Monday, April 30, 2007

Yes, I know...

...that it's been a full week since I last posted to this blog. I have no excuses. I have not been sick, nor out of town, nor abducted. I simply didn't make it to the blog all week. It's not that nothing happened. It's not that we didn't take any new pictures, we took a lot. I just didn't feel like it. So I'll give you the run-down of the week, pictures will have to come later because I haven't uploaded them yet. Didn't feel like doing that either.

Last weekend mom and dad were here. They brought a few items for the girls including a Cinderella (Kate has no idea who she is yet) bathing suit with matching pool-side, zip-up robe that Kate will barely take off. I have already learned to use this to my advantage as Kate also doesn't want to get out of the tub once in it these days. Now she gets to dry off in her princess robe.

Sarah (well, and Kate too but mostly Sarah) received, among other things, a little fire truck from Ant Sue that makes approximately 500 different, very loud noises. The seat of the fire truck opens up and provides space for storing your important personal effects. Like mommy's cell phone. For a full 24 hours. We haven't sent thank-you notes yet (see? It's not just the blog that's been neglected) but the girls love this thing. The constant auditory state of emergency in the house is a little nerve-wracking but it's not really much worse than the rest of our daily cacophony...I've scarcely noticed the increase.

We went and participated in the dedication of Decatur's city arboretum. We went on the Druid Hills Home & Garden Tour. Much of it was very nice but the place that was packed floor to ceiling with priceless antiques made my eyes hurt. The owner is very proud of those things, many of them have been in his family for generations and some are about to be indexed or whatever by the Smithsonian and he wanted to tell us all about it. I stood, trapped by the throng of other home voyeurs, wishing desperately I'd never set foot in there. But the gardens were lovely.

We went on to have a week filled with the mundane - tormenting the pets, watching the sign language DVDs, trips to the park, moments of delightfulness followed by moments of full-scale fits with screaming and flailing about on the floor followed by delightfulness again. Sarah turned 9 months old, went to the doctor and was pronounced in perfect health.

The Breast Cancer 3-Day team held a carwash and raised $400 on Saturday (very exciting, though not kid-related). We skipped the Inman Park Festival and instead walked to downtown Decatur, relieved the Brickstore of some of its beer, played in the new fountain the plaza, ran in circles around the gazebo, screaming and tried out the new smoothie place on College (`eh). We went to the zoo (yes, there will be pictures). We visited the new Jake's Ice Cream location (yum).

Oh, and our car was broken into while parked in our driveway while we slept Saturday night. It had been left unlocked and there was nothing much in there, though they did make off with one of our books of checks (eschewing the check register). So nothing was broken and nothing was really taken...it was more like having raccoons break in. Raccoons that smoke crack. The raccoons got into the car of our neighbor across the street, too. It's inconvenient and we will have to have a chat with our bank regarding the checks but as long as they stop at the car and avoid the house, I'm not too rattled.

And that was our week. I'll try to be better this week.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fan!

Busy Earth Day weekend...very tired...but big news! Sarah is doing her first sign. It's "fan". I'd have expected "eat" since she literally quakes with joyous anticipation when she sees us preparing food for her but no. Fan. I looked for an image of the sign for fan online...I didn't find one. I did find a site included one of my search words: "...Competitive farting, a sign of the Apocalypse?" When I got to that link, I gave up trying to find an online sign for fan.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Oh Girls - they wanna have fun!

