May. 31st, 2015 11:15 pm
juthwara: (Chu)
So three years ago, James looked like this:


Last month, when he turned three, he looked like this:


(we cut his hair last week and the curls are gone. Sob. And then the teachers at preschool made a big deal about how good it looked because "Now he looks like a boy," which makes me want to grow it out until it's to his waist. But his hair was a little too egregiously in his eyes and I don't need any of my children to be Cousin It)

What can I say about a three-year-old James? He loves baby dolls and stuffed animals, trains, cars and legos. He's fascinated by the alphabet and trying to count to twenty.

I am coming to the conclusion more and more that I gave birth to my father. James is gentle and considerate - he apologizes if he accidentally hurts someone and solicitously asks if we're okay if we cry out in pain. He's fastidious - he asks for a wipe if his hands get dirty and I suspect he mastered using eating utensils as early as he did because they're neater. He's neat - he will often clean up toys he scatters or things he spills without prompting. He's mild-mannered - even though he has an enviable attention span which makes it hard to redirect him away from things we don't want him to have, he'll sulk for a little while instead of throwing a full-blown tantrum when denied things. Even when he does tantrum, he calms quickly and easily.

Of course, these traits are all for relative values of being three. Does he throw tantrums, make yogurt art, happily strew toys hither and yon and refuse to share? Of course he does. He's three. He just does those things so much less than our previous three-year-olds.

All in all, it adds up to a pretty stinkin' cute kid. I think we'll keep him around for another year.

juthwara: (Chu)
* We are watching Into the Woods, the movie version. Red Riding Hood's initial encounter with the wolf just ended and I have to say I'm starting to agree with some of the criticisms I've heard of it. While the Wolf in the stage play is about the farthest thing from subtle, the movie version goes a lot farther in turning subtext into gigantic neon blinking visible-from-space text, which added to the much younger actress for Red tips over into uncomfortably creepy.

* On the whole I feel this is an excellent adaptation. I saw it in the theatre over Christmas vacation with my mother and mother-in-law and enjoyed it immensely. Ooh, we just reached Agony, which is so deliciously over the top I can barely stand it. It's one of the couple places they make excellent use of the change in medium too (the other significant one being On the Steps of the Palace).

* I saw the third Hobbit movie with [ profile] longstrider and my brother over Christmas as well and, well, it was only my good manners that prevented me from pulling my phone out to read something since bright glowing things are distracting in a dark theatre. I think I hit peak orc-slaying during the last movie and I'm now full to the brim when it comes to dead orcs. Though I did appreciate the appearance of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins.

* Finally, I took Katherine to see Cinderella Thursday evening and you know, I never quite realized what a slim story that really can't fill two whole hours effectively it is. Mind you, it didn't really help that they just didn't do a great job of making it an interesting movie (they were clearly trying to make it funny, with moments clearly telegraphing, "We are being funny and whimsical here! You will laugh now, yes?" Er, no. Nice try though). But it still didn't help that the source material isn't a very long story. The animated Disney version is just over an hour, and really, that's just about the right amount.

Katherine liked it, but she's nine years old, so the movie was really made precisely for her.
juthwara: (Chu)
I think the last week hit its apotheosis last night with the following conversation:

Me: Why is there popcorn all over the floor?
Alec: I wanted popcorn.
Me: You know you're supposed to get someone to help you make popcorn.
Alec: Can I have popcorn?

Because I have to report, dear Reader, that a full pound of unpopped popcorn was scattered over the kitchen and dining room floor, like some sort of cold popcorn bomb had gone off (it was also all the way down the hall and into our bedroom beyond plausible range of spray, which is why I suspect extra shenanigans were going on). That pretty much was the capper for the past week.

We made it through last week, with the two snow days and three days of school at home because of parent-teacher conferences. Then Monday turned out to be the monthly teacher inservice day at the older kids' school. Meanwhile, James developed an ear infection and missed the other day of preschool last week and trapping us inside, even when the weather wasn't that bad.

Today everyone went to school. I took a nap.
juthwara: (Chu)
I have, I confess, been aggressively avoiding real life for the past couple months. Not shirking any real life responsibilities, of course. But I've been avoiding the news, and forms of entertainment that require any sort of active input from me in favor of extremely fluffy passive entertainment. But it's been 2 1/2 months and it's probably time to come out of hibernation.

