Friday, August 31, 2007

Help Mama Dress


Do you know the extremely stylish and kind Susan Wagner, she of Friday Style and The Working Closet and BlogHer and Friday Playdate and ParentDish (really, for what fantastic online site does this amazing writer NOT write?!) and, perhaps, the final word on all things mama-style-related? Well, you should. She's awesome. And stylish. And famous.

And Susan, she believes, oh so rightly, in NOT being the mama in sweat pants and flip-flops in the preschool drop-off line. She believes, instead, that you can be a stay-at-home mom--even one of a one-year-old and a three-year-old--and still look pulled-together and stylish in a real-world kind of way. That you can be in that preschool drop-off line on that very first day of your oldest child's first year of preschool next week, looking nice and pretty and appropriate and serene (OK, I added that last part; I have no idea if Susan promises serene) and NOT like you've been nursed from, spit up on, crawled over, grabbed at, cried on, and sidewalk-chalked with for the past three solid years. And she promises me you can do all this on a budget.

Yes, I said "me." Because guess who somehow, some crazy magic-of-the-Internet-sort-of-way, ended up as the subject of Susan's latest essay over at Friday Style? Wherein Susan answers the question, "What should Shan wear when preschool starts?"

Check it out.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Season of Change

Can you believe it's almost Labor Day? To me, that's the real beginning of fall. Where did the summer go? While part of me is a little melancholy (I can't help but think, We should have run through the sprinkler more; we only put out the baby splash pool one time! And, How often, really, did I sit on the patio in the evening to watch the sun set over the back fields? Did I get in enough glorious runs through that gorgeous 9 p.m. twilight that's already a month gone?), autumn is my favorite season, so I'm also excited and happy about the change of season. Oh, how cool and crisp the last two mornings have been! So heavenly! And that one tree on Woodley Street, with its just-beginning edge of flamey orange? Nice.

But it's a major season of change here, weather and trees and children alike. Last night, for the first time, I stayed awake in bed trying to imagine Julia being brave enough to be left at preschool and be okay, and to be able to independently approach her unfamiliar teacher and say, "I have to use the bathroom," and I just couldn't picture it, because I know in my heart it won't be easy like that. So now I am pondering preschool with both excitement and worry, just as, of course, all mamas are, and do.

A dear friend, a first-time mama, called the other night in a blaze of worry over how to know if the baby's teething, how to know if you should give the baby Tylenol. She said she wanted the advice of an expert mama, someone who'd been down this road a couple of times already, and recently enough to know the answers. "But how do you know for sure?" she asked, when I wholeheartedly endorsed the giving of the baby-Tylenol at any hint of teething distress. Heck, why not? GIVE IT.

But, of course, you never know for sure. You never know for sure if it's teeth or something else, if it's time to start rice cereal or if you really should wait the American Academy of Pediatrics-recommended full six months, if she genuinely needs you at night or it's time to sleep-train. You never know for sure, and that's a strange, rude realization the first time you encounter it--with the possible teething, and the potential baby-Tylenol. Especially when you're by nature an information-gatherer, a planner, an organized decision-maker used to data and knowledge and clear questions with clear answers. But then you get over that first instance of not-knowing, and ten million more follow right behind in the first year of new parenthood alone.

You get used to it. You learn to read the signs, consider the options, trust your intuition and your parenting instinct. You learn to live with not knowing for sure. You don't love it--you're still an empiricist at heart, after all--but you learn to live with it.

And then your baby--the one who cut those teeth and cried when she was however many months old, and you don't even remember, anymore, what it was like exactly, and that you didn't know what to do, and that she kept you up all night--that same baby is three years old and headed off to nursery school. And--guess what?--you don't know for sure how that first day, that first week, that first month, will go. You don't know for sure what she'll say and do when you turn to leave. You don't know for sure that when she needs to use the bathroom, she'll be brave enough to speak to an adult she doesn't yet know. You just don't know.

And it's just one more thing you don't love, but that you can live with.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Puppy Chair of One's Own



Taking over big sister's reading spot.