The note from daycare included a list of each day's theme for this week (culminating in an exciting field day tomorrow). We failed entirely on "civic helpers" and "international" day because, despite my best intentions, I just couldn't get my act together. But pajama day was a breeze, of course (1. Get children out of bed. 2. Do not dress them). And "Silly, willy tacky Day" would be everyday were it not for battles bravely fought! So today, we got to skip the battle. Kate was very happy.
It's tougher to get nuts with Sarah. She's just more reserved by nature. So, the ridiculous clown-looking bloomer thingies that go with an otherwise fancy outfit, with her SPAM shirt and monkey Robies would have to do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Painting While Parenting: A How-To Guide

So, your guest room walls are covered with holes from where the previous owners used giant nails to hang the prints they bought at Wal-Mart and the color OH the color...it's time to paint. No more putting it off, you've lived in the house nearly 2 years now. You've carefully chosen a color that matches, perfectly, one of the colors in the quilt you already have for the bed in there. You replaced the painting supplies that you had out in the shed in plastic Home Depot bag that rats used as a lavatory (yyyyiiiick, rats.) You've pulled out Tom Waits' Rain Dogs because it's perfect for room painting. You're ready to go.

But wait! It's been awhile since you've painted a room in your home. Indeed, there was one less child then and the one that was there was much smaller, more manageable...you think you probably took a day off and did it while she was in daycare. You don't recall. You've guilted your husband into doing some yardwork that's been put off nearly as long as the painting of the room in question and now you're trapped in the house with 2 children under the age of 3. And there's paint. Hmmm.

Plan A: Usher 2-year-old out into yard with husband and dog. Bring baby into room with you. Create "play area" employing several pillows from the bed, a few toys, the natural barriers of walls and furniture and the vacuum cleaner. Plop baby down. Ah...there you are. Commence painting!

You will have to discard Plan A when the 2-year-old decides she'd rather be inside helping you paint and the infant is furious at being trapped behind the vacuum cleaner and not being held every single second of the @#$%#$%%^ing day.

Plan B: Wait for nap time. This is a useful plan except that your 2-year-old typically naps in the guest room (as it is free of all the fun things found in her own room and subsequently more conducive to napping) so now she's in your room. Not napping. There is precious little time. You may get the first coat on during this time. Count your blessings. Stop until tomorrow. First coat needs to dry anyway.

Now then, to complete the task. When the children go to bed, paint the tedious parts around the trim all over the room, then...make a deal. Promise whatever you must to get your husband to take both kids with him to do the grocery shopping the next day so you can paint. Oh, stop complaining, it's not like you're actually going to have to sleep in that uncomfortable get-up. When they leave, be sure you've already got everything ready to go - paint in pan, roller fresh and clean, drop cloth applied appropriately, new music selected. Yes, Tom Waits won't do this time, oh no. You're about to participate in the new sport I've invented I call Power Rolling. I considered changing the name so as not to confuse the pot smokers but ultimately decided they probably lack the motivation to paint a room, anyway. It's a cardio-vascular workout and requires some amount of physical skill and strategy. I think the Olympics will add it to the summer venue soon. The music for this should be funk or, if you like, techno. If you're my friend Dave Turner you probably have at least one album of factory music, that will work well. Once they leave hit it. Roll the paint onto the walls as fast as you possibly can without also getting paint where there should be no paint. Don't worry, a couple Advil will take care of that fume-induced headache that results and the spots you're seeing will go away as soon as you remove your glasses.

When you run completely out of paint with only about 8 feet of wall left feel free to use every cuss word you know, and loud. You're all alone! Come to think of it, it's been awhile since you've been allowed to used foul language at home. Have at it! It's cathartic. While you're at it, eat some of the M&Ms you bought as a potty-training bribe for the 2-year-old who seems perfectly content to poop in her big girl panties. You deserve it! When was the last time you didn't use the potty? Don't answer that. OK, back to work you. You can't finish the walls but you can paint the trim. For this, you'll need to tone down the music. Choose something that inspires the methodical, attention to detail mood you require. For God's sake, not jazz.

When your entire family returns in just one hour (mental note, choose groceries that must be purchased at multiple stores next time) you'll be forced to take a break. That's OK, now you're all but done! Just another quart of wall paint, a few rolls that seem like nothing compared to the action earlier, and voila! A room suitable for guests!

