Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina can bite me

I don't know what to say about Katrina, except the destruction just seems to get worse with every news report I see. I can't imagine how horrific it would be to live in Mobile, or New Orleans right now. My thoughts are with all those people, even though that does them absolutely no good whatsoever.

Selfishly, I am sad that I have never been to New Orleans, for she will surely never be the same again.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Grass Ain't Greener

One of my best friends in the world has started her own blog. I have known Heidi for 10 years, since we became roommates in San Francisco, long before Lance, before LA, before kids and early bedtimes. If you had told me then that in 10 years I would be here--married, with two kids, living in Los Angeles in the suburbs, being a stay-at-home-mom, I would have spit in your eye. But here I am, and Heidi has stuck with me through all of it. I know for a fact that my journey here would have never been so smooth, without her love and wisdom.

Heidi is smart and interesting, and most of all funny, so go give her a read and welcome her to the dark side!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hawaii, Part V

The Ugly

(Again: certainly there was nothing "ugly" about our vacation. It's merely hyperbole, for effect. See how creative I am?)

My father is a complicated guy, and I've talked about him a little bit here. Of course I love him, and I know he loves me, but he can be difficult. One thing about him: he never sits still. He needs to always be doing something, learning something, moving. He loves self-improvement books, reads them by the bushel-full and actually takes their advice and tries to apply it to his own life. Oh--and he speed-reads. Yes, with his finger and everything. He learned how to speed read when he was in law-school, working part-time and trying to be dad to my sister and I. He's done it for my whole life.

Wherever we go on vacation, my father always needs to "explore". He likes to see what's out there, and he doesn't like to go to the same place twice. The first day we got to Maui, he hauled all the travel books out and demanded a family meeting so we could all work out our activities for the week. Snorkel boats, hikes, helicopter trips. Golfing, swimming, bicycling. Sunset cruises, garden tours, whale-watching. You name it, he wanted to do it. What he doesn't want to do is sit on the beach and rest.

For a guy so "on the go", he has raised 3 fairly lazy kids. Me? When I'm on vacation I like to sit on a chaise lounge in the sun with a mai tai and a good book. My brother is pretty much the same. My sister likes to get out and about a little--but not to the extent that Dad does. And my mother--good sport that she is--goes along with Dad on his excursions until she can't take any more.

There was a bit of resistance to Dad's excursions, not least of all because they happen to be expensive. Fortunately for me, I had a built in excuse for every event: my children need to nap. Also, they can't really swim yet, and they certainly can't go on a 4 mile "arduous" hike. So I spent a lot of time lounging by the pool at the house while the kids were sleeping. Worked great.

Other members of the family did not have such an easy out, which caused a bit of tension (this Dad was completely oblivious to). It's annoying when you're on vacation but you still can't do what you want to do, you know? Dad is definitely not the best at seeing things from other people's point of view. I will say that even I got tired of hanging out a home, not seeing much of the islands, and that after the excursions, people were mostly glad they had gone. (Though not on the arduous hike. Only Dad liked that one.)

When we got to the Big Island, even Dad was tuckered out, and we all spent the first few days lounging around. But by day 3 of that, Dad was in a foul temper, so we quickly sent him out with everyone else for what turned out to be a great hike in the Waipio Valley. (Lance and I took the kids on a driving tour, which was also kind of fun.)

The other thing about my dad: he likes to be in charge. He likes things to run smoothly. He doesn't like messes. He doesn't like to be questioned. He doesn't like 7 other adult opinions about how we should all spend the evening conflicting with his own. So, for example, when we went to a beachside park one evening for dinner, and Lance forgot the relish, and we didn't get there early enough so it was really dark by the time we ate, and it took 3 tries before we could all agree on the right park bench---that was a difficult evening for him. There was frustration, and shaking of the head, bulging of the vein on the forehead, clicking of the jaw. But we got through it!

Then there's my sister. Also very complicated. (Aren't we all?) Ann is incredibly loving and sweet, but at the same time she can be really rigid and competitive. The unfortunate dynamic of our family is that in the past 10 years, Ann has become the odd man out. Not for any real reason, it's really just happened by circumstance, and we all love her to death--let me explain.

My Dad went to UNC. My brother went to UNC. I went to UNC. My mother attended a women's college, not far from UNC and spent every weekend with my dad there, effectively "going there" too. My sister applied and was excepted to UNC but instead went to Princeton. (Can you imagine? Bad decisions will haunt you your whole life, Ann. (See, that's the kind of joke we make--and it's not really fair. Funny, to me, but probably not to her)).

