddieland.  You'd think you could be in and out of Kiddieland in an hour or so.  You'd be wrong.
 Donny wanted to take full advantage of all the rides there, which is why we came.  It was just crowded enough, tho, that it made for sloooow going.  He was just fine with it all but Mom and Dad were a little irritable by the end.

 Meet my son, the Lion Dentist.
From Kiddieland, we went over to Lost Kennywood, where the only ride Donny could really go on was The Whip.  Luckily he loved it.  It didnt hurt that he got to sit in a RED CAR that had a RED SEAT and also had HIS FAVORITE NUMBER ON IT.  All the stars came together on that one.
 Finally, as we were leaving, I caught a whiff of one of my favorite smells: burnt sugar.  Turns out there was a little cart where someone was actually making FRESH cotton candy!  I put FRESH in all caps because buying a bag of cotton candy is no problem at Kennywood but if its not fresh, why bother?  I immediately got in the long line and took Donny with me.  He was fairly crabby as he did not want to leave Kennywood--which is a completely normal response but still hard to deal with when its your kid and its time to go.  When we got close enough, I held him up and showed him the gal making the cotton candy:

                     D: What's she doing?
                     Me: Making Cotton Candy.
                     D: But what is that?
                     Me: Clouds.  She's putting sugar in the big pot and she's making clouds.
                     D: We're going to eat clouds?
                     Me: Yeah--pink ones! 

That was all the kid needed.  The magic was back.  And, damn, fresh cotton candy: the first 5 minutes before the air calms it down; its like heaven.  Sticky, sticky heaven.

 While we ate our clouds, the All Marching Band And Float Parade started. 
 We watched a little bit but then we reallllly had to go.  Donovan very much liked that the heart on the way out said, "Good Night."
 Good Night, Kennywood.  Thanks for the clouds and the good times.  See yinz next year!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

And We Had A Grand Time!

Last week we took what will probably be our Big Family Vacation for the year--we went to Ligonier and stayed overnight at a Ramada so we could go to Idlewild Park two days in a row. 

Sometimes I take the trouble to check who is looking at my blog and why--two entries tie for top honors: if there is anyone checking in from another country, chances are the entry I entitled "Define Baby" will be what brought them there.  The other big hit is my entry from two years ago about Storybook Forest.  Storybook Forest is part of Idlewild Park and I was very surprised two years ago to find out there wasnt a webpage for Storybook Forest.  After this year's visit, I've decided that was less an oversight and more a component of an Idlewild Park plot to just ignore Storybook Forest until it goes away.  I know times are tough for all businesses but the condition that part of the park is in was heartbreaking.  Seriously, Idlewild employees, its an historic site.  Get your act together, hire someone to write you some grants and do some restoration work!  Also, your giftshop: maybe you'd want to, oh, I don't know, SELL SOME BOOKS.  Product tie in and all.  I would'nt be so pissed off if I did'nt love that place so much. 

But enough of that and onto the photos.  We spent the first, rainy and drizzly day in Storybook Forest and the next lovely, sunny day in Idlewild.  Being a cemetery historian I know just enough about landscape architecture and the history thereof to be easily offended.  Most historic amusement parks have long forgone their original designs of gardens and shade and flowers and trees because those things get in the way of the New In Your FACE rides they have feel they have to add every summer (I'm looking at you, Cedar Point...).  Idlewild has not made that particular deal with the Devil and their grounds are green and lush and lovely.  That original design really gives a nice placement for their rides.  There is an actual Kiddieland but there is also a non-Kiddie specific area and Donovan was able to go on alot of those rides, including the Rollo Coaster. It was his first real roller coaster ride and, at the end of it, he was so excited and happy he was actually vibrating.  He insisted on riding it about 6 more times, alternating between Mike and I as his partner. 

It was a wonderful getaway and we all had a great time. We will probably do it again next year and now that we understand how Ligonier is laid out, we will have lunch at a nice little cafe and not drive all over nowhere to come back to the hotel for Chef Boyardee pizza.

And without further ado:

 The rain drove us into the Jumpin' Jungle part of Idlewild and that is where Donovan discovered the Amazing Floating Balls.  All of us could have stayed there and played with them All. Day.
 This is the Entrance to Storybook Forest.  You walk into a Huge Book and Mother Goose is waiting to greet you.  I love the book and did'nt have the heart to take a full photo of it as it looks really shabby.
 Not sure what nursery rhyme the anthropomorphic dog is from.

 The Little Engine That Could was full of bees.  They must be nesting all the way thru it.

 Mike lifting Donny up to see the Papa, Mama and Baby Bear beds in the House of the Three Bears.

 My Son, the Third and Most Wistful of the Piggies.
 Completely crashed out the next morning after a night of jumping on the beds and dancing around the room.
 The Idlewild Merry Go Round plays The Pennsylvania Polka (also known as The Steelers Fight Song), Alley Cat, and Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.

 We ended our second day in Kiddieland.  Adorable Kiddieland.  Could'nt be any cuter.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whistler's Mother, 2011

"I'm going to draw a picture of you, Mama...I'm going to draw you with a mad're wearing a dress.  Its nice because you can touch it."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Completely Demoralized: Well, That Did'nt Take Long...

