Sunday, January 30, 2011

Party Crasher

No, don’t worry. The legos (both) are still safe. (For another 5 minutes, until Big Brother requests we break down the existing creation, in favor of building something new.)

We had a great time celebrating Big Brother’s 6th birthday recently.

One of the funnier moments at the party involved Bab-E Brother, who appears to have Cake-dar.

As soon as he saw the cake, Bab-E Brother was all full of grunts, squirms, and head butts, locking on to the cake like Maverick to a Mig-28.

And when he finally got a small handful of cake, he was instantly calm.

Except for the mess on self and floor, as evidenced below. The boy eats cake they way Cookie Monster devours cookies.

(Actually, he probably has Baked Goods-dar, because exposure to corn muffins or blueberry muffins elicits the same response.)

So, congratulations to Big Brother on yet another birthday milestone.

And congrats to Bab-E Brother, who got to have his cake and eat it, too.

Have a good week (hope it’s “cake”),

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Head Banging

Young children communicate with their parents and siblings in different ways.

Mom-E and I distinctly remember the pediatrician telling us that second-born children sometimes start talking a little later than their older sibling (who talks for them). If they can make their needs known by pointing or grunting (or by having their older sibling determine their needs), so be it.

(Boy did he get that one wrong for Little Brother, who was and is the diametric opposite. Apparently he decided he HAS to talk to survive. “Dad-E, why do we talk? What do we do that for? Do you like to talk? Why do you keep your tools there? Are there towels under there? Who built our house?”)

But I digress *comes up for air*

And so, when it came to our third child, Mom-E and I figured his verbal development would go one of two ways: either 1) he won’t talk at all, because Big Brother and Little Brother will talk for him, 2) he’ll talk nonstop in order to (try to) keep up with his older brothers (or at least get a word in edge-wise).

So far, Bab-E Brother is a happy, smiley, chatty, babbly guy. He says a few words. Ma-Ma, Da-Da, Hey/Hi, Buh (for Ball), and occasionally Hah (for Hat).

Bab-E Brother also has a variety of non-verbal gestures, but two are particularly enjoyable.

He’s figured out how to shake his head “No” (don’t all kids figure that one out reflexively—why can’t the same happen for “Clean your room”, or “Flush”, or “Wash your hands”, or “Do the dishes and make lunches while Mom-E and Dad-E rest their weary feet.”)

The only problem is that while most of the time the head shake means “No”, sometimes it means “Yes”, and it’s up to us to figure it out. (Although if you dangled a cookie in front of him, a shake of the head “No” is pretty likely to mean “I want that now. Let me go and get out of my way.”)

The other thing he does is BANG HIS HEAD. Usually, he thrusts it backwards with an arch of the back, although sometimes it’s a direct head butt. This gesture is a more emphatic form of “No”, further taken to mean, “What you’re doing at this very moment is NOT subserving my needs. Please alter your behavior immediately, or I will continue to butt my head.”

When he does it, it makes me think of the scene in Parenthood where Steve Martin’s youngest child has a bucket over his head, which he repeatedly rams into a doorway. “He likes to butt things with his head.” Mary Steenbergen describes. Rick Moranis replies “How proud you must be.”

My only hope is that he’ll (relatively) painlessly discover the drawbacks of this approach at nonverbal communication.

Nice. All we need to do now is fire up some Metallica, forget to give him his Cheerios for awhile, and we’ve got ourselves a viral YouTube video!

ROCK ON, Bab-E Brother! (Just don’t hit your head)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lego Mania

Now, be honest with yourself, for how long did you think the Lego Alligator would last?

Less than 48 hours after our little 6:15 am lego-building soiree, Big Brother decided it was time for a change.

That's right, this set of Legos is a "3 in 1" combination alligator, T-rex, and sea serpent. (Thanks, Papa).

So yesterday evening, Big Brother and I tore down the alligator and rebuilt him into this:

"You mean to tell me that based on my predecessor, I probably only have about 48 hours to live? Roar!"

This guy was only a 1 and not a 2-hour project. Still, I have to marvel at how much cooler Legos are these days. And how much fun we have working on this kind of stuff.

Great job, building buddy!

