Thursday, August 28, 2008

Another Not What I Expected Revelation

There are so many things that we don't expect when we think about becoming parents. Living in a family where little kids were always around and being an experienced babysitter, I had a huge advantage in this department. I expected things like spit up, crying, stinky diapers, tantrums, sleepless nights, worries, fevers, spills, and stains.

And I am pretty good at anticipating things. I frequently find myself thinking things like, "Yes, it's okay to let her play with your hair now that she is a tiny little baby, but how will this tugging feel when she is a robust toddler?" Or, "If I let her take that stick inside, she will bang it on every surface to test the sound and I will have a headache and a bunch of stick marks on everything." I understand the need to be a few steps ahead of the kids developmentally and strategically.

But here's something to file under "things I did not anticipate" as a parent.

I did not anticipate spending 20 minutes in a public restroom staring at the wall and not talking to my kid while she uses the potty. (Nor did I anticipate the number of times I would do this.) I did not expect hauling all of the kids and their stuff up the hill a second time for another potty adventure with another kid a mere 20 minutes after the first visit.

I'd like to end with something lame like, "It goes to show you that crap happens." However, I won't be that lame tonight. I will merely add that my kids learned the fun in potty talk on the same day they spent half of the day touring the public restroom at the local park. They spent the whole drive home insulting each other with potty words (which sound like a blur of nothing to me, but included things like
"doo doo" and "underpants"), followed by fits of giggles. G laughed so hard that she gave herself a wicked case of hiccups. Even V, who couldn't see anyone's face and doesn't yet understand potty humor, laughed herself silly.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


"Mommy, thank you for driving the no-traffic way," says G.

"You're welcome." I have tried hundreds of times to explain that I don't actually ever choose to drive in traffic, but the traffic just gets in our way sometimes. She struggles with the idea that the rules of the road dictate where I am going. She must think me awfully powerful, I decide, to be able to go where I want without regard to other cars.

She frequently also complains that I am driving the traffic way and asks me to drive on the wrong side of the road.

But this is new. "Mommy, why are we always the last car?"

"Even though you can't see them, there are actually cars behind us," I explain.

"No there aren't!" Incredulous.

The classic example of "it's a matter of perspective."

Just like my parenting journey. I find myself daily hauling around a baby who needs to be rocked and bounced to sleep, who puts everything into her mouth (sand, dirt, razor blades - it's all fair game to her), and who has secret radar which wakes her up if I try to leave her sleeping in bed. And because I have done it all before, it seems like hardly any trouble. In fact, I feel like taking just one kid out for an errand is easy-breezy.

Had I not experienced this whole thing twice before, it wouldn't be so familiar, so business as usual.

Of course, I am still adjusting to getting spit up on ten times a day. The other kids didn't do that!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


I have a girl who has been in love with horses since she could identify them. Don't ask me why. I didn't even take riding lessons as a kid. Being an animal lover in general, I can understand. Horses are pretty amazing, strong, powerful, smart.

I grew up with friends who had horses, and so I had both the ability to get to know them a little, and the ability to observe how much work and expense they are. And while I didn't ever catch horse fever, I can say that one of my favorite memories is falling off a horse. So, I can understand my daughter's passion.

Still, she's six years old, and her passions sometimes evaporate overnight. And with drama, dance, choir, piano and plain old lessons intended to teach her core subjects like math and language arts, I can't imagine inserting a horse into her urban life right now!

So, I hatched a plan. I thought that if she would only understand the work of caring for a horse, she might be deterred. Maybe if she could see how really huge and powerful they are, she would feel a little more cautious about wanting to put her little body atop one. Heck, the smell alone might scare her off! I took her to a horse show so she could see for herself a little slice of horse reality.

We met with an old, dear friend who knows more about horses than anyone I know (more than anyone in the world, I sometimes wonder), who could give her the firsthand reality check. We watched huge horses jump giant obstacles in sweltering heat. We meandered by horse stalls, stepped over piles of horse dung, and watched other people comb and wash their horses. After a long, hot, stinky day at the horse show, we headed home with what I hoped would be a more realistic perspective on horses.

Exhausted, the kids all fell asleep in the back of the car on the long drive home. And I heard D talk in her sleep like she often does when something is really heavy on her mind.

"Oh, the horses are beautiful," she murmured.

I think my plan backfired. When she woke up, she asked when we can sign up for riding lessons.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Introducing Table Foods

When it was time to introduce table foods to D, we had to wait until she was 10 months old because of various viruses and a nasty diaper rash. Our doctor recommended we avoid introduction of new foods when her body was resisting other invaders. By the time we introduced the foods, she insisted upon eating only things she could feed herself and only foods she could easily eat with her fingers. With gusto, she ate peas, beans, lentils, tiny bits of avacado, and rice. While I didn't really intend to offer jarred baby food, D decided for herself that she wasn't in need of such.

When G was old enough for table foods, I was ready for something to entertain her so I could sit and eat a meal myself. She's crawling outside on the deck and eating leaves, I thought, so why not give her some food to eat? Apparently leaves were more interesting to her. She turned her head, resisted all of my offers of tasty bits of food. When she was cajoled into putting something into her mouth, she GAGGED dramatically. At around 10 months of age, she suddenly became interested in eating table food and willing to try. The gagging ceased, but she insisted only on perfectly smoothly pureed foods that she be fed with a spoon. Since I already raised a baby without commercial baby food, I just pureed my own foods. It's actually super easy and they don't eat much at a sitting, so it's not much work.

V is now 9 and a half months old. She has been interested in grabbing my food for some time. She reaches her little head up from my sling to try to get a drink from my glass of water. But she would also eat sand if I let her. Recently I started offering some table foods because it seemed like a reasonable time and she may as well eat food instead of sand. Sure enough, the gag reflex is so strong that she gets very little down. However, she is delighted with the pleasure of giving it a try and just keeps on trying.

The other day, I noticed a little something in the diaper that was not her usual mama's milk stool. I wonder what she is ingesting in enough quantity to show up here, I thought. Maybe I should make more for her. Upon closer inspection, I was able to identify what she ate. Paper. Still had the writing on it. The next day? Grass. Forget about all of those peas, avacados, and rice she tosses all around the house. Paper and grass make it past the gag reflex.


Sunday, August 3, 2008


There are few things that feel more luxurious to me than a soak in a big, hot tub. So, while we agonized over everything we did at the new old house, and while we looked for ways to shave the cost repeatedly, and while we did give up and sacrifice some of the items on our wish list, we kept the big tub in the master bath. After two weeks of being in the house, I finally cleared enough space to get to the big tub and took a soak today. Ahhh..... It was like a morning at the spa. A morning at the spa in which one has to walk to the end of the hall and dig through piles of laundry to find something to wear.