Thursday, May 27, 2004


We just got a new refrigerator delivered yesterday. It is a big hulking behemoth, 27.3 cubic feet of Maytag's finest mid-range model line. It is a side by side refrigerator with a built in cold water dispenser, which I thought was indispensable even though all I drink is soda and Kool-Aid. Did I mention the crushed ice? Perfect for the occasional bourbon. It is about a foot wider and eight inches higher than our older, smaller fridge, which is the one that came with our house and is therefore the cheapest one that our builder thought it could get away with supplying with our house.

The guys who delivered the new fridge actually had to lift it up in the air to clear the island in our kitchen. This must be a thankless job, and one I am grateful not to have. They were also kind enough to help me resolve a problem with furniture moving that resulted from this new appliance. Now, like many households, we have a regular fridge in the kitchen and a beer fridge in the basement. We also have a freezer. Our old beer fridge is an ancient brown relic I received for free from a man in Reston who was glad to be rid of it. It makes gurgling noises constantly and did not have a defroster in the freezer, which meant that the freezer was gradually becoming sort of an Eskimo snow cave.

So the new fridge goes in the kitchen. The new-old fridge goes to the basement to replace the old-old brown gurgling one, which then becomes trash. Only you can't just throw out a refrigerator. You have to remove the freon and bring it to the dump. Also, the way into our basement involves going through a sliding glass door and up a flight of cement stairs. Then going around the house on the outside. The alternative is to go up the stairway, around a 90-degree turn, and then up through a narrow slanty doorway.

So Kathleen got the nice men who delivered this beast to do all this for me, to save me the effort and pain and suffering, and possibly a herniated disk. How, you may ask? She gave them twenty bucks!

I also had a shipment of drywall delivered the same day, in anticipation of me drywalling the basement with Kathleen's brother this weekend. Again, Kathleen managed to convince the man delivering the drywall to bring it down the stairs and into the basement for me. How, you may ask? She gave him twenty bucks! I love my wife. Greasing palms everywhere to make life easier for yours truly.

This past weekend I was watching PJ and Sam so that Kathleen could go to some mysterious Girl Scout ritual with Anna. I had to go to the bathroom at one point. PJ was off somewhere doing something quiet. So I went to the john, leaving the door open so that I could listen for Sam. I hear him cackling with glee and think to myself what a cute kid he is. But when I return to the kitchen he has climbed onto a kitchen chair, and then onto the kitchen table. He is standing there like an fifteen month old King Kong, waving his arms and yelling, his long red hair waving in the breeze. Sam is getting crazier and crazier.

For the past few months Sam has definitely been our favorite child. He's such a good baby, sleeping all the time. He eats like a lumberjack. But now he's getting more persistent, more demanding, and crazier. It doesn't help that we haven't cut his curly red hair yet, and it’s longer on the sides than on top. This makes him look like a miniature version of a cross between Sam Kinison and Bozo the clown. I asked Kathleen the other day on the phone which child was her favorite today. "None of 'em" she said, "I'm not happy with any of 'em right now."

One more story. As I was putting PJ to bed last night, we say our prayers and all, and then I tuck him. I put my finger to his belly and I say, "You know I love you, don't you?"

PJ looks at me. "Yeah", he says, and then he smiles. A small noise comes from his but region. "I just tooted,” he says with a grin.

Maybe just one more story. The other day I found a note Anna had left on the kitchen table. She had drawn pictures on it, and folded it up, as if you would put it into an envelope. It said:

Dear God,

I am sorry you are in heaven.

Love Anna

Thursday, May 20, 2004

PJ GOES POTTY 5.20.2004

My oldest son has been a little late getting into his toilet game. For our part, as parents, we have always been of a mind that when he is ready, he will want to be potty trained. We have heard horror stories from friends who tried to push their children into this too soon, and ended up with lots of accidents, and not much result for their effort. Plus, with Anna it was easy. One day she decided she was going to be potty trained and Lord help you if you stood in her way.

Whenever we would ask PJ about going peepee and poopie on the pottie (and you just have to talk like this, do not ask me why) he would just say "No, I don't want to." We would have many conversations like this.

"PJ, don't you want to be grow up and be big and strong? Big strong men like your dad all go poopie and peepee on the pottie." Being a big strong man like myself I felt odd saying "poopie" and "peepee" but when you're a parent you get just get over these things.

"No, I don't want to grow up and be big and strong." PJ said this and folded his arms and scowled at me. We were at impasse.

Hmm, maybe I can shame him into it. "PJ, do you want to stay a little baby like Sam for the rest of your life?"

"No, I don't want to be a little baby like Sam. I want to be PJ. I don't want to be bigger or smaller."