See you on Fatherhood Friday,

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Post-Birthday Party Party

A little while back, I started a series of twitter posts called #NotInTheParentingInstructionManual, a collection of random thoughts about all those situations we'd never have expected to be in prior to becoming parents.

We recently celebrated Big Brother's 6th birthday!

While, of course, a lot of time, energy, and effort goes into a birthday and party, we often don't focus on it's aftermath.

One of my recent tweets was about said aftermath.

At 6:15 am the day after his party, Big Brother skipped happily into our room, ear-to-ear smile still firmly attached to his face, without a hint of being tired, to ask me, "Dad-E, can we finish building my Legos?"

Admittedly, my first impulse was to feign being asleep With a little effort, I managed to get out of bed.

We spent the next 90 minutes or so (yes, ninety) engrossed in Lego-dom.

We were quite pleased with the result:

(Definitely sweeter than anything I built with Legos as a kid.)

While I didn't plan to get up at 6:15 am to work on Legos, some of our best parenting moments are made when we least expect them. It was a great time!

Happy Birthday, Big Brother!
I love you, Lego building buddy,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Time Capsule Letters

Dear Big Brother,

Mom-E and I were excited to hear that for a Kindergarten school project, your class is making time capsules. In an empty paper towel roll, you’ll include an information page about yourself, a picture, a small toy, and this letter from us. We’ll keep it safe—NOTE TO SELF: put the time capsule in the lock box—and you get to open it when you graduate from high school.

We’re already so proud of the wonderful boy you’ve become. Of course, we love to write you a letter on your birthday, so for this letter, we thought we’d do something a little different. Dad-E always wanted to know when he was younger what predictions my parents had for my future. And so, we thought it would be fun to make such a set of predictions for you, as we’ve gotten to know (and love) you over the past (almost) 6 years. We’re going to try to be fairly specific, because that’ll be more fun than if we’re vague. And any wrong answers will give us some good laughs. And, of course, right or wrong with each prediction, we’re proud of you and your accomplishments.

Today, on your high school graduation, congratulations! Your Mom-E and I are very proud of you (as always) and the young man you’ve become! You have a bright and exciting future. And so, without further ado, our 18 predictions for you at age 18, made at age (almost) 6.

1. You’re 5’7’’, and enjoy being just a bit taller than Dad-E.
2. You wear eyeglasses.
3. You’ve graduated with distinction from high school.
4. You’re off to college, with a major in either engineering (mechanical or computer science) or architecture.
5. You’re proficient in a musical instrument, which will NOT be violin, clarinet, flute, or bassoon. You play piano as well. Music will be a life-long hobby for you to enjoy.
6. You’ve been very active in Boy Scouts, potentially going so far as to earn your Eagle Scout.
7. You’ll have dabbled in sports throughout your youth, primarily baseball and track/cross-country. I’d guess you won’t be a varsity athlete in high school, unless you inherited Mom-E’s running genes, in which case you could be a tremendous distance runner.
8. You are well respected by peers and adults alike. You have a small group of very close friends.
9. You enjoy drawing cartoons (especially action heroes) as a hobby.
10. You will have tried each of the following foods at least once: pizza, hamburger, chicken, a sandwich, and cereal with milk.
11. You excel in math and science in school, but are also a talented artist (particularly drawing).
12. You’ll be active in the church youth group.
13. You and your brothers will be best friends.
14. You’re a movie buff.
15. You’ll be able to perform basic maintenance on your own car.
16. You’ll have traveled to Europe without Mom-E and I at least once.
17. You’ll have a working knowledge of the basic ballroom dances.
18. You’ll have made us proud, every day.

We love you always,

Mom-E and Dad-E

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

When Ninjas Attack Snowmen




P.S. "Dad-E, can we make a snowman?" = Kids warm inside w/ hot chocolate + Dad-E cold outside in the snow making a snowman.

Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK Day 2011

Happy MLK Day 2011!

Last year I shared my MLK wish for my children, and these sentiments still ring true.

A year later, Mom-E and I have been struck by the ever-increasing complexity of the questions from our children, particularly Big Brother. These days we're trading in "Why are you going to work?" for questions such as, "Does God have a wife?"

