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Journal Key:

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

4/12/12 (Thursday)

Owen woke up cheery this morning. He wasn't even that difficult to dress. I got pants onto him first. "I'm done!" he declared. We reminded him about his shirt. While I was putting his shirt onto him, he amended his previous statement. "I not done, I'm finished!"

Steve commented yesterday on how well Owen was saying "buffalo." He'd been carrying around his little stuffed buffalo, and he had it out again this morning. He really does say "buffalo" well. By eight, however, he had somehow begun to insist that he was a cantaloupe. He said that well, too.

When Owen and I got home this evening, Steve and Cara were playing video games in the basement. "I'm here!" announced Owen. We joined them. The Elmo couch was spread out on the floor upside-down, and Owen discovered that it's a lot of fun to stand at the tall end and collapse head-first onto it.

After dinner, we had to say good-bye to Steve, who was leaving for New Mexico for the weekend. "Daddy going home," said Owen when he saw Steve putting his coat on. I told him Daddy was going on an airplane. That's the story I plan to use. Steve got some nice hugs from Cara and some sort-of ones from Owen.

We all went up when it was time for Owen's bath. Cara got out all of her old mermaid toys for him, and he was delighted to wave them around and spray us with water from their hair. Owen has been very attached to towels lately. There was one sitting in the living room for a few days, and he kept dragging it out to play with it. This evening, he took his towel and walked out when I wanted to read to him. I stayed put, so he came back. He tossed the towel to the ground, collapsed face-first on it, and claimed to be asleep. He did leave it there while I read to him, but he was very happy to have it in his crib when I said good-night.

4/13/12 (Friday)

My first 24 hours as a solo parent have been lovely. I woke up first this morning; I heard from Owen after I'd gotten the paper. He wanted Mommy. He got her. He wanted Daddy. Sorry, Daddy's on an airplane. "Just Mommy. Just Cara," Owen explained. Then we got through the morning just fine.

Owen was standing up in the front of storytime when we got there to pick him up in the afternoon. He did come running when he saw us. So did another, larger boy. He was saying something I couldn't quite hear. Then he took Cara by the hand and started to lead her off to the kitchenette. He just wanted a truck, he explained. He still had Cara by the hand. Owen was not happy. I thought we'd better be polite, so I let him lead Cara back into the main room, where the teachers removed him. Owen threw a fitwhen the boy took Cara and didn't let go of her.

Outside, we talked about it as Owen climbed down the stairs. "You were scared, right?" I asked him. "Yes, I scared for Beastman! I scared for Trapjaw!" He went on for a little while about all the He-Man figures for whom he had been concerned.

It was a beautiful day, and we went to the park. Owen got to see some dogs and refuse to touch them, and then we ran into Lucas and Leila from YBR, with their mom, whom I like very much. The four kids barely stopped running for the next hour or so. Lucas and Cara chased each other all over, while Leila and Owen mostly did the same thing. Owen would go running up to Leila or her mom, declaring "I'm right here! Me, Owen!"

There is a sort of net bridge made of chains for the kids to walk across, and Owen was fascinated by it. It's only a few inches off the ground, so after I helped him across once he decided that it would also be cool to walk on the ground, stepping between the chains. It took him a long time, but he got from one end to the other.

He also really liked running around on the ramps of the playground, especially if I would stand in one place and he could run out of sight and then run back. Leila was a little bit ahead of him (she's six months older), so he had a tough time keeping up sometimes. They met at the bottom of some stairs. "Follow me," she said. By the time he got to the top of the stairs, saying "Follow me, follow me!" as he climbed, she had run up to the top of the playground and was heading down a slide.

Owen hasn't been willing to go on slides at gymnastics, but he used to go on them at parks. This was his first time in a while, and he wasn't too sure about them. He did sit down at the top of one, and I stood nearby ready to catch him.

Me: Owen, want to slide to me?

Owen: No, you slide to me!

Me: ??

Owen: Sit my lap! (He helpfully pointed.) Right here.

I climbed up and put him in my lap and we slid. Leila goes down slides feet first on her tummy, and after a while Owen was doing the same thing. He was pretty pleased with himself.

It was well after six when we all decided to tear ourselves away. I made pizza and we sat around watching The Emperor's New Groove, which I admit I told Owen to call "The Llama Show." He likes the llama show; it was his first time. He got a very fast bath and a moderately fast book and went happily off to bed.