My mom is fairly easy-going. My brother is completely laid-back. I am pretty good at going with the flow. My sister--not so much. She likes to be in control. She thinks she is smarter than the rest of us (she went to Princeton, after all) and she usually thinks she knows the best way to do things. You know what? She probably is smarter than the rest of us. Smarter than me, anyway. But that still doesn't mean I like to be told which bags I need to carry home, or that Ed will listen when she tells him to bring Sawyer's book in the car, or that Mom will appreciate her advice to bring more napkins and less potato chips on the hike. And even though we mostly shrug our shoulders and continue on in our mild-mannered way, we still kind of form a bond in opposition to her, rolling our eyes and cracking jokes at her anal tendencies.

Also--I moved to San Francisco after college. Chip moved to San Francisco after college. Ann moved back to Delaware. Although neither Chip nor I live in SF anymore, we share memories of that place that Ann doesn't. And neither Chip nor I live at home now, so the relationship we have with Mom and Dad is totally different than the one she has.

I feel, to a certain extent, like the prodigal daughter. Everytime I go home, everyone is always thrilled to see me (Ann included, of course), and I'm thrilled to see them. We're all on our best behavior. Then, before we start annoying each other, I'm gone. We get to appreciate each other, without psychoanalyzing or questioning each other's motives and decision-making skills.

I think the same can be said for Chip. And anyway, he's a boy and has a different relationship with Dad altogether. I think Ann is just a little bit jealous of that, especially since she knows there's nothing she can do to change it. She can't become his son, after all.

Since Ann lives less than a mile from Mom and Dad, she doesn't enjoy the same easy, surface relationship. She actually knows them much better than I do, and they know her and her children much better than they will ever know mine. But they grate on each other's nerves more easily. They criticize each other more and are less appreciative of each other. And again, I think she is jealous of the easy way the rest of us get along.

Plus, Mom and I are more alike--we laugh at the same jokes, which, Ann, in her seriousness, doesn't always get. We get pissed off at the same things but don't let a lot of things bother us at all. I don't think Ann really understands where we are coming from most of the time. And that frustrates her. Also she feels ganged up on. Like it's Mom and me versus her.

It's kind of an odd dynamic and I wish it wasn't so. I tend to feel a lot of guilt about her whenever I'm home, because I know that on some level, things are easier for her when I'm not around.

We still had a great time together, though. Here's a photo, to prove it:

Hawaii, Part IV

The Bad

(Note: of course there is nothing truly "bad" about a 2 week vacation in Hawaii, but . . .)

On day 5 of our trip Vivian began experiencing some diarhea. I guess it was a bug, though my original assumption was an allergic reaction to something she ate. (Papaya? Purple sweet potato? Vanilla soy milk? An excess of sugary juice boxes?) She maintained this--shall we say, soft--consitution for the remainder of the trip (12 more days). Which meant we went through about a gazillion diapers. Does anyone really want to change 8 poopy diapers a day while on vacation? From one kid? Yuck.

True to form, however, she remained happy and non-plussed by the whole situation, until the end of our trip, when her diaper rash got the better of her. By that time her ass was red, raw and chapped. The Desitin we used made it sting, and she would just stare at me, screaming in horror and pain for what seemed like hours after every diaper change. My poor sweet girl! We took her in the ocean one day around that time, too--talk about pouring salt into your wounds. Oops. Finally we procured some Bacitracin--that, combined with the eventual slowing of her digestive tract, cleared her right up. Also she spent some hours out by the pool in the nude, which--whether or not it helped--was pretty damned cute.


Also at the end of the trip--right about the time Vivian's ass was getting better--Isaac mysteriously became feverish. He didn't have any other symptoms--just a fever--and motrin brought it down fairly easily. Once the medicine wore off, though, the fever would come back, and he'd get all glassy eyed and miserable. This first appeared on a Friday night and continued until Monday around mid-day. I gave him his last dose of tylenol in the airport. But since we would be home in a few days, and since as long as I kept the fever down he seemed pretty happy, I didn't bother calling the doctor. Once we got home, he developed a rash, and when I googled his symptoms, they pretty exactly match those for Roseola--so I never did take him in. He seems fine now. But he was pretty miserable for a little while.

Here he is before the tylenol kicked in.

