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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My husband enjoys watching Homestar Runner cartoons.  One of the various offerings is a series called 'Teen Girl Squad,' where Strongbad, another character, draws little boy-ish cartoons about, well, teenaged girls.  As a boy is drawing them, however, the girls often meet their demise in odd ways.  In one of Brandon's favorite cartoons, one character is suddenly run over by a child-filled car while Strongbad growls 'Children!!!'

This afternoon has been one of those days where the children have attempted to run me over.

This morning, Kathleen and I slogged through the snow, slush, and 12-degree weather to do some last-minute shopping.  When we got home, it was lunch time then nap time.  Then it was my lunch time.  While eating our lunch, Brandon and I were interrupted by hilarious laughter drifting from the girls' room.  He went in to investigate, and discovered Kathleen standing on the diaper pail to watch Sophia as she rolled back and forth in her crib.  Both clearly thought it absolutely hilarious.

So, back to bed for them.  15 minutes later, more of the same.  This time, the tucking-in was accompanied by dire threats of blanket confiscation.  All was quiet, until we had been asleep for 10 minutes of our naps, and then a thumping started up.  Brandon got up, briefly confiscated the blanket, and I continued with my nap.  15 minutes later the thumping continued, and this time, their little bums were mine.  

I roared into the room, smacked Kathleen on her little padded backside, swiped the blanket, and left uttering dire threats.  10 minutes later Kathleen was banging on the door sobbing for her blanket and Sophia was screaming in commiseration.  So, one last time, we went in and returned the blanket, tucked them in, and informed Kathleen that if she got out of bed one more time, she would spend the rest of the day in bed.  

So now, after 1 1/2 hours of attempted insurrection, the natives are conquered and quiet.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I still don't agree with Bing

Every year Brandon and I watch White Christmas, and every year at the end, Bing and his friends sing about having all of your Christmases white. Last year I had a white Christmas. The year before I had a white Christmas. This year I will have yet another white Christmas. And I still don't see the charm.

In the last 10 days we have had at least 7 days that have had snow, and perhaps only 2 of the last 10 days have reached above freezing. Today we received six inches and it's still snowing. If it weren't for the kindness of neighbors, I would be outside with Kathleen, shoveling our driveway so Brandon can get up it after work today.

Every day when we wake up, Kathleen asks if we can go to the park. No, I tell her, it's too snowy. Then she asks to take a walk. No, I tell hear, the roads aren't clear enough to go for a run. Then she occasionally asks if we can go to the pool. Pools are for the summer, I tell her. Then I ask her if she wants to go play in the snow. No, she replies. So instead we stay inside all day, trying to keep warm while watching the snow fall. And keep falling.

After three white Christmases, I can say that I still don't see the appeal. Hopefully I won't have to try and see it for the next few ones. Rabat, anyone?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

There goes snack time

This morning while reading everyone's blog and enjoying a few minutes of alone time while eating a piece of cake (yes, I eat cake at 9:15 in the morning.  It has eggs and eggs are good for you), I heard Kathleen rattling my bedroom door.

Kathleen is shut up in my bedroom every morning while I shower, and has to wait until I come fetch her to get out.  Apparently not any more.

Before I could hide the cake, Kathleen had made her entrance with a very cheerful hello, and alone time was no longer alone.  I may go and look for some rope this afternoon.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Do you hear what I hear?

And that would be nothing.  Well, nothing other than dogs barking, a plane flying overhead, perhaps a car driving by.  But what I don't hear is the dulcet tones of Sophia's darling cry, fraying my nerves to the point where the sherry in our refrigerator begins to look tempting.

Recently, Sophia has been giving me some... trouble, so today I decided to give her some... trouble.  When she began whining about being put down for her afternoon nap, I brought out the big guns.  I shut her door, I shut my door, I put in earplugs, and turned on a fan in my room.  If she wanted to cry for half an hour before going to sleep, it wasn't going to interrupt my nap. 

And now, almost two hours later, silence.  Wonderful silence.  And what have I done with my silent peace?  Told  you about it, instead of doing something useful.  Oh well.

I didn't teach her that

Yesterday while exploring my room, Kathleen came upon two pins.  Pins are very fascinating because they can be stuck into things.  Realizing the value of such a device, Kathleen fetched her baby doll.

Then she plunged the pins into her baby's torso and then plaintively said, 'hurt.  Baby doll.  Hurt.'

We're going to start hiding Sophia's hair and fingernail clippings.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


After having taken her own sweet time to begin her verbal journeying, Kathleen is now making up for lost time.  And giving us a wonderful insight into the logic of two year-olds.  A few days ago while at dinner, the word 'trouble' came up in the conversation.  To show that she, too could participate, Kathleen pitched in her own two cents.

'Trouble!  Fifi-no!'

Because of course Sophia is the only one in the house who causes trouble.  And unwinds all of the floss.  And dumps Motrin down the heating vent.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Our First Thanksgiving

Ever since I left home for college, I have always mooched off others for Thanksgiving.  After all, who wants to cook all of that food themselves?  It's a holiday, and holidays don't involve large amounts of cooking.  Well, at least by me.  On Thanksgiving.

This year, however, our devious plans fell through when our regular Thanksgiving date fell through a few days before due to rampant bronchitis in their large household.  We did, however, receive a turkey, sweet potatoes, olives, cream, and two bottles of soda to ease the pain.

One problem with a 12-pound turkey, however, is that it has to be cooked.  You can't just decided to have pizza or go out to dinner when a 12-pound turkey is waiting in your refrigerator, reminding you that a turkey somewhere in Middle America lived and died to be sitting in your refrigerator waiting for its big day and not to be ignored and left to spoil.

So, we cooked the turkey.  And sweet potatoes, and mashed potatoes, and stuffing (from home-made bread, of course), giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, pecan pie and pumpkin pie.  Thankfully the olives simply had to be drained and eaten.

Lest I take too much credit, however, I must give thanks and much acknowledgement to my wonderful team of sous-chefs, my dear husband, kind sister-in-law Ashley, and Seth, who is amazing with a knife.  Everyone followed the recipes and schedule posted and dinner turned out fabulous.

Now we just need to find some more people to come help cook Christmas dinner.  Anyone planning on a Springville Christmas?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Everybody loves Plinko

On my bedside table sits a change jar.  The jar contains all of the change collected during my married life, perhaps $30.  

Every morning when I shower, Kathleen gets shut up in my room, free to roam and explore with some restrictions that change as she discovers new places to pillage that she hadn't discovered previously.  Don't touch the CD's.  Anything that comes out of the bedside table drawers goes back in.  Leave my clothes in the drawer.  Don't pull the painting supplies off the shelf.  She is very obedient and leaves things alone after they have been specifically outlawed.  

And of course, that's the problem - specifically - because a two year-old has no common sense.  Common sense is gained when fingers are burned, dishes are broken, and time-out is served for improvised murals.  

Yesterday morning Brandon discovered the change jar disgorged of most of its contents.  And the change?  Underneath our bed, having been tossed behind the headboard, most likely for the wonderful noise that it makes.  She has yet to see The Price is Right, but I think I know which game will be her favorite.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Six months

Today, Sophia turned six months old.  To celebrate, she is crying in her crib, trying to go to sleep.  

When Kathleen was born, we marveled about how calm she was, such a good-natured, contented child.  Then she turned six months and woke up.  She wasn't good natured, we realized, she simply wasn't awake long enough to be any kind of nature.  And then the next three months until she had learned to crawl were particularly stressful for both of us.

When Sophia was born, we adored her and loved how happy she was, contented to be held and smiled at.  Now she is six months old and has woken up.  This time, I know what I'm headed for and I'm not looking forward to it.  Sophia has given a wonderful preview in the last week by waking up at 4:30 and intermittently crying until 6:30, not taking naps, waking up to early from naps, crying herself to sleep at night, and crying while left alone for 5 minutes.  Productivity around here has gone through the floor.

