Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Royal Eliases

When visiting my family in NY, we are always treated VERY well. This time around I got extra special treatment, since I was visiting with the kids and without my other half. My village really pitched in with love and LOTS of help.

First off, my brother and sis-in-law opened their home to us again, and acted like we were just meant to be there. My nephew gave up his room for Baby m's crib, and he entertained E for hours. Seeing them walk through the woods holding hands just about melted my heart. My brother shared expensive alcohol, crossword puzzles, and tried desperately to get E to love Spike the dog (to no avail...her favorite sentence of the week was "I don't like Spike," which she would proclaim to anybody who would listen).

E2 (sis-in-law) not only had a quiche for every breakfast and an obscene assortment of desserts, but she folded my laundry. Good woman. My mom spent lots of time holding Baby m, so that I could make a phone call, take a shower, or drink a cup of coffee. P brought crafts for everyone, spent the night so she could be here for breakfast, and obeyed princess E's every command. She and S made us fantastic meatballs using the secret ingredient...very fatty beef! :) S also read books, changed Baby m's clothes, and searched the house when E quietly disappeared. Note: E just learned how to play hide-and-seek, and it's a BIG house.

So thank you, family. You were fantastic, as always. I hope we can do it again soon. I'll bring M this time, and he can fold the laundry.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Brave Baby

E is such a little outdoors-girl, I love it! She may be afraid of dragons, and the cartoon bear on the blueberry hunt episode of Dora, but thankfully she is not afraid of creepy crawlies in the real world. She got my sister P's attention by pointing to something on the deck umbrella, and P had to act calm and fight the urge to pull E's hand away. "Oh! Did you find a buggy?" P asked her. E responded, "No, Aunt P. It's not a buggy. It's a spider." That's my girl.

That evening, cousin S was helping put E to bed, reading books and talking about the day. I told S that we had seen a snake at the duck pond, and she said to E, "Ooooh. Was that scary?" After I shot S a subtle look and shook my head, she added, "And cool?" "Yes," said E. "It was cool." Phew. Crisis avoided.

My only worrisome moment of our trip east was when E joined her cousin E3 in the backyard, jumping barefoot in the mud puddles left by the sprinkler. She did great until her hands got dirty...then she proclaimed, "I don't like dat mud. I need a towel. Clean it." Thankfully, she resumed puddle jumping with her hands clean, and without her she truly is a blend of her daddy and her mommy. Genetics...go figure.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spell Check

When you're hanging around a two-year-old, you have to spell lots of words. At home, we always spell "B-A-T-H" and "C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E", lest we start a toddler frenzy before we are ready for it. My five day family visit last week morphed into a spell-fest that had us all tongue-tied.

It started on the way home from the airport, when E announced from the back seat, "I don't feel so much good." My sister in-law, E2, asked me, "Do you want a B-A-G-E?" A what? Oh, a plastic BAG to catch the V-O-M-I-T. I had to poke fun at her mis-spelling a three letter word, and perhaps the pressure got to her. Over the next few days, she mis-spelled MANY words, including "heart" (H-E-R-T) and "soft" (F-O-S-T). Why, you might ask, was she spelling "soft" anyway? Well, there's this tendency, once you start, to just spell the last word of every sentence, whether it means anything to the toddler or not. So the cookie dough was "F-O-S-T." E didn't seem to care. It tastes the same fost or rahd.

I also overheard sentences such as, "Should we let Spike [the dog] O-U-T?" The operative word in that sentence was "Spike," not "out." Once you've said "Spike" the rest of the sentence doesn't really matter to E. She runs for cover whether Spike is O-U-T, I-N, or anywhere
E-L-S-E. And putting the cookies in the oven, my mother announced, "Some of them are so thin, they might come out B-L-A-C-K." Perhaps she was trying not to scare E with the prospect of a cookie that was inedible. Come to think of it, that would be tragic for a toddler.

