Monday, November 22, 2010

Pink and Purple Foxes

Lately we've started telling stories to each other. It started one day when Lily was playing with a little Xmas ornament I made that looks like a book but folds out into a 3-dimensional star.  She said there were stories in it and I should read them to her.  So I started making up stories and she loved it! 

I suddenly felt like a real writer.  I have those moments, when I finish a piece of writing I am really proud of, and I feel like my membership has been renewed in the club of writers.  But this was even better.  I was improvising, just winging it.  Like a musician jamming.  Which I never ever did when I was a percussionist (drummer).  I just wasn't capable of it.  But here I was, making up a story about Lily and how she went for a walk in the woods and met a bunny and a doggie and they had many adventures.  And, OMG, the look of utter delight on her face!  Her whole body perked up, like a flower opening in sunlight.

And then she started breaking in and telling me what happened next! I love it!  She's really got a good imagination.  I guess I'm not rotting her brain with an hour of PBS a day...Today she told me a story about her and her 3 foxes, a purple boy fox named Beejee, who wears a pink collar, a pink girl fox named Ada, who wears a purple collar, and a Grandpa fox who is red, named Lightning McQueen.  The foxes live in a cave in the woods.  They eat dogs and baby foxes and leaves and acorns.  (Hey, nature is not pretty.)  It was amazing. 

She also has two dogs in her adventures, one named Froujou and one named Vegetable.

Oh my God, I just love this stuff.  Three is an amazing age.  She is an amazing child.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick-or-Treat Time

Ready to go trick-or-treatin'

See, there's our pumpkins (and our cool Snoopy flag)

Here's our windows. Lily picked the Mickey Mouse decoration out at the store, and the bright orange one below that is fake, but the "Oh"-faced pumpkin is mine.  In the next window, you can see the monkey-faced pumpkin with the big mouth and little eyes, and next to it is a plastic one that has clown hair, which you can't see very well here.  But imagine it's funny.

Here's the third pumpkin, Lily's scary face one.  And next to it, an open flame.  We like to have fires burning in the house...okay, it's a fake flame in a witchy cauldron.  But it looks pretty real!

Happy Halloween!

Space Ghost, Puppy, and Pirate!  This is from a week ago, when we went to a Halloween game party.  Lily won first prize in her age group, a jar of homemade pear raspberry jam.  I won in my category, too!  I got a jar of brandied pears, yum!  And even better, the adulation of everyone there (the judging was by clapping). 

Dad and Lily carving pumpkins today.

Working on the monkey-face pumpkin.

The Persistence of Ice Packs

I use them almost every day on my head.  And Lily notices.  Sometimes she even gets one for me.  Last night I was lying on the couch with one and she was playing with John, when he put a pillow they were playing with on his forehead.

"No, that's not like a ice pack!" Lily said to him, indignantly. 

We both burst out laughing, to which she said, "No! Don't laugh!  It's not funny, it's sad!"

Which only made us laugh harder.  She finally started laughing with us, because she likes to laugh, but boy, was she ever adamant in her views.  Funny and sad are the most popular emotions with her right now.  Of course, she is mad a lot as well, but she mostly notices mad only when we are mad at her.

We think she might be going through a growth spurt latley, as she has been Miss CrankyPants at a moment's notice, and cries a lot when she doesn't get her way.  It seems to come out of nowhere most of the time, like you put her blanket on wrong, and in the past when she's been like this, it's been a growth spurt.  Of course, you don't really know if it's a brain spurt or a body spurt, but they both seem to have the same effect.

Friday, October 29, 2010


"I'm squeezing my neck so I can burp."

Ah.  Of course you are. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Channeling Bob Fosse?

Okay, I know it's been forever since I posted here.  And I need to catch up with pictures, yadda yadda.  How about not?  How about if I just start from where I am?  Yeah, let's.

So, Lily's favorite thing to say lately, for no apparent reason is, "Then four, then five, then six, then seven..."  It's so cute, it's like she's dancing, or directing someone dancing.  She does like to dance, and to do this one pose where she's leaning over with her hands on the floor, and one leg up in the air.  "Look what I can do!" she'll say.

She's really enjoying preschool and seems to be making friends.  She's starting to remember the other kids' names.  She goes twice a week in the morning from 9-1:30pm. 

Tonight her preschool is doing a "Lantern Walk" around the lake that's by the school.  Each child made a lantern out of paper mache and a long tree branch.  They're really beautiful, and she's very proud of hers.  I'm impressed!  John will be going to the event with her but I won't.  Mommy guilt!!!  But I needed a book club, and the one I joined just happens to meet tonight, so I'll miss a school event!  Oh, the horror!  But I NEED it.  It's hard to balance Lily's needs with mine. 

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Playin' Toys

Rockin' with the chick. And he has party beads on, too!
OK, that was a funny face, now how about a smile?

Am I not devilishly cute?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Whole Thing

Yesterday, as Lily was lying on top of me, my arms wrapped around her holding her as she was squirming to get comfortable, getting ready to nap, she suddenly held up her head, looked at me, and said, very seriously, "Mom? I'm dreaming about my WHOLE life!"

In the Family

Nora, the young woman who comes to care for Lily a couple afternoons a week, and has been doing so for more than two years now, is going away to college in a couple weeks. Nora is like a part of our family now, and it's going to be so hard to see her go. She'll be back on holidays and I know she'll want to sit for Lily then, and not just because she'll need the money! Still, I know it's going to be a huge adjustment.

Enter Martin: her brother! He came over today with Nora for the first time, after Nora and her parents convinced him to meet Lily and see that she was a wonderful child, not at all like the terror he babysat a few years ago who soured him on being a sitter for small children.

Well, of course he loved her immediately. At least that's how I saw it. I mean, who wouldn't? When I asked him how he thought it went at the end of the afternoon, he said it went well and that he "actually had fun." He seemed pleasantly surprised. Hooray! And Lily had great fun with him. Oh, yeah, and of course I liked him. He seems like a sweetheart. And Cocoa likes him, too.

I am so happy this is working out. Nora and family just moved, so now they only live 4 blocks away. Perfect! He doesn't even have to worry about transportation, he can walk if he wants/has to.