I know she'll survive the next three months, but I'll get back to you about me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

But who knows what it says?

Yesterday Kathleen came to me with a crayon, her coloring book, and a request: write.  Not wanting to write at the moment, I suggested instead that she write for me.  She then proceeded to write Kathleen, Sophia, Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, Grandpa, and all of the assorted names of cousins, aunts and uncles that I could think of.  Then we wrote all of the words that came to mind.  When Uncle Sam came over, she requested of him all of his words to write.  Every time one of us said a word, Kathleen would make a very careful squiggle corresponding to the word.

When I went to find her for dinner, she was holed up in the bathroom with a notebook and a pen and had covered several pages with writing.  Her nursery pictures all had writing.  She is writing right now as I type, exclaiming 'write, write' every 30 seconds or so.  Now if only I could teach her how to write actual letters....

Friday, November 7, 2008


In these perilous economic times, money  has begun to take on increasingly important value; one never knows when the next bottom might drop out and the cash flow will dry up all together.  So I find it important to think seriously about the power of my dollar.  

If I had $48 to spend, I could spend it on a good many things.
21 gallons of gas, 2 tanks, or a trip to Vegas
17 gallons of milk, and a whole lot of pudding
16 dates to the $1.50 theatre (not counting babysitting, of course)
a tasty dinner at our local Indian restaurant
48 songs off of iTunes
70 lbs of apples, and a lot of applesauce
a new dress for me, the first since I have been married
171 pounds of flour
4 DVDs 
9 3/4 pizzas from Little Ceasar's

But instead, I spent that $48 on diapers for my children.  Diapers which will only be soiled and thrown away.

Friday, October 31, 2008

So Kind to Share

A few days ago, some snow boots came in the mail for Kathleen.  She didn't like them, so offered to let Sophia have them instead.  Sophia was delighted.

Kathleen's Halloween

When asked how Kathleen would be dressing up for Halloween, I replied that she would be posing as a small girl, asleep in her bed.  Here she is, ready for her big night.  This costume is so popular, we'll probably be using it again next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

When the cats are asleep

The parents will play.  As a child, I always suspected that my parents were a little over-eager to send me to bed.  Surely there was something  really good going on that I was missing while sleeping away upstairs.  However, every time I managed to sneak downstairs to spy, they were able to quickly hide the party balloons and toys and pretend to be watching TV instead.

Well, now that I've been a parent for a few years, I've realized that my suspicions were correct, as evidenced by last night.  After returning from our respective mid-week callings, Brandon and I decided we needed a treat.  So we heated up the oil, chopped up some apples, and made apple fritters.  Originally we intended to make a half-recipe but the proportions were incorrect, so we made the whole recipe.  And then we ate them.  Without our children.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chocolate is Thicker Than Blood, Aparently

I love a great many things.  I love my children.  I love my parents.  I love my siblings.  I love my husband.  And I also love chocolate.

Recently, a good friend returned from Switzerland with some very delicious chocolate for me, the kind of chocolate that can only be obtained outside the United States, the kind of chocolate that comes in its own red cardboard packaging.  I have saved and savored this chocolate, eating it slowly piece by piece on days where nothing else but chocolate will heal me.  

A few days ago, I emerged from my room post-nap, to discover my husband at the computer, cheerfully chewing on large hunks of chocolate.  From a red cardboard-covered package.  Dismay.  Shock.  Horror.  Betrayal.  He knows that's my favorite chocolate!  How could he?  A note of hysteria entered into my voice 'You're eating my chocolate!!!,' I wailed.

My dear sweet husband laughed, and forgave me the complete and utter lack of charity.  'No, this is my chocolate,' he smiled, and showed me the package.  Mine was safe.  And the guilt over not wanting to share?  It went away, mostly.

Even if they're not related by blood...

I think that Kathleen and her uncle Ben are kindred spirits.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Food Wars

As discussed previously in this blog, Kathleen and I have had struggles over eating habits.  The issue has been simple: she doesn't want to eat what she doesn't want to eat and I want her to eat whatever I put in front of her.

As in any war, both sides assume that one stunning, quick victory will put the other side to shame and that will be that.  Inherent in that assumption, however is that a quick, stunning victory is possible.  Anyone who has ever spent more than five minutes with a two year-old realizes that quick is not even in the vocabulary.

What Kathleen has started realizing, however, is that no matter how many battles she can choose to stage, Mom will eventually win out, because Mom has fought many food battles in her own time and has now switched sides, bringing previous expertise and experience to the fight.  And so the campaign is coming to a shuddering, sliding, slow end, as exemplified by this evening.

When presented with a vegetable timbale, Kathleen was excited.  As soon as it touched her tongue, however, her face contorted in a look of consternation and disgust.  But when her piece of strawberry jam-smeared toast was removed, she submitted to trading bites of timbale and toast until her portion was finished.  And nary a bite was spit out.  Two year-old wills were made to be broken.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I don't think I want to know

Earlier today while I was in my room, Kathleen was pottering about, doing whatever it is that two year-olds do to entertain themselves while Mom is busy.  As we live in a small duplex, and life is generally quiet, I was able to hear Kathleen gulp something wet, and then sigh with satisfaction.  A moment later, she came into my room, with a cup that had just been emptied of water.  

There were a few problems, however.  1. There were no cups of water around the house 2. Kathleen cannot turn on the water by herself  3. The only accessible cups were in the dishwasher, dirty.  

So, where did the cup of water come from?  I'll never know.  Kathleen's not talking.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Words

First I saw the dishwasher.  Then I saw the door frame, followed by the inside of the door.  After I discovered the outside door, Kathleen went to time out.  While in time out, she showed me her piece de resistance.

Then we had a conversation about appropriate materials to color on.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lack of memories, courtesy of Versed

Recently, Kathleen and I took a trip to the hospital.  Unlike many trips to the hospital, this trip was planned and not life-threatening (or the result of life-threatening events).  She simply had to have an ultrasound of her kidneys and bladder and a procedure called a VCUG (if you have questions, ask Laura).

Ultrasounds are not traumatic; all that happens is some gel and a wand rubbed in the vicinity of the targeted internal organs.  Well, they aren't supposed to be traumatic, unless you happen to be a two year-old who lives here and is named Kathleen.  She did have the opportunity to impress the ultrasound tech with her ability to say the ABCs as a distraction. 

VCUGs, however, are traumatic and so Kathleen got her first (and hopefully only) introduction to a pediatric sedation team.  Yes, team.  She got the royal treatment from a pediatric sedationist, two nurses, two Child Life workers, and entire basket of toys and books.  The ultrasound tech commented that he usually considered this rigamarole overkill, 'but with your child, I think it's probably appropriate.'

After 2 1/2 hours (20 minutes at the start of her Ketamine excepted) of songs, books, toys, more songs, more toys, more books, and a whole lot of crying, I would have to disagree with the tech.  I think that in Kathleen's case, all of that rigamarole wasn't enough for Kathleen and her (as one nurse dubbed it), 'feisty spirit.'  The next visit is Brandon's turn.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Little Miss Too-Dependent

As I sit writing this dressed up in my running clothes and ready to go out, Kathleen is sitting in the kitchen singing songs and pretending that she isn't holding up our morning walk.  

When my younger sister was born, my mother tells of how I was loathe to relinquish the favored position of youngest.  I expressed this mostly in a desire to never grow up.  I wouldn't potty train.  I always wanted to be held.  And I would tell my mother that I wanted to be fed 'like a little birdie.'  I wasn't aware at that point that little birdies eat their parents' vomit.