I dipped my toes in the waters of reality again a while ago when I compromised on the news blackout by putting the NPR news feed on my rss reader, so I at least see the headlines even if I don't read the details. And now maybe it's time to attempt some output, even if the majority of my entertainment continues to be about as shallow as a contact lens.


This was not a good week for a snowpocalypse, especially one that fizzled quite as spectacularly as it did here. I know further north they're getting the real deal, but we were promised something around a foot, and instead I think we've gotten maaaybe two inches in the past two days. Despite this, school let out early yesterday and wasn't in session at all today. That's not such a big deal, especially since [ profile] longstrider was off work as well.

However, when you add that to the three days of cyber days the older kids have thanks to parent-teacher conferences Wednesday through Friday, meaning they'll do school on their computers at home, and that makes an entire week of trapped inside with three children. I fear I may begin to resemble Jack Nicholson by the end of the week. At the very least, I suspect I will be sprinting out the door to work on Saturday.
juthwara: (Chu)

A quiet day for us, followed by packing for the trip to Michigan tomorrow. We are only halfway through our Christmas season and it has been quite good so far.
juthwara: (Chu)
I'm constantly amazed at how James has grown from an easy and laidback baby to an easy and laidback toddler. The common wisdom is that easy babies become hellish toddlers, but so far I've braced myself at every age that was difficult with his siblings for trouble that never came.

I'm sure at some completely inocuous age like 6 he'll turn into a complete demonseed just to mess with us, but in the meantime, he's such a pleasant toddler. He doesn't even tantrum much. He does some, of course, but mostly when he's thwarted or he can't get across what he wants to us, he hangs head and slumps his shoulders in despair, exactly like this:

Then when you figure it out and give him what he wants, he dances with joy exactly like this:

It makes it very hard to say no to him. Tantrums I can ignore, but despair is much more heartrending, especially since his dance of joy is so fricking cute.

Of course, realizing my child is essentially channeling Peanuts characters makes me a little sorry that I never thought to a second boy Rerun.
juthwara: (Chu)
I made a decent amount of progress at work today on my project of getting all of the children's collection in the computer catalog. My goodness, I never realized quite how many Black Stallion books there are though. The Black Stallion, The Black Stallion Returns, The Black Stallion Revolts, Son of Black Stallion, The Black Stallion and Satan, The Black Stallion's Sulky Colt, The Black Stallion Meets the Three Stooges... it just goes on endlessly and we seem to have all of them. And here I thought there were a lot of Oz books, but apparently L. Frank Baum didn't know beans about churning books out compared to Walter Farley.


Nov. 14th, 2014 12:03 am
juthwara: (Chu)
James is going through the sherpa stage of toddlerhood, where he must carry his most precious possessions with him at all times, his stubby little arms overflowing, until bedtime comes and they go into the crib with him. Which items are precious to him vary at any given moment, which is why we realized recently that he has been sleeping elevated a good six inches above his mattress, cushioned by stuffed animals, baby dolls, books and most memorably last night, a doll stroller.

We have taken to calling him Smaug.

All proper dragons sleep on their treasure.
juthwara: (Chu)
Today was an unusual treat - [ profile] longstrider had the day off for Veteran's Day, but all of the kids still had school. So we celebrated by going to see Big Hero 6.

We had been planning to save it for Thanksgiving since it's something we can take the entire family to, but after what happened when we went to see the last Muppet movie (all of our children lost their tiny little minds in their own special way), we decided that since we actually wanted to see it, we would treat ourselves to a viewing which didn't include chasing a two-year-old. Also, Alec has been getting scared really easily lately, so we thought it would be prudent to pre-screen it and now that I've seen it, I'm not sure he can handle it.

In any case, we loved it. There was the exquisite animation, of course. But it also managed that tricky balance of humor some much more serious emotions. How we handle grief could be seen as the predominant theme, and they did a decent, thoughtful job of it. Plus some really cool action sequences. Definitely stay through the credits for the stinger at the end - it's highly worth it.
juthwara: (Chu)
So! As it turns out, codeine packs quite a punch. I've spent the past couple evenings essentially passed out due to cough syrup. Surprising, because I'm not usually that sensitive to drowsy-making things. I guess my decision not to take any cough syrup during the day was a good one, both for my productivity at work and being able to stay awake to prevent the children from burning the house down.

