Thursday, December 20, 2007

I am a sucker for that little girl.

Although I am only about half done making Nate's stocking and haven't yet wrapped a single present, it only took one comment ("We really should make cookies, Mommy!") from Lula today to send me into a cookie-making frenzy. Well, a semi-frenzy. It turns out the kind of cookie dough that you can cut into shapes has to be refrigerated for a few hours first. So I sent Scott to the store for some missing ingredients and made the dough tonight so we can make cookies tomorrow.

I see the cookie baking time going one of two ways:

- Tallulah insists on tasting the dough, grabbing at it and accidentally dropping most of it on our dusty-Cheerio-and-dried-pine-needle-laden floor. She cries inconsolably, hitting me and screaming if I try to salvage the remaining dough. I throw a couple of cookies on a baking sheet but our crappy stove burns them anyway. Nate, left to his own devices while we bake, chews on a lead-coated electrical wire, the bottom of my shoe, and every bit of loose cat litter he can find. A few hours later the vomiting starts -- for Tallulah, it's salmonella from the raw dough; for Nate, toxoplasmosis* from the cat litter. We spend the evening at the ER.

- While Nate takes an extra-long nap, Tallulah watches respectfully as I roll out the dough and cut it into shapes. Lula and I merrily decorate the cookies with sprinkles and M&Ms, during which neither of us spills or overeats the decorations. Tallulah waits patiently as the cookies bake and then cool. The cookies end up both beautiful and delicious. Nate wakes up just as Scott -- surprise! -- arrives home early from work. We all eat cookies together, singing Christmas carols and drinking eggnog as Nate keeps repeating his very first word: "Family."

I can only hope the reality is somewhere in the middle.

* OK, so it turns out vomiting isn't a symptom of toxoplasmosis. But adding "and Nate had achy flu-like symptoms that led to damage to his brain and eyes" doesn't scan as well. Though it is a little horrifying. (*runs to clean litter box*)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That's my daughter!

Scene: During preschool pick-up, Tallulah is eavesdropping on a couple of slightly older girls who are discussing their upcoming play date.

Girl A: I can wear the pink dress, and you can wear the blue dress.

Girl B: Yeah, and I can wear the blue scarf with sparkles on it.

Tallulah (butting in): And I can dress up like SUPERMAN!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

An Open Letter

To the people who wait behind me while I parallel park, hoping I'll give up and let them take the spot:

Hey. Hi. I know my 7-year-old hand-me-down minivan is large and ungainly. And I can see that your own car is smaller, sportier, newer. But hey -- hey, I'm trying to make eye contact! See me waving you along? That's because I don't want you to waste your time; I know I can fit into this spot. See the state of my back bumper? You don't get that "distressed plastic" look from giving up on small parking spots. Also, and I'm just guessing here, but maybe I know better than you how much space my car needs?

Oh, I see. You'd rather pretend you don't see me. Rather just stare straight ahead and pretend you're waiting for someone/thing else. Gotcha. When I go ahead and endure the knowledge that a stranger is not only watching me execute a difficult driving maneuver but banking on me FAILING to complete said maneuver; when I finally finish my tiny back-and-forths and throw my car into park, and you finally give up and drive on past me, still staring straight ahead? That's me in the parked car to your left, smiling and mouthing the words "I TOLD YOU SO."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Rhythm of the trick-or-treaters

So I finally consciously realized why I get the song "Born at the Right Time" stuck in my head after I view this photo. Please compare:





I mean, kind of, right? You got your running motion-blur thing going on, and your costume with wing-parts flying behind. Maybe those Brazilian guys on Paul Simon's album cover were actually on their way to go trick-or-treating. Who's to say?

Friday, November 30, 2007

He's like a hamster, or perhaps a goat.


Things Nate has put into his mouth:
tissues, napkins, and paper of all sorts
dried leaves, twigs, and bark
vinyl shower curtain
moss (Piscataway, NJ)
sand (Lake George, NY)
grass (Prospect Park, Brooklyn)
the coffee table
shreds of carpet
the actual carpet, plus the carpet pad
cat fur
sofa stuffing (freed by cat scratchings)
DVDs (cases, booklets, AND discs)
remote controls
markers, pens, pencils
various data and audio cables
tubes of shaving gel, toothpaste, and diaper cream
Tallulah's peanut-buttered toast (argh!)

In non-list-format news, today is the last day of NaBloPoMo. Woo-hoo! See you in 11 months, suckas! (note: just kidding. I will try to post more frequently.)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

That explains it.

(I pretend to talk into Tallulah's foot like it's a phone.)
T: Mommy, don't talk into my foot.
Me: OK.
T: I want to lie down and have you talk into my butt like it's a microphone.
Me: WHAT? No. I'm not doing that.
T: Yes, Mommy, it's funny! I want you to talk into my butt like it's a microphone. Like a veterinarian talked into that dog's butt. It was really funny.
Me: Where did you see that?
T: A veterinarian is a doctor for animals.
Me: Yes, I know. Where did you see a veterinarian talking into a dog's butt like it was a microphone?
T: It was a movie. On Cute Overload.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

NYC public schools.

I attended a forum tonight on the different public Kindergartens and pre-Ks in my part of Brooklyn, and how to get into same. Basically it's a confusing shitstorm of bureaucracy* wherein you have too many parents trying to get their children into too few good schools. And the Department of Education is undergoing yet another epic reorganization, so the rules about where/how/why your kid can go to a school are expected to change within the next year. It's like a fun thing for politicians to boast how they "shook up" the DOE but all that really happens is that millions of dollars get spent on seemingly random restructuring plans and bizarre, meaningless school assessments.

There's not much of a point to this post, except to say that I'll probably end up paying two preschool tuitions next year; but after that, Tallulah will automatically be enrolled in our blessedly good local school. Also, I got to talk with several parents I know from Tallulah's current and former preschools. It was nice to talk to them and get a sense of solidarity about this whole thing. I'm certainly not alone in feeling overwhelmed and disheartened and a bit desperate.

* The boring, overly-long explanation: the school in the district where you live has to take your child for Kindergarten, but there's also various magnet, charter, and lottery schools that you can try to get your child into instead. All of those "special" schools have their own rules about who can apply and how. And if you don't like the school you're districted for, you can apply for a variance to attend a different one, if that different school accepts students from out-of-district, because not all do. And none of this actually applies to pre-K, since children aren't guaranteed a pre-K spot; so every school, even the one you're districted for, uses a lottery for Pre-K admission. And your odds? NOT GOOD. The most popular lottery-based schools usually have 3 or 4 pre-K spots open (due to sibling preference for existing students) for literally hundreds of applicants every year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Crafty procrastination

I forgot the most recent creativity booster I've tried: NaBloPoMo! Which has worked, at least for this month. I hope the effects will last past the end of November.

But although NaBloPoMo has worked for my blog posting, the effects have yet to trickle down into the rest of my creative endeavors.

Craft projects I have planned out, bought materials for, or even started, but am nowhere near finishing:
* a scarf I started knitting about four years ago. Have since forgotten how to knit.
* a bedside hanging pocket-ful thing to hold my glasses, tissues, and lip balm (there's no room for a table on my side of the bed)
* a Cornell-esque collage/shrine about my grandmother who died several months ago
* a Christmas stocking for Nate (the hold-up on this one: I need to see Lula's, which I also made, in order to get the size right; and Lula's stocking is packed away somewhere deep in a storage space in NJ)
* various buttons to replace and stuffed toys to mend (ongoing)
* a stuffed cat pillow I made from a vintage pattern is almost completely done; have to finish the opening and add some snaps. This 30-minute long piece of work has been idling for a couple of years now.

