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Journal Key:

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

5/17/12 (Thursday)

The kids were listening to a story outside at YBR this afternoon; I could see Owen's little head as he stood in the front of the group. He sat down without seeing me, and I got his lunchbox. I sat on a bench for the rest of the story; Owen was rapt. I noticed that all of the other kids were sitting on big outdoor toys but Owen was right down in the mulch. He had, the teachers said, started out on a toy, but that wasn't in the front. He likes mulch, though, and he likes books, so it all worked out.

We went to play outside at Juliana's, and some of her neighbors from the other side came over. There was a four-year-old girl, Gabby. She and Owen and I ended up sitting on our wall, saying "one, two, three, go!" and rolling balls down the hill. Gabby's went further than Owen's every time, and she was very excited to "win." Owen was also delighted because he was sure that he had also won. Sometimes he would walk down the hill to get his ball, but mostly she or I would bring it up to him. We worked on having him say "thank you." It's funny, he pronounces a lot of things very well, but 'thank you' is not one of them. It sounds like "wonk-uu." One time, he said, "wonk-uu, Miss Gabby" when she brought him his ball. It was really nice for the kids to get to play together; I'm sure we'll get to see her more often.

5/18/12 (Friday)

For family fun night, Evelyn took both kids out to a fire-truck-themed restaurant with some work friends! Owen did not eat much and was rather miserable. Afterwards, they went to Starbucks, where Owen was much happier to get to sit in a chair and eat some cake.

5/19/12 (Saturday)

We played outside a lot on Saturday morning. Owen has become a big fan of the (empty) sand table out back. It doesn't have any sand or water in it, but it does have a collection of old, rusted Hot Wheels cars and sand shovels. There is a little van that actually has "Super Van" written on the side. Owen has appropriated this name for a station wagon as well, which, after some discussion amongst ourselves, he changed to "Super Wagon."

Cara and Evelyn left a little before noon to see a movie, so Owen and I hung out at home. He actually ate some spaghetti with his fork for lunch! I was going to feed him, but he insisted on doing it himself, and he did pretty well.

In the afternoon, George came by and picked both kids up for a double sleepover!

Highlights of Owen's first visit to Atlantic Highlands:

At the sheltered bit of beach, he stood at the water's edge carefully tossing pebbles into it. Occasionally the water came up and kissed his feet, so he has officially dipped his toes in the ocean.

He loved dinner outdoors at Sissy's where there was a great deal to see: birds, boats, the umbrellas overhead. He kept pointing things out to us and narrating enthusiastically, although we were not sure what he was saying. He also demonstrated impressive skill in consuming an entire large glass of apple juice through a straw; he had the cup in his lap. To make his happiness complete, his meal came with potato chips. And he remained seated for the entire meal.

After supper we hiked up to the ice cream store, where Owen and I agreed that chocolate is best and shared a cup. It's good he had a bath later. Then we hiked back down to the playground. Owen broke stride at times to do a funky happy dance on the sidewalk, and once to embrace a lamp post in hopes, I think, of climbing it. At the playground he was unable to climb far up the slide, but he laughed out loud on the swings. By then the sun had almost set, and we headed for home.

Owen objected to the idea of a bath initially - I think it is in the Code of Conduct for 2-year-olds to put up some token resistance. But we still have plastic eggs in a basket by the tub, and as soon as I tossed one in, he was enthusiastic. Then Cara surprised us by deciding to join him - probably a good idea after the beach - and a good time was had by all. After the bath I read the little guy three stories, and Cara and I reprised our bedtime practice. As with the bath, he first objected, but the little guy really was tired, I'm sure, and the bed was full of familiar things, and down he lay.

5/20/12 (Sunday)

He must have been tired, because he slept through the night and at 7 a.m. he is sleeping still.

Ev and I drove down in the late morning and I eventually found the kids and Grandpapa at the park. We walked back and had some lunch, then took a walk. We had Owen in the stroller and he conveniently fell asleep. He of course also spent some time back at the house playing with his wrestler guys.

Back home it wasn't long before PJ and Casey came to visit (so their parents could have a date). The three older kids spent a lot of time up in Cara's room, but eventually they all came outside because Owen was out with the sand table again. The three older kids started playing tag, or something along those lines, and Owen tried running after them or running in circles. He ended up with a round, plastic sieve on his head and a little sand bucket in his hand. "Daddy," he said, "I go trick-or-treat!" I thought this was fantastic. I tried to expand on the role-playing by giving him Hot Wheels cars in his bucket as "candy," but nothing much came of that.

In the evening, Owen got his bath. He had been to the beach the night before and at a sandy part of the park in the morning. He had already dumped a lot of sand out of himself during a diaper change at Grandmama's house, but at bath time Evelyn collected enough sand out of his shoes to almost fill a teaspoon (she measured). It was impressive to see!

5/21/12 (Monday)

Owen has been demonstrating some impressive clinginess lately, spurring Grandmama to ask him whether he knows that second children are supposed to be more independent. Since he got up at 5:20 this morning, bright and early and ready to cling, I spent the day lamenting about it. Interesting insights: Em points out that he's sort of a second first child, since there's so much space between him and Cara. He kind of has two and a half parents to pay attention to him! Miss Grace adds that Early Intervention meant that he got even more individual attention. All of that made me feel better. However, I'm left with two thoughts. One, we have to try to convince him to stop his reign of terror. Two, spending all day complaining about your two-year-old is a great way to make sure he'll have a pleasant evening.