Of course, this is the natural progression of "growing up." And while this is to be expected, it's filled with a mix of excitement about thier development, and realization that some of the innocence of childhood is (very gradually) being shed.

Big Brother's kindergarten class had obviously been talking about the MLK holiday last week. At dinner, there was a question about "Why boys used to not be able to play with boys with a different skin color?"

And so we tried to answer him in an age-appropriate fashion. This did include some honest comments about how people used to do really mean (read: horrible, atrocious) things to people who "played" with people of a different skin color.

We've always taught the boys that the most important thing about a person is their character (again, defined age appropriately), not the color of their skin. And this is something that Mom-E and I live by example, so it's eaiser for the boys to understand the concept.

Big Brother was satisfied with our answer, and his questions shifted to another topic.

Little Brother, however, has more trouble distinguishing past from present, and became very concerned that someone was going to "come throw rocks at our house?"

Like I said, the questions aren't getting any easier (and nor will they ever)

Have a good week,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Running Circles Around Us

Subtitled: Modesty is a process.

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

I wanted to have this post up a little earlier, but instead of blogging last night, I fell asleep on the floor of Little Brother's room for about 5 hours.

I've mentioned before that Little Brother has a bit of a penchant for taking off his pants...pretty much everywhere (at home at the dinner table, a friend's house, the playground, etc.)

I write about this not to embarass him when he gets older, but because sometimes when you're really, really tired it's just hard not to laugh. Plus, he's 3, and let's face it, little kids enjoy running around naked. Usually at the most inopportune time.

Last night after dinner, we were cleaning up, when suddenly a streaking 3 year-old comes running through the family room and into the kitchen.

"Little Brother, what are you doing?" blurted Mom-E.

"I'm putting on my jammies (obviously)," he casually replied.

Oh yes indeed, thrown on the floor 10 feet in front of him were his Spider-Man pj's.

Not sure who taught him the "Streak through the house first" method. Well, give the boy some "style points" for how to put on your jammies, although all judges did take the full deduction for "modesty".

When these kinds of things happen, I can't help but laugh at how he can "get away" with this kind of shenanigans.

And, of couse, we had a "double-header" of streaking later in the evening. The boys were getting ready for their bath, when suddenly Little Brother comes running through the hall, again in the buff, both arms raised proudly over his head, exclaiming "I'm Super-Naked!"

Mom-E and I couldn't help but laugh oud loud at that point. Which, of course, inspired Big Brother to join his fellow super hero.

I'm not sure what qualifies one as being "Super-Naked", but there was that tone of invincibility in his voice.

I also wish that Super-Naked's super power would be the ability to put clothes on without anyone seeing him naked, and to stay off of Mom-E and Dad-E's bed while in character.

But at least the boy doesn't lack for self-confidence and positive self-image.

Of course, the parenting challenge, is how to continue to promote that while improving the "modesty scores" for our little Super Hero.

No wonder Mom-E and I are tired, and no wonder I fell asleep on his floor, with these small men running (naked) circles around us.

Here's hoping that you and yours have a Super (Non-Naked) Weekend!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Great Grandpa

Dear Boys,

This week your Great Grandpa, Pa-Pa's Dad-E, celebrated his 98th birthday! He's truly 98 years young. He carries a cell phone, likes some of Lewis Black's sketch comedy, has done calesthenics almost every morning of his life, stays up past his bedtime to watch major sporting events, and remembers everything he reads in the newspaper.

I think the secret to my grandpa's long-life, in addition to his faith and a wonderful marriage, is that's he's been perpetually busy. He always has some task to accomplish every day, and that helps keep him going.

He and Great Grandma, who herself turns 97 this year, are hanging in there.

In the past few years, they've certainly "declined" some, but only physically. (Mentally, they could still run circles around many folks half their age.)

They've adjusted to this physical decline as gracefully as possible. They recently moved to a new location within their assisted-living facility. This new apartment offers assistance 24/7 upon their request. This arrangement respects their independence, but means that help is only the press of a button away.

This spring, Great Grandpa and Grandma will celebrate their 75th (yes, seventy-fifth) wedding anniversary. Two years ago, boys, I wrote you this letter about their marriage, and I'm certainnot sure I could express my sentiments about their relationship any better, so I won't try to do so.

