Thursday, June 30, 2011

existential conversations with a toddler

Scene: Julia and I, looking in a mirror.

Julia, pointing up at me: Mama!
Me, pointing at her: Julia!
Julia, pointing at herself in mirror: Baby!
Me: Is that the baby?
Julia: nods, laughs.
Me: Are you the baby?
Julia: Nods, laughs.
Me (thinking): Well, not actually. The reflection is an image of you, but not your actual self. Can you understand that, little one, the otherness of the image that is also, well, you?
Julia, pointing at my reflection: Mama!
Me (thinking): Note to self: less caffeine in the morning.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

thank you, car

It took a while for my brain to make the connection, but the light went off last night:
Children in the car=captive audience, hungry for any kind of entertainment.
Into the CD player went the audio book of poetry Lucy has consistently rejected.
"Mama, I love these stories!" she said.
"Poems, sweetheart. And I'm so glad."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

haven't seen that one on a crayola yet

Lucy: "You know what my favorite color is? Blue with sequins."

Monday, June 27, 2011

the nuclear option

Upon me coming up the stairs:
Dyami: Lucy is pretending to be a clown. And if the children don't cooperate with her, she blows up the whole world.
Lucy: Ready? Three, two, one. (Explosion. Well, a box full of Monopoly money flung into the air).
Dyami: Her name is Toodles the Silly Clown.
Me: (Peeing my pants.)

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Lucy seems so BIG to me usually; so articulate and capable. And then, we see her surrounded by kids a few years older than her at church, in the celebration for VBS, and I realize: she's just tiny, still. Still just a small person, and so many stages to look forward to.
And then I watch her small shoulders underneath the gigantic camp T-shirt she was wearing, and watch her do hand motions to the songs this morning, and I enjoy the smallness of now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

better than that magic lamp

If wishes = peaches, who'd need wishes?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

capture the flag=injure the groin

Notes on camp counseling:
1. Perhaps one should train for it, rather like for a triathlon. Then when you volunteer for capture the flag, you can not injure yourself, or feel like dying afterwards.
2. It is gratifying to play capture the flag against fourth grade boys. Because in fourth grade, they were scary, and you could never have captured the flag. And now that you're twice their size and (even if out of shape) faster than them, you actually have a fighting chance.
3. It's also kind of fun to accidentally take down a group of said boys (not exactly a tackle, more like running into several of them, like dominoes). And I, personally, never would have as a fourth grader, and now I can without worrying about dying or getting injured. (And not injuring them either).
4. One game of capture the flag is enough.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

she didn't learn this from me

Lucy: "Everyone, welcome to the baby sale! Get your babies here, in a cage! One dollar! You have to buy the cage here!"

Monday, June 20, 2011


Before I had kids, I volunteered once with our church's VBS.
Let's just say it wasn't the biggest success. I mean, no one died, but I think after I finished each day, I felt like taking a three-hour nap, and by the end of the week, I was wondering how I'd ever have kids.

So now that I do have kids, and they are attending the camp (or at least my older one is), I vacillated between two poles: the feelings of guilt and obligation to do my part, and the fervent desire to still be alive at the end of the week.

I decided to volunteer.

So I was a little nervous this morning, the first day of camp. And then I did my job (a different one, this year, one that was a better fit), and I actually had fun. And I am tired at the end of the day, but considering how much energy I put out all morning, I'm doing pretty well.

Here's the thing: I am a lot more used to kids now. Apparently, this childcare thing is like exercise, and you can actually get more stamina.

Who knew?

Now I have to plan a crazy hairstyle for tomorrow to amuse my kids, and go to bed early, to make sure tomorrow is as high-energy as today.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

the little graveyard

So our ant farm has (mostly) been a success. For us.
For the ants, not exactly*.

Apparently when the ants die, their sisters drag their body parts over to a little pile at the edge of town and leave them there. Along with yesterday's lunch and other debris.

Lucy's quite matter-of-fact about it all. "Look, Mama! That ant died, and the other one is carrying its head over there!"

Not sure what lesson we're teaching here, but we're definitely teaching it. Right now.

*I think the normal life span of a worker ant is only a few months, so it's hard to tell if our care has hastened the demise. They always had food, and water, but I think I moistened the sand just a little too much at the beginning, and it's seeming a little funky in there. But then again, don't ants like moldy things? Hmmmm.
Perhaps I feel less than optimistic about the goldfish we're supposed to buy tomorrow...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

if your child asks for an egg, will you give him a snake?

I grabbed a fresh, ripe peach from our fruit bowl and held it up for Julia to see. "Do you want a peach, Julia?"
She shook her head. "On-yon,*" she said.

No wonder her grandfather calls her a spicy meatball.

*Just to be sure, I asked again. "Onion?" I said. She nodded. "On-yon."
This is a girl who asked for chili oil, tasted some, coughed as if we'd just had her sample a cigarette, and then signed, "More!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

not a good sign

Today, Julia woke up at 5:30 (again) and Lucy was tired all morning, and I was tired, and Julia was tired, and we were all cranky and yelling for no particular reason, and short on patience.

Dyami and I had to get something notarized, so we walked to the notary with the girls. We got there and I had forgotten my ID. So we walked back, got the ID, and drove there.

Then I had to sign my name. My full name, middle and all. As the guy told me while I was writing.

This shouldn't have been tricky.

But you'd be wrong! Because I forgot the middle name.