4/14/12 (Saturday)

Yesterday was Friday the 13th; we had our Friday the 13th this morning. Poor Owen woke up unhappy with pinkeye, so instead of gymnastics we went to the pediatrician. (That part was kind of ok with me.) Owen was really cranky while we got ready, though, and then in the waiting room he was miserable. He really wanted to "go through the door," and having to wait our turn wasn't fun. In the examining room he was miserable and ok by turns. Having gotten back there, finally, he really wanted to go through the door again.

It was almost eleven when we left. My theory was that Owen would be more pleasant if he ate something, so I planned on picking up lunch for the kids. Within five minutes, though, Owen was sound asleep. He slept while we bought gas, went to the drive-through window at the pharmacy (poor kid--he'd been really excited about going to the pharmacy when we left the doctor), and stopped at the drive-through at Wendy's, where I didn't even get him anything.

Anticipating something like this, I'd tried to bring everything we'd need for the day. With him still asleep, I took a long and leisurely drive down to Middletown. I generally feel that she deserves her privacy, but I have to add that while Owen was asleep Cara was horribly cranky in the car. It was so out of character that I really thought maybe she was sick.

When we got to my folks' house Owen woke up very unhappy. He'd had a 90-minute nap, but it was hard to wake up. He was unhappy on me outside, he was unhappy on me inside. He was more unhappy if I put him down. He was unhappy if anyone else came near us. One thing that seemed to make him feel better was when he peed; I knew that he'd done it because it soaked his pants and my favorite jeans. Then he was unhappy when I changed him. Then he was unhappy outside again and then inside again, and we put on Phineas and Ferb. Then he was quiet. Then Grandmama came downstairs and somehow he got up from where he'd been lying on top of me and was all ready to color, bright and cheery. He seemed to have switched it off, whatever it was, so I beat a retreat with Aunt Claire.

When we got back, hours later, the kids had been to two parks and done some art and had some dinner. Owen was in the bath. They were tired out and ready to go home. In the car, they were the opposite of this morning. Cara spent literally half of the drive reading books to Owen, including the entirity of Ride a Purple Pelican. At home we watched one episode of the What's New Scooby Doo dvd that I'd picked up before Cara and I took turns reading to him and put him to bed.

4/15/12 (Sunday)

We all slept (with some mild interruptions) until about quarter to eight this morning! Then we had some lazy time during which I read the newspaper in the living room while the kids watched TV. Owen started to mess with part of the paper, and I ignored him. When I looked down, I discovered that he'd shoved everything but the section I was reading under the loveseat. When I pulled it out, he busily pushed it back in.

One of my goals for the weekend was to work on Owen's manners. He should say he's sorry at appropriate times. Thank you would be nice. Asking nicely would also be a plus. Based on my observations, I believe that the following conversation took place at some time in the fairly recent past.

Someone: Owen, what's the magic word?

Owen: Please!

Someone: Yes!

Now, when I ask Owen what the magic word is or when I ask him to ask nicely for something, he says "please yes!"

Downstairs, Owen found Buster up in the bay window. He asked (please yes!) for help to get up. He stood at the window, which was open, calling, "Daddy, come over here!" "Daddy, come right here!" I reminded him that Daddy was in an airplane. "No," said Owen, "he's in a car!" Owen was surprised to discover that Buster had for some reason gotten down from the window.

Claire came up in the afternoon and we went to the park. Owen really enjoyed the swings more than he used to today. Next time, though, I'll make sure that I put him in facing the same way Cara is facing on her swing, no matter how far away she is or which set of leg holes is bigger. He also went down the big red twisty slide a few times by himself! After the first time he went backwards, as he had on Friday, and it really worked out because it made it easy for him to get off at the bottom.

It was a really nice day, but after running around and having the walk to and from the park, it felt hot. Cara wanted to go in a pool, but as a compromise we let her get in a swimsuit and run through the hose. I decided to let Owen try it, partly because I'd seen how enthusiastically he'd interacted with the dirt at the playground. He'd really rubbed his hands in it, but I was pretty sure a lot had gotten into his pants. I stripped him down outside, and Cara carried him through the water a couple of times. Unlike her, he thought it was too cold.

He went inside for a nice warm bath. I popped him into the tub while the water was running, and he rediscovered how much fun it is to play with the water as it comes out of the tap. I went to talk to Cara through her window, and I heard him calling me. I ran back and found that he'd turned on the shower! "It went on my head," he explained once I'd rescued him.

I cut up leftover pizza for Owen's dinner, and all he would eat was the crust and what was left on it. When I took a piece Cara wasn't eating and held it up for him, he was willing to take bites of that. There's one more parenting chore we won't be doing, I guess!

