Category Archives: verbatim

Spins A Web, Any Size…

Spins A Web, Any Size…

For those of you who’ve been following along for a while, Nikola has a baby doll named Baby who he dotes upon and loves. He “changes her diapoh” and “cleans her dirty BUTT” and tucks her in for a nap and feeds her and burps her and celebrates her 1st birthday about one a week, complete with “cake” and “wrapped presents” (random crap he drapes paper or t-shirts or tissues or something over) and a card that he makes for her.

Lately, Baby has been displaced in his affections by… Spider-Man.

Nesko’s parents had a mini-family reunion and I got to meet like 50 people who were total strangers to me and mostly didn’t speak English (I am monolingual) and that wasn’t terrifying or awkward for me AT ALL and I made lemon cheesecake and turtle bar cookies and rice krispy treats and they were all big hits so yaaay. But Nesko’s culture has this thing where it’s common for visiting adults to bring presents, candy, and/or money to the kids they visit. One of Niko’s scores was a pretty big Spider-Man toy with a Spider-Copter or something. Spider-Man is his New Love and he’s been taking Spider-Man to bed with him and cuddling him and toting him around.

DID YOU KNOW: Spider-Man likes bacon, and he likes sausage, but he hates ham. Steak is ok, but pancakes and eggs are right out. His favorite breakfast consists of a croissant, donut, banana, and potato (??). We went out for breakfast the other day and Niko ordered a pancake for himself and a plate of bacon for Spider-Man. Niko set Spider-Man on the seat next to him and fed him bites of bacon and afterward he requested two lollipops… one for him and one for Spider-Man. (Niko also scolded me for being rude and mean to the waitress, so I explained to him that I was ordering a BELGIAN waffle, not a BELCHING waffle.)

Let me tell you what kind of parent I am: knowing that he was making a bold grab for two dum-dum suckers for himself, at the cash register, I said yes.

In the car, driving to Home Depot, Niko crunched away on his sucker and then piped up “Since Spider-Man isn’t really REAL, can I just go ahead and eat HIS lollipop TOO?” I said yes, of course.

In other news, we’re repainting Niko’s room and it’s taking longer than expected. He’s sleeping in our room while we paint. I hope we get done soon. Really. Seriously. And that he transitions back to his own bed quickly and easily.


As Promised, Princess Dinosaur

As Promised, Princess Dinosaur

Niko’s been watching some Princess movies recently (“Tangled,” “Cinderella,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Brave,” etc) and also talking with a friend of his who is very keen on Princesses in general. He’s been practicing drawing Princesses for her because she’s more interested in that than in dinosaurs and he’s trying to branch out a bit, and also talking about Princesses… including describing a show that he wants to see. It is a show about Princess Dinosaur.

“Is she a princess who is a dinosaur, or is she a princess who rides on dinosaurs?” I asked.

“She isn’t either of those things,” he explained. “She is a princess who travels back in time to STUDY dinosaurs.”

Which, I mean, if “Dinosaur Train” can feature dinosaurs who travel through time to study other dinosaurs, certainly there’s a market for a PRINCESS, perhaps with a cuddly animal companion, who travels through time to study dinosaurs as well? I’ll press him for more details and share some drawings with you as I can.

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Breaking Christmas News: Santa Has A Cloaca!!!

Breaking Christmas News: Santa Has A Cloaca!!!

We hauled the Christmas Bins up from the basement, where they’ve been stored, but haven’t started setting anything up yet. Niko’s been rummaging through the bins, though, and has pulled out his Christmas books (including “The Polar Express,” which we’ve been reading 3-8 times a day lately) and toys. His Christmas Toys include a snowman hand puppet, some finger puppets, and a bunch of stuffed animals I picked up when I worked at Fannie May right before they declared bankruptcy and were bought by Alpine Confections. He also dug out his Santa Claus Mr Potato Head.

As such, Santa Claus has been flying around the house delivering toys, which he keeps stored in his butt.

(Santa Claus also has his ears under his arms for some reason. “That’s just how Santa Claus Mr Potato Head does it,” says Nikola, and who am I to argue with that?)

