Monday, July 31, 2006

a streetcar named desire

My lovely two-year old just finished an incredible display of angst and passion, bawling and yelling out "chocolate milk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" in such a fashion it makes me think that she at least rivals Marlon Brando and his famous "Stella!!!!!...."

In an attempt to get away and disarm her I went to the computer to write this post so you could get that whole "in the moment" feeling, but when I clicked to the IMDB website a stupid advertisement for the movie Vendetta kept coming up and wouldn't stop! even when I clicked it away! Yes, I understand that has to do with the whole premise of the movie, but even if I were slightly inclined to go see it, which I am not, having their dumb ads taking over my computer screen certainly doesn't make me excited about the show, just annoyed. Anyway.

I also went to the computer in order to do some friendly ignoring as to not feed the flaming fire within my lovely daughter (can I emphasis how lovely she is? I mean it). But she would not stop, and I'd gotten myself into the classic parental conundrum. Teach her that a tantrum will eventually get her what she wants? Or try and take a mental trip to a happy place somewhere else while she genuinely cries, laying on the floor at my feet.

She started into the tantrum as soon as there was an inkling that she wasn't going to get her way. Which left no room for negotiation (it's sort of possible with someone that age... sometimes), or time for me to reconsider her request. I prefer not to give my kids chocolate milk every time they ask for it, because they don't need the sugar. And they would drink it all day long. That said, it is just chocolate milk! But since she had so quickly gone out of the orbit of reality was I suppose to give in and cater to her excruciating pleas?

I didn't. I let her follow me around as I picked up the room. She was rather clingy, so I tried to hold her. That's tough with a thrashing child who wants to be near you and yet wants to forcefully declare her independence at the same time. I gave her a choice of juice or water and a minute later she calmed down enough to request the juice and tried to start right back into the routine slightly modified by screaming "juice box!!!!!". But I jumped on it and led my whimpering child to the table and pulled out the juice box. "Mommy," she said, "have a juice box with me." I love two-year olds.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

heigh-ho, silver!

It hadn't been a great day. Just one of those "I could have and should have done better at...(name everything I did or didn't do)" days. Family was coming in and I needed to pick up a few things from the store (like a swimsuit- one that fit my post-partum body. Yeah, that's not something one can really just "pick-up" I know). When Ben arrived home from the city I quickly headed out in a not-so-great mood.

It wasn't too hot in the car because our heat-wave had actually subsided a bit, and so had the humidity. Two good things, anyway.
I flipped through the radio and settled on a classical station. It was the William Tell Overture, but a slower movement than the one that just jumped into your mind. You would probably recognize it though, because I think Bugs Bunny has deftly tried to hide from Elmer Fudd with this particular movement playing in the background. The third movement finished and then the rushing charge of the finale was upon me. I rolled down the windows and turned up the volume. Wow, mood changer.

You haven't truly lived until you have cruised down the Bronx River Parkway at dusk enjoying the summer green of the trees and blasting the William Tell Overture. I'm not kidding.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

my life: the musical

My girls like to sing. And they do it pretty constantly. They sing their way through and about playing, cleaning, eating. Living at my house is like living in a small production operetta.

One of the funny things (as in amusing and charming) about kids is that they sing what they know, unabashed. And the words aren't always correct. Those word changes can cause one to really question the fundamental nature of things. For example: "The farmer in the jail, the farmer in the jail! Heigh-ho, the diary-o! The farmer in the jail!" Now why is the farmer in the jail when he was supposed to be in the dale? I mean, it's a question to be answered.

Or in the case of the LDS Primary favorite "I am a Child of God" we have recently heard "...has given me an earthy home with parents kind of dear." And that is pretty much the truth because, especially lately, neither Ben nor I have been very kind and dear, and it makes perfect sense that we're only sort of dear right now.

But the changing of words is not the only humorous part of living with kids who take so naturally to song. Sometimes it's just the song itself. It's the juxtaposition of your currently-in-potty-training two-year-old, wearing only her disney princess underwear dancing and singing
from The Sound of Music at the top of her lungs those immortal words over and over, "I am sixteen going on seventeen!"

Monday, July 24, 2006

of all the things I've lost...

...I miss my mind the most. Isn't that how the saying goes? I think so, but I'm one of those people who really does miss their mind. So....

The baby is on track to turn 4 months old at the end of this week. I'm a little sad at how fast these four months have passed. But my cognative functions are starting to return. Not to any grand state of intellectuality, mind you. But the fog of the mind is starting to lift a little bit. Yeah!