Soon, we will not be able to spell anything in front of her...she already knows how to spell her own name, and I'm pretty sure she knows N-A-P in context. We're going to have to work on code words, or maybe we can talk in pig-Latin. O-say ong-lay. I am oing-gay oo-tay ake-tay a ap-nay. I'm ired-tay of all this elling-spay.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Math Lesson

I took a rare trip to the mall yesterday, because I was in desperate need of a new pair of shoes. My Merrells are at least two years old (maybe older?) and I wear them just about every day. They have no treads left, no support, they are basically disintegrating underfoot. To make matters worse, my used-to-be-hard-to-fit feet are now, post-pregnancy, absolutely impossible. Try telling the salesman that you need a size 11 narrow shoe, preferably with no arch. They actually laugh at you. Then they bring out the one pair they have in stock, and (as my mother used to say) you might as well wear the boxes.

I settled on Merrells with an open back, and I'm hoping they don't fly off my feet as I chase E at the airport this afternoon. To get back to my car, I had to walk through the food court...empty stomach, no kids to chase, NY style pizza. I stopped at Sbarro's and really really enjoyed a slice of cheese pizza, side salad and root beer for a whopping SEVEN DOLLARS. Woo. Back in the day, when I worked cleaning snake and gerbil cages at the pet store in the Westchester Mall, I would get a slice of pizza during my lunch break for 75 cents. Worth every penny, even though I was only making $4.50 an hour.

That pizzeria had a sign advertising their low said "Cheese pizza, by the slice, .75 cents." Mrs. Greenfield, my algebra teacher, told us one day that she once handed them a penny for a slice and told them to keep the change. We thought that was hysterical. The next day, she said, they had covered over the rogue decimal point with a piece of tape. Ya gotta love a math teacher with a sense of humor. Wonder what she would think about me paying $4 for a slice. I guess it's no worse than paying $80 for a pair of shoes that don't even fit.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Breakin' the Law, Breakin' the Law

I thought the laws of physics were finite. I thought that gravity worked. But where babies are concerned, it appears that all bets are off. Yesterday, Baby m spit carrots INTO HIS OWN EYE. For real. How on earth is that possible? I seem to remember E burbling the cereal and applesauce out in tiny flying globs, but I never saw it turn back around and smack her in the face like a boomerang.

During the same mushy carrot meal, Baby m also managed to CREATE MATTER. He actually had MORE carrots on his face and on his bib than there were in the bowl I started with. Where did the extra carrots come from? Could this be the answer to the world's food shortages predicted for the future? Give the food to babies and they can multiply it and shoot it into the atmosphere, where it will rain on the appreciative, hungry masses. Anybody want carrots?


BTW, that reminds me of a joke I love...

Question: What do you call a boomerang that doesn't work?
Answer: A stick.

I sure hope that E and Baby m think that mommy is funny.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Baby Music Major

When E started singing real songs, The ABC Song was one of her first. Then came Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. During dinner one evening, she started with "ABCDEFG", then finished with "How I wonder what you are." Honest to God, until that moment, I had never realized that they were the same tune. Am I missing some neurons? Am I just plain stupid? Am I not smarter than a two-year old?

Then, yesterday, she was mumbling along a tune, and M joined in with Twinkle Twinkle. She corrected him, "No, Daddy. It's Baa-Baa Black Sheep." Are you kidding me? Another one?

Who writes this stuff?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Puddles on the Floor, No More!

I have heard most parents use the word "meltdown" to describe either the current or impending behavior of their child. But that one word is used in so many circumstances, I propose a new system...just as we need 50 words for "snow" and 100 words for "love", I think we need at least 5 different words for "meltdown."

Wriggle-Fit. When a baby has been changed, fed, burped, rocked, hugged, picked up, put down, medicated, jiggled, swaddled, and unswaddled, and will still not stop crying, and will not stop wriggling.

Temporal Wriggle-Fit. When the wriggle-fit happens at the same time every day, for no apparent reason. For about 2 months, E had a wriggle-fit from 6pm to 8pm EVERY DAY.

Noodle-Flop. When a toddler's tantrum leaves her limp on the floor, impossible to console, impossible to lift. E noodle-flopped at the pet store this weekend when I tried to pay for the goldfish antibiotic she had been carrying around.

