Wednesday, November 08, 2006

on good manners...

Tonight at dinner, I had to ask Samuel three times to use good manners and eat with his fork--not his fingers. Finally, he looked at me and asked, "Why do we need to act all royal and have such good manners? Is it Veteran's Day or something?"

Thursday, October 12, 2006

a night out for the old lady...

I broke out on my own tonight after telling B that I couldn't make it one more night without some time that didn't involve babies that won't go to anyone else, children who won't go to bed, evening prep to get Samuel ready for school tomorrow (so that he can be the best, smartest first grader in the history of first graders), or that behemoth pile of laundry at the bottom of the basement stairs.

Since I couldn't find anyone else to go out with me (things are much different these days, I guess. All my friends are so incredibly responsible...), I decided I'd go to the bookstore and just browse and then take myself out for sushi, which is what I always want when I go out to eat.

So, I'm at B&N, browsing and checking out what my favorite writers have come out with lately (since it's been an eternity since I've actually browsed through a bookstore--and no, I'm not counting the kid section), and then I check to see if any of my old professors, friends, and colleagues have published anything (or anything new). And then I see this book written by an old co-worker about a failed relationship with another old co-worker and I can pretty much recognize all of the major characters. I should feel happy for her that she turned this bad breakup into a novel, thus launching her literary career, but I don't because I'm insanely jealous. I find myself thinking, 'What have I been doing with my life? Why haven't I been writing?' I'm just as good a writer as this girl, but I did not write a novel. I don't even write much these days, and I've been putting together different variations of the same short story for about two years. Okay, five years. The only piece I've actually finished recently was a poem I wrote in Italy last year that I thought was pretty good, but then I lost it. Seriously. It was in a journal and I lost it. The one piece.

Granted, I have been a bit busy lately with this whole growing a family thing and sleep deprivation has left me partially brain dead. So to make myself feel better, I buy this year's Best American Short Stories of 2006. I take myself to the sushi place, get a beer and some spicy tuna rolls, and start reading the anthology. The first three stories I thumb to are about children. Not about adults raising children, but from the perspective of kids. It's the quintessential growing up story from the perspective of every writer ever. The first two were good pieces--I liked them. But, I feel like I've been reading these over and over. I want to read about adults. I desperately want to read something that's inspiring or enlightening. Maybe it's just the timing since I have so many things going on in my life right now, or maybe it's because I'm still feeling bitter about the bad relationship book, or maybe it's frustration that I just did not find a good book on my one night out, but I'm crabby. Where are all the good books about people with families going about their boring, but meaningful lives?

I finish my beer and my sushi and go home. It's 10 o'clock, but Tali is still up and I hear her little footsteps into the hall as close as she can get without me seeing her, so I go up to say goodnight. She's got the huge volume of The Complete Curious George under her arm and tells me, "Oh Mama, I'm so glad you're here because I want to show you my favorite something about George." And after an evening away, I feel no frustration at all that she's still awake and out of bed, or even that instead of staying in her room, she's been sitting in my bed and "keeping it warm." And it occurs to me that maybe the reason there isn't a best selling novel, or even a memoir about kids staying up too late and their parents not minding after a night out is because maybe it is a bit boring. But then, maybe boring isn't so bad.

And there's still time to write that novel... What a difference a few hours can make.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

lemon

Our new car broke down.
I've been meaning to post for awhile about what happened to Crybaby Sally, our Volvo wagon, and since one of our friends threatened (as nicely as possible) to out us, I figured I should post that we did end up buying a lovely minty silver SUV of the Volvo kind and we all love it. The kids sit relatively peacefully in it, everyone has their own space, and it's a dream drive.

Until today, that is, when it broke down on the freeway and left me stranded at the Volvo service shop with an ear-piercing screaming infant and a three year old who wouldn't stop touching every single hockey chotchke on the front desk of the sales guy who finally said he'd help me despite the fact their schedule was backed up for the next four days. They were out of loaner cars, he said, but he'd help me find a rental.

And so now, despite every effort to avoid it, there's a minivan (albeit, a rental minivan) in my driveway. (And I sort of like it, too).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

hanging out with a friend...


