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Journal Key:

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

11/29/12 (Thursday)

It gets dark so early now that it's full night when I pick Owen up. In the dark, we straggle along the parking lot, by the fence, Owen holding my hand and walking on all of the little balance beams in the parking spaces. I struggle through fallen leaves and branches. We get into the car and, at some point on our way to get Cara, Owen asks me, "Mommy, is it dark out?"

Today Big He-Man and Owen's transformer came with him in the car. Owen's been very enthusiastic about his transformer. "Transformer!" he exclaims. "MEET the eye!" He refuses to consider the idea that the slogan is actually "more than meets the eye."

Owen, He-Man, and the Transformer were having long discussions in the back seat. "Transformer," I heard He-Man ask, "do you meet the eye?"

Owen's answer to himself was "He meets the other transformers!"

11/30/12 (Friday)

This evening, after much juggling and dashing here and there, the kids and I went to the Key Club Carnival at North Brunswick High School. Cara was very excited; Owen was excited when we explained it to him but then would forget what we were doing and ask whether we were going home.

It was in the commons, in the middle of the high school, which has a sort of octagonal, recessed dance floor in the center. Around that there were tables with games and activities. The first thing we did was to get Cara a henna tattoo. While a girl drew a flower on her hand in henna, which comes out of a little paper cone like a thin stream of mud and then has to dry and flake off, leaving a brown stain underneath, Owen and I watched people. Then we all sat on the two steps down to the dance floor to watch kids playing musical chairs. We set off to play games but got stopped almost immediately when I decided that, yes, Cara could have her nails painted, complete with flowers, by some of my former students.

Owen and I stood around. One of the attractions promised by the brochures for this event was that Scooby Doo would be there. He certainly was. There was someone walking around in a very nice Scooby costume, and Owen was watching. I asked whether he wanted to see Scooby. He did. We went closer, but then Owen stopped and hid on my legs. We retreated. Owen wanted to go again. We got closer. I picked Owen up, and he hid on my shoulder. We retreated. "There's Scooby!" cried Owen a minute later. We went after Scooby again and I talked to Scooby, while Owen hid on my shoulder.

We played some games. There was a fishing game involving a magnet on a string and paper fish with paperclips taped to them. Owen, with me sort of helping maneuver the pole and the girl sort of maneuvering the fish, caught two. He got three tickets. He was delighted. They were a wonderful toy. After a bit one came off, and he was upset. We put them in his breast pocket, which made him happy. The kids tried bowling, which was fairly challenging but yielded prize tickets anyway. We tried a ring toss which was fairly challenging but yielded tickets anyway. Things mainly went like that for a while. I got to see several kids from the past few years. Cara went to the fortune-telling booth, in which two girls used a magic eight ball to answer a yes/no question. She couldn't come up with one, so I suggested "will I get to stay up late tonight?" Yes, she would.

There were a lot of prizes available, and we had about 32 tickets. Owen got two tiny rubber snakes. He was charmed by them. Cara eventually picked a tiny stuffed animal, and we tried to go back to the carnival. It was tough, because Owen was so busy playing with his snakes, making them talk to each other, making them fly, that he couldn't keep up. Cara stopped to play hula hoop for a bit, and he got to just play with the snakes. He liked putting them down my shirt. That was not my favorite part.

We all sat for a bit to watch some dancing, and then the evening was over. We went home, all up late and tired and overexcited and very happy.

12/1/12 (Saturday)

Today Mommy had a thing at school, so she left pretty early in the morning and I was on my own with the kids for a little while. We started the day off in Lazy Dad style by going through the drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts. We had a pleasant morning together, I managed to get the kids to eat some lunch, and then I packed all of our laundry into the car and all of our sleepover gear and headed down to Middletown.

Our house construction is pretty much done--all of the helical piers are placed outside and inside our house, and the inspector has come and approved the work--but we still have to wait for the contractor to come back and pour some new concrete into the holes in our basement floor. Until that happens, our washer and dryer remain unhooked and useless in the basement, which is why I had to take a lot of laundry with me.

We arrived around 1, and Grandpapa was still out doing some errands, so I got to listen while Grandmama attempted to read a story out of Owen's super hero book. He's at the stage where he's heard the stories so much that he really can't pay attention to them, so it was exciting.

Eventually the kids went off with the grandparents to Monmouth Museum, and I stayed behind in the house with laundry. I'll let Grandmama take over here.

