Monday, February 27, 2012

my view this morning

First thing this morning I had a email from my dad that went a little like this.

This is the view from the balcony outside our bedroom, with the Mediterranean and Cannes in the distance and the pool at the bottom.  "Amahl, another Coke Zero with lime, s'il voussoirs plait."

One thing they don't tell you about pregnancy is that it has a whole slew of crazy side effects that no one talks about.  most disturbing to me these days is the anxiety--the-keep-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night worry that your house isn't clean enough and what will you do if your husband dies kind of anxiety.  This week another source of anxiety has reared its ugly head.  The "why on earth am I having another kid?" anxiety and "am I never going to have free time or extra income ever again?" anxiety.

Well dad, this was my view this morning.  It didn't come with any coke zero (darn it), extra income or free time but it was still pretty good.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

50 Best Children's Books

So I broke down and joined Pinterest a couple of weeks ago. It's been fun but I'm certainly not obsessed yet but it's a fun place to spend a couple of minutes getting good ideas.  

Last week I saw a pin titled "50 Best Children's Books."  I immediately re-pinned it and opened up the file ready to be inspired. (it's a PDF so I can't post it here but you can just click that link to see it)

Is that inspiring to you?   Me neither.

Not only are several of the books listed twice but I'll Love You Forever got a nod?  PUKE.  Have you read that book?  It's terrible.  And Guess How Much I Love You had the top spot?  Have you ever tried to read that to a child?  I have. All Claire will do is point out the dad and the baby bunny on every page.  She won't hear a word of the actual text.

There's a whole genre of children's books that aren't made for children at all.  They share fairly sentimental (I don't say that disparagingly--I cry at commercials) ideas that make parents reflect on parenting.  They are the kinds of books that say things that parents want to say to their children (You are Special--I'm looking at you) but they are not books that children love, like or are entertained by.

I was disappointed with this list because it had so many of those kinds of books--books parents like but kids don't.  It left me thinking, "I want a list of books for toddlers compiled by smart people who know what kids like."  And then I thought, "Wait, I know smart people who know what kids like."

So what do you say?  Will you make a list of toddler books with me?  I'll list 10 books that Claire can't live without and you tell me the books your kids can't live without.  And just to show you how honest I'm being here I'm not putting Stella Luna on the list even though I love it because Claire doesn't.  Stella Luna says something I want Claire to learn but she thinks it's boring.  But I'm also not putting the Baby Einstein book called Uh-Oh which we checked out from the library on the list because though Claire wants us to read it 10 times a day I want to poke out my eyeballs every time I read it.

In no particular order:

Olivia- Ian Falconer
Barnyard Dance- Sandra Boynton
But Not the Hippopotamus--Sandra Boynton
Goodnight Moon-Margaret Wise Brown
If You Give a Pig a Party--Laura Numeroff
Goodnight Gorilla --Peggy Rathmann
The Very Hungry Caterpiller--Eric Carle
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More--Karen Beaumont
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight--Jane Yolen
No David--David Shannon

**I'm thinking of writing my own children's book called There are Not Enough Dish Towels in the World.   We've discovered imaginary play and suddenly we're using burp cloths as dish towels in the kitchen.
Both babies in this picture are wearing dish towels.

This baby is wearing two dish towels

This is the face Claire makes these days when you ask her to smile 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coming Back to Me

I am in love with this song.

And not in the ironic kind of way that you can declare love for Phil Collins and still have your hipster and music aficionado friends think you're cool.

In that other way.

And you can consider that mullet just a little gift from me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Don't knock it 'till you try it.

For a long time we didn't have any toys that made noise.   We play with wood blocks, legos, wood puzzles, crayons and lots of other kinds of old fashioned toys.  This was exactly how we liked it. We liked it quiet around here.

Then, for Christmas, Grandma gave us the Alphabet Pal.  At first I wasn't convinced. 

I don't actually think she's learning anything from the Alphabet Pal but it doesn't matter. I made this amazing discovery.  The Alphabet Pal NEVER gets tired of singing the same song over and over.  I, on the other hand, do get tired of singing the same song over and over again and sometimes I am very thankful for the Alphabet Pal's cheery voice singing.

and singing.

and singing.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Is this the life for me?