On the plus side, the theory that stopping the cough will help the irritation calm down seems to be panning out. I've been regular with the inhaler as well, and while it's not gone completely, I'm coughing a lot less, and it no longer feels like an elephant is standing on my chest - more like a small pony. Progress!
juthwara: (Chu)
* I finally gave in and took my cough to the doctor today. My lungs are clear, so she thinks it's a post-viral cough, where being sick has irritated my respiratory tract and some asthma as well. So I have an inhaler and codeine to hopefully evict my guest that has long overstayed its welcome.

* I turned 40 on the 17th. When I think about starting another decade, I keep remembering that ten years ago when I turned 30, I was 6 weeks pregnant with Katherine. It's fascinating to see how dramatically different our life is ten years and three children later.

Meanwhile, I'm choosing to ignore any thoughts of my looming mortality, no matter how many grey streaks my hair seems to be developing.
juthwara: (Chu)
While watching Arrow just now, I made a comment that I think sums up the state of death in comics/comic-related franchises pretty well:

"I would not have believed [$character] was actually dead unless I had seen a flashback of her cradling his severed head."*

Yep, that's it. Still more than I want to say about the national election. I am pleased that our horrid governor was voted out of office. Maybe the new governor will restore some of the 250 MILLION DOLLARS Corbett cut from the Philadelphia schools. But when it comes to our national government, I would rather talk about comic books.

*Which of course always brings to mind the fantastic line from the superb movie Soapdish: "How can I write dialogue for him? He doesn't have a fucking head!"
juthwara: (Chu)
Guess who's been choosing his own outfits lately?


This particular masterpiece of fashion is a shirt with bugs and pants with monkeys on surfboards (actually a pair of 4t pyjama pants, but why let that stop him from realizing his artistic vision?), but I think it's the blue argyle socks that tip it over into true awesomeness.
juthwara: (Chu)
We seem to have been blessed with the eternal household cold early this year. Coughing is the soundtrack of the house right now. I've been coughing for three weeks now, which is honestly starting to get a bit boring, because I can't do much physical if I want to be able to breathe at the end of it. It's not so bad, I suppose, as long as I don't move, or talk. Or lie down. At work, I've been very tempted to put out a sign labeling myself as a living history exhibit of an authentic Victorian Consumptive.

I suppose I would have to stop using the computer if I wanted to preserve the illusion of historical accuracy though. And maybe grab a red marker from the children's section to put some bloodstains on a handkerchief.


Nov. 2nd, 2014 12:24 am
juthwara: (Chu)
(It's November. Am I doing this? I guess I am)

WP_20141031_007 IMG_0518
IMG_0510 IMG_0514

We passed an uneventful and sugar-fueled Halloween.

We avoided all sorts of potential drama:

Alec, for instance, was perfectly happy to go off to school in his firefighter costume when I told him that he couldn't wear his chosen monkey costume because he couldn't go to the bathroom in it easily enough.

James was thrilled to wear the dinosaur costume that his brother and sister had worn before him because it was his turn to be the right size for it. He's started to be very opinionated about what he wears lately, so he could have refused to put it on, but thankfully, he actually likes stomping around pretending to be a dinosaur. I left him with the costume while I went to get a fresh diaper and by the time I came back, he had managed to get one arm through a sleeve and his other arm through a leg and couldn't wait to finish putting it on.

Katherine didn't want to wear any makeup on her face even though the Monster High character she was dressed as has blue skin, which was good because apparently Target the day before Halloween isn't the right place to find costume makeup and I didn't have the energy to go any place else.

I don't know when my children decided to be so flexible and easy, but it certainly made for a nice day.
juthwara: (Chu)

James's first day of preschool was three weeks ago. The first week went pretty much how I expected: he cried when I left and when I went to pick him up, I saw him through the window acting upset and holding his backpack, clearly signalling that he felt it was time to go home, so would someone kindly summon his mother, if you please? The next day, I had to carry him in because he recognized where we were going and he started crying before I left. But he was happy when I picked him up.

The next week? He happily ran in and left me without a second thought. Clearly I don't rate nearly as highly as a sand table. He was playing quite happily when I picked him up as well. That's how it's been ever since. Today, he blew me a kiss from the sand table as I left.

I'm pleased, of course, but a bit stunned that he adjusted so quickly since he's always been my koala baby. And maybe a little melancholy at my baby growing up. *sniff*


My other babies are doing well in big kid school. We went to Back to School night this week and I was once again blown away by all of the emphasis on social/emotional learning and developing compassion, and what they're doing to promote them.