Hanging out on the porch with a quiet friend...

Sunday, August 27, 2006

the fine art of thumbsucking

In order to avoid becoming the human pacifier that I really already am, we have spent a good part of Naomi's life (eleven of her thirteen weeks) trying to get our girl to take a pacifier (because she really, really needs one). B and I have tried practically every single pacifier sold on the market (yes, I am obsessive and stubborn when faced with a challenge of this size) and our little baby has refused every single one of them. Latex or silicon, it doesn't matter. Nothing works. And now that pediatricians are saying that it's good for babies to sleep with pacifiers because the sucking helps prevent SIDS, we've been feeling even more pressure to get our girl sucking. Ironically, when Samuel was a baby, he LOVED his passy and we spent most of his first three years trying to get him off of it. And then becuase it was so hard to wean Samuel from his rubber love, we kept Talia from them, though whenever she happened upon one at daycare or at a friend's house, she'd immediately pop the contraband passy in her mouth.

So now we're spending this hot summer trying to get Naomi to take the same thing we've had so much trouble getting the other kids to give up. And each time she refuses, Talia comes around and snaps up the rejected loveys. "I can have this one?" she asks, and then scurries off with the tiny passy in her mouth.

So since Naomi is absolutely repulsed by the mere thought of a pacifier, we've been working on getting her to suck her thumb. The girl really needs some self-soothing methods. Last week, my niece Maya helped the kids spend some time showing Naomi how to suck her thumb. She was pretty agreeable to it, since once she discovered she had one, she's been fairly fascinated with it.

I think the session went well, though note that Naomi is the only one without a thumb in her mouth.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

what's black and blue and red all over?

Tomorrow Talia is going to preschool with two black eyes and a bruised cheek with scratches on it. She looks like the loser of a pretty bad brawl (you know, only the kind a three year old could get in). But really, these are only the results of a normal weekend.

This morning she accidentally got in the way of a speeding basketball passed to her by her brother (black eye #1).

This afternoon, she accidentally stepped in the way of a speeding dress-up pump passed to her by her friend (high heels should never speed, but this is black eye #2).

Facial scratches and bruises are just the results of good, hard playground and backyard play. Her knees and legs look the same way.

Last week she knocked her front top tooth loose while riding on a tricycle at school and while the dentist assured us that this was very common among preschoolers, he also warned us there was a good chance it would turn grey and he'd have to pull it. Now I obsessively check it every morning to see if it's getting more discolored and I've got the poor kid carefully chewing her food with her back teeth. And while I know if she loses this tooth, it won't be the worst thing to ever happen to her. It's a baby tooth and her permanent teeth are undamaged. But I'd be sad to miss what's left of her baby smile as she quickly gets bigger and more independent every day.

So at the same time she's having a good time and being an active three year old, I'm becoming a paranoid mess. I don't want her to be scared of playgrounds or running or jumping or being the strong, independent, and active kid she is. But at the same time, I know that everytime she goes out to play, she comes back with some sort of injury or in some sort of predicament (remember bad hair week?). Mostly, I try not to watch, which is a problem in itself.

Or maybe I'm scared because if she can get into this kind of trouble now, what will year four bring? Though, when I asked her this, she said confidently, "Don't worry, Mommy. At least it wasn't Vaseline."

eeek.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

big head, little head


Look at how big a human head can grow in six years...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

bye bye crybaby sally...

What do you drive when you have three kids?
The answer is turning out to be very complicated when you have a five seater car, five people in your family, and three very bulky carseats/booster seats. Figuring out the right seating plan is comparable to tackling a Rubik's cube in the dark. Well, sorta... At least when you consider the following:

1. Infant seat is safest in middle seat
2. Infant in infant seat is safest furthest away from three year old
3. Infant in infant seat is most likely to stay asleep when not sitting next to six year old
4. Three year old and six year old will fight loudly if seated next to each other.
5. Someday very soon (and even sooner if six year old continues to grow as fast as he has been lately) the six year old will outgrow the very, very narrow middle spot once used as an armrest.

