Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Title withheld so as not to ruin the tone

Eli wrote (and by wrote, I mean dictated) a story that he's very keen to share with you all. He's super excited about the prospect of online publishing, but, like any five year old with superhero values, is also a bit distressed that it could fall into the wrong hands... into the hands of bad guys. This story, you see, is intended for only the good guys among you. As he explains: "Bad guys should not read my story until they stop being bad and start being good." So, to all you bad guys out there, please read no further. Go devise some crazy plot for world domination or just plain ol' blow something up, but for the love of peace, justice and all else that is good in the eyes of my five year old, please do not read any further.

As for the rest of you, read on.

Chapter 1: Giant reptiles
Once upon a time, an early form of life evolved in the sea: bacteria. Eventually, Dimetrodon evolved on land. It was the biggest reptile of its time and ate any creature that couldn't get away on time. The next day, dinosaurs evolved. They were the biggest reptiles of them all. But they weren't the only giant reptiles of that time -- huge pterosaurs ruled the sky and marine reptiles harvested the ocean. Liopleurodon was a giant marine reptile which ate dinosaurs and sharks. A huge meteor slammed into the earth and marked the end of the dinosaurs.

Chapter 2: Giant birds and horses the size of cats
This is about what happens next. This is a world where birds eat horses. Giant birds catch tiny horses and break their necks. The birds aren't the only ones that eat horses. Ambulocetus is an ambush predator. It lives in the water and pops out to eat horses. It's a walking whale.

Chapter 3: Walking whales become the true masters of the sea
This whale hunted other whales. On land there were giant turtles.

Chapter 4: The ice age
Humans evolved and the earth turned cold.
Mammals had gotten more and more successful and smart until they were the biggest, largest, most spectacular animals on the planet. There were giant mammoths which were huge mammals. They were hunted and driven off cliffs by neanderthals, who are humans but a different kind of human from us. 65 million years before this, the giant sharks were the old monsters of the sea. Now there was another monster of the sea... the whale.

The End

Shortly after composing it, he decided it was not, in fact, complete, and asked me to add this chapter:

Chapter 5: The eyes of the storm
There was a giant storm that had eyes and big shark teeth and it smelled gross because there were big fat monsters in it.

The End

Phew. Saved by the twist ending. He'd fare well as a Hollywood screenwriter.

His story does have a title, but I've held back for fear that it would distract from the serious tone. It's called "A Flying Ass." A bit much, I know, but it's his story, not mine. I suppose I should just be pleased that he recognizes the importance of grabbing the audience's attention. "A Flying Ass" it is.

The impetus for his interest in evolution, by the way, is Walking With Prehistoric Animals, a very cool series we've been watching on netflix. As usual, the kid is obsessed. I'm pretty sure he pulled several lines verbatim from the series.

In other news, our baby chicks arrive tomorrow, Eli's two front bottom adult teeth have fully grown in, David continues to make pies, and Micah sings incessantly (he's good, too!). Three year old musical performance video coming soon. Wait! I know just what you need! More videos of my kids!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

3 Years Ago Today

The story of Micah’s birth begins with my final prenatal appointment. My braxton-hicks were especially intense that day, and though I'd been having them for months, I was confident that something different was going on; something more... labor-y. My doctor agreed: I was 4 cm dilated and she thought the baby was making its move. Yippeeeeeeeeeeee! To get things jump started, she offered to sweep my membranes. I happily accepted. Half an hour later, on my way home with David and Eli, I knew, without doubt, that my baby was on the way. Sure, I'd been having contractions in some capacity for months, but these were different... the real thing, for sure! Yipeeeeeeeee yipeeeeeeeeeeee!

