Sunday, August 27, 2006

 

Watch me! Watch Me!

I try to avoid drawing comparisons between Rebekah and Lexie. Mainly because I don’t want to pigeon hole them into any labeled personality traits. It's difficult, particularly when they are so seemingly different and it is interesting conversation. I noticed the power of a label when Bekah suddenly became a ‘jumper’ after we proclaimed to family and friends that Lexie is a ‘climber’. I tried to undo the damage by attempting to convince them both that they are really “sit still-ers” and “stay putt-ers” but they aren’t buying it. I am afraid the dye has been cast.

While I resist the urge to compare and label, last night, I found myself in the midst of a scene that so captured my life with both girls that I have to share.

The three of us where playing in the living room. Bekah was jumping off the couch and Lexie was investigating the boxes from our anniversary gifts. There were three boxes, each about six inches high. They had contained frying and sauce pans, so they were fairly sturdy.

“Watch me! Watch me!” Rebekah shouts in my ear, as she scrambles up the couch and jumps off again, for the fifth time. “I am only going to do this one more time, so watch closely!”

Meanwhile, across the room, Lexie gingerly puts one leg up on the box that was lying flat. She quietly hoists herself up until she was standing on it. The middle of the box was a bit precarious so it waved under her weight. She lowers her center of gravity and holds her arms out. She looked exactly like a surfer.

“Eberbody WATCH ME!” Bekah said to the room. Many kids have imaginary friends. My oldest daughter has an imaginary audience. It generally consists of all of her friends, her teachers and her grandparents. Go figure. “I am only going to do this one more time and one more time and one more times”, she shouts as she jumps off the couch for the eighth time.

After hanging ten on the frying pan box for a few moments, Lexie looks around and gets another idea. She scoots herself off of the first box and waddles around to the other box, sitting slightly propped on the one she just surfed. Bending at the knees, she puts both hands under the second box and hoists it on top of the first.

“Watch me! Mommy watch this amazing trick, this hugely amazing trick!” Bekah yells as she jumps off the couch for the tenth time.

Lexie walks back around and tries to put her leg on top of the two boxes. This time, when she flops her leg up, it is parallel to her shoulder. She gives it a good stretch and tries with all of her strength to pull herself up on the stacked boxes. It isn’t working and her body starts to pivot. Suddenly, her ankle is hooked to the top box and it is now behind her – she is in a ballerina arabesque pose. Her head and hands drop to the floor and she evaluates her situation for a moment.

Bekah is jumping off the couch for the twelfth time and she is wound up. “Watch me! Watch me!” she screeches in a repetitive loop.

As the box starts to slide from behind her, Lexie aborts that plan and waddles over to the wall. She puts both hands on the floor, her bum against the wall hikes one foot up. Now she has something solid on which to try this new trick. I watch as she tries to lift her second leg up onto the wall.

While I am sad to report that my 14 month old did not master the art of the handstand last night, my three year old's 20 jumps off the couch were a huge hit with the imaginary crowd.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 

Lex’s Dogs Are Barkin’

Baby Lexie’s feet stink. I’m not talking cute little baby foot smells. I’m talking smelly “leave-the-van-doors-open-after-soccer-practice” smelly.

It started when we were back in South Dakota. She has an adorable pair of little leather Stride Rite sandals that we dress her in, sans socks. Well, the combination of unreasonably hot weather and her constant running around, caused her to have some feet issues.

This is a strange development. Little kids smell so good. I am reading a fascinating book called The Mommy Brain. One of the things the author examines is the effect scent has on the parent / child relationship. While we still know little about the subject, it is clear that scent plays a profound part in family bonding. Research has shown that the smell of your baby causes a chemical reaction in your brain. Your brain starts to produce the same chemicals that it produces when you first fall in love – making you want to be with that person, in close physical contact constantly.

Watch any mother hold a newborn and the first thing they do is breath in deeply the smell. When Ron first met Rebekah, it took us several days to convince him that we were not dousing her in special powder or rubbing her with magic lotion to make her smell the way that she did.