The answer is that if you have five people in your family, you cannot drive the beloved Volvo wagon named Crybaby Sally. Waaah...

So we have been car shopping.
And when you arrive on a car lot lugging a ten hundred pound infant carrier and dragging a six year old boy behind you, salespeople tend to promptly steer you towards the minivans without even asking you what you're looking for.

And let me tell you, I DON'T WANT A MINIVAN!

I know they're easy. I was almost swayed by that little remote on the Mazda MPV that opens the doors automatically on both sides of the cars to let your kids spill in or out of the car on their own. And Mazda Frank, the Mazda salesguy, tried to get me to believe that if you have leather in your minivan, a cool stereo, and a moonroof, you're practically driving a sportscar.

I almost believed him because for once the kids did not fight in the backseat when I came back with the whole family for another test drive.

"I love that minivan," Samuel confided in me after the ride. "Not one sister can touch me. And I don't care that you won't buy the DVD player."

I still don't want the minivan. But my only other choice is an SUV and that seems wrong somehow, too, to buy a huge tanker of a vehicle that will cost the price of decent dinner out to fill up at the tank.

B and I tried to talk ourselves into thinking that if we got a minivan, we could make it cool. That rejecting the SUV would be cool. And our dear Scion-driving friends assured us it'd be cooler to drive the minivan.

So I drove by the dealership again to take another stealth look at the family van ("Do you think Frank is going to notice us if we keep driving by here?" Samuel asked as we drove by again and again.) And the van we were looking at was gone. Sold. To another family in the same position as us, but more confident with their choice. Maybe cool enough to not worry about losing their cool. A family at one with the fact that it's hard to be hip with three kids.

But I was very, very glad that family was not us.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

our new pink mouth--naomi rose


I'm a month late, since Naomi is a month old tomorrow, but she's finally here and she's a total miracle. She was born quickly and easily (relatively) on June 2nd and weighed 8 pounds, 7.7 ounces--two pounds more than the doctors predicted! Life with three kids is a whirlwind to be sure and I'm just hoping that I'll be able to hold onto these days for as long as possible (at least the good parts--I'll be happy to forget the fussy cocktail period everynight where all three kids are whiny and miserable). Who knew that chaos could be so lovely and enjoyable?

Here are a few photos from our first few days...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

let's potty!!!

This morning B and I woke up (at 5:30 am, mind you) to the kids singing and playing in S's room. S was singing at top of his lungs, "I want to pahty! Let's pahty! I want to pahty!" (something from the movie Madagascar, I think?) T was trying to sing along, but not as loudly, and then she stopped.

"Wait!" she said. "Why do we want to potty in your room? Shouldn't we go to the bathroom for that?"

We could hear Samuel groan in his room. "No, silly! Not potty... It's pahty! That's the way you say it when you're having a really good time!"

Monday, May 29, 2006

pg forever...

My due date has come and gone (okay, only yesterday, but yesterday was a very, very, very long day for us)... I know that my yoga instructor insists that we don't refer to due dates, but "due months" since determining these days is not an accurate science, and I know that at my second ultrasound my doctor said that maybe we should consider the due date to be somewhere in between 5/28 and 6/3. And, I know that both of my previous pregnancies went past the due dates (S was two days late and T was two weeks). I know all this...

But I want some contractions!!!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

beauty over easy

On seeing a truly gorgeous sunset on the way home last night, S, who'd rather eat eggs than any sort of cookie, points to the sky and sighs.
"Look at how pretty the sky looks! It looks just like runny yolk!"

Monday, April 17, 2006

game 1: maccabees vs. tigers

S had his very first t-ball game today. He'd been looking forward to this "winning" game for weeks, even though at his age level, they don't officially keep score. It didn't matter, though, because at five, he and his teammates know enough about games to understand that someone usually wins and though the parents all tried to be politically correct about it, we all knew that if the rest of the season is as good as this game was, the Maccabees are going to have quite a year.