I found Nora because she is the daughter of one of my art friends, and I really love their family. So I'm very pleased that we're sort of keeping it in the family even though Nora is leaving. And this will keep us closer to Nora, too, even when she's away.

I feel very blessed right now.

Potty Trained!!

YES! Except for overnight, Lily has been using the potty since the day after T. came over to play last week. T. is already potty trained and I think it had some effect on Lily somehow, making her finally decide that she was going to use the potty instead of the diaper. Let the angels sing!

And she doesn't even need us to ask her if she has to go, and we don't have to do the Nazi potty thing, where you take the child to the potty and make them sit on it every half hour for three days and then they're supposedly trained. Nope. I never wanted to do that anyway. When I heard that as a potty training method, I was like, "You're kidding." I always wanted to just show her how to do it and then let her decide when she was ready. And darnit, it worked! She just suddenly was ready. She knows when she has to go, and tells us. If I ask her if she has to go, she'll say, "Don't ask me that, Mom." And she's doing poop in the potty just as easily as pee. It's glorious.

And she's very proud of herself, which I love. If she goes by herself, then when she's done, she'll call me up to see, and she'll be holding the potty with her pee and poo in it to show me.

She has no problems with naps, either. Still not quite there with overnight, but that will come.

We're ready to move the changing table out of her room NOW! Hey, we need another bookcase (or two, or three) for all the books we get her, I'm proud to say. John just got a good haul of probably 20 books at a garage sale from a Montessori school, and I get her books every time I go to the thrift store.

I still remember that crazy mom in the ECFE class I hated, saying that yes, you could have too many books. She said it so authoritatively and condenscendingly. Well poop on that! You can not have too many books, especially for a child. Lily is excited about books, loves to read them, and is already sitting by herself sometimes looking at her books. That makes me so happy to see that.

So, next step: wiping. Yeah, too bad that isn't as straightforward as sitting on the potty. The whole wiping front to back thing is going to take quite a while, I think. That's okay. Being out of diapers is a huge step.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Last Poop

Oh, what a fiasco! The poop sampling, I mean. The last one was just a keystone cops of poop, I tell you.

First, I had "help." From Lily, that is. Somehow I'd managed the other samples while she was busy with Daddy or out of the house. Not this time. And was she ever curious. "Let me see your poop!" Well, what are you gonna say? I mean, I see her poop all the time. And she's proud of it, lately, because she's pooping in her little potty. She'll close the door and you have to wait outside, then she'll bring her potty to you--"Look at the poop I made!" It seemed cruel to tell her that adults really don't get that excited about poop.

Second, I'm valiantly attempting not to thwart my child's curiosity, or warp her idea of poop, when I hear the little hat fall into the toilet. You know what I mean, right? The little hat they give you to go into that hangs under the toilet seat but over the water? Yeah, well, it fell in. Super. So I'm trying to retreive it without it falling all the way in and submerging, rendering my sample inadmissible. I manage to save some of it, so I set it aside.

Third. I flush the rest of the crap, and the toilet overflows. Son of a ! The water is rising and I'm trying frantically to shut off the valve and I can't remember which way to turn the knob! I know it's righty tighty, lefty loosy, but is it righty offy, lefty onny, or vice versa?! I somehow manage to cut it off before it gets to the top. I get the plunger, which turns out to be a floppy piece of crap that turns inside out with each push, and Lily is meanwhile asking what I'm doing and why, and my patience is being severely tested. Then I hear Nora arrive downstairs. Oh, joy, let's have a poop party where everyone in the neighborhood gets to see Mommy's poop!! I send Lily downstairs to intercept Nora, but of course Lily brings her upstairs to see this fascinating event!

I tell her "You don't want to come in here" and leave it at that, and luckily she is able to get Lily to go downstairs to play, instead of staying to watch Mommy play with her poop.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Stool Sample

This is the most disgusting thing I've ever had to do. And here's the thing: it's not Lily's poop I have to collect. If it was, I wouldn't blink. It would be fine. But it's mine! And that grosses me out in a way that would never gross me out if it was Lily's. And that has really made me think. I mean, what the heck? Shouldn't it be easier to do mine? No, it isn't. I am intimate with my child's bodily machinations and products in a way that I'm really not with my own. Do I know her body better than my own? Is that strange?

I have some kind of something going on in my gastro thingies. Every time I eat I get horrible stomach cramps and then gas. It's awful. It started over the weekend of July 4th and I had diarrhea and I thought I was gonna die from the cramping. Then the nausea. I ended up going into the ER on the 4th, after not eating for 2 days and getting no sleep for that time either. It was crazy! They couldn't figure it out. I had to have morphine to calm me down from the pain so I could finally rest.

Lily and John went up on the roof of the parking structure at the hospital to see the fireworks while Mommy got her morphine. Hey, we know how to make the best of a bad situation. And she was so good.

So this stool sample thing. I went to the doctor today because after two weeks, I'm still having these cramps and gas, and they wanted all my bodily fluids. I had to take Lily in the bathroom with me to do the pee sample, and I swear, I wouldn't be surprised if she becomes a doctor. She's getting very comfortable with how bodies work. She doesn't flinch when they take her blood at the doctor's, and she was fascinated watching me get my blood taken. She doesn't want to poop in her potty yet (just pee), but she'll tell you she's hiding now (really she's just standing in one spot) because she's making a poop.

The nurse gave me the stool sample pack, and explained how to use the little hat that you put in the toilet to catch your poop. Oh, but there's more. I think it used to be that you just put your poop in a jar or something and brought it in. Not anymore! Now, to save costs, you get to be a lab tech at home! There's two vials of chemicals for each poop you collect, and you gotta scoop it in up to a line on the bottle, then MIX it with the built-in spoon on the lid (kind of like the bubbles you buy at the store, with the bubble wand built in to the lid!), and finally, shake it like some obscene cocktail.

Eeeech!! I am not sharing this process with Lily, lest you worry. Why the hell am I sharing it with you? Well, it's just so gross I had to tell somebody. I mean, I have to mix my poop?? If I wasn't nauseated already, I would be from doing this. It just feels wrong, somehow. Like I should be hiding it. If it was my job to mix poop, that would be different.