I'm not sure this whole blogging life is for me.  I've been doing it for  more than a year now.  When I started out I was looking for a way to write and document our life. I wanted some kind of creative outlet that wasn't cooking or crafting. It was also a convenient way to keep up with family and friends who live a long way away.  But really.

I'm just not sure that blogging about this little family is making any difference.  So maybe Auden was right and "poetry makes nothing happen."  Does writing about my little life with the hubbs and Claire really make a difference?

I just don't know if I can do it anymore.  Sometimes it feels like this is a job and I struggle thinking of interesting content which is genuine and honest and a little funny.

But I think I have a solution.  I'm thinking instead of this being a blog about my life with the hubs and our darling little girl that in late August we should make this blog about my little life with the hubbs and our darling little girl and our new baby.

Is that going to work?

And in case you are wondering if I am one of those people who gracefully gets pregnant and has a cute little pregnant belly, I am not.  I have had it verified from 2 complete strangers that even at 8 months pregnant I don't look pregnant but rather like I'm getting really fat. I can hardly wait for the pictures.  I've already outgrown all of my normal pants and I'm a full belt hole past normal.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Things I love today

This is  my newest blog love

I have a great-aunt that they should pretty much just follow around--her hats would make the Queen Mother feel envious

Claire has spent the last couple of days pulling everything off of every shelf she can find.  The hubb's ties didn't even stand a chance and after I came out of the kitchen the ties were strewn all down the hall.  The cleaning up has been somewhat tedious but on the upside she pulled my favorite poetry book off the shelf and I've had it out on the couch and every time I get a few minutes I read a poem or two (though she did also pull Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which is right next to it and which I poured over in the 2nd and 3rd grade and I will tell you is not nearly as scary now as it was then).

The book is called Some Haystacks Don't Even Have Any Needle and it's out of print but you can still buy it online cheaply.  It's brilliant.  That title--that's a full poem by William Stafford.  And how about this poem also by William Stafford?


They dance before they learn
there is anything that isn't music

And there's this poem which haunted my high school years.

And this one which showed up on my high school AP English test and I fortunately knew so I aced the test.  And the author was born in Logan, Utah which is were I got my graduate degree. ( And really, can it be there was only one summer I was 10?)

The Centaur
By May Swenson   (1919 - 1989)

The summer that I was ten --
Can it be there was only one
summer that I was ten?

It must have been a long one then --
each day I'd go out to choose
a fresh horse from my stable

which was a willow grove
down by the old canal.
I'd go on my two bare feet.

But when, with my brother's jack-knife,
I had cut me a long limber horse
with a good thick knob for a head,

and peeled him slick and clean
except a few leaves for the tail,
and cinched my brother's belt

around his head for a rein,
I'd straddle and canter him fast
up the grass bank to the path,

trot along in the lovely dust
that talcumed over his hoofs,
hiding my toes, and turning

his feet to swift half-moons.
The willow knob with the strap
jouncing between my thighs

was the pommel and yet the poll
of my nickering pony's head.
My head and my neck were mine,

yet they were shaped like a horse.
My hair flopped to the side
like the mane of a horse in the wind.

My forelock swung in my eyes,
my neck arched and I snorted.
I shied and skittered and reared,

stopped and raised my knees,
pawed at the ground and quivered.
My teeth bared as we wheeled

and swished through the dust again.
I was the horse and the rider,
and the leather I slapped to his rump

spanked my own behind.
Doubled, my two hoofs beat
a gallop along the bank,

the wind twanged in my mane,
my mouth squared to the bit.
And yet I sat on my steed

quiet, negligent riding,
my toes standing the stirrups,
my thighs hugging his ribs.

At a walk we drew up to the porch.
I tethered him to a paling.
Dismounting, I smoothed my skirt

and entered the dusky hall.
My feet on the clean linoleum
left ghostly toes in the hall.

Where have you been? said my mother.
Been riding, I said from the sink,
and filled me a glass of water.

What's that in your pocket? she said.
Just my knife. It weighted my pocket
and stretched my dress awry.