For most of the trip Lance and I shared a bed with Isaac (we rented a crib for Vivian). We had a king size bed in Maui, and a queen on the Big Island. Isaac, for whatever reason, hates bed covers. Also, he must sleep in a horizontal position (as in, cross-ways). So, with Lance hugging one side and me squeezing in on the other, the three of us formed an H each night in bed. Not the most comfortable way to sleep, nor the most romantic. Especially since we were not allowed even the thinnest of sheets to cover us, or he would wake and demand sleepily, "No covers, Mommy! Nooo!"

The time change also made sleeping difficult, for no matter what we did Isaac refused to sleep later than 6am. Often he and his sister would wake, for the day, closer to 5am. This made both children incredibly fussy by lunchtime, after which they would nap for sometimes 3 or 4 hours. Long naps are great when you are at home and want to watch all your TiVo'd episodes of Bernie Mac, but when you're in Hawaii, there are often places you'd rather be around 4 pm than waiting for the kids to wake up. Like, say, the hotel bar for happy hour. Fortunately, both homes we stayed at were gorgeous, so it wasn't a true hardship to have to read some dumb mystery novel by the pool all afternoon. We did have some long days, though. And I'm sad to report that the time change has not worked in the reverse since we got home: the two munckhins are still up by 7:30 every morning. Sigh.

Here's another photo, taken on Sandy Beach on Oahu, just to prove how much all the complaining above is truly un-warranted:

But do notice the time stamp: in Hawaii Time it was 9:01 am and we had already been out on a 1.5 hour driving tour, stopped to have breakfast, and played on the beach for a long time before this phtos was taken. That morning we were up at 5.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Does anyone know how to remove the date and time stamp that we inadvertantly put on the first 300 of our vacation photos? Is it possible to take it off?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Hawaii, Part III

I'm afraid these posts on Hawaii will never end.

To continue, with The Good:

Last year, my in-laws took us to Hawaii (yes, I know, we are spoiled, spoiled people) when Isaac was 19 months old and Vivian was 3 months old. We had a fabulous time, but Isaac was a nightmare the whole trip. It was 10 days of the longest never-ending temper tantrum ever witnessed on this planet. So we were a little apprehensive about his behavior this year, especially after the hellish plane ride.

Fortunately for everyone, he was actually quite charming for most of the trip. He loved Hawaii, loved the beach, the ocean, his cousins, swimming, eating at "restahlants", riding in the van--all of it. He really did have a grand time, and it was much fun to see.

Last summer Isaac had swimming lessons and this year he has been in my mother-in-law's pool fairly often. But he definitely didn't know how to swim. He didn't like getting his head wet or going under and was just starting to learn how to blow bubbles. It goes without saying that we spent a lot of time at the beach while we were in Hawaii, and the ocean there is a very comfortable temperature, unlike the Pacific here in LA, which I swear to you, hovers around 65 degrees year 'round. (How anyone swims in that water without a wetsuit baffles me, but then again Lance claims I'm soft, so who am I to say?) Anyway, in addition to the easily accessible ocean, both homes we stayed at--in Maui and the Big Island--had swimming pools. So we spent a lot of time in the water. Isaac probably spent a good 70% of his time when he wasn't sleeping in the water.

And he basically swims now. He was boogie boarding by himself in the ocean by the time we left. Several times he got tumbled by a wave and just got up giggling and kept going. I am completely amazed, as I for one am a terrible swimmer and don't really enjoy the ocean except to sit next to and read. The real test will be when we go down to the Santa Monica Beach and he tries to swim in that water. It's definitely rougher, deeper, and MUCH COLDER. Time will tell . ..

Isaac's language skills have been improving lately, too, which makes for some interesting conversations. One day at the beach, he had been pestering some girls and their beach ball for about an hour when I finally dragged him away. As we sat on our chairs drying off, he said "Can I play with the ball, Mom? Where's the ball? Did you see the blue ball? Can I play with Kristen?" And I would answer, "Not right now, okay?" After about 5 minutes of this I said, "Let's not talk about the ball anymore, okay, Isaac. Let's just think about something else." And he said: " Mommy, why are you being a little pest?" I kid you not. One night Kitchel and Sawyer decided to skinny dip in the pool, which involved, again, much squealing and giggling, especially when Lance came outside. Isaac went in the pool too, in his diaper. Later he said, "Sawyer was wearing her coochie in the pool, right, Mom?" And one day at the beach a little boy was swimming naked--to which Isaac asserted, "I saw that little boy's crack, Mom. The little boy was swimming with his crack."