Every mom knows that
being a mom does something to your ability to think, but pregnancy, especially the later stages, really does a number on my brain function. The body goes first, of course, but I don't mind that too much. The ability to tie my own shoes isn't a big deal as I usually wear sandals when I can get away with it. I solve the whole "picking things up off the floor" problem by just crawling around in sorry fashion and depositing toys and clothes in their place or near their place. I haven't learned to compensate for the mind on hiatus. Just ask Ben. He looks at me blankly as I try to finish my sentence because I can't locate the word to describe, you know, that um, thing we use to, know.

The brain-loss started early this time because we moved across the country in my first trimester and the physical and emotional exaustion took an early toll. Before the move I was reading some great books.
The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene and The Story of Art by E.H. Gombrich and I was starting a biography on Henry James. I was enjoying them. I could actually half-wrap my mind around some of those crazy ideas physicists come up with. But once we changed time zones and my belly grew a little more round, I just couldn't even pick those books up. I didn't give up reading altogether. I read my comfort books. I was in a new place and needed the familiar. But no new books, no new insights.

Things are changing, though. I picked up
The Elegant Universe today and looked at it. I opened it up and read the caption under a small illustration of something about the unifying of the String Theory, called the M-Theory or something like that. I think my mind is coming back. I'll let you know for sure in a few months. And if you feel up to it, you can come to the gathering of physicists that I'll be hosting. Bring your string.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

check mate!

So. Ben has been teaching our 4-year-old how to play chess. He actually taught her quite awhile ago and she really does like to play. But that was kind of a 'basic version' chess game. In order to win, you just had to capture the King. Easy enough! Especially for the parents. Because if you need to get the game over quickly to get dinner on or something, you just make your king glaringly available!

Yesterday I was watching them play and I realized that now Ben is teaching her a few more advanced tricks. Their conversation:

Him: You need to move your king. How come?
Her: Because he is in check.
Him: That's right. So where can you move your king to?
Her: (pointing to a different space) Right there.
Him: But look. My queen is there, so your king would be in check again. So can you move anywhere?
Her: No.
Him: But is there one of your pieces you could move to block your king from being in check?
Her: (after looking) This one?

Anyway, that is a fairly accurate paraphrase of their conversation. The point isn't just that she is four! (She's just four!) It's that I am convinced he orchestrated the game so that whole teaching moment could happen. I believe I am at a disadvantage. I am obviously married to some sort of genius and have given birth to another one. And who knows, maybe two more besides.

But I don't mind. Chess games will be over quickly now, no matter who I play, and it won't be because I'm the one setting it up!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I'm thinking of starting a non-profit organization for kids. I actually already have the basics in place. It would start out fairly small, and make no mistake, it will require some intense dedication. I'm hoping for a subsidy of some kind, as our goal ultimately is to help kids grow up into responsible adults that are valuable to society and their fellowmen.

There are a few positions that need to be filled. Serious multi-tasking and organizational abilities will be needed. It will require a games and activities director, a cook, a nutritionist, a librarian, a media director, don't forget a cleaning staff and custodian, and a P.R. department to help make the positions look a little more glamorous than they might at first (and at last, actually) seem. We need to hire the best. Also needed would be a children's psychologist who could help with the tough times kids go through.

Really the idea is a kind of safe-house. We'll be open for most of the day and night, on call 24 hours. Vacations will need to generally be taken on days other than holidays, because for the holidays things will get pretty busy. But it'll be fun, too.

I will be running most of the day to day operations with some hefty help and funding from Ben and a few others. Many of those qualified people we need are on the other side of the country, but we'll have them fly in from time to time.

Because of our currant capabilities, those allowed into the 24 hour program will be limited, although we plan to bring in more from time to time. Initially our focus is on young children, but as we expand, elementary age kids, and pre-teens will be welcome. Eventually we plan to extend that, ahem, welcome to teenagers as well. Kids who would like to join up for our daily activities are usually welcome. Their parents will need to call ahead, however.

We will accept donations. Just send them to our managing director who is also currently acting as our accountant, as well as the cook, nutritionist, media director, custodian, etc., etc. Make the check out to Mom.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

conversation hearts

How many guys do you know who would rather talk than eat? Given the choice, their preference is to chow down. Even if there is something important to say. (Maybe especially?) Even if they have just eaten and are pretty much full. Even if the buffet in front of them really isn't all that appetizing. Guys like to eat.