Go tie back your hair, said my mother,
and Why Is your mouth all green?
Rob Roy, he pulled some clover
as we crossed the field, I told her. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dear Hubbs

Dear Hubbs,
At our wedding Frances read this:

"The folks have been here today, but have gone to their homes.  The clatter of racing feet, the laughter and babble of tongues have ceased.  We are alone, we two.  We two whom destiny has made one.  Long ago, it has been sixty years since we met under the June trees.  I kissed you first.  How shy and afraid was your girlhood.  Not any woman on earth or in heaven could be to me what you are.  I would rather you were here, woman, with your gray hair, than any fresh blossom of youth.  Where you are is home.  Where you are not is homesickness.  As I look at you I realize that there is something greater than love, although love is the greatest thing on earth.  It is loyalty.  For were I driven away in shame, you would follow.  If I were burning with fever, your cool hand would soothe me.  With your hand in mine, may I pass and take my place among the saved of heaven.   --Josh Haslem Clark"

I repeat it today and say that I love you and your loyalty.  Where you are, is home.  Where you are not is homesickness.


PS. I am sorry that tonight will not be very romantic and that you will find Claire and I laid out on the couch watching TV when you come home.  I didn't even know that the dentist could cauterize your gums.  Turns out he can.  And it's outrageously painful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Hats off to the Brits

Oh royal mail.  You have done it.

With what am I going to have to bribe my British readers and friends in order to get a set of the postcards?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The meanest mom

Guess who just waited out 1.5 hours of singing and pleading to get out of bed?  Guess who calmly went in and set a timer telling her she could get out when it buzzed?  Oh that would be me. If I have anything to say about it we will be napping at our house until age 5.

And now she is sleeping peacefully and I am watching bad TV on Netflix and drinking diet coke (I turned off the timer of course).

That was a pretty stressful 1.5 hours.  I deserve a nap.

Friday, February 10, 2012

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

Okay, in Claire's case he is actually heavy.
She's recently learned the word heavy and how the dramatic use of it gets a laugh from anyone who happens to be around. I think it all started when she was trying to bring a bucket of Legos into the living room.  They are actually kind of heavy and as she was straining along she let out a gasping, "heavy, heavy." I'm sure that I giggled and repeated what she said before I went over to help her (actually me telling her that she could push them across the floor while I sat on the couch sounds a little bit more like what I actually did).  Since then everything is a gasping, "heavy, heavy."  The diaper bag, a book, her plate of apple slices as she moves them from her little table to the big table.

Humm.  A penchant for dramatics and a propensity to overstate physical accomplishments.
Wonder where she got that?

Last year I read this incredible book about a women's organization to which I belong called the Relief Society and how the early members just did incredible things (like start their own nursing clinics and fight for rights for the disabled).  After reading it and talking in a book club about it we decided that we wanted to be women who were worth putting in the book.  You may remember our Christmas project to make care packages for babies who had to be in the NICU on Christmas.

Right after I read that book I signed up to be a volunteer for the local YMCA.  It's a good thing that I signed up then because the feeling of wanting to be book-worthy has sort of passed but I already agreed to it.  However, I do believe in being part of a community and I am incredibly lucky and blessed and I feel the desire to give back.  So here's to rekindling the book-worthy fire!

It's the Y's annual fundraiser.  Here's my volunteer page.  As you can see I still have a lot of work to do (and I only have to the end of the month--though I did get donations yesterday so it's not as grim as it looks).  Whoops.  The Y is an incredible organization that promotes community and fitness.  No one is turned away from the Y because they can't afford the dues.  No one.  As much as I love 24 Hour Fitness they just can't say that. That's why the hubbs and I have decided to provide swimming lessons for 3 children.

So if you can, please give back.  The Y is worthy of your support. How many swimming lessons can you provide?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines

Last week the hubbs found this article about French parenting.  It had some good advice (it actually prompted us to finally undo one of our secret shames and get rid of the milk that she takes to bed with her in hopes that she'll actually eat real food).  

Even though I did glean some good advice from the article I feel like I should also say that when I read it I thought, "oh great.  There's a whole nation of toddlers who are better behaved than mine is."

So, to make myself feel better I would like to point out a couple of discrepancies with the article and actual French practice. A couple of my very clever girlfriends pointed out that maybe the reason French parents are so worried about their kids playing alone is because they only have one kid a piece and if that kid doesn't play alone they'll be stuck playing kid games all day long.