This game symbolized a lot of firsts for us:

1. S's first official entry into the world of competitive sports. (Okay, I'm ignoring the fact that since they aren't really keeping score, it can't really be all that competitive, but EVERYONE knew that the score was 11-2 by the time the Tigers dropped out of the game at the end of the second inning.)

2. B and I have officially become sports parents. We've never thought of ourselves this way, and to be honest, I've never even had the slightest interest in baseball until S started playing. But now I'm an avid fan. I'm practically a soccer mom. The next thing you know, I'll be driving a minivan.

3. I know this is only a game, but getting out there and playing this game was one of the most challenging things S has ever done. The kid has the most amazing imagination, and he's a terrific reader and does math problems in his head while he lies in bed. But until now, he's been bored by sports. And by t-ball. But today, S was a shining star. As the game went on, I saw him become totally composed and sure of himself. He played first base and was ruthless at tagging runners out--three in one inning (you're really going to have to ignore the fact that I don't know baseball lingo any better than I speak Swahili). He concentrated on the game in a way that I've never seen him concentrate on anything before. And he was really, really good at it. He was so proud of himself and at the end of the game, the coach gave him the MVP ball. I had to look away so I wouldn't cry. My boy...

I'm overwhelmingly proud. My kid is the MVP of the first game of the Maccabee season. His first game ever. And the other team parents seemed equally giddy cheering for their kids, though we all kept trying to remind them that we're not keeping score, and that everyone was a winner. But that felt a bit ridiculous, too. It is a game, and I do want him to play because it's fun and not always with the goal of being the best or the first. But sometimes... Sometimes it really is so fun to be the winner.

It's a good thing the coaches seem very mature about the whole thing. At the end of the game, our team shouted their good sport cheer--"8-6-4-2... We really liked playing you!" while the parents collectively groaned... It seems we're going to have a lot to learn here, too.

Monday, April 10, 2006

my sperm is faster than yours...

Understandably, there has been a lot of talk at our house about how the baby got into my belly and how the baby will get out. So, in need of a little support, I went to the bookstore and bought two seemingly benign books that talk about how the baby grows in the mother's womb and what it'll be like once the baby is born. B and I were relieved to find two pretty scientific sources that did not talk about sex, because we're much too chicken to deal with that yet. But there is so much talk about how the egg and sperm meet up and it's basically a matter of time before S puts two and two together and asks how that happens. Luckily for us, his competitive edge is apparently helping to stall that question because he's become obsessed with gender determination, about whether or not the boy or girl sperms are faster, and who will win this particular race.

This is what B overheard S saying at the playground when he was playing with J, a little girl on his t-ball team. They were both sitting at the top of a double slide and getting reading to race down.

"Let's pretend we're both sperm and we're racing to the egg. We can see which is faster, the boy sperm or the girl sperm!"

I wonder what J's mom will say to us when her five year old daughter comes home from t-ball practice and says she played sperm on the playground with S...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

night terrors

Last night, only a few hours after he'd gone to bed, S woke up screaming. I ran upstairs, pretty alarmed because he is usually the best sleeper in the house, and found him sitting up in bed.

"What's the matter?" I asked, sitting down on the edge of his bed.
"I had a horrible nightmare," he said. "I dreamt that I grew up and didn't become famous!" And with that, he started crying.

Yes, my fears have been confirmed. My son has inherited the dreaded prodigy wannabe gene.

"Oh baby," I said, trying to sound soothing, "it's okay if you're not famous. What's most important is that you're a good person." He stopped crying and looked at me as if I were insane (something that I'm starting to get very used to).

"No, it's not," he said. "If I'm not famous, how will I get written into history? And then how will people remember me when I die?"

I didn't have an answer for him because I'm still trying to recover from the fact that I most likely missed the path to fame and fortune. And though I do know that being a good person, a good mother, and a good friend is really what counts at the end, it would be nice to also have a satisfied ego. Isn't it possible to have both?

But as a parent who is trying to be responsible, what do I do here? I'm afraid I didn't do the right thing. I told him he was so young that we didn't even know exactly what his talents were, but that if being famous was his goal, he most certainly could do it if he were driven enough. Which is true, I'm sure... But is it good to teach my five year old that ego feeding is a good thing, especially since this kind of ego drive is all about being important? Or this just some sort of age-appropriate growth development stage where he's simply trying to discover his role in this world?