"It's okay," he said. "Just sign again below, and initial it."

I tried that too, but left out two letters from my last name. Then I wrote HCC, instead of HLC.

I decided it was good enough, because I wasn't going to sign a third time and initial my initials.

Then I went home and waited expectantly for naptime. Which thankfully, doesn't require signatures.

Monday, June 13, 2011

of course

Something about the husband being gone from breakfast past dinner immediately introduces the day-long, low-grade headache. The kind you get from variations in hormone levels or barometric pressure.
My body's way of telling me how much I love my husband?
Oh, sweetheart, let me count the ways (you make me take Tylenol...)

mouths are useful

I had some dental work done late last week. I'm amazed at how useful my mouth is, and how little I think about it. Chewing, spitting, swallowing, sucking at straws, flossing, drinking hot things, self-cleaning mechanisms; all of these things are interrupted by these (not very severe) injuries I've sustained.
However: I did need to eat more ice cream to heal. So there was that.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

the beginning of the end

Today and yesterday, Julia's naps were teenie weensie. Too small to count, really. I'm remembering that Lucy was close to this age when she started skipping naps. I'm also remembering how much someone whined and cried when those naps started stopping. Plus Lucy was fussy too.

Sigh. Early bedtime, methinks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

good thing it was free...

We visited the Natural History museum today. It was the free Tuesday for the month. Lucy wanted to go. She wanted to go today. And I thought: will it be worth it, when it's swarming with people?

Hard to say. We stayed maybe an hour, and hardly looked at anything. After all, it was swarming with people.

However, with a toddler there, we likely could not have devoted tons of time to the exhibits after all. So I felt thankful to not have plunked down $20+ bucks for the pleasure.

Also, because it was not so fun, we went down the row of museums to the Model Railroad museum. Which I've wanted to visit with her, but haven't, because I'm not going to drive that long just to go see model trains (that I don't know if Lucy will _love_), and we're usually exhausted after the dinosaur exhibits.

But it was free too, so we saw it, and we got to walk around the park, and enjoy a display of birds, and just feel lucky to enjoy a free day at museums, and sun, and excitement.

All worth the price of admission, I think. And the swarms of people.

Monday, June 6, 2011


My hard drive died about a week ago. Luckily, my husband works with computers, so he was able to install a new one.
One problem: our pictures and videos of the girls weren't backed up. Thankfully, older ones were (but there's about a year's gap). And also thankfully: I had just made a photo book of the last year's pictures, so though we don't have digital copies, we do have printed ones.
But the videos. Oh, the videos.

I keep trying not to feel sick to my stomach about the loss. I keep not quite succeeding.

And yet, it's made me realize: all of this time, all of this unique nowness of our girls--there's no real way to capture it. Even the videos we have of Lucy of her first words, steps, laughter don't bring back the little girl of them. They only remind us of what was, but in hindsight, I can't really remember what they were like. I can't keep the video going in my mind once it's over. I have lost those moments.
Now there are just a few more lost.

So here's a list of the doubly-lost moments. Just so they aren't completely gone:
Julia roaring like a lion.
Julia "reading" books to herself, in her baby talk.
Lucy and Julia taking turns on Dadda's shoulders, marching through the house, with Julia screeching with delight.
Dancing. So much dancing. Plus a recap of another (possibly) lost video, to the Killers "Human".
Greeting our Ojai cat and saying "Meow meow."
First food. Whatever that was.
Funny nudie toddler walking.
Lucy's fourth birthday: the endless (and fruitless) bashing of the pinata.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

bedtime redux

Bedtime has been better. Better better better.

Notes to self for bedtime:
  1. One parent for bedtime routine for both girls. The other one gets a break (bonus) and the "on" parent seems to be more able to create an experience (read: pretend games) and less likely to overwhelm the child with barked orders that were just barked by the other parent.
  2. Pretend games. Pretend games. Pretend games. The child will bite and play along. Just suggest a pretend game, and go with it.
  3. When they start ignoring, disobeying, going deliberately slow, keep voice happy and see if ignoring the misbehavior for a minute will solve the problem. Often it will and you can go to the next step. And happy moderately cooperative child is much faster than unhappy uncooperative child.
  4. Happy bedtime=worth it. Today we discovered shadow puppets and I got kisses under the covers when I sang the lullabye with the help of a penlight. Nothing like little-girl kisses in the twilight.
So: bedtime is better.*
Any other bedtime tricks for the less-than-patient parent?

*At least for this week.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Yes, it was a long morning.

Why yes, that is black tea. In the tub. With baby footprints in it.
Why do you ask?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

just a spoonful of sugar

Oh, bedtime. Bedtime, bedtime, bedtime.
Not the best time of the day over here. Lately, it's been like pulling teeth to get Lucy to bed. She fights it, she is rude, she has a bad attitude, and the parents aren't much better.

Today, she was stomping up the stairs in a huff when I insisted it was time to do so, and I decided to try ignoring her bad mood. I decided to distract her, instead.

I suggested using her new flashlight to find her pajamas. Which delighted her. She found the pj's. She found her toothbrush. She found her stories and did it all in record time. We told her story under the blanket, we giggled and snuggled. We both had great fun.

Sometimes, the problem isn't her. Sometimes, the problem is me. Well, not me, but the end-of-day blah-ness that makes it hard to think of anything besides what I'm going to do after the children are still and quiet for the first time that day. It's hard to be creative at bedtime.

Hard. And so, so worth it.