He also somehow picked up the expression "I'm okay!" while we were there, as in "Do you want some milk, Isaac?" "No, I'm okay!" This quickly morphed into his answer to every request we gave that he didn't want to honor: Me:"Time for night-night! Let's go get in our pjs!" Isaac: "I'm okay!" Lance: "Have some more chicken." Isaac: "I'm okay!" Even this morning when I said "Let's go to school!", he answered "I'm okay, Mommy. I don't want to go to 'cool."

Somehow on this vacation, he also (finally!) learned to say thank you. We have been working on pleases and thank yous all along, but he only remembered about 50% of the time. Now, thank you is his favorite word, it seems. Very cute. I hand him his shirt: "Thank you, Mommy." I put his plate down in front of him: "Thank you." And so on.

Sadly, this politeness did not temper his demands, so often you'd hear, "Get in the pool, Mommy!" MOMMY! GET IN THE POOL!" "I'm okay! I don't need lunch! NOOO! NO LUNCH! GET IN POOL!! And then 7 minutes later as he's sitting at the table, "Thanks for my juice box, Mom."

Vivian also had her share of good moments on the trip. She finally got one large front tooth, so now she has a total of 3, though none of them are all the way out yet. That one front tooth really changes her face though (Sob.) She is so much sturdier now than she was before we left. And get this: she actually stood on her own a few times, for about 10 seconds each! So perhaps she will be walking before she's two. She was pretty angelic the whole vacation, despite the fact that we moved around so much. Really both my kids were surprisingly adaptable the whole vacation, knock on wood. She remains an exceptionally calm, laid-back child, happy to go to whoever wants to hold her, content to play with a shell necklace for 15 minutes at a time while the rest of us drank our Mai Tais, and Kitchel and Sawyer turned cartwheels on the lawn while Isaac ran between them giggling hysterically.

She also loves the water, and would crawl straight into the ocean without a care. She loves playing in the sand, especially finding old cigarette butts to suck on (oops!). She, with her beautiful olive skin (lucky bitch!) got incredibly tan despite the 50 sunblock I lathered her in (her brother and mother remained pale and see-through, as always), and her hair turned much blonder. She does have my hair in one sense--when it was humid, she get little curls in the back; and when it wasn't, straight as a poker.

Oh, and she's learned to say "Cheese!" Not for the food (she's allergic, dammit), but when one is taking a picture. By the end of the vacation she learned to say cheese with the best of them. Although my sister was trying to insist we NOT say cheese, since for some reason the face Sawyer makes when she says that word is not the prettiest.

That's still one of her only words--she also says ba-bie, for bottle and "birdie". She says Mama and Dada and Mommy and Daddy and about half the time she means what they say. Just today I think she's finally master "Uh", for up. So we're getting there, but slowly.

See the tooth?

Hawaii, Part II

The Good

Here I must start with my little brother. My parents have taken us on family trips like this twice before in the last 5 years or so. First we went to St. Croix in 2000, then we went to Jackson Hole in 2003. It's a great way for us all to reconnect since we are living in different areas of the country. (Except my sister and her family: they live less than a mile from my parents.) But ever since the first trip there has been a kind of family joke that Chip is the 5th wheel, since he has always been single. Usually these trips are planned way in advance, so for months before I'd be teasing him, saying things like "Chip, it's 9 months away, surely in that amount of time you can find a girl willing to be taken to St. Croix!" He's always a good sport about it, but I do think it bothered him a little, to always be the 7th at the dinner table.

Happily, this year, he brought Leigh. They have been "dating" for about 6 months or so, and it does not appear to be serious yet, but I think they care about each other. I mean, it's a big leap to invite someone 5000 miles away to spend a week with your family; and it's a big leap to accept the invitation. It's fun to see Chip in a relationship, and best of all, Leigh is fantastic. She is smart and funny and respectful and talkative (this is important, as Chip is often more the type to hang back and observe). We really enjoyed her. At the beginning of the week it seemed a little awkward between them, but once they both got used to us all and the fact of being on vacation together, they really seemed to open up and enjoy themselves.

Here's a photo, if I start feeling guilty in a few days I'll take it down:

Next, my sister and her husband. Ann and Ed are the kindest people you'll ever meet. My sister is a bleeding heart liberal, mostly because she has so much compassion for every person on the planet. They are always thrilled to see us and our kids, and it's a wonderful feeling to feel so much love every time we meet. Not only that, but they have kids, so they understand how exhausting two small children can be, and they help out all the time. One morning they took Isaac and their kids to an aquarium so Lance and I could have some peace (Vivian was napping.) They were constantly offering to take Isaac to the beach, or watch Viv for us, helping us get dinner, and so on. It's been a real adjustment to come back to California and realize that once again, it's all up to me. Sigh.

