Duck-Duck and Fringies

Before Henry was born, his Aunt Joeli gave him a super soft little plush duck. And I made him a fleece quilt with fringes on the edges. I don't think either of us had any idea how huge those two things would be in Henry's life.

There is a whole other world in our house, occupied by Henry, Duck-duck (aka Duckie) and Fringies. They have quite a range of fantastic imaginary abilities and voices of their own. (These voices are created by Henry in the octave higher than his own voice, but he NEVER breaks out of character once he decides that only Duckie or only Fringies is going to respond to you.)

Duck-duck and Fringies are Henry's closest friends and fellow tormentors of Calvin (who alternately gets really irritated with the irrationality of their world and then can't help but join in with his own plushinator, Kookie the Elephant).

Duck-duck and Fringies are members of the family. When we had to send pictures of the important members of Henry's family for a collage at preschool, he insisted that we must take a picture of Duck-duck and Fringies to include.

And they are not just any random members of the family, vaguely referred to as cousins or brothers - oh, no. Henry is Duck-duck's daddy. I discovered this one day when I was congratulating (and thanking) Henry for stopping what he was doing to go to the bathroom instead of wetting his pants. Apparently my positive reinforcement wasn't enough because Duck-duck's falsetto chimed in: "Good job, Daddy!"

And Henry is a good parent, often going to great lengths to ensure that Duckie gets his nap.

But even better than that is that Fringies...? SHE is Duck-duck's mommy.

True to their characters, Fringies is the adult in given situations, and Duckie is definitely the naughty little baby. Fringies is the one who snuggles and comforts. Henry is always careful to let her rest when she needs it. He makes sure her "head" has a comfortable pillow and that she can see the TV from where she is propped up. Because moms do that. Ever so often.

Despite her mild-mannered motherly image, Fringies has all kinds of interesting super powers. She drinks from straws. She sprays all manner of imaginary liquid - toxic and non - at any moment from any of her fringes. She turns into a myriad of creatures for Henry's playtime enjoyment - from a baby to a tent to a beach towel to a super cape or flag. At Halloween time she was a ghost capable of sucking blood (through her fringies, of course). Yeah, and my three-year-old sleeps with her every night. (I guess that's how we got Duckie, huh?)

Duck-duck does more childish things, like inserting the word, "Poopy," in songs about Jesus. He also enjoys hosting sleepovers, even though none of his little friends have as much personality as he does.

More and more, Duckie gets blamed for all manner of misbehavior - there is no end to the things that miscreant talking plush can do around here. David has learned that saying, "Henry, don't throw your duck" doesn't work at all. He has actually been heard saying things like, "Well, tell Duckie that if he flies across the room into the window again, he will have to sit on the highest book shelf for the rest of the night." Henry passes the message along.

I'll also admit that we have allowed Duckie to give the family prayer a time or two when Henry wasn't feeling in the mood or else emphatically felt that Duckie needed a turn, like everyone else in the family. And Henry is sure to remind us to tell Duckie that he did a good job.

It is always interesting how well Duckie can use words to tell us when he needs a drink or when he feels scared or needs someone to hold him or help him or give him a kiss. He is actually much better at communicating about his needs than Henry is about his, so whenever Duckie needs something like this, we're sure to give it to Henry at the same time.

A master choreographer, Henry creates all kinds of adventures for Duck-duck. The other day I was washing dishes when I heard Henry muttering behind me, rummaging in the cupboard:"Now, what in the world could I use for a train car for Duckie?" The pasta strainer was apparently ideal.

My favorite all time derivation of the Duck-duck and Fringies world, however, was this: Henry spent a good half hour one day trying to get Duckie to sit right and arranging Fringies' fringies, then came and got me from the laundry room to tell me, "Look Mom! This is a sculpchoh of a man on a horse.

Yeah, the sculpture thing ranks right up there with the times when Henry insists that he needs someone to snuggle with at night and I tell him that he has Fringies and Duck-duck. To which he responds, "But Mom, I need someone hugh mund to snuggle with!"


Charlie And the Silent Boo

First, here's a clip especially for Jen at Amazing Trips, who so kindly requested a Charlie update, and for the Lizness, who has fabulous little boyishness of her own coming right up!

A word of explanation: I was playing peekaboo with him but didn't want my voice recorded, so I was silently covering and uncovering my eyes and flashing big smiles. I think you can see exactly when his eyes met mine, and how cute he is starting to gurgle, and the couple of times that I actually kinda alarmed him when I took my hands off my face. (The background noise of the other boys' nighttime flood the bathroom while screaming at each other bath is not so silent.)

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I am head over heels over this baby. Not that I didn't love Calvin and Henry as infants, but I think I am more relaxed and more engaged all at the same time than I was with the other two. I've got it bad this time, for sure. David teases me that he knows I'm in love because even in the middle of the night I'm goo-gooing and happy to see the little guy.

Charlie is a snugg.ler. It is precious how round and cuddly he is and how he scoots to be closer and nuzzles cheeks like there's no tomorrow. He loves skin-to-skin - both of the other boys have a pretty intense desire for personal space, and have had since they were very small, but Charlie wants contact. Recently he's started to touch my face really soft and wrap his fat little arms around my neck or over my shoulder when I pick him up.

