Monday, December 05, 2011

The First "Lost" Tooth

It has finally happened, a boy has lost a tooth in our household. Although "lost" is more like "extracted" and "safely kept in a tooth-shaped box."

Alex the Loser of a Tooth
Alas, it was not Will, the oldest, who had the honor of losing the first tooth. Poor little Alex had an encounter with the corner of a counter back in October 2010. He was too short to see over the counter, so he grabbed the top of it and used his feet to climb up to see over. Unfortunately, he slipped and hit his mouth on the counter, splitting his chin open, cutting the inside of his mouth, and killing his top tooth.

The Injury
I took him to the urgent care, we got him examined and patched up with some of that purple super glue and thought all was well. However, at his next dentist appointment, the dentist asked about the "gray tooth" and if it bothered him. I had not noticed the slight discoloration of the tooth. The X-Ray confirmed that Alex did indeed have a dead tooth. Further examination revealed an abscess. He received antibiotics for the abscess which receded. At his next dentist appointment, the diagnosis was still the same and even though the abscess was not bothering him, it was a possibility that, if left untreated, it could damage the enamel of the permanent tooth. We got a referral to an oral surgeon since the tooth was firmly fixed in place and not coming out with our efforts.

Alex, by this point, was fairly aware of the fact that his tooth needed to come out. We had been talking about it and trying to wiggle it for months. We had discussed the possibility of going to a special dentist who could maybe wiggle it better with some nifty grabbers. I even tried to sweeten the deal with the lure of the tooth fairy bringing money.

Rejection of the Tooth Fairy
Alex would have none of it. He didn't want the tooth fairy to take his tooth away, even with the promise of financial gain. He wanted to keep it. So we got the super cute tooth box.

Show and Tell
It turns out that the Friday before the Monday of the scheduled extraction, Alex was due for show and tell at school. So we sent him in with the tooth box and a copy of his x-ray showing the dead root. He was a little tentative during show and tell, but glad he was able to bring his tooth box in. He was also reassured by his teacher who had a similar injury when she was small.

Commence Extraction

We explained the whole process of getting a tooth extracted, how there was laughing gas and the grabbers. Alex seemed cool with this. We always brought it back to how he would get to put his tooth in his special tooth box and how our efforts of wiggling it just weren't working to get the tooth out. When the day of the extraction came, he was excited to leave school early for his appointment, and went to the oral surgeon without complaint. He was totally fine at the discussion part of the appointment. The oral surgeon asked about how he might do during the extraction and I confirmed that Alex would be fine with only laughing gas. (If it would have been Will, we would have completely knocked him out.) During the extraction, Alex was calm, helpful, responded well to direction and it didn't phase him a bit. He was as excited as he could be, having just come off laughing gas, to put his tooth in the tooth box.

The only time Alex had trouble during the whole thing was on the way home after the extraction. His numbing shots were wearing off and he started feeling a little sore. After a bit of ibuprofen and about 2 hours of watching a movie on the TV, he was better. I tried to give him ibuprofen the next morning and he refused, completely fine with life.

As part of the whole process, I promised Alex that he could have ice cream after the extraction. We had read in the book, "What People Do All Day" that after tonsil extraction, you get ice cream. He was very excited to tell the oral surgeon that he would be going out for Superman Ice Cream. And that was the day that I learned that Superman Ice Cream doesn't exist in California, it is purely a Michigan thing. Fortunately Alex was placated by some rainbow sherbert posing as Superman ice cream.

Not Superman Ice Cream!

As it is typically a pain to treat the boys' injuries, I was relieved to get off easy on this one. I'm so glad that Alex didn't have a bad dentist experience and came out of it smiling. He does have a slight whistle when he says words with "S" in them sometimes, but it's more cute than annoying. :)

Can Still Eat Bread, Even Without Tooth

Who will lose the next tooth? I really hope it's Will. Silly 5-and-a-half-year-old doesn't seem to have a loose tooth on him. As long as they don't knock them out, I'm a happy mom.

I wonder if Will is interested in the monetary gain of trading teeth to the Tooth Fairy...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Will as the Grammar Police

It seems that in addition to reading, Will has taken it upon himself to correct grammar. One day, after I picked him up from school early, we went back to my office so that I could wrap up some work. I gave him my calendar and my markers. He did some normal things, such as drawing a picture of him and Alex celebrating Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving and he wrote the month numbers on the little months at the bottom of the calendar. I'm not sure why it looks like July and August are exploding with blue suns, but I'm sure there is a reason. He also wrote "Dec" in green after the last day of November on the calendar grid. So I think it's safe to say he understands calendars and dates.

The remaining question is, "What are all of those orange lines?"

If you look closely, you will see that they all originate from the text "with 's"

The original one points to the 29th where I had written "Read Will Class" My intention was basically "Read - Will's Class" I also had "Read Alex Class." Will decided that it should be, "Read with Will's Class" and "Read with Alex's Class" so he wrote the "with 's" and drew lines to every calendar event where the reading events were mis-labeled.

The end result - when I look at my calendar and realize it is the day to go listen to Will and his classmates or Alex and his classmates read to me, I get the message grammatically.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Happy Pottery Anniversary to Us!

November 16 marked our 9th anniversary. According to the list of traditional anniversary gifts, this one requires a gift of pottery. According to the fact that we have children, out time is not usually our own. (We did get away to Chicago back in July while leaving the kids camping in Michigan with Grandpa and Grandma, don't worry, we have some time to our selves.)

Given the pottery and children combination, the natural conclusion is that we should go to an overpriced pottery 'studio' and paint some pottery. Also, as we just implemented an allowance system, we convinced the boys that their overpriced pottery should be practical piggy banks.

Will, being Will, took this interpretation literally. He got a pig-shaped piggy bank. Alex, on the other hand, got a penguin bank. Will was thoughtful about his choice, and picked the more expensive overpriced piggy bank because, "it will hold more coins!"

Will the Serious Artist

Painting the Penguin Bank

Unfired Painted Pottery

The boys wanted to take the banks home that day, but had to wait a week so that they could be fired. This is how they turned out...

Will's Japanese Picture Pose Required due to presence of cute piggy bank
Alex is taking the stance, I've got a penguin bank, can you dig it?

So next anniversary is the "tin/aluminum" anniversary? Any suggestions? I've already told Dan that he can abandon the traditional gift theme for the modern one. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Spoiled Little Bookworm

For all of your bookworms out there, do you remember bedtime? The time of the day where you would sneak a book into your bed, hidden out of sight until your parents left the room? For those of you who were super sneaky, perhaps a flashlight would accompany this book to assist with the reading under the covers?
As a kid, I didn't think my parents knew that I would read when I was supposed to be sleeping. As a parent, I'm just relieved at night when the kids are quiet and in bed. They could be plotting to paint the outside of the house purple with yellow polka dots for all I care, as long as they are quiet! Perhaps my parents were aware of nighttime reading, but just glad for some peace and quiet. In any case, Will learned to read, and read well, during 2011. And since Alex has given up naps, needs to get in bed early-ish, and refuses to stay in bed unless Will is in the room with him, we have developed a compromise. Will is required to be in bed at the same time as Alex. Once Alex is asleep, he gets his brand-new-early-Christmas-present booklight.

Reading in Bed with his 34 animals
(that's what happens when you avoid attachment to any one item)

No more squinting in the dark trying to read by the hall light! Now he just needs a little pocket to attach to his bed to store the booklight. That way, he won't have to bother us when he is done reading, thus maintaining our peace and quite into the night.

Alex the Fashion-ista

Alex is a California boy. A California boy with specific fashion demands. For example, he will only wear shorts. And he is very specific about his shirts. This started about a year ago when we had his dresser drawers organized into:

Top: Socks, Underwear, Pajamas
Middle: Shirts
Bottom: Pants

We noticed that Alex would complain about specific shirts. "That is a bad shirt!" After a while, we asked him to help us separate the good shirts from the bad shirts. This helped with the process of getting dressed in the morning as we didn't have to search through a drawer to find one of the "good shirts." It turns out that "good shirts" are defined as t-shirts, short sleeves, no collar, no buttons. So we created two different shirt drawers, one for good shirts and one for bad shirts. We were hoping that it was a phase and that he would go back to wearing all of his shirts, not just specific ones. But it was not. Come to think of it, I should probably empty out the bad shirt drawer and use it for something else.

So normally, you find Alex wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Although, sometimes, he gets a little creative and goes aqua-steam-punk on us.

Huntington Appropriate Attire?


Now that Alex has given up napping during the day, getting dressed in the morning has become a bit more challenging because he just doesn't wake up quickly from his deep nighttime sleep. So, we have solved the dressing issue in another way. We dress him for the next day the evening before. Yeah, so we don't really need a place for jammies anymore either.

Back to the shorts versus pants issue... we just took a short vacation to Colorado a couple of weeks ago. I was genuinely worried that we wouldn't be able to convince Alex to wear anything other than shorts. However, by combining the fact that we didn't pack very many shorts with the practice of dressing him the night before, we managed to get him into pants for his trek at higher altitudes. He probably didn't realize how much more fun wearing pants made the throwing of snow balls on Pike's peak. And, thankfully, he wore the coat we brought along too.

Crossing the Stream with Dad

Timely moral of the story: Should you decided that you need to get Alex clothes for Christmas or his Birthday or anytime in the near future... It's going to have to be shorts and t-shirts for now. We tried, we really tried, to get him to wear the long-sleeved t-shirts that Grandma and Grandpa sent to him (since they don't sell short sleeves in the winter in Michigan). He made an effort, pushed the sleeves as close to his shoulders as he could, but they just didn't stay.

Perhaps it's a phase...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Building a Dam

When I was a kid, we had quite the area to play. At mom's house, our yard was at least an acre. We had a large pond stocked with fish over in the side yard. We had a field behind our house and could hike back to a stream in the woods. At dad's house, we had hills in the yard, a huge field behind the house where we could hike back to the "rock stop" on the way to the stream back there.

My kids? They aren't exposed to quite enough nature, in my opinion. This is ok as we love our house and love Southern California weather and love our jobs here. So, when it comes to building dams to stop streams of water, they make do in our backyard. Our backyard has some grass, but is mostly concrete as it is the result of the driveway coming from the street, past the east side of our house, then around the back to the garage which is on the west side of our property. This is a great space for our merry-go-round, more recently our little pool, and creating dams where the water runs down from the higher part of the concrete yard down the drain that ultimately ends up in the street.

The scraps of wood are leftovers from the re-build of the merry-go-round. I gave them to the kids after hearing myself repeat for the 100th time, "Leave the sand in the sandbox!" However, they still don't leave the sand in the sandbox, because the wooden pieces seem to need sand mortar to help stop the water.

Disadvantage: We have to buy more sand, yet again, for the sandbox.

Advantage: If I need to get something done in the house, all I have to do is turn on the hose for a couple of minutes, and they are entertained for quite a while.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Blankie - Surviving the Night

It finally happened. Alex accidentally left his precious blue blankie at school. You see, sometimes he actually naps at school and needs it to sleep with. We didn't realize, until it was bedtime, that the blankie had been left. And we know that nobody messes with Alex's blankie when it is time to sleep.

Alex finds the blanket very comforting...

...when needing eyebrow stitches social situations

...while picnicking at The Huntington

...when his geeky parents make him watch a rocket launch at 4am

...when attending the tour of California bicycle race

Alex even prefers it over hugs of his brother for comfort.
So, what did we do Thursday night, the night of no blankie? Well, we made a big production of looking everywhere for the blankie. We explained things to Alex when he suggested that we go back to school to get it, letting him know that school was closed and we didn't have a key and none of his teachers were there. We even offered him his original blankie, which he also would stick in his mouth for sleeping...

At a wedding in NYC

Much to our surprise, Alex accepted these efforts. We got him cuddled in a nest of other blankets and pillows and he fell asleep. However, he did wake up at 3:30am, not terribly happy, but went back to bed after about having about 4 different demands fulfilled. We were very glad that the next day, he found his blankie at school and brought it home.

Now you may wonder, why haven't we weaned Alex of his blankie? Certainty if Alex had a habit of sucking his thumb, using a pacifier, or carrying an animal everywhere with him, we would implement some sort of training regimen, right? I mean, we don't even take the kids places in strollers anymore or give them sippy cups, right? Why not figure out a way to get rid of this remnant from being a baby, nursing on a blanket?

The reason is simply sleep. Sure, he probably doesn't need the blanket anymore for sleep, but, Alex was such a good sleeper and great at self soothing (or blankie soothing, that Dan and I felt almost like real people that first year after he was born. We got a slightly adequate amount of sleep. This is in contract to the Will year where he didn't sleep through the night, any of the nights, until he was 9 months old. So, if Alex wants his blankie, it is his reward for being an excellent sleeper in those early months. It is indeed something priceless.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Snow Sledding Fail

One of the great things about Southern California is that we have access to both the beach and the mountains. It is possible to surf and ski on the same day. Of course, we don't surf or ski, but we do like sledding.

Last Year
Last year, on February 14, we headed up to Mt. Baldy, which is about an hour and a half drive from our house. The traffic up the mountain was pretty bad since there was both snow and some sort of traffic accident. It took so long that the boys fell asleep in the car on the way there. They conked out as we started the ascent up the mountain. Thin air, I guess.

Once we finally got there, the boys were in a good mood and had fun sledding. Well, Will immensely enjoyed the sledding. However, Alex could not be persuaded to play. We took him on a couple of runs, but he really wasn't into it.

Bundled Will Enjoying Sledding

This Year

This year, we waited until March 19. It had snowed two weeks prior and rain was in our local forecast, so I thought that there would be snow. However, were mostly rocks on the mountain, nearly covered with snow.

A tiny bit of Snow

We built a tiny, very dirty, snowman.

Will's New Catch Phrase, "That was not fun!"

Alternative Sledding
Fortunately, as we live in temperate weather, many of the schools host a Snow Day, our school being one of these.

Alex Dominating the Playground Snowball Fight

The Biggest Snowball!

Will Loving the Sled Run

Next year we plan to head up earlier. Or at least better track the snow availability. Mt. Baldy is a great location, it costs $5 to get an Adventure Pass allowing you to park on the side of the road. There is a nice, open space about 1,000 feet downhill of the ski area parking lot. Lots of long, gradual slopes, perfect for the little ones. And, as they get bigger, there are other slopes available right around there. You just need to wait until the rocks get covered by more than half an inch of snow.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

First Day of "Kindergarten"

At the beginning of January, Will made the transition from his pre-school level class to the next level. It's sort of like Kindergarten. The 12 kids in his class are focusing on improving their handwriting and letter formation so that they will be ready for cursive. They write sentences in their journals. They add and subtract numbers. They improve their reading skills. So, even though the names of the classes at our school are atypical, I declare Will's first day of Kindergarten to be January 3, 2011.

Here are the boys being goofy at home. Will is dressed in his school uniform, a school logo shirt and dress pants. He even has a PE class uniform of sweats and school tshirt.

And here is the fantastic, artfully posed picture of Will going into his school on his first day...
Alex also got to move up from the Toddler level to the class that Will had just vacated. So while some of Will's friends didn't move up, they had Alex to take his place, making the transition just a little smoother. :) Alex is currently working on writing words, since it is easier to create something than it is to interpret an unknown (reading). He also enjoys writing his name, although because there is another Alex in his class, he believes his name is "Alex K," not just "Alex." His academic focus is on beginning word sounds. His developmental focus is on 'using his words' when he gets mad. He is doing ok with these objectives. He also seems to think that he is too old to nap at school, so ends up in bed early in the evening most days.

Both boys love their classes and have great friends. They love the music class, art work, and Spanish curriculum. And soon it will be warm enough to do swimming.

Congratulations to both boys on their advancement in education. Now if I could only convince Will that he needs to go to college when he grows up instead of his plan to "Be an artist and live at home," we will be good.
Happy Birthday to Alex!

Four posts in all of 2010 to the blog?! That is crazy. I must remedy this by posting about many things. I will post a bunch of stuff, then go back and make edits as necessary. To start, since I don't think I have actually posted about Alex's birthday individually, here is the Happy Birthday post...

Happy 3rd Birthday, Alex!

Turtle Cake!

Months and months ago, Alex declared that he wanted his 3 birthday to be a turtle birthday party with a turtle cake. I didn't think this was a big deal, turtles sound simple, right? But, oddly, there aren't a lot of turtle birthday party supplies out there. Sure, you can go with a general ocean theme, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (where to even start explaining that one?) The bakery that we got Will's Blue's Clue cake from didn't really even have any turtle designs. Of course, I was actually relieved to hear this given that Will's special and delicious cake cost a fortune.

So how did the above Turtle Cake come to exist? It took shopping at two different places, Toys R Us for the turtle and Costco for the cake. For under $20 total, enough cake to feed a bunch of people and a turtle to make Alex happy.

Turtle Party Bags!
We managed to assemble some Party Bags full of turtle goodies. We make it a habit to purchase our party bag supplies from Oriental Trading as they have fun activities at bulk prices. The bags themselves? We have tried Oriental Trading and Party City in the past, but the best deal is to buy either white or colored paper lunch bags from Target. They are super cheap and don't suffer from defects like the others seem to. Probably because they have to hold up to carrying a lunch for a kid. Add in a roll of stickers from Oriental Trading and you have nifty party bags. What kind of turtle goodies? Mostly art activities. While it is easy to fill the bags with candy, as a parent, I really appreciate it when there isn't candy in a party bag.

Turtle Activities!
We only had one turtle activity which was a turtle craft where you use stickers as a mosaic to decorate a picture of a turtle shell. So far, at the age the kids are currently, they don't need organized activities. Sure, we had the trains out and the toy cars with the rug that has roads on it, but we were depending on the novelty of the merry-go-round and the fact that kids can make their own fun. Then, a couple of weeks before the party, the merry-go-round met its demise after 2 and a half years of happy spinning. So we got a bouncy house.

A bouncy house!?
I am anti-bouncy house. Not that I have anything against them in terms of kids using them and having fun. Rather, that they are a big to-do and they are part of the cause of kids' inflated expectations of birthday parties.
This inflated expectation of birthday parties leads to kids thinking that they need a bouncy house, a person dressed up as a super hero or princess, an ice cream truck, a balloon artist, a pony, a petting zoo, or other crazy stuff in order to have fun with their friends. So I told myself that I would never get a bouncy house for a party. But, we ended up with a bouncy house. It was the perfect size for the party, we got to borrow it from friends, and the kids loved it.

All in all, Alex's birthday party was quite successful. Except for the part where I don't have very many pictures of it. Poor second child!

So, here is a picture from around the time of his birthday party to document his appearance as a three year old. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Only in Los Angeles

The Boys and I managed all of the following in one day:
  • Drove Surface Streets to get to the Miracle Mile District

  • Arrived Fashionably Late for an Event

  • Went to the Beverly Center Because Social Media told us to

  • Will was Recognized for 'who' he was wearing while on a red-ish carpet

  • Won a Fabulous Prize

  • Met Celebrities and took Pictures with them

  • Boys got SWAG Bags

  • Strangers recognized and commented on my TV show-related t-shirt

  • Managed the Return Traffic down La Cienega Blvd and the Expressway

So what did we do?

Because we are members of the Natural History Museum, we knew that President's Day had a special event at the Page Museum near the La Brea Tar Pits. They have a realistic, 2-person-sized "puppet" of a Saber Toothed Cat. The traffic wasn't bad, but the iPhone told us to surface streets to get to Miracle Mile. We drove La Cienega past Rodeo to Jefferson then up Hauser Blvd.

This caused us to arrive fashionably late for our reservation, about 5 minutes. I opted to pay the extra cost to park in the Tar Pit Parking Lot, but alas, it was completely full. Cars filled the street parking too. So, we parked 'next door' at LACMA. By the time we got back to the tar pits, we were half an hour late. So, no Saber Toothed Cat to view. However, we did get to skip the line and use our membership status to explore inside the Page Museum, working to pull things out of tar and watching the coin donation pennies spinning around their funnel before falling into the collection hole. While we were looking at the exhibits, we did see the Saber Tooth Cat puppet go rolling by in it's crate. I think Will jumped when he saw it. So, prior to actually seeing the Ice Age Encounters exhibit, we are going to try to gradually ease Will into the idea of seeing a giant Saber Tooth Cat.

On the way back to the car, we wandered around and thru LACMA. I introduced the boys to Calder sculptures and Alex seemed excited that they were made by a guy named Alex. I also tried to get them to start recognizing Matisse cut outs, but there was only one example in the area where we were.

Next Stop - The Beverly Center. Because I am a fan, on Facebook, of The Imagination Movers, I get updates from their feed. It told me that for President's Day, they would be at the Beverly Center in the Sony Store. It was only a few blocks from the Tar Pits, so we went.

At the Beverly Center, there was a line to take a picture with the Imagination Movers. The redish-carpet line wasn't too long, but the guy helping out with the line and passing out the scratch and win discount cards did comment about how Will was wearing his Imagination Mover's t-shirt. Back in December of 2009 I took Will to an Imagination Mover's Concert downtown where he acquired the t-shirt.

Now Will thinks that his t-shirt was lucky and may have caused the scratch and win card to reveal the fabulous prize of a 14 mega-pixel Sony Cyber-shot camera.

After standing in line a reasonable amount of time, we got to talk to and take pictures with celebrities! Of course, standing in line around 4 in the afternoon is not something Alex was up for after not napping, so he sat on my shoulders while we were in line, finding great pleasure in mixing and tangling my hair with his hands. By the time we were inside, it was quite crazy and I told Mover Rich that I was having a bad hair day and perhaps I could get some advice from Scott. He commented that they all knew something about bad hair days. Now that I look at the picture, I see that Rich was indeed the one having kind of a sticking up hair issue.

I snapped some shots with my iPhone, which it turns out, has exactly the same case as Mover Dave's iPhone, which he had on him. I guess there are a lot of pockets on those jump suits.

The boys scored SWAG bags with nifty Movers' silly bandz, coloring books, temporary tattoos, and balloons.

Then on the way back to the car, the people in the elevator commented on my shirt, recognized the TV Show it references, and went to their car singing the song.

All in all, a great way to spend President's Day, although not very Presidential. But, it's not like we live in DC, we live in LA!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Year, New Hair

During 2010, I grew my hair longer. Which, of course, meant that I spent most of 2010 with 'transition' hair. Fortunately, my hair is now long enough to pull back in a pony tail which makes it more manageable than the sticking out at the sides 'transition' style.

Here is a family picture from the Fall at the Wilderness Park. Because the kids live in a suburb of Los Angeles, sometimes we have to take them to dedicated parks to expose them to nature.

Kroboths among well-groomed 'wilderness'

I was even able to wear my hair in an 'up do' for the first time in a long time. I did express my concerns to my stylist as to whether an 'up do' was even appropriate for my age or if it would be too prom-night-was-more-than-a-decade-ago. She reassured me that it would be ok.

Well-groomed Kroboths

You may notice that I am slouching and trying to move my feet apart as much as possible in order not to tower over Dan here. It's a funny story...

I needed dress shoes to wear with my shiny dress. I had to wear the shiny dress because the company Holiday Party was being held at the Hollywood Magic Castle. So, the morning of the event, I went shopping. As Dan was at work, I took the kids to Nordstrom's Rack with me. At Nordstrom's Rack, the shoe department displays one of each shoe on the shelf, then you take the shoe you are interested in to the desk and they find its match. So, the boys managed to behave well enough, even helping me to look for shiny silver or red shoes. Then, we found a great shoe, I tried it on, it fit, and we went to get its partner. Unfortunately, things were slow and we were in a hurry. I tried on the other shoe, it fit, and we quickly purchased them and left. I forgot to try on both shoes at the same time and realize that they made me about 6'2" tall. I kind of towered over Dan. Fortunately there were still 2 people at the work Holiday party who I was shorter than, Jeff and Matt. But I did spend most of the evening hanging onto Dan for balance and staying close to the walls of the Magic Castle. Fortunately many of the hallways throughout the castle were narrow (walls close by) and the stairways had (oddly-low) rails.

So in summary, longer hair, taller shoes.