Anyway, I just couldn't help but notice how different it was for me to deal with my own poop in contrast to Lily's poop. Mine felt dirtier. Why?

Okay, hopefully you aren't all thinking I'm a crazy person. I am sick right now, so that should count for something. When you're sick with some mystery crap (in this case, literally), you get tired of having to do all these weird tests.

Girl in Raspberry Forest

Here's Lily picking raspberries in our backyard. The branches are 6 feet tall.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Here's our little driver on a weekend morning. Cycling in her jammies! She doesn't mind wearing the helmet, either, which is nice. Probably because she's used to it from riding with it when she rides with Daddy.
She's getting to where she'll ride it to the park, about 4 blocks. It makes her feel really good, and it's fun to see her pedaling really hard to get over the bumps, and just go fast. Of course, pedaling home is excruciatingly slow, as you might expect. It makes Mommy and Daddy a little crazy. Especially when she poops out and you have to carry her AND the tricycle. But still.

"said a little voice"

When Lily was playing with her cars today, one car was looking for another one, and she sort of narrated the missing car's dialogue. She said:

" 'I'm in here,' said a little voice."

It was so funny, both John and I were laughing. And hey, that's some complex thinking. My smartie.

We went to the Maul of 'Merica today cuz it was too dang hot to be outside and besides, I wanted to get her some Lego duplos (the toddler size Legos). She found a set that had vehicles from her favorite movie, Cars, and we've been playing with it for hours now at home tonight. It was a $50 set, but I don't get that many new toys (most come from the thrift store) so I figured I'd splurge. She loooooooooooves this set, so I'm happy.

I have been really sick lately so haven't been posting much. It's hard when I feel too crappy to play, so I'm super happy when I feel good and can play with her.

We went to the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park in the middle of the Maul and went on some rides. We're not into Nick so we don't know all the characters and I resent them because they replaced Camp Snoopy. I mean, The Kite-Eating Tree will always be The Kite-Eating Tree. I don't care if they paint it to be the Backyardigans Swing-Along. It's still The Kite-Eating Tree. So there.

But we had fun on the rides. Lily is just a smidge away (okay, an inch) from the first big cutoff for rides at 39". So we went on the Merry-Go-Round, a pint-sized roller coaster, a car on a crazy track that whipped us around the corners, a nice train that didn't do anything crazy, and this funny little bus that goes up and down on a big hydraulic lift. Lily had fun, and I had a lot of fun, too. I was screaming just to be silly, and then on the bus ride, when it stops at the top before changing direction, I was like "Oh no, we're stuck!" and the kids in front of me turned around and looked very worried for a second or two. It's fun to ham it up when you're a Mom. Kids are not the only ones who can ham it up!

It's probably a good thing we couldn't go on any big rides yet, I'd probably yak and that would be the end of our fun.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


The other day we were all in the park, playing and walking around through the trees. Lily was standing next to me and J. had gone to get something. Lily, tapping her finger to her lips, said, "I'm trying to think of something." Then she looked over at J. walking towards us, and said, "I wish Dad could use his wings to fly."

Poetry. It's beautiful, listening to her put words together to make fascinating sentences. And yet, it also spooked me a bit. It's probably just me being superstitious, but I felt like she was talking about J. like he was an angel, like, as in, dead. Eek! It gave me a little shiver.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Poke in the Eye With a Stick

Yes, that actually is what happened today. Lily was playing with another girl from her ECFE class at a picnic after our last session for this class, and the girl took a stick from Lily's hand and stuck it in her face and before I could jump in to stop her, she had poked Lily in the eye.

Her eye looked fine but she was covering it right afterwards and then a few minutes later she was rubbing it, so I took her in to the ER at Children's Hospital just to be safe. I have scratched my cornea before and it was very painful.

Luckily Lily was excited to go see her doctor. I was very calm and told her we were just going to go see the doctor to make sure her eye was okay, and I tried to make it a normal event, instead of a panicked one.

They checked both eyes, since I told them that she had gotten sand in her eyes a little while before the stick incident, and she was soooooo good letting three different docs and nurses look in her eye with a flashlight. She held still and did exactly what they asked her to do (look up, look down, look to the side), and didn't flinch when they put dye drops in her eyes to do the CSI light to look for scratches. I really don't think she was afraid at all.

So they found two scratches, one of which was about a 1/4 inch long, in her left eye. Hmmph. She doesn't have to be a pirate, but we have to put drops in her eye 4 times a day for 5 days. They hurt a bit when they first go in, so I'm sure she'll get sick of it. But I think we'll manage ok. The drops are to prevent infection while the eye heals, and the doc said these things usually heal pretty quickly. Phew.

The funny thing is, I felt bad for K.'s Mom. She was very concerned and got K. to apologize and explained to her how dangerous it was to poke people, etc., and she asked me several times if Lily was okay. I was of course concerned about Lily, but I didn't want to worry K.'s Mom. Isn't that odd? I just wanted to leave so I could get Lily in the car and then sit in the car and quietly call a triage nurse to ask if I should go to the ER. Which is exactly what I did.

Oh what a long day. I need to finish this tomorrow, but meanwhile I think Lily is okay.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lookit ma belly!


The Magic Word

Last night John was playing with Lily and one of her toys fell on the floor. She demanded he get it and in an effort to encourage manners (she's knows she is supposed to ask nicely and say "please"), he said, "What's the magic word?" With great confidence, she spoke up immediately: "Hocus Pocus!"

Oh my God, I laughed so hard! We had watched a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse edisode that afternoon in which Goofy is being a magician and he keeps forgetting the magic words. Well, Lily remembered!


Oh, she's just so cute! I think she was blowing spit bubbles here. She's standing on the swing in our front porch this morning, and we've taken a short break from making the cars and trains talk. Later they had a party with a piece of playdough cake that we made. Delish!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Mi Amigo

Lily is doing the talking for her toys more and more now, instead of asking Mommy or Daddy to always do it. And the talking toys are very polite. Cars will say to each other,

"What are you doing, my friend?"
"Come with me over here, my friend."
"Let's hide, my friend."