So, once again, I shouldn't be surprised that dearest Kathleen is just a chip off the old rock.  Or perhaps a boulder.  Because not only is Kathleen singing right now in her high chair, she is also not eating her oatmeal.  Kathleen and I have oatmeal for breakfast every morning, and she has no problem with oatmeal.  She likes oatmeal.  She can't wait to have breakfast.  

Our only difficulty is that she doesn't like to eat it herself.  Kathleen is perfectly capable of feeding herself.  She doesn't even make messes any more.  However, everyone has preferences, and ours differ.  Often.  So once again, my morning schedule is delayed because of my two year-old who wishes she were one.  Where is the child that insists that they can do it all themselves?  I haven't seen any here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Food is Love

I once had a roommate who would say with a smile, "mmmmm, food is looove."  And based on my eating habits of the last week, I think she is right.  

As one can tell by my previous picture, tomatoes are finally in season out here in Utah.  I think that one of life's great pleasures is picking your own perfectly ripe produce and turning it into tasty things.  Like the aforementioned tomato-pesto soup with dumplings and cream.  Or tomato cream sauce on homemade pasta.  

I was at the grocery store recently and found some absolutely delicious, thick, perfect bacon on sale.  I bought 4 pounds and we had BLTs that night.  With fresh tomatoes, homemade bread, and homemade mayonnaise.

And then there were mangoes.  39 cents apiece.  Almost as good as the ones that are worth moving back to Egypt for.  Blended with ice cream for mango mousse.

To top off my week of gastronomic bliss, I have a fresh peach pie baking in the oven.  Made with local peaches picked off the tree two days ago.  I'm not sure if I'll die of happiness or a heart attack first.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I love summer

because tomatoes can be on the vine in my garden one minute, and part of tomato pesto soup 30 minutes later.

Yes, That is Kathleen's Hair

And no, I don't know where it came from. Just don't tell Kathleen it's there.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Slow versus Quick Death

As I have mentioned earlier, I recently returned from visiting my parents in North Carolina.  My family has a yearly tradition of going to the North Carolina coast for a week each summer, a tradition that we have held since I was born.  As my mother has requested that if we can only come home once, we come for the beach, I arranged to go to the beach.

Initially, Brandon was to come, but plans changed (as they often do), and he had to stay home and work (as he often does).  Not only did that leave me a single parent for two weeks, more importantly, it left me a single parent for two flights.  Which is much more daunting, all things considered.

Everything went a smoothly as can be expected, with minor hitch of having to hand my 3 month old to a complete stranger so I could take off my 2 year-old's shoes lest she be hiding a bomb in her pink sandals.  She is a devious one, that Kathleen.

Everything went smoothly, that is, until we boarded the plane and Sophia began wailing.  That, initially was a blessing, as our seat neighbor quickly moved himself to another seat as far away as possible and left us with the whole row to ourselves.  By the time we were over Nebraska, however, the whole plane wished that they could move themselves as far away as possible, preferably to another plane and leave us to our screaming, wailing, shrieking baby.  

And I reflected, would I rather spend 20 hours in a car with an intermittently crying baby in the back seat, or would I rather spend 2 hours with a child shrieking non-stop in my arms?  I still can't decide.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Recently, I offered to pick someone up from the airport.  Unlike my mother, who lives a reasonable 20 minutes from the airport, I live a solid hour from the Salt Lake airport, a $10 round trip with the current price of gas.

However, as many a person has picked me up from the airport, I wanted to begin paying back my debt to society.  Or at least my acquaintances.  And my mother's acquaintances.  

I should have suspected that all would not go as planned when, upon talking to my pickee, they were unaware of any of their flight numbers and provided me only with the time of their arrival, and upon prompting, the connecting airport.

So, after a very, very busy and tiring day arranging affairs for my husband and previous to taking someone else to the airport early the next morning, I set off for Salt Lake.  Not wanting to arrive earlier than expected, especially in view of the FAA computer crash in Atlanta, I checked the Delta website.  There were no 8:20 flights from LA, but the 8:15 flight was on time, so off I went.

Which might have worked another day (Delta has a reasonable on-time rate), but the day of the computer crash.  With fifteen minutes to go, my phone rang (thank heavens for cell phones).  My husband informed my that our charge had just called and was not in the air, about to approach Salt Lake.  They were still at their connecting airport.

So while gnashing my teeth and seething for not having been given the flight number, I turned around.  If they hadn't left from LA by now, they weren't going to be in Salt Lake any time soon.  I didn't relish spending several hours waiting for a flight that may or may not come in that evening.

Twenty minutes later, more bad news came: they were coming, and their flight was landing at 10:15.  Confused about how an airplane could make such good time from Southern California to Salt Lake, my husband cleared up by confusion by relating his conversation with the traveler.

Brandon: So you're coming from LA?
House guest: Oh, did I say Los Angeles?  I meant Las Vegas.

By this point, I was close enough to home to enjoy a solid 30 minutes with my husband before turning around and going back to the airport.  So I made good use of my time and ate an entire pint of watermelon frozen custard, kissed my husband, watched a movie trailer and headed up to Salt Lake.  Again.

After 3 1/2 hours in the car, I came home at midnight, went to bed, and woke up at six to go to the airport.  Again.  Following my airport run, I dropped my house guest off at their destination in Provo, another 40 minutes of driving.  

So when I saw the flashing lights in my rearview mirror, it was a fitting end to the previous 36 hours.  

If any one of you gentle readers would like to have my shuttle services at your disposal, I only have one request: Please give me your flight numbers.

Pesto Presto (or rather Lento)

With thoughts of pesto pizza, pesto pasta, tomato and pesto soup, and perhaps even pesto ice cream, this spring I planted eight basil plants.  I watered the plants, I nourished the plants, I loved the plants.  But unfortunately for my own basil plants (or perhaps fortunately), I discovered my mother's basil plants.  

Back in North Carolina, my mother grows a garden.  As gardens go, it's not enormous, as she has to utilize a sunny patch near the road to grow anything.  However, what it makes up for in size, it wins in sheer growing power.  The first time I saw her basil plants, I asked her why she planted so many plants.  'I only planted three,' she protested, 'they just grew that big on their own.'

As my plants would never grow near the size of her plants, she offered her plants for pesto.  I love pesto and Brandon loves pesto.  Kathleen won't eat hot dogs, but she loves pesto, too.  I didn't want to curtail my parents' pesto crop, so I only gave the basil a medium haircut.

Quite a few hours later after picking the leaves, washing, drying, chopping, and adding the other ingredients, we had pesto.  A lot of pesto.  I personally took home a gallon of pesto (in addition to the pesto my mother brought out in May), and my mother had the same amount if not more.  Pesto ice cream anyone?

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Triumph of Draconian Measures

Kathleen turned two recently, and that signaled the true start of battles of will. Anyone who knew me as a child can testify that I generally gave my parents a hard time about being forced. And my parents are now enjoying the benefit of seeing me getting my own back - with interest.

Last Wednesday while at Grandma and Grandpa's house, Kathleen decided that, after asking for them, she was no longer interested in bread and cheese for lunch. Every parent has a breaking point, and I had reached mine that day. Never mind that we were on vacation. Never mind that we were going over to a friend's house for dinner that night. Never mind that I wanted to take a nap. Kathleen was going to eat her lunch. After 1 1/2 hours of crying, we called it a draw. She ate a piece of toast and I took a nap.

So this morning when Kathleen decided that she didn't want her egg anymore and dumped her milk all over the egg to prove it, there was no way I was backing down. I told her that if she didn't eat her egg, Sophia and I would take a walk while she would stay home - in her room (I confess I considered the idea longer than Child Protection Services would be comfortable with). So Kathleen went into her room, screaming, and I got myself and Sophia ready for a walk, turned on the sprinklers, and let Kathleen stew for awhile.

