Wednesday, August 31, 2011

That's one thing I love: all the boys, boys, boys, boys!

Apologies for the butchering of a Grinch quotation for the title, especially when this post isn't even Dr Seuss related, but I am writing about boys. Specifically, I'm writing about James Dobson's book, Bringing Up Boys. My wonderful husband gave me Dobson's book for Mother's Day this year after some broad hinting on my part. I've been spending the last few months reading a chapter here and there and praying. Lots of praying. Why the praying, you may ask? Because Dobson's book was heavy on the statistics, and I am easily freaked out in my current pregnant state. I love my little man (and my big one), and I really want to be the best parent possible, and raising a boy right now is not the easiest thing in the world. So, my initial reaction to Dobson's book was mild paranoia. With that said, I found it extremely informational and challenging...and somewhat encouraging as well.

Let me be honest and say that I didn't quite know what to expect going into Bringing Up Boys. Most of the parenting books I've read have been super encouraging and presented lots of parenting tips and the occasional heart warming story. Dobson's book was much more statistically driven and seemed to be geared specifically towards opening eyes to the difficulty of raising boys in our present culture. He does give some good parenting suggestions (especially toward the end of the book), but the majority of the chapters served primarily to warn parents against the dangers of passing off the job of parenting to someone else. If I could sum up the book's message, it would sound something like: "Man up, and parent!" And I think that's a legitimate message.

Many of us are so scared to parent that we just don't. We don't discipline because we don't want to hurt our children's fragile feelings. We don't invest time in our kids because we're too busy working extra shifts so we can give them everything they could ever want. We don't closely monitor our kids because we don't ever want to invade their privacy. We don't parent. But the truth is that our kids need parenting more than ever. They are bombarded by a growing number of negative influences every day. And they are desperately searching for something, someone to help them navigate the waters of an increasingly hostile world. I'm hoping to take Dobson's challenge and be the best parent I can be to my little man...and his coming little brother. And I hope that you will keep me accountable to do so.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Dog Days

The Dog Deal was ratified, and we now have a new member of the family: Trigger. Alex and Josh are ecstatic. See photographic evidence below.

And yes, I recognize that's not the best picture of the dog, but Little Man's face was just priceless. Eventually, I'll get around to taking a better photo, but this will do for the present.

So far, I feel like dog ownership is like having another toddler. Our newest addition isn't house trained yet, and we've been spending a lot of time cleaning up dog messes and dragging said dog in and out of the house in a vain attempt to get him to go in the yard. Thankfully, tomorrow we get the fence put up, and he can start spending unsupervised and unleashed time not in the house. That being said, he's great with Littles, and he and the cat seem to be tolerating each other. At least for now. Open war will soon be declared because Trigger has started absconding with Oswald's food bowl. The question is: who will win the epic battle of feline versus canine?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I used to go walking. Then for a while I was going stroller-reading (you can read about that here). Now, I go "dogging" with Little Man. Let me explain.

Littles has a new obsession: dogs. His first words to me upon waking are "dog" and "woof". He spends most of breakfast pointing towards our neighbor's house and emphatically demanding to see their husky. Then, when we go for our morning walk, he entertains himself by pointing excitedly at every house with a fence and barking. He gets upset if my walking route doesn't yield enough dog-watching opportunities. No lie. Consequently, I can, two and a half weeks in, draw a map of our neighborhood based on who does and does not own a dog. Also, I am currently cutting a deal with Josh, who has long asked for a canine companion, in order to regain some personal peace of mind. To be simple: Littles has worn me down. And I concede defeat.

Let me be honest, I'm not typically the mother who gives their child everything he/she wants. I have endured my fair share of tantrums. But it's not that Littles is being bad in this regard...he's just frighteningly persistent. And I've found myself going to bed at night when all I can hear going through my brain is "dog! dog! dog!" and "woof! woof! woo-woof!" It's like spending all day driving and when you close your eyes at the end of the day, you still see the road and steering wheel in front of you, and your mind is fabricating cars to pass, and your foot can almost feel the imprint of the gas petal. It's like that, but with a one year old's excitable squeals reverberating in my mind. So today I sat back and asked myself why I was being so resistant about getting a dog (other than the fact that I'm pregnant and dogs and kids are tiring) and what my goals were for Littles anyway. And I realized that, while of course I don't want to give him everything he wants in life just because he wants it, I do want him to know that I love him enough to give him something that's going to teach him responsibility and gentleness and sacrifice. And that there's absolutely nothing wrong with just wanting to make someone a little happier.

That being said, I emailed the Man tonight with the Dog Deal. It includes 11 nonnegotiable terms under which I will consent to getting a dog. And yes, I plan to get it signed in blood. Then framed. And then placed somewhere where the Man and the Little Man (when he learns to read) will see it every. single. day. until that dog goes to the Happy Hunting Grounds. And here I thought we weren't going to become a family of five until January... the fourth, of course, being Oswald who is not going to like how things are progressing. Not at all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mrs. Pollifax, How I Love Thee...