And of course every year I consider designing and printing up my own holiday cards, but since I have never managed to send the kind that someone else has made for me, I always abandon the idea before I get too far with it.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Creativity boosters I have tried.

College: This one worked well. The pressure of a $100,000* tuition/board kept me producing art, if only to keep passing my classes. Problem: I eventually exceeded the 4-year time limit.
The Artist's Way: Fell asleep every single time I tried to write the "morning pages" that the author claims as her most important creativity builder. My desire to be a more active artist is nothing in the face of a resolutely night-owlish nature. Shelved book after less than a week.
My sister: Post-college aimlessness and a desire for structure and accountability led me to suggest that my sister (also a visual artist) and I trade weekly art assignments. She didn't go for it.
Illustration Fridays: Signed up to get email notification of each week's topic. Two years later, I have yet to illustrate a single one. Justification? Some of the illustrators are really bad.
The Creative License: Intro gave me hope. Spent a couple of hours doing the recommended first set of drawings (of a chair, a table, a cup, and a person) only to turn the page and see simple line drawings as examples, including the most basic drawing tips imaginable. Book seems to be for real beginners. I will go back to this one, though, once I can adjust my expectations.
Procreating: This one worked a couple of times, though not without months and months of discomfort and serious physical effort. The end results, though more beautiful and unpredictable than anticipated, have not been without their challenges. Further problem: hard to take full credit as their creator.

* compared to current prices, of course, this is a steal.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Why is there no chocolate in the house?

Where is the chocolate? My British candy supply has been completely obliterated, and Tallulah's Halloween stash is down to no-name-brand hard candies (ie. "the shake.") Even my ice cream treat-pint is a pear-flavored "limited edition" Haagen-Dazs pint with no chocolate involved whatsoever.

Wait. Scott bought more Newman-Os! Saved.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Secretly gaining mad skillz

You know the theory that babies and young children start acting all difficult and cranky right before a developmental leap? They'll stop sleeping through the night, or will throw extra-big tantrums, and then the next day they can suddenly hop on one foot or something. It's like the kid's brain is working so hard on that one new thing that the rest of the brain goes all limp and flabby.

Anyway. Over the past few days, Tallulah, who is almost four, exhibited some serious regression in various areas. Besides the barfing (which isn't really "regression" and which I think was caused by a bad coughing fit and an unhealthy fries-ketchup-milk dinner), she has been sleeping poorly, with lots of tearful night wakings; and she even wet the bed, something she has only done once before in her entire life. But the day after the bed-wetting (yesterday, that is) she WROTE HER NAME for the first time. She had only ever written single letters before. I was truly amazed. She even allowed us to be proud of her!

So when exactly does a person age out of the whole behavior regression --> developmental leap phenomenon? I sort of thought it ended sometime around age three, but perhaps Tallulah's past few tumultuous days proves me wrong. So what if you NEVER age out of it? It would be great if that time* I was feeling all cranky and out-of-sorts meant that the non-bitchy part of my brain was busy finally understanding string theory. Or what if that time I couldn't fall asleep a couple of weeks ago was because I was gaining the gross motor skills necessary to pole vault? I just need to keep trying out new things right after I sleep poorly or have a bathroom accident (the WORST! Am I right, ladies?) to see if my theory is correct.

* - and by "that time" I mean "almost all the time"

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bad night ahead.

Tallulah barfed on Scott and then in the sink (once she had determined it was "safe" -- she decided the toilet was NOT for some reason.) She is a trooper, in that she was only upset by the barfing for a few minutes after; since then she's been very calm about the whole thing. "Mommy, this (basin) is for two things: coughing and barfing." "Why can't I throw up on a pillow?" "Mommy, I don't want to take a nap!" (this last thing said a few minutes ago at 10:30pm.) Scott is also a trooper, needless to say. He's up there right now, lying next to her in bed, trying to help her fall asleep. She has been trying to leverage her throwing up into a night sleeping in Mommy and Daddy's bed, which is an outcome I'd like to prevent.

So. A rough night ahead, I forsee. I have a nightmare vision of me in a bed with a barfing, coughing child on one side and a coughing, nursing baby on the other. It is hard for me to joke about it at this moment. I hope to have a better take on things in the morning.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Tyme

I failed to post yesterday, it is true. I'm at my parents' house and all the computers are in rooms with people staying in them, and Scott has a fairly serious eBay problem that requires near-constant usage of his laptop. He has relinquished it to me for the moment, but only after much nagging. Luckily I'm good at nagging.

BTW, for future reference: if you ever want to drive to NJ from Brooklyn on the day before Thanksgiving, noon is a very good time to leave. We had absolutely no traffic, which never happens, even on a normal day. Baby Nate slept the whole time and Lula (and I) sang along with a child-friendly iPod playlist and chatted about stuff. Though whenever I tried to talk myself, Lula would complain that she couldn't hear the music. Because I am VERY BORING.

Favorite Lula songs:
Spanish Flea (Herb Alpert)
Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight (Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group)
Yellow Brick Road (Elton John)
Three is a Magic Number (from Schoolhouse Rock)
Do De Rubber Duck (Ernie/Sesame Street)
Puff the Magic Dragon (Peter, Paul & Mary)

Last night's dinner (T-Giving Eve) was a crowded affair. My aunt, her boyfriend, and my cousins were here: two boys, one a young teenager (with OMG a shadowy pubescent mustache and cracking-squeaky voice!) and one a "tween." Tallulah made it her mission to amuse them and make them play with her. She ended up completely monopolizing her end of the table, cracking up the kids with her food-mashing, giggly joke-telling antics. For example, announcing, "I call this Ow! Hitting myself in the head!" as she hits herself in the head and laughs. Or, dropping a piece of food into her water cup ON PURPOSE! Hilarious. Meanwhile Nate, the poor neglected second child, sat quietly in his high chair, accepting whatever food was offered to him. I do expect he'll get his share of attention once he can, like, talk and stuff.

It is beautiful here today. The weather is warm (thanks, fluorocarbons!) and the leaves are in their last days of peak color. We took a walk down a tree-lined lane with yellow leaves falling all around. I gathered leaves with Lula for a Thanksgiving centerpiece while Nate napped, strapped to his Dad's back. Later we watched deer eat the leaves off some thin bushes a few feet from the house. They saw us, looked cool and bored, kept eating. They are cocky, tough New Jersey deer.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I mean, I DID post yester...I mean, today!

So I'm post-posting; get it? Listen, I really couldn't post yesterday. So I'm going to post twice today. ON THANKSGIVING. Does that not count? I hope it does, oh great NaBloPoMo overlords.

Thanksgiving dinner was delicious. My poor, sainted mother slaved over a hot stove all day making pies (with crusts from scratch!), a brined turkey, stuffing, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, butternut squash puree, gravy, etc. etc. The good stuff. My mom does not fuck around with the cooking.