After enough crying, I let her out of her room and told her that if she would like to take a walk, she'd better eat her eggs. She didn't believe me until I threatened a return to her room. She knew I was serious, and after a little banana chaser to ease her pain, the milk-soaked eggs were gone. And we went on a walk.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Grandma and Grandpa Have a Pond

After a week of pure bliss at the beach, we're back in Raleigh at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Kathleen has several favorite activities here: pushing chairs around, swinging on the swing, climbing the stairs, dropping pinecones into the gutters, and the pond.

Kathleen has had limited experience with bodies of water larger than her bath; the pool, the duckpond, the ocean, and now, my parents' pond. At the duckpond, we threw bread to the ducks, at the ocean we threw seashells and sand into the water, and so logic would follow that grandma and grandpa's ponds is also meant to have items thrown into it.

We got our first inkling of her tendencies when my father handed her a pine cone yesterday evening, so that she could go throw it in the gutter, the place where all pine cones belong. However, as we were in the backyard, no where near to the gutters, the pine cone went into the pond. That was banned, followed by pine straw, small rocks, her bread, and pieces of spiderwort she pulled off and threw into the pond. When we went to set the table outside, I handed her a fistful of forks, and had to stop her in the middle of a wind-up to send those into the pond, too.

After enough reprimands about the pond, I assumed that Kathleen had understood the interdict, as no more objects joined the fish. So this morning when she asked for some juice, I assumed she was thirsty and wanted to enjoy a morning refreshment on the terrace. When she came back for seconds, I thought that she must really like orange juice, a treat not available at home. But when the third request for juice came, close on the heels of the second, I followed her.

She carefully walked outside, placed the juice on a step, climbed down the step, placed the juice on the slate, climbed down to that, and then headed for the pond. My suspicions were heightened as I found suspicious splashes on the stones next to the pond, and the goldfish gathered near the splashes. And then they were confirmed as Kathleen neatly upended her cup into the pond. I never realized that goldfish like orange juice so much.

Friday, August 8, 2008

On the Road (Airplane) Again

After a week (for me) of recovering from my last trip illness, and five days of Kathleen maintaining a fever (from a UTI), the girls and I are off for more partying while Brandon stays home to work. As I child I thought it manifestly unfair that my father had to go to work while everyone else got to party. Now that I'm an adult, I realize that it is still manifestly unfair. However, we're still leaving Brandon.

Right now the girls are asleep, and I'm finishing up odds and ends before we head off to the airport. At least this time we're flying. However, in exchange for not driving, I get to take care to two children under the age of two by myself. All of the way to the east coast. The hardest part of the trip will be simply getting on the plane. Brandon is at work, so we're getting dropped off at the airport. When I am dropped off, I will have 1. Kathleen 2. Sophia 3. the diaper bag 4. a double stroller 5. Kathleen's car seat 6. Sophia's car seat 7. my bag, and 8. the girls' bag. Bear in mind that I only have 2 hands - and 8 items to take care of. And that's why Skycaps are worth every dollar.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Timing is Everything

As most people are aware, timing is a very important key to life. When working out the timing of delivering a baby and going to the hospital, everyone is generally happier with the latter occurring before the former. Those who sold their stocks before a certain day in 1929 were much happier than those who sold them after that date. And parents are generally happier when marriage comes before a baby in the baby carriage.

This week, Brandon and I learned what happens when timing doesn't go your way. The Sunday we departed from Missouri, we arose to discover Brandon's brother sleeping in the family room, unhappily nursing an unfortunate mixing bowl. Everyone stayed very clear of the family room, went to church, and then hightailed out of Missouri, thanking our stars that the blow had fallen before we could also become infected.

However, we thanked too soon. Fate caught up with my stomach two hours outside of Omaha, our stop for the night, and our happy reunion with Brandon's older brother, pregnant wife, and four children, was happy for everyone but me. This time I was the pariah, as no pregnant mother of four needs even more chaos introduced into her life.

So after not nearly enough sleep, we woke early and got our infectious selves out of town as Brandon was showing symptoms of the mysterious illness, compounded with sleep deprivation. Sophia joined company with malodorous presents in her diapers in Wyoming, and everyone was ready to throw everyone else out of the car by Little America. As my pediatrician commented the next day when hearing of our drive, 'Wyoming is one endless desert.'

Fifteen and a half hours after leaving Omaha, we limped into Springville (listening to our new CD player which was installed after the old one died eight tracks into Dune), and went to bed. After having both gone through childbirth and driven twenty-one hours in a car with my children, sick, I have decided that I would have rather spent that time giving birth (with an epidural, of course). If I fall asleep during childbirth, no cars are driven off I-80, killing everyone inside.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Think We Would Have Learned

Three weeks before Sophia was born in May, Brandon, Kathleen, and I took a road trip to Portland. He had the vacation time, and we reasoned that after Sophia was born we wouldn't want to go on a road trip for a long time. I suppose we were right if two months counts as a long time.

We leave on Saturday for Missouri, where Brandon's parents live. Our last road trip was a paltry 12 hours, completely do-able in one day. This time, we're looking at a 2-day 20-hour trip two-thirds of the way across the country. My parents (in North Carolina) actually live closer to Missouri than we do out in Utah. However, with the cost of plane tickets currently we can get Brandon out there by plane for what it costs to get all four of us there by car.

Last year, Kathleen wasn't quite a year when we made The Trek, and she behaved herself quite nicely, sleeping a lot, and staying quiet for most of the right. We have no such hopes this year, as Kathleen is much more vocal, and much more easily bored. What do you do with a 2-year old who doesn't care about movies? I have no desire to read Bill and Pete for 20 hours.

And now Sophia (who is currently screaming herself to sleep) gets to join the mix. Last year we swore that it was the last time we would drive from Utah to Missouri, but we're still here, and still driving. Maybe next year. In Jerusalem.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Reality or Make-Believe?

As a child, I would often become frustrated with my younger siblings' blatant lies. 'But that's not true!' I would protest to my mother when my younger brother would tell some far-fetched story about his pet tiger who ate all of his classmates at church. My mother would patiently remind me that small children often can't tell the difference between reality and make-believe so their stories aren't lying, they're just confusions of reality.

Kathleen is beginning to experience the same sort of confusions. However, as she can't talk and so can't tell stories, she acts out her confusion on inanimate objects.

Several days ago as I was reading on the couch, Kathleen came in from playing outside and dropped something wet on my lap. I looked up to discover her toy pig, dripping and muddy from having rooted around in the dirt outside. I'm not sure where she picked up that pigs root in the mud; I certainly didn't tell her.

A few days following the pig incident, Kathleen brought me the baby carrier so I could put it on her. I told her that if she went and got her baby doll, she could carry it around in the carrier. So Kathleen calmly walked into the kitchen, climbed up onto a chair next to the sink, and drew her wet, dripping baby from the bath it had been having.

As part of her (sporadic) toilet training, Kathleen likes to spend time sitting on the toilet, eating raisins, and reading the Reader's Digest. One of her favorite pictures is two women on the back cover. It frustrates her to no end, however, when neither of the women will eat the raisins she so generously attempts to share with them. I try to explain to her that the women are just pictures and raisins won't go into their mouths, but Kathleen just gives me a look that clearly says 'You have no idea what you're talking about.' She's starting young.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Future Orthodontic Care: $5,000; Sophia Sleeping Through the Night: Priceless

Last Sunday Sophia reached the crucial marker: six weeks. My mother and aunt both refer to the first six weeks as the Dark Ages. Nobody (including oneself) knows whats going on, there's lots of crying, and life is a bit of a mess.

Starting at six weeks, the child starts calming down, sleeping better, and smiling. My mother theorizes that children start smiling at six weeks because otherwise their mother is ready to throw them out. The smile is a life-preserving mechanism.

