Monday, August 30, 2010

the car

Today we celebrated a friend's birthday at a local diner at the end of a pier. We parked near the beach, walked ten minutes down a gorgeous boardwalk, and enjoyed our burgers and cupcakes. Lucy gave her friend a homemade card and present, and got a little cardboard pink Cadillac from the restaurant to take home.
She was distracted when I gathered our things, but I made sure to grab the pink car. "You know as soon as you forget it that they'll need it and have a meltdown about it," I said to the other people there.
We said our goodbyes, and Lucy happily took my hand as we made our way outside.

A minute or two later, I said, "I got your car,"
She stopped still. Her face crumpled. "No, Mama! That belonged to my friend!" And just like that, she was wailing.
You're kidding me, I thought. A meltdown for remembering the car?
We have to go in and give it baaaack", she said.
We had only minutes left on our meter. I knew it would take longer to navigate back upstairs, give back the car, go back out, and make it to our car. "We can give it to her next time we see her," I said.
"Noooooooooooo!" More melting down.

I was already carrying Julia, so there was no picking up Lucy. There was nothing else to do. I grabbed her hand, as gently as I could, I helped her walk down the pier.

Oh, is there any walk so endless than one with a screaming child? Every so often, I'd bend down and try to get her to calm down, but my one solution--giving the car to the friend later--was met with more screams. The fishermen, swimsuited tourists, the walkers and the restaurant-goers all stared at us as we walked down the boardwalk. We were much more entertaining than the fish.

Finally, we were almost to the end of the pier. Lucy fell to her knees and howled. "Noooo, Mamaaaaa! We have to give her her caaard!!!!!!"

Wait. Excuse me? The card?

I bent over. "Honey, she has your card. The card. I brought your car." I opened my bag, and pulled out the Caddy. "See?"

She looked in the bag, verified that there was, indeed, no birthday card in there, and said in a perfectly normal voice, "That's so silly!" Then she started skipping down the boardwalk as if she didn't have a tear-streaked face.

Ah, misunderstandings. Next time, I hope to have one on land.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

still waiting

To feel confident parenting two girls,
to know how to navigate them,
their twin needs, nurse or nap,
play or discipline, older or younger.
Today, nothing went right, my attitude,
napping, speaking kindly, older biting younger.
At nine AM I was done,
with a full day left over.
I apologized for being cranky, twice.
We went for a walk, found dandelions,
veins in leafs, pine cones, clover.
We bought lemonade from our neighbors.
Not a perfect day, but survivable.
Each day is harder than expected,
but also more lovely, magical, full.
I'm waiting, but also living, now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Julia's shrieking? The kind I wrote about here? It has not gone away.

Here's when she shrieks: at the drop of a hat. At dinner. Or any meal, really. When she does not want what she has on her plate, and/or is done. Or thirsty. Or maybe just morose. Who knows? She is a baby, and can't tell us.

She seems a little pickier than Lucy at this age, but that just might be because she SCREAMS WHEN I DON'T GIVE HER EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTS WHEN SHE WANTS IT.*

I'm not much for running after children with food, but this baby? I will start pressing food against her lips, in the hopes that she will just STOP SCREAMING. Here's what goes through my head:
Eat the ham! *($()$) just eat the ham! Okay--what about apples? Please? Please? Ack! Now you don't like apples? %$#^!

It does not help that we are getting towards the end of the week and our go-to foods are depleted (banana, peach, spicy italian sausage**).
And yes, she does want the food. When she gets what she wants, she will eat astonishing quantities, and then sleep through the night. Thus making me a little more into her eating astonishing quantities.

The shrieking is a phase, right? A phase? And if so, it will end soon, right?
Not that soon, you say?
Don't make me start shrieking.

*What's strange about this behavior is she is truly the sweetest, most easy-going baby any other time. Put her in a high chair, though, and beware.
**Yes, she's a quarter Italian. She has also started gesturing expansively when she's baby-talking.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

who are the ad wizards that came up with that one?

Lucy asked for some waxed paper today and spent a good ten minutes carefully folding it into a narrow strip. To this she taped two twisty ties (one orange, one blue).
"Look, Mama," she said. "A prince shooter!"
"A what?" I asked. Our taste in fairy tales here runs to the traditional, end stop. Favorite pretend game? Cinderella. Favorite dress-up outfit? Princess gown. Favorite video? Faerie Tales. You get the picture.
Not in the picture: regicide.

Lucy explained her invention. "See? A prince shooter! Princesses press the red button (indicating orange twisty) and pop! a prince comes out! A boy can press the blue button! Pop! See, the prince is dancing on the table!"
"Look at him go!" I said, admiring the invisible, jigging, foot-high princ. "How convenient to be able to get princes whenever you want!"