The other option is to hire a babysitter, but for what they charge these days you could just as easily hire someone to paint the room. But if you're going to do that I don't even know why we're having this conversation! Why don't you go eat some more gold, then, richy rich?!? Jeez.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Art of Happiness

I listen to a lot of audiobooks these days because I spend an absurd amount of time sitting in traffic. I like mostly non-fiction sprinkled with the occasional mystery/thriller for the car. One of my favorites has been The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. In it he states he thinks it's a little odd we celebrate birthdays since our birth into this world is the beginning of pain. But of course, the book is about being happy despite that.

I was thinking about the book last night when Sarah woke up crying, squirming in pain from a truculent diaper rash. She was exhausted, though, and as soon as I picked her up she stopped crying and nuzzled into my shoulder. It's true there is a lot of pain in life - diaper rashes, teething, injury, sickness, heartache... but I still think being born into this life is something worth celebrating. Of course my opinion about it is informed only by my life as a middle class white person, born into a loving family in a prosperous country...my pain has been minimal compared to many. But when I remember the things that have hurt me, I don't remember the actual pain of it, I remember how whenever I've been in pain, the people who love me have comforted me. Like having someone there to pick you up and hold you when your butt stings.

Were I the parent of one of those kids that were gunned down at VA Tech on Monday, or worse, the parent of the kid that did it, I'm not sure the Dalai Lama's book would help right now. I'm not sure anything would. It's my home state. Lots of my friends went to Va Tech, it's such a familiar place, so the news would've been close to home no matter what. But now that I'm a mother, for some reason, it's like the terrible things that happen to anyone's children are happening to mine. Because they could. At any moment, something horrible like that could happen. I can't even hear about this story right now without crying.

I suppose the fact that I feel so inextricably linked to all those families should be where I find the happiness. To know that if that had happened to my child people all over the world who heard about it would take it personally and would mourn with me, if only a little. A feeling of unity with my fellow man is scarcely enough to go on, though. It's a wonder I'm even willing to let my kids out of my sight.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Walking in circles

I've been wearing a pedometer every day this month because I'm participating in the Clean Air Campaign's Walk There Challenge. I could be the winner of a brand new iPod Shuffle! And I figured, what the heck, I'm already training for the 3-Day, might as well log those miles.

Most days I manage the magical total of 10,000 steps because I typically do a 3-4 mile training walk at some point. A mile is roughly 2,000 steps. The remaining steps can be tricky to get in when you're a desk jockey but I've stopped calling and instant messaging my co-workers and instead, annoy them by appearing at their desks when they least expect it.

I've noticed, though, that between the hours of 5:45ish and 7:30...I'm averaging 1,100 steps. Mainly in the kitchen. Upon reflection, that makes sense. I get home, start cleaning bottles and the coffee maker, stop Sarah from eating the cookbooks, make dinner for Kate (this involves disguising 3 food groups in cheese), stop Sarah from pulling small kitchen appliances down on herself, let dog out, let dog in, stop Sarah from eating dog's food, answer the phone WHERE IS THE PHONE (at least one lap around the entire first floor), deal with Kate's poop in her big-girl pants, need to replenish Kate-sized diapers downstairs, run upstairs, down again, stop Sarah from eating the mail, make Sarah dinner, finish cleaning bottles and make new bottles, make more Sarah mush for tomorrow, stop Sarah from flinging bottle to the ground (this often involves some squats), let dog out, set coffee maker for the morning, commence grown-up dinner preparation, no, wait, change Sarah's diaper, let dog in...etc. Yeah, that sounds like 1,100 steps.

I haven't won my iPod Shuffle yet but I've learned a couple things. I have a good idea why I'm completely wiped out at 9:30. And two - any stay at home mom could kick. my. ass.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Lately...

...every time I sneeze, Kate says "Bless you, Lisa!"