Owen didn't want to leave the house to go to the museum; naturally, once we got there he had a blast - the helicopter remains a BIG hit, they have good puzzles and books, and he likes fishing plastic sea creatures out of the little pool and playing with them. On the other hand, he took one look at the big slide and went the other way.

We did have one moment of suspense: Cara escorted him into the big tree and helpfully hoisted him onto the first platform inside. He liked that, so they went higher and higher, until he could peer out at the tops of our heads. The higher they went, the more I began to worry about the return trip. Just for a moment, the little guy curled up in despair, but before he could begin to panic, big sister took over and hoisted him down, level by level, until he emerged triumphant at the bottom. Whew!

Both kids had such a good time, we didn't leave until they were turning out the lights. We'll be back.

12/2/12 (Sunday)

Owen was delicate when he returned home in the morning, and was upset that both his mother and father were trying to get chores done and weren't immediately ready to turn on the TV for him. I had the idea of taking the whole family out to do some further errands; but the kids were done running around for the weekend, so I went off myself and Ev held down the fort into lunch time.

By the time Owen woke up from his nap, Evelyn was out grocery shopping. When she came back and started to make dinner, I became useless and fell asleep on the couch. We had an interesting dinner, because Owen was clearly in the process of pooping while he was eating his dinner. These things happen, I guess. We had a very pink bath afterwards, because Owen chose two red color tablets to put into it. Then we had to have lots of "coffee," which is what goes in the little play teacups that we have.

Owen has been not listening to me. I have spoken to him about this. I explain very reasonably that when I ask him to do something, I want him to do it. So far, we've made little headway. I've resorted to the old practice we used to use with Cara, of counting to three. What happens is, I count to three and then make him do what I was asking him to do. Eventually this may have some effect on him.

12/3/12 (Monday)

"Mommy, do you know who is my favorite teacher?" Owen asked me, as we walked across the YBR parking lot last week.


"Miss Vina!"

This evening, I caught Miss Vina and asked him who his favorite teacher is. He got all shy and almost whispered, "Miss Vina!"

In the car, Owen read The Circus McGurkus. He had to bring it in to ABC to get Cara. Back at home, though, he got distracted by playing with his toys. The little armchair is upstairs near the train table, and he could climb into it but not out of it, so I was urgently summoned to rescue him at least half a dozen times. Cara and I tried moving the chair back, but he liked it where it was. I suspect some passive aggression.

After wailing loudly when I told him that the sugary cereal he'd found in the cabinet would be a treat after dinner rather than a snack right now, Owen sat down and ate a good dinner. Well, he ate a banana, some little peppers, some broccoli, and some cucumber. He also had a cup of milk, which his peppers kept getting dangerously close to. Then a pepper went in. I rescued it and let him eat it with his fork. So he ate all the rest with his fork, dipping his pepper and then his cucumber into his milk. I'm glad he didn't try that with the broccoli.

You'll be glad to hear, as I was, that Owen's building blocks are not evil. They are nice.

12/4/12 (Tuesday)

Owen asked me, in the car, "Mommy, is it dark?" When I said that, yes, it was, he announced that he wanted to see Christmas lights. The whole ride to Lindendeau and the whole way home, he told us about any Christmas lights he saw. He told us if he wasn't seeing any. When he did spot them, he was ecstatic.

"Mommy, I see Christmas lights! I see a Christmas house!" I crept us slowly past one house as he stammered and stuttered, seeing the tree, the house, Christmas, and, finally, lights. This was very exciting stuff. Cara and I tried to have a conversation, but he kept interrupting and it felt cruel to not share in his delight. I hope one evening I can take the kids out to walk the neighborhood and spectate.

12/5/12 (Wednesday)

Once again, Owen asked me whether it was dark before telling me all about the Christmas lights he was and was not seeing as we drove to pick up Cara. The first Christmas display that was put up on our route this year was a big inflatable Santa who's been in a yard near Lindeneau. Today, I was surprised to see that Santa wasn't up--actually, he was literally down! I waited to see what Owen's reaction would be.

"Oh my gosh!" he said. "Look, over the fence!" Then there was some incomprehensible babble, ending with, "Santa Claus is sleeping."

He continued his commentary as we drove home. I am pleased to be able to announce, though, some progress. "Mommy," he told me, "it's night-time." Perhaps he'll be able to notice that it's dark.

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