September 2008 Archives

Jude was putting money into a toy bank.

Jude (holding a penny up to me): Who is this?  Is this John McCain?
Me: No it's Abraham Lincoln.
Jude: Is he a good guy or a bad guy?
Me: He was a good guy.
Jude: Is Barack Obama a good guy?
Me: Yes, I guess so.
Jude: What about Joe Biden?
Me: Yep, I guess he is too.
Jude (pointing to a quarter): Is this one John McCain?

On Monday mornings, Jude hates to wake up, and he is a crab! So we try to wake him up as playfully and friendly as we can to keep him in high spirits.

Chris plays a game where he asks, "Do you have all my tickles?" and then proceeds to look for them on Jude's tummy, his legs, his feet and between his neck and shoulders.  Jude will say, "No, Karenna [or Mommy] has them," and Chris will chase after one of us to Jude's amusement.

I recently came up with a game myself: I play the bongos.  I say, "Where did my bongos go?" Then I go to his bed.  I tap out a little tune on Jude's bum.  He giggles.

So one afternoon Jude and Karenna came home from school and told me about their day.  Jude volunteered his information first, "My friend was pretending to sleep, so I played his bongos, Mommy."

Looks like I'll have to find a new morning game...

One thing about having a kid start Kindergarten is that Karenna plays school all the time.  As I was cooking this evening, I heard her pretending to be her teacher and handing out pink slips to all the kids but Karenna, who--all too conveniently--got an award.

I was pretty occupied with cooking and the table needed wiped and set, so I called out to Karenna and said, "Excuse me teacher, but could you set an example for your students and lend the cafeteria ladies a hand?"

What else could Teacher Karenna do?  She tried claiming she needed to correct papers, but I said the cafeteria really needed her.  I had intruded upon her fantasy, and she had no choice but to help out the outspoken cafeteria lady or appear to have bad manners in front of all her bad students--and one very well behaved imaginary Student Karenna!

Here's what I've overhead from Jude over the past few days...

Jude (while playing with Karenna): I need to have some money so I can get married and have a wife like Luke Skywalker.
Jude (while talking to Chris): When I grow up I'm going to be a Daddyman like you and we'll both be daddies.

Squishy Cookies

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We had a Cookie FAIL at the Kauffman house last night as I prepared my contribution for a friend's fundraiser.  I hope it is not an omen for the cause. 

It's not as though I haven't made these cookies many, many times before. With the same recipe. On the same stove.  With same ingredients. On the same cookie sheet.

The good news is that while they were certainly not fundraiser material--all the cookies looked like they joined together like Voltron to form some sort of mega cookie, though the cookie dough appeared to chicken out and retreat behind the chocolate chips at the last minute--they still did not go to waste.

The kids and I happily gorged ourselves on "Squishy Cookies" today.  I hope they don't get too fond of the Squishy Cookie concept.  If I don't know what I did to get them unintentionally, I may not be able to repeat them intentionally.

Thank-You Gift

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We had a pleasant surprise when we picked up Jude from preschool today.  Not only was he a good boy, but there was a thank-you gift for us from the owner of the center.  (See the pictured arrangement.)

We had a conference about the Jude-Man and his antics of late. I mentioned before that we were getting bad reports.  Here are some of the teachers' observations:

  • He's been having issues transitioning from one activity to the next.  (He hides under tables or in corners to avoid having to move inside or move on to the next thing.)
  • He will meltdown into a full tantrum that has to run its course.  Then he sings himself calm.
  • He grins and smiles when he knows he is in trouble to try to get out of trouble.
  • He makes noises and faces during class time.
  • He leads the other kids in off-task behaviors when they are asked to clean up.
  • He's better on Friday's than Mondays.

While we were there, the owner mentioned that her granddaughter had left a crayon in her pocket and it had gotten through their laundry.  She had assumed that the clothing was ruined, but was looking for advice on the dryer since she knew Jude was very tactile and often toted things around in his pockets.

Lucky for her (and for you, too, Readers!), Jude has put crayons in his pockets that have gone in the wash.  Our clothes and dreyer were magenta.  Here is what I told her (which worked and resulted in me receiving such a lovely thank-you):

  1. Soak clothing in Spray 'n Wash liquid for at least five minutes.  Then rinse.
  2. Rub Spray 'n Wash Stick on remaining clothing stains.
  3. Take a used fabric softener sheet and rub it on dryer drum to remove crayon.* 

*Please note that nail polish remover and other flammable substances, while very effective at removing crayon and nail polish, can be extremely hazardous in a dryer.

Crewing the Fat...

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Karenna (on gristle): All this chewing is getting boring...


At Dinner...

