Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Taco love

I have been really bad about dinner time. I understand the importance of a family dinner time, where everyone can gather and talk about their day and enjoy a healthy meal. I understand because I grew up that way. I also understand I am a failure at it. For one, my husband works all kinds of crazy hours so there's a logistical problem right there. Add to that my never ending stream of diets in which I am usually eating a prepackaged meal. The final issue is that my son never seemed to be able to hold it together to eat at the table- he would get super behavioral and honestly I didn't see the point in forcing him to do something that would make him terribly unhappy all in the name of 'family time'. It bothers me sometimes, but we have gotten used to our ways.

I have the almighty taco to thank for lifting the cloud of maternal guilt I have been wrought with. Bubs has been expressing an interest in tacos. I think one of his friends had those 'lunchables' (which I haven't been able to bring myself to purchase) with the tacos in it. He has been intrigued ever since. So while out grocery shopping we threw caution to the wind and got the taco kit, with the crunchy and the soft shells. Last night, I assembled all of the goods (and my lazy self must admit that tacos are indeed dish intensive, with an emphasis on bowls) and we all sat down to dinner, get this... as a family.

It was exciting and wonderful for a few reasons. To be able to sit at a table with my son and husband and feel like a 'normal' family eating a meal was amazing. I felt like I was in a commercial for home baked goodness. No one was screaming or forced against their will to sit in a chair. No noggin was involved. No reinforcers. Just sitting at the table. Add in that my son was telling us how he was helper of the day and just what that means, well, that was tear inducing (happy tears). The triple whammy element that just set it over the edge into nirvana territory was the fact that my son was eating something he never had before and was enjoying it. He tried the crunchy one first and then wanted a soft one. He actually ingested lettuce!!!! He also tried salsa but that got rejected, 'too spicy' was his exact words.

Bubs even called up his grammy to declare 'I had tacos, they were delicious!' It was an amazing extraordinary dinner that was (almost) better than any five star dining experience I have had.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Gulliver's travels

Last night, my dad took bubs and I to the golf course to ride the carts. My dad does a lot of work at this particular course, he is in construction and he has moved dirt there to make paths for the carts. So after making sure all the players were gone, we took a cart and went for a wild ride chasing the geese off the greens. This golf course happens to be in a pretty affluent area. Long Island is a paradise for the wealthy (but hey, what isn't?). It was a beautiful breezy evening and my bubs had an awesome time flooring the gas pedal (it's electric though, right?) while his poppy steered. There were a lot of huge beautiful homes surrounding the course. Bubs was intrigued by these. He kept asking me if giants lived there. Which given the size and grandiose scale of the houses was a brilliant deduction. I told him that very wealthy giants lived there. Rich giants, with lots of dollars in their wallet.

Friday, April 18, 2008


I have a confession to make. I thought I had a cyber stalker. I thought that the content of this blog must be so controversial, so thought provoking, so 'dangerous' that someone thought I must be stopped. I did. I was a little scared too. Till I found out it was just random 'spambot'.

Two days ago someone named 'shakadala' left a comment for me in the post underneath this one. Wow, that's a cool name, I thought. I wonder what they have to say. Well, what they had to say was 'click here'. Yeah. I have likened that one to my brother in law telling me to 'pull his finger'. Not that I ever fell for that one. But embarrassing as it is to admit my naivete, I did click there. Well, at least I can say I now have the wonderful program 'spybot' up and running on my computer and old bessie is now running faster than ever. So I guess I do have shakadala to thank.

So after my friend shakadala came and went, I got another comment, on the same post from someone named 'khagan'. Folks, you must know how much I love comments. I do. I really really do. So imagine my dismay when I see khagan leaving the same message as shakadala. I of course deleted it immediately, but the wheels began to turn in my brain. Did I offend someone with my detailed description of my son's drawing of the ocean floor? Have I said something hurtful? Does someone hate me? I even had my mother concerned. I was imagining scary things akin to that movie with Diane Lane where she is some kind of law enforcement agent who becomes entangled with a cyber murderer who posts his gory killing sprees on the net. I didn't see it, but I imagined it to be pretty scary. At any rate, I asked around to some more 'seasoned' bloggers and they assured me it was something called 'spambot' and that I should just delete it and move on. They also advised me to add that little box at the bottom of the comments where you have to enter that code. I now know what that code is for.