It's so cute, not just how they are all friends with each other, but how she has them address each other so sweetly like this. I almost wish our culture had this kind of polite address, the way more formal cultures do like in Mexico or Japan.

Goodnight, my friends. :)

Make it Talk!

Lily is going through a talking phase right now. Not that she's going to stop talking, but I mean all her toys are talking. And Mommy and Daddy have to make them talk. "Make it talk!" she'll insist. The cars and trains talk a lot. And now it's expanded to EVERYTHING. Not just the toys talk. Her tummy talks a lot:

"My tummy is saying 'I want a cookie!'"
"My tummy is saying 'Let's go to school!'"
"My tummy is saying 'I don't want a nap!'"

Her tummy talks about all sorts of things, the least of which might be food. And then she'll tell us to make her body parts talk. "Make it talk," she'll say, holding up a foot. But that's not all. When I give her two shirts to choose from, I have to shake them and make them say "Pick me! Pick me!" She loves that. The other day I was asked to make her bite of oatmeal talk. Of course, it said, "Eat me! Eat me!" It was like I was in Alice in Wonderland.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Lily was getting her diaper changed the other day and John said she was talking about her bottom, and called her two butt cheeks her "butties." I love these words she makes up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nice Kitty

Here's another great picture from the Zoo trip. It's a leopard. And it' close! No glass, just fences. And look at how gorgeous this cat is, that wonderfully long tail, and the regal stature. Wow. Lily was somewhat impressed.

"My Bed Needs Me!"

Lily likes to delay going to sleep at night by switching back and forth between "Baby's bed" and "Daddy's bed" (it's Daddy's because most of the time lately I'm sleeping downstairs on the couch with a headache). And there's a point where we say NO MORE SWITCHING.

So the other day Lily was going through this routine at naptime, and I told her that was it, she was stuck with Daddy's bed. She tried to wriggle away and I put my arm around her and tried to hold her. She was protesting loudly when she came up with her latest plea for pushing the rules: "My bed needs me!" I laughed so hard that I couldn't hold her, then she was laughing and her fit was over.

She did win. We went to Baby's bed. But she did go to sleep.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lily at the Zoo

Lily sittin' on a tiger statue. We saw two tigers, walking around. It was wonderful weather that day, sunny and about 60 degrees. Although some animals were sleeping, a lot were active.

Here's Lily and a soft-shell turtle looking at each other. This turtle was really fun to watch. He hides under the sand and all you see is either his head or his tiny snout. Then when he comes out, it's like he appears out of nowhere. We got to see him come out and then bury himself again after swimming around. He was fascinating, and Lily enjoyed watching him. When the turtle looked at her, she said, "He likes me." I love it when she says that. It's so life-affirming, and it shows a confidence in herself that makes me happy.

Here's Lily looking into an exhibit with little turtles. I love how they made this rope mesh down low where the little kids could look through safely without having to be held up by a parent to see. This zoo is the best designed one I've seen for being inclusive of little kids.


For Mother's Day, I decided I wanted to do something to celebrate being a Mom, to go have fun with my family. So we went to the Minnesota Zoo. We hadn't been there before, and it was fabulous, so much so that we bought a membership before we left.
Lily had a wonderful time, and I just drank it in, watching her having so much fun. She didn't really get bored for very long when we were moving from exhibit to exhibit, because they have so many play areas and little tunnels and caves and viewing spots that only little kids can get into. She was having such a good time that she started making up words and just playing with language. She was learning a lot of new words, like wolverine and lynx and takin, and although she already knew what a camel was, when we saw them, she happily renamed them: "They're humper-lumpers!" she said.
It was a highlight of the day. We love it when she makes up words, and this one's a keeper.

Friday, May 7, 2010

People Who Don't Have Kids

Argh! I am feeling pissy because of one of the above mentioned people. And plus I have a migraine. BUT! This in no way means that this person is not deserving of my mommy wrath.

I went to the post office, my little local neighborhood post office that my friend S. is always telling me is so great and they're nice to her and interested when she brings in mail gong interesting places and...they are never nice to me! I hate it. I am always nice, never in a hurry (which is good, since they seem to move like molasses), and yet.

So today I come in with Lily and while I'm getting postage on a couple things going to Japan, Lily finds a Mickey Mouse and Pluto mailer behind me on the wall, and brings it over to show me. Fine, nice. Then she brings an armful. Shit. So we bring them back to hang back up on the wall, only all the holes to hang them by are ripped. So I set them on the floor against the wall. Meanwhile the woman at the counter is saying, "Yeah, can you not have him do that [strike 1, you called my daughter a boy, although I don't know why this pisses me off so much, it just does]." Thanks for the suggestion. Then she wants me to hang them back up. I tell her I can't, that the holes are ripped. "Well, then he did it, because I just hung those up this morning." Super. So I ask, "Well, do I need to buy them?" I'm willing to do this if it's necessary. I take responsibility for my kid. "No," she grumbles. And can hardly talk to me in a civil manner the rest of the transaction.

Well, pissy pissy piss. While she was telling me to keep "him" from pulling down the envies from the wall, she says that the kids tend to rip the holes they hang by when they pull them down. Well, so, it's happened before. So maybe you should NOT hang them down there, huh? Did that ever fuckin' occur to ya? I mean, c'mon, it's low hanging fruit, and it's got fuckin' Disney characters on it! It's 2 feet off the floor. Of course the little kids are going to pull it down! Duh!

I was just fuming when I left, and had to consciously slow down, so I wouldn't take it out on Lily, who really had committed a minor infraction. It's not like they can't sell the stupid mailers now. They just can't hang them up on the wall. Well, cry me a river, lady. Get a plastic holder for them and hang that on the wall, like the other mailers. I know she probably talked about me after I left. Like I was such a bad mother. Meanwhile, I'm out in the rain, trying to strap HER into the car seat, and we're parked on the street and it's raining hard and the cars are zooming by and splashing me and Lily wants to play pretend driver. I'm patiently explaining that this is not a good time to play pretend driver.