We arrived back at the Rancheroo to a home-cooked dinner courtesy of Elaine, my mother in law, who had flown over the border and across the continent to help care for Eli. It was delicious! "Yummy yummy yummy" as Eli would say (then and now). After dinner, David and I took advantage of the last hour of light and headed out for a walk. Our land is steep, so we took it nice and slow. Still, it was strenuous going for a 40 week pregnant lady and my contractions intensified BIG TIME. Fortunately, since we live at the Rancheroo (aka in the middle of the woods), we were surrounded by trees. Boy can they ever come in handy when you're in labor. Seriously! Who needs one of those fancy lean-on-when-you're-in-labor bar thingies when you've got 100ft Ponderosa pines! During each contraction, I gripped the nearest towering giant with my every ounce of strength; David applied pressure to my lower back. As the sky turned dark, we returned home and, shortly thereafter, my contractions slowed. I knew that I was still a long ways from meeting my baby, so I tried to sleep, an attempt, unfortunately, thwarted by night of continuous and painful contractions.

In the morning I called the amazing Sheryl, my prenatal yoga instructor and doula, and brought her up to speed on my progress. We agreed that she would head over at noon. In the meantime, I decided to lie down, and by the grace of some cosmic randomness, dozed off for a few hours.

Upon waking, my contractions picked right back up and I was super happy to see that Sheryl had arrived. For a few hours we just hung out — the whole lot of us: David, Eli, Sheryl, Elaine and I. It was fun! Sheryl and I were invited into the room of a certain young chef and he cooked up a storm in his little kitchen. We were served a stellar imaginary meal of strawberry tea and eggs. Yummy yummy yummy!

After a few hours, though, he wanted to head outside, so he and Elaine were off to the playground. David and I took the opportunity for another walk in the woods, this time with Sheryl.

And so begins one of my two favorite parts of the labor. It was a gorgeous day; what seemed like the first of spring. The earliest wildflowers were a' bloom, the butterflies a' flutter, our garden was lush and blooming and the air was unbelievably perfect, fresh and warm. It was crazy bright out and the trees literally seemed to be glowing. Despite the pain of the continued contractions, I felt blissed out of my tree. A bit high on labor pain and lack of sleep, perhaps? Absolutely! I remember feeling a rush of immense excitement at the prospect of meeting my babe and especially for him or her to come home to our amazing Rancheroo. I envisioned myself in the very near future, baby on my back, hiking, planting, and just generally loving life in the woods with two little ones.

The blissed out hike also had the effect of hastening my contractions, so we returned home to time them. 3 to 4 minutes apart! Yipeeeeeee yipeeeee yipeeeeeee! An hour later, we made our way to the hospital, where I was admitted to the triage area (for monitoring and possible admittance). The transition from laboring freely and comfortably at home to being strapped down and surrounded by unfriendly and overly busy nurses was not good... and they wouldn’t even let Sheryl come in the triage area. They did eventually admit me (I was 7 cm dilated), but the monitoring showed some dips in the baby’s heartrate following my contractions, which worried my doctor. She wanted to break my bag of waters to make sure it wasn’t meconium stained, and to put a scalp monitor on the baby's head to keep closer tabs on the heart rate. Ugh! We agreed that she could break my bag, but convinced her to skip the scalp monitor if the water was clear. She did and it was (yeah!) and I was encouraged to labor freely again. Phew.

My hospital birthing room had a sweet jacuzzi tub (which I had been looking forward to for months) so I was pretty stoked to jump on in. Sheryl double-checked with nurses to make sure it was okay (since my bag of waters had already broken). They said yes, and even let me smell it up with my essential oils. Yummy yummy yummy! Next thing I knew (and here begins my other favorite part of labor), Eli was running into the bathroom: “I wanna take a bath with you, Mama!” I remember feeling a little unsure about the whole laboring-in-a-tub-full-of-toddler-pee-with-my-bag-of-waters-no-longer-intact thing, but, miraculously, the nurses okayed it. Good thing cuz we had a BLAST! The contractions were still intense and painful, but I was able to relax... and keep the severity of the pain under wraps for Eli's sake. He enjoyed pouring water over my head, which was heavenly. We giggled. We splashed. We laughed hysterically.

Eli soon tired, (it was already 8:30 p.m.; well past his bedtime) and Elaine made the call to take him home, even though it meant that they would almost certainly miss the actual birth. As it turns out the timing was perfect -- it was shortly thereafter that the intensity of the labor really picked up and I'm not entirely sure it would have been appropriate for Eli to witness me in that state.