Working the Room

So distracted was I by Kate taking her toy toaster, which lights up when you push the button down, pointing one end toward the kitchen wall and declaring, authoritatively, "Let the cartoon...BEGIN!" (She watches an unhealthy amount of Pee Wee's Playhouse) that I almost didn't notice Sarah.

She'd been scooting around all over the kitchen floor. For awhile, she'd just paused in front of the wine refrigerator and was either admiring her reflection in the door, or longing for some vino. Maybe both. But now, while no one was looking, she'd discovered that she could take the little bench from Kate's mini picnic table (attached to the outside portion of her kitchen, yeah, she's cool like that), hoisted herself up on it and was using it as a walker to glide across the floor.


She still seems to prefer swimming across the floor as her most rapid means of transportation. I've been thinking of making her a onsie built entirely of Swiffer pads. People always joke about putting something of that ilk on their crawlers but I think that's inherently flawed since you'd be coating the child's only means of friction with something slick. But Sarah uses her belly for support and pushes off the floor with her hands and feet to send herself sailing a couple feet at a time. That's floor-cleaning gold right there.

...There she goes..."I'm outta here, mommy! This kitchen is played."

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The take-down

Lately, changing Sarah's diaper is a major struggle. She wants to reach back with her left arm, pull herself over from the upper corner of the changing pad, stick her butt in the air, regroup, then sit up entirely for better positioning for things like eating the diaper cream. Trying to get her to lie peacefully on her back long enough to get her diaper changed (and pants back on) elicits torrents of tears, flailing limbs and screams so horrible the neighbors are doubtless calling social services.

I have to hold her down like a crack-crazed suspect resisting arrest. Every. Single. Time. It takes forever. Clothing typically has to be forcibly applied multiple times because things end up backwards in the tussle. The tears! The snot! The baby's first word is going to be "dammit!" Here she is after tonight's pre-bedtime round.

Oh yeah, and bedtime. Sarah hasn't slept in 3 nights. Subsequently, neither have we. I adore this kid, but my love for her doesn't make parenting any less a pain in the butt. Jeremiah's so exhausted and shaky from the diaper changes he's downstairs listening to the Violent Femmes and drinking. How did my mom do this with 5 of us?!? Frankly I'm surprised Dave's not an only child.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Shared bathtime

I was thinking I'd wait until I felt Sarah was a bit more stable on her own to put both girls in one tub. Sarah, however, decided tonight was the night to take her first bath with her sister. As I filled the tub first with water, then bubbles (sadly temporary) and finally Kate, Sarah stood up on the side of the tub and actually started trying to swing her foot over into the tub. Since she was filthy, we stripped her down and plopped her with the other filthy (making dirt angels at the park always does that to her) kid.

Friday, April 06, 2007

HER terms

Manners are a big deal around here. We started early on with "please" and "thank-you", Kate was signing both before she could say them. But now she's older and we've moved on to things like "excuse me" and "I'm sorry". Kate manages all but one with ease. She absolutely will not say "I'm sorry" on demand.

She has a book she loves and has memorized (she often reads it to me before she goes to bed) by Karen Katz called "Excuse Me! A Little Book of Manners". The "I'm sorry" example actually involves a slight against one's little sister, very appropriate.

This evening during some especially frenetic play, Kate stepped on Sarah's hand with her ruby red slippers. Sarah, predictably, bawled (she's such a baby!) Jeremiah and I insisted that Kate apologize for stepping on her sister but she'd have none of it. She left the play area and pretended to be interested in other things. She declared her hunger and requested dinner. She completely ignored my every request to come and say "I'm sorry" to crying Sarah, even though she admitted she'd done it by mistake. Jeremiah and I stood our ground. "You can either say you're sorry or you can go straight to bed without dinner!" Kate called our bluff. "I'm tired! Want to go upstairs and lie down!" Tears, tears, tears, flinging of self to ground dramatically, more tears.

