Thursday, July 21, 2011

School's out for Summer

Tomorrow we head out on our summer vacation.  To the lake, to stay with's gonna be really great.  I'll be offline for 2 weeks and I promise to come back with lots of books read, thoughtful dialogue and pictures.

A little summer inspiration from someone who knows a little bit about celebrating summer.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Today there is only one thought in my head and that is that in 48 hours we are going to Utah. Hurrah.  I am so ready for two weeks of being spoiled by my parents.  

So, if you came here looking for inspiration and thoughtful witty banter.  Sorry.  Not gonna happen today or tomorrow probably.  So instead I will just tell you about the newest addition to our house.  For her birthday (many moons ago) Claire was given a table and chairs by her grandmas.  They actually just gave us the cash and this week we finally went to go pick it up.  Claire and I went to Ikea (the hubbs had to work late so we took on Ikea all by ourselves--I was very proud of us).  We went to the kids section and tried out the desk and chair.  Her little face lit up when she realized that there was a whole section of furniture that was just her size.  She cried when we left. 

Since then we've put the table to good use.  

Done some drawing

and invited dad to a lunch-time picnic on the patio.

And here are some bonus pictures.  Seriously, can you get enough of that tummy?  I can not.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Claire's Book Club: Revised

When I first started book club online Claire had a book club too.  But it just didn't work out.  Something about ordering the book from the library and looking for them.  So I'm revising it. Instead of picking a book and talking about it at the end of the month I'm just going to tell you what's on our reading list this week.

We heard Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus at story time at our local library and Claire was enthralled.  I'm not sure if she loved the book or if she loved the huge amount of giggling that was happening all around her.  Regardless, you are going to love it.

Claire picked out Little Beauty all by herself at the library last week.  The story is funny (but a little weird as they say that it's based on a true story but at one point the kitten is doing sign language?...weird) but Claire loves the pictures.  The gorilla and his big eyes are fascinating to her. The kitten is also a hit. Claire says, "dog" and points to the kitten. (I think she thinks that dog means animal so every time she sees a dog or a cat she says "dog"). She has brought this book to me several times this week and the books that I have picked out for her have been left on the shelf (maybe a lesson for mom to learn there).

Okay.  So what are you reading to your kids?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy Weekend

May you all have a relaxing weekend.

This is the way Claire likes to travel these days in the stroller--arms behind her head, legs kicking.  She does that in the car if the windows are down too.  I think she likes the feel of the wind in her pits.  Don't we all.  Don't we all.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Red Sky at Night

Yesterday the hubbs sent me an email.  The title of the email was, "what time is your meeting tonight?" and all it said was, "It would be fun to go see this ship tonight"

The hubbs doesn't make suggestions about family activities too often so when he does we try to accommodate him. We headed down to the pier and checked out the world's second largest sailing vessel which is operated by the Chilean Navy.  It's impressive. We couldn't get too close to it but the very nice security guard told us that the tours (which take place around 2 in the afternoon) are thoroughly enjoyed by all those who attend them and everyone seems a little noshed afterward (he suspects there is champagne on board but has not yet been on the tour himself).

I loved walking along the embarcadero. I love the pedi cabs, the joggers, the stinky sea air. Mostly it's just fun to get out.

And it's fun to chase the birds.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


This evening while I left Claire and the hubbs to go to an church activity just for women I thought that maybe I wasn't made to be the parent of a toddler.  When I mentioned this to the ladies at church they laughed and put their arms around me.

It actually really helped.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The results are in

Allergic to Peanuts. (One of those huge inflamed dots is peanuts.  The other is a control histamine.  The 8 not-inflamed dots in the lower right area are tree nuts which, thankfully, she is not allergic to.  We're looking forward to a life carrying around an epi-pen and explaining to all members of babysitting co-op how to use it, of separate knives for peanut butter and jam and all other fun things that come with food allergies)

On a positive note, there was a lovely lady visiting the doctor whose baby also has a peanut allergy who steered me to Trader Joe's SunButter which is made from Sunflower seeds.  Claire was also the belle of the doctor's office and spent the 15 minutes we had to wait for the test results to come back running up and down the hall at full speed, no shirt on, laughing like crazy.  Everyone loved her though afterward the doctor did tell me that she was "busier" than most babies her age.  This was after Claire decided that she liked the doctor looking in her ears and kept grunting and pointing to her ears directing the doctor to look again.  The very nice doctor obliged her and said, "I think you're right...I might have missed something the first time I checked.  Let me have another look."