Tasmanian Tear. If you've ever seen one, you'll never forget it...when a toddler is angry and runs full speed in any direction (sometimes in circles), screaming with arms flailing. The Tasmanian tear often proceeds the noodle-flop.

Love Melt. This one's not so bad...when a toddler is so upset, tired, and crying, and you are the solution rather than the cause. She runs to you instead of away, and melts in a sobbing mess in your arms, often repeating, "Mommy," or "Daddy." Poor little thing.

The common thread here is lack of control...the child is in desperate need, and there is very little you can do to help. Welcome to parenthood.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Been Schooled

Today, G'ma Millie-moo (that's what E calls my mother-in-law) and E were sitting at the table painting with watercolors. G'ma commented, "For all she's learning, it's like you're homeschooling her!" While I'm sure that E is learning while she's with me, I doubt that this "school" would be accredited. Check out the classes and see what you think...

Art - This class involves a lot of contact paper, glue sticks, tissue paper, crayons, paint, and stickers. It's mostly a free-for-all, and grade is based on the number of items stuck to the table at the conclusion of the class. E excels in this subject, though most of her compositions are monochromatic (unless mommy hides the purple paint).

Art 2 - You'll like this one, because it takes place in the bathtub. Grab a bottle of soap-paint and squirt it all over yourself. Mix the colors and rub, rub, rub until all the bubbles disappear, then repeat. Again, E excels.

Math - For this class, you will be required to count everything. Count your raisins, the magnets on the refrigerator, the cats, but especially the stairs to the basement. E is pretty good up to the number 13, and then things go south. She then repeats the number 17 indefinitely. (By the way, there are only 3 cats and 11 why does she get to 13 at all?)

Music - Learn the know, your ABC's, the "Theme to WonderPets", and that original showstopper, "Who's That Baby on the Floor?" E has pretty good pitch, but her lyrics need work. Jingle Bells sounds like this..."Jingle cat, jingle cat, jingle away! Oh fun a wide a sleigh-hey!" It's not her fault. The instructors introduced her to the "Jingle Cats" variation too soon.

Reading - Just listen to the instructors read you books every night before bed. If you can, fill in the last word or phrase of every sentence, when prompted. You will enjoy "The Very Hungry Caterpillar," because the last phrase is the same on almost every page..."...he was still hungry!" E gets an A+ in this class. If she doesn't know the missing phrase, she makes something up, and it's usually better than the original. And she knows EVERYTHING that the caterpillar eats, including "One slice of salami."

History - Try to remember what happened yesterday, this morning, or two minutes ago...there's room for creativity and time travel in this class. If you ask E where she went today, she is apt to say, "Go seum." Translated, that is "We went to the museum," which we did several weeks ago. Ask her what happened on "Max and Ruby," and she'll recount the entire episode.

So maybe you can call this home a school...anybody want an enrollment form? Tuition is cheap, the instructors are friendly, and grades are curved...but remember, you'll be up against our prize student, our genius, our E. Better memorize "Brown Bear, Brown Bear." She already has that one down.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Inspired by my friend, ExploreMore, I planted a salad today. Yippee. For the last few years, I've used a stone planter just outside the back door for early season salad greens. I love this little garden...

I found the planter at a Church rummage sale. It was sitting outside, where it had obviously been for quite some time, with a "Free" sign hanging on the front. Hmmm. I looked it over, loved the grape-viney style, decided I needed it, and proceeded to pull every muscle in my body trying to lift it into my car. I couldn't even budge it from its base. Not one to give up where free merchandise is involved, I approached a friendly looking man in the parking lot and asked for help. Between the two of us, we lugged the thing to the curb and loaded it into the hatchback of my tiny Saturn...I think I dragged the bumper driving home.

M put it in the back yard, and that year I planted some annuals in it, and they added some nice pinks and purples to the patio. But this planter is truly meant to be a kitchen garden. There's nothing like reaching out the sliding glass door and pinching off a bowl of green and red leaves for dinner. My Dad always had a vegetable garden, and there's just something more delicious about the food grown by your own hand. I would scour Dad's garden for ripe cucumbers caught in the chicken wire, tiny red cherry tomatoes, and long beans which I loved to pick but never ate. We would sit out on the porch and eat the tomatoes, unwashed, with salt. You had to lick them to get the salt to stick, which always struck me as a little wonder I liked it.