Thus we celebrated the bounty of the autumnal harvest. Thank you, Native Americans! Sorry about the genocide thing. We love you guys!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Walking home from school today

Tallulah: I want to leave my umbrella here so someone can know me nearby.
Me: ...what?
Tallulah: I want to leave my umbrella here so someone can know me nearby.
Me: ...Can you say that in a different way?
Tallulah: Radja pla moose chee foofa.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The most heartbreaking thing

The most heartbreaking thing is your husband waking you up saying, "Honey, I let you sleep in because the kids were up all night, but I'm falling down tired and I need to take a quick nap." And then you have to tell him it's Monday, not Sunday, and he has to hustle to get to work ASAP.

OK, so that's not the MOST heartbreaking thing. But it is a serious bummer.

Both kids DID wake up again and again all night long, for their own individual reasons. Nate has a nasty cough (his specialty! He's VERY GOOD at it) and he's also seriously Mommy-focused right now. I think he's just realized that I'm a separate person from him, and dang, babies HATE figuring that out. I'm not sure what Tallulah's problem was; she woke up a bunch of times, just calling out for me or Scott, and seemed to just need a tucking-in and a reassuring hug. Maybe she just realized that Spongebob Squarepants is just a cartoon.

Because of the lack of sleep I'm feeling fairly confused and tired and a bit stressed. I'm fixating on this upcoming solo drive to NJ with the kids on Wednesday, trying to decide when would be best to leave, traffic-wise. I have to drive through most of Brooklyn and all of Staten Island to get there. The only adult in a car with a baby and a preschooler on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving! God help me.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

And then I simply went amazed.

I'd like to draw your attention to the comment that "Jason" left for yesterday's post:

"Long shoes were always a delight for me but in recent days i started using different designs but last week when my friend suggested me about shoe design on [*REDACTED*] then i simply went amazed. They were really nice."

Obviously this is spam, but it seems to have a human behind it. Not a native English speaker, obviously, but human nonetheless. How else could the wonderful phrase "long shoes" been created from my post? I imagine a young dude of indeterminate nationality/location who gets paid per spam-comment bringing up my blog on his computer screen. He sees the picture of the boots, and not knowing the English word for "boots," types the first thing he can think of -- "long shoes" -- into his Mad Libs-style spam macro. Done! Another $.005 in the bank!

Needless to say, I shall be referring to my boots as long shoes from now on.

IN OTHER NEWS
Tallulah: Mommy! Check on my brother and see if he's OK!
Me: He's fine.
Tallulah: He's not fine! He's a BABY!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Note: I actually hate shoe shopping.

Today I bought myself some boots. I've been looking for a good pair of knee-high, comfy, leather boots to walk around in and maybe wear skirts with during the cooler months. But I don't have much of what they call "spending cash" these days. A little light in the petty cash drawer. Not much disposable income. You get the gist. Anyway I found these glorified combat boots in my nabe for $99:


They'll do for now. They're adjustable due to the laces, but they also zip up, for speed. And they're feminine and formal enough for my rather pathetically casual lifestyle. (Note: I had been ogling these, but since they are FOUR. HUNDRED. DOLLARS, I couldn't do it. They are fetching though, yes? They have little flax seed pillows in the footbed. For real. Also while you walk around tiny speakers play ocean sounds to your heels and the toe box releases lavender aromatherapy oils.)

I also went to Beacon's Closet, and I've decided to buy all my clothes there from now on. If you are unfamiliar, this place is an actually affordable vintage/used clothing store with two locations in Brooklyn. True, there is the counter full of judgmental hipster/fashion-victim girls in the back who approve (but mainly reject) the clothes that civilians bring in to sell; true, the store is often crowded and playing obnoxious music; true, you have to pick through lots of crappy "vintage" clothes that were ugly the FIRST time they were "in fashion" and you have to try everything on because the tags are missing or the sizes are in the olde tymey sizing systeme where a size 12 equals a modern size 6 or whatever. But! Sometimes you go and there's a bunch of clothes that still have their original store tags on them and they're from a label you like and they're in your size, and you end up with a stylish shirt and jeans for less than $25 total. Good times.

Speaking of shifty sizing, whom is Old Navy trying to kid? On my last trip there I had to go down TWO SIZES to get pants (trousers, to you Brits) that actually fit me. Old Navy: I know Americans are just getting fatter and fatter, but making the sizes of your clothes larger WITHOUT CHANGING THE NUMBER SIZES just confuses everyone. Cut it out. Literally. Peace.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Scrabutasticulosity, plus: college condos.

Scott: Go. It's your turn.
Me: OK, I'm working on it. I only have vowels left.
Scott: We're very close to the end.
Me: I know.
Scott: (sadly) I'm going to win, you know.
Me: I KNOW.
------------
In other news, I learned from my alumnae newsletter that there's a new "adult" condo community being built within my sister's alma mater. From the e-newsletter: "Homeowners at Veridian Village at Hampshire College will have access to Hampshire facilities, programs, and classes." Wait, really? You get to take classes at an elite private college just for BUYING A CONDO? You get to share the college's gym and library with the students? You can go hang out on the quad and try to get a hacky sack game going? I'd be so pissed off if I was a student there right now. You can tell from the photos and the small floorplans (all one or two bedrooms) that this is geared toward older adults. I predict (and, let's be frank, long for) a baby-boomer/Generation Y culture clash on campus...

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Web 2.0 has got no soul.

First I want to thank Alice for her very kind shout-out . I haven't seen her in too too long. Alice! My friend!

Now: there can be no better example of the difference between Web 1.0 and 2.0 than this: the original Hamster Dance vs. the updated Hampster Dance. It's sort of like the difference between Devo and Devo 2.0, except on like a billion times smaller scale of taste and talent.

In other news, Scott has me spending all my free time losing to him at Scrabulous on Facebook. If this post seems too short or disjointed it's because he was interrupting me every five minutes to show me how he shoved another one or two letter squares into our grid, earning himself another 40-50 points. And hey! I just realized that Facebook is one of those Web 2.0 sites I was just grousing about!* So I guess the new internet isn't all bad.

* - See what I did there ?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's my Mom's birthday.

Happy 60th Birthday to my double-PhDed, twin-raising, abstract expressionist art-producing, quilting, yummy-food cooking, eldest sibling, crafty, animal-care-taking, green-thumb gardening, psychoanalyzing*, good-writing, creative mom. I hope I have as much going on at 60.

* - it's her job, so it's OK.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My cat, every goddamn night.

Aw, yeah. The Warm Lady is finally getting into bed! Time for me to leave my pillow-side spot and skedaddle over to the food area.

So crunchy. Even with only one fang I enjoy the crunchy food. Wait, is that The Other? I so fear/adore/hate her. Maybe just a cold stare and a subtle ear-slant to remind her what's what. For now.

A good post-nap piss is always welcome. Gotta scratch the wall outside the litter box after. It just feels right.

Time to do my exercise! Tonight I'm feeling extra frisky, so I'll include the actual top of the bed in my route. I run flat-out from the windows near the street, over the rug, under the chairs, past the food, down the long slippery hall (luckily my extended claws give me a little traction and a little sonic pizazz! Scritchety-scratchety!) through the doorway, jump onto the bed, and run over the Large Ones. Tiny pause; then: Back! And forth! And all the way back and forth again! Fast fast fast!

Oh, shit. Is that Other One trying to ENTER THE BEDROOM? She'll never learn. Cat's gonna make me flex. I'll just hide over here...wait for it... BAT BAT BAT! Feel the sting of my paw! You wanna scream about it? Go ahead. Yowl and scream all you want. Music to my ears.