Busier than average?  Tell me about it sister....

Monday, July 11, 2011 did it go?

I know that you have all been on the edge of your seats all weekend anxiously awaiting the timeout results. Things were....mixed.  But I'm going to call it a success.

One of my girlfriends told me about a study that she read that looked at effects of positive and negative reinforcement.  The findings were that mostly children respond well to positive reinforcements (sticker charts, redirection, and praising positive behavior) but that when it came to aggression and violence children responded best to negative reinforcement (ie. punishment).  That made sense to me.  We've tried re-directing Claire, we've tried all kinds of things and nothing seems to stick--the hitting continues.  That being said, I'm not a huge fan of yelling, angry voices or corporal punishment.   So, the hubbs and I have decided that timeout at our house will be used only with instances of violence and aggression.  (We claim the right of changing our minds and adding things at any time.)

Part of the trouble with this stance is that Claire's normal hitting is actually when she is playing with us.  She get's excited, laughs and squeels and smacks us in the face.  This weekend, we redirected when that happened.  We showed her how she could touch our faces gently and mostly, that worked.  Until Saturday when we firmly told her, "no" and showed her how to be gentle she said, "no! no! no!" and smacked away.

I looked at her and said, "Timeout" (just like I've learned from Olivia's mom) and we walked into her room.  I sat her down on the green crate and set the timer for 1 minute. I told her that she needed to stay there until the timer sounded and I walked out of the room.  My thought on walking out of the room was that I didn't want her to get extra attention for doing something bad so I waited by the door. 

That's when disaster struck.  She fell off the crate and bonked her head. 

She cried but didn't panic (I would have walked if she would have panicked) so I waited it out and walked in when the buzzer rang.  Sadly, the experiment turned a little more corporal-punishment than I would have liked but she hasn't gotten angry and hit again since so I'm going with parenting success (a loose success but success anyway).

I would not have guessed that she was ready (for the second time this week) but she was.  I also loved it because I felt like I had a plan and something I could do so I didn't get frustrated.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Happy Weekend

I hope that all of you have wonderful summer weekend plans.  Mine include a family bike ride, a date with a good girlfriend to see a movie, perfecting homemade lemonade (our lemon tree is at a peak production phase) and.....timeout.

After her nap Claire and I are off to Target to get an egg timer and a stool.  The face slapping has not stopped or slowed so after consulting with some girlfriends (who have really well behaved kids) we're starting timeout. Keep your fingers crossed.  May all of our weekends have more lemonade than timeouts.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

If you want this choice position must have a cheery disposition

And a strong constitution. 

Cleaning this up three times a day would make a weaker person crumble.

That's a cherry in her mouth.  We're pretty sure she ate the stem and the pit.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

To Dream the Impossible Dream

Last Friday on a family bike ride I got to dreaming--dreaming of being a nurse.  The most medical knowledge I can claim is that I trained to be an EMT in college (but never took the test to get licensed) but I love the idea of medicine.  For years I thought that I wanted to be a doctor (until I learned what really happens at medical school and I decided that I didn't have the self esteem to survive that) so instead of studying people I studied plants. I love plants too.

If I knew where my life would be today 10 years ago I would have studied to be a nurse. (Don't take me too seriously because a year ago I was seriously thinking of getting a PhD in sociology and the year before that I was thinking that I really wanted an MBA.)  I would work one or two days a week when my kids were little then, when they were grown and in school full time, I would study to be an nurse anesthetist.  Last week the hubbs and I started talking about this little dream.  One of the best things about the hubbs is that he loves to plan.  So when he had a little down-time at work on Friday he looked up nurse anethetist programs for me (turns out there are 2 in LA) and as we took family bike ride around the lake we talked about moving to Oceanside so that I could commute and when we came home we looked up nursing programs and looked into costs and planned numbers of years in school and how many would be needed to qualify for the program.  It was thrilling. 

