Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Great Insight

The other day I was painting a picture for Claire's room using water color. Oliver was very interested and impressed with the picture. He looked it over and told me how much he liked the unicorn, which is actually the best part of the layout. Then he said, "Hey Mama, there is no white paint here," pointing to my tray of watercolors, "How you did make the unicorn white?"

"The paper is white, so I just painted purple all around it," I said. "Whoa! That's cool."

I thought it was a pretty great insight of his to notice that.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Yesterday we went to see Santa in downtown San Carlos. We got there right at noon when he opened and there was no line! Oliver walked right up to him and said, "Hello, I'm Oliver!" in typical Oliver fashion. Then he handed a note we wrote outlining his gift desires and one gift idea for Papa and Mama. We tried to get a good photo but Oliver didn't really want to sit on the stranger's lap or pose. Oliver declined a candy cane and we left. Later when we passed by again on our way to the car, Oliver shouted to him, "We are just going to walk away now!" indicating that he didn't want anymore Santa time. Santa laughed at that one.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Mr. Particular

Interesting facts about Oliver:
1. "Juice" to him is 1/2 water 1/2 apple juice (no other juice is potable) warmed for 20 seconds in the microwave. Oliver drinks Juice, lemonade, milk, water or root beer. Period.
2. Each day Oliver must bring a car with him to school, to keep in his backpack. Before he'll put it in the backpack he needs to show a teacher.
3. Oliver's classroom has three potties. He will only use the middle.
4. If we are reading a book about cars and there is a page of really interesting autos, Oliver will stop and say, "Wait a minute. I need to get serious about this."

Leaf Jumpin'

Sunday, November 6, 2011

3 year old boy

I think October might be my favorite month - fall's finally here, MLB playoffs and the World Series, Halloween - we had fun this October. Oli decided he wanted to be skeleton for Halloween, so despite our far-flung wishes of him finally deciding to adorn the darling panda bear costume Amanda so lovingly sewed for him last year....we went with the skeleton. I bought a 3T/4T costume online, and it was waaaaayyy too tight, so we got some black clothes that fit him, and Amanda sewed the bones on. His buddy Alex was a skeleton too, so they made for a cute couple.

I just uploaded photos from our camera for the first time in months, so I'm including a bunch from the late summer months and early fall this time.

Amanda and Joanne at Oli's birthday party


Ridiculous birthday fun

He loves going to the doctor. He often begs us to please go to the doctor.

First day of his new class at Bing

Goblin Walk with Mama

Oliver the Skeleton

Carving pumpkins with Grandma and Grandpa Meek

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Oliver at the bounce house pumpkin patch

Oliver's first woodworking project at school. He loves trains and trucks with trailers, so I could see him getting interested in connecting the two pieces of wood together with nails.

Oliver at the bounce house pumpkin patch, going down the BIG shark slide.

Oliver trying out his new roller-skates. He says that he likes them, and then explains that he wants them to have a button so that they can go electronically. Doesn't want me to hold his hand (as usual).

Thursday, October 6, 2011

3 going on 13

List of a few of Oliver's latest phrases:

"That's what I'm talking about!" (in sort of an "I agree" kind of a way)

"Mom, come here I want to show you something that's really cool." (He's been saying "cool" lately and calls me "mom" now and then)

"I want to do snuggies and cozies." (Meaning that he wants me to hold him on my lap.)

"Stop it. I mean it mama."

Favorite Books:
1. Anything having to do with a mom having a baby
2. Fox on sox. Rhyming is now hilarious.

Favorite Shows:
- Jake and the Neverland pirates (Loves pirates and pirate ships. Plays with his pirate ship in the bath each day.)
- Beauty and the Beast

Favorite Games:
- Hide and seek
- Chasing papa through the house

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

Life: What I've learned so far.... By Oliver Linden

If Oliver were to become 35 right now, this is how he would approach his life.

His job and overall personality would be: "Dick Van Dyke: musician/chimney sweep"

Each day he would wear this outfit, in varying colors:

In his garage would be this car:

When he's trying to please the wife, he would make the following: "Lemonade Chicken with Pickled Ginger"

Monday, September 5, 2011

Baby in my belly

People often ask me what Oliver thinks of having a new sister on the way. It's strange to me, because I don't know what kind of response they are looking for. There's no way a toddler would want to introduce something new to the family that will be a mom attention suck, and babies don't really offer any fun for almost a year. They won't play together for some time. So generally the answer is, "He's aware it's happening, totally unaware of the impact it will have on his life, and if he was aware, would absolutely try to push for a change in plan."