David and Sheryl continued to offer unrelenting support and I labored in every position imaginable. The doctors and nurses came in to monitor and check baby’s heartbeat every so often. My doctor encouraged me to try laboring in the positions that were the most uncomfortable claiming that it would help the baby make its way down the birth canal. She even had me try laboring on my back while she and the nurse did some crazy maneuvering with my knees, but for the most part I was free to labor as I pleased.

By 11pm, the pain in my back was excruciating. I was discouraged and certain that I had been in labor forever. The contractions had been less than two minutes apart for an hour and I could not get comfortable even between the contractions. I was at a loss and had no idea what to do with myself. I remember feeling like I wanted to throw myself at a wall (I didn't, thankfully) or scream and curse up a storm (I didn't, but should have). Mostly, I was exhausted and just wanted to be done.

As it turns out, I was closer than I knew. Next thing I remember, I was being monitored again and they wanted me on my back. Baby’s heartbeat was dipping during the contractions, which is normal, but it stayed low even between the contractions. My doc was obviously worried. She told me she thought the baby was “taxed." This made perfect sense to me at the time. I had been laboring for what seemed like forever. I felt incredibly taxed -- of course the baby was too! She checked my cervix: only 8-9 cm dilated and the baby was still very high. She then explained that despite the fact that I wasn’t really ready, that my baby needed to come out right away. She wanted me to start pushing while she manually open my cervix the last little bit. Holy f@*k!

So, crazy as it is, that’s what we did. It took me a few very scary and discouraging contractions before I figured out the whole pushing thing, but once I got it, I could literally feel my baby sliding down my birth canal... and quickly! The contractions came on so fierce: pain beyond anything I can describe. But with each push, there was an amazing flush of relief. Everyone was gathered around and within minutes I could feel my baby crowning! Oh heck yeah! Sheryl thoughtfully asked if I'd like a mirror to see or to reach down and touch. I said no! I was so focused on one and only one thing: pushing my baby out! Then, within moments, it happened. Instant relief and overwhelming joy. David leaned in to whisper: “It’s a boy!” and I laughed. It was all I could do to keep myself from bursting open with joy. My baby was on my belly.

And, then, one month later:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Staggering Awesomeness

If you've noticed a little something fishy around these parts, it's that I split this blog in two -- YAZAM! -- just like that. From here on out, I'll be blogging about Cushing's disease over here. Click on over to continue following my health saga (jug pissin' & golf ball sinusitus and other such TMI). If, on the other hand, you're only here for chiddler and rancheroo news, well then, you're in exactly the right place.

Important bloggidy overhaul now sorted; it's update time, baby! Things, here in Rancheroo space/time, are great on average... but with a very high standard deviation. We're enjoying all kinds of wintery goodness (and, no, I'm not *only* referring to the continuous influx of David's pipin' hot pies). Winter in the Rogue Valley is just awesome. Think spectacular lush evergreen forest and lovely mild weather. It's freakin' rocks!

Okay, so here we are... at that predictable part of the update where I inevitably go on & on about how staggeringly awesome our garden is... but, nopers, not this time. It's our first year sans winter garden. I know! It's so weird to be buying greens from the store! We're also chickenless (chicken-free?), so, as you might imagine, Rancheroo life has been unusually mellow (and by that, I mean, compared to what it'd be like if I'd just had brain surgery and we were still raising our own food). It's nice! We're hoping to get back into the groove on both fronts come spring (contingent, of course, on my health status), but for now we're loving the break.

Speaking of impending springitude, Micah -- still cute as can be -- is currently obsessed with it. Wish I could tell you that he's excitedly gearing up for spring planting, but nope, not so much. In his toddler mind, spring is equated with one and only one splendor: the re-opening of our local train park. It's winter closure is clearly some terrible & heartless joke devised to ruin his life, but for now, he begrudgingly satisfies his train fetish with youtube videos. OMG does he adore these videos.