Hey, thanks Shakadala and Khagan. I learned so much from you two!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Portrait of the artist as a young man

I remember the days of trying to get bubs to just hold a marker. Trying to coax out a line. He had a short lived love affair with balloons and he would fill up the page with perfectly drawn ovals with little triangles on the bottom of them, with a line coming out of it. It was really an anomaly though, because he never really cared to draw anything after that.
They have a drawing program for bubs at school. I never expected more than some improvement in the fine motor skills though because as an art teacher, I found the 'roteness' of it kind of creatively stifling. I continued to give bubs a wide variety of art materials at home and I let him hold his markers however he wanted, in whatever hand he wanted, grip of choice. I just wanted him to enjoy the process.
So now, he has managed to merge his new found skills of line making, with his wonderful amazing thought process. I have watched him drawing the last couple of days. He will sit and make these thoughtful elaborate undersea scenes. The drawings are really detailed and you can actually tell what he is trying to make. Then he will color in his creations, which kind of renders them shapeless blobs. This is where my love of process comes in- as an art teacher of young children, I never felt that the final product was indicative of the process, of the heart and soul they put into it. I was never one for that perfect cookie cutter holiday project. Even now, when I get them home, they are void of any kind of spirit. I think they are good for direction following, and can reinforce curriculum, but creativity, no.
Ok, I am rambling now. My point was to show off bubs' latest creation. It is an ocean scene, note the blue border around the page. The orange on the bottom is the sand. The white shape to the lower left is a giant clam. Can you see the scallopy line indicating the 'mouth' of the clam? The vertical green lines are the sea grass, the orange squiggle on the top left is a sea horse, can you sea the spiral tail? The two large green horizontal 'blobs' are gulper eels.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Yesterday in the mail I got the local newspaper. It's kind of like a little pennysaver with some local news interest stories. Well, on the bottom of the front page was this article. In a nutshell, these parents chose to seek a religious exemption on vaxing their kids. The school district challenged this exemption. They said they doubted the sincerity of the parents religious beliefs and ruled that the kids had to have the shots in order to go to school. How do you prove someones sincerity?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Critical Thinking

This evening bubs was watching some tv before the tub. He is heavily into public tv. We have a kids 13 channel which is all kids public tv shows. He loves this, and the fact that we have two other public tv channels to toggle back and forth and check out all the options. So tonight after exhausting all the possibilities, the only one not offering up bbc world news was the kids 13 channel. Wishbone came on. Wishbone is about a cute dog that time travels. It's live action and can be a little too 'historical' for a four year old. So bubs sings the theme song but then says "Put on Noggin Mommy" and then what could be considered a 'mutter' says softly 'this show stinks'. I might not have caught it if I wasn't looking at him.

The strange thing about it was that it sounded so 'typical'. I can only describe it like that, and it's kind of like not knowing you are missing something till you actually get a taste of it. It was not a loud sing songy aba type 'this show is stinky mommy', but more of a quick, under the breath type of utterance that kids (not usually mine) do. I must say that I am a little alarmed at the sheer attitude coming out of my boy these days. I can't quite put my finger on it, perhaps he has been reading Sartre after I tuck him in at night.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Waiting for Godot

Can I just say that I love that my son can talk. I love it. I love it so much that I get happy hearing him say things that other parents might get mildly annoyed by. I love it all (well, most of it). I don't take a thing for granted, even the sassy back talk.
Bubs hasn't earned his benjamins. He got a sad face on Monday and another today. I think it's an adjustment to the new reinforcer system plus some minor screw ups at school with the wallet and stuff. So I have been really trying to drive home the fact that no dollars mean no shopping trip on Friday. Even more complicated a concept is the fact that he won't be able to buy anything good with two measly dollars.