In between eating, Owen ran around with Stratos and Beastman. It was Stratos's birthday! Or my birthday. Or Owen's. Hard to tell. Maybe everyone's! Happy birthday!

4/16/12 (Monday)

Last night (or to be more exact, very early this morning) I finally returned to New Jersey and my family! I was happy to see everyone and handed out some souvenirs from my trip out west. Owen was amused momentarily by the airport-themed toys I got him. Soon enough it was time to get the kids all packed up and out to school. We got to show the teachers at YBR how over the weekend, while I was gone, Owen got pinkeye and scratched up part of his face falling on a fork.

When the kids got back home in the evening, Evelyn got out the sprinkler and they played in the water. Owen took his He-Man figures out in the water, too! He spent a lot of time telling people he was wet. We had a cookout and the kids moved out back to play with the water table while I worked at the grill. Putting Matchbox cars in water may be somewhat unusual, but it got the job done.

We ate outside. I don't know if Owen just happened to be hungry or was more interested because of the different location, but he chowed down very thoroughly. After dinner, Cara was squirting the hose again, but then the kids took a little ride on the wagon (we got a lot of warm-weather stuff out of the shed today!) and ended up at Juliana's house. "Juliana!" said Owen. He wanted to help her with everything she was doing. While the kids were messing around on her lawn, Cara decided to teach Owen how to do a forward roll. The first step is to put both your arms in the air, and Owen had that down pat. After that, he needed a little help.

For a while there, I was pretty popular with the little guy. But things have been leaning the other way for a while now, and now that I've been away for a few days, Owen is definitely a big fan of Mommy. He was reminded of this tonight when we got to the end of Hugless Douglas, and Douglas the bear got a big hug from his mommy. "I want Mommy!" Owen suddenly decided. He wanted Mommy to read him the book. Eventually he was convinced that it was okay for Daddy to keep reading.

4/17/12 (Tuesday)

They're having mulch delivered tomorrow at YBR, so theoretically Owen won't continue to be quite so filthy when he comes home. This is very exciting. Today, the backside of his little khaki shorts was basically coated in dirt. His calves had big patches of dirt. They cleaned his hands and face with a wipe, but he brought plenty of playground home with him.

He and I read a lot of books at ballet. Of course, we started with the one about the king. With the neigh-neigh. It's actually about Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig doing a sort of Connecticut yankee, but Owen's first thought is always of the king. He also found a good new book, a Winnie-the-Pooh Halloween flap book. Then there's the strange easy reader about a classroom guinea pig and Valentines Day. There were a few minutes left when we were done, and we spent them telling each other "happy birthday!" while Owen collapsed into my arms.

On the way home, we wondered what we'd have for dinner. "I have pizza," Owen told us. Cara and I were skeptical. When we got here, we discovered that it was leftover night. There was a piece of pizza for Owen, sure enough. I heated it up and handed it to him, and he sat there and attacked it like a grown-up.

After Owen's bath, we decided that Daddy would read to him. Owen wanted Babar! (Then he dropped Babar on his foot and was very unhappy for a bit.) I was down here in the living room when Steve called down to ask whether Owen had had his teeth brushed. No, he hadn't. He'd told Steve that I had brushed his teeth, given him his vitamins, and put his eye drops in. I had done none of those things. That is, this evening I had done none of them. In the past, I have. I suppose that in that way, the question may have been confusing. Of course, on Sunday Owen confidently told me that he'd seen Robin that morning and that she had played with him.

4/18/12 (Wednesday)

Today was a wonderful day at YBR: it was new mulch day! New mulch is great. You can roll in it. You can pick it up and shower it over your head. You can do that a LOT. Owen really celebrated new mulch day. When I arrived to pick him up, he was inside playing. Little bits of mulch and dust were all over his head, in his hair. The collar of his T-shirt was coated with brown dust. There were bits of mulch all over his clothes. "Wait until you see his jacket," the teachers told me. There was mulch inside the hood.

He smelled of mulch.

After I'd carried him around a little, my jacket was covered in mulch. When we got home, I left him outside with Cara, who read him a story while they sat on the wall, while I put my jacket into the laundry and got some groceries into the freezer. Then I carried him directly up to the bathtub, where I stripped him. Dirt came out of everything. I got a comb and worked a lot of it out of his hair. When he was as clean as that could get him, I took him out and put him into clean clothes for playdate. Everything he'd been wearing, along with the sweater I'd had on under my jacket, went into the washer.

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