While playing The Polar Express Breakdown Train At The North Pole Niko doubled down on the story that Santa Claus stores toys in his butt. “And he poops and pees out of the same place.” “What place is that,” I asked, because I am a sucker for off the wall kid stories. “Out of his pedis,” he said, both mispronouncing “penis” and also for some reason forsaking the Serbian word we usually use. “But you can’t poop and pee out of a penis. That would be a gross medical problem. If Santa Claus was pooping and peeing out of his penis he would need a doctor.” “Well, he used to poop and pee out of his butt like you do, but he has toys in his butt.” “I don’t poop and pee out of my butt,” I said, launching into yet another explanation of penises and vulvas and anuses and urethras. “Ya ya ya you have a pelvis I KNOW,” he retorted, continuing to say “pelvis” instead of “vulva,” which may well lead to serious confusion when he takes an Anatomy class. I tried to explain about butts and anuses and poop and bladders and urethras.

“Well SOME PEOPLE and SOME ANIMALS poop and pee out of the same place.”

“You mean like a cloaca? Like a chicken or some dinosaurs? How they poop and pee and lay eggs out of the same place?”

“YES YES MAMA YES” he said in the tone of voice (which comes more and more frequently) that manages to imply that I’m a barely functioning fool who is only dragging him down. People talk shit about teenagers but four year olds are just as bad while being too short to cook dinner or wash their own laundry. Worst of both worlds.

“So you…. are saying… that Santa Claus has a cloaca.”

“YES mama that is what I said. And he keeps it very clean and cleans it every day so it doesn’t get bugs.”

“He’s worried… about bugs… in his cloaca?”

“Yes, he doesn’t want bugs and mice getting in his cloaca and eating up the toys in his butt and eating all the wood in the toys.”

It all makes internal sense, I suppose, if you can simply accept that Santa Claus 1) stores toys in his butt and 2) has a cloaca. He is a concerned guy! He doesn’t want bugs eating up the toys! That are in his butt.

Later he revealed that Santa has many elves (which he just calls ells) and some are boys and have pedises and speak in English and some are Gworwuls (girls) and have pelvises (vulvas) and speak in a language nobody else understands but them. Which kind of sounds super sexist like whyyyyyy are you saying these women elves just spout gibberish? Is that what you think women do? That they don’t speak? That they don’t make sense? That they aren’t worth listening to? But then he clarified that they speak the same language as The Minions from “Despicable Me” and he loves those minions so much and has renamed all his stuffed animals after them and possibly this is how he’s trying to explain why there’s no female minions… they are all hanging out with Santa Claus at the north pole. (NB: there may be female minions I guess, but all the named ones have very male-typical names)

He’s a weird, creative kid who is not willing to let himself be bound by things like common sense or mammalian anatomy. I absolutely love that about him.

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2 Arts Done By Nikola (I Helped With One)

2 Arts Done By Nikola (I Helped With One)

Niko’s been making a lot of art recently. We worked on one together, but the other is all him.


He told me that he wanted to cut out some flowers and glue them to paper to make a garden. So we sat down together and I helped him cut out some blossoms. He tried cutting out stems but got frustrated so I did that. He glued some of them down before getting bored so I finished that up, then he helped me glue the grass down. He drew the sun and I drew some clouds. I wanted him to draw the sun on a piece of white paper, or cut out a piece of yellow paper for the sun, but he would have none of that.

I’d like to do this again on a piece of bristol board, using patterned paper and a better glue (spray on adhesive instead of glue stick) because I think that’d be a cool piece of art. Using decorative paper punches that made flower heads, leaves, etc would also be cool/fun and speed things up quite a bit.


Remember when I mentioned the white board and how much Niko liked it? He’s been drawing a lot of awesome dinosaurs on it. This is one of them, an allosaurus. On the left you can see its enormous head and massive teeth and on the right you can see its feathered tail. You can also see its hands and feet with fingers/toes. FUN FACT: in Serbian, prst means both “finger” and “toe.” “Digit,” says Nesko. “It means digit.” I did not help with this one at all.

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It’s time to be awake now! I already packed my bag!

It’s time to be awake now! I already packed my bag!

Niko has seriously levelled up in some aspects of his problem solving/helpfulness skills and it’s both adorable and ARGH NO STOP PLEASE NO at the same time. For instance, pouring his own drinks leads to massive spills, wiping his own pooey bum leads to poo everywhere, and jumping up and using a tool to turn on a light switch is an awesome idea but when that tool is a crayon it leads to crayon on the lightswitch/walls. There’s also the frustrating fact that he is ABLE to fully dress himself but still insists on us “helping” him where “helping” is “doing almost everything.” However, I think that’s primarily him being a bit clingy because a lot of stuff is changing and changing fast (Nesko has a new job and isn’t home as much, school is starting soon, we’re talking about moving albeit not for at least a year, etc). But I look at my little baby who came into this world as a helpless squalling grub, and every day I get closer to seeing the adult who’s going to leave my house.