I spent a lovely day with Mrs. Pollifax. First, I took her to my OB appointment where she kept me company as I waited a ridiculously long time (in between paperwork) for the doctor and Big Man found out why it is that I'm so tired after spending all day with Little Man. Then, after Big Man went back to work and Little Man went on to bed, Mrs. Pollifax and I retired to the couch with a bowl of frozen yogurt and a very stale chocolate muffin. Who is Mrs. Pollifax, you ask? The very fact that that question is being asked saddens me while at the same time reminding me of my exalted purpose of book blogger. So, while the lightning flashes outside and the wind rages through the trees, and I wait for my first Oklahoma rain--that I think just arrived!!!!--let's make the introductions.

The Mrs. Pollifax series, written by Dorothy Gilman, stars Emily Pollifax, a New Brunswick grandmother with a brown belt in karate who starts her career as a spy for the CIA when she's in her sixties. As spy novels go, they're fairly fantastic: full of intrigue, suspense, and funny moments and occasionally really good quotes. I picked up one of the Pollifax books years ago--and loved it--and every once in a while another one will pop up on my radar, and I'll have an enjoyable few hours of whodunits and red herrings. This time, it was Mrs. Pollifax on the China Station, obviously based in China (I forgot to mention that the Pollifax books are frequently set in exotic, if occasionally made up, locales--always a plus for me). So, today I accompanied Mrs. Pollifax on a rescue mission into China where she has an unknown coagent and several suspicious traveling companions. Not only did I thoroughly enjoy my literary tour through post-Mao China, but I even came away with a new favourite quotation: "There are no happy endings...there are only happy people." And I think I'm going to hold onto that one for a while.

On that note, our bathrooms need to be cleaned, and I'm going to make this happen before the second wind brought on by this fabulous rainstorm blows on out. Find Mrs. Pollifax. You know you want to.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Old News...Mostly

This was supposed to be a picture post, with awesome shots of our new house, but that would require me to get up and get the camera and take said awesome pictures, and this couch is very (very) comfortable and the cat is curled up next to me, and, yeah, it's just not going to happen. But I have to start blogging again at some point, and that point has arrived! Now if I can only build this into my schedule and make it happen with a little more frequency...

So, here's the big news (that probably everybody knows already):

  • I'm pregnant again! This would've been much more exciting news if we hadn't already told everyone a couple months ago and if we were announcing the gender, which we aren't able to do yet, because we don't know, but will once I finally see a doctor, which leads me to the second announcement.
  • We're in Oklahoma! And all moved in. Well, mostly. There are still empty boxes covering the garage (I'm considering using them to make a maze for Littles to crawl through one day) and the crib isn't put together yet and we're still in need of some furniture to fill the gaping extra half of our living room that is currently holding only the litter box and internet router (so Os can browse the web while nature calls)...but we're here! Speaking of, if you know anyone trying desperately to get rid of a grand piano, we now have space for one. I'm not kidding.
  • And...yep. That's about it. I mean, there's other little stuff like I learned how to use an electric screw driver (I mean for real, not just to screw things into holes that were already there) and the cat got a microchip implanted in him (that was a fun day) and I've started baking everything outside on the patio (just kidding, but it's almost hot enough), and yeah, that's pretty much it.
On that note, I'm considering heading to the kitchen and making something that includes chocolate. Lots of it. This would be easier to achieve if I'd bought chocolate chips at the commissary, but I will prevail!

A Continuation of that Thought on Rereading (and Favourites)

There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.
Marcel Proust

The Little Man has long held Sandra Boynton books in high esteem. Should he be picking the reading for the night, without a doubt, our friend Sandra is going to land herself on the list. Naturally, I encourage and enjoy this, finding Boynton's work to be a welcome break from the usual brain numbing baby fodder (How big is baby? Baby is SO big!). However, at this advanced age in my son's life, I feel that it's time to ensure he is well rounded and that includes the introduction of true classics, such as Where the Wild Things Are. Of course, my sole reason for reading to the Little Man about Max was literary education, not at all that he himself has spent the last two weeks rampaging through the house, destroying my attempts at peace and order, and threatening to eat me up (in general, making mischief of one kind and another). That being said, I really thought that there would be an instantaneous empathic connection between these two Wild Things. We'll see what my attempts at brainwashing do, but so far, the count is Sandra Boynton: 5, Maurice Sendak: 0.75.

Really, I have no one to blame but myself. My favourite books have been read and reread until I can tell you the slightest character details and most obscure facts that have absolutely no relevance to the story but lodged themselves in my mind somewhere between the 4th and 5th reading. Just this week, I reread two books that I have probably read a half dozen times, Beauty by Robin McKinley and The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope. Let me be honest and say that rereading old favourites right now is not coincidental. We just moved this month, and while we are settling in and meeting people and I'm falling in love with our new home already, there is something about disappearing into a familiar world and allowing your soul to rest from all the newness. You reemerge refreshed and ready to attempt life again. 

Even so, I'm not marking down Sendak as a lost cause. I'm just going to continue to make the Little Man read it with me every night until he either A) stops acting like Max or B) starts liking the story or C) uses a full sentence complete with at least one three syllable word to tell me to cease and desist. Until then, I leave you with this fun fact: I once correctly translated an elven passage from The Lord of the Rings completely by memory after only the second reading. And I thought I wasn't a nerd...