Sophia has also shown another life-preserving mechanism at the six week marker: thumb sucking. I know parents who pull the thumb out every time their child finds it, or put Tobasco sauce on the offending digit - whatever it takes to preserve future teeth and prevent addictive habits. But future orthodontic care notwithstanding, thumb sucking is a milestone I celebrate. My child can now soothe themself back to sleep. And they're so darn cute when they do it, too.

Which brings us to the best six-week present I could ever receive: uninterrupted sleep. Sunday night Sophia went to sleep at 9 and didn't wake up until 6. This morning it wasn't until 6:30. And that is something that is worth every penny spent on orthodontic care. As my mother says, long term psychiatric care is much more expensive.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

Yesterday, Kathleen and I went to Wal-Mart. While at Wal-Mart, we made the usual Wal-Mart type purchases: diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, toiletries. But one item was purchased that had Kathleen uh-uh-uhing her way through the entire store while pulling up her dress: underwear. Pink, polka-dotted, flowered underwear. Not training pants, not pull-ups, but real, no mess-holding capability underwear.

Never mind that Kathleen has never once used the toilet. She had never told us that she has needed to use the toilet. She doesn't even like sitting on the toilet. Nonetheless, she is running around in hot-pink underwear this morning.

I started trying to gradually toilet train her quite awhile ago by sitting her on the toilet. Go to the potty, I told her, and you'll get a treat. She just looked at me, and hopped off the toilet. After several months of no result, I stepped up the incentive by actually bringing a treat to the toilet, as a solid promise of what would be rewarded: a whole chocolate chip. No results. In desperation, I upped the ante: not just a chocolate chip, but an entire Hershey's Kiss. Just for Kathleen. She was excited about the kiss, but still not interested in producing.

So yesterday, we took the plunge at Wal-Mart. Last night after her bath, Kathleen ran all around the house admiring her pink-clad posterior and uttering exclamations of joy. This morning she met me at the door to her room, panties in hand. She only consented to clothing after I informed her that no naked girls were allowed outside.

One and a half hours later after being taken out of her diaper, Kathleen is still dry, but still hasn't used the bathroom either. There's nothing to make one's day more exciting like a 22 month-old running around in panties. Wish me luck.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Kathleen's Further Experiments

Kathleen has discovered recently that, as Sophia's crib is behind our couch, she can view the scenery simply by climbing onto the couch. Sophia being but a small child and rather uninteresting, Kathleen has hit upon other ways to utilize such a prime viewing position. Like a Baal-worshiper making offerings to her idol, Kathleen has begun to cast offerings into the altar of Sophia.

First it was simple things: her doll, blankets, perhaps a book. One might be tempted to think that Kathleen is experiencing empathy; what would Sophia like based on Kathleen's own experience? A few mornings I found another offering: two bulb-suckers. Hmm, not empathy any more. Yesterday was the summer-solstice offering (if only a few days early). Lip gloss, another bulb-sucker, Lansinoh, and an entire crate of diapers. Perhaps Sophia will be appeased.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Curiosity Smothered the Baby

As with all small children, Kathleen is alternately fascinated and completely oblivious to her new little sister. Kathleen's obliviousness doesn't bother me, and her fascination should, but unfortunately for Sophia, it doesn't either.

To Sophia's occasional discomfort and possible future endangerment, Kathleen's fascination is not one of tenderness and care for her new sister, but one of experiment. We should have been forewarned when I found her one day knocking the head of her doll against her crib rail. Kathleen's first object of interest was Sophia's eyes, then her hands and arms (arms aren't supposed to be wrenched like that). After those grew old, Kathleen moved to experiments of force. She discovered that Sophia's swing won't support two people, that Sophia's carseat doesn't have enough room for the both of them without squishing Sophia's legs, and that her little sister is heavier that at first it would appear. Today Sophia received experimentation at the hands of a pillow, and her skull got tested for driveability by Kathleen's Charger.

A good mother would immediately stop Kathleen's science experiments, but what if Kathleen turns out to be the next Marie Curie? Being a bad mother, I favor watching to see what Kathleen thinks up next. It's much more amusing than just stepping in to stop the fun.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Why Women Consent to Having More than One Child

Growing up, my mother always told me that the reason families have more than one child is because of selective memory. Brandon agrees; he says that if it were up to the males, they'd have one, realize it wasn't worth it to have another one, and stop.

Having now produced two, I am inclined to believe my mother. With Sophia only two and a half weeks old, one would think that the memories of being pregnant and giving birth would be fresh, fading only with time. However, I think that a hormone is administered at the hospital that fades everything previous to going home after the birth to a shadowy memory, never to be thought of again. Yes, I vaguely remember something about being overly large and uncomfortable, but you will have to ask Brandon for the details. He still remembers.

In addition to amnesia, having a new baby also dulls one's sensitivity to lack of sleep. Sure I woke up at 12:30, 3:45, 4:15, 4:45, 5:30, and 6:30 this morning, but hey, clearly the sleep deprivation isn't keeping me from doing laundry, reading Kathleen untold number of books (half from memory), and writing this post. Well, I can't make much claim for the post.

But, as with the memory of pregnancy fading, the memory of having a new baby will fade also, only to be remembered all too well by my husband. However, as he is not the one who will do it all over again, his memories won't make much of a difference.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kathleen's New Ride

Recently, Kathleen acquired her first car. Being a classic kind of girl, she (well, actually I did, because it had a hood that opened) opted for an apple green Dodge Charger. We're not sure about the horsepower because the engine is black plastic. It does, however have four wheels that roll marvelously over just about any surface.

Kathleen has been taking a lot of road trips recently: out into the garden (the car got washed after that one), over the dishwasher vent (it's very bumpy), on the bricks outside our front window, on the bookshelf, my leg, her leg, the window, various chairs, books, and most recently, Sophia's head.

Not only does it roll marvelously, it also fits into Kathleen's other new possession: her Princess purse. The purse doesn't roll, but it does light up. She is now equipped with what every female needs: a car, a purse, and somewhere to go.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grandma Withdrawal

As a child, as with any child, I enjoyed visiting (and being visited by), my grandmother. I never realized, however, that grandmas are addictive substances. My mother flew out to Springville shortly after Sophia's birth to come help. She had come out with Kathleen's birth also, but the addictive property wasn't manifest yet.

With grandma's visit, Kathleen enjoyed another adult in the house, one that read her books, took her on walks, and visited the park with her. Kathleen enjoyed an unprecedented amount of attention. She was in heaven.

Grandma, however, left Monday afternoon. Kathleen manifested no outward signs of withdrawal until Tuesday afternoon. Most marked was an increase in whining and requests for books being read to her. As of this afternoon, the withdrawal is starting to wear off, but only slightly. Bill and Pete has been read three times and requested many more. Even Sophia is feeling it, taking much shorted naps and fussing more. I now know why my mother was always sad with her mother's departure.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The First Strike

With her sister not being yet 72 hours old, Kathleen has made the first strike in the eternal sibling war. Coming out from the bathroom, I found Sophia curled up on the floor, no longer in her car seat where she was peacefully sleeping. Kathleen looked both guilty and perplexed. Sophia has no idea what she's in for.

Sophia Makes Her Arrival

After much waiting, Sophia has joined our family. As with most babies, she is squishy, red, floppy, and cute (at least to her parents). She kept Brandon up all night her first night home, but has behaved better the second night. So much sleeplessness to look forward to...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Still Waiting...

Much of life consists of waiting. We make a decision about something important, get ready and then... wait. I'm sure that someone somewhere has tallied how much time we simply spend waiting at stoplights. Pregnancy is one of those waiting games. A husband and wife decide to add another beloved child to their family, and then everyone waits for nine and a half more months until that child makes its appearance. Like most things, the most excruciating waiting period is right at the end. We can wait 40 weeks, but the last fews days are sheer torture.