Hey, suddenly the Large Ones' kittens are yelling. What the hell happened? Stupid fur-pullers. Though the larval one has a nice nap-spot under his cage-bed. I'll just slip in when the Warm Lady's done putting him to sleep again.

(30 minutes later) And, done. Time to join the sleep-party on the big bed. What the -? The door is shut! Hey! HEY! HEY! HEY!

Don't be like that, Warm Mama. Just get back into bed, and put your arm in that certain spot. Yes. Leave me room next to your head. Purr. I might get up, jump down, and come back a few minutes later, a couple of times, but you just try to sleep. It's all good. I'm still all soft and purr-y, right? Yes. Purr. OK. Good night.

Dammit! And, Toys R Us extravaganza.

So I forgot to post today until after midnight, dammit dammit dammit. Oh, well. It's still Monday night in my personal chronology.

Yesterday, as a reward for having walked home from school every day last week, Tallulah got to go to the Toys R Us in Times Square. Have you been? I used to work less than a block away, so I was rather familiar with the place already. It's like the amusement park of toy stores. Very fully themed. One trip with a young child plus a baby is probably enough, on a per-lifetime basis.

Tallulah's favorite part: The "life-sized" animatronic T-Rex, to whom she kept presenting toys, as if in offering/supplication. "Mommy, hand me that plastic alligator -- I want to show him to T-Rex."

Nate's least favorite part: Seeing his Mommy hanging in a ferris wheel car* about ten feet and a 4-story chasm away from him. He nearly leapt out of Scott's arms to get to me, alarmingly enough.

We were there for forever, it seemed, and man o man it was exhausting. But we managed to escape with only one smallish bag of toys (mostly presents to be given later) and two children who managed to hold it together (or, in Nate's case, fall asleep) until we got home. So: success.

* - yeah, Lula and I rode the ferris wheel. You only live once. Each gondola on the wheel is themed with a different sponsor: a toy or movie or children's entertainment conglomerate (Nickelodeon) or candy or brand. Did we get the Toy Story gondola? The Mr. Potato Head one? Or even: the MY LITTLE PONY one? No. We got the crappy wheelchair-accessible Cabbage Patch Kids gondola, because there were only two of us. Lula didn't care, even though there had been much My Little Pony desire expressed while we waited in the 45-minute line. She's a good kid.

PS (yeah, a PS after an aside, screw it): Some poor store worker takes a photo of everyone right after they get into their gondolas, and then as you're leaving the ride they present you with the photo on a monitor right at eye level. The petulant "awww!" noise that the (male) employee made after I declined to pay $20 for a print of said photo will echo in my head for days.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Can we talk about this catalog cover?


My reaction to this picture: You have GOT to be kidding me. Are they actively trying to reinforce gender stereotypes over at Hasbro? It's bad enough that the boy is doing the active rockin' out while the girl is just sitting there; but did the girl have to be staring so WORSHIPFULLY up at the boy? Because of course he's larger, in the center of the page, and higher up than her. The patriarchy is alive and well, my friends. And of course the girl isn't looking at us, the viewers, since she's just there to accent the "coolness" of the rocker-boy; whereas that Bad! Ass! Rocker! can look us straight in the eye, because he is there to ROCK OUT, and not just to be window dressing. A perfect example of the Men Act and Women Appear phenomenon noted by modern film theorists. And look at their clothes -- he's empowered by his mature dark clothes with spiky-leather accessories, while she's totally infantilized by her soft all-pink ensemble (a color scheme that OF COURSE extends to her toys.) She doesn't even get to wear shoes!

Tallulah's reaction to this picture:
Look! She has a Sing and Dance Pinkie Pie!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday in Red.

We went to Red Hook again today, because we have a car now and thus can drive to any corner of Brooklyn that we wish. Plus Scott is a little addicted to certain foodstuffs sold at a certain grocery mega-market. We woke up Lula from her nap, bundled up her and Nate and stuffed them into their car seats. First stop was the antique furniture shop and cool-a-porium Atlantis, where there was a calico cat and two old-school stand-up cabinet video games: Pac-Man and Space Invaders. Lula tried playing Pac-Man (25 cents/game, though for $895 we could've taken the thing home) but her dad had to finish the game. Still, she ate some dots and even a ghost before she gave up.

Then we went down to block to Baked, where the friendliest hipsters I've had the pleasure of encountering recently (I'm used to the surly, bored-n-careless servers at the Tea Lounge) sold us delicious cupcakes, muffins, and hot bevvies. Nate ate Cheerios and patted the table.

Tallulah likes visiting Fairway, which she calls "the grocery store where I can see the Statue of Liberty at night." (Beat THAT, suburbs.) She also enjoys the tank of lobsters, the whole fishes on ice, riding around in the grocery cart, and taking part in our grocery purchasing decisions. I wore Nate so he would sleep, which he eventually did, after a lot of looking around and vocal whining. (He was overtired.) This time we actually bought lobsters, which freaked out the check-out bagger -- I stepped in and bagged them myself to spare her. "You're the second person today to come through with those things," she murmured, shuddering.

We brought our delicious bugs home, our great cold beasts, and Scott cooked 'em up (breaking local Italian law in the process) while I put Nate to bed. We ate them near Tallulah, whom we were attempting to indoctrinate in The Way of The Crustacean. She was mildly interested in the anatomy and the new red color of the lobsters, whom she repeatedly referred to as crabs (blame the influence of Spongebob's Mr. Krabs) and she tried a tiny nibble of a tiny piece of claw (verdict: no.) But mainly she played with my claw-cracker. It was both a see-saw AND a clam mouth. Fun.

Friday, November 9, 2007

I'm a patron, not a patronizer! For real!

Re: Losing True's comment on embarrassing her (adolescent) children with public singing: The thing is, my 3-going-on-13-year old is ALREADY embarrassed by me singing in public. If I start -- even if I'm only singing along to a song SHE HERSELF IS SINGING -- she says, "No, no, Mommy! Stop that! I don't like that!" And if I continue, just 'cause I'm feeling like I want to sing and maybe annoy my daughter a little in the process, she will Flip. Out. "No no no no NO! Mommy STOP singing stop singing!"

I thought I would have more time before my daughter got so easily annoyed with me. But NO. Turns out 3 is it. At least it's annoyance and not embarrassment. I hope she avoids the emotion of embarrassment for as long as possible.

Tallulah's new thing is to yell "Don't be PROUD of me!" Which joins "Don't LOOK at me!" and "Don't TOUCH me!" as the three things she most likes to yell at top volume while we walk down the street. (That last one is a real attention-getter. Thanks, kid!) I think she's perceiving a patronizing tone from me and her dad, as that's something I was also very sensitive to as a child. In fact, I was so sensitive to it so early on that I remember promising myself that once I was grown-up and a parent that I would NEVER treat children like that. That I'd never (to give a totally hypothetical example) make my child repeat her mis-pronunciations of certain common words* for the amusement of my adult friends. That I'd NEVER smile and chuckle fondly when my child made some adorable mistake or another. But I now find myself doing this ALL THE TIME. I didn't know that once I had children of my own they would be SO WONDERFUL and their mistakes so heartbreaking yet lovable and so indicative of an underlying brilliance and spark that it makes me bubble with love for them. But I will try to hide my smiles the best I can.

* - plaid and relative.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bedtime songs

When I was a little kid my Mom would sing one song to me and my sister every night. She made up the song herself, and it went a little something like this:

Night night, twinkies
Sleep tight, twinkies
Morning light, twinkies
That's when we'll see twinks again
In the morning light, when the sky is bright, and the sun's all right...
That's when we'll see twinks again!