I have been asking him all sorts of questions about why he isn't being a good listener. Today's reason was, and I quote "sometimes the projects are too boring". When did my son learn about 'boring'? I am a little disappointed that he doesn't like projects, but I have to agree as a former art teacher that yeah, sometimes their projects are a little lame, but what does he know from that? He hasn't been doing preschool projects for the last thirty years. From what I can remember about teaching preschool art, is that those kids are easily impressed. I remember just putting out containers of red paint elicited squeals of joy. How is it that my boy is so jaded?
So now that we have the concept of boredom down, we should start on obligations. I am going to teach him how to pay the phone bill.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sweet Relief


We have introduced a new reinforcer system for bubs' behavior mod plan at school. We have cut to the chase with it all and just decided to hand him the cold hard cash. We used to have this convoluted system of bubs earning three smiley faces during preschool for various positive behaviors, which in turn allowed him to pick a reinforcer, which was usually a place I would take him, where he would then pick out something. I tried to make some of the choices experiences as opposed to 'things', or rather, purchases because frankly, we have too much stuff already and it just kind of made me uncomfortable. At this point, we are looking to fade this out. Next year I am not going to buy him something every day of the week for being a 'good listener' and honestly, with bubs, it wasn't really about the object he got, it was more about 'getting the object' if that makes any sense. Once said object was got, somehow, the thrill was a little bit gone.
So, I noticed during Easter, when bubs got ten dollars from my grandma and another random two dollars stuffed into an egg, he got very excited with the prospect of going to the store and using the green papers to buy an item of his choice. At first he thought it meant he could get 12 items (which I guess at dollar tree, would be a possibility). I thought that might cause a problem, but actually it didn't. He wound up getting two six dollar items. I saw the potential in this and mentioned it to bubs school at the last team meeting. So I got him a nice new wallet (I wanted spiderman but I settled on cars) and it was explained to him that he had the chance to earn a dollar a day for following the rules (and accumulating those damn smiley faces) and at the end of the week he could take his money earned and buy a toy.
Can I say that this has been a looooooonnnnnng week for poor bubs. Every morning he dramatically sobbed that he wanted to go to the toy store today. On the days I picked him up at preschool, I could feel him jonesing for a toy. It was hard, but I really wanted to start delaying that reinforcer and I think that this will be a great overall lesson for him. We can incorporate math, and money concepts, as well as responsibility and stuff. Still it seems kind of weird to be paying my kid a dollar a day to be good, ya know? Am I molding him to be a greedy consumer? Or am I teaching him the value of a buck and how to save for things you want?
All I can say is I hope to God that he was a good listener today and earned his trip to the toy store.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Shameless self plug

Once again proving that I must have way too much time on my hands (or I am really really organized) as well as having a deep seated need for recognition and approval, I have found myself nominated for 'best new blog'. Perhaps when I am feeling really self actualized I will tell you how I found myself nominated. I don't think voting begins until the beginning of may, but I just wanted to plant this image (and link) into the minds of anyone reading this humble blog to prepare you for the influx of begging that is imminent. Feel free to click on the picture to sample some other underdog bloggers out there craving the limelight of celebublog status.

Smooth operator

So my son has become quite the ladies man. The other day when I picked him up from preschool, his shadow told me there was a love triangle going on, and bubs was in the center of it (unbeknownst to him). She said that there was a boy named Shawn who liked a little girl named Suzanne. Well it seems Suzanne doesn't feel quite the same towards Shawn. During snack time, she asked bubs if he would sit next to her. Shawn became upset and said (and I am paraphrasing third hand info from his shadow) 'you can't sit next to her 'bubs' she is my girlfriend, I love her', and somehow Suzanne made it known that she wanted bubs not Shawn as her snack mate. Shawn wasn't too pleased. Of course my bubs was oblivious to it all, he was just enjoying his smart food cheesy popcorn and he was happy to sit next to anyone that asked. I asked him about it on the way home, and he really didn't have any idea that Shawn was angry or that Suzanne 'chose' him. His shadow thought it was adorable, me, I have to say it was a little disconcerting that a preschooler has decided to enter the dating pool.

Then, today when I got home from my errands, I noticed a letter in the mailbox addressed to bubs. I probably should have waited for him to get home, but I opened it without thinking. Again, is it disconcerting that I should be thinking of my four and a half year olds privacy issues regarding correspondence? At any rate, inside the envelope was a teeny tiny folded square of the small legal pad paper. Once unfolded I saw the sweet scrawlings of Emma, the girl from his center based program. The note said "Dear 'bubs', love Emma' and it had a cute picture of what I think is a spider. Now the way to my son's heart is definitley through insects, or reptiles, or dinosaurs or sea creatures. I must say that I prefer Emma as a daughter in law, over that heart breaker Suzanne. Needless to say, bubs wrote her back this afternoon, a lovely picture of a dolphin.

Ahh, to be young again... I don't think I had this much of a social life four years ago, let alone when I was four.