Karenna: Mom, what do I have to eat of my dinner to get a cookie?
Me: How about all your vegetables?  I don't want to force you to make a clean plate, but you can at least eat your veggies.
Chris (overhearing): Karenna, did you tell Mommy I already told you we aren't doing cookies today.
Me: Did you already ask Daddy and do an end-run around him to me?
Karenna: No! ...What's an end-run?

Chris: It's when you ask one parent and they say one thing and because you don't like the answer you sneak around to the other one to get a better answer.
Karenna: Well, I didn't do one. It's Daddy's fault for telling Mommy what he said!

Later, playing Tic-Tac-Toe...

I have almost beaten Karenna several times by placing my "X" in the middle, except that she stops the game before I win.

Karenna: Let's play Tic-Tac-Toe again, Mommy. It's your turn.
Me: Put my "X" in the middle.
Karenna: You can't put it there; that one's broken.
Me: I'm not going to play if you keep cheating.  No one will want to play with a cheater.
Karenna (rolling her eyes): Fine.
Me: Good.
Karenna (after several moves): I win!
Me: What do you mean you win? That is not a straight row!

I made homemade chicken noodle soup.  When it was time to make the noodles, both kids joined in.

At first, they did a good job.  Karenna mixed the dough while Jude topped off the flour jar.  Whatever spilled on the table would be used for rolling out the dough anyway.  I rolled out the dough, cut the noodles and gave each kid a few to cover in flour.  The kids took did this rather well for awhile, and then...

Karenna decided to set up her own noodle shop. Playing with her own little piece of dough for the rest of the time.  Joodlebug (Jude) played in the flour, spilled it on himself and chair, and sampled a raw noodle or two before being warned if he continued he'd be fired from his thankless post as noodle-maker that pays absolutely nothing.

When it was time to clean up, I set Karenna about collecting dirty dishes, I set the table, and I assigned Chris the task of cleaning Jude.

"Look, Daddy!" Karenna and Jude said proudly, "We made noodles." They gestures to their work.

"I see," said Chris, "You made all these little noodles here..." Then he reached toward the flour-covered Joodlebug, "And one big Jude-shaped noodle!"

Katamommy Damacy

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Long, long ago there lived two married people, no kids, but one LAN.  We played games.  We played games from our respective offices, chatting with our friends via text, while talking to each other from the next room.  We'd have New Years Eve parties where we'd turn our favorite four-player games into drinking games--the drinking party being where I showed my skill, the gaming part where Chris was master.

Then we became parents, and our gaming habits changed.  Mine went on hiatus.  Chris opted for quicker games that could be dropped when the typical parenting stuff happened.  He loved Guitar Hero because Jude could take a toy guitar and jam along, thus sharing some time with him.  Now Karenna is school-aged and becoming interested in computers and games.  You could say it's her environment.  it's probably in her blood.

We've been trying a number of easy games out on her.  As much as she dislikes how much attention Star Wars gets in this house, she and her brother have taken quite an interest in Lego Star Wars.  She and he brother also play Mario Kart, if you take the word "play" to mean wander about the courses aimlessly until their time runs out.

Katamari Damacy screenshotBut one particular favorite of Karenna's is Katamari Damacy.  It's easy enough for a kindergartner to use a controller to roll around a sticky ball and pick up stuff and does not contain objectionable content.

After we all took turns playing today, the kids had to clean up the living room.  They were pretty upset about this and melodrama ensued. Eventually I got on the floor to help them.  But the crazy in me did not stop there.  I curled up into a ball.  Karenna rolled me like a live-action Katamari ball.  As she rolled me to toys I'd grab them and give them to each kid to put away.

We had lots of fun being "Katamommy Damacy", but it does leave you a bit dizzy...

Note: In case you didn't hear about the tea party Jude and I had in the bathroom with Darth Vader, a rubber duckie, and friends, you may want to go back and read about it first before reading on...

Jude (having another tea party in the bathroom): Here's more bloods.  Don't spill them.
Me: What are the bloods for anyway?  Do you drink them?  Are we supposed to be at a vampire tea party?  (He told me they read a Halloween story about vampires at preschool this week.  Perhaps this is what we were doing.)
Jude (looking at me like I was off my rocker): No, you don't drink it!!!  You put it on the bad guys and you get in trouble, so that's what it's for.
Me: Okay, so let me get this straight: I put blood on bad guys and I get in trouble.  Why would I want to do that?  Where's the benefit in doing that?  What's the point, little buddy?
Jude: Yes, there is.
Me: Jude, I don't think you answered my question.  Let's try it this way.  Do you think that bad guys on TV get shot with blood from a squirt gun?  Is that what you think happens?
Jude (giving me a "What do you take me for?" look): No!  You put water in squirt guns.  You put blood in real guns.

I'm not going to bust that myth.  I'm thinking the truth might be more disturbing to a three-year-old (even a three-year-old who likes to pretend to collect cups of blood at bathroom tea parties).

As you know, we've been working with Jude to get him to behave in school.  One of the tactics we is to question him over and over about what he has to to to get what he wants.