It is 4:40 am.  After [stops to count] 9 hours of having a weeping child hurl himself around the room gripping his genitalia, I went downstairs to the storage room and dug out a pack of "GoodNights" pull ups for "big kids" that we got in the mail about 3 months ago.  Thank god I never throw out a sample.

Its no wonder the kid can't pee in a toilet--we spent all week last week counting down the days until he was Too Big For Pull Ups and it only took 9 hours for me to completely undermine our authority and mix that signal.  I will only say two things in my defense: the kid had not peed since FRIDAY NIGHT so there were health risks to consider.  Second, it was not until I said, "Donovan, if I found you a pull up, would you pee in it?" that he actually looked at me with something close to understanding/recognition.  Up to that point he had been either inconsolable or completely feral.

Mike is currently asleep on the couch.  I am typing this while Donovan (hopefully) is sleeping in his bed.  He was in our bed to start with but after about 40 minutes of sleep, the flailing and wailing started again.  Tomorrow we are slated to go to Storybook Forest.  I have a nasty feeling that we will be packing Pull Ups.

Twice in those 9 hours of awfulness, I broke down and cried.  Both times, Donny stopped his own crying and came over and hugged me.  The first time, he even patted me on the head.  My kid may never be potty trained but at least he's got a heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Postcard from Boot Camp

Today is Day 2 of Potty Training Boot Camp Redux.  Yesterday was the first day and it went very well: Donny was very excited about not wearing pull ups any more.  He did'nt ask for one and was happy to wear big boys to bed.

Its all so easy.  Once you decide you're never going to pee again.

That seems to be his strategy and its been over 24 hours.  He's been very insistent that he will NOT sit on the toilet.  So much so that Mike and I reverted to our old tactic of giving him a sucker just for sitting there.  Sit there he did and nothing happened.  Wasted a perfectly good Charms Sweet Orange sucker on that willful, willful child.

So now its almost bedtime.  Last night was TERRIBLE and I'm fully assuming tonight will be the same, with the added bonus of an inevitable "accident" in the bed.  Still, despite it not going the way I wanted it to, I do think progress is being made.  We have three weeks until school starts, just me and the kid for most of it, so here's to Getting. Over. The. Damn. HUMP.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Today, You Are a Man.

I totally stole the title of this entry from a flip comment Mike made on his way out the door to work.  The comment refers to the fact that today will be Donovan's first day without pull-ups.  This is also the first day of three weeks where he is in between Waldorf Day Camp and being back to school at Montessori.  Thus, we have 3 weeks to work on the No Pull Up thing.

The thing about the No Pull Up thing is this: by the end of the school year, Donovan was not potty trained but he was also not having accidents at school.  He was just "holding it" until it was time for bed, at which time we would change him into a pull up.  The initial idea for the bedtime pull up was that asking a 4 year old to navigate 2 flights of stairs to the bathroom in the middle of the night was unrealistic.  But what it resulted in was the I'll Hold It Because I Know I'll Be In A Pull Up Eventually mindframe.

Over the summer, Donny has worked with some really great counselors from The Barbour Center.  Based on their advice and also on advice from the folks he works with from Early Intervention, we decided we would set a date on the calendar and he would cross off the days until No More Pull Ups Day.  Which is today.  I'm sure everything will be fine today--at least until around 7pm or so.  Please light the appropriate candles for us starting at around 6pm EST.

And now that 3 weeks of summer break is stretched out before us, I'm realizing I did'nt do much planning.  I should have done some planning.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

So Much Catching Up... do here on the blog!  Hard to believe its August already--harder to believe that this is Donny's last week at the Waldorf summer camp.  As always, I must go on record as saying Waldorf is EX. PENS. IVE.  Having said that, so is everything else kid related and it was a really great program for him.  First, it was a small group of kids, alot of whom he already knew.  Second, it was all about PLAYING.  Not reading or writing or anything scholastic.  Third, alot of the folks involved in the program were from The Zany Umbrella Circus, so the kid got to juggle, play with hula hoops and the like.  Also, being Waldorf, there was lots of singing and Donovan has been singing the Blessing song and the Follow Me song constantly.  Seriously: constantly.

So the next three weeks will be Donovan At Home With Me.  And with Mike but mainly with me.  I'm plotting and planning a wide variety of fun and games for us but it will also be Year 2 of Potty Training Boot Camp.  We have been working with his therapists from Early Intervention and, with their help, we have him crossing off days on the calendar to this Saturday when there will be NO MORE PULL UPS.  Thank God that Target opened up in East Liberty as we are going to need a buttload of prizes to encourage his participation.  Stickers, please, yes, and light up glow stick bracelets!  Dozens of them!  Stay tuned for carefully edited progress reports.

Also, we make a long overdue trip to Ohio to see my family.  I was hoping for a longer trip but that will have to come in the future.  At least we got the boy home to see my Mom.  That was worth the stay at the nasty ass hotel where we lost our reservation to someone in the Northern Ohio Eastern Star Convention (which I really can't argue--if I was working the desk and had to choose between me and about 200 lady Shriners dressed to the nines in white satin...).

Also, also: our porch is being worked on and I have hopes it will be done in time for an end of the summer Porch Warming.

We've taken a whole lot of photos this summer but, really, the best two are right here: