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Journal Key:

Green = Steve | George = navy | Janet = Purple | Evelyn = Black

8/25/11 (Thursday)

Poor Owen was very deeply unhappy this morning when he woke up, and he continued to be deeply unhappy while I changed and dressed him. He continued to be unhappy when we saw daddy and came downstairs, though there were brief moments in which he seemed to find that things were okay after all but then suddenly they just weren't anymore. The thing that finally set everything right: I started reading him a book.

When Cara and I got to YBR to pick him up, Miss Sandi told us how he just focuses right in on the books that the teachers read, clearly paying complete attention to the experience. Owen's other love, though, is animals. Miss Chava got him out of his bucket seat to send him home, but she broke his heart by trying to take away the cow and pig that he was holding. Screaming. Crying. Real tears. She let him go on holding them, and he came over, one in each hand, happy to be picked up. I told him his zebra was in the car. Did he want to go see his zebra? He shook his head. I tried all sorts of gambits, but eventually I had to just pry them from his grip and haul him away. In the kitchen, I tried to get a sippy out of his lunch box. In the end, he was appeased by being given a little tupperware container of goldfish crackers to carry.

The kids were hanging out upstairs while Owen's bath ran. Cara picked up the quart container we use to rinse hair, and she filled it for Owen to stick his hands in. She offered it to him, and he immediately grabbed it and started pouring it down his front! She was surprised. He was perfectly happy and continued to parade through the bedrooms, dripping.

8/27/11 (Saturday)

Yesterday I planned on leaving Owen with Grandmama while Cara and I went with Aunt Claire to pick raspberries, but Owen demonstrated, as I'd feared, that he can no longer be snuck out on. He determinedly stuck to me until we gave up and all went instead. It was tough, when we got there, to get him detached from my leg long enough for me to change into sneakers!

Mostly he and I hung around, but we did venture into the overgrown raspberry rows. I showed him a red berry on a bush and picked it for him. He ate it and quickly went back for more, ready to pluck food from nature and stuff it into his mouth. There weren't that many good ones within his reach, and I doubted his judgement, so I didn't let him do much. He ate a lot of raspberries, though!

Today Hurricane Irene is hitting us! We've all been inside all day. We have read books, had dance parties, and generally walked around banging on things. Everything outside is in the shed or tied down, and we have lots of emergency supplies. The fridge is full of water. The laundry is all done. The dishes are all clean. The bathtub is full of clean water that we're going to have to keep Owen out of tomorrow. Both kids have cordless night lights, which I bought them just Thursday, not realizing how handy they would be. Remembering the big storm that hit us in March of 2010, right after Owen came home, and the way the wind blew the trees around right outside our windows, we're going to have a camp-out downstairs. We've moved the mattresses from both of the beds down, and we figure we'll get Cara to sleep and then (we hope) move a still-sleeping Owen from his room.

8/28/11 (Sunday)

We all made it through the night! We carried Owen down and put him on the Elmo couch on his back, because that was how he had been sleeping in the crib. He was sort of noisy for a while, but then he settled down on his tummy. We all went to sleep, though Steve and I, at least, were up periodically. The power flickered. Owen had some more loud-ish periods, and he moved himself all the way off the Elmo couch and anded up a couple of feet away, still asleep. When we all got up, it was almost seven.

The stream out back is higher than we've ever seen it, and there are small branches and a lot of leaves down, but things seem to have slowed down out there. It's nine thirty, and we've had breakfast and now we're watching The Wizard of Oz. Owen, so far, likes the pigs at the beginning.

Sunday evening: It was a long staying-home day. Everyone has been enjoying having the mattresses downstairs, but soon we'll be moving them back up. The wind is pretty impressive out there, but it's otherwise a beautiful day. Some deer seem to have ridden out the storm down the back slope. There are still branches coming down.

One of the benchmarks that I couldn't check off at our last doctor visit was walking backwards. Well, he's spent a lot of time walking backwards today. He went backing off into the bathroom for no reason that we could discern. He did some backing up in the living room. He also scooted backwards on the mattresses.

It seems that the main area in which Owen is picking up new words is in referring to his books. He's saying "hen" for The Little Red Hen, but my favorite is one that has to be due to Steve. He's been looking at the Dr. Seuss alphabet book with Owen, and Owen seems to be calling it "abba."

I recall writing a lot about the frequency of Cara's "special events," so I figure it's fair to put this in. It's generally not that exciting when Owen poops, but we are very amused because one way we can tell he's working on something is that he puts his hands over his ears. There's a lot of speculation over what good that does him or what good he thinks it does him. Today, that wasn't enough. He tried the hands-on-the-ears thing, but he ended up in the living room, holding onto the couch and standing on one foot. That did it.

8/29/11 (Monday)

Tonight Cara had a dance class and went off with her mom. I stayed at home with Owen. Everyone else had already eaten dinner, but Owen had been to entranced by a Curious Buddies DVD that his sister had put on for him. He ended up having a sort of roaming dinner; I fed him yogurt and strawberries in the living room while he stood around watching the DVD. Then I went into the kitchen to get some meatballs for him, and he wandered in to pluck some off of the fork I gave him ("help!") and then he would give me back the fork and wander back to the TV to chew. Then back again for another forkful. Then we had to have little bunny crackers because Owen found the box ("munnnneeee!").