I wish I had a nice post office to go to. And that people weren't such idiots. Wow, am I ever crabby.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"Can I Fit Through This Butthole?"

I thought that's what she said, but I thought I must be hearing her wrong, so I asked her "What did you say?" about three times. I didn't really want to repeat what I thought I heard and have her decide that although that's not what she said, my version was more fun.

But I finally had to say it, and sure enough, that's what she said. "What do you mean?" I asked, making an effort to control my face muscles so that I would not look horrified. Then she showed me.

We were sitting at the table and she was on a chair with a back that was open on the bottom half. She was on her knees on the chair, and wanted to know if I thought she could climb through the back, or butt hole. Phew! It's a pretty apt description, really. i mean, if someone is sitting in the chair, what do you see if you look through the back of the chair? A butt.

Sure enough, she fit through the butt hole.

(p.s. Think I could get Reader's Digest to pay me for this funny story? Heh.)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hoppy Oppy Boppy!

That is one of Lily's favorite sound combinations right now. She's a singin' toddler. She loves to sing right now, and she'll make something up, just a couple words or even nonsense words like her favorites, and she'll say, "That's my best song." John told me she was singing to one of her stuffed animals and told it "I'm singing you my best song."

I love this marvelous, simple joy. She'll ask us to sing with her sometimes, and when I do, I realize and remember the joy of just making something up to sing (I was a notorious late-night singer, according to my older sister whose bedroom was next to mine) and it didn't have to be complicated or make sense or mean anything, it just had to please me with its sounds.

It also reminds me of one of the Basilica's mottoes, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." I know it's called something else besides a motto, but it comes up all the time in bulletins, reminding people why we sing so much in church.

We take Lily to Mass almost every Sunday, and she likes it. She's usually interested in the music, and I think she enjoys seeing (and hearing) Mommy and Daddy sing. I mean, we sing to her all the time, but then she sees us singing at church and it just reinforces how it's a normal, joyful part of our lives, to sing. It's one of the main reasons I love church so much--the singing. And why I love this particular church. We'll sing a lot of things that other churches would just say, and I think it's so much more beautiful to sing it.

Lily's joyful little snippets sometime reminds me of these short bits that we sing in Mass, like we'll sing after each petition, "Lord hear our prayer" or "Thanks be to God" (sometimes in Latin) after each reading. Lily sings "Cocoa's happy" and "And Mommy and Daddy and Baby and Cocoa."

Friday, March 12, 2010


Yesterday I had to go to the hospital for an infusion because my migraine was so bad. So John had to come home early from work to take me in and to take care of Lily. When he got home he showed Lily what he'd brought from the company store: cake mix, "so we can bake Mommy a get well cake!" Chocolate GF (gluten-free) cake, plus he'd picked out special frosting that Lily would like--whipped pink.

It was such a sweet thought, literally and figuratively, and Lily enjoyed helping, and they even put candles on it for me to blow out. Lily kept saying, "It could be Mommy's birthday," so John sang "Happy Get Well To You." Lily helped me blow out the candles and we all had a piece.

That's my family, God love 'em.


Rough day today for me. Very nauseated and big headache. But Lily made it bearable. Tonight she made John and I laugh so hard. It was almost bedtime and so John was reading her a book (we always read three books before naptime and then before bedtime), and he kept dozing off as he was reading.

I've done it before, too. You are trying so hard to keep reading that your brain will make up stuff that isn't there while your eyes are crossing and your speech is slurring. I was reading The Cat in the Hat yesterday and dozing off at the part where the house is all messy before the cat starts cleaning it, and I heard myself explain to Lily that "this is the part the garbage man says." Then some more awake part of my brain said, "What the hell are you talking about?!" And I woke back up and read a few more pages.

So John was reading and he'd already dozed off a few times and I kept saying, "Hey! Wake up!" Finally one time he was totally incomprehensible reading, and Lily said, very clearly and patiently, "What are you trying to say?" It woke him up and he answered her, laughing, saying, "I have no idea!" We were both laughing so hard that it made her laugh. It was so funny, because that's what we say to her when we can't quite understand what she's saying. So then she turns around and says it to us. I guess you could call that a good parenting moment. It was wonderful.

I love this cookie!

Especially the black frosting. This was at a General Mills family event celebrating winter. I guess they thought it would be funny to have snowman cookies with black frosting, for the hat and lining the edges. I mean, there's no way a kid could not get black frosting all over their face! Hee hee.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Some Great New Children's Books

Every few months I try to grab a few recent Horn Book issues from the library and scan the reviews and ads for new children's books that look fun. Then I get online and reserve a bunch of titles from my local library, which is now a huge conglomeration of Hennepin County library and the Minneapolis libraries. So I can usually find anything I want, I just have to wait for it to get to my branch where I pick up my reserves. It's quite satisfying, a definite improvement over ye olden days when you had to go ask the librarian in person for every book you wanted.

So here's what I've gotten lately that I like:

Mermaid Queen by Shana Corey
This big picture book biography is gorgeous and fascinating. It's a bit too texty for Lily right now, but I mostly got it for me to read anyway. It's the story of Annette Kellerman, the real-life inspiration for Esther Williams. I always thought Esther Williams was, well, a mermaid queen herself. Who knew there was an even more interesting real-life woman who was a real queen of the water?

Annette Kellerman was a sort of swimsuit suffragette for women, rebelling against the ridiculously uncomfortable swimwear of her time (the early 1900s). This was no small feat. The first time she swam in public in America (she grew up in Australia and England), she was arrested for her shockingly revealing swimwear (while the other women on the beach sweated it out under their parasols on the hot sand, too poofy and heavy to actually go into the water)! Celebrating swimming as both an athletic and artistic pursuit, she paved the way for female athletes all over the world.

The artwork is--dare I say it?--splashy. And I mean that in the best way possible. It's appropriate for the subject matter, and the bold color palette of artist Edwin Fotheringham is delicious to behold. Not only is water illustrated with curving, swlirling shapes, but everything from the sound of music to the night sky seems to take on the joyful shapes of water as well.