Here's another photo--again, don't get too attached:

My parents. It is always so much fun to see Mom and Dad, and I think doubly fun for me since I see them so rarely. Their personality quirks which would drive me insane if I lived with them are merely endearing when we spend but a few weeks a year together. My mother and I have similar personalities and get along well for the most part. We're both easy-going and have no problem going with the flow. My dad is very controlling and almost fastidious, but he has a lighter side, too--and on vacation we get to see more of that lighter side. My dad can be slightly oblivious, too but for the most part on vacation that just means he is happy as can be, unaware of any undercurrent of tension among the rest of us. Like Ann and Ed, Mom is a huge help, and I miss that already.

Then there's my niece and nephew. They are at a very good age--able to take care of themselves pretty independently but not yet sullen and distrustful of adults. They are also at an age which is fascinated with all things sexual. So we had lots of squealing and screaming when they overheard Lance say "You look sexy, babe." Sawyer has figured out how to blow air into the lining of her swimsuits, filling them out and giving her fake "knockers", much to her brother's delight. "Ohmigod, that's so disgusting!" they would scream, as Lance kissed me on the mouth before cocktail hour. Once in the car, the two of them were insisting that girlfriends and boyfriends were the most disgusting things ever and when I told them that one day they would change their minds and bring home their own boyfriends or girlfriends, the screams that erupted shook the van. Literally. Seconds later they asked what names these boy and girlfriends would have and we all decided on "Big Bad Bob" and "Super Sexy Sally". This caused much more giggling and squealing as Sawyer informed me that if we took off the y, "sexy" would be a "really really bad word. The worst word in the world!" At some point during this discussion Isaac was hollering from his carseat: "I am so sexy, Sawyer! I am so sexy!" Later she told me, "Did you know that you have to have sex to have a baby? So I'm adopting!"

In addition to comic relief, these two also helped immeasurably with Isaac and Vivian. Isaac adored both of them and followed them around like a puppy from day one. "Sawyer? Sawyer?" he'd call out, looking around for her after a nap. They were very patient with him for the most part, and it was really fun to see them play together. Sawyer also loved playing with Vivian, helping me dress her and change her diaper, picking her up before she crawled into the ocean, and so on.
Once again, a photo:

I must break here again, but of course there is much more to tell. Bear with me, I hope to be through with the vacation stories in a few days!

Oh, and to clarify: Thing One and Thing Two, happily, were not along for this trip since they belong to my husband's side of the family.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Hawaii, Part I

Hawaii. Hawaii is unbelievable, as you know if you've ever been there. Gorgeous, breath-taking scenery. Beautiful, comfortable climate. Mostly unspoiled landscape. Generally friendly locals. Most of the amenities of home while still seeming completely unique. We were in Maui for 1 week, Honolulu for 2 days, and The Big Island for 1 week. A very long, satisfying trip. So much happened, I don't really know where or how to begin.

First, the travel. Travel with babies is difficult no matter how far you go, but 5.5 hours on a plane with my two terrors is bad enough, without the logistical nightmare of lugging two carseats, two carry-ons, two babies and a stroller through the airport. Isaac finally slept for about half the trip, after spending the first 3 hours kicking and screaming, demanding to "get down!", spilling soy milk all over me, ripping the airphone from its socket, and generally being exactly the kid who makes people say,"When I'm a parent, I'll never let my child behave like that." Vivian was not quite as loud, but she refused to sleep more than about 20 minutes, which meant the rest of the time she spent wiggling and bleating out her babbles to all our neighbors. I'm sure the first 30 minutes of "Babie? Babie? Digga digga digga, dada DA DA FEEE FEE FEE" were cute; after that, it's anybody's guess. On our trip out we were in coach, which on United Airlines means that you have approximately 3 inches of leg room. Fortunately for the return trip we somehow managed to be in "Economy Plus", which gave us quite a bit more room. That made a huge difference. Our other two travel days--from Maui to Honolulu and Honolulu to the Big Island--were not a whole lot better, despite the fact that those flights were short--about 30 minutes each. Still we had to pack all our crap, carry all the crap and the kids through the airport, return the rental car and entertain the munchkins while we waited at the gate. The only good thing to come of it all is that our trip home actually seemed fairly easy--now we are seasoned traveling-with-kids parents.