I hoped that what he'd come away from the talk was just the fact that he did seem to feel comforted by the fact that he had a lot of time to do the work he wanted to, as opposed to me. ("Wow, Mommy... Does it make you sad that you're too old to be famous?") Either way, I figured he wouldn't even remember the dream the next morning.

I was wrong about him remembering, though. This morning as he ate his breakfast (peanut butter and honey on a frozen waffle is his current fave), he said, "Oh, Mom, that was a terrible dream last night. It was almost as bad as when I dreamed that George Bush ruled the world."

Sigh...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

one more little pink mouth...

So now that I'm about to enter my eighth month of pregnancy, it's probably time to come clean and announce that yes, we're adding another little pink mouth to our family. And no, much to S's dismay, it is not a little white poodle with a skin disease.

We are thrilled to be having another baby, though we're pretty sure this one is our last. However, telling people that we're pregnant with our third child has been a really bizarre experience--much different than telling them with our first and second. Comments range from "You've got to be kidding!" to "Wow, that's um, great. Was it planned?" And even, "You can't do that!" from a friend who strongly believes that you should not procreate more than just replacing yourselves (and who, funny enough, we haven't seen since). And then, of course, there is always the "So, are you through after this one?"

And actually, it has been so bizarre that we've sort of subconsciously forgotten to tell people (or maybe it's because we're running after our first two?). Which is really weird when, after not seeing certain friends for a few months, we get together and they see my belly and then have to say something like, "um, whatcha got going in there?"

The comments used to bother me. But I've got to say that now that we're at the last leg of this pregnancy, I'm thrilled. Feeling this baby grow inside of me has been as awesome and amazing as the first pregnancy and I can't wait to see who this baby is. But really, it is a good thing this whole process takes 40 weeks (or 42 in the case of T), because I think that's what it really takes.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

all things pink and sparkly

As we head towards T's third birthday, our life has accumulated a lot of pink in it. She has always been fairly girly. At 13 months old T had a very strong opinion about what she would and would not wear and by 18 months, when shopping with me, she'd point out clothes in the stores she liked and say "How cute!" But I can't help but wonder if I'm doing her a favor or a disservice by encouraging her love for all things girly. Because now she is pinker and sparklier than anything we could ever imagine.

I suppose everyone is entitled to their own personal style, and when checking out the other 2-3 year olds, I see that pink tends to be one of the more popular color trends for girls her age. Though now, pink alone isn't good enough anymore. It needs to be dress (preferably pink). With tights. And buckle shoes. And ever since her cousin J, who cuts her hair, introduced T to the wonders of hair sparkles, she thinks that no day truly begins until she's covered with gold sparklies.

But it's not just the clothes. T loves fairies, jewelry (especially "tiraras"), loves to pretend she's a ballerina, and she adores, adores Barbies. Since she's got an older brother, she does undestand the importance of running super fast and having superhero powers, but she does not, in any way, share the satisfaction he gets for throwing a ball toward a hoop or pretending to be a race car driver or astronaut. She is all girl and she's happy about it.

And this is where I feel uncomfortable. I mean, I'm so glad she loves who she is. She's beautiful and strong and confident, and I hope she stays that way forever. But I feel guilty that I don't do more to make her environment more gender neutral. Part of me feels like she should never have to be ashamed of her pleasures ("It's fine you love Barbie, honey, but remember that she's plastic and her body dimensions aren't physcially even possible and you could never, ever look like her without a lot of disfiguring cosemtic surgery."). But by letting her indulge herself in things that are so specifically girly, am I limiting her potential for being an amazing ballplayer? Or will this encourage her to believe that her looks are more important than her brains? And mostly, do I feel guilty because I fully enjoy the same things she does (though, I tend not to wear tutus or hula skirts to work).

Or, is it enough to give her the support to love the things she loves, yet still expose her to other less superficial things? Who's to say a superhero can't wear a tutu?