I hope that E and baby M will eat my lettuce and radishes, and cherry tomatoes (if I can get them to grow back there). Maybe they'll even help me plant the seeds and weed out the dandelions. E is already showing promise in the art of weeding (see previous posts)...and there's always Daddy to help.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Welcome to Adult-hood

Back in the day, my sister and her family lived in an apartment complex. She was a stay-at-home mom with a husband and three kids...and no washing machine. I was younger then, and probably had never done a load of laundry, so I didn't really understand what the big deal was. Poor woman. Rain or shine, snow or sleet, she would drag buckets and bags and baskets of dirty clothes (and pockets-full of quarters) two hundred yards across the courtyard to the laundry room. Then she would go back to the apartment to cook dinner, or vacuum, or break up a fistfight. Then she would trudge back to dry, back and forth, back and forth, every single day. She would fantasize about the day she would have a place with her own washing machine and dryer. I'm starting to get the picture.

Yes, we have a laundry room of our own, no quarters needed. But what we have been lacking for years is a good, functional dishwasher. Our old washer was, well, funky. No matter how hard you tried, you just could not load it efficiently. It couldn't really fit full size plates without risking we hardly ran it, and used it primarily as a drying rack. This would always confuse guests...wait, you put the CLEAN dishes in the dishwasher? No more, people.

I set aside my Christmas money (thanks, Moms!) and we are now the proud owners of a Kenmore Elite Quietguard Deluxe. M picked it out, and it's lovely. I am sitting on the couch while it washes my dishes. I am happy. I never pictured myself in this position...domestic, chopping vegetables, folding a million tiny pairs of pants. And I certainly never expected that my Christmas treat would be an appliance. But here I am sis, walking a mile in your shoes! At least I don't have to put on my snow boots to do the laundry!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Yuck is Funny

Watch one episode of South Park, and you'll see that potty jokes are alive and well in America. And apparently, two years old is about the age that we begin to appreciate the humor in bodily functions.

Growing up in my house, we did not f*rt...we "passed gas"...but in this house, we toot. Well, most of the toots come from E or baby M, but once in a while we blame one on the cat. And boy, does E think it's funny. She breaks out laughing if you even say the word. If you want to really bring the house down, make the squirrel puppet toot.

I seem to remember the days when gross was funny. My family took vacations in a cabin in Maine, and the kids often slept in a bunkhouse out back. The walls were full of years worth of graffiti, but I only remember a set of book titles that someone had carved into the wood...Fifteen Yards to the Outhouse by Willie Makit, and Rusty Bedsprings by I. P. Nitely. I remembered these for years, repeated them to giggling friends, and scribbled them into notebooks at school. Imagine if I'd had google back then...I could have added such classics as Things That Itch by Mike Rotch, and Under the Bleachers by Seymore Butts.

I guess that E and baby M will laugh at such things too, eventually. All the signs are there. I'd love to write more, but I'm off to finish this great book I'm reading...maybe you've heard of it? Brown Spot on the Wall by Hu Flung Pu.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Disappointment by Proxy

When I took on motherhood, I was not prepared for the pain that comes from seeing disappointment in your child's eyes. E's daycare center is closing in a few weeks, and we were forced to find alternative care. There is a lovely center down the road, where E will spend part of her time during spring and summer, and three days per week when I return to work. But she has friends and teachers who will not be moving with her, and she's beginning to absorb this reality.

When we picked TT as E's new "school", we knew that her friends K and N were moving there too...but I failed to register the fact that their classroom structure is different. K and N will be in the Toddler room, and E (a few months older) will be in the "Twaddler", or transition room. When I try to explain this to E, her response is, "I want visit my K friend. I want my K best friend." Her 2-year-old voice has a little edge, a little pleading. What do I do? DEMAND to the teachers that they let E step down a "grade", or K step up? How do you kiss this and make it better? What will I do when the crisis is REAL? When a boy breaks her heart? Lord, help me.
Header Image from Bangbouh @ Flickr