Hawaii is expensive. I don't know how anybody vacations there without help from their parents or some other benefactor. My parents paid for our flights and lodging; all we had to pony up for was the rental vans and living expenses while there. We are basically tapped out now for as far into the future as I can see. But it was all worth it.

Not only did we get an awesome vacation, I also got to see my whole family. I have mentioned before how much I miss them, and how I hate that my kids are growing up not knowing them well. So it was really fun for us all to get together and spend quality time learning about one another again.

Here's the clan:
Mom and Dad
Ann and Ed: my sister and her husband. She turned 38 while we were there.
Kitchel and Sawyer: my sister's kids. Kitchel (boy) almost 10. Sawyer (girl) just 8.
Chip: my younger brother. He's 30.
Leigh: Chip's "girlfriend". This is the first trip Chip has brought a girl, though it's very hard to tell if they are serious or not.
And us.
Total of 12 people. My brother and Leigh had to go back after Honolulu.

In Maui and the Big Island we stayed in private homes. Awesome homes, each with 5 or 6 bedrooms. In Honolulu we stayed at the Sheraton Surfrider Hotel.

We took close to 1000 photos while there, which I will share with you somehow. Perhaps I will finally use that Flickr account I set up months ago. But here a warning: this is going to take me a while. I don't even know how to use the new camera yet, don't know how to use flickr, and have a gazillion things on my to do list before I get to that. Also--my family doesn't know about my blog. Is it fair to post pictures of them without their knowledge? I guess not, but I'm really tempted to do it anyway. I'll have to think on that and come back to it.

Now I'm out of time again and I haven't even posted anything of value yet. I realize this is pretty boring so far but I'll try and get to the good stuff soon.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Hello again

Okay, we're back. I missed everybody! (And I'm glad to see I was missed a little bit, too.) I have so much to say, so much I want to record about our fabulous vacation, but I can feel all the memories slipping through the sieve that is my brain with every load of laundry I do. I will be back later (tonight, maybe?) to take a stab at some of it.

More importantly, I'm dying to see what everyone else is up to, so I should be stopping by all your blogs in the next few days.

Hope everyone is doing well.

Friday, August 05, 2005

We're off!

We are leaving tomorrow and will be gone until August 23rd. I don't think I'll be able to even pop in to check on you all while I'm gone, so don't write anything fantastic while I'm gone, okay?

Have a great end of summer.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Two and a Half

Dear Isaac:

You are not actually two and half yet--you won't be for another month, if I'm doing the math right--but I just need to write some things down before I forget. Everything you do these days is so fleeting, I feel like I'm a kid running behind a lightning bug, trying to catch you in my hands. But when I finally catch you, closed up in my fist, then I can't see your pretty light until I open up to peek inside, and out you fly again. (God, is that a ridiculous metaphor, or what? I am so not good at those.)

I need to remember these things about you: the way you pronounce lawn as loin ("I hear loin mower, Mommy! I need to get my loin mower!"); the way you insist that it is never nap time (pronounced "nap-toyma"); the way you will snatch a toy out of your sister's hands, but then quickly toss her a different one before she starts crying. And say, without a trace of irony, "I think Viv likes this toy, Mom. She want this one."

You still love brooms, mops, dustpans, vacuums, sponges--in short, cleaning supplies of any sort are your favorite toy. Perhaps you will grow up to be a janitor. If that's what's going to make you happy, baby, I'm all for it. I am looking forward to the day when your coordination improves enough so that you will actually be cleaning up, rather than making more of a mess, when you use these "toys".

You love your sister intensely, which is wonderful to watch. Listening to the two of you giggle hysterically is my all time favorite activity. You love it when I put the two of you to bed in the same room ("Vivi want to sleep in here! Vivi want to sleep in here!"). As soon as I leave the room the hysterics begin. Unfortunately, generally the thing you are both giggling at is a game which involves you climbing into Vivian's crib, and then the two of you taking turns sitting on top of each other until somebody gets an elbow in an eye and the giggles turn to wails. At which point I have to remove you from the crib, and return Vivian to her pack n' play in the other room, much to everyone's dismay. I must add here, too: although you love your sister, you have very specific ideas about her role in all of our lives. You frequently tell me things like "Vivi don't like to sit on your lap, Mom." Or "Vivi need a nap." Or "Vivi want to go in the other room. You stay here, but put Vivi there."