Internet surfing and online gaming in general continue to rule his heart. On the gaming front, he was, until recently, limited to nickjr and starfall (both designed for kids who can't necessarily properly operate a mouse), but he's now a proficient mouser (mousanator?). Yep, he learned to "drag" with the trackpad... using two hands, with his tongue sticking out and brow furrowed in concentration. It's dang cute. He's also getting the keyboard thing down, thanks to one of his favorite games: Magic School Bus Voyage to the Volcano. Not exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to inspire a kid to learn to type, I know, but to log in, you have to type your name. He's been playing it since Christmas and had been logging in as "MMMM" or "MMIIIIC" (he refuses to accept help), but can now type his full name. Well pretty darn close, anyways: "MICCAH" was his latest attempt. Proud and super excited, he called me in to see, but then, frustrated by the imperfect outcome, he explained: "It keeps making me type two Cs!"

He still loves letters and numbers, reading and counting, nerding and geeking. He recognizes numbers up into the twenties now (maybe higher?) and is, as of last week, especially fond of picking out the number 20. He spotted it on a speed sign today while we were driving through town. I was impressed (!)... and I slowed down.

He's also crazy into jigsaw puzzles and loves solving complicated ones (60 pieces). He is remarkably patient and applies a brute force strategy to solving them -- he just picks up pieces and tries them until they fit. And he can actually do it! No joke! 60 piece jigsaws!

Okay, enough about the young prince, and on to big brother, Eli, who, despite the occasional ridiculous argument, Micah is completely gaga over. Eli likes Micah a whole lot too but, let's be honest, nothing compares to The Solar System. Especially, Jupiter. And its awesome volcanically active moon, Io. Oh, and let us not forget that giant ball of fire in the sky, The Sun. Also exciting are all kinds of astronomical delights beyond our mere solar system: the expanding universe, black holes, the big bang. Seriously! This stuff gets him fired up like nothing else. He's memorized all the names and locations of planets, moons, etc (!) and can identify them in maps (by relative position) and pictures (by color, size and other features). Mostly, though, he's into the superlatives: the hottest, the biggest, the farthest away, the oldest, etc. He's particularly delighted when he asks a question that we can't answer, or better yet, that nobody can. His current life ambitions are to invent something that travels faster than the speed of light and some way to live on the sun.

He's also still way into books of all sorts and continues to learn to read by some combination of memory and magic. He enjoys messing around with phonics, but I think not in the typical learning to read sort of way. Instead, he memorizes how to spell/read a word after seeing it once. I wonder if it's possible to completely learn to read this way: memorizing all the commonly words in the English language? He seems to be heading in that direction. But for now it's all about practicality. He reads well enough for his own purposes, basically to navigate effortlessly online, read signs out and about, etc. He has little interest reading books to himself, but when I'm reading to him, he likes to read chapter titles and a sentence here or there. David and I half expect him to up and start reading to himself any day, but we've been thinking that for a year now, so who knows :) He has an endless attention span for being read to and especially loves illustrated non-fiction up to and including encyclopedia entries (he actually had us read the volcano entry as his bedtime story for several weeks straight). Fiction-wise, he tends to prefer the silly end of the spectrum: Roald Dahl, Captain Underpants, and so on. He's especially fond of the sudden, grisly fates that always seem to fall upon unpleasant characters in Roald Dahl books: "hahahaha, the crocodile got sizzled up like a sausage!" Nice.

Both kids have a curiosity that knows no bounds and I've resigned myself to the feeling like I can't possibly keep up with their ever changing interests, obsessions and general desire to know everything. I feel constantly as though I'm not doing enough to feed their minds -- the nerdy discussions are near continuous yet their questions just keep coming. In the last week, we've tackled/studied/learned everything there is to know about: the human body (Micah is particularly fond of the cardiovascular system, Eli of the brain), Triassic era mammal-like reptiles (have you met the delightfully hideous Lystrosaurus?), dinosaurs (Allosaurus being the big hit of the week thanks to this amazing video), fractions, negative numbers, the magnificent Sequoia Sempervirens (Eli thinks it's so cool that other tree species can actually take root and grow right in their canopy... and that their trunks are sometimes big enough to drive through), magnetism (he learned that the earth is a giant magnet and has been passionate about it since), and, of course, astronomy, astronomy and more astronomy.