What is new since that letter, is that around Thanksgiving time our family made the long sojourn and back to visit them. This was the first time that Great Grandpa and Grandma got to meet Bab-E Brother in person.

It's been very important to me that each of you got to meet your great grandparents (an opportunity I never had). Big Brother and Little Brother should both have some formed memories of them, and I hope Bab-E Brother will, too. We also have lots of pictures and video of our visits with them.

During this last visit, Great Grandpa and Grandma were in the process of "down-sizing", in preparation for the move to the new apartment.

And they had a gift for each of you from their apartment, something I hope you'll always hold on to, something that embodies the importance of family, of your "history".

Big Brother was given Great Grandpa's model red VW Bug, a perfect gift for our budding builder/engineer. Big Brother, you have been obsessed with that car since the first time you visited their apartment and could talk (I think you were around 2). Great Grandpa always wanted a VW Bug, and Great Grandma told him that the model was as close as he'd get to a real one. May that car remind you to always have dreams and goals, and to work tenaciously towards them.

Little Brother was given a music box. I hope you come to enjoy the beauty and power of music and creative expression. As you listen to it's tune, may it conjure sweet memories of times with family. And throughout your life, may you continue to dance and express yourself without inhibition, as you and Big Brother so often do in our living room.

Bab-E Brother was given a Pound Puppy. Dogs are loyal, constant companions. Growing up 5 minutes away from my grandparents, their presence (and enthusiasm) at all of my activities was evidence of their loyalty to family. I am grateful to have had their close support. Bab-E Brother, may the puppy provide you comfort, and remind you of the importance of unwaivering support of your family.

Great Grandma and Grandpa gave me a glass candy dish, which I now keep in my office at work. I remember that it always used to be filled with candy, and this was always a treat when visiting them. May it remind me to always savor the sweetness of life and family.

I leave you with one funny story about Great Grandpa:
Their apartment is always UNGODLY HOT. At first, when you get there, you don't notice the heat, probably because it feels good to get out of the cold. But eventually, gradually, the heat starts to creep up on you. You feel a little flushed, you even get a little sweaty. The kids start to run wild through the apartment get a little restless, which only generates more heat. Your body feels like you're in a slow cooker that's just about to reach a low boil. (Probably because they keep the thermostat set at about 95).

Eventually, you can't stand the heat. You want to stay to visit with them, but you're afraid someone's going to melt, or the kids are going to meltdown at the very least. About 2 minutes before this happens, Great Grandpa will ask Great Grandma, "Is it a little hot in here? Should we turn the thermostat down?" Every time.

"No, that's okay" we always reply politely. We were just about to leave this coal mine anyway.

You hug and kiss them goodbye. And the moment you step outside brings the most wonderful relief. Like Darth Vader had you in a subtle choke-hold using the force, and finally loosened his grip.

Oh well, when you're 98 and 96, you can keep your apartment as hot as you want.

Happy Birthday, Great-Grandpa! On your 98th brithday, we celebrate you and your long, life. You are an inspiration to us all!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

In betWEAN

Happy Monday!

A funny Bab-E Brother story for you today.

Now that Bab-E Brother is 1, it's time for him to transition over to "regular milk".

As part of that transition, he's started his orientation to the sippy cup.

Thus far, he's not a fan.

In contrast to Big Brother and Little Brother, who weaned pretty easily, this really isn't "high priority" for Bab-E Brother.

His disinterest is summarized by the following encounter:

While sitting in his high chair at lunch the other day, Mom-E presented Bab-E Brother with his sippy cup.

He managed one sip before throwing the cup on the floor and making the "milk sign", as if to say "C'mon give me the top shelf, not this cheap knock-off stuff."

Apparently, this weaning stuff isn't going to be so easy.

Have a good week.

Drink milk. (From a plastic container.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy Birthday to Someone

Happy Fatherhood Friday!

It's "Birthday Week" at Busy-Dad-E.

If you already tuned in, you know that we celebrated Bab-E Brother turning 1, and Busy-Dad-E Blog turning 2.

And so it's fitting that today I tell an (embarassing) birthday story.

I believe that we all have unique talents.

One of Mom-E's talents is that she's really good at remembering birthdays.

