Friday, April 24, 2009

Another job

I don't remember if I ever updated the final outcome of my employment predicament. I ended up having lots of offers from families needing a nanny and finally settled on spending two full days with Avery again (her mom had been able to find another job) and two mornings a week with a little girl named Isla, who, like Avery is also 3 months younger than Joris.

This week, I officially got accepted as a script writer. It's a work-from-home position I got thanks to my brother (it's at his company) and involves writing the scripts for short internet advertising movies - like infomercials. It isn't steady work, as it depends on how many clients the company receives at any given time, but, it definitely is a nice complement to my other jobs and it will be nice to have a little additional income.

In other news of things that consume my time; I have started a FaceBook group for Seattle area parents. I've become quite the FaceBook addict since joining just a few months ago. So dorky... but fun.


The Jewish school that is across the street from us (it shares its parking lot with the Indonesian church) just installed a playground! It's not entirely toddler-friendly, since, after all, it is designed for the elementary school kids to use, but there is a fair amount of things to explore for a toddler with some adult supervision.

And, dude, it's right across the street!

It has already proven to be good entertainment for the half an hour or so of time to kill to before dinner.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I felt like I was channeling my mother this afternoon. It was a truly gorgeous spring day in Seattle and, after getting up from his nap, I took Joris outside to play outside. After approximately four minutes in the sandbox he told me "all done, close sandbox, go play inside". I immediately started spouting things like "But it's such a beautiful day!" "Why on earth would you want to be inside on a day like this?!" and "We can sit inside any old time, it's not going to be this nice out the rest of the week!"

Joris, of course, could care less. Just like I did when I was a kid. So we spent the rest of the afternoon inside. With the door closed, because every time I would open the front door to be able to at least get some fresh air into the house, Joris would very determinedly walk over and close the door.

He has been getting increasingly contrary, which is probably no surprise to anyone who has ever been around toddlers. He is obviously testing his limits and the scope of his power; especially the power of "No!", "All done!" and "No like [blank] go home".

The last few times he has gone to soccer class, he has asked, with increasing frequency, to go home and last Friday only made it half-way through the class before Jacob just took him and left.

Then yesterday he only made it through about 8 minutes of his first play, "Goodnight Moon" at the Children's Theatre, and we suspect that it wasn't because he was scared or anything, but just that he was exercising his power to call the shots.

It's weird to hear this totally defiant "No!" in response to simple "Joris, please do [blank]" questions, especially because it's uttered in his same old cute, high-pitched voice.

It's definitely a different dynamic and we are still trying to figure out where to draw the line and which battles to pick. I don't want to be a pushover, but I also don't want to make a power struggle out of every silly little thing. Especially since, like everything, it is just a phase that will pass in (hopefully) not too long.

(As a side note; for the sake of the flow of this blog, I am not continuing to translate all of his Dutch into English or vice versa. He uses both languages about the same amount now and is becoming extremely skilled in switching languages, depending on who he is speaking with. With me, he almost always uses Dutch, unless I happen to be talking in English with someone else, then he sometimes uses English. He will often 'translate' now too. For example, if I tell him "Joris, het is tijd om op te ruimen." and his dad is in the same room, he will turn to Jacob and say "time clean up". So, just because I am using English in the Joris quotes, it doesn't mean that that is the language it was actually uttered in!)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Joris meets Mayor Nickels

We took Joris and his buddy, Miles to the re-opening of a local fire station. Despite the two boys' love for transportation vehicles, they were mostly just kind of overwhelmed. We'd had visions of taking their pictures inside the fire truck; possibly even trying to wear a too-big helmet or something, but I think there were just too many people and the truck might have been just a tad too high, shiny and intimidating.

But we did run into Mayor Nickels and had the guys' pictures taken.

I wish we had thought of something clever to say; plug public transportation or our neighborhood's need for sidewalks, for example, but we basically just said hi and bye. Which was fine.

Afterwards we went to Magnuson Park where I zipped over to the Seattle Public Library book sale to see if I could score any Dutch language books while Jacob watched the boys on the playground. Miles and Joris get along very well, and it was cute to see them interact together.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

First baseball game

Jacob took Joris to the Mariner's opening day last week. I do believe Jacob had been waiting for this moment ever since the 20 week ultrasound showed there was a tiny penis attached to our squirmy little fetus.