Cute, right? (Though now that my Mom's a psychologist she has a "deeper" reading of these lyrics, and if you want to hear it you can follow this asterisk:*) My sister and I used to sing "Check the calendar!" at the end of the song, which meant, now that you've done singing us our song, Mom, check the calendar with the alternating Ds and Ss on it and determines which of us gets hugged good-night first. We were all about Fairness back then.

Anyway: a somewhat predictable bedtime routine, but a short one.

Me, I'm spending a good 15-20 minutes singing to Nate every evening. I sing him a somewhat random selection of classic lullabies, Beatles tunes, hippy/Quaker/folk songs, and some misc. classic rock and show tunes. I know this will change, eventually, once he's weaned off breastfeeding; we've gotten Lula down to one song a night and it only took THREE YEARS. But Tallulah has a tricksy way of stretching these things out. Recently I've been going in and singing her that ol' folk song "Oil in My Lamp"**, and at first it was pretty brief, since I could only remember two verses:

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burnin' burnin' burnin'
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray (I pray!)
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burnin' burnin' burnin'
Keep me burning 'til the break of day!

And the other verse I remembered was the "fun" one:
Give me umption in my gumption, help me function function function...

But every night I go in there now she ADDS ANOTHER VERSE. It is creative and adorable enough to keep me with her, singing to her like a CHUMP, and she knows it. Some recent verses:

Give me water for my cup, make it chilly chilly chilly...
Give me snack for my bowl, make it yummy yummy yummy...
Keep a blanket on my hard horse,*** keep him warm warm warm...

If more are created, I will let you know.
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* - There's obviously a desperate wish/plea/command? for the children to sleep UNTIL THE MORNING; also, the idea that the sun could possibly NOT be "all right" is seen as sinister/frightening.
** - though for the chorus we sing the Quaker variant "Sing hosanna to the break of day!" instead of the more Jesus-y "to the King of Kings!"
*** - as opposed to her stuffed horse, natch.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

We went to Cringe

Tonight I pretended I was a single childless gal and went (with my sis) to the crowded and entertaining Cringe night at Freddy's Bar. I've been wanting to go to this ever since I heard about it -- basically people get up and read selections from their teenage journals, with cringe-worthy and hilarious results. Tonight's selections included a staged reading of a Michael Hutchence fan-fic play, a teenager's take on the first Gulf War, and some stunningly bad/wonderful early-adolescent-boy poetry. It was a very, very good show.

So of course I've been going through my own journals, looking for the funny. Most of my journals are from college and are deadly serious and quite depressing, but in Jr. High/High School I was still young enough to somewhat un-self-consciously record my not-yet-tragic problems and thoughts. In particular there's a review/summary of my first Sting concert that actually makes me blush to read it. I brought this tonight in case I felt inspired to volunteer to read, but the other readers were so funny that I got a little intimidated. I'm planning on dragging certain friends with me next time, which may provide some courage.

If you'd like some funny RIGHT NOW, you should read this Letter from Hollywood re: the writer's strike. It's good to know that Hollywood is looking out for us, the viewers.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A day off, plus Nate's 9-month check-up.

My Mom came here today because she had the day off and wanted to help me out (and spend time with her most adorable grandchildren, of course.) Which was very nice and good, and I spent most of my "free" time taking Nate to a check-up and going to the bank. Here's the thing: before this year I had no idea some people get Election Day off. It's only government employees, I know. But ALL of them? Maybe schools that host the voting sites should be closed (though I swear I remember people voting in my school while class was in session) but the street sweepers? And the independent cooperative preschool teachers? And (in the case of my Mom) the state-run mental health clinic workers? I guess crazy people have to vote, too.

My sister is also here. She is unemployed at the moment, through no fault of her own, and thus she can pretty much do whatever she wants. She brought my daughter a large My Little Pony unicorn and a Leapster with several game cartridges. This was an all-around very, very good day for Tallulah.

Nate is healthy and adorable and active and good, BTW. Here's the stats:
He's 9 months and 7 days old today.
He weighs a hefty 24lb. 4oz. (92%)
He's 31.5" tall (97%)
Head circumference: 46 cm (68%) -- which is way up from last time! His head circumference percentile used to be in the 40s. He's getting SMARTER!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Yahtzee!

And now I have a cold, thus bringing the illnesses I've had in the past week to full Yahtzee! status, as declared by my doctor friend, Jessie. Some say taking antibiotics puts you at higher risk for catching viruses, which would explain why the head cold that's been threatening me for over a week has now sunk its claws into my face for reals. I mean, come ON with the mucus already. I GET IT.

At times like these I find myself wanting to visualize my sinuses, in order to understand how so much fluid can issue from such a mysterious and supposedly reasonably-sized part of my face. Google brought up this photo, which I must warn you, seems to be of an actual person's dissected sinuses. (Image in context here.) The pic reveals that your sinuses are all over your face and head, basically crammed into every non-interesting head crevice and cranny. Then I found this image, which at least illustrates the brimming-with-green-yuckiness that I'm feeling. So those helped. And THEN I found this, and now I feel great, comparatively, simply because that's not happening to me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Photos! Of Animals! And Halloween!

EDITED TO ADD: I meant to publish this yesterday (that is, Sunday night) and apparently forgot to click the "Publish post" button. Dammit! So here's another post for my NaBloPoMo quota. I didn't cheat, I swear!
---------
Come! Gaze upon my children in the midst of their harvest frolicks! There's a couple of photos of Lula and Nate at the Orange, CT, Agricultural Festival, and her riding a carousel at same. There are some picturesque photos of Tallulah at the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) Arts Festival, and some captured images of the Chicken Invasion we witnessed there. And then there's a slew of pics from our trip to the Queens County Farm Museum, a trip which was hijacked into a trip to the confusingly adjacent Green Meadow Farm and its plentiful petting zoo, hay ride, and pony ride opportunities. The kids loved it.

Then: Halloween. Tallulah was a (scary?) fairy and Nate was a lion. First we had the NJ costume preview and then the real deal here in Brooklyn.

Lastly, in a rush of second-child-photo-deficit guilt, I took a bunch of photos of Nathaniel. Babies are cute.

(NOTE for the lazy/easily annoyed: you can also just go to Scott's photo stream, if you like, and screw this individual-link clicking.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Weekends are hard.

Your schedule is all off. No one goes to work, no one goes to school. There are tons of things you need to get done and tons of things you'd like to do -- not just the things you remember (ever so faintly, now) doing before you had kids but the things you'd like to do WITH your kids. But. First there are the things you need to get done. No, wait -- first you have to keep the kids alive and fed and rested. The child wakes up at 5:10am, the baby (for the final wake-up of the night) at 6:30am; the child watches TV while Daddy naps on the sofa and the baby finds things to mouth on the floor. Mommy is trying to recover and has been up all night with the baby's wakings, so gets to sleep in. Eventually Mommy gets up, lets Daddy have tiny break; back to nap with baby at 9:30am. Daddy takes child to library (yay!) and farmer's market (boo! even if there's cider doughnuts, WHICH THERE ARE.) Mommy and baby wake up at 11:30am; Daddy and child return soon thereafter.