My little guy, however, is at the stage where, maybe for the only time in his life, it's the other way around. He loves to talk to me. We settle into a chair or on the couch so I can nurse him but he just wants to talk. He coos and oohs and aahs and gaahs at me. Right back at ya, kiddo. We tell each other how great we think the other one is. It's one big love fest. And I do love it.

I admit I'm not always so thrilled with his willingness to chat. You know, he decides to munch for a minute, but then turns his attention to me (I've always known I was irresistable) and gets sprayed in the face (you nursing moms will know what I mean...) but undaunted, he grins and the charmer that he is, I just can't resist.

Monday, July 17, 2006

every kid should have

Don't you just love a blank sheet of paper? I do. For the same reasons I love hardware stores and craft supply stores; when you go through the doors you walk into a world of endless possiblity.

At our house we do a lot of drawing, coloring and painting. We've started buying white paper by the box. Not just a ream, but an entire box. (Hooray for Costco!) I like to think I'm providing the means for the next Picasso or Cassatt, but it really doesn't matter. What I am providing is ample space for creativity and exploration for my kids.

Madeleine L'Engle said "All children are artists, and it is an indictment of our culture that so many of them lose their creativity, their unfettered imaginations, as they grow older. But they start off without self-consciousness ...They don't worry that they may not be as good as Di Chirico or Bracque; they know intuitively that it is folly to make comparisons, and they go ahead and say what they want to say."

My girls can be just as happy with a plain blue pen as they are with their 96 colors of crayons. Give them that and a stack of paper or a lined notebook and it's really amazing what they can produce.

Friday, July 14, 2006

vive la france!

This is just a shout out to my adopted country. Even if they didn't win the World Cup, today is Bastille Day and that's something worth celebrating. We're of course celebrating in the most American way possible; by eating hotdogs and ice cream. This would probably tick the French off, but really (and I say this will all possible affection ) what doesn't? Happy Quatorze Juillet!


I am not naturally an early riser. There was a time in my life while serving an LDS mission when I was required to be up early every morning. I did it. I did not ever grow to like it, although I tolerated it. I've heard stories about people recently home from their missions who would just wake up automatically at 6:30 every morning because that's what they did. I was not one of those people. My first morning home I slept in. And I loved it.

Occassionally I have grand ambitions to get up! and get going! early, but it almost never happens. I can see the benefits. But apparently they are not enough to motivate me to get out of bed. On the days I do happen to get up! it takes me awhile to get going! anyway and I certainly don't do either with exclamation points. So here's the problem. My children are early risers. Way too early risers.

The symphony of childhood starts upstairs every morning. Their bedroom is right above ours and the thumps and bumps of getting out of bed usually cause me to roll over and look at the alarm clock. If the first number on the digital screen reads any number that generally proceeds "7" it usually ellicits a groan or a sigh. Once the time of day has been established I listen for cues. Is it the light sounds of the snare drum and tamborine created by a few toys being pulled out to play with? If so, okay. Snooze time for at least 20 more minutes! More often it's the timpani or the bass and the tempo of four little feet coming down the stairs, jumping off the landing to the floor (boom!) then the shuffle into the bedroom. I guess it's about time to get up.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

music to my ears

Having grown up in a house with 6 sisters, you would think that I (especially as the oldest of the seven) would inherently know how to discourage sisterly bickering. I don't.

My sweet girls are small. Four and two years old. And they are at odds about almost everything these days. They both have decisive personalities, each wanting to do what she wants to do. (There is no bowing of the younger to the older, if you know what I mean.) And it causes problems when there isn't a consensus about what movie to watch, which game to play, how to play it, what CD to put on.... It doesn't make things easier that the older one is becoming a master of annoyance and provocation and the younger one is a hair-pulling expert.

I have a theory that among other things, our move across the country, coupled with the arrival of a new baby brother, has triggered the need to have as much control as possible. When you're that little, there aren't many things you can have control over. So what do you do?

The baby brother is no fun, because he can't really do stuff on his own and mom is always hovering around him anyway. Parents are so big and it's tough to move them around exactly how you'd like, so who's left? Well, there is the girl standing next to you, almost your size, and usually a willing accomplice, at least for awhile, anyway.

We're going through a phase. At least I hope so. The bickering and screaming upstairs can be stopped. It requires the threat of separation, and then the girls immediately unite against their divider. Go away, Mom. We're having a good time, even if you aren't.