Watch TV and Call Me in the Morning

Julia's been sick since Friday, either with a random virus offering cold-like symptoms and a mysterious rash, or with a mild/atypical case of the chicken pox (the kind of mild/atypical case you get if you're one of the unlucky one in ten who gets chicken pox despite having been vaccinated against it during infancy). Mainly she's been lying around reading books, and sleeping longer at night. Taking it easy. Laying off (mostly) the running and jumping--although every now and then she throws in a request to go outside "for a run" (which we have done, sickness notwithstanding) or launches into a Tigger impersonation and jumps around for awhile.

Yesterday morning after her spots appeared, I called the pediatrician to run her symptoms by the doctor's nurse. When I hung up the phone, Julia asked me what Nurse Katie said.

"She said to watch your spots, have you rest a lot, see how you feel tomorrow, things like that," I explained.

Julia considered this. Then she laid her book aside and said, "Did Nurse Katie say anything about watching 'Sesame Street'?"

I wish the world worked the way three-year-olds imagine it does. Wouldn't that be great? You call up your doc to complain about a headache, fatigue, scratchy throat, whatever, and the nurse tells you to have a glass of wine in front of "What Not to Wear"?

Needless to say, during Genevieve's morning nap, Julia got to lie on the couch and watch an entire episode of "Sesame Street."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Late-Summer Weekend

Because my writing creativity seems to be suffering a dry spell, here are some random tidbits from a late-summer weekend:

Friday night dinner at the home of some lovely new friends--a couple and their ebullient three-year-old daughter--where Julia and Genevieve inhaled an enormous quantity of chilled cucumber-yogurt-mint soup, olive and tomato bruschetta, marinated baked tofu, and roasted vegetables from the family's farm-share, and where, in true preschooler fashion, our tiniest host initiated a conversation about how "dead people don't go potty." Because "they can just go in their underwear." Aha.

Genevieve taking her first real steps--seven in a row to Daddy on Saturday. While Mama was out. (That's what you get for leaving me at home so you can run errands in peace, Mama!)

Julia catching a terrible summer cold, prompting me to offer to put on her Sesame Street DVD yesterday afternoon, to which she replied, "No thank you, Mama, I prefer to read a book." Then today, when she felt better and was playing "marching band" with Christopher--which involved making up rhyming songs while marching--she deflected a suggestion that SHE take a turn making up the song for a change by saying, "No, Daddy. I propose that YOU make up the rhyme." Prefer? Propose? What is this kid, twelve?

Mamas' night out on Saturday evening, having drinks with friends at a downtown pub with a patio overlooking the Cannon River, with the sun setting amazingly early now, and the air feeling decidedly crisp. Fall's coming. I love it.

Amidst all the usual cooking, cleaning, organizing, and caretaking, a fair amount of writing and running, reading and sleeping. Oh, and kissing little girls. All favorite activities.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Just Making Sure

You get that I was kidding, when I said that to baby Genevieve before, right? That not long before I said it, I was kissing that chubby, pink place between her chin and shoulder and making her laugh? Just making sure. Because there have been times, on this blog, when people have taken my oh-so-witty remarks a bit too seriously. So, OK? KIDDING. Don't give me that face.

Vivi Has a Total Attitude

Have I mentioned the fact that Genevieve has a total attitude? Maybe you already figured that out, considering the Epic Dramatics of the Well-Baby Check-Up.

She does. She's so different from our first baby. I mean, Julia was totally high-maintenance, difficult in a very particular way (sleep-refusing, nursing 24 hours a day, demanding of constant attention and interaction). But Julia was also very rule-bound and passive, and you never really had to worry about taking your eyes off her. Plus she didn't have her first tantrum until she was 27 or 28 months old. Genevieve climbs all over everything, throws her milk cup to the floor, scurries up and down the hall and into the bathtub, and, if you take the crayons away from her because she is eating them, she throws herself onto the floor and rolls around like a furious baby fox. Then she screeches at you and gives you her trademark squinty grimace. She stops now and then to make sure you are watching.