He ordered tickets within moments of going on sale and subsequently spent a week and a half or so calling and sending me anxious emails throughout the day to see if tickets came in the mail yet.

Jacob did a good job explaining to Joris what was going to happen and when he picked him up at Avery's house, where had just woken up from his nap, Joris could relate that they were going to a baseball game, there are going to be lots of people, lots of noise and they would eat something. He was also able to repeat "Go Mariners!"

They sat through the first three innings and Joris mostly actively watched the game, asking for "more baseball?" whenever there was a lull in the game.
Then they spent the next three inning watching all of the trains (it was rush hour) go by, waving and cheering and eating pretzels, before heading home on the bus.

It sounded like it was a pretty successful outing.

Watching trains:

Two Year Check-up

I took Joris for his 2 year check up last week. One of the things I like about his pediatrician is that he has never made Joris' weight an issue. While we convinced ourselves that Joris gained TONS of weight and must surely weigh 26, no 27 or more pounds at the very least, it was a little sobering to see the 24.7 number appear. But, his pediatrician just looked at that and said "Still on the slight side, just as expected. But hey, he's made it into the 10th percentile for weight now!". Up from off the chart, 0% and 5%.

Height for age is in the 76th percentile and head circumference in the 95th. Tall, skinny and giant-headed; he sure is our boy.

The last time Joris had a check-up (around 16 months) I expressed concern about his language development, being that he has still not uttered a single actual word at that time. The doctor told us that there would not be anything to worry about as long as he had one word by 18 months of age, which Joris nicely obeyed by saying "Dada" at 17.5 months. This time, the doctor actually had a conversation with Joris; asking him where he likes to go and what he likes to do.

When he asked if Joris enjoyed reading books I somewhat hesitantly ventured that he likes books a lot, so much in fact that he has learned all the letters of the alphabet. And recognizes about 30 written words. I'd been debating with myself if I was going to bring it up at all, because I know it sounds conceited and trite; in the same way as when roll my eyes when I overhear people gushing about their infants' ability to hold up their heads at 2 weeks of age or how their one year old is obviously gifted because she can stack four blocks. But then I thought, hey - it's a pediatrician's job to deal with insufferable parents and he is getting paid good money to do so. I'm not sure if the doctor didn't believe me, or was just curious to see, but he actually asked Joris to read the letters on the shirt of his little Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal. Joris obliged and the doc was duly impressed.

Joris only needed one additional vaccine this time, and he just scowled when they injected it.

We got to pick out another book and then were on our merry way again, not needing to come back until he is three years old!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Telling stories

Remember the Coco and the Garbage Truck story? It has evolved from a simple story of Joris and Coco looking out the window watching the garbage truck pick up the garbage, to an epic tale of an endless variety of trucks parading past the window. With each truck, Coco will be convinced that this must be the garbage truck and each time, Joris will correct Coco and tell him what kind of truck it actually is.

Joris has been very into memorizing and retelling stories lately, and he will practice, or recite parts of them throughout the day. He'll be playing with his train or doll house or anything else, really, and you'll overhear bits an pieces of stories or books.

"No, Coco. Not garbage truck. Is school bus!"

"Wow. Coco, really neat!"

"Gzzzhhh, bwwww, cash (garbage truck noise). Really loud!"

"The Little Engine That Could" might be his current most favorite book and he has memorized most of the story. It's quite astounding to hear him narrate long and complicated (for a toddler) sentences.

"Hitch self little train" (She hitched herself to the little train)

"Please, shiny new engine"

"Funny little clown. Flag."

"Good boys girls other side mountain."

Other current favorite books that he likes to recite or complete sentences out of are "Oh my oh my oh dinosaurs" (dinosaurs crammed in an elevator!), "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" and a variety of Curious George books.

Joris has decided, however, that singing just whatever no longer is cool. That is, his parents singing random stuff. Where first he couldn't get enough of hearing us croak out whatever had a bit of a tune, now he will start to frantically shake his head, saying "No, no, no. No lalalala." (or whatever we'll be singing).