I can remember the birthdays of immediate family and a few really close friends.

Mom-E, on the other hand, remembers the birthday of pretty much everyone she's ever met pretty much all of her friends, her friends children, their pets. She's not a savant, but she's pretty darn good.

Mom-E gets this skill from her maternal grandfather, a farmer who has a similar ability to recall detailed information about dates.

So Mom-E's skill comes in quite handy, since she's an instant reminder for

"Hey, today is my best friend's sister's boyfriend's cousin's dog's birthday, so we should give them a call".

Last month, Mom-E mentioned in passing that "Tomorrow is 'Bill's
(name changed to protect the innocent) birthday. Let's be sure to call him."

So, on my way home from work, I called my friend "Bill", and left him a detailed message about "Happy Birthday. I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your wife are able to have a special date. We'll see you soon. And on and on."

Later that evening, Aunt-E calls to talk to Mom-E. Before they finish, Mom-E says, "Can I talk to 'Bill' to wish him happy birthday?"

Oops! I completely mixed up my friend "Bill" with our brother-in-law "Bill".
(Please don't take offense, "Bill". It was an honest mistake at a very tired time. And I had just talked to my friend "Bill" the day before, and so he was on my mind."

And so, I got to 1) wish the correct "Bill" a happy birthday (and act like nothing had happened), and 2) call my friend "Bill" again to say, "Please disregard my previous message. And no, I'm not losing my mind. Yet."

Well, at least a good laugh was had by Mom-E and my friend "Bill" all.

I have no choice but to blame Mom-E for this. If she didn't remember so many birthdays, I wouldn't get so confused. :)

Have a good weekend,
Apparently I need more sleep,

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 2nd Bloggiversary

Happy 2nd Bloggiversary to me! (Uh oh. Terrible 2's!)

Did you bring me a present? Because if you didn't, I'm going to throw a tantrum (because I'm 2.)

I've had a lot of fun with this blog over the past 2 years, and 2010 was a great (blog) year.

Much like a check-up at the pediatrician's, let's review our "vital signs":

I've written about 315 posts, and pretty much stuck to my goal of 3 per week, with absolutely no concerns about lack of "material" (in part thanks to the birth of happy, wonderful Bab-E Brother).

I had over 7,800 unique visitors in 2010, which is more than the total number of page loads I had in 2009.

I'm up to 44 followers (plus a few regular non-followers). I hope that those of you who do come back have at least been able to laugh at my expense. If I've made you smile and chuckle, then the intent of making my blog "public" has been fulfilled.

I really appreciate all your comments. Just know that even if I don't ever often respond, that I do read and enjoy them. Yes, I know I resolved last year to be better about responding to comments, and like most resolutions that lasted about a week. (Hey, they call me Busy-Dad-E for a reason.)

Personally, the blog has been very enjoyable and satisfying for me. I don't view it as "work" (well most of the time, there is the occasional "it's late, I'm really tired, and I still need to write a post.)

And beyond that, the real "reason for my blog" is my 3 wonderful boys. When you get older and read this, I hope you aren't mortified I hope you enjoy hearing these stories, captured "in the moment", about all of your antics. You are the lights of my life and I love you dearly. You are each very special boys, with unique talents, and I absolutely love watching you grow and develop.

(And your future wives, no doubt, will love me for all of the ammunition provided herein.)

Happy 2011,
Here's to another (hopefully great) year,

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bab-E Brother's 1st Birthday

Thank you Mom-E, for composing this wonderful letter.

Dear Bab-E Brother,

We can hardly believe that you've reached your first birthday! I can’t help but look back at the day I found out that I was pregnant with you. I just had this strange feeling and decided to take a test. Wow! What a wonderful surprise! Daddy was at work. He could hardly believe it when I called him with the news. Ever since we found out that you would be joining our family, I have had this sense that God has something special in store for you. I don’t know what it is, but I just know that you are here to do something important.