A few minutes ago I said to her, "Don't give me that face, Vivi, I could not care less what you are frustrated about right now." So, you know, that should tell you what these long, loooooong rainy afternoons have been like in our household this week.

But the thing about Genevieve is, she doesn't let such scolding get to her. Heck if she cares what you think. She'll just squint and grimace at you, throw out her arm and point at something unknown, and yell a few choice syllables in your direction. I think she's going to be, like, student council president or something some day. But she'll be really brash and sarcastic about it and she won't take any guff from anyone.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Little Bit Crazy

The other day, as I sat at the desk in our family room next door to the room where Genevieve was napping, wondering if the sound of my teeth crunching the hard candy in my mouth was loud enough to wake up a sleeping baby, it occurred to me that I might be a little bit crazy. Actually, that's not what I thought. What I thought was, I wonder if I will ever be able to think about noise and sleep in a normal way again?

I mean, really. Does there come a time when you no longer wonder, Is it actually safe to grind this coffee? When would that be, exactly?--when the children are teenagers, and you're trying everything in your power to get them to sleep LESS? ("It's NOON! You're sleeping away the entire day! GET! UP!")

In my defense, flushing the toilet, running the faucet for a drink of water, emptying the dishwasher, and clinking ice cubes into a glass are all actions that have awakened sleeping babies in our household, so experience has made me extremely paranoid. However. I don't think Vivi could hear the candy crunching INSIDE MY MOUTH.

Parenting young children--parenting babies--is one of those things that changes pretty much every single thing about how you live your life. It's more like moving to a new planet than moving to a new stage of life. You know--or think you do--about the big things, like how you'll never get a solid night's sleep again and how you can kiss spontaneity goodbye for a long, long time. But you'd never guess, would you, about sitting outside the baby's door pondering how loudly you're crunching the candy?

What did you never guess, beforehand?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Too Much Birthday?

Hey, everyone! I'm featured today as the inaugural Tuesday Guest Blogger over at Work It, Mom!, where I'm writing about kids' birthday parties. Go check it out!

(Edited to add: Totally forgot to say THANKS to Ms. Questionable, who tipped me off to the whole "birthdays without pressure" group a couple of months ago, and got me thinking critically about it. Thanks, Question!)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

It hardly seems fair that today is Monday AND a rainy day. Normally I like rainy days--and a week ago, we were desperate for rain around these parts, after a summer of drought and abnormally long, hot weather (twice as many 90+-degree days as normal for MN in summertime). But now, after three straight days of steady torrential rain, our state is drowning in flash floods, with several deaths and some houses on the Winona river bluffs being washed off their homestead cliffs. Uh, scary. What is it with southern Minnesota and disaster these days?

Anyway, it's a tough Monday. The weekend was, for me, not restorative enough. And given that my saintly husband let me go back to bed after Genevieve's wake-up nursing on Sunday morning, allowing me TWO AND A HALF HOURS of additional sleep, that's saying a lot. Oh, and he also took both girls to an indoor play area for an hour or so on BOTH mornings of the weekend--so, really, the fact that the weekend was not restorative for me should really tell you something.

It could tell you that a ridiculously screamy pediatrician appointment and four toddler meltdowns do not equal a good start to the weekend. It might tell you that discovering that the Minnesota Board of Psychology has decided to make it as difficult as possible for you to maintain your license while taking time off from work to be a stay-at-home mom, causing you to spend half the weekend frantically attempting to find ways to obtain extra credentials and documentation before the end of September, does not leave much time to de-stress and re-charge. Perhaps it tells you that multi-hour trips to a mall in another town in order to pay someone an insane amount of money to photograph your baby WHILE SHE CRIES are not, in fact, relaxing. Or that worrying about bills, income, and the potential need to return to work when you really, really do not want to leave your tiny girls in daycare does not result in a rested, happy mama ready to face a new, busy week. Ya think?

So. I'd love to hear, people: how do YOU get through tough Mondays?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Say "Cheese!" And Stop Crying!