Educational videos, in particular, have become a huge part of their pursuit to know everything and, every day, I thank the intergods for our netflix account. They're especially fond of national geographic style nature shows, which I have to admit, I have a huge soft spot for. On the menu last week was planet earth and this series. Both astoundingly cool. They just leave me with this feeling of holy crap this is some amazing world -- wondrous and fragile and brutal and staggering in it's awesomeness... ya know?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Shit My Kids Said in 2009

Good mom that I am, I kept a detailed list of the silliest stuff that came out of my kids' mouths this year. Each is a stand alone quote or conversation...

Eli, watching volcano videos on youtube: "Sarah, can you find me a video of a toddler walking next to an erupting volcano?"

Micah: "I just want to be naked and watch movies."

Micah: "What if I ate a tornado... then would I explode?"

Eli: "Does clobbering someone mean the same thing as kicking someone's ass?"

Micah: "Oh shit that's good pie!" Eli: "Don't say that Micah; uncle Josh says only grown-ups are allowed to say shit." Micah: "David, are you a grown-up?" David: "Shit yeah!"

Eli: "No, I'm not dressed up as batman. I'm dressed up as buzz lightyear dressed up as batman."

Micah, explaining why he and Eli were hiding beneath a blanket, screaming bloody murder: "It's just a robot... but he's got a HUGE lance!"

Eli, watching a video of a robot attacking a tank with a sword: "Hey Sarah, look-- the robot is pruning that tank!"

Eli: "I don't need a kleenex; my shirt is so great for just wiping the boogers right up."

Micah, when asked why he was running in circles, pickle in hand: "I'm doing the pickle party dance to get away from the walking trees!"

Eli, defending the plight of the misunderstood: "People think that zombies are bad cuz they eat people's brains. But they're not! Brains are just what they need to eat!"

Micah, pointing to a capital letter Q: "What letter is that?" Me: "It's a Q." Micah: "No, it's an uppercase Q!"

Eli: "Do you think I'm old enough butcher a turkey?" David: "Hmmm..." Eli: "How about a chicken-- I'm certainly old enough for that!"

Eli: "Sarah, I love you infinity times two. Two whole forevers!"

Micah: "I spy with my little eye something that's a hot dog!"

Eli, to Micah: "I'm gonna kick your ASS." Micah, in response: "No! I don't have an ass!"

Micah, studying the forest from our living room window: "Why do we always see deer and not hippos?"

Eli, muttering to himself, during some elaborate pie baking imaginary play: "Gee, that's funny-- my frog pie has eyes!" and to Micah a few minutes later "Would you like a bite of my frog pie's butt?"

Micah: "I want a chocolate pony!"

Eli, after listening to me sing some annoying children's song that I had stuck in my head: "You know, you can't just keep singing that song forever, cuz eventually you're gonna die."

Micah, explaining why he climbed into the tub and turned on the tap while fully clothed: "I have a huge poop and need-a-get it cleaned up."

Eli, to David: "If you could live forever, would you just keep making pies forever and ever?"

Micah: "Hi David, how are you?" David: "I'm okay." Micah: "No you're not. You're *good*."

David, to Micah: "Love you." Micah: "No you love coffee."

Micah: "Let's play I spy. I'll go first. I spy with my li'l eye something that is pink. I'll give you a hint. It's on the robot butterfly!"

Eli: "I chewed the giant mean robot's face off so that he couldn't grow new legs"

Micah, acting out a favorite scene from Toy Story 2, to David: "I AM YOUR FATHER!!!!"

Micah: "Eli why are you coming in this room?" Eli: "I'm here to EXPLODE YOU!"

Eli: "Mushrooms eat people when they die." David: "?" Eli: "They eat compost. Living things decompose when they die. People are alive."

I'll leave you with a recent conversation between Micah and I, prompted by the volcano obsession currently sweeping the RaancheroOoo...

Micah: "Sarah, is Mars da planet dat we're on?"
Me: "No."
Him: "Is earf da planet dat were on?"
Me: "Yes."
Him: "Oh! I like being on earf, cuz I like all the volcanoes on earf!"
Me: "Yeah..."
Him: "There're no volcanoes on Jupiter"
Me: "Nope."
Him: "And I wouldn't like being on Jupiter, cuz it's a gas planet and I would just fall right through!"

Happy New Year!