That said, there are some things Oliver is doing related to the baby on the way. He has put Nana (his monkey) under his shirt a million times telling whomever will listen that he has a baby in his belly. He has a book that talks about a pregnant mom who gives birth, and he's very interested in how the big belly can turn into a baby. He lifts my shirt sometimes, points at my belly button, and tells me in an instructive way that the baby will come out of that button. I don't argue.

Oliver has never tried to care for a baby doll. After Oliver's birthday party a family left a baby that was battery operated and would crawl. He began to hold the baby's legs while the arms waved mechanically back and fourth and pretended that the baby was either a vaccuum or a lawn mower, I'm not sure which. So he's not a nurturing sort.

I'm sure Oliver will have a hard time when the baby comes, and that he will be generally indifferent for some time. Hopefully as he gets older he will be a caring older brother who can offer attractive older friends for this new gal to flirt with.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Robot Movie

Oliver had his first nightmare last night. He woke up screaming after watching "The Iron Giant" for the 4th time. He explained that in his sleep a white robot came and chased a boy. The robot stuck it's tongue out yelling "blawl blawl blawl!" and scaring the boy.

"Would you like to sleep in our bed?"


Cut to a pregnant woman stuck between a snoring husband and a toddler with 5 trucks and a monkey in his hands.

"I want to watch a show Mama."

"No, that's what got you in trouble in the first place. We are sleeping now. Go to sleep."

"I want to go to the doctor." (for some reason Oliver loves going to the doctor)

"Not now Oliver. Maybe soon."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm too big.

This morning, Oliver excitedly reported to us that there was a Buzz Lightyear toy stuck in the muck outside, behind a bush. It was the same Buzz he'd thrown in there months before, when the bush was overgrown and trying to take over the backyard. Now that our gardeners had trimmed it, he could see Buzz again, and we needed to mount a recon mission. Now. Always a dad who encourages serving your own needs, I took my coffee outside.

Buzz was about five feet in. Oliver would have to step through dirt, over plants, and brush away some branches to get to him. Nothing he couldn't do. There was also a small soccer ball, a matchbox car, a whiffle ball, and a white truck in the bush. Wonder how those got there. I pointed them all out to Oliver, and showed him a path he could take to get them. I pulled the soccer ball out, as it was in arm's reach. Then I stepped back and nodded, "You'll have to go in and get Buzz, because I'm too big." It was true. I would have had to put my coffee down and crawl a few feet over plants and dirt wet with dew. "No papa," he retorted, "I'm too big."

The "I'm too big" defense has become a common strategy lately. We'll be sitting on the sofa and Oli will want to read a book. "Alright, go get it," I'll say. "No papa - you get it. I'm too big." We'll be in the bathtub before bed and I'll tell him it's almost time to brush his teeth, but he can't because he's too big. We like to encourage his bigness, as every parent does - it's a nice motivator to get him to do something you want him to do. It's useful for transitions - big boy bed, big boy using the potty - and it's funny how he's co-opting it as an excuse for not having to do something.

At my urging, Oli ventured a few steps into the wilderness, holding my hand for balance. He got a poke from a low branch and stepped back out. He wasn't hurt, but he walked up the steps of our deck to oversee his mission from afar. I encouraged him to come back down, told him I'd help hold the branches back. He stood there for a moment, before literally gasping and shouting, "Oh my goodness, papa!" No, he had not just seen an awesome airplane in the sky or been surprised by two squirrels chasing each other up and down a tree. His "Oh my goodness" came out of disbelief that I could still be talking and not getting Buzz, already. It was more convincing than "I'm too big."

Laughing in spite of myself, I struck a compromise, "Maybe there's a tool in the shed we can use." Of course! The shed would have the solution to our problem. We love the shed. The lawnmower's in there. Tools too. A couple baseball bats. Lots of paint cans. Organized boxes. It speaks to our male minds. We set up beach chairs in there so that we can socialize. We ate lunch in there together a few times.