Today:

Went on marathon trip to Sears Portrait Studio up in the suburbs for Vivi's 1-year portraits. Baby cried for most of the session. Drooled all over her dress. Tried to crawl away from the camera. Gave photographer the evil eye. Winced visibly every time camera flashed. Ignored all attempts to get her to sit in one place and smile.

And I still walked away with a $100 charge on my credit card. Now how did that happen?!

Oh yeah: she's the LAST BABY. All I could think the whole time I was previewing the shots and ordering the extra prints--this one in black-and-white, that one with a fancy border and cropped just so--was that I will never have another chance to immortalize a newly one-year-old baby. These photographs are going to be all that's left when Genevieve is a surly teenager dressing in black and shaving her head. And right now, she's so incredibly sweet and cute that even her iffy, semi-tearful shots taken by a barely-competent Sears photographer end up being irresistible to a sentimental mama. (Truly, if I had the money, I would have spent twice this amount for the super-fancy, jaw-droppingly gorgeous portraits our town's local independent child/family photographer takes in her home studio a mile away. They are so much more beautiful than these sort-of-cheesy Sears ones. But, you know, I can hardly justify a hundred dollars, let alone two.)

Oh, these year-old babies. I love them to pieces. When we got home, Genevieve--of course--was all perfect-shot smiles, grinning her little jack-o'-lantern-teeth grin and kissing me all over the place.

Grandparents, you know what you'll be getting for Christmas this year.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Her Lungs are Healthy, That's for Sure


Genevieve had her 12-month well-baby check-up today. She started screaming when I placed her on the baby scale so the nurse could weigh her, and she didn't stop until she was in her carseat riding home over an hour later. When the doctor tried to look at her eyes (you know, by so torturously aiming a harmless small light in the general vicinity of her eyeballs? not even touching her? the horror!), in addition to continuing her Scream of Rage, Genevieve actually shook her head no and slapped the light away. She did the same thing with the otoscope and the stethoscope. Dr. Kram said she's clearly going to be in school plays when she gets older. (VERY DRAMATIC.)

Naturally, with a wind-up like that, the SHOTS didn't go over so well. Nor did the finger-prick at the lab to get blood for the hemoglobin and lead tests, where TWO lab technicians had to hold onto her arm, and it still took way longer than normal because they had to clutch her freakishly strong hand so tightly to get her to hold still that no blood could actually get down to her finger.

Did I mention that during this entire appointment, you could hear her screams down every hallway and into every station's waiting room, where numerous elderly folks and other child-free patients kept giving us Long-Suffering Glares of Annoyance? Yeah, tell me about it, people, I just put up with two meltdowns from the three-year-old this morning, BEFORE the hour-long pediatrician check-up from hell, so cry me a river.

But hey! It's naptime now, so let's turn the page on the morning and talk about the interesting stuff--that is, the stuff that is only interesting if you are a parent or grandparent to my particular infant. Everyone else, I apologize.

Genevieve's a total peanut. Well, compared to all the babies WE'RE used to in this family--meaning, the other one we've had for three years. Genevieve is 29-1/2 inches tall now, which is the 64th percentile for her age (down from the 82nd percentile at her 9-month check-up). She weighs 20 lbs., 8 oz., which is the 41st percentile for her age (down from the 50th last time). This does not really surprise me, because I could tell she hadn't grown all that much over the summer: she's still wearing all the clothes I dressed her in last May, some of which are labelled six-to-nine-months size, for 19-1/2 to 21-1/2 pounders (though: that's one big six-month-old). Still, she has grown an inch and gained two pounds in the last three months, so she's fine and healthy. It's just a little odd to see her percentiles decrease further at every well-check in her first year, when with Julia I don't think we ever saw anything but the 90s--and usually the high 90s at that. Interesting, no? I mean, their diets are/were the same. But Vivi is a much more active baby than Julia ever was. I think she burns off most of what she eats.

