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Journal Key:

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

6/21/12 (Thursday)

It was very hot today. I wore shorts with drawstrings. I thought nothing of it until Owen was using them to pull me across YBR.

Poor Owen. Cara has started to read chapter books, and she's clearly got the family reading bug. When we got home, she agreed that, yes, she should play with Owen while I got dinner ready. It was a case of clear self-interest. "Yes, I'll play with him," she said. Then she kept reading while Owen brought me into the playroom. I promised him that Cara would play with him. She didn't come. I reminded her. She agreed. I went upstairs. Owen came after me in a few minutes. She was back at her book.

Later, after dinner, while I was cleaning up, Owen came up and I found him almost up to the bedrooms. "I'm looking for Cara," he told me. She was downstairs, with her book.

I made a terrible mistake a couple of weeks ago. When I was putting Owen down, I asked him whether he wanted "something else." Now, whenever we put him in the crib, he cries, "I want something else!" Just now he sounded very dramatic and desperate when Steve left him there. He has no idea what "something else" means. As soon as Steve closed the door, he was fine. He's playing up there by himself, perfectly happy.

6/22/12 (Friday)

Cara and I watched some old movies of her at a toddler this afternoon. It was sort of strange: in an hour of footage, she didn't head-butt anyone or fall into anyone even once!

6/23/12 (Saturday)

This afternoon we finally got our act together and took the kids out for some fun: we went to the North Brunswick Youth Sports Festival. It opens at three, and that's when we got there. I like to think of this as a trial run, so that we'll know how to do it next time. Getting there early was perfect. Next time, though, we won't waste money on getting Owen a wristband. Cara definitely gets a wristband. Being able to just jump onto any ride she wanted was exactly right for her.

Cara and I went on a ride where we sat in a car shaped like a giant dragon. Owen looked worried. Then Cara went on a small dragon rollercoaster. Owen occasionally claimed to want to go on these things, but generally he was just concerned. Later, he and I walked back by that second dragon ride, and he showed it to me. "Cara went on that. I was scared! Daddy said ok."

We found a ride about his speed. It was a tiny train, so small adults could not ride. It was peopled by medium-sized children taking their younger siblings. Cara was very happy to take Owen. I got him buckled in next to her. He could, if he scooted forward, reach the steering wheel. Off they went! It went around a lot of times. It went around a few more times than Owen would have liked.

Next to the train was the Spiderman jumpy thing. ("Mommy! It's Spiderman!!") Like some other medium-sized children who had just taken little ones on the train, Cara wanted to try it. In she went, to get buckled into a harness while we juggled with the camera and Owen and the money to pay. She stood on a big trampoline, attached to the ends of two big rubber bands. A man pulled on her legs to get her started; he had to do it a few times because she couldn't seem to jump very well somehow. She loved it, though.

Owen tended to claim he wanted to do things that he would not actually be allowed to do.

After that we split up. Owen and I looked at animals while Cara and Steve went on rides. We played the duck game, where you have to pick up a toy duck from the water and you win. Everyone wins. These ducks weren't even moving. The pool was full enough that they even all stayed in place. We (the lady and I) explained to him what he had to do. She showed him that there was a turtle one and a frog one. I demonstrated by picking up a duck. Finally, he felt ready. Still, there was indecision. I suggested that he go and get the turtle. He walked around the kiddie pool and got it. He won! We told him to put it back. He went over to where he'd found it and carefully replaced it. As a prize, he got to pick out a ball. When we walked away, he was going to put that back, too.

To get Owen out of the house, I'd promised him we were going to go and see goats. He does not forget these things, so I was lucky that when we did find the petting zoo it was full of goats. It was in a big tent with the animals behind rails, reaching out to be fed. Someone gave us a cup of food because they had half left, so I fed some goats, a llama, a lamb, a little cow, and who knows what else. Steve and Cara found us just as we were buying another cup of food. Owen had said that he wanted to feed the amamals. I had him put his hand in mine, flat, and I poured some food in. We held our hands out together, and the amamals ate the food! Owen fed a little cow, and he fed the Billy Goats Gruff.