"What do you have to do art tonight?" I ask.

"I have to be a good boy," he answers.

"What does Jude have to be to do art today?" I ask again.

Now he is getting silly.  "I have to be Gingerbread!" he giggles.

"What are we going to do tonight?" I ask to get him back on track.

He giggles more.  I don't think he's given up on teasing me:

"You're going to bite my head off!"

Run, run, run as fast as you can! Some days it feels like I can't keep up with My little Gingerbread Jude-Man.

Remember Karenna's fear of the school cafeteria?  Well now that she's in Kindergarten, she loves buying lunch and telling us about which choice she picks each day:

Me (walking Karenna to the car): What did you have for lunch today?
Karenna (opening the car door and realizing Chris had reclined his seat into her space): Daddy!
Me: You had Daddy for lunch?!?
Chris (teasing): Mmm... that sounds tasty.  What did you have for your fruit?
Karenna (who's used to eating her fruit fresh at home): Um, I think it's called a peaches.

Jude's been really into playing with water lately.  His latest water experiment involved Karenna's tea set and any water he could find from the kitchen, bathroom, and/or any point in between.

I was glad, then, to come across this tip from Parent Hacks about letting kids play with their tea sets while in the water.  Neat idea!

Tonight while the Jude-Man was in the bathtub, we added the tea set to his usual cast of bath characters, which included a rubber duck and several Star Wars toys.  I warned him that he couldn't drink the bath water, but the toys could. In fact, I bet Darth Vader would like a drink right now.

This worked well.  He fixed drinks for the Duck, Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, and a Stormtrooper while I washed his hair and face.  Then he began to "mix some chocolate milk".

"Can I drink my chocolate milk?" he asked me.  I told him no, but showed him how to pretend by pouring it over his closed lips.

When I bathed his body, he began lining up full cups of water on the side of the tub:

"This is one blood."

"Here's another blood."

"Don't spill the bloods. There's another one blood."

"Here's more blood. Don't drink it! It will make you sick!"

He lined up a total of seven cups of "blood" on the side of the tub.  I never got around to asking what the "bloods" had to do with the "chocolate milk" and tea parties, but perhaps it's better not to ask.

Jude's Bad Day

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Jude had a very, very bad day today.

We thought he was mostly over his terrible twos and moving him up to the three-year-old room helped over the last few months, but he's had a few off-days last week and a really bad day today.

While Jude's can test our patience at home, he seems to respond better to us at home than at school.  Here are some things I observe about Jude:
  • He's been well rested over the time period when this happened.  So lack of sleep should not be a factor.
  • When we witnessed Jude's behavior issues, he's usually "performing" for someone.  It's for a friend, a cousin, or a group of people when he feels left out of the conversation.  Could there be a new buddy he's performing for?
  • Jude's pretty good at figuring out you are trying to manipulate him.  As soon as you've found something that works for him, he'll figure out what you're doing and it won't work anymore.
  • Jude's good at charming people.  Sometimes when people are in the heat of anger and yelling at him, instead of crying or cowering, he'll try to smile or grin.
  • Jude needs to be making eye contact so you know he is paying attention. Sometimes you need to physically touch his face, say his name, turn his head toward, and ask him to look at you, if he refuses to pay attention.
  • Once Jude's in a tantrum it's hard to work him out of one.  When you think that you should crack down hard and try to over-assert you only bring out "alpha-Jude".  It's best to pick your battles. 
  • Even though he's only three, reason and empathy work best.  As long as you have kept him calm and out of "alpa-Jude" state, you can touch his face, make him make eye contact, and appeal to him.  I quiz him on "Does this get you what you want? What gets you what you want?" and make him repeat it over and over until he is ready to to the desired behavior.  Also, I speak to him about other people's feelings.
I'm planning on talking to Jude's teachers very soon.  Thoughts?  Any one else have similar problems?
Jude: What's the mooby with the witch and dadell?
Me: I don't know what you're saying.
Jude: The witch and da-dell.
Me: I don't know what you mean. The witch and what?
Jude: Da-dell. Help me say it so you understand.
Me: I'll have to help you enunciate.
Jude (frustrated): No!!!! I want you to teach me how to say it.

I'm anemic and I get monthly B-12 shots. Or rather, I'm supposed to, but sometimes I fall a week behind, and I feel absolutely horrible until I get it.  (Actually, even when I don't fall behind I sometimes feel crummy in the final week or so until I get the next one.)  Then, afterward, I become a bit of a high-energy insomniac for several days:

Me (after my monthly B-12): My shot makes feel freakin' awesome!
Karenna: That's freakin' awesome, Mommy.
Me: Karenna, please don't repeat Mommy when she's in "crazy-mode".
Chris: You do realize you just told Karenna never, ever to repeat you...