Oh, and have I told you that Miss Stubborn and Dramatic refuses to drink cow's milk? No big surprise, is it, considering her reaction to that brief attempt at formula earlier this summer when she went on her daytime-nursing-strike? (By the way, that was totally temporary, and she resumed nursing just fine in a week or two.) Luckily, she's still nursing, so at least she's getting some milk. But girlie: you've gotta drink the store-bought stuff eventually, so you might want to consider being a bit more open-minded.

Oh yeah, you're your mama's daughter. Forgot. Yeah, you'll do what you want, won't you?

You're still as sweet as strawberry pie, and those grumpsters in the waiting room don't even know. They'd all want to kiss you--for sure--if they knew.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I Learned This Week

Guess what? Working out on the elliptical for two weeks rather than running the hilly country roads around Northfield--you know, because of the 104-degree heat index?--does not keep you in shape for running the hilly couuntry roads around Northfield. Just in case you were wondering. Um, pass the ibuprofen.

A Year Old Today



When Genevieve was born, the college where Christopher works gave us the children's book "Baby Born", about an infant's first year, as part of a thoughtful welcome-baby gift. It immediately became a family favorite. Julia memorized it; at Thanksgiving, we sat at the table with Genevieve and recited together, "Baby says, mum-mum-mum, when she sees the turkey come!" We still read it several times a week. It will always be a reminder of when Genevieve was born; it will always bring to mind that odd in-between period of summer: the height of August heat, that within weeks--before I was even off the C-section pain medication, before the gifts had stopped arriving in the mail every day--turned to a yellow, sunshiney wind that blew leaves through the air and rushed rain-clouds in from over the neighboring fields. Genevieve arrived in summer, but she was a fall newborn. My favorite season.

Here it is the height of August heat again, all four seasons moving through the life of this family just like the pages of that colorful baby board book. And I could talk to you about sweet Vivi--how she is an angel to our family, how we all adore her beyond measure, how no baby has ever been so amiable, so cuddly and sweet, how she kisses everyone all the time, with an emphatic "mmm-muh!" kissy sound and a laughing, crinkly-grinned shake of her head, like a blissful puppy with a chew toy, how she especially kisses Julia, over and over and over, and how Julia lets her, and laughs, and hugs her and says, "Vivi, you're so cute!" which just goes to show: Vivi is the most adorable baby in the universe, isn't she?--but it would never truly explain what she's really like, how if you met her you'd fall in love and want to take her home.

And I could tell you that now she's on the verge of walking, and that she has the most gorgeous soft blond hair that waves in the breeze at the top of her head, and that her mouth is full of tiny chiclet teeth and her eyes are still dark blue. And that she's got the greatest smile--mischievous and jolly--and a giggle she shows off when we read "Ten Minutes Till Bedtime" and do the baby hamster's comments in a squeaky baby voice. And how she's a little climbing monkey, hoisting herself onto Julia's bed, standing at the footboard where she can look down at us, chuckling and squealing. And how her general attitude toward life is one of good-natured adventurousness.

If you heard all those details, would you finally know, would you truly understand, how happy we are to have her, how we'd never survive without her, how she's the perfect baby sister, how she makes our family complete? Would you understand that she makes the passing of a precious babyhood year a little hard to take? Would you know that when you have a babykins this luscious, you're a little bit tempted to keep making more, even when you know you've really had enough? Maybe. Maybe you would.

Happy Birthday, Genevieve Rose! A year old today!

"Baby love
a year old today
up with the sun
ready to play."


--"Baby Born"
by Anastasia Suen
illustrated by Chih-Wei Chang

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Almost Fall

How are all the rest of you doing? Anyone else freaking out about fall? About school? About schedules? And lists?

Here in Wonderland, things are pretty good, now that I've decided not to sign Genevieve up for fall ECFE baby class after all. Julia would have had to come along and go to the sibling-care room, which, along with preschool, would mean three mornings in a row every week of scheduled, structured, away-from-home, on-her-own (without a parent) activity. For a kid whose only experience with parent-separation has been 45 minutes a week with me in the room next door, that's too much of a change for one autumn. Genevieve can get some baby class another session, once we've all adjusted to the world of preschool. And schedules. And lists.