Oliver suggested we use the lawnmower. I thought that maybe the rake would work better. He agreed, impressed with the rake's "hooks" on its end. He started hauling it outside, then insisted that I also carry and end of it. There's the teamwork! We're coming for you, Buzz!

I thought we were going to reach the rake into the bush and drag Buzz out, in the same fashion we use a broom to retrieve cars from under a sofa, but the hooks on the rake must have reminded Oli of cranes. Either that or he wanted to recreate the climax of Toy Story 3, when the claw rescues Buzz and friends from sure peril. He carried it up the steps and had me help him drop the end with the hooks over the railing. We hooked Buzz's foot and slowly pulled the rake back up. Oli reached through the slats and pulled Buzz to freedom!

We'd done it. Not the way I'd thought it would happen, but Buzz got some long-awaited play time. And my coffee was still warm.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oliver's Noteables

1. Able to count at a glance. Can look at a set of cars and say "that's three cars" without counting individually.

2. Good at sharing. Able to find something to offer a friend if a conflict arises over the toy he is holding. Doesn't yank toys from others.

3. Has been able to do a somersault for about 6 months.

4. Able to ride a tricycle.

5. Creates little scenarios in his play. The bulldozer pulls up the train track and has to fix it, or the crane has to help the train who fell off the track.

6. Can build letters by putting cars together to make shapes. So a line of cars with one horizontal on top and bottom is a capital I.

7. Most common phrases, "Follow me please," "I need a snack", "I want to watch a show", "Relax guys" (said to Matthew and I when we are talking calmly, as a way to tell us to stop talking and focus on him).

8. Fully potty trained and able to tell us when he needs to go. Wears diaper at nap and bedtime.

9. Still takes a blissful 2-3 hour nap in the afternoon, which is the joy of my weekend. Sleeps through the night, but is starting to play a bit in his room rather than going directly to sleep when put down.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Easter 2011

Oliver shares his favorite things

At Oliver's school, Bing, they did a project where each child could bring in 5 favorite things to share with the class, all of which fit into a brown box. Matthew and I met at the school to watch Oli's presentation. He shared Nana, a book we made him, his PJs, a family photo, and a car from "Cars". It was wonderful for me to see him understand the privilege of being able to be in front of the class, and to be proud to share his things.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Making Time for Uninterrupted Play

Each week, I write a few paragraphs for the newsletter at my school. I wrote this one a few weeks back about trying to make time to spend time with Oliver - after reading it, a number of parents told me they were going to try it out with their children...

"Making Time for Uninterrupted Play"
Since I have a long commute, I feel the obligatory guilt about not spending enough time with my son, Oliver. As a way of bargaining, I’ve been trying to spend as much time with him each day as I spend in the car, which is approximately 2 hours. As a working parent, it’s a challenge for me to spend 2 quality hours with him without being distracted (especially now that baseball season is in high gear). It’s so easy, once he’s hit an independent playing streak, to quietly sneak off to my computer to check box scores, respond to an email I’ve been putting off for too long, or clean the dishes in the sink. Throw in the fact that I have to shower in the morning and am beat at the end of a workday, and it’s a real challenge. So the weekends are my real opportunity to connect with him.

Many people asked me how my weekend was last week, and for some reason, it’s caused me to reflect more often than I normally do. This past weekend, during the times we hadn’t made any plans, I decided to let Oliver lead our play. Often, I take the initiative, because I want him to have a diverse play experience, and I feel like I can provide that for him. But there’s something about how much a child is invested in an activity when it’s their idea, and not yours. At Parker we often talk about self-directed activities and teacher-directed activities. Without exception, children have a harder time fully participating when the activity has been the brainchild of another person.

Oliver’s reached the point developmentally where he’s able to engage in fantasy play, and not look at the world in a completely literal sense (for example, when I’d ask him, “Oliver, are you hungry?” he’d respond, “No, I’m Oli”). And so this weekend I made a vow to let his world of fantasy come out and to not become distracted when I was playing with him. I let him direct our activities, and I loyally followed, with no plans or map to guide us. He’s been into dragons lately, and so we hid from them together under the table. “Look, a dragon!” he’d say, and we’d run into the other room, find the dragon, and run back to our hiding place. The play developed when our cat, Franco, sauntered by and Oliver stated, “There’s the dragon!” The poor cat wasn’t prepared for us bold adventurers involving him in our script, but played along, albeit lazily. Later, the dragon became a box of cereal, and Oliver vanquished of him by insisting that he had to eat a bowl of Cheerios.