The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau by Dan Yaccarino
Yes, another book about humans in the water. A large part of my childhood was spent in the water, and I miss it! I want to go back to the beaches of my youth. And the swimming pools. Especially the backyard swimming pools. But I digress.

Cousteau was kind of a skinny little runt, so his doctors suggested he build up his strength by swimming. Then when he was a young man, he got in a bad car accident and had to wear braces on his arms. His fate was sealed soon after this, but not by his injury. He built strength in his arms by going back to the sea and swimming. Then a friend lent him some goggles and he suddenly saw all the fishies in the sea underneath him.

Yaccarino does the artwork as well as the story, and it's wonderful to see how he transforms Cousteau's scrawniness on land to lithe grace underwater. In one layout, Cousteau's swimming form parallels the shape of an octopus swimming above him. The colors are bright and many-layered, like the rich palette of undersea life Cousteau is exploring.

Like Mermaid Queen Annette Kellerman, Jacques Cousteau was a pioneer in his field. Today we take scuba suits for granted, but the diving suit of Cousteau's day was like an iron spacesuit. Cousteau worked with engineers to invent diving equipment that allowed him and his team to swim like fish. Likewise underwater camera equipment.

The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau (of which I have fond memories) ran for ten years on television, and served as Cousteau's platform to both entertain and educate the world about the vast array of life in our oceans that needed our protection. Yaccarino does a nice job of portraying Cousteau as a man who wanted to share his joy and passion, in contrast to a celebrity with a cause-of-the-week.

This is a fabulous book. I'm going to buy a copy to keep for Lily (and me), because I think it works on so many levels. The artwork is so good that it can be explored on its own, and the story is appealing in a classic way, like a rags to riches tale, where the rags are Cousteau's physical limitations and the riches are his exploration of the undersea world--and most importantly, the joy this brings him!

And that concludes today's book reviews. Hope you enjoyed them! Oh, and if you don't get the Horn Book at your library or you aren't familiar with this bible of children's book reviews, you can always look at a few pages of reviews of the current issue online. Here's a sample.

Non-Verbal Communication

This is from Christmas, obviously. I just love the look she's giving me.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Lily petting a horsey

This was at Gale Woods Farm, where we went last weekend for a horse-drawn sleigh ride and other fun activities. Lily was not intimidated by the size of the horses and wanted to pet them.

Seeing how calm she was with them actually made me feel more comfortable with them! This really surprised me. Even though we had horses when I was a kid, I was always wary of them and still am, but this time when I pet this horse, I relaxed and just gave him my full attention. When I put my hand on his head I just felt him, really felt his warmth and his spirit. It felt very different than any previous experience I've had around horses. I still sometimes have dreams of getting stepped on or nipped by a horse.

I love how Lily changes my perspective on things. I see her wonder and her courage in reaching out to a world that is all new, and it inspires me.

Mass Happiness

Today I went to Mass with John and Lily, and said a prayer to St. Anthony (we have a side altar for him) about my headaches. As it seems either a lost cause, or the lost thing I can't find is my health, he seemed like the go-to saint. I felt both serious and slightly cheeky about it, which seemed right. Gotta keep that sense of humour. And wonder.

Lily was slightly more than average on the squirm-o-meter, and very talkative. As we walked in, a woman in choir robes stopped mid-sentence talking to someone and said, looking at Lily, "Oh, there's the little girl." When I looked at her, wondering (it's a big congregation, several thousand families, so for Lily to be the little girl was interesting), she addressed me, adding, "I always love watching her, she's so cute."

This meant a lot to me, because I remember the many years before I had a child, watching other children playing, thinking how wonderful they were. Now someone else is thinking that about my child! How cool is that? Of course I always think Lily's the most fabulous child in the whole church every time we go to Mass. I love hearing her chatty little voice ring out in the silences, and how no one turns around shushing her, at least not in the this church, as our motto (I know it's called something else, but "motto" is easier to remember) is "Make a joyful noise."

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Clever Girl

Here's Lily cookin' Mac' 'n' Cheese with peas with Daddy. Takin' a test bite.

Last night Lily picked up a cloth flower and said it was a flower with a nest in the middle for a bird. I thought it was fabulously clever as the middle of the flower (a Gerber daisy) did look like a bird nest in shape, if not size.

Then she said something brilliant about the toilet. Wait! It's not about poop, don't worry. No, the thingy that pulls up the plug for the water when you flush broke, and so I had to take the top off the tank so I could manually flush it. When Lily saw how the mechanism worked (she is very studious when she sees something new), and watched it a few times, she said "It's like Cranky!" That is a crane in the world of Thomas the Tank Engine, if you don't know. I thought it was great that she related one thing to another, and also that she used the word "like." Sometimes she'll say something IS something else, like any red car is Lightning McQueen, and if I say "Yes, it is like Lightning McQueen," she'll insist "No, Mommy, it's not like Lightning McQueen, it is Lightning McQueen!" So when she's playing, she enters the imaginatory world wholeheartedly and insists that I do as well. But if she's figuring out the world, then she makes a distinction. I love it!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back in My Day

Lily, looking out the window at an older neighbor lady snowblowing her driveway:
When I was an older man I used to have a snowblower.

I know, it's hilarious. It's also exciting, because it's about her imagination and how it's developing and taking off into new realms. Before it was always Mom and Dad who had to make up stuff, like she asks what Cocoa is saying, what her trains dream about, etc. Of course we always ask her what she thinks, but mostly she'd just ask us again. Now she's starting to make up stuff herself. It's quite entertaining, as you can see.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Getting To No

You know, like getting to yes, except it's NO. No, no, no, said the toddler. So cooperative before, and now not so much. I suppose it was inevitable, that my two-year-old would start acting like, well, a two-year-old. And it's actually good, it means she's making more decisions. Doesn't that sound nice, that she's figuring out how to make decisions? Yeah, she's the decider.

Of course, it's also annoying as hell.
Lily, it's time to go to sleep.
No, I don't want to nap anymore.
[Note: no nap had thus far occured.]

Lily, we need to clean these up. Can you help me put these blocks back in the box?
No. (leaves room)

or, even better:

No, thank you.