Then: lunch. Child, who has been on a slow-n-steady candy bender since Halloween, is acting crazy-like. Her new tactic: repeatedly shrieking her commands, ie., PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE! or NO NO NO NO NO! As if being murdered, when in fact she is merely being helped with the zipper on her jacket. But anyway. Child to nap by 1pm. Baby is juggled between parents, who attempt to eat lunch and tidy up a little, until 3pm -- afternoon nap time. Mommy (still needs extra rest) and baby go back to nap just exactly as child wakes up. Child goes off to watch more TV with dozing sofa-Daddy. 5pm, Mommy and baby wake up. It is now too late to do anything except the fastest and most essential errands. Mommy preps laundry; Daddy takes out trash and delivers laundry; Mommy makes dinner; family eats dinner. Now: bedtime. Mommy takes baby, Daddy takes child, bedtime prep occurs, good-nights are said. Parents return to collapse on sofa, exhausted. It is 8pm.

We watch TV and browse the internet until way past our bedtimes, because really, there must be more to life than this.

No wonder we're turning into the Bickery McBickersons.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Baby is clapping! And falling.

Here is a video of 9-month-old Nate clapping. He just started doing this today, and he can do it on command, unlike the "waving" that seems to be just a fun thing his hands like to do in their spare time. The best part of the video is at the very end, when I let him plummet head-first off the sofa (INTO MY WAITING ARMS! I SWEAR!) If only I'd thought to shoot the thing in 3-D, you know?

What's most shocking about the video is that it doesn't include Lula busting in and grabbing the baby/camera/spotlight for herself. She was using the bathroom at the time. She can use the toilet without any parental help! If you don't expect her to wash her hands, that is. Or flush. Or even wipe. (We're working on it.)

My mastitis is getting better, thanks. I still feel pretty damn worn out, and I still have a sore area. And the antibiotics are making my stomach upset -- have to go get some (doomed!) L. acidophilus pills to replace my own murdered intestinal flora. Sorry, beneficial microscopic bacteria. (What would Buddha say?)

By the way, it turns out mastitis is a serious (though not literal) headache for your modern dairy farmer. The top sponsored link on the Google results page for "mastitis antibiotics" is an ad for Hoof Trimming School (labeled with the disconcerting URL www.chutesunlimited.com.) They sell Udder Comfort Sprayable mastitis cream, but I'm hoping it doesn't come to that.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaBloPoMo plus mastitis.

So back when I signed up to post a blog post every day this month, I was all healthy and full of promise and can-do spirit. Then, the night before Halloween (AKA All Hallow's Eve's Eve) I was felled by mastitis. My symptoms included severe localized breast pain, chills, full-body aches, fever, insomnia, and (best part!) serious bouts of vomiting. It was the worst I've felt since I was in a labor, and I know that's not saying much, since labor is the worst pain ever and the last time I was in it was only 9 months ago, but STILL. It was horrible.

The treatment is antibiotics (got 'em over the phone from my doc, thankfully), hot compresses, and lots and lots of rest. The sleeping thing is hard, because Nate, with his constant state of teething, cold-having, and almost-crawling, has been waking up every hour or so all night long.

OK, so my first NaBloPoMo post is all complain-y and whatnot. I'm hoping to get that sort of post out of my system in the early days in order to let the good ol' funny and true flow forth the rest of the month. And for now, I'm going to eat dinner and watch The Office. Nothing to complain about there.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I don't like you anymore!

Things Tallulah has declared she doesn't like anymore:
Cats ("They're mean; they fight.")
Dogs ("They look at me.")
Nate ("He grabs things.")
Mommy (too many reasons to name)
Daddy (ditto)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

There's a first time for everything.

A lot of firsts have happened to our family recently.

For Nate:
First night waking up only once: one night last week, though he then woke up for the day at 5:00am. Still: E for Effort.
First teeth: His two lower front teeth finally broke through this past weekend. They feel like a wee serrated knife. Poor little babe is chewing on anything he can reach and is drooling constantly.
First real food: 3 weeks ago. His response was immediately enthusiastic, with wide open mouth, active swallowing, and reaching both hands out to grab the spoon for more. So far, peas are a favorite, and sweet potatoes not so much, though he'll still eat them.
First "swim:" at Lake George. First exposure to the cold lake water resulted in a firmly negative response (i.e. instant pathetic wailing.) The next day, he was able to be slowly eased in, with a much better result. This baby loves water much like his sister, who always loved her bath, cold water, and getting wet.

For Lula:
First time sleeping with a book: This started a few weeks ago. Books she has bestowed this most high honor upon include Arielle's Hannukah Surprise and an old book of fairy tales titled It Happened One Day.
First time sleeping without wearing a diaper: Started about a month ago as an experiment. She has yet to wet the bed, though we only go diaper-free for naps at this point. She still wears pull-ups at night.

For the whole family:
First time breaking down on the NY Thruway, waiting an hour on the shoulder for a tow truck, and then riding inside the broken car on the back of the flat-bed tow truck (bouncy!) as it drove to the nearest Toyota dealership. Yeah. That was a fun day. It happened just past the Tappan Zee Bridge (coincidentally the site of my only other car-breaking-down experience) as we were making our way up to Lake George. One emergency car rental later and we were on our way. Turns out that when your Mass Air Flow Sensor blows, the gas pedal stops working. And that lesson was brought to you by about six hundo in hard cash money.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I've been holding out on you.

Scott put a whole mess-load (around 80) of pics up on Flickr. They're from the past five months. The photo set is here but note that it's in reverse chronological order... if you know how to fix that, please leave a comment. I spared you the shot of my (or is it considered Nate's? maybe it's both of ours) placenta, burgeoning in a bowl at the hospital, as well as many dozens of shots taken by Tallulah. The girl has no sense of composition. Or even of how to keep her finger out of the frame. But damn does she loves the camera.

So enjoy the photos. The Family is getting excited about our annual Quaker retreat at Lake George next week. Should be full of swimming and running around and sleep troubles, but we have to take the good with the bad. As my friend Alice's mom used to always say, "laughter is always followed by tears." So, so true.

And! It's time to start feeding Nate "real food." That's in quotes because the nasty fluffy rice-powder that smells like pennies doesn't really count as food to anyone past the age of five months. I'll be attempting to spoon some thin gruel into his gob this very afternoon. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Death and sad music.

Apologies for the lack of posts. We had the memorial service for my grandmother, which involved a lot of work in advance on my part: I had to transcribe an hour-long interview I did with her seven years ago. And then we had to make the actual 7-hour trip up to New Hampshire. We stayed at my dad's cousin's house, an 18th century farmhouse plus barn and working organic farm set on a hilltop. Gorgeous. We picked broccoli right out of the ground. There was also a puppy. I'll try to get pictures up on Flickr soon.

But the memorial service itself brought up a lot of questions for Tallulah. I had tried to prepare her for it in advance, but I had forgotten that she had no experience with churches and church services. The whole solemn scene, plus the "sad" organ music and hymns, clearly freaked her out a bit. Plus she kept asking, finally, "why did Gramma Neanie die?" and "where is she now?" during the actual service, while the minister or one of my parents spoke and Nate squirmed and fussed on my lap. The questions continued for days, and many stories were requested (and told) about people/animals dying and memorial services and the relatives being sad but remembering happy times with the person, etc. We focussed on how "Gramma Neanie's body stopped working because she was very old," trying to forestall the leap of logic that will eventually lead her to "someday mommy and daddy will die, too" and "someday *I* will die!" (I hope to get a handle on these in my own mind at some point.) It seems to have worked, as have our vague descriptions of an afterlife in which the dead person is happy all the time; she never panicked or had nightmares, at least, and the questions about it all have ceased, at least for now. She was a delight at the reception after the memorial service, though, taking off her shoes and trying to walk in some swim flippers she took from a Sunday school display.