We reversed our split-up, and Cara and I went on some rides. We visited some I went on as a teenager. She went on some that involved climbing and slides. Then she picked out this other one, the "Freak Out." As we boarded, the guy had us double-check her height. That was the first thing that made me think this was a bad idea. Then I had to lift her up into the seat. There were four banks of seats facing each other. The others had teenagers in them. One girl had taken her flip flops off. I patted Cara's hand reassuringly. It was all I could see of her around the giant safety bar, since her head didn't stick out the top. The ride started. We spun around while the entire apparatus swung at the end of a huge arm. We went higher and higher until we were basically upside-down. We slowed. We stopped. Then it started again. I managed to pat Cara's hand again, to let her know it'd be over soon. I saw her face. She was shrieking with glee. I closed my eyes. Eventually it ended.

I told her that Daddy would have to go with her next time. When I reported this to Steve, he explained that she'd asked him to take her on it earlier and he'd said no. After a few more rides and the animal show, she went on that one by herself and we left to have dinner.

After dinner, Cara and Steve went back for more rides. Owen and I went to see Juliana. We frolicked in the grass for a while, and then Owen and I had to walk around the house a few times. Boo, the dog next door, was barking up a storm at us. "Let's go see the doggy!" said Owen. Poor Boo. Owen walked right up to the fence to say hello.

We played with Owen's ball. It sat near the hedge for a while. Then, "I'm going to get the ball for you," Owen told me, "then I'm going to punch you." I'm not really sure what that was about. Later the ball rolled down the walk and across the driveway. I thought it would be a good amusement for Owen to send him after it. He trotted off dutifully but then he forgot about the ball completely because he found a puddle to stomp in. When we did get the ball back, Skeletor, who had also come, handed it to me, saying, "I am a bad woman!"

Juliana's cat was crying because she was outside, and she thought about bringing him out to meet Owen. Instead, we went inside. Baby (the cat) was fairly friendly until he realized just how much stomping Owen was going to do. How much? A lot. Owen did a lot of loud laps of Juliana's coffee table, growling and threatening and charging at me. "This is what tv does to you," remarked Juliana. Then, "He probably picks it up at school." I explained that Steve taught him everything he knows by playing with action figures with him.

That was one tired boy when I finally got him to bed.

6/24/12 (Sunday)

Today our exciting weekend continued, because we went to a baptism! Evelyn's friend from work, Nicole, has two daughters, Katie and Leah. Katie was the one getting baptized today, so we all went to church.

Now Owen has had very little opportunity to be taken anywhere where it is very important to be quiet. I myself have never had any conversations with him that involved the phrase "inside voice," and I haven't bothered to try to explain the concept to him. So things could have been a lot worse than they were. The church was prepared for little children, of course, and gave both of our kids clipboards with a little activity sheet. Owen spent quite a while busily "coloring" the sheet with his pencil, and admonishing me to help whenever I stopped doodling for a few seconds. He was rather confused by the crowd and the frequent songs and music, which kept him quiet. He only had one or two moments of loud comments, which hopefully were looked upon with amusement by the other parishioners.

Afterwards, there was a party back at the house. When we got there, it was almost exactly Owen's usual nap time, and he was asleep. We took him out and he woke up, so we carried on with a napless buddy. He was happy enough playing with the toys we brought inside. Then we got him all changed into a pair of trunks for the kiddie pool and sprinkler out back. Not surprisingly given his reactions at the festival yesterday, Owen was not terribly excited at the idea of getting wet, and mostly stayed away. He spent a lot of time sitting in the shade with me, messing with his He-Mans.