Well, gosh, at least she has manners when she's being contrary! The good thing, we've noticed, is that often about a minute after she says no, she'll come back and do as you asked, like it was her idea. I think that's good, it shows that she's more concerned about being able to make the decision herself than being able to just do what she wants all the time. She's getting more independent. My baby!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

and the baby goes snork!

Here i am at 2 in the morning. I can't sleep because I have a dang headache and I'm watching a Netflix movie on my laptop for distraction because when I just lie here and try to sleep everything hurts more. And I have headphones on so I won't make any noise in consideration of the two sleepers next to me. I turn and see Lily's face in the light of the computer screen, and she is so sweet and perfect-looking, like all children in their sleep. I pause the movie to listen to her breathe, and instead I hear something even more wonderful--a funny little snoring snork noise that makes me grin. And it feels like even though I am a mess right now, in some way all is right with the world because of this snork. What power our babies have to inspire us!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Bright Side

The good thing about how much I hate our current ECFE class is that it has focused my attention on what I do and do not want in a school for Lily. At Hale, the school we've gone to for most of our ECFE classes, I took for granted a lot of wonderful things, and I guess I assumed all schools would be like this. Because they should be.

At Hale, when I come back from the parent discussion time, I usually get some comments from the teacher or assistant about how Lily did that day, and what she did, like one time she really wanted stories, and so she sat with several other kids and listened to the teacher read stories, and then she and the other kids played reading to each other. At Wilder (the class we're in now), I never get a report, and it feels like the teacher is kind of distant. He's very focused on preparing the kids for school, getting them to all do one thing together, and follow directions, and even find their name tag (with mom's help) for attendance. Attendance? Recognizing letters? Excuse me, they're two. TWO! They should be playing! He even has them do exercises, and tells them it's important to exercise. Well, yeah, but do we have to make it a chore? Why can't you just put some music on or sing and have them dance around and hop and run?

Then there's little things, like having windows in the classroom (none at Wilder), and knowing that if I leave something in class by accident, it will be there next time with our names on it. I've lost several things at Wilder, never to be seen again. My notes from discussion, a binky, and who knows what else. The teachers just don't seem to be personally involved with us. It's like the class is a blob of students instead of individual kids and parents.

Oh, and how about this little gem: during parent discussion time at Wilder in the first class, the teacher explained what the procedure was in case of a lock down. A lock down. As in if there was a "situation," all classrooms would be locked until the building was deemed clear of the "threat." Kind of like in prison. Or Columbine. Jesus. I mean, yeah, okay, it's good to know that if I leave the discussion room of my own volition, against the better advice of the teacher, the teacher in the kids' classroom will not unlock that door to let me in to see my child, because he would be protecting the children against the "threat." So I'd be stuck in the halls, because nobody would let me in any doors.

When asked if there had ever been a "threat," the teacher said rather too nonchalantly that there had been one the previous year and no one was hurt. When asked for more details she glossed over it very quickly and moved on to the next thing on her list.

I don't want Lily in a school where this is a top priority. I mean, of course safety is a top priority, but you know what I mean.

So, having a fire lit under my butt from this experience of "bad school," I sent in the application this week for Lily's preschool. We went to a preschool fair a couple of months ago and it was interesting, but it seemed rather in the distant future. Not anymore.

Last week we went to an information meeting for a specific school that we thought sounded nice, and it was fabulous. I want to go be a student there. It's Willow House Preschool, Waldorf and Lifeways inspired. It's all about nurture. The school is actually in a house, or is a house, I should say, since the whole house is the school, including the backyard, where they have a fabulous actual willow house, check it out:

Isn't it wonderful? They spend a lot of time outside, which is great. The teachers (they are two women, both with teaching backgrounds) said they only stay indoors if the temp is below zero outside. So they go out in the rain! (In raincoats, of course). There's a K-3 school across the street with 3 playgrounds, and they go on field trips a couple blocks away to a park with a lake.

They do lots of handwork, like sewing and knitting, and making little gnomes and sheep from wool. Ah, I feel happy just thinking about it. So that's the bright side. It's very clear to me now that this school we are going to send Lily to is a very special place, and I won't be taking it for granted (that's why I sent in our application the day of the kid-hitting discussion). So my response was positive, you could say. I've been venting here for a couple of hours now, and I hope you aren't bored reading it all. I just really needed to put it all down in black and white (or in this case, green and beige). Yes, that icky stuff really happened, and then look, over here, a fabulous counterpoint!

Oh, and another response I have to this ickiness is that I'm taking a community ed class on making a "Magic Fairy Tree House." Here's a sample of what the teacher made:

Okay, I really have to stop now. I hope all this long-winded rambling makes sense in the morning (I haven't slept yet--havin' a headache).

Ditching School

No, not really. But sometimes I want to. I'm talking about the ECFE (Early Childhood and Family Education) class that Lily and I are in right now, and how much I hate it. I waited too long to register for this session and got what was left, which was not the school we usually go to, but instead a school that has a very different socio-economic base. It's not really too much farther away from home than the school we've usually gone to for the last two years. But it's in the other direction, in more ways than one.

In the most recent class, during the parent discussion time (the kids are in the classroom with other teachers and helpers while the parents get together with one teacher in a separate room) there was actually a discussion about whether or not it's ok to HIT your kid. And I quote, from one of the dads, "There's a big difference between occasionally hitting your kid and abusing them." This is when I felt like getting up and leaving, and not quietly. The discussion was supposed to be about discipline, and this is what I got to listen to. In other ECFE classes, I have always felt validated listening to other parents and what they are going through with their kids, and I've always gotten helpful ideas to think about or try with Lily (or myself). This class, no. It's frustrating. I don't want to be there. I'm not dealing with the same issues, or, maybe I am, but I'm not parenting at the same level.

I'm trying not to be snobby or prejudiced, but it seems to me these folks are learning how to be parents at a really basic level, and I'm not. For instance, there's one mom who's dealing with her son spitting. To stop this behavior, she "pops him in the mouth," as in, hits him in the mouth. Now, terrible as this sounds, she did concede that hitting him is not working. And she was asking for help, for other ideas that would be better and teach him a better lesson. So, good for her. She's getting a lot out of the class, and she's trying hard. But I just don't feel like I have anything to discuss with her when we split up in small groups. And that she has nothing to offer me. Is that mean? I end up feeling like my challenges are trivial compared with hers.