He spent most of Saturday with his Tetka (aunt), and didn’t get home until pretty late. He had a super great time with her (he always does, she’s great) and before he left she told him that LATER ON as in IN THE FUTURE he could come over again and “swim” in the pool (a little wading pool, nothing big/fancy… if it was a real pool you know I’d rudely move in and never leave). He interpreted this, as little kids do, as TOMORROW.

So instead of sleeping in on Sunday he bounded into our bedroom, bright and alert, at 5:00 a. m.


Then he scampered off.

He came back a few minutes later wearing swim trunks (over underpants).


I dragged myself out of bed and helped him get a bowl of cereal (WITH MILK OK MAMA) and told him he had to not wear underpants with his swim suit, so he stripped down and redressed in just the trunks. He scarfed down two bowls of cereal and I checked his bag. He’d packed:

  • a full change of clothing including underpants and socks
  • a hat
  • sunglasses
  • his water bottle
  • appropriate snacks in little containers

This child does not need me anymore, except to get things off of high shelves. OBVIOUSLY.

Nesko called his sister who was all yeah no, I’m busy all day, I meant LATER and we broke the news gently to Niko. But not until he’d told me just how BIG and HUGE and ENORMOUS his swimming pool is. Internets, his swimming pool is SO BIG it is the size of my butt.

Apparently my bottom is now a unit of measure.

I told him that my butt is pretty small for a swimming pool and he said OH HM WAIT NO. MY SWIMMING POOL, he said, IS THE SIZE OF THAT THING YOU GOT UP THERE and he pointed at my shoulder which, I mean, that’s even smaller than my butt. Whaaat?

He’s decided that today is a good day to have a picnic so he’s spread a little blanket on the floor and consuming all food (breakfast, snack, lunch) right there. I can dig it.

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No one can save you from yourself

No one can save you from yourself

Niko was fooling around on the bed the other day when he rolled right off, banged into the wall, and hit the floor hard. No harm done, he laughed and scrambled back onto the bed. I called him a doofus, which delighted him, and he spent several minutes fake rolling off the bed and demanding that I save him. I generally oblige him, and rolled him back onto the bed each time.

Later on, we were playing and cuddling in the bed before starting the rest of our bed time ritual (brush teeth, wash face, medication, jammies on, 2 stories from a book, 1 story “from my head,” 1 song, cuddles, kiss and hug, that’s it) (Nesko’s bedtime ritual involves sleeping with him, sucker) when he started pretending to fall out of bed again.

“Save me mama!” he called. “Saaaave me! Mama, save me from being a doofus!”

“Aw, baby boy,” I said. “Nobody can save you from being a doofus. You can only save yourself.”

He promptly fell out of bed.

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Where is the last place you saw it?

Where is the last place you saw it?

Niko’s greatest love is dinosaurs.

After that, though, he loves mysteries. Also: trains, cars, My Little Pony, and Chicago’s architecture. But he’s really keen on mysteries and went through a phase where he was super into “The Great Mouse Detective” and “Busy Town Mysteries.” If someone is looking for something, his first question is ‘well, where is the last place you saw it?’ which is a pretty helpful question to ask.

He was helping me clean the dining room yesterday, running a microfiber cloth around the molding and windowsills and chair legs to dust them. Then he wandered off. I needed that cloth so I could dust the tops of some things, so I called him back into the dining room to ask him where it was.

“Hm,” he said, rubbing his chin. “Hm. It sounds like A MYSTERY.”

“Dude, just tell me where it is. Where did you put it?”

“I didn’t put it! It’s lost. It is… A MYSTERY.”

He walked over to his easel and flipped the paper out of the way, picked up a chunky piece of yellow chalk and tapped it against the chalk board.

“What did it look like?”

“What do you mean what did it look like? You just had it.”

He tapped the chalk board again.

“WHAT did it LOOK LIKE mama?”

“It was a yellow square of microfiber cloth.”

“Uh huh. Uh huh. AH HAH.”

He drew a close approximation of a square on the chalk board.

“A yellow square. OF CLOTH. Where is the last place you saw it?”

“You were dusting the window sill with it. Did you take it into the living room to play with?”

“I must LOOK FOR CLUES. You wait here.”

He ran off and came back with it.

“FOUND IT. I found it. SOMEBODY put it… IN THE LIVING ROOM. Another mystery solved!”

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But I’m Tata, why would I do something naughty?