He does definitely still like songs, but has just become picky about what he wants to listen to. We've been going to a great 'play and learn' group at the Broadview library on Wednesdays and after only going twice before, he was already eagerly anticipating the fire truck song and the monkey song.

I wish I had more Dutch resources because it seems like he is getting all of his new vocab from books or songs. My in-laws will be in Holland in a week or so and have promised to bring back some books and cd's, which will be great. It's getting harder and harder to translate stories because the stories are getting longer and more complicated and some stuff is just un-translatable (Dr. Seuss, anyone?). Joris has decided that the Nijntje series is not interesting enough anymore, which is too bad because it makes up most of our Dutch book collection.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Night #5

No crying. No calling out. Zip. Zilch. Joris laid down and went to sleep.
I cannot accurately describe how much this rocks my world!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Night #4 and plumbing problems

Sunday, night #4 of crying it out.
Jacob left Joris' room at 8:12. Joris responded with a lackluster "eh, uh, daaaddy" and has not been heard since. Can it really be that easy?

Of course, he was super tired and full of Red Robin hamburger and french fries.

The reason for this unscrupulous splurging on a Sunday night is that we have no kitchen sink. Or rather, there is a sink, and it's nice, but it's not hooked up to anything. A Jaluit sink, if you'd like. (In Jaluit, our first house had a sink that emptied out into the cabinets, so we still ended up brushing out teeth, draining pasta, etc. outside.)

We've been having trouble with the sink draining properly whenever the dishwasher runs (partly due to a busted garbage disposal) and lately with draining in general. We replaced our old dishwasher that was really only redistributing the dirt, with a much newer model in flashy stainless steel; a fantastic Craigslist find. Jacob hooked it up himself and it's working beautifully.

In the spirit of "let's make the kitchen actually function like it's supposed to again" we also got a new (to us) sink that has two equal bowls and no garbage disposal and yesterday, Jacob took out the old sink and put in the cool cast iron one. It looks wonderful, but unfortunately, due to the bowls being deeper, the plumbing does not line up anymore and we need to get the drain pipe's height adjusted, which involves all sorts of cutting and sawing.

Which is why we're eating off paper plates and trying not to dirty too many dishes; the dishwasher is nearly full and we can't run it until we have the sink hooked back up.

When we came back from the Marshall Islands I was convinced that I would never, ever take running water for granted anymore, but it became very clear this weekend, that I've failed in that resolve.

It looks like we're going to need a plumber to help us with the pipe adjustment and hopefully the sink will be back up and running within a couple of days.

Until then, it's drinking bathroom water and trying to conserve dishes (or buckling down and just washing a load of dishes in a bucket) for us!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

CIO: Day #3

Jacob left Joris' room at 8:02pm. Joris whimpered for a while, but did not wig out. He managed some sad sounding "Daddy?" calls, but mostly it sounded like his heart wasn't in it.

Quiet and presumed asleep by 8:27!

It kind of feels like cheating; we can actually do something at night now! (Of course tonight that means Jacob trying to install the cool cast-iron sink we got off Craigslist. Besides that being a tricky job, we are also battling plumbing issues unrelated to the new sink or dishwasher, which is always fun!)

Anyway, things look positive - just help us hope that it will continue!

Crying it out - night 1 & 2

On Wednesday night it took Joris until almost 10:00pm to fall asleep. With us in the room. Which was the point that we looked at each other's exhausted faces and said "enough". We've been meaning to switch to a more rigid approach, but we are both such pushovers that we've been postponing it. I'm just a total sucker for the "Mama hold!" requests, especially combined with the recently developed tack-on of "Dohtah happy now" when giving him a big, squeezy hug.

But, we need some time at night not to deal with our fabulous, yet sleep-scorning offspring, instead of rolling into bed exasperated and exhausted once he finally manages to make it to snoresville.