And, I am not even exaggerating - the baby does not cry. I know I'm taking a huge risk of jinxing myself by making that statement on the blogosphere, but aside from the couple day fussy jag he had at about six weeks of age, and a couple little mishaps where he was physically hurt, he does not get riled up. He has other little signs for being tired or hungry, but very rarely shouts about it. Even for vaccinations, he lets out a little "waaa!" and maybe squeezes one little tear out, but if mama is there to pick him up and put her cheek on his, he's fine.

I even have it on Auntie S's six-children-of-her-own-good-authority that he has an extraordinarily sweet disposition. She even went as far as to say that none of her kids were ever as totally pleasant as he is. It's truly amazing what a little sunshine he is.

He is also very social, which I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with when he is older because I am so not social, but it is adorable to see a five-month-old scan a group of faces, and when he meets someone's eyes and they smile at him, his whole body goes crazy, his eyes twinkle and his smile lights up the room.

I do have some other stuff to post about...Thanksgiving and free pianos and funnies from the other boys...I hope to punch out a bunch tomorrow...I promise, no more 2 minute videos of pure gurgle. Unless you liked it. Because he is pretty stinkin' adorable. If I do say so myself.


Good to Know

David just opened a frozen bag labeled SHRIMP STIRFRY for dinner and noticed the directions on back said: "CAUTION: Contains crustaceans."

I really appreciate things like that. Especially knowing that they actually aren't trying to protect me from a severe allergic reaction. They're trying to protect themselves from a lawsuit. It is just a great feeling, living in a highly litigious society. It's like we've transcended common sense.

Speaking of allergies, Henry has developed a very serious one:

Me: In just a little while we get to go over to your school. They have a farmer who's visting and he's bringing all kinds of animals with him that you can touch and look at!

Henry: Chickens?

Me: Yep, I think there will be chickens.

Henry: Cows?

Me: Yep.

Henry: Well, but I can't go if he brings lions, though. I'm allohgic to lions.

Me: You're allergic? To lions? How do you know that?

Henry: Because they can swallow my whole body. So I'm allohgic.


And today I stumbled upon a fringe benefit of having a 5-year-old. He can have intelligent conversations with his dad. Indeed, he is infinitely more impressed and finds his dad's trove of random knowledge useful and wonderful, without fail. His eyes don't glaze over when Dad shares factoids. He responds appropriately with expressions of wonder and confusion over things Dad shares.

In short, Calvin saves me from having to be interested in the whale that swam 1,000 miles up the Amazon River. He responds reasonably with, "But how could he do that? The river is fresh water!" (As opposed to my adept observation, "Whales don't go in rivers.") And he smiles at the accompanying joke Dad makes: "Talk about a wrong turn." Heh. It's a beautiful thing.

(BTW, David knows that one of the things I love about him is his ability not only to gather tons of info, but to synthesize it and apply it in very useful ways. Like entertaining our children while I read, and talking during parties so I don't have to. Oh, yeah, and making a living.)


And just for fun, I thought I'd throw in this bit as the epitome of parenting boys:

H:Calvin just scabbed me in the lip with a stick!

C: It was an accident! I meant to stab him in the cheek!


Pre-Blog: Candy-Tasting 2004

In combing through some old photo files, I came across this little moment with Calvin at age 2. Made me laugh and I thought I'd share since the holiday season is approaching. (And also because I apparently can't manage to formulate a post about my current doings.)

I realized tonight that Calvin's never been a fan of dum-dums, and he's always been pretty good at taking the Forrest Gump school of thought one crucial step further: You may never know what yer gonna get, but you should at least try every single piece. And leave it there, licked, if you don't want it after all.

What I remember the most about taking these pictures was thinking how he had opened and tested that volume of candy - licked every. one. of those lollipops.(Not to mention climbed on top of the chair that is under the ledge that he's leaning on.) In mere seconds. (Did I mention that the kitchen itself was gated, precisely so that he could no longer climb up the drawers to the counters when I wasn't in the room?) It was incredibly disconcerting. It stressed me out. And I was seriously worried about the amount of energy and getinto-itiveness the child had.

I decided to take a picture but it wasn't because I thought it was funny or clever. It was to document what kind of stress I was dealing with - I was so sure that no one could possibly understand how busy this (one!) little boy was keeping me. I know I definitely did not think it was as funny (and ingenious) as I think it is now. I was overwhelmed because I took myself - and having a clean house and non-sugared up children and time to do my own thing - way too seriously.

Cal will be five years old in three weeks. I've been a mom that long and I still can't keep up. Times three. But thankfully, I do laugh a lot more. Looking at these little pictures made me realize I have come a little way since then - my boys have made me more joyful, more "present," more soft, and more patient. They've made me really look at what's important and what's not. Really, they are the making of me.

Having said that, right now I'm trying to meet a bunch of deadlines and keep our home simply running (not clean or organized!)and to not go crazy before the end of the semester, so I'm on blog vacation until I can get my schoolwork and housework down to manageable proportions again. I hope that will be soon after Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful rest of November.