But I’m Tata, why would I do something naughty?

On the good news front, Nesko has a new job. It’s a Union gig, which means regular raises and health care and job protection and paid holidays and two days a week off, guaranteed, and overtime work is paid time and a half or double time (depending) and all kinds of fun stuff that for the most part doesn’t exist without Unions. (And before you butt in with stories of corporate jobs where this stuff is standard, it wasn’t before Unions came along.) He had Orientation on Friday, worked his last day at Previous Job on Saturday, and had Sunday off and Monday off as a paid holiday. He hasn’t had a paid holiday since, like, 2005… when he was working for a big retail company that frequently required him to work 12+ hour shifts. Anyway, his new company handed out company branded baseball caps and the Union handed out Union branded badges, and Nesko brought them both home to show off his new hat and talk about what he’d been told.

On Saturday, Niko dragged down that hat from its hook on the wall and put it on his head.

“Look at me,” he said, hat draped over his eyes. “I’m Tata.” He shoved his feet into Nesko’s house shoes and shuffled around in them. “I’m Tata and I’m wearing my hat and shoes. I’m going to go to work now. This is my car and I’m going to fix it and then I’m going to go to work.”

He waved a plastic wrench around his red Radio Flyer tricycle. “I’m fixing the brakes,” he said. “Because I’m Tata and I need to fix my car and go to work. I work hard because I’m Tata.”

He “drove” his “car” around, still wearing the hat, and banged into a book shelf. We use rechargeable batteries, and the battery recharger fell down and hit the floor pretty hard. The plastic cover fell off. Niko started freaking out, upset that he’d broken something, bewailing his fate and trying to cram the plastic cover back on. He stopped suddenly.

“Wait!” he said. “But I’m Tata. Why would I do something naughty?”

I called him over and fixed the battery recharger and he put it back on the shelf and returned to his exciting life of being Tata and driving his car around.

We’re all pretty excited about the new job. It sounds like it’s going to work out, and be a very positive thing.


But mama, I like having beast hair.

But mama, I like having beast hair.

I want you to imagine a helmet. A football helmet, maybe. Only without the face/mouth guard, so it just covers the head.

Now imagine that there’s hair all over that helmet, just shaggily covering it. You may have seen wigs like this, perhaps in the 1970s.

Now imagine that this thick helmet of shaggy hair has been licked in the back by a cow, so chunks of it are sticking up impervious to wettings and stern combings.

This is Niko’s head.

He is refusing all offers of hair cuts, and I could force him somehow I guess but that’s a violation of bodily autonomy I don’t want to engage in. Also, I don’t want to deal with a squirming, struggling four year old and a pair of scissors or clippers. That’s how you end up with a bald kid with only one eye, you know?

I’ve asked him about this and he proclaims loudly that he LIKES being a “chupo chupovee” (which is like… a hairy man of the forest? a yeti? some kind of forest priest? I don’t exactly know) and has told me that he LIKES “being a beast” and having “beast hair” because “I’m like a dinosaur with all my beast hair and this is how I’m like a dinosaur MAMA.” Like, duh, MAMA, don’t you know ANYTHING? And it’s not like I want to buzz his head, I just want to tidy up the back and around his ears. I’m secretly Wolverine’s long lost twin sister, short and hairy, so I know how tedious weekly haircuts can be. But darlings, this is not charming mussy toddler hair. This is an ill kempt pelt on his scalp and something has to change.

IN OTHER NEWS, we’ve been hitting up Wendy’s once a week prior to our grocery shopping trip. They have the BEST toys, stuff that’s not just plastic crap choking up the toybox/landfilf advertising some shitty kid’s movie/tv show/etc. They are currently offering a small Cranium game in 4 parts. The containers for the game fit together and make a multi-colored game, and each hold a different component of the game. We’ve got a word game with letter dice, an art game with clay and a crayon, and an activity game with a spinning top timer. There’s one more to get. Niko and I played with it this morning while Nesko slept in a bit and it was a lot of fun. Some stuff is too advanced for him, but it was easy to skip or modify those activities. Playing board games/game nights are a big part of our social life, so it’s really cool to have interactive kid games that are fun for adults too. Other faves of his are “don’t break the ice” (kind of boring for adults), block head (a stacking game that’s short and pretty fun), and topple (which he calls “topples” and which we don’t follow the rules for, we just goof around). While we were playing I used the little purple crayon to draw Niko’s face and shoulders on the big piece of paper we were using. He knew right away it was meant to be him, which would be really ego-stroking except like most 4 year olds he thinks he’s the center of the universe and thus all drawings are somehow of him or related to him. He requested I draw a troodon “biting on my head and eating my head and my hair” and I did so, drawing a cartoonish troodon attacking and biting his head and he cooed and awwwed the entire time commenting on how cute it all was. Because obvos dinosaurs taking big bites out of your skull is just ADORBS, am I right? BRB contacting Cute Overload.