Wouldn't Lucy's invention really change the dynamic of all of those old fairy tales? Who needs booby-trapped mattresses, slimy frogs, or a cantankerous beast when you can have the Prince Shooter (TM)?
Batteries not included.

Monday, August 23, 2010

too many projects

Every once in a while, my good intentions catch up to me.
I like a good project to sink my teeth into, challenge myself, improve things around the house.
Except starting them is just a little easier than finishing.
Here's a list of on-going projects. Perhaps listing them might make me more likely to finish?

  1. Frame Lucy art and display for fun and quick (well, not so quick) home decorating! (3/4 framed, sitting on the floor)
  2. Refi house to save $$$$. I called our bank and did not get a call back. Smashing.
  3. Learn how to use coupons to save $. So far, I am doing a lot of thinking about using coupons to save $.
  4. Make a beach blanket for the summer. Hmm. I have what, fifteen days left?
  5. Finish making happy birthday banner for Lucy. A looming deadline helps.
  6. Sundry other sewing projects. Not a good sign when you can't remember what they are.
  7. Make the doll/hair that I started with Lucy. Why I let her talk me into putting hair onto a "quick" project we started together, I'll never know.
  8. Probably something else I'm forgetting.
Note to self: Do not start any other undertakings until this list is finished.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

no cooking school yet

Today, Lucy asked for a music stand with some sheet music on it. We retrieved some songbooks from her room, and she opened a colorful Mother Goose song book. She found the page for Hot Cross Buns (which she doesn't know), and said, "I will sing my own song to this."
Here's how it went:
We eat some socks!
We eat some bear stuffed animals!
We eat some chef's hats, yes!

Here's my chorus:
We cough up stuffing
and thread and yarn--
Let's wear the hats instead!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


My parents volunteered: watch both girls.
Two hours: I drop off/pickup.

Dropoff. Exchange cars with the carseats.
In their car, I dream big:
Lunch, nap, clean. Relax, read, tea.
Home! Pause. The garage door opener?

In my car. With my purse.
And the cellphone. #$@$. @%%*&. %$#^.

Returning to their house, revising plan:
Get keys. Drive home (again). Lunch.
Look at clock. Get my girls.

What is it they say again?
The best laid plans...ah, well.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

none of that, now.

Today Lucy's friend Gia came over. After some puppet theater and jumping on the bed, they found some of the sundry balloons left over from our surprise party on Saturday.
Gia threw one into the air.
"Gia, don't celebrate in here," said Lucy.
Heaven forbid.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

attention, please

Lately, I've been a bit short with my girls.
Sometimes, I just want a few minutes with no questions/squalling/musical performances etc. I want just a minute to check email in peace, or drink tea, or whatever.
Funnily enough, I do not get that, and the lack of that time bumps up against my desire for it and creates just a tiny bit of friction.
Today, I tried to let it go, just a little bit. To close the computer, put down the book, and just be with my kids without having as much of an agenda.
I don't know if I was successful, but it felt good to recognize the irritation for what it was (my problem, not theirs) and own it. It felt good to reframe.
Not that I don't need me time, or alone time, but when I'm not getting it, it sure doesn't help to be thinking about it all the time.
How about you? Any reframing going on lately?

Monday, August 16, 2010

party planning

(Daddy asleep upstairs Saturday morning.)
L: Mama, let's have a surprise for Daddy!
Me: Okay. What?
L: We'll blow up balloons, and when he comes downstairs, we'll yell, "Surprise!"
Me: Sounds great. Which balloons do we use?
(Picking balloons) (Blowing them up) (Wrapping a board book for a "gift")
(Daddy moving around. Showering.)
L: I'm going to go upstairs and tell him we're having a surprise for him.
Me: Don't tell him what kind--otherwise it's not a surprise, right?
(Lucy upstairs, telling him we're having a surprise, and probably what kind. She comes down. Grabs balloons. Dyami coming downstairs.)
All: Surprise! (Throwing balloons)
Dyami: Oh! thank you everyone!
(Julia rolling around on the floor with joy; also crowing)
(General happiness)

Friday, August 13, 2010

said Lucy to her friend

Lucy (Holding out her hand): Hey, Ginger, you worried 'bout something?
Ginger: Why you say that to me?

Answer: Because Lucy's mama says that to her periodically. Sometimes without cause, apparently.