After that it was tub time. Owen followed me upstairs when I started filling up the tub, which made things easy. Every once in a while I like to fill my cupped hands with bath water and splash it on my face: "Aaahhh!" Owen thinks this is funny. He's become quite a little mimic so tonight he tried splashing water on his own face. He would dip his hands in the water, then clap them together, then smack his mouth with both hands. Then I would laugh at him, and then he would laugh. It was really wonderful.

Owen commanded me to read many books, then we switched out the lights and had the tiniest bit of milk. He is weaning himself off the milk, it seems, and was barely interested once the lights were out. It was quite a few minutes before Mommy and Cara returned home, but he somehow heard Mommy and started calling piteously for her from his room. I suggested she go in with the milk he hadn't finished. He was still not interested in his milk--he only wanted to cuddle.

8/30/11 (Tuesday)

One of my most vivid memories from Dr. Spock, whom I consulted far more frequently with Cara than Owen, is his description of parents desperate for their child to eat who end up putting on an elaborate performance in the attempt to coax the baby to take each mouthful. I was thinking of that tonight. One of our goals every night, it seems, is to keep Owen in his high chair longer than he wants to stay there. Tonight, for the first time, the three of us engaged in a dramatic reading of Ride a Purple Pelican while he sat and watched and didn't eat his chicken. It really was an accident; the book was on the table because he'd brought it upstairs when he came (belatedly) to dinner. He was probably just coming up to ask us to read it, but we shanghaied him. When he'd finished his grapes, he asked us to read. So we did. Because, as I hope is true in most families, sometimes the nineteen-month-old is in charge.

We didn't fail completely, though! When we finished reading, he wanted to get out. We reminded him of his chicken. He reminded us that he wanted nothing to do with it. We got him a fork. He took a bite from the fork. He handed the fork to Steve, saying "help!" Steve reloaded the fork. Owen ate all of his chicken like that and asked for more. He did rub some in his hair, but really it was a very civilized procedure.

For weeks I've been trying to figure out how to change Owen's bedtime routine so that he brushes his teeth, gets read some books, and goes to sleep, rather than hearing some books and then getting milk in a sippy before going to sleep. Two important things have happened. One is that my mother finally told me how to do it: start giving him water instead. The other is that Owen has really stopped being into his nightly milk. Those two circumstances gave me courage tonight.

First, I had to catch him in the middle of a really exciting game that consisted of him and Cara walking around upstairs while he held his light saber and laughed a lot. Finally, I sat him down in the bathroom. When we'd taken the cats to the vet the other day, there had been a show on that told me how to brush the cats' teeth. I'm not going to do that, but I was very glad to have had some instructions that I could apply to my adventures tonight! It said that I should start by putting toothpaste on my finger and getting him to let me put it in his mouth. I could move on, in a day or two, to using the brush. I should expect to put it in just for a couple of seconds the first time, gradually increasing the time over a period of weeks. I should accompany each session with a lot of petting and praise. I decided to skip the finger part. Owen wanted the brush himself, but he let me keep it and said "aah" when I asked him to. I moved the brush all around in his mouth, and I feel, given that my goal was to have it in there for just a few seconds, that we did very, very well. I sort of got to brush him. He likes the tooth paste. I let him have the brush at the end, and he enjoyed it considerably. Cara was horrified.

I read him three books, and then we turned off the lights and I gave him some water. He did drink about as much of that as he has of his milk lately, but I think we're on the road to giving it up. We snuggled for a few minutes, and then I put him down. He even rolled onto his tummy to get comfy.

8/31/11 (Wednesday)

Poor Owen is a shorn little sheep! Or, rather, Owen has a real big-boy haircut. Cara and I picked him up early and took him down to the mall in East Brunswick. He read his Dinosaur Opposites book in the stroller as we walked in, and he held onto it with both hands when I took him out of the stroller. He did not want to sit in a fire truck or a race car; he wanted Mommy to rescue him and his book, which did not leave either of his hands. However, we managed to get him into a seat and get a sheet over him. The woman who cut his hair this time really knew what she was doing! She used what seemed to be two different electric clippers, and she gave him a real haircut. She may have taken off an inch of hair. The entire process was traumatic for him; he desperately wanted me to take him and his book out of there. At the end, though, I finally picked him up, we got some of the little hairs off of him, Cara brushed off his book, and Cara got a lollipop. I gave Owen his sippy of milk, which helped to assuage his feelings or at least quiet him.

We went shoe shopping first, and Cara got to get her new sneakers (with real laces because she learned to tie a bow about three days ago) before we tried to do anything with Owen. When it was his turn, Cara fed him pieces of peach while I put his new shoes on him. The distraction really helped! The shoe shopping was as successful and far quieter than the haircut. By the end, he was wandering all over the store in his new shoes, with Cara keeping him from leaving entirely.

He was still covered with hair, so I stripped him to his diaper before I put him into the car.

Everyone played outside for a while before dinner. Owen's favorite part was walking up the slight slope of Juliana's front walk, turning around, and walking back down to the driveway. "Wheeeee!"

. . . . and, no, we didn't get a picture of him yet.

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