Plus, we can't afford it. (Don't ask me how we're going to suddenly be able to afford it in another session. I am avoiding thinking about such practicalities.) ECFE is on a sliding scale, but it's still not cheap, and sibling care costs almost as much as the baby class itself. Add those two fees to preschool tuition, and you've just overloaded our budget. (I use the term "budget" extremely loosely here. By "budget," I mean "living paycheck to paycheck and studiously ignoring the fact that we can't actually afford the monthly premium on that life-insurance policy we finally set up".)

I am learning that not working means foregoing some of the truly beneficial "extras" (as opposed to strictly material luxuries, which I am very used to, and generally okay with, going without) that often don't feel like "extras"--especially in a town like Northfield, where the demographic is largely white, super-educated, and affluent. The at-home moms here run in a small circle, and while of course it can't be true, it starts to seem like EVERYONE does ECFE, baby music class, swim lessons. It's not that I care what anyone else thinks, either; it's just that these activities are fun, educational, and great outlets for moms to connect with other adults during our child-centric days. So it's not easy to decide to pass them up.

But I digress (as usual). What I was starting to say was that we're doing pretty well with the idea of fall, seeing as we only have one child with school to show up for, and it being only two-mornings-a-week preschool, at that. No other classes, no set activities. These babies are 3 and 1, after all. We're saving time for autumn runs and pumpkin-picking and gluing glitter on paper plates. I love fall.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Birthday Party Highlights







Whew! A weekend of partying with babies can really take it out of you. This morning I'm feeling tired, nostalgic (in a kind of "I don't ACTUALLY want to be immediately postpartum right now, I just can't believe my newborn is one" kind of way), and a little stressed about all the organization that needs to happen in the next few weeks before preschool begins for Julia. Thus, it's a good time to look at a few photos of Genevieve's first birthday party day, because they are nothing but loveliness and joy. Don't you agree?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Par-Tay!


Someone had a first-birthday party this afternoon. She had 11 guests (two babies, nine adults--including one set of grandparents), numerous presents, and one very sugary cupcake. More details, pics, and festivities to follow in the days ahead. After all, her actual birthday isn't for a few more days, and you know I'll have a few words to say about THAT momentous occasion. Do you remember what you were doing one year ago today? I was up half the night with pre-labor pseudo-contractions, and about to go crazy if that pregnancy didn't end IMMEDIATELY. I was still almost two weeks away from my scheduled C-section, though, so I didn't know that Vivi would be on her way by Monday.

Our household's last birthday party, ever again, for a baby turning one? I'd better eat an extra cupcake in tribute. There's nothing like a one-year-old baby, is there? Nope.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Quite Possibly the Best Parenthood Moment So Far

Just now, in the playroom, as Genevieve crawled all over Julia and they smothered each other in kisses, I heard Julia say, "I love you, Vivi."

Does it get any better than that?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bookworm


Julia loves to read, and she especially loves to read Pooh stories. One of her favorites is when Tigger arrives in the Hundred-Acre Wood for the first time, and he introduces himself and his odd behavior by explaining, "Bouncing is what Tiggers do best!"

But you know, the girl loves to read anything. She reads morning, noon, and night; she sits downstairs on her puppy-dog chair in the living room or upstairs on her miniature camp chair in the nursery, and the floor surrounding her feet becomes ankle-deep in books as she reads and sets aside one after another after another. Well, of course, she can't actually read yet; so Good Lord, can you imagine what she'll be like when she actually can? As Christopher says, we won't have to do any parenting for ten years. She'll never even speak to us.