Truly, however, your verbal abilities are improving exponentially every day. You come up with new expressions to delight and amaze us all the time. The newest one--"Don't be mad at me, Mom"-- you threw out the other day, after the 16th time you had climbed out of your bed during naptime, rendering me completely incapable of disciplining you. Master manipulator, already. You also say things like "Do you want to watch Teletubbies or sompin?" and "Let's go for a little walk, okay, Mom?" and I melt completely. I hear myself in your words and inflections-- what a self-affirming thrill to witness that you actually do learn from me!

Now that you have a "big-boy bed", bedtime is much more snuggly. I climb in there with you, and bring Vivian in for the reading of "The Lorax" (your current favorite), then Lance puts Vivian in her crib and we talk to your bears. Talking to the bears has been going on for several months, and you always have a pretty good idea of what it is we need to talk about. However, since I am the one who must speak to the bears, you first tell me what to say, and then I say it. I am aware, little one, that this is a stalling technique. Fortunately for you, it's pretty cute, so I don't mind. "Talk to Baby Bear about Isaac go to restaulant, and to beach cwub and ate chips and the sand and my owie hurts and. . ." you will demand, and I cut in, embellishing and adding details from our day, much to your delight. This we repeat with Curly Bear, and Dinosaur, ending with Isaac. Which is actually a big improvement from a few months ago, when we had to talk to all the bears about the neighbor using his sander and lawn-mower, every time, for 4 or 5 months straight.

Sometimes I snuggle in bed with you and we fall asleep together. Usually I fall asleep first, with you still climbing from one side of me to the other, elbowing me in the nose or face without care. It is only that I am so exhausted from following you around all day that I am able to sleep through that. I don't understand something, though--why are you not tired? Can we please work on this "falling asleep" thing? Trust me, when you are older, being able to fall asleep in less than 10 minutes, like yours truly, will be a cherished skill.

You are two and a half, and you definitely received the memo about temper-tantrums which comes with this developmental stage. Really, the shrieking and carrying on can be awe-inspiring. I never realized the depth of despair one can fall into if one's mother offers soy yogurt for breakfast instead of otter pops. One tactic I use to diffuse these epic sound barrier breaking fits is to ask you to "take a deep breath and let's count to ten". And so you count, through your tears, all the way to ten, and then "d'eleven, twele, forteen, twen-teen". Because in your world, counting to ten really means counting to twenty, and no matter how many times we go over the numbers, you just have no use for 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, or 19. Despite the difficulty with numbers, usually this activity calms you down enough so that I can distract you. Or give in to you, whichever my mood dictates. (Look, that mom is being inconsistent! Her child will grow up to be a psychopath!)

Oh, and along with the temper-tantrums have come the demands. At school, the teachers make an effort to teach you all to stand up for yourselves, so if one of your friends grabs a toy out of your hands, you have been taught to say things like, "Don't do that! I was using that toy. It's my turn now!" While I recognize that this is a good thing to learn, I am not loving how it manifests itself at home. As in "No, Mom! Don't do that!" followed by shrieks heard all the way in the valley. And "Give me that! Get me milk! I want milk!!"

We have been half-heartedly trying to potty-train for a few months now, but since you are showing NONE of the signs of readiness, I confess to not making this much of an issue. You will pee on the potty before your bath, and occasionally in the morning or before bed, but that's it. If I suggest it at any other time of day I may as well have turned off Elmo in mid-viewing for the response I get. Oh, and we tried pull-ups, and underwear. This did not go over well. For some reason you have a complete catatonic fear of anything other than your own diapers. So for now, I toil daily with my double diaper duty (hey! Alliteration!), and you owe me for this, oh first born, because there are some days when the shit-storm in our house would be enough to drive sanitation workers to drink. Come to think of it, perhaps this is why I drink.

Of course, all these complaints are not really complaints. I will put up with shit, screams and demands for the rest of my life if it means I get to cover you with kisses all day. ("I knock mommy over!" you say triumphantly as you rush into me while I sit there innocently on the floor. And then I am on my back and you are giggling on top of me, kissing my neck and repeating with me "I love my cuddle monkey!", sometimes adding: "No Viv! You are NOT cuddle monkey, I am cuddle monkey!") How did I get so lucky?

Thank you, Isaac. I love you.