Can't appear weak in front of the troops. So Jeremiah hoisted boneless Kate in his arms and took her upstairs, got her ready for bed and tucked her in. She wailed. He remained firm, kissed her goodnight and came downstairs. She continued to sob. Finally, I went upstairs to check on her. She was standing at the top of the stairs. By then, I'd given up. Having only raised a dog before Kate, I assume if we don't manage to punish her while she's in the act of being bad, she's completely forgotten what she did within minutes. I realize this is not correct, but still, gotta choose your battles.

"Do you want to come downstairs and have some dinner?" I asked her. She nodded, red-eyed and snotty. I took her hand and we walked down the stairs together. She was quiet. Jeremiah and I returned to what we'd been doing in the kitchen while Sarah (who possibly had forgotten about Kate's painful offense) crawled around at our feet. We said not one more word about the incident.

While Jeremiah and I toiled away silently, Kate bent over her little sister and kissed her on the head. Then she sat down on the floor next to her, kissed her hand and said, very quietly, "I'm sorry, Sarah".

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Destruct-o Kate

Someone, and I don't want to say any names here








decided it would be a good idea to arm Kate.






In the blood (OK, water) bath that followed, no one was spared.
Tragically, we were all soaking wet before dinner. We finally managed to get the trigger-happy, gun-toting maniac tucked into bed, but only because we allowed her to sleep with her weapon. Knowing that happiness is a warm gun, it seemed like concession enough in exchange for some damn peace.
Sarah was glad to have the shooting spree over with.













Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Spinach!

Like Kate before her, Sarah's a big fan of the spinach.


Restless Baby Syndrome

Sarah's a kicker. Has been since day one. We often would lay awake with our newborn and listen to the sound of her tiny heels repeatedly nailing the bassinet pad - 'thwumpthwumpthwump....thwumpthwump....thwumpthwumpthwump".

The other day I heard a story on the news about restless leg syndrome. I didn't think much of it at the time, save that I'm glad not to have it. But last night, while Sarah remained awake with legs flailing for what felt like the majority of the night, I wondered if babies can have it. The poor thing was so tired, she'd close her little eyes and rest her head on anything in sight, but then she couldn't stop wiggling and repeatedly woke herself up.

Kate did not go through anything like this. Kate does not mess around when it comes to sleeping. In fact, she never even stirred while Sarah was wide awake and crying last night. Which is good, because it's wearying enough to worry that the brain of one of your children will be under-developed because she doesn't get enough sleep and subsequently won't be able to learn all the important stuff she has to learn. It's obvious that's what happening. I test it; from time to time I'll surprise her with "Sarah, quick, name all 9 supreme court justices, start with the chief!" and every single time she can't name a single one and instead just chews on something. If this kid doesn't get a good night's sleep, she's never going to get into a good college.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Sunday

This morning on our training walk Joy and I found this really cool luna moth. The poor thing had a big chunk out of its back wing...it would never fly again. Or play the piano, for that matter. Sarah was with us, but sound asleep. We decided Kate should see it. We thought it might be placid enough to ride home with me on the tray of the stroller. This was not the case. Not at all. So, the next best option was to stick it in Joy's empty latte cup. We reasoned that it was going to die anyway. And it's just a bug. We showed it to Steve, who one-upped us with his guarder snake. Given Friday's caterpillar incident and the fact that the snake was alive and well and probably didn't want to go live at my house, we set it free in their yard. Kate was interested in the luna moth (who looked way cooler before we saturated what was left of its wings with espresso and steamed milk) but this was as close as she'd get to it. They had a nice chat.

In other news, the girls each got new hats.
They'll need them for the beach. I know, we're not going until July. But as you can see here, Sarah's going to need to grow into hers anyway. Ah, Target, you foul temptress.

When the rain set in and we couldn't play outside anymore, Kate made Sarah some coffee.
And Sarah had a good laugh at Kate's plumber's crack.
And now...they're both bathed and fed. Time for bed. Mommy needs a drink.