Still. I am sadder than I expected about my grandmother Nean's death, considering that I knew that for many years she had been looking forward to the end of her physical suffering and frailty. She was the grandparent I was closest too, even though visits with her always made me anxious; she doted on me and my sister, as her only grandchildren, and put us under a lot of scrutiny, I felt, because of that. And she was a rather traditional person with very specific ideas of how things should be. My sister wrote a great post about her here.

My grandmother's wish was to have her body cremated, and my parents picked up the box of her ashes right before the memorial service. It was in a white paper shopping bag with a green clip art image of a droopy shade tree on it. It was strongly reminiscent of the image on the card our veterinarian's crematorium sent us after our cat died. Seeing it made me physically and existentially ill; a person reduced to a small box of ashes in a shopping bag. I know, it was only her body. But the truth is that she is completely and utterly gone.

We will return to the New Hampshire farm in the fall to scatter Nean's ashes. She wanted them scattered in the same spot -- a wooded mountainside stream in upstate NH -- as her husband's were scattered. After that I don't know when, if ever, I'll go back there again.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Language policegirl

Walking home from day care. The store I need to buy nursing pads from, Boing Boing, has decided to close 15 minutes early.

Me: Man! I can't believe Boing Boing closed early!
Lula: Dang it, Mommy! Boing Boing closed early!
Me: Shoot! Boing Boing closed early!
Lula: (seriously) Mommy, don't say shoot.

(At least I didn't say the word "stupid," which Tallulah has forbidden to be used in her presence.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Also, if you say you're sorry, you're allowed to do it again.

After the kids had some semi-unsupervised play today I noticed a suspiciously bite-like mark on Nate's arm. Nate hadn't cried, and he's been grabbing everything he can reach and put into his mouth; I thought it was possibly self-inflicted. But Lula was the more likely culprit. I asked Lula. "Is this a bite mark? Did you bite Nate's arm?"
"No. But if I scratched him or poked him by accident, and it left a mark, that would be OK, right?"
Um. Right...?

In other news, Tallulah decided a couple of days ago (Monday, to be exact, while at day care) that she no longer wants to wear diapers. So we've been diaper-free, except for sleep time, since then! There have only been a couple of minor accidents thus far. I'm genuinely proud. Sad, huh? The only thing is we're about to take a road trip up to New Hampshire, since my grandmother died, and it's her memorial service this weekend. So I had to buy a portable mini-potty -- basically a ring, with folding feet, that supports a plastic bag into which a child can pee and poop. Lovely! And then you save the bag for ever and ever. "Remember that time in Vermont when we couldn't find a rest stop?" we'll say, years later. "The smell of this bag of poop really takes me back."

UPDATE: a couple hours after I posted this, I WATCHED Lula lean over and bite Nate (somewhat gently) on the cheek. He started whimpering a little. I yelled out for Lula to stop ("HEY!"), and she did; I said, "Did you just bite your brother on the cheek?" and she said, flat out, "No." I told her I had just! seen her! biting him! And I had told her not to, before! How do you teach a kid to tell the truth? Or to listen to you? I mean, I know you use punishments and rewards and you follow through and all that -- it's not a complete free-for-all over here. But still. This parenting thing is hard work.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Stories.

Lula has been working on understanding some abstract concepts. Her way to understand things is to hear stories about them, and the fact that she knows that about herself and can ask for such stories directly is what blows my mind. Basically she has figured out that the best way to understand a word is to hear it in context. In a variety of contexts, really, since she asks for stories on the same subjects again and again. Recent favorite topics include:
shy dogs
details
labyrinth (that one came out of nowhere)
reasons

And after the hastily-improvised and very simple story has concluded Lula invariably asks for "the rest." Even if the plot has clearly wrapped up, all problems resolved, characters gone to bed, evildoers reformed, etc., there must still be more. And after the story has been extended past all reason, she commands: "Again." She likes the stories, is what I'm saying.

BTW, Lula's sleep situation has improved a lot. Scott figured out that he could do a modified Ferber method with her: tell her that he'd be back to check on her in three minutes, then five, then ten... and once she fell asleep (judged via a lack of chatter on the monitor), he'd just stop checking on her. Worked like a charm.

For the baby, we're helping him learn how to sleep at this very moment. The less said about that the better.

I leave you with another thing I never thought I'd have to say: Don't lick ANYTHING in the playground. (I mean, REALLY, people.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

We have a problem.

And the problem is that our kids don't like to sleep. Actually, I guess that wouldn't be a problem if I didn't like to sleep, myself, so maybe I'm the one with the problem. It would probably be easier for me to stop needing sleep than to get both children to sleep well.

Nate is asleep in his room right now. He naps OK in his crib during the day, you see. But around 6/7:00 at night he develops a sleepiness allergy. He begins to squeal and scream and shriek as if being murdered. For reals. And once he is (finally) nursed/patted/walked/bounced into unconsciousness, he will wake up instantly if placed in his crib. So he has to stay on one of us to sleep. Fun times.

It's a lot like how his sister used to be, not coincidentally. Her sleep problem has matured into a willful refusal to go to bed. Naptime is relatively OK, but nighttime is a horror show, and it has been for a long, long time. We do our nightly pre-bedtime routine, tuck her in, turn down the lights, kiss her good-night, and shut her door. Within a few minutes she's out and in the living room, asking for one stuffed animal or another, or for a drink of water, or to have her blanket placed upon her just so. If we have convinced her to stay in her bed (through a variety of threats/bribes/cajolings) she will scream out for us, sobbing: "Mommmmmeeeeeee! Dadddddeeeeeeee! Somebody come sit with me!!!!!" And if we give in, through our own weakness or pity or shame or exhaustion, and come in and sit next to her, in the dark, while she falls asleep? Well: she will try very hard to get us to talk to her. She will ask questions that are so random and charming that you will be tricked into answering them. "What color pants are you wearing, Mommy?" "Where's Daddy?" "What are you having for dinner?" "Tell me a story about shy dogs!" "What should I dream about, Mommy?"

And if you successfully ignore her questions and you can stop her singing to herself (and even the quietest singing counts, yes even humming) and you just stay there in the quiet darkness, with her all snuggled up under the covers with all the appropriate stuffed animals and sippy cups nearby, well, sleep must surely follow, right? No. Perhaps you will stay there for 10 minutes. Perhaps 30. Maybe even longer. Then her breathing will be regular and deep and you will try to leave, and as soon as you stand up she will murmur "don't go!" and if you tell her good-night and continue to leave she will begin to scream and howl just like she did BEFORE you sat with her. So what, exactly, was the point?

Eventually she does fall asleep, but it's due to some mysterious alchemy, some ever-changing specific combo of moves and tones of voice and words and timing. And after all that, more often than not, she will wake up during the night crying, again, needing more attention.

Add up the Lula and Nate bedtime situations and you have a complete and absolute nightmare. Obviously it requires both parents to devote their evenings to the children's sleeping projects. Once we get Lula down Scott and I have about an hour before our own bedtimes, and we spend that hour sharing baby duty. It. Just. Sucks.