When I was pregnant with Kathleen, I was optimistic. Perhaps I could buck my genetic trend and actually have a child without oxytocin, and early, too. Kathleen was induced a week late, with my body just realizing that it might be time to kick her out. It seems that I'm just so hospitable that nobody wants to leave.

This time with Sophia I knew better. My due date was May 14, so I expected to be induced a week late, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that with my history, I could get induced on my due date. Which is today. And we don't own a laptop. And I'm not at the hospital. This time it's not physiology to blame, it's scheduling. Who knew that May 14th would be such a popular date to schedule an induction?

So, here I am, again, still pregnant. And will most likely be until Sunday, when I'm going to kick my ox into the mire and be induced. Perhaps I'll take my friend Natalie's offer and go jump on her trampoline for awhile after dinner.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Differing Parenting Styles

When two people marry, the thought of differences is inconceivable; that, after all, is why two people marry - they are absolutely perfect for each other. And perfection implies agreement in everything. Until they marry, then live somewhere, have to pick out furniture, and set up housekeeping. And that's just the beginning; wait until children come along.

Thursday afternoon, in a fit of housecleaning that only seems to occur when a child is about to be born, Brandon, Kathleen and I were in the backyard. I was cleaning the jog stroller, and he was scrubbing out the trashcan, which had grown a fine layer of black mold in the bottom during the winter. My excuse was that it was too cold to clean anything outside, so the mold got to stay.

Kathleen, being a small child, has a fascination with water, and if the water has bubbles in it, so much the better. If a sponge also comes with the deal, life is perfect. She started out somewhat innocuously (compared to later), by scooping out the bubbles to place upon her head. Then came the splashing. But the piece de resistance, grounds for disagreement between Brandon and myself, was when she started drinking the soapy, moldy, trashcan water out of the sponge.

He was revolted. I ran and got the video camera.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Mexi-Mobile Rides Again

While on our way home from Portland, Brandon, Kathleen and I decided to stop in La Grande, Oregon. None of us had ever been to La Grande, and we heard that there was a nice place for sandwiches, organically shade-grown coffee, and strange college students, called Highway 30. It was a lovely, sunny day, warm but not too warm, and we enjoyed a nice walk around the historic downtown.

During our stop for luncheon, we decided to get the car fixed as long as we were in La Grande. It was making a scraping noise that only stopped when Brandon took a walk along the Interstate and found some spare parts that he was able to (once again) rig up the detached muffler pipe with. The patch from the previous repair job was holding just fine; a section a few inches down was now causing the trouble.

So if any of you are in La Grande, and need a muffler repair while having lunch, we highly recommend The Muffler Shop, on Madison Ave right behind the railroad tracks.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Why There are Three Types of Vacations

After being married awhile, Brandon and I started talking about vacations. Vacations, I insisted did not include children. Brandon countered that they did. After some discussions, we came up with three types.

1. Trip. On a trip, one takes family and visits family.
2. Vacation. On a vacation, one takes family, but does not visit family.
3. Getaway. On a getaway, no family is involved other than one and one's spouse.

While planning our trip to Portland, I decided that Brandon and I needed a getaway to celebrate our anniversary. After some arranging the surprise, we went to the coast and stayed at a wonderful bed and breakfast for two nights while Kathleen got abandoned at her Aunt Laura's house. Contrary to typical coastal weather, the sun started shining as we pulled into town and was fairly sunny our entire stay. Not that it mattered much; we simply enjoyed eating entirely too much food, sleeping as long as we wanted, and reading a book together with no interruptions. There were a few walks interspersed between eating and napping.

It is now my definite opinion, now proved, that getaways are the key to parental/marital sanity.

Friday, May 2, 2008

A Much-Needed Road Trip

A while ago, Brandon and I decided to take a trip. Kathleen was included in the trip, but had no part in the planning because she's not even two and can't say her own name. Her opinion wasn't consulted. When I told my father (who is an OB/GYN) that we were going to Portland, Oregon (a 12-hour drive away), he asked how far along I would be. 37 weeks, I sheepishly admitted. After that, he didn't want to hear any details.

For those of you who are wondering, Sophia is still safely inside and I had no blood clots, heart problems, or anything else that might be associated with long-distance car travel while terminally pregnant. Just some irritability and a moratorium on twisting around to reach the back seat for the next several months.

As with all trips, expected problems turned out worse and better than we had hoped. And we certainly have learned some lessons to store away in the parental consciousness so we can pass it on to our children who will promptly ignore it.

1. Children sleep less than one would think they should in the car, and inevitably stay up past their bedtime when you most want them to be quiet and go to sleep. Softly played Primary songs don't help. Although this principle was obnoxious enough on the trip to Portland where we arrived around 7, it became even more painfully so on our return trip, where we didn't arrive until 11. Kathleen managed to finally fall asleep right around Salt Lake.

2. When placed in a situation with new toys and new compatriots, children suddenly become aware of nothing else. We stayed for several nights with Brandon's sister, Alissa and her family which included three cousins, the oldest being 4 1/2. Who knew that pushing around a toy walking car could provide hours of amusement to someone who can already walk?

3. On vacation, nutrition goes out the window. We began the week well, with a healthy whole-wheat couscous salad and dried fruit. Mid-week, Kathleen was feasting on Easy-Mac for several meals. By our trip home, her last meal was a hamburger patty (just the patty) and french fries.

4. Tiring out a child will help them sleep anywhere (as long as it isn't the car). For the other portion of our week, Brandon and I stayed with my sister Laura and her husband Ben in their studio apartment on the eight floor of a downtown tower. Despite being in the same room as four talking adults, Kathleen had no problem falling asleep. The only problem was when she woke up around 6 and there was no door to keep out her babblings.

5. Siblings, despite any difficulties growing up, are wonderful to visit. Despite our invasion of their studio, Laura and Ben seemed very happy to see us, happy enough to take Kathleen off our hands for a few days while Brandon and I went to the coast. We had a great time walking around Portland with them, and seeing their new apartment and where Laura works. Seeing Jeff and Alyssa was just as fun, and we got to watch their kids for them and give them a date night. We stayed up entirely too late the night before we left playing Settlers of Catan. Despite improved sibling relations, however, you're never too old to still be upset by games. No one threw any tantrums or pieces to the game, though.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Persistence of Children

Once, (seemingly) long ago, I was told by a well-meaning former pre-school teacher that children have short attention spans. Your nursery lessons should be short, she counseled me, counting on a minute for each year in the child's age. According to her formula, the longest lessons we should plan for would be three minutes. Never having had children, I decided to ignore her advice and do what I wanted.

Now having had a child for over a year and a half, I wonder whose children she was speaking of having short attention spans. Theoretically, if a child had a short attention span, they would be endlessly entertained, moving from activity to activity to activity and then back again because by the time they got done emptying out all of the cupboards and drawers in the house, they would have forgotten about having done it once, and then do it all over again.

I say theoretically because I have yet to see Kathleen exhibit this behavior. Instead of wandering off after 90 seconds of Bill and Pete, or worse yet, Mother Goose, she sticks around for the whole story and would have me read it to her until, well, I don't know. I've never seen how long; her patience is longer than mine. And Mother Goose is over 100 pages long. I know; I've read the whole thing to her more than once.

With the advent of warmer weather, Kathleen has discovered The Park. And more importantly, she has learned that The Park contains every child's favorite mindless contraption: The Swings. One afternoon, I decided to see who would give up first, her or me. She finally gave up after an hour. But that was just the swings. I had to drag her kicking and screaming home, otherwise she would have stayed for at least another two hours. If I had known, I would have brought a book.