PS. Is there anything sweeter than two preschoolers holding hands?

this much I know: too open

Moving baby+unlocked cabinets=much stress.
Please, let's find workable child locks.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010


Lucy is downstairs, helping "answer" the phones for our online stop motion software business. She really wanted to help. She has been answering the phones for the last half-hour. Perhaps we should pay her. Or, perhaps not:

Rinnng, rinngg.
L: Hello.
Customer*: Hello, I want to buy some software for stop motion.
L: Okay.
C: Can you help me?
L: Yes. I'm almost four.
C: And you work there? Is that legal?**
L: Yeah.
C: Can you tell me anything about the software?
L: Well, you can get it from our cabinet. And, it's kind of a CD, with movies in it about stop motion.
C: Movies? Do you have any software?
L: Uh, well, you can go to the stop motion store to get that.
C: Can you tell me anything about the software? Like, can you draw on the screen?
L: Yeah! You should come over here, to our house, and get it.
C: Where do you live?
L: Mexico.
C: Ah. Do you speak Spanish?
L: Uh-huh. Um, iewogjsdif. See?
C: Okay. Well, I'd better go.
L: Okay. How do you say goodbye in Spanish?
C: Chao.
L: Show. Goodbye.

Ie, Dyami.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the noise

Dear Neighbor,
Thanks for being generally nice, in a non-committal way. We wanted to move to a place a little less prissy than the very Suburban place we used to live in, so we're trying to just hang with things, and not be, well, prissy.
The motorcycle? The one that you drive? That is Loud? LOUD? LOOOOOUUUUD?
I'd like to ask you to tone it down, but do I really want to start alienating you? Do I want to be a jerk and complain to our landlord? And yet. You have woken my baby up. You have not woken me up, yet, but I'm waiting for it. Mostly, though, I just am incredulous. It's so offensive. It's so loud. It is much, much louder than it needs to be. It is a gunshot that keeps on giving.
Aren't there laws about noise, and mufflers, and such? Do the police not take them seriously? It's clear that you do not take them seriously.
Really, neighbor, I am at a loss.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

butterflies, everywhere

Since Lucy started looking into butterflies, we've seen a lot of butterflies. This is the classic situation of once you buy a blue Ford, everyone has a blue Ford. Except nicer, because they're butterflies, and they're free.

I'm not much of a naturalist. I was, a bit, when we lived in the Sonoran desert as a kid--Arizonans take seriously their education about the desert, so I knew all about barrel cactus, and how to tap them for water in case of being lost, and why ocotillos get flowers after a rain. But we studied birds for one unit in fourth grade, and I dutifully took out my bird guide around the house to get some sightings, and I think I saw fewer birds than I did when I wasn't paying attention.

It's a little embarrassing, actually, to see a white butterfly with your child and know nothing about what it is. Is it common? Rare? What does its larvae eat? And what the heck do you call it? I mean, I'm all for letting her discover things on her own, but I'd like to be smugly informed while she does it.

But funnily enough, after a few butterfly books, and a few weeks of looking at them, we're both starting to learn. Today we saw a butterfly that I used to think was a moth (until I learned moths fly at night).
"Look, mama, a skipper," Lucy said. And it was. So: my daughter is a genius. And: I have come a long way. Not two years ago, a friend wrote a poem about a skipper in my MFA program, and I thought it was nautically themed, not a treastise about environmental degradation.

About those ever-present white butterflies? Cabbage whites, I think. Common. Destructive. But still, so pretty, with their ivory wings with the greyish green spot in the corner.

It's lovely see more deeply, and to do it with my daughter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the mario cart cure

Julia was six months old, waking up five or six times a night, and I was sick. Dyami was gone for two days, and we were moving in three.
I was beyond bleary-eyed.
Our sweet neighbor volunteered to watch our girls for an hour while I tried to rest. It didn't work. In other words, both girls were fine, but I lay awake in bed, heart racing, trying to talk my anxious body into sleep. After about fifteen minutes, I gave up, more tense than before, and thought about going and retrieving my children.
Instead, I turned on our new Wii and popped in the Mario Cart disk.

I'm not much of a video game fan. I have little patience for the learning curve, and my type-A personality feels guilty wasting time on something so unproductive. But I like some video games, and Mario Cart is pretty fun. You can't die, you don't kill anyone, and a lot of the courses are set in sylvan meadows or maple groves, with funny characters and banana peels trying to get you to crash.

I had laundry to do, a house to pack, and a neighbor I was imposing on. I felt guilty turning on the TV. But I did, and I played for a a good twenty minutes. I maneuvered my go-cart down the course, with my little character, Toad, fist-pumping any time I managed to hit an opponent with a turtle shell. I tried a new course, Rainbow Road, a thin ribbon of track surrounded by an expanse of starry sky. I kept falling off the road, and going down in flames like a comet. At first, I gritted my teeth, then I started laughing at my own incompetence. The game rates your performance at the end of each round, and I got an E, which is polite for "failing." It was a relief to fail at something that didn't matter.

I finished the game, turned off the TV, and walked across the street to retrieve my children. I was still horribly tired, behind in packing, stressed about the move, worried I wasn't going to sleep that night. Mario Cart hadn't solved anything.
And yet I felt better. Somehow, taking time to be purely frivolous, to be irresponsible, helped me feel better. I would have preferred a nap, but since that wasn't possible, I took the Mario Cart cure.