Something else to consider about the French.  They send their kids to school full-time starting at age 3. I'm not sure we can give them all the credit for their well behaved toddlers as their toddlers are in school for a large portion of the day. 

And...if you're as obsessed with Downton Abbey as I am you should read this article that shows pictures of our favorite characters on and off screen.  


Monday, February 6, 2012

Questions, Questions, Questions

I've been reading this book by Frances Kuffel.  She wrote a book a couple of years ago that I just loved called Passing for Thin.  Eating Ice Cream with my Dog is her second book and I didn't like it as well.  It was still interesting and I finished it.

Frances has lost more than half her body weight by going to overeaters anonymous (OA).  Her books talk about the physical aspects of losing weight and the emotional side too.  In a voyeuristic kind of way I am intrigued by the information given about OA.

Every night Frances answers the following questions to her sponsor.

"What did I eat today? What exercise did I have today? wheat did I do today that I like and respect myself for? (or how did I behave better than I felt?) What project was my priority for today and how much progress did I make on it? What do I plan to do next? What did I do for someone else today? What did I do for myself today? What happened today that I enjoyed and appreciated that had nothing to do with me? What boundaries did I honor? Where did I have problems today? What am proudest of today? On a scale of one to ten, how much close interaction did I have with people today? What made me feel feminine today? What made me feel loved and appreciated today? What will I eat tomorrow?"

Okay.  Now aside from the eating questions (what, you're saying you didn't eat an entire candy bar today?) and some of the ones about boundaries the idea of answering those questions is appealing to someone who spends her days looking after a toddler.

What project was my priority for today and  how much progress did I make on it?  I wanted to get the bedroom cleaned up and to take the goodwill pile to the goodwill.  I bagged it up and separated it out but didn't actually deliver it.  And I put away all of the laundry for good measure.

What happened today that I enjoyed and appreciated that had nothing to do with me?  Today Claire went to the beach without me.  I had a doctor's appointment so she went to the beach with her friends Maggie and Jane.  I hear she had a wonderful time.  I am so pleased that she had fun but there is a small part of my heart that is sad that she didn't need me at all.  I was reading on the couch looking out for her when she got back and when I saw her little pink tutu-ed body out the window as she got out the car my heart did a little leap inside.

I won't bore you with the answers to all of the questions (that would make for a very long blog post) but I did think that if I took the time each night to answer all of those questions it might be a little easier to remember that my life has great meaning.

What about you? What are you proudest of today? What made you feel loved and appreciated?

And the nice thing about these questions is that you don't have to fess up that you took a nap on the couch while your living room looked like this.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oh the Shame

Last night both the hubbs and I had to attend a meeting at church.  Luckily my parents are here visiting so they offered to put Claire to bed for us.As my parents are here they graciously offered to put Claire to bed ad watch her while we were at our meeting.  As I was describing how we put Claire to bed I had to reveal one of my secret parenting shames.

"First you put her in the bath.  After her bath, you put her in her jammies, brush teeth, read her a book, give her a pass, and put her in the crib.  You ask her to lie down and then you cover her with 3 blankets (which you count out to her as you're covering her) give her her glass of milk, give her a kiss and say goodnight."

I wish you could have seen the horrified look on my mom's face when she said, "I put her to bed with a glass of milk?"

Yes.  I know it's bad for her teeth, I know it's giving her a middle of the night snack dependence.  I know it's wrong.

But we do it.

And she sleeps for 12 hours a night.

You know what else we've started doing this week?  Calling soda juice. And in case you're wondering, she does drink it.  Peach Fresca to be precise. I think she pounded 24 oz. last night.

And, just in case one of the people who nominate for parent of the year award stumbles across this post here is a list of the other things we do that we probably shouldn't.

  • Juice.  She loves it.  She's an addict.
  • TV.  If I would let her, she would watch Kipper for 5 hours a day.  And not that she would run in and out of the room and be occupied doing other things.  She would sit on the couch, dead to the world and watch and watch and watch.
  • Fruit Snacks.  Claire doesn't eat much but the currency of our house is Fruit Snacks.  After we go somewhere she gets fruit snacks if she is nice about getting in the car.
  • Veggies.  Doesn't eat them.  At all.  Unless you count pickles--which she eats by the truckload.
  • Jammies.  Claire hates getting dressed and some days we just wear jammies all day long.