Yesterday Julia had a tough morning, because we were hosting playgroup at our house, and before our buddies arrived, she told me she didn't want to play with anyone--she just wanted to "read by myself." And she would, too; she HAS. But this time I decided it was time to talk about manners, and about being a good friend. So I told her that when you invite friends over to play, it's rude to go away by yourself and read in a corner, that it might hurt your friends' feelings and make them feel bad. I told her she was not allowed to go off by herself and read while her friends were over. (Do you know how bizarre it feels to tell your child she is not allowed to READ? Sheesh. Reading? THAT'S the worst behavior we have to contend with?)

Julia continued to lobby for her own interests all morning, and all through playgroup she begged me to let her go sit in her room and read books. It was really hard for her; much angsty wringing of hands occurred. (At one point she said to me, in the most plaintive, disbelieving tone possible, "Mama! Not even ONE book? I can't even just read one book Mama???") But, you know, I just had to stick with it that time. We really needed to work on the right thing to do in different situations. Of course playgroup was only 90 minutes out of the whole day, and she read books for a long time both before and after it. So she needed to not read when her friends were over.

This morning Julia began reading as soon as her breakfast was finished, and continued for an hour while I dressed and changed the baby, put her down for nap, got myself ready for the day. When I was finished, I asked her what she wanted to do together while Genevieve napped.

"I just want to read books!" Julia said from her perch on my bed where she was comfortably stretched out with a big Richard Scarry.

"But you've been reading already for a long time, honey," I countered. "Let's do something else for awhile, like play a game or dance to music."

"But Mama! I just want to read!" she said.

"Reading is great, Sweet Pea, but it's good to do other things each day, too." I persisted.

Finally she said, matter-of-factly and with total seriousness, "But Mama! Reading is what Julia does best."

Either that, or talking.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Concussion City


Genevieve has another black eye. She has developed into a ridiculous climber, have I told you that? But she's totally unsteady, and has yet to walk on her own, so she's not exactly prepared, physically, to do the things she is intent on doing.

Today she, in the blink of an eye, crawled herself right up onto one of the playroom child-sized chairs, then STOOD UP on the seat, and promptly fell off it. Right onto her head. Before I could get to her. Luckily, the playroom is carpeted.

Later today, she pulled herself partway up the side of a desk chair (where Julia and I were sitting watching a YouTube video of a "Sesame Street" segment), then, just as I attempted to hoist her up to join us, she lost her balance and fell face-first into the wooden base of the chair.

A few minutes ago, in the bathroom with Christopher and Julia, she tried to climb the stepstool to the sink while Christopher was juggling both girls, a bath, and a toothbrush. She fell onto the floor.

Lest you think that all we do from sunrise to sunset is neglect Vivi while she injures herself, please note that these three incidents were interspersed with about, oh, ten thousand other times today when we caught Genevieve before she tipped off the couch, crawled lightning-quick off the side of the bed into thin air, or slipped back floor-ward after trying to scale the armchair.

We've got two children now, people: you just can't be everywhere at all times once you hit that threshold. Someone's gonna get hurt sometimes, and most of the time it's probably gonna be that fearless, hard-scrabble, gotta-keep-up, second baby.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Two Ironies

For the past almost-four years, save for two months in the fall of 2005, I've been either pregnant or nursing, which has meant--lucky me!--a steady diet of butterfat, butterfat, and more butterfat. I think everyone here knows about my ice-cream-and-chocolate habit. So it was that I was a bit nervous about the mini-physical I had to get recently in order to set up a life insurance policy for myself (gotta take care of those babies!). Turns out my blood pressure (98 over 60) and resting pulse rate (48) are so low as to suggest my heart is practically on vacation, and my cholesterol level, which at first glance appears somewhat elevated, ends up being misleadingly high due to a good-cholesterol level so freakishly high that it adds nearly 100 points to my total number. We're talking an HDL level about twice the average reading for a woman my age.

In other news, my recent self-imposed, low-sugar "diet"--undertaken in a sincere effort to eat a bit healthier--seems to be CAUSING ME TO GAIN WEIGHT.

Yeah, so. The message here seems to be something like, Are you nuts? Stop messing with a good thing.