Ah, for a Mario Cart cure everyday, to take myself less seriously, to laugh, and to do something for myself that doesn't absolutely need doing.

our froggie

We went to our local nature center the other day. The park guide was kind enough to give us a little "treasure" map of the nature walks around the building, pointing out local animals and plants to check off as "treasures"--butterflies, ants, herons, lemonade berry bushes, willows, frogs.
We had good luck: a swallowtail butterfly, a heron, about ten lizards. We wanted to see, or hear a frog, though, and a walk past the little cattail choked pond did not produce results.
Julia kept chuckling, a throaty noise, deep down in her throat, like a cat with a hairball.
"Julia's our frog," said Lucy. "She's croaking."
We laughed together, checked off the frog, and went on to hunt a spider web. With our chuckling, ribbeting treasure along for the ride.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ignore sniffles, open freezer: ice cream.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

what a difference a nap makes

another erg day. I could not think of anything to do; both girls were as cranky as I was, and I couldn't even muster the energy to leave the house. Until about 2, when Julia fell asleep, and I fell asleep, and Lucy fell asleep, all until about 3:30.
It was the longest nap any of us had had in more than two weeks, and I realized, upon waking, that it was exactly what my body had been crying out for.
Laying in bed, every bone felt heavy; when I opened my eyes, the brightness made me wince.
And then we all got up, and left for a hike in a nearby nature center. we all chirped like birds and found spider webs and lizards and butterflies, and I realized anew that it is a lot easier to parent when one is rested.
The sniffles I have had for the last three days are gone, and so is the blehness. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you sweet Jesus.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Another day of bleh. This cold, it is not bad, but it is like Kryptonite. It will not go away, and I so far have not found a lead safe to lock it in (abandon metaphor! abandon metaphor!) I hate feeling as cranky as my kids. Snitty. This is the perfect adjective. I have been snitty all day. Surprise! Four year olds are not so cooperative when one is snitty!

On the bright side, people are actually getting enough sleep for their bodies (stopped waking up at 6:15 and taking 1/2 hour naps) so eventually we should all catch up and stop feeling drained.


Oh! And on the real bright side, I went to the thrift store today and found this juicer:

I know--it looks like a medieval torture device. But wait! It's fabulous--you press the juice out of the fruit, instead of twisting--then pour the juice out of the clever spout in one end. My mother-in-law introduced me to its wonders and I have been longing for one ever since--except it's not something you can get at Crate and Barrel.

We made grapefruit juice. Which helped both the cold and the general disposition of everyone. Hooray, juicer!

Monday, August 2, 2010

caterpillar clothing

Did you know that caterpillars shed their skin when they're about to turn into a chrysalis? And that they drop the shed skin to the ground like an old pair of jeans? And that if you are lucky enough to come across said skin, you can see their old body all wrinkled up, including eyes, tentacles, and little mandible/antennae thingies?

Also, did you know that doing home school preschool is allowing me to be even more of nerd than I ever have been?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Dear Ikea,
Ah, Ikea, Ikea, Ikea. Where do I start?
Okay, those pert little handrails I noticed today, just at the right height for a child? Good one, Ikea. You made me smile. And then you had to post a sign next to said handrail, saying something like "See? We care about our little ones!" Which made me narrow my eyes. What are you trying to sell me, now, Ikea, now that you've become my child's caregiver? Rainbow-pack plastic tableware? Fabric with numbers scrawled on it? Those humongous blue bags for only $0.50? And throw in a new bedroom set, now that we're here? Only $1,099--and real wood!

The first time we met, I was appalled. It was like Vegas, except for furniture. I mean, how was I supposed to leave the place? What time was it anyway? The tiny, cheap votive candles are calling to me, saying, spend! spend! Surely you'll use 100 of us! I turned in circles, found an exit, and skedaddled, hands empty.

I didn't come back for years.

Then I had children.

I started noticing the perfect, child-sized tables, the metal cookware, the bright beads of the abacus, the red-legged easel. Any questions regarding said items brought this mantra in response: I-kee-ahh. I-kee-ah.
I shuddered. I considered. I got in my car.
I bought things.

Now, every time I return, I find more to love, and more to hate. Oh, the crowds of consumers, heaping yet another picture frame on their carts. The siren call of cheap, well-designed goods. The eye for detail, coupled with that seductive price. The outfitting of our new rental for much less than I thought.
I-kee-ah. I-kee-ah.
Soon you will be asking to return home with me in greater quantities, unless I resist. Do I really need new kitchen towels? Shelves? Fabric printed with primary-colored flowers?
So don't be appealing to my children, Ikea. Not fair. Not fair at all.