What I found was that once I allowed myself to become immersed in his world and his play, it was incredibly rich, wholly rewarding, and it brought our relationship to a new level. The time didn't drag by, and I didn't feel the need to augment the play in the slightest. I simply asked questions that I thought might help him create more of the script and show him I was invested in his imagination - but only peppered them in here and there. I didn't grill him with, "Where's the dragon? What color is he? Can you say the /f/ sound in fire-breathing? Let's count the talons!"

The “dragon” script has created a new dialogue between us, and provides good memories and humor when we need it. I encourage all of you to take the bold step of not having any plans with your child, ignoring the computer and your daily tasks, and letting them lead you in a couple hours of uninterrupted play. It’s worth it.
- Matt

Monday, April 18, 2011


After my post on Friday, I took the time to write a book called "I Can Share" for Oliver. I use the term "book" loosely, as this is about ten sentences of content and some sketches that look like they were drawn by a serial killer. The whole thing uses 5 staples, 5 pieces of paper, and a black marker and takes about 15 minutes.

The story outlines a scenario where a boy yanks a red truck from a girl and yells "mine!". Then the auther explains that this is not okay. The girl cries so the boy can tell that he's upset the girl. Next time the boy asks, "Can I see that next?" and the girl eventually hands over the toy. The boys is now doing sharing. We walk through 2 more examples of the "Can I see that next?" scenario resulting in successful sharing and the book ends.

We then did some practicing around the house finding things that we could take turns using. At first it didn't work and we heard "Mine!" a bunch. But we did get some success eventually. Oliver read the book about 12 times over the weekend. He always loves the home made books.

We read the book in the car on the way to a play date and he proactively said the "Can I try that next" several times during the ride there. The play date went off well, and it was great for me to see that Oliver really does want to understand.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Social Skills

I'm finding myself very confused with a few parenting issues. First, Oliver has a habit of getting out of bed after we put him down and saying he needs to use the restroom. He knows we don't say "no" to that request so he then stays on the potty forever trying to prolong his sleep. For a while now he's been getting out of his bed and sneaking around the house while we are watching TV or doing work. Eventually he will make a noise and we'll find him lurking and send him back to bed. It's an ongoing struggle where we try not to get angry, as we find that being consistent and calm makes the process go faster. But I find myself wondering whether I should be super strict, or mellow about it each night. Let me be clear in saying that we have never even one time told him "okay you don't really have to go to bed". So it's not like we are sending mixed signals. Yet he is unrelenting in his stubbornness and continuing attempts to push the boundaries.

The other issue is that Oliver is a bully. I'm just going to say it. He always knows what he wants, he leads whomever he is playing with, he often manhandles others in his play, and he just grabs things out of others' hands. He's not very good at sharing, though he spends the bulk of his day with other children. In a situation where he and another child are playing, he may yank a toy out of the other child's hand without warning, and then I find myself going over to try to ask him to give it back. Oliver flat out refuses me again and again, so then I'm faced with the choice of letting it go, or actually MODELING the bad behavior by yanking the toy out of his hand to give back to the child. The other parent inevitably will coach their child to find another toy, and the situation ends. It is a huge challenge, and is embarrassing for me for sure.

Matthew and I are stuck wondering whether this behavior we are seeing is "just normal two year old behavior" or whether it's signs of negative future behavior that need to be nipped in the bud every time they are seen. It's hard wondering what other parents must think of you when they see your child behaving in a selfish way.

I hate to be negative, as Oliver has a lot of wonderful traits too, which I should probably highlight more than I do. He's so physically talented and has a great sense of humor. He knows what he likes, and is very orderly and analytical. There are times when we have a real conversation, communicating real thoughts and emotions with his limited vocabulary. I know he's very smart and confident, and in the long run I would rather him be an independent thinker than someone who needs direction from above. I know I'll have the tendency to gloss over his achievements and highlight the areas for improvement, which will be hard for Oli.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Technology & Spending

Today Oliver was reading a book called "Trucks". On the back there is a miniature ad for the three other books in the series, "Fire Engines", "Planes" and one other. Oliver came to me and pretended to pluck the fire engines book from the back with his fingers. "I need dis un", he said. I picked up my phone and opened the Amazon app. I typed in fire engine and showed him the results. He browsed through until he saw the same picture as he saw on the back of the book and then tapped with his finger to select it. We made the purchase.