Saving Graces



Sorry for the lack of writing here lately. Last week sort of disappeared into a haze of TV disaster coverage, with evenings spent watching the news specials about the heroic rescue workers--the 20-year-old youth worker who helped 62 children, some of them just preschoolers, off a field-trip school bus to safety--and the close-call survivors: the mom of the five-month-old baby who escaped her crushed car to clutch her daughter to her chest on the wrecked bridge, the grandpa with the punctured lung who made it out to hold his grandbaby the next day. And then we couldn't stop thinking about the people who weren't so lucky, especially as the names of the known missing were released on Saturday night--no doubt lost to the river--and they included a twentysomething pregnant woman and her two-year-old daughter. And the governor spoke and President Bush came and the image of the broken bridge lying in the Mississippi became even more surreal the more we gazed at it. We don't live up there anymore, but exurban sprawl means we're still almost part of the metro area, and we drive up to the city often enough to make it still feel like a part of our lives. It hasn't really been that long since we left Minneapolis, only a year and a half. We can still picture ourselves driving over that bridge as clear as day.

But amidst all the trauma and tragedy were the girls living their normal baby lives in our house, doing their routine child things like having tea parties and coloring. And, well, thank goodness, you know?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Send Prayers to Minnesota

There's just no way to write about a tragedy as horrifying as the freeway bridge collapse in Minneapolis last night. I think everyone in and around Minneapolis-St. Paul--maybe everyone in the entire state--is simply in utter shock today. Modern technology meant that by this morning there was already video of the actual collapse on the Internet, and ubiquitous links to Flickr slideshows of photos taken by people on the scene. News coverage has been nonstop. Numerous vehicles remain submerged in the Mississippi, with people reportedly inside, obviously dead but as of yet unrecoverable. Today the names of the confirmed dead--a group sure to increase as those vehicles actually are pulled from the water--were released. At two, I saw a fiftysomething dad and his two adolescent daughters talking tearfully to a news reporter about their missing wife and mom. By seven tonight, I read online that those girls are motherless.

The photos of the eight-lane bridge lying 65 feet down in the middle of the mighty Mississippi, broken in half and with cars crashed right and left, cars in the water, cars in pieces, are the stuff of nightmares. In fact, I had anxiety dreams all last night. None of my dreams were actually about the bridge, but it was clear that my sleeping brain was preoccupied with the horror of the evening. Were there any babies in those cars? Any three-year-olds? There had to have been, on a bridge that carries 100,000 cars a day and which reportedly held 100 at the time of the tragedy.

Why, why, why.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Our Family is OK

A major interstate bridge over the Mississippi in the heart of Minneapolis collapsed into the river an hour ago in the middle of rush hour. The bridge also crosses directly over a very popular biking/running path that runs along the Mississippi and that was reportedly very busy on this sunny summer evening. (We used to bike along that path right under the I-35W bridge when we lived in Minneapolis. Terrifying.) Apparently, as one might imagine, many vehicles went into the water and the nearest urban medical center is in "full emergency mode."

I just want to let our loved ones know that WE ARE OK; no one in our family was up in the city today. Thank God.

Please, please, any friends up there reading this now, let us know--are you OK too?

Back to School

Today I found out that the ECFE class for Genevieve's age group will meet this year on Wednesday mornings. I'm determined to give Genevieve the same opportunity to do ECFE with Mama as Julia had as an infant/toddler--why shouldn't she get the same benefits?--so Julia will go to "sibling care" during Genevieve's class (just as Genevieve did last year, during Julia's class). Sibling care is simply unstructured play in a giant playroom/classroom staffed by one of the early-childhood-education teachers, during the educational/developmental class for the other sibling and parent.

All of this means that, starting in September, the girls and I will have "school" of one sort or another three mornings in a row! Preschool for Julia on Tuesday and Thursday, and ECFE for Genevieve (with Julia tagging along) on Wednesday. Wow. Talk about a major change for our household. I mean, we're always busy, but usually it's with things that run on our own informal schedule--casual playdates, park meet-ups, the grocery store.

Back-to-school season, indeed! It's August, people: the race begins!