Well, as admirable as his sense of self is, We weren't making any progress. You see, somewhere deep inside myself I know that PJ won't be graduating from high school with a diaper on. Although in a recent conversation with Gagi, she asked him if he'd still be wearing a diaper when he turned 50 and he said yes. So I knew he would eventually use the toilet, even as he was convinced that he never would. The question arises as to why anyone would stay in a diaper longer than they had to. Well, he is a three year old, and a stubborn one. From his point of view, all change is bad. Also, I think he knew that this was a control issue, that we couldn't make him do this, and that by saying no he was exasperating us, thus punishing us for all the stuff parents get blamed for. Whatever his reasons, he was being as stubborn as a mule

The problem is that when kids turn 3 they are usually expected to be housebroken, and there are lots of key places like nursery school and summer camps that won't accept children that do not make use the facilities, so to speak. So Kathleen is nervously watching the school-less summer months approach, and picturing PJ around all the time. He's standing there in the kitchen, staring at her with those big eyes, asking for crackers, whining about something, being a nuisance, all day long. Day after day. Kathleen sees all this with dread crossed with abject terror.

So one day Kathleen asks PJ, "PJ do you want to go to summer camp?" she explain to him that Anna is going to summer camp. She tell him about the swimming, the crafts, the games. She gives him the whole sales pitch. He is hooked. She tells him about the sunshine, how clear the water is, how the air is so fresh that you can smell flowers from across he field. This is truly shangra-la for a three year old boy she explains. "PJ, do you want to go to summer camp with Anna?"

"Oh yes, yes, Mom! I do want to go to summer camp!" PJ said, his eyes sparkling with expectation.

Time to close the deal. "PJ, only little boys who go to toilet get to go to summer camp." Kathleen said quietly.

"Oh, well, then I won't go." PJ said without even the slightest hesitation, so strong was his diaper bound conviction. He ran off to play some game. Well, with two stubborn parents, I guess it should be no surprise to see this trait in our children, but it can be discouraging.

It was time to break out the heavy artillery. The *gameboy (cue up the orchestra pit for a big da-da-DAA whenever you see the asterisk). PJ loves video games. Its his crutch,his Achilles heel. A few months back we were looking at a pop-up trailer from a cousin of Gagi who lives with family up in the mountains west of Staunton, VA. We didn't end up buying the trailer, but a little boy there had a *gameboy, and e let PJ play with it. PJ loved it. He literally screamed when we we took it away from him when we had to leave.

So now we were at Wal-Mart and I showed PJ the section of the electronics department where they had the *gameboys. "PJ?" I asked, "Would you like to have one those?" He said yes. "I'll buy it or you, and you can play with it all weekend, but then you have to give it back until you can go to the toilet." He didn't say anything.

Kathleen's dad referred to this as "baiting the hook." Sure enough, PJ played with the *gameboy all weekend, and at the end I put it in its packaging and hung it on a hook in the kitchen where he couldn't help but see it every day.

It didn't work. (!@#$) A few days went by. He ignored it completely. Stubborn little mongrel.

A few days after that Kathleen got frustrated and told PJ that she was done changing his diapers. One of those days when I get a phone call that immediately starts with "Can I just say that I am sick and tired of..." She said to PJ that he can pee on himself if he wanted to but she wasn't hanging his diapers any more. PJ finally turned the corner. The advantage to waiting until you are 3 1/2 to potty train is that the learning curve is very short, and there are few accidents. The first time I saw him pee in the toilet you would have thought he was Michelangelo and had just put the final strokes on the Systene Chapel judging by the glee in my voice as I praised his fine bathroom-manship. It was a beautiful day, and he got his *gameboy back, although that kind of pissed me off. I wanted it.

Saturday, May 08, 2004


Those loyals readers might remember me making a comment about a certain, er, procedure that I needed to get done just after our third little bundle of joy Samuel was born a short 15 months ago. (psst--Go look in the archives if you don't remember.)

This Thursday the deed was done with the help of the very capable, humorous, and wise Dr. Glover. I am still recovering, and the pain was minimal and the procedure uneventful. As always, we thank you for your support. I will say no more on this matter, save one thing. THREE IS PLENTY!

Anna's first tooth was swallowed while eating a banana. This time, her second tooth, was successfully positioned under her pillow until PJ found it and stuffed it down his shirt. From there it fell down his shirt, and after that its anybodies guess what happened, but the tooth vanished. Maybe it ended up in the same place the quarter is headed? Anna left this note for the tooth fairy (I think the scriipt at the top is her babysitter, the rest is pure anadulterated Anna) -- and recieved two dollars, a neat silver one to keep forever and a boring green one to spend at the Ben Franklin.