Going without your nap and then sitting out in the hot sun appears to be a bad combination. Owen was very unhappy by the afternoon, to the point that I just didn't know what to do with him. Eventually we sat down in a quiet part of the house and I tried to read a book to him. I suddenly realized that he was basically collapsing against me. He was out. We lugged him to the car and he slept on the drive home.

Owen was very delicate back at home, even a bit feverish, and it took a long time to get him even remotely back to normal. Because of his weird schedule today, Evelyn decided that he would stay up a little later and for expediency both the kids would have a bath together. Her co-bathing rule: Owen has to sit down as much as possible, so that in the event that Owen pees in the tub, Cara wouldn't know that it had happened.

6/25/12 (Monday)

Poor Owen was up at 3:30, feverish but far more pleasant than he had been the previous afternoon! We took some medicine, watched a He-Man, watched the end of Tangled, which turns out to be his favorite part, read a book, and went back to bed at 4:30. At five he called me. He had me straighten his blanket and let me go back to bed. At six he was crying, so I got him. I don't think he was awake; he slept on me until after seven.

The rest of the day was a lot like that. Owen and I were in physical contact for about 75% of his waking minutes. We spent a lot of those on the couch, but we also played guys and did some puzzles. He really loves his Spider Man puzzle. One thing that really complicated the day was that we found Fantasia on an actual tape and watched it on the VCR. Owen has decided that he really loves the Sorcerer's Apprentice, so we've been watching things on DVD, VCR, and Netflix, juggling three remotes, and doing a lot of really painful fast-forwarding and rewinding.

Cara was really a great help. When he seemed cheerful and independent, I went and took a shower. She brought him up to her room and played with him. When we needed something, she would get it. Before his nap, she sat in the glider with Owen and read three books to him. We couldn't have gotten through the day without her!

6/26/12 (Tuesday)

Owen and I had some special time together between one and two last night, but then I slept until eight (!) and he slept until nine!!! He woke up normal. Today was the official post-sick staying-home day. As is traditional, Cara and I are now very ready for Owen to return to school. We did a lot of playing with guys and reading books and falling onto pillows. We went outside for a little while. We were disappointed because Owen did not take a nap. I wasn't confident about the nap, since he'd slept so late, and I wanted to put him down later, but he decided he was finished with lunch before noon and actually agreed to go upstairs and read books and lie down! When it came to the actual point of being left in the crib, he was less pleased. He was not pleased for about half an hour, when I finally went and rescued him.

"I was calling for you," he explains. He did also, at least once, call for Batman.

6/27/12 (Wednesday)

Owen went back to YBR today for his only day there until next Thursday. We're very glad he did, because we have been reminded that we are entering a parenting era that I, for one, had forgotten about: the era in which the child makes strange, improbable hats at daycare and then wears them. I checked Owen's mailbox before we left, and in it there was a paper plate, painted yellow presumably by Owen, which had been cut to be sun-shaped and which was stapled to a construction-paper headband.

I was carrying Owen to the car, because he'd started to run another low-grade fever (not above 100) and was a little delicate. I asked Cara, since I was carrying the child and his lunch, to carry the papers and hat. She announced that she could do better than carry the hat, and she put it on. Of course, Owen immediately needed it. I put it on him, and he wore it to the car. I drove home and was somewhat surprised to see that it was still on his head when I got him out. He wore it over to show Juliana. He liked his hat.

It was playdate, and we ate outside. It is difficult to enforce the rule that no one can go on the swings when the grownups are eating and Owen is running loose. Both girls had to be told at least five times. Owen discovered some rocks (they're part of the landscaping; there are thousands of them) and brought them to me in triumph. One of them, it turned out, was the daddy rock. One was the mommy. They talked to each other. "I am turning around!"

It was late when we got home, and Owen got out his Spiderman puzzle. I tried hard to get him to leave it and come upstairs. I almost had him a couple of times, but he went back to it. Then Steve came down and said something that for some reason worked. Owen announced that he would "put it here!" and started to put his puzzle pieces into their box. We had to clean up, and then he would go up for his bath.

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