There's one mom who I really can NOT stand. She has twins and two more at home, and she is the long-suffering mom. It's all about how difficult it is for her. Even the weather is against her. I never hear her happy about anything. Except that she seems to really enjoy complaining. And doling out advice to everyone else. She seems to think that because she has more than one child, she knows more than those of us with "only one." It's obnoxious. Here's some of her advice: "TV is a great motivator." As in, you can get kids to do what you want if you offer them tv. Oy. She even admits it's probably bad parenting, but "I don't care, because it works." She's all about controlling her kids, and they are always trying to get away with something (her viewpoint). Sitting next to her (which I now avoid), I can feel the icky waves of stress and dischord flowing off of her.

There's another mom who has teenagers at home and she is constantly saying some variation of "Just wait, it's worse when they're teenagers."

These are not my people.

As far as the kids, some of them are like wild animals, running around screaming, or just sitting and yelling. Some are nice, though. I don't think Lily is enjoying the class as much as the classes she's had before at other schools, but I am trying to look at it positively. Maybe it's a good experience for her to have exposure to kids from different backgrounds, and to be the more mature kid in the bunch. Maybe she'll calm them down some. But sometimes I see her looking at some of the other kids like they are from another planet. Yes, honey, we are strangers in a strange land.

Mommy Doesn't Feel Good

So I've been having a rough time recently with my migraines again. I was doing really well in November and December, and then on New Year's Day it all went to pot. I started having awful headaches and not being able to see clearly. It really scared me.

I got an MRI and they didn't find anything to explain this sudden flare-up, if I can call it that. So I'm going back to doing physical therapy and probably trying some other things like guided imagery and maybe yoga or pilates.

It's going to be a lot of work, and take time. Sometimes John will have to take vacation time so that I can go to physical therapy. I hate that. I want his vacation time to be spent on actual family vacation.

And I don't like it that I've had to poop out on Lily so much lately. I can't do a lot of the things she wants me to, like jumping up and down and chasing her, stuff she loves.

I feel bad that Lily has to grow up with a Mommy who has migraines all the time. It bothers me that I have to lie down on the couch sometimes and tell her I can't play. On the other hand, she seems to have developed some empathy since she's become more aware of when I don't feel well. She'll give me a kiss on the forehead and tell me that will make me feel better (Of course, I modeled this first and she's chosen to imitate it). I know I've seen other kids who have a sick sibling and they have developed empathy as well. So maybe it's ok. The thing is, it has to be okay. I don't have control over this.

And I know that I will feel better once I get some PT and find some other things to help. I'm just really crabby about it right now. I think once I stop having a constant headache, I will be able to see the forest for the trees and believe it's really there, not just a mirage. For instance, I know intellectually that Lily will be ok even though I'm sick sometimes. My Mom had migraines that confined her to bed sometimes, too. And she had to go to the hospital ER sometimes. And yet, I turned out ok. I wasn't scarred for life. I don't remember those parts the most. I remember that she played games with me all the time, and how much I loved that.

Well, I have my first PT in a few days. Better days are ahead.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How To Live Green with a Toddler

Don't ask me, cuz I don't know. We recycle and I save all kinds of crap from going in the trash and try to find a way to reuse it. And so it pains me to see anything go to waste. Especially food. Now, I'm not even talking about the way Lily grazes and only eats 3 bites of anything and wanders off. At least then I can put the remaining food in the fridge for later (unless I leave the room for .0001 seconds, in which case Cocoa steals it and makes me crazy). No, I'm talking about the food getting knocked on the floor or dropped.

I know it's because she's only two and doesn't yet have a lot of coordination. Or attention to what her body does when she moves. Like she doesn't notice that turning her wrist while holding a plate in her hand makes the plate turn over and the food go on the floor. Oy. I try to remember not to put too much food on a plate at once, for just such a contingency. And yet it still drives me crazy. Now, I'm not averse to a few germs, but I can't pick up the food and brush it off. Because everything has dog hair on it.

Okay, so I'm cranky. I couldn't sleep last night because of my dang headache. And my new glasses have not come in yet. I'm sick of not being able to see. I need baby kisses.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Here's a picture from today. She's laying on the couch next to me. She got a haircut today, at her request. Her hair had been getting in her eyes and bothering her. This was her 3rd haircut ever and she's a little more ok with it each time. Today she didn't cry at all or try to get out of the chair. She just held my hand very tightly at first, then relaxed after a while and was ok with me just standing right next to the chair. It helped they had Thomas the Tank Engine videos.

Christmas Pic

This is one of my favorite pics from Christmas. Lily got this new art easel from my folks and she immediately figured out a way to climb on it. She made me laugh and we were having a lot of fun.

"Babies Sing on Trains"

It's a new hit song, composed by Lily in the car today. She just started singing, it was the most adorable thing ever (since the last most adorable thing she did five minutes before that). First the verse was "Babies on the train," and then she modified it, first to "baby rides the train," then the funny "Babies sing on trains!" She asked me to sing it with her, which was easy, since it was only one line over and over, and it was a wonderful moment. Then she told me not to sing, so she could belt it out on her own. She's brilliantly talented, what can I say?

She's also got complex musical taste. The things that I think she'll like, that are cute and played on a xylophone or other baby-friendly instrument? She's oh so bored with those. After she had finished composing her toddler transportation ditty, she wanted me to put some music on. I tried some Pink Martini but she was oh so bored with that. I tried some Blue Man Group (Las Vegas 4 Song Sampler)on a whim, and she loooooved it. "Make it louder!" she said. Wow. Maybe she'll be drummer like her mama. Sniff. No, not really. I have no twisted desire to see her relive my musician days. The smoky bars, the long nights...just kidding, I was only a musician in junior high and high school and the biggest hardship I endured was walking through horse poop in parades. And I was damn proud to do it. I was a superb marcher.