I told him that the mail man would come and bring him the book in a couple of days. Then about 15 ore 16 times after that he came up to me and said something to the effect of "mail man come bring fire truck book". Eventually we went to the library to get some firetruck books so that he could get some immediate satisfaction.

He brought up the mail man bringing the book so many times that I know it's puzzling him. What is the connection between the phone and the book coming? Why doesn't the man come right away with the book? Is there some office where mail men wait for children's requests, so that they can go to a store and shop, then deliver?

One time I handed Oliver a $5 bill when he wanted to buy a toy at Walgreens, and he didn't respond at all to it, had no idea what the paper was for. The boy never sees money, only the card that I use with the machine. He knows he needs to hand a toy to the man behind the counter before he can take it out of the store, but it will be interesting to see his concept of finances take shape in a world that is so different from the piggy bank I grew up with.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A typical day...

Wake up to a boy at my bed saying "Wake up Momma!" Get out of bed to husband making coffee. I begin to make a move to the kitchen to prepare breakfast, but Oliver grabs my hand and says "Come me Momma." So I yell toward the kitchen "Honey, will you make heart shaped pancakes with strawberries?? That's what I would make but this boy has other ideas." Matthew looks overwhelmed.

Oliver and I make a heart shape with all his red and purple cars. Then we eat heart-ish pancakes. I put Oli in a red sweater which is bulky, and he hates it. The boys head off to work/preschool. Matthew has to leave work early to get new glasses, because in a wrestling match Oliver kicked his head and the glasses broke. It was time for a new pair anyway.

At work I get an email from Matthew telling me that Oliver got a valentine from Anna at preschool. The preschool doesn't officially do valentines, so we didn't send any with him. It was a fairy scene folded in half with a heart sticker. Inside it said "You have Pixie Power!" with another heart sticker. Oliver is always the first boy in the door when class starts, even if he has to run through other parent's legs leaving me to scramble behind. Today Oliver was the last child in class, examining his valentine in the hallway for a long time. When he was done he put it in the pocket of his brown corduroy pants.

After work I get home and we make frozen pizza, have wine, and chocolate cake for dessert. I love it because there is no dishes. Oliver shows me the valentine and then complains because his PJs don't have a pocket to put the note in. We decide to keep it in the cords for now.

When it's time for bed Oli wants dad to read him stories, and wants to sleep with his huge semi truck. He comes out once to complain about going to bed. Then again because he has the hick ups. Finally he goes to sleep but eventually the semi falls out of the bed and we both go rushing into the bedroom to find out what happened. Oliver cries because the commotion woke him up. Then he goes to sleep for the night.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Two and a Half

Oliver is a challenge these days. He's very moody, and often says no when he means yes. He has strange outbursts of energy, both high and low. He often starts a request with crying as opposed to crying after I've said no.

This week we had to make a book called "No biting please!" for Oliver after he bit Anais twice in two days. Here is a summary of things that are a battle for us right now:

1. Wants to wear pajamas all day every day. Very upset every morning when we have to put on clothes. Runs to the hamper and holds the PJs like they are a long lost friend while crying out in frustration.

2. Doesn't want to eat much. Never wants to eat veggies. Just wants cereal and raisins and apple juice.

3. Always wants to watch a show on the television.

4. When playing, he'll set something up and then be frustrated if anyone changes it. He'll make a train that is very long and if we want to push the train he will yell, "NO!" and push it back where it was.

5. Doesn't want momma to take a shower, or to use the hair dryer, or to use the vacuum. Doesn't want momma to wear a sweater or coat.

6. Doesn't want to wear a sweater or coat himself.

7. Doesn't want momma to sit to eat a meal or sleep. Often comes over and declares, "Momma! Follow me! Get up!"

We are doing our best together, but it's a challenging time for us and I'd be lying if I said I haven't raised my voice now and again. Thankfully when I do, Oliver seems shocked and gets the sense that he should mellow out for a minute or two. I'm crossing fingers that we move past this phase soon!