Thoughts of nursing and danced in my head for days and are still lingering.  I don't know if I will ever get a nursing degree (I really would love one) but the whole experience reminded me of the joy there is in dreaming. I love thinking of things to do and envisioning what a life could be like.  The life I have now has lots of space for one kind of dream.  The dream that has a couple of kids and in the mornings we walk to school.  I come home and bake, clean, garden, lunch with the ladies.  I write darling and clever content for a blog that produces income (ahhhh, my 6 month old dream of making money while blogging.......) and walk back to pick up my kidlets from school in the afternoon.  In my mommy dreams where we are rich there is also space for a nanny who watches the kids 2 days a week while I volunteer for Special Olympics or The Red Cross. 

But sometimes I miss professional dreams.  I miss dreams where the work I do is measurable and there is visible progress.  If you pass one nursing class you move on to the next class.  If I have a great parenting moment there's no place I move to--still parenting.  The progress of the work I do now will only really be seen when Claire is grown.  I'll know I'm a good parent when I see the way she interacts with others, when I see her 'mother' other people.

So maybe I'll see you in anatomy class....


Monday, July 4, 2011

We hold these truths to be self evident...

After a day of parades,

 and sunshine

Take a listen to this and dedicate 9 minutes of your independence day to listening to the declaration of independence. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I really wish this were a hypothetical question

So...let's say you are at a patriotic themed dinner party (where you provided this darling red, white and blue salad) and during dessert you were messing with the table and a carving knife fell off and sliced a new acquaintance's foot so that it bled really a lot and possibly needed stitches. What would you do the next day to show just how sorry you were?

And if you have ideas for what you would do for the hostess because your baby also had a leaky wet diaper on their carpet I'd take those suggestions too.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Who knew?

If, when I were 21, you would have told me that at some later date when I walked into my own house not only would I know immediately how long it had been since we vacuumed but that I would care, I would have looked at you like you were crazy (any of you who lived with me would have also looked at the person who would say those kinds of things as if they were crazy).  You would have gotten a similar look if you would have told me that my favorite smell would be the lingering cleaning-supply-smell of a house that has just been cleaned.

Happy Cleaning Day.

And if you like having a clean house too you should check out this post from my friend Maren.  I'm thinking of having a cleaning party where I invite ladies to my house and we eat snacks and everyone shares their favorite cleaning product or trick (my house would, of course, be ready to be the tester for any and all cleaning demonstrations).

Man, just writing that down makes me seem like an even bigger nerd.

What are your favorite cleaning tips?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Book Club: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

You all already know that we're working with Claire on discipline.  She really does love to hit people in the face. In some strange way I think that she thinks it's a way to show excitement but we're trying to break her of the habit. She also throws things.  At other people.  All the time.  On Sunday she picked up one of our friends' toys and smacked him in the head with it.  The good news is that our friend (who is only 8 months old) didn't seem to mind at all.  I did mind.

But even as we're trying to discipline her I'm so worried that she's going to lose the spunk that we love.  (By the way, we are taking any and all suggestions on the discipline front.) 

That being said, Minli is just the kind of girl that I want Claire to read about--just the right mix of spunk, bravery, discipline, kindness and love for her family (When Claire and I read the book together I will be sure to stress that running away from your family is absolutely not allowed.)

The pictures are beautiful, the story is good and I walked away from the book with  lots to think about.  We have lived in San Diego for nearly a year and still there are days when I am driving down the freeway (for some reason this feeling seems to hit me on the San Diego freeway way more often than it hits me any other place) and I am overwhelmed with the fact that we live in California--a thousand miles away from my family in a totally new place and that doesn't look like it's going to change.  Some days that feeling brings me to tears (once again almost always on the freeway that can't be just a coincidence) as I imagine missed playdates with cousins and grandparents.  Missed recitals, soccer games and talks given in church.

***Spoiler Alert*** As I read through the book I tried to imagine what was the word written on the paper that was the secret to happiness. I imagined things like Love or Service or something else that was equal parts cheesy and true but I am pleased to report that the traditional Chinese tale didn't disappoint and the key to happiness in our lives in Thankfulness.

I live in San Diego, California.  It is paradise.  We have only been here 10 months and we have amazing friends who love us and support us. And even though it is 1,000 miles from home (actually it's not even close to that but that makes it sound as far as it feels) my own dear mother is always only a phone call away. Gratitude is the only cure for that tightening in my chest (that and a quick call home or to the hubbs) and I really do believe that it is the key to happiness.

Ok, so what did you think of Minli?
And do you have suggestions for next month's book club?