For those of you who are disappointed in my use of "freakin'" in front of the kids, know that this is me using restraint, as when I find myself about to use swear words in the kids' presence, I often substitute quickly before the wrong word slips out. I am, after all, only human. A human exposed to far more curse words in my childhood.

At dinner tonight...

Me (just noticing as Jude got up from the table): Jude, little buddy, where are your pants?
Chris: Oh, he took those off hours ago.

We like to think that we taught our kids good manners.  Sometimes to the point where their good manners drive us crazy.

Take for instance, a few weeks ago when I took Karenna shopping.  Every time the automatic doors opened, she'd look up at them and say, "Thanks."

I explained to her that the doors were automatic so there was no one to thank, but she continued thanking them for awhile out of habit.  We couldn't walk into any store without her thanking every set of doors that got us there or out of any store without thanking them for showing us out.  (And by the way, double doors were thanked twice.).

Tedious as this behavior was, this week she changed her habit.  One of the doors into a bookstore failed to respond to our entrance..

"Thanks for nothing," she said sarcastically to the faulty doors..

"Karenna," I chided, "that was bad manners. I don't like your tone of voice.".

"What? The doors are automatic.  It's not like that's a person," she responded.

The Magic Word

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Karenna: Oh great! We're at a stupid red light!
Me: Why don't you guys use your good manners and see if you can make it change?
Karenna: Please turn green.
Jude: Please (prounounced "pweeze").
[The light remains red.]
Both (until light changes): Please. Please. Pretty please. Turn green please,etc.
Me: Wow! You guys have special powers!
Chris (getting into the car after running late): Man, this leaving at 6:48 is killing us!
Jude: Daddy, we don't say, "leaving at 6:48 is killing us".

You may recall that our toothpaste now sits upon our bathroom windowsill because a certain three-year-old sneak likes to eat it.  Well, this little guy has also been making water messes in the bathroom.

So lately as I go into wash my hands, I find that the bathroom hand soap does not seem as adequate as the soap in the kitchen.  It seems... thinner... runnier.

This goes on for quite a few days until I think to investigate the soap closer and realize that someone has, in fact, removed nearly all the soap from the dispenser and replaced it with water.

Knowing what he did with the toothpaste, I realize it may be time to have the Mr. Yuck talk again...

Me (at naptime to Jude): Who loves you?
Jude (pointing): You.
Me: Why?
Jude: Because you have to.
Me: Who do you love?
Jude (pointing again): Me.
Me: Why?
Jude (smiling ear to ear, complete with dimples): Because you love me.
Me: Where did you come from?
Jude (pointing): Your tummy... (after a thoughtful pause) ...not Qui-Gon Jinn's tummy.

I've mentioned before about Jude's self-imposed definitions of gender.

He, as well as anything he or any other male owns, has, makes, does, wears, and so on, cannot be pretty or beautiful.  He insists they are handsome.

Conversely, his sister Karenna, as well as anything else she or any other female owns, has, makes, does, wears, and so on, cannot be handsome--watching Jane Austen with Karenna and I would drive him crazy for this reason.  He insists they are pretty or beautiful.

I honestly don't know where he got this.  (An older relative?  An older child?  A preschool teacher?)


So this evening Karenna, who loves to draw and is obsessed with making everything perfect and precise, made a stormtrooper drawing (left) which was great for a five-year-old.  It turns out, she traced the outline, then filled in the details.

Then I shopwed her how artists break something they can't trace down into basic shapes and refine it with a pencil.  We used one of Jude's Darth Vader action figures.  

At first she was frustrated because her's was not exactly like mine on the first try, but I told her she did a great job and then I reminded her again about practicing and how each try makes her better.

Her second try was awesome (right).  I high-fived her and we told Chris about it at the dinner table.

"Chris, you should see Karenna's Darth Vader drawing. It's beautiful!" I said.

"No, it not!" Jude said, "It's handsome!"

"Jude, I thought Karenna's art is beautiful?"

"Darth Vader is handsome!  He has a cape and a lightsaber."


If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know Karenna has been doling out the strikes to her dad(See the running tally page I found from last time, right.) 

This morning, he was about to tease her as usual--he does things like chase the kids around with shaving cream on his face asking for kisses and whatnot--when Karenna threatened this:

"Daddy, if you do that I will have to give you another strike and a pink slip and this time it's going to go on your permanent record!"

Well, we wouldn't want that to happen, would we? (So I put it on this permanent record. Thanks, Karenna!)

Karenna: Maybe, it's just a baby and not ready to hatch yet...

Chris: You're in Kindergarten now. You're getting old.
Karenna: Daddy, I'm not old. See, I'm only 1, 2, 3, 4, 5—that's not a l lot.  You're old: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32...

Chris (being silly with Jude): Jude, sit at the table like a little princess.  What does a princess do?
[Jude burps and giggles.]

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