Since I don't know how to use the new camera yet, here's one from a few weeks ago. See, he does love her! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Incoherent Mind

A few things I am thinking about lately:

We are incredibly fortunate and spoiled, and as such, we are going to Hawaii on Saturday with my extended family, on my parents dime. Last summer my husband's parents took us to Hawaii. (Thing One and Thing Two did not join us, praise Allah.) This means my children have been to Hawaii twice before they turned 3 and 2. I have only been to Hawaii three times in my 35 years. Still, that is 3 times more than many. I am so blessed.

Is there some price to pay for being so fortunate? What will it be? How can I protect myself??

My best friend in the entire world, who has fertility issues, got a positive pregnancy test this morning. Hallelujah!!!! Everyone pray with me: happy healthy nine months!

I have not begun to pack for Hawaii.

Just now, Isaac came running in from the playroom screaming, "I love you Mommy! Can you carry me for few minutes, cause I love you." How can he be so impossibly cute? What did I do to deserve him? I'll tell you what--nothing! This is why there will be some price to pay, I just know it.

Speaking of Isaac, we gave him a haircut this weekend. You might think this is no big deal, but you would be wrong. A haircut, in Isaac's mind, is akin to Chinese water torture. (If he knows what that is, which I doubt, since I don't know what it is. Does it exist, or is it just something people say?) So the haircut was not an enjoyable experience for anyone. But we got it done, and it's VERY short. He looks very different, and cute, in a conservative 1950s-ish way. I'll post a picture if I ever get around to taking one.

Speaking of conservative, I don't consider myself to be that dirty dirty word. However, it seems that I am, when it comes to dressing Vivian. I'm not sure what to make of this development. I refuse to put her in a bikini. Or buy any of those t-shirts that say things like "Spoiled Brat" or "Princess". I don't want her to have bangs. Don't worry, I don't put her in dresses and bows or anything (more often she's in Isaac's hand-me downs, and people think she's a boy), but still I'm surprised at this ladies luncheon sensibility of mine that is showing up in regard to her clothes. What the hell?

I have finally solved the problem of the children's room (remember the wallpaper incident?) by recruiting an artistic friend of mine to do a border with stencils while we are in Hawaii. (She is house-sitting.) I'm really glad to have this done, but I can't help feeling guilty: it has been months since the problem presented itself. Actually, we meant to replace the border with something more unisex as soon as we found out Vivian was a girl, 13-1/2 months ago. Bad Mother! Bad Mother!

I miss Cleo. I don't miss the cat hair all over the house or the 6am wake-up call.

This morning, Isaac peed thru his overnight diaper and woke up at 5am. It is going to be a long morning.

We had such a great weekend last weekend--the weather was gorgeous and we spent so much time at the beach. Unfortunately I did not bring the camera.

Lance has purchased a new camera. (Did I say we put that inheritance in a fund for the kids' college? Ha!) He bought it off the internet, and it is very cool. Just a point and shoot digital, a Sony, but it doesn't have the delay that our Nikon has. However, for some reason they sent us the European model, with a French warranty and instructions and the European charger. It is funny, and frustrating, to maneuver through the menu and try to figure out what the foreign words mean.

And that's all, folks.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Waiting for Birdy

Okay. I know I am way late to the party on this one; everyone has read it, everyone has blogged about how great it is. But I just finished it (greedily, when I was supposed to be saving it for our upcoming holiday), and I loved it!

It's funny, the way Catherine writes is so personal, so much like a conversation you'd have with a friend, that I do feel like she is a friend of mine. I feel like she lives just down the street, and we're getting together for a barbecue later. Or more, since she lives on the East Coast, I feel like I went to high school with her, and we exchange emails and the occasional phone call about how funny our kids are.

Birdy is just the same age as Isaac, and I feel like they would probably get along fine. Isaac is much more like Birdy than he is like Ben, in temperament at least. Vivian seems to me to have Ben's more mellow, thoughtful temperament.

You see? How weird is it that I'm comparing my own kids to hers, as if we are great friends? I've never met her!

The whole time I read the book, I would laugh in recognition at something Catherine would do, and then the next page, I would laugh again, not because I recognized it as something I would do, but because it's something I wouldn't do. Catherine and I are so different, and so alike, as mothers. And I think that's what becoming a mother does--it gains you entry into this wonderful club full of people who feel exactly the same way you do, even if they would handle a situation differently than you do.

At one point in the book, and I remember this happened when I read the same anecdote in her column, I was laughing so hard I actually cried. Even Lance was impressed.

So that's my gushing for the day. Buy the book, you'll love it. And when you buy that book, be sure to buy a children's one, for Jul, too.