So, Ferberizing it is. We tried it well over a year ago and had some success with it, until teething or illness or god knows what threw a wrench into the whole effort. Ferberizing basically is a controlled method of letting a child cry it out. You are supposed to go back to comfort them at increasingly longer intervals - basically until the kid realizes it's way too much effort to keep calling out. I alternate between thinking of it as a reasonable, common sense approach and a surefire way to crush a little spirit.

But, at this point, I think it's our best option, because even though there has been some improvement over the last several months, we have not been able to make it out of his room yet and really, it is about time for that to happen.

Here's the report:

Thursday (night #1)
Jacob left Joris' room around 7:45. Joris wailed. He was very upset. Jacob went in at somewhat regular intervals. Each time, Joris would calm down immediately, going from screaming at the top of his lungs to having a pleasant conversation in seconds (which I think is a bit of an indicator that he was turning up the volume for effect only) but was twice as mad when Jacob would leave again. Eventually, we started an episode of the Daily Show and decided that we'd only go in at the end of show, if he was still awake. He quieted down during the second segment and actually went to sleep. I think it was close to 10:00pm by that time.

Friday (night #2)
Jacob left the room right around 8:00pm after reading lots of books and singing some songs. We decided not to go back in unless he was super frantic, but he never really got there. There were a couple of short "DADDY, DADDY, BLOW NOSE, BLOW NOSE!!!" episodes, but he would switch gears and start asking in his sweet little boy voice "Daddy?...daddy?" so it definitely seemed like he was just changing tactics. He was asleep by 9:00pm and woke up in super happy spirits. Of course I've been gushing about how proud I am of him of going to sleep ALL BY HIMSELF, LIKE A BIG BOY!!!

Hoping for continued improvement (and not permanently scarring the lad).

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Birthday bash

Joris turned two this past Saturday. TWO! Seriously, where does the time go - this year seems to have just zipped by!

We had, probably somewhat overly optimistic, planned his party to take place at a local park; Joris and his toddler friends would be able to run around, play at the playground, we'd play some games, blow bubbles and eat cake. It would have been just perfect, were it not for the fact that it was pouring down rain and a minor storm was blowing through our fair state.

So we faced the prospect of hosting 6 toddlers inside our comfortable, but decidedly small home. However, due to the endless cold season and toddlers never taking naps when you want them to, we ended up with only two small guests; Joris's friends Pedro and Miles. With my parents, brother and fiancee as well as auntie Chris and uncle Jack visiting, we still had a full house, but we avoided the sheer madness that the double amount of little folk might have caused.

The boys got along just great and we had a wonderful afternoon. The only gaffe turned out to be forgetting to pass out the party favors, so we ended up with 8 helium balloons and as many bottles of bubbles.

Joris got some great gifts, all of which he has already extensively used; we played soccer in the park with his brand new ball, went for a bike ride on his new tricycle, he wore his Seattle Sounders shirt to soccer class, read his new train books about a bazillion times, played with his new trucks and playmobil house ("Mama poop!" - as he set the mother doll on the toilet - "Daddy sit table. Eat cheese. Mama poop more".) And he has already played for hours with his tea set; serving his stuffed animals cups of water, deciding what color fork belongs to whom, passing out imaginary cake, all the while murmuring things like "Coco thirsty. Birthday monster time cake! Aap sip water." Today, when he decided he was done "playing cups" I reminded him to clean up. When I came back into his room to check on him he has very neatly stacked all the plates, lined up the forks on top of them and put the cups in a row. Sometimes I fear that we have a little Monk on our hands (especially combined with the obsessive hand wiping thing).

Even with all the wonderful gifts that he truly enjoyed, Joris seemed, of course, most excited about the balloons strewn across the living room. He spent lots of time chasing balloons, kicking or hitting them up into the air and dunking them into the basketball hoop.

The next few days, at nap time as well as bed time he would lift up his sleepy head and ask "Play balloons more?"

"You can play with the balloons tomorrow."

"Play balloons now?"

"No. It's time for sleep. You like playing with the balloons, huh?"


"We'll play again tomorrow, when you wake up."

"Play balloons'morrow."

And when he woke up, he just about peed his pants with excited anticipation of playing with the balloons. (Of course, that is not too much of a different state than usual.) Playing with balloons is totally going to be my rainy day back-up entertainment plan.