I enjoyed a very healthy pregnancy and all of your kicks and squirms. Then, one night, I was reading to your older brothers and saying the prayer. I said to Big Brother, “wouldn’t it be nice if the baby came this weekend?” To my delight, contractions began shortly after Dad-E and I kissed them goodnight. We got to the hospital just in time for an epidural and you made your debut at 4:18 am! I cannot describe the joy we felt when you were born. You were just beautiful … and what amazingly healthy lungs you had! The next day, Big Brother and Little Brother cam to the hospital to meet our little blue-eyed bundle. They were so sweet to you and so excited that you were joining our family. To this day, Little Brother regularly makes requests to hold you in his lap and Big Brother loves to make you laugh with his silly antics.

You were born during a very cold time in January. Since your room was the coldest in the house, you spent the first month sleeping in a portable crib in our room. The first night home was pretty tough. You had your days and nights reversed and absolutely refused to sleep. Dad-E and I spent the night alternating staying up with you. After a couple days, that got a lot better and you were a great sleeper. The next couple months were a lot of fun as we adjusted to our new lives as a family of five! In February, we took you on a road trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. That was pretty crazy, but we had a nice time. Three weeks later, we moved into a new house! We were so excited to have some more space.

For many months, you were a quiet baby with little babbling. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about your silence. Then, all of a sudden, you started babbling nonstop! Since then, I think you only stop babbling when you are sleeping. All day, we hear ba ba ba, da da da, ma ma ma, etc. We just love to hear your sweet voice! You also love to shake your head “NO.” I’m not totally convinced that you know what the gesture means, but you definitely love to do it. Especially if one of your brothers shakes their head “no” rapidly, you join in and laugh.

Over the past few months, you have grown so much. Just recently you have begun eating only solid food – who needs that mushy babyfood anyway? We call you the puff daddy because you love those Gerber puffs. Sometimes I use them to lure you into your highchair. As long as there are a few puffs on the tray, you eagerly sit in your chair. As I strap you in, you’ll make a happy smacking noise with your mouth (just like you do before nursing or brushing your teeth) and you’ll shove them in your mouth! So far, you like to eat sliced grapes and bananas. Sometimes you nibble on sweet potatoes and chicken and bread. You’ll play with the green beans and peas and maybe a little gets in your mouth. We’re working on the sippy cup. You’ll figure that out soon.

We cannot get over your unbelievably happy disposition. It is a rare moment when you cry. Usually, you are squealing with joy, giggling and smiling. Your brothers make you laugh all the time by making funny faces. I can always count on them to entertain you when I need a minute to do something. In fact, you have already starting making your own jokes. When Dad-E or I change your diaper, we often find that putting your pants on our head will make you belt out your hearty laugh. One day, I handed you your pants after I had donned them on my head. Immediately, you put them on YOUR head and let out a jovial chuckle. Awesome!

You clearly adore your older brothers (as they do you). It doesn’t matter what age-appropriate toy we get out for you, you want to do exactly what your brothers are doing. You’ll crawl over their Legos like a steamroller, steal the smallest choking hazard you can find, hide it in your fist, and go find a place to pull yourself to a stand so you can examine your loot. You have been commando crawling for a while, but now you are starting to crawl on your hands and knees! Recently you started clapping your hands and giving high fives. Christmas was such a magical time for you. You LOVED the Christmas tree! Every time we passed by the tree, you would enthusiastically make the “tree” sign. One night we went to see some special Christmas lights. You stood in my lap during the hayride and pointed, cooed, and giggled hysterically. I hoped that you would enjoy it, but I had no idea that you would love it that much. What a fun treat that was!

Other things that you love are socks and burp towels. You LOVE to hold them and cuddle with them especially at naptime. You are notorious for pulling your socks off while riding in the car to play with them. Although you are happy most of the time, riding in the car isn’t your favorite pastime. However, if you start to cry, all we have to do is sing the ABC’s and you immediately calm down. It’s really funny because if we stop singing midway through the song, you will start to cry again in protest. But, if we start up again, you calm right down. Little Brother will often sing to you too if I forget. It’s awesome … he sings very loudly and out of key. Adorable! When the day is over, Dad-E is your preferred parent. You love it when he rocks you to sleep. It’s definitely a nice bonding time for you two.

On this first birthday, we want to tell you how much we love you and how happy we are that you have become part of our crazy family. We are looking forward to all of the fun to come as you grow and blossom. Always know that we all love you very much and nothing will ever change that.


Mom-E and Dad-E