I was going to make this post funny, somehow, but our sad daily reality is so bleak that I just can't. Here's what I am hoping: that Nate will grow out of this, and one day I'll put him down to sleep at night and he'll actually stay asleep. And then Lula will see him sleeping in his own bed and not getting extra attention from Mommy, and she'll decide that this nightly struggle isn't worth it. If anyone out there has some helpful and loving advice, I'd like to hear it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Where's My Mommy? Where's My Mommy?

Object pairs (one large, one small) that have been anthropomorphized into Mother/Baby dyads during pretend play with my daughter Tallulah:
• French Fries
• Forks
• Spoons
• L-brackets
Woody figures (as in "Mommy Woody" and "Baby Woody")
• Binder Clips
Slinkies
• Twigs

Scott would like it noted that there is never a "Father" object.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Perceptive Infant

Yesterday was Nate's third visit to NYU's Infant Perception Lab. While I was recovering from labor at NYU Medical Center I was asked to volunteer my child for these experiments, and I said Yes! For what we need more of is Science! This time, as with the other times, Nate sat on my lap and was shown various objects on a computer screen while his reactions/looking times were recorded. The theory behind all of this is that babies will look longer at objects that are new and interesting, and thus the researchers can see, for example, if babies can tell that a 3-D object is impossible (a la Escher). But the twist this time was that they wouldn't let me look at the screen, lest I subconsciously effect Nate's reactions with my jostling/holding/shushing him. Afterwards it was revealed that it was a test of gender differences in spatial acuity. Hello! It turns out that boys perform better on spacial tests than girls, and they're trying to figure out how early this starts, and thus whether it's due to nature or nurture or some combo of the two.

The test showed Nate a complex 3-D shape (like a couple of 3-D Tetris pieces stuck together) rotating back and forth. Once he was bored with that, he was shown the reverse side of the 3-D shape alternated with a MIRROR IMAGE of the 3-D shape. I personally couldn't tell the difference, but Nate could! He looked longer at (thus was more interested in) the mirror image shape, because it was "new" to him! Pretty incredible. Though I'm hoping he was better at this not because I am a lady and he is a boy but because I was only shown the shapes for a second or two and he had a couple of minutes to study them. But still: 3 months old, and he can notice these things. See what Science has already taught us?

Afterwards I took a bus over to the Giant Robot store(s) and bought me some more Japanese capsule toys. I am such a sucker for the Asian toy design. I bought another Wan Room toy and some more Rice Ball toys (image seemingly unavailable on the entire WWW.) In more adult news, I have also now bought a total of six pieces of art from the Giant Robot New York gallery, including four different prints from the current show, which is about to close but which you can browse here.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Day for the Mothers.

For Mother's Day I received a drawing of myself on fire (from Tallulah) and my son's first laugh (from Nathaniel.) Scott got him chuckling by taking his feet and touching them to his nose. The feet and the nose both belonged to Nate, in that situation there.

Lula's been trying to figure out what makes something funny. I've been teaching her different jokes and she then riffs on the jokes, substituting various nouns and verbs so that the resulting new joke is completely meaningless.

Original Joke: Why did the girl throw the butter out the window? Because she wanted to see a butterfly!
Lula Version: Why did the butter throw the cream cheese out the window? Because she wanted to see a chair!
So basically she doesn't understand the original joke to begin with, is what I'm sensing.

She also goes off on these Guess What benders, with each "joke" followed by her loud fake laughter. Guess what? Chicken butt! Guess what? Mommy butt! Guess what? Chair butt! Guess what? Toilet! Guess what? Car!

It is true that the adults around her are constantly giggling at Lula even when she isn't making jokes. We laugh in delight at her cuteness. We laugh because she has a precocious vocabulary and a very adorable voice. We laugh because She Thinks She's People. We adults are not helping her figure out what is actually humorous and what is merely delightful. She is also only 3 years old.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New attraction at the Mollusk House

Scott: Tell me a story about the clam and the oyster.
Lula: One day there was a clam walking through the forest. And the hunter trapped him and took him to a zoo. And he put him in a wall -- a unicorn wall. The unicorn made a tunnel wall but the clam was stuck there. The clam stayed there and no one could help him. The End.
Me: Wait! I want to hear the rest!
Lula: I can't.
Me: But that's sad, that the clam is stuck in the zoo and no one can help him.
Lula: The End.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Heart like a sieve

Finally took Nate to a pediatric cardiologist yesterday to check up on the heart murmur he was diagnosed with at birth. The doc was at Brooklyn Hospital which is located a good 15 minutes' walk from the nearest bus stop. That's the Achille's heel of Ft. Greene, if you ask me. But anyway. The nurses there weighed him (17.5 lb.! f'n heavy!) and measured him (26.75 in.! huge!) and checked the oxygen saturation of his blood (100! apparently that's adequate!) Then they stuck stickers all over his naked little torso and attached alligator-clamped wires to the stickers, thus turning him into one of those pod-babies whose energy is destined to be harvested by The Machines. Except cuter; you can see the cell-phone pic here.

The take-away is that he's fine. He still has a couple of pin-sized holes in his ventricular septum, but they'll probably heal up over time, and even if they don't, nothing could or should be done about them. The doc referred to the defects as "squeakers" because they sound like a tiny "squeak" during the heartbeat, instead of a big whoosh of a more serious heart murmur.

The saddest tidbit (that's the title of my new children's book, BTW: The Saddest Tidbit) is that the doc and nurses kept remarking on Nate's great size and robustness. Not because he's a fat baby (which he is) but because the babies they usually see are seriously premature and thus very weak and tiny. To his credit Nate was happy and smiling throughout the procedure, even when his mom was on the verge of starting to maybe freak out a little.

In closing I thought I'd throw out here a Thing I Never Thought I'd Have To Say:
"Stop rubbing cheese on your feet."

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I fixed a lamp!

I fixed a lamp today. The switch part no longer switched, so I bought a new one and replaced the old one with it. I figured out how to do it just by taking apart the old, broken one and re-doing that with the new one. I did have to learn the Underwriter's Knot, though.

Today was Nate's first time at Quaker Meeting. He slept on me (in the Bjorn) the entire time, and snored on and off. He is generally a noisy baby.

After we returned from meeting (a bus ride away) Lula was stumble-drunkily tired. She tripped while trying to walk in front of the sofa and decided to just get comfy and fall asleep where she lay. It was pathetic. She hadn't eaten lunch yet, so when I carried her to her bed, she kept saying "I'm not hungry, OK? I just want to sleep, OK?" Like, yes, normally I would hold your eyelids open and force-feed you some pizza bites, but in this case I'll make a special exception. Sheesh.

BTW, I originally typed "it's a bed rude away" in the previous paragraph, there.

Lula made up a joke today:
Knock Knock!
(who's there?)
Toilet!
(Toilet who?)
Toilet the real toilet!

I don't get it either.

Time to crawl into my bed rude and collapse where I fall. G'night, folks!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Unfortunate Likeness.

My son Nathaniel, who is 3 months old, is very large for his age. He's a fat, long, hefty-size baby. Very solid. And when he is awake and relaxed, his jowls droop and his lower lip pouts and he looks uncannily like this fellow.

At least he's a Rebel, all rolling with Lando and Admiral Ackbar and whatnot.

Please, not another blog.

Yeah, that's right. Another blog. And I'm a mommy, no less! Which makes this a Mommy Blog! Suck on it, internets!