Some Recent Conversations Around Here

Some Recent Conversations Around Here

“Niko, did you finish your apple? Go take your plate to tata if you want bacon.”
“NO! I do NOT want… oooh! Yeah! I DO want bacon!”

“Mama, is this dinosaur a plant eater, or a meat eater?”
“Well, it’s got forward facing eyes and big sharp teeth. It looks like a meat eater.”
“No, I think it’s a plant eater.”
“But look, it’s a therapod. It’s got two feet with three toes on it, and a long tail for balance, and–”
“WELL MAMA, next time Elliot comes over I will ask HIM if it’s a plant eater or a meat eater.”
“And will you believe what he says?”
“I will if he says it’s a plant eater.”

“Ahhhh! Ahhh! Ahh! The living room is fulllll of dinosaur zombies!”
“Oh, huh.”
“DO YOU KNOW HOWWWWW to stop dinosaur zombies?”
“Do you…. I don’t know. How do you stop dinosaur zombies?”
“WITH FLOWER GUNS! pew pew pew pew pew.”

“I wanna watch that train show with that fox and that hound.”
“Oh… do you mean “The Fox And The Hound”?”
“Yes, it’s got a train in it.”

“Niko, no puppet show in the kitchen. No toys in the kitchen. You need to take that puppet show out of here.”
“TOO BAD it’s stuck to the floor TOO BAD I can’t move it OH WELL TOO BAD.”

“Hey, do you want to watch ‘Word World’?”
“Yes! They make words on that show, that word world show. Do they make the word dinosaur?”
“I don’t think so, that’s kind of a big word and they mostly spell little words.”
“What about Stegosaurus? That’s my favorite word.”
“Why is that your favorite word?”
“Because of all the S’es.”

We are ONCE AGAIN trying to transition Niko to sleep in his own little bed and not in our bed, kicking and punching us all night. The night before last he was up literally every hour, yowling and crying, resulting in three very tired people the next day. I had a headache LITERALLY ALL DAY from lack of sleep. Nesko slept in until almost 11:00, scuttling our plans to run errands in the morning. Niko was lobbying hard to go to the park that day and I told him that we’d planned to take him to the park in the morning but we were too tired to go because he’d kept us up all night. TOO BAD. He asked several times and I told him the same thing each time. Why can’t we go to the park? Why can’t we go outside? Why can’t tata play with him? Because he’s sleeping, because he’s tired, because he was up all night because Niko was being mean and unkind and not being quiet and not letting us sleep.

Last night went much better. He did wake us up with his crying once, but I think it was a legit nightmare. Nesko settled him and came back to bed. We both went to bed around 10:30 (although I had a hard time falling asleep) and woke up around 8:00 and my mood and energy levels are both vastly improved. I’ve still got a sleep deficit but am feeling a lot better. Niko and I had a talk today about his future allowance.

Basically, he gets 10 cents for each night he sleeps through the night without being a dick and if he makes it for a full week he gets an additional 30 cents, which makes a dollar. Also, if he helps us pick up all his toys and books before going to bed he gets 10 cents with a 30 cent bonus if he does it every night for a full week. This is another dollar. So he’s got the potential to earn $2.00 a week just by being a decent person and not an asshole. He wants to buy some more trans, so he’s got a goal to work toward. I’m going to make a chart so he can see how well he’s doing, including showing how well he’s working toward his goal. The train he wants costs $10.95 and I figure Nesko and I can handle the tax since he’s so young. When he’s 6 or so he can start figuring that out and accounting for it himself.

I know some people will object to “bribing” him for basic good behavior, but honestly, I want him in the habit of doing these things and I want to give him an allowance any way. Some people push for giving kids a base allowance that’s not dependent on behavior or chores. I think most people just do what their parents did, but neither Nesko nor I got an allowance so we don’t have that to fall back on.

How do you handle allowance in your household? Was it an easy decision, or hard? Is it what your parents did, or different? Is it dependent on chores, or not? What’s your pay scale? I’d love to hear more.

BTW, I wrote a post about diets, body size, and taking photos of yourself at my main blog. Please feel free to check it out.