He was silly and goofy in the car. I'm pretty sure he was trying to tell me that Spider-Man is a bad guy. At ABC he said "Hi, Casey," while holding his nose. On the way back to the car, while Cara used her umbrella (overkill), Owen happily splashed in the puddles she was walking carefully around. He held her umbrella in the car. "Ba-NA-na," he said, thoughtfully. "This is ba-NA-na." Not quite.

At home, Cara and Owen went up to her room to play with the Polly Pockets. Cara came out to tell me that Owen had taken a dress, put it on top of a girl lampshade-style, and said, "That's a princess!" He came downstairs for a while and had some crackers in the kitchen while I worked on dinner, then he went upstairs to play some more. He was pleasant and agreeable at dinner, and when he finished (early, because of all those crackers), he went off to play by himself without whining. He had a nice bath, he got silly and did some roughhousing, and he's in bed making his little beanie baby pig fight with the bright yellow donkey toy Steve got when we were in college.

5/22/12 (Tuesday)

It was ballet day! Cara and I formed a SWAT team when we got to YBR; my job was to grab Owen while Cara grabbed his lunch box. We got in and out in record time. In the car, I made the mistake of talking to Cara about our weekend plans. I'm taking the kids out to Pennsylvania to see my aunt and uncle and their new house for the first time, and we'll be seeing lots of farm animals. When we got to ballet I decided to take Owen for a walk instead of going right in to read. He was excited about taking a walk: we'd just been talking about cows, so surely we were going to go and see one!

Fortunately, squirrels and birds were a good enough substitute. It's been over a month since we last took a walk, but I was surprised to see that Owen seemed to be a lot tougher this time. He went farther than we'd done before, and he went faster. Much of the time he insisted on going first. Sometimes he'd say "Let's run!" and then run for a while. (I'd pretend to be running when he looked back.)

For the first time, we got almost all the way to Milltown Road. There's a United Way building, and we turned in to explore their sidewalk. They had some nice stairs to go up and down, and there was also a ramp! It wasn't what I would call a really awesome ramp, but it was good enough. It had a railing around it, and Owen liked to run up to the top and stand at the bars, saying "I'm stuck!" Then he'd sit down and scoot out under. We played there for a while before we turned around.

I did have to carry him part of the way back.

Steve had dinner ready when we got home. There was broccoli! Owen does seem to like to eat trees, but he also had a hot dog bun and found that more engaging. I didn't think it would be as funny as it turned out to be when I started making my hand walk on two fingers over to his plate to steat his broccoli; he absolutely cracked up every time. Then he ate some broccoli. I was relieved that he didn't choke himself. He ate a good helping of it, and, at the end, he generously gave my hand a little piece.

5/23/12 (Wednesday)

Evelyn picked up Owen first this afternoon, and on the way to get Cara, he started to talk about Snow White. We're not sure what made him think of it--we haven't watched the movie lately. But he pointed out that the Queen is bad. When asked, he avowed that he was bad also: "Like a monster," he said, putting his hands up by his eyes like threatening claws. He looks so cute when he makes these claims that it's somewhat hard to take them seriously.

It was playdate night at our house. At dinner, I asked Owen what he had done that day. I don't usually expect much of an answer from this: it's more of a nightly custom. But he had a very long story, beginning with "I played with," and continuing on for a while, of which I unfortunately understood only the beginning.

After eating, the kids wanted to play ball. At first they were doing it in the house, but when it looked like they were aiming the ball to land right in the dinner dishes, Evelyn suggested they move it outside. After some indecision, Owen decided he also wanted to go outside; but since he can't really throw or catch a ball, he was left standing there with a hopeful expression on his face. Fortunately Juliana was nearby, and took him for a short walk along the sidewalk.

I took him back inside, and he eventually took me into the living room, where he started talking about Snow White again. It was bath time, so we couldn't exactly start the movie; but we have the Disney version in Little Golden Book form, which Evelyn found for us, and I read it to him quickly while his bath was filling up. We read it again at bedtime, after which he pointed at the front cover and asked me to read it yet again. After we were done, he wanted me to read it yet another time, at which point I balked and we read something else.

To go back to the bath: I brought him some Playmobil people, who spent the whole bath chattering to each other in little Owen voices, and having all sorts of adventures, most of which centered around jumping into the tub. While this was happening, I noticed that he had a red mark along his arm. "Did you get hurt?" I asked. "Uh-huh."

Daddy: What hurt you?

Owen: Da mulch. Da mulch.

Daddy: The mulch?

Owen: Uh-huh.

Daddy: You mean you fell? What did you fall off of? Or did you just fall over?

Owen: [something something] bench.

Daddy: You fell off a bench?

Owen: Uh-huh. [Looking at me very seriously] I was crying. Like a baby. Like this! [Simulates crying]

Daddy: Yes, I know what it sounds like.

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