Her most recent obsession that is more easily reached than the park is The Blanket, or alternately The Laundry Bag. Unfortunately her Uncle Nick introduced her to the idea of being swung back and forth inside a blanket. It sounds simple, it even sounds like fun for all involved, but it soon grows old after 10 or 15 minutes for those that have to do the swinging. But don't worry, she'll accept substitutes - Brandon has been obliged to carry her around the house inside a blanket or one of our laundry bags for an entire afternoon. And if her favorite activity is interrupted, she howls like she's just been told she's going to be sold into slavery. This morning, while getting ready for church, I finally put the blanket out of her reach because she was following us around the house with it, asking to be swung (not with words, just with an insistent uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh). She just went and found another one. Whoever says children have short attention spans clearly has never done anything with them that they enjoy.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Has Anyone Seen Spring?

This was the view out of our front window Thursday morning. I wasn't very happy. And neither was Kathleen.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Ideals versus Reality

As a fairly new parent, I am still coming up against every parent's daily struggle of ideals versus reality. The first source of ideals comes from parenting books and magazines. There are enough ideals stuffed into such sources to make any mother feel as if their child will grow up to be a mass murderer because they weren't read to in utero and had at least 3 hours of concentrated play-time and parental interaction. Thankfully, I learned to ignore those sources early on; I had enough guilt without needing a well-designed layout to increase it.

However, the second source of ideals is harder to ignore: the ones we create ourselves. Those ideals we hold because we think that they are an intrinsically good idea or principle, not just because a slick magazine layout told us they were so.

The first ideal that got discarded was 'I'll never yell at my darling child;' it lasted about 3 weeks until Kathleen wouldn't stop crying in the middle of the night and all I wanted was sleep. Somehow children should know to stop crying when you yell instead of simply crying more. And ever since, they've been dropping by the wayside.

Ideal: My child will always eat healthy food and no desserts. Reality: Macaroni and cheese is perfectly nutritious, and cheerios are a great distraction
Ideal: My child will never eat treats in church. Reality: At the height of snack-dom we had three different types of treats (cheese, cheerios and cocoa crunchies).
Ideal: I will enrich my child's mind with daily activities and reading. Reality: Daily activities definitely include sitting on my lap while I surf the internet. And Noisy Nora can certainly enrich any child's mind.

With the coming of Kathleen's 18-month birthday, another ideal bit the dust. Despite being perfectly happy with her first week of nursery, Kathleen was not nearly as happy with her second and third weeks. I have never heard a child scream the way she did while being left in nursery. So, despite my resolution never to sit with my child in nursery, that's exactly what Brandon and and I have been doing for the last three weeks in church. On his week, Brandon got to enjoy a full two hours of play time, snack, lesson, and coloring. We'll have her trained just in time for Sophia to arrive and start disrupting the peace again.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Date Night

Last Saturday was Date Night. For those who don't have children, date night may perhaps not be the sacrosanct event that it is for us who are tied down after 6 p.m. However, once Kathleen is in bed at the appointed hour, either Brandon can leave the house or I can leave the house, but to leave the house together requires a third party (who is usually paid). And last Saturday was an especially special date night, the kind that doesn't involve separate seating during the movie; we usually only manage that kind on our one night out a month.

In anticipation of seeing an earlier movie, we grilled at home, pretending that it is actually warm enough this time of year to grill outside. And seeing as this was Date Night, a special time where Brandon and I can sit down, talk, and discuss the deepest matters of our soul, the phone rang. So I enjoyed a delicious dinner while Brandon tried to eat around being harangued the entire meal by a well-meaning caller.

But no matter. We could still lovingly hold hands while being surrounded by teenaged girls at the dollar movie showing of Enchanted. I liked it, and well, it was better than anything else offered. Afterwards, we decided to splurge and go to Coldstone for ice cream. Obviously we hadn't been out on a Saturday night for some time, because we weren't aware of the 45-minute wait time for someone to mix your ice cream up on a cold piece of marble. At both stores in Provo. So instead we went grocery shopping. Aren't onions romantic?

On the way home, our rumbling motor emitted a clunk followed by an ominous scraping sound. Our poor car had chosen that moment to break a pipe on University Parkway. So, to finish off our date night, Brandon crawled under the car and rigged up a license plate with string to hold us over until we got home. Anyone who says that married life isn't romantic obviously hasn't watched their Henry Higgins turn into McGuyver.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Lowered Expectations

As a tender youth in the Young Women's program, we were always told 'never lower your standards or expectations!' I took that advice to heart, always looking for what I could expect more from. Friday night date? Dinner and a movie were so overdone. Just dinner itself? Don't even think of taking me to something like Applebees - they get all of their food from Sysco! Vacations? The more remote and related to the Caribbean the better. I once dated a young man whose highest desire from life was to sit in his library at home and read books. Who'd ever want to marry someone like that?

Growing up in North Carolina, I had definite ideas about climate. Anything less than 85 degrees is cool, and anything less than 50 is downright cold. And below freezing? We don't talk about places like that out of respect for the mental deficiencies of the people living there.

However, this winter has been only the worst in a long string of cold winters; I was just grateful to stay home and not walk to class in the miserable weather. Spring has finally decided to show its face around here, and the snow has almost melted. The weather has been gorgeous. Kathleen and I have gone running in reduced winter gear (only one blanket for her, and one jacket and pair of running tights for me, sometimes ever stripping down to no jacket at all). After all 30 degree mornings are quite balmy compared to 20 degree ones. And those ones are better than 10 degree mornings. This afternoon, charmed by the sun, Kathleen and I even shed our coats and I donned flip-flops. And who wouldn't on a balmy, 55-degree day? Despite the warnings of my long-ago leaders, I have come to embrace lowered expectations. Being happy is so much easier when one doesn't expect much.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Unsolved Mysteries

In the universe, there are many mysteries, unexplained phenomena that puzzle scientists and lead to such multi-billion dollar projects as the Large Hadron Collider or the Hubble telescope. Often the phenomena occur, and no one can explain how.

Although the very large and very small have been explored, cosmos, and microcosmos, no one has turned their attention to another treasure-trove of mysteries: small children. Their specialty lies in teleportation of matter. Where have the car keys gone? Try looking in the bottom of the bathroom cupboard. How about the phone? Try the back of the freezer. And don't even think of leaving really valuable items laying about; they may end up buried in the backyard.

As Brandon and I were talking today, Kathleen was pulling books out of the bookshelf and reading them to herself as consolation for being ignored. In the midst of perusing Love You Forever (the one she always brings over when she's feeling neglected), Kathleen froze and then her face fell, followed by what can only be described as blubbering. One can only imagine the things that she's saying to herself as she cries. "They don't love me, everyone hates me, why does this always happen to me?" When asked to come over and receive comfort, she wouldn't budge, but continued crying with an expression of extreme consternation. Brandon walked over to investigate and discovered a new act of teleportation: a solid mass from
her diaper had magically moved intact from its original location to halfway down her pant leg.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Why I Have a Child

When I was a child and my mother would inhumanely make us children help about the house, she would reply 'that's why I had so many children - so they can do my work while I sit around reading trashy novels and eating bonbons.' I've decided that there is something to my mother's methodology, so we're starting Kathleen young.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gearheads Unite

As my father's daughter, I was raised in a household of Gear. My parents' garage ceiling and walls are covered with various tributes to gear-sports: kayaks, windsurfing equipment, numerous bikes, the obligatory power tool collection, and a canoe. Not to mention the gardening equipment, but that belongs to my mother. Enter the kitchen, and her domain is also gear-infested: numerous cooking pots, springform pans, whisks, spatulas, cake pans, cooking torches, and the absolutely necessary microplane grater (no cook can do without one).