I was even more blown away when I went to Katherine's classroom and discovered all of the writing she's been doing. Writing was such a huge source of drama last year. She would rather refuse (loudly) to do something than try and fail, so last year featured a lot of loud refusal when it came to writing. But this year? For whatever reason, she's willing to try. Her teacher transcribes what she says and she winds up copying about half of it, which solves the one of the big issues, which is being scared to misspell things. There was even a pretty cogent three paragraph essay.

Alec, meanwhile, is having a great time. It took a couple weeks for him to get with the program and stay on task, but he's doing just fine now. I was a little worried after his bad year in preschool last year that he might not be ready for kindergarten, but one thing we've never had any problem with is getting him to use a computer, and since their academic work is done on the computer, he's perfectly happy to sit down and do his schoolwork.

I'm not sure who told me my babies they could grow up and leave me to go to school, but they're doing it anyway.
juthwara: (Chu)
Hey look, I blinked and the summer is gone. The older kids had a fantastic time at camp. We took our annual two-week summer trip to Michigan, spending time with both of our families and seeing friends in Indiana and Ohio on the way.

And now it's time for school again. Katherine was not entirely resigned to starting school again:


Alec, on the other hand was entirely ready to rock kindergarten:


The dress code was changed this year from navy blue polo and khaki bottoms to any color collared shirt and long pants or skirt.* It is, however, entirely silent on the subject of monkey hats.

*which I didn't find out about until after I ordered 15 navy blue polo shirts and 6 pairs of khaki pants. Sigh. Fortunately, you can return website orders from Target to the store, so I returned 75 percent of them and bought some other colors, which makes Katherine very very happy.


Jul. 31st, 2014 10:50 pm
juthwara: (Chu)
A conversation with a five-year-old:

[ profile] longstrider: Put your shoes on.

Alec: They're sandals, not shoes

[ profile] longstrider: Yes, they're sandals, Mr. Precision

Alec: No Daddy, it's Alec


A cautionary tale:

They tell you that the Internet is dangerous for kids. That you should carefully monitor where they go, especially sites like Youtube. But the thing no one tells you is that the real danger of Youtube is that your child may watch cooking shows and then be inspired to do things like combine flour and water into a reasonable facsimile of a pie dough and then make a pie with grass filing and pretty impressive lattice crust - all on the floor of her bedroom. Or you may wake up to find she's been inspired to get out the powdered sugar, butter and food coloring so she can experiment with making frosting.

Although I will give her credit that she did a decent job of cleaning up after the frosting. And the most damnable part is what a good job she does on these experiments. If they were disasters, it would discourage her from doing it again. But no, she made a pretty good frosting, put it in plastic bags and piped it onto cookies for her brothers.


Jul. 17th, 2014 12:53 am
juthwara: (Chu)
We are having a very nice, relaxing summer. Back when it was time for [ profile] longstrider to put in requests for Sundays for the summer, I realized that 1) we had both just gotten raises and 2) he has lots of time off banked already. So since the reason for him to work Sundays is to either get overtime pay or comp time, we decided to treat ourselves to a summer off. The branch libraries are closed on Saturdays in the summer, so except for an obligatory Saturday at the regional library (which still has Saturday hours), he has no weekend hours this summer. I still have them, of course, but we've still managed at least one weekend day off together for the past month except last weekend. Lovely.

The older kids are having a great time at camp. Katherine has reunited with her camp friends and Alec is learning how to swim. If they could only stop bringing viruses home, life would be great (I have been trying to mail a package for the past 2 1/2 weeks, and no kidding, every single day I thought I might be able to make it to the post office another kid would get sick). When they're not running fevers, though, they're having a great summer. See?

Exercise: 25 minutes on exercise bike


Jun. 30th, 2014 01:03 am
juthwara: (Chu)

Last Monday, Alec turned five. He also started his first day at Big Kid camp, attending day camp with Katherine for the first time, five days a week. In the past month, he has also had his last day of preschool ever, because he starts kindergarten in the fall. My little boy is getting so big!

Very big, actually. He's 45 inches tall and 43 pounds, which is the 90th percentile for height and 75th for weight. He's always been a very solid kid, and he's starting to thin out and get a bit more willowy.

Currently, he loves Legoes and playing Lego-related computer games. He can spend hours playing with Play-doh. He has started enacting elaborate conversations between toy figures (or the other day, puzzle pieces). He's starting to read short words and do basic addition. I predict great things for him next year in kindergarten.



juthwara: (Default)

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