Brandon, however, if he was raised in anything close to a household needing Gear, never inherited that propensity. At the commencement of our marriage, I brought a car, a computer, at least five boxes of kitchen equipment, sewing odds and ends, three boxes of painting, stained-glass, drawing, basketweaving, and bookmaking supplies, a chair, a lamp, a small collection of custom-framed artwork, a stereo system, and various other small items. Brandon brought Babe (on video, and we have no VCR), some clothes, and three or four boxes of books.

Being a farsighted person and liking to plan for the future, I have recently begun planning for the arrival of Sophia. As we own a crib, clothes, a carseat, and the diapers can be bought closer to her arrival, that only left one thing: a stroller. When Kathleen made her appearance, Brandon and I had our first discussion about strollers. He balked at the necessity of two strollers (one for running and one for other places), to which I finally appealed to experience by asking how many strollers his mother had. To which he replied, "None, where would she have used a stroller?" I suppose there aren't many sidewalks through cow pastures in Missouri.

So when the purchase of a third stroller was made yesterday, Brandon did what has never been done before in our marriage: he issued an official ban. No more strollers.  Ever.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Music Soothes the Savage Beast

From a young(er) age, Kathleen has enjoyed music. When I turn on the stereo, a look of joy comes to her face, and she immediately begins directing the music and exclaiming, unintelligibly, how much she likes a particular piece.

As many children do, Kathleen has acquired various objects from the around the house as hers - an old soda bottle, various measuring cups, my brush when she can get it, and most recently, Brandon's pocket hymn book and children's song book. She enjoys walking around the house with the hymn book in one hand, held out in front of her, and waving the other hand while 'singing.' As she can't talk and can't carry a tune, her singing consists of long tones usually beginning with low-a-low-a-low or wal-a-wal. However, she doesn't seem to know the difference, and it amuses her, so we'll worry about the words later.

In addition to her own singing, Kathleen also enjoys Brandon's and my singing. Often after singing a song of her own, she will force the hymn book into our hands and insist that we trade songs. Being a smart mother, I've begun to employ songs to keep Kathleen content while working on some of my own pursuits that don't involve reading her endless repetitions of Mother Goose.

One morning recently, Kathleen was fussing again, and I wasn't ready to feed her lunch, so I started singing. We began with such classics as "Once There Was a Snowman," "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree" (at this point wishful thinking), and "I've Been Working on the Railroad." Having exhausted the supply of short songs, I moved on to the longer "The Ants Go Marching" (we made up to fifteen before I couldn't make up any more rhyming words) and "This Old Man" (repeated twice). Following the singing, Kathleen brought me Bill and Pete, which I repeated to her from memory, while she kept turning the pages, looking for where we were in the story.

As it still wasn't time for lunch, and Kathleen started threatening with Mother Goose (of which half of I do have memorized), we started one last song, guaranteed for at least 20 minutes of silence from Kathleen: "99 Bottles of Milk on the Wall." We made it to 45 bottles before lunch.

Friday, January 18, 2008

I'm told that with age comes wisdom. Or at least change. As a teenager, I would unequivocally declare that I didn't believe in exercise. Upon seeing a runner on the street, thoughts of what kind of sick person they were came to my mind. After entering BYU, I amended my policy somewhat, and would work out with my friend Amber twice a week. But it was only weight lifting, and we would go eat lunch at the Cannon center previously.

My sophomore I stepped it up and did kickboxing at my apartment complex, but after attempting running, I gave it up, because I'm not a runner. However, that summer 8 pounds in a month intervened, and running was interspersed with swimming. So, grudgingly, I became a runner. But with conditions:
1. No running when the temperature drops below freezing
2. No running in the rain
3. And absolutely no running in the snow

This past month and a half has been filled with both below-freezing temperatures and snow, and I have not been seen on the streets of Springville. However, recently the snow has finally ceased its falling, and the sidewalks have been somewhat cleared. And even I have been excited to go running. Except for condition number 1. The cold.

To say that it has been cold recently would be an understatement (at least for me). It has been so cold that even Brandon who never complains of the cold has complained of it being chilly. Inside. Our dining table sits in a corner that has a window and is composed of two exterior walls, and one can feel the cold radiating off the walls as one eats. It doesn't make for a very pleasant dinner.

But it doesn't look to be getting any warmer, and I'm certainly not getting any less pregnant, so this morning Kathleen and I took the plunge. I put on two pairs of running tights, two fleece jackets, a neck gaiter, and earband, and gloves. Kathleen had on gloves, a fleece cardigan, her coat, a scarf, and her hat. Once we got outside I wrapped her up in two fleece blankets, and a big quilt for extra measure. At the point, when it started snowing, it wasn't worth undressing and going back inside, so we went running. In 10 degree weather in the snow.

I think that perhaps age only brings insanity.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Why I'd Like to Move to the South

I would like to move to the South (or anywhere else that relies on the solar method of snow removal, or ever better, anywhere that doesn't see snow) so that I wouldn't have to shovel snow when I'm 4 1/2 months pregnant.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Impeccable Timing of Children

My parents love, as many parents do (I think as their own form of revenge for various humiliations at the hands of their children), telling a story of me as a child. One winter while shopping, they made a stop at the jewelry counter in Bloomingdale's. At the time I was an infant, and my older sister Brynn old enough to speak but not old enough to understand discretion. Due to the leaky nature of cloth diapers, I am alleged to have had... rather unsavory things... running down my legs onto the white marble floors. My sister, eager to point out my act, loudly announced to all within earshot that I had pooped on the floor. My parents, having no other recourse, beat a hasty retreat.

Often there is a debate among parents which accidents are most horrifying and difficult to clean up. Personally, I find vomit most disgusting, but as of a few days ago, had had no first-hand experience with anything beyond heavy spit-up.

New Year's Eve, I have realized, is a holiday for single people and drinkers. Parents, especially those of young children, mostly have no part and are more than happy to go to bed, roll over in the middle of the night, and mumble a Happy New Years, if that much cognizance is present. Having no desire to stay up, but always willing to make a party of things, Brandon and I had a modest party with my cousin Mark and his wife Melodie, who have no children and are always great to invite over. 'Modest' being a deceiving word, and having evidently forgotten the preparations for recent dinner parties and Christmas dinner, Brandon and I spent all day (but only one day this time!) preparing various "small bites."

Dinner was much enjoyed, followed by Boggle and Yahtzee, all to the accompaniment of some nice jazz. Kathleen I am sure dreamed of being in a dicing parlour.

Following fond farewells around 10:30 (we were celebrating the New York New Year), Brandon and I checked on Kathleen, only to discover her face-down in the remains of borsch, having completely soaked all her blankets, her clothes, her sheet, her mattress pad, and her hair, which had by this time dried in spikes.

So indeed we did celebrate New Years in Mountain Standard Time, but I don't think there was much romantic kissing the New Year in, perhaps just a very tired peck.

Having no further symptoms the following day except a reluctance to eat, we scratched our head and did nothing, as Kathleen has shown no inclination to let fall anything from her lips that sounds like English words, and cannot describe any feelings of malaise to us.

Upon waking her from a nap on Wednesday with a loaded, liquid diaper followed five minutes later by evacuation from the other end, we realized that in fact, something was up. A difficulty of having non-communicative children is that, well, they don't communicate very well, including communicating when they don't feel well.

Which returns me to my original subject, that of the timing of children. Not only did Kathleen become sick(er) on Wednesday, but I also had my long-awaited ultrasound. Ultrasounds are supposed to be exciting, the time when you start calling your unborn baby by its name, when you start making plans for games of catch, or polite tea parties. And it was exciting and amazing to see our baby kicking around, moving its little fingers, yawning, and rolling everywhere. Right until Kathleen showed us again what she had eaten for breakfast.

And for anyone who is wondering, we're having another girl, Sophia. Hopefully she'll have better (or worse, depending on how you look at it) timing than her older sister.