Of course, they have their odoriferous characteristics. I hate to admit it but I am fairly oblivious to the smell of my kids’ diapers. Even their baby morning breath is strangely endearing to me. They have a certain smell when they are sick, but I am too focused on taking care of them to pay any attention to that*

But boy howdy! Lexie’s feet! We have her in socks now and we soak her feet every evening after school. We need little baby odor-eaters, but I don’t think they make them. When we take off her shoes, you would think she is 14 years old, not 14 months old. Nothing about those feet stinks is cute, babyish, endearing or love-chemical producing.

Lex, when you are old enough to read this post, I am sure you will be mortified. Sorry.




*It just occurred to me that we have no word in our language that is the equivalent to blind or deaf for smell.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

 

R E B E K A H

Rebekah officially knows how to spell her name. She has been very close for several weeks now. It has been the second ‘e’ that has been tripping her up. She has preferred to spell her name R E B K A H since July. Or, if she managed to get the second E in, through our prompting, it sent her into a loop. So she would spell R E B E B E K A H.

Yesterday, as she was eating breakfast, she looked at her cup, which I had written her name on and she said, ‘mommy, I have to ‘e’s in my name. R E B E K A H”.

And that was that. She repeated it several times and has been spelling it correctly since then.

Poor Lexington. She’ll probably be nine before she can spell her name. We are cruel parents.

Friday, August 18, 2006

 

20 Things I Don’t Like

Taking an idea from sprigs and Darlin T… I’m doing my own 20 Things I Don’t Like.

1. Misuse of the word “myself” – as in “if you have any questions, please ask Donna or myself”. Myself never goes at the end of a sentence unless you are talking about yourself in reference to yourself (as in, ‘I crack myself up’). Stop trying to sound smarter and use the word “me”.

2. Flip Flops – If life were fair, impractical shoes would never be in fashion. I feel a parental obligation to be deft and dexterous when I am out with the girls. (after all, I need to be able to turn on a dime when they dart out into traffic or beat the crap out of someone who tries to steal them). Why does this year’s fashion have to be flip flops? They are the opposite of helpful when hauling around toddlers. I am certain both girls will cringe when they see photos of me from this time – with my seven year old Danskos on.

3. When I let expensive organic fruits, vegetables or dairy products to bad in the kitchen. (because I wasted money and they make the house stink)

4. Allergies – I don’t get them. Why does such innocuous things as melons make my little Lexie puke so much? And don’t get me started on my sister and nuts…

5. When I put my foot in my mouth – happens all the time.

6. Any song by Billy Ocean or Rick Astely – seriously.

7. When that pimply-faced kid at Fred Meyer in Kirkland used to comment to me on the evils of gambling when I would buy my weekly lotto ticket.

8. Insomnia.

9. Those pesky 15 post-baby pounds that I can’t seem to shed. (perhaps if I actually ate the organic zucchini that I buy instead of the pre-made cookie dough it would help).

10. The fact that the only thing I read religiously is Dear Abby. Worse yet, some mornings it actually makes me cry (did you see the one about white coffins for children this morning? ACK!)

11. Trying to put pantyhose on too soon after you get out of the shower.

12. Visiting the dentist. Give me any doctor, I mean any, above the dentist. I don’t know what it is about my mouth, but the hygienist always accuses me of not flossing. I swear to god I floss – everyday for the two weeks leading up to my check up. Last time, she started to ‘show me how to floss properly’ and I stopped her. I tried to explain as nicely as I could that she has been ‘showing me how to floss properly’ twice a year since 1988 and it does not appear to be doing much good. Let’s skip it this year.

13. 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Why do the girls cry so much during that time? Where are the days of nice dinners and pleasant conversation? Will they ever return? Will I ever be able to do the “French Women Don’t Get Fat” diet? Or will I forever be relegated to sneaking spoonfuls of baby food in between fixing macaroni and cheese and arguing with Bekah about taking three bites of vegetables?

14. Parents who don’t hang up their cell phones
when picking up their children from day care. It is horrible! They try to parallel park with cells cradled on their shoulders. They completely ignore the teachers as they grab their child and walk back out. And then they get into the car and drive away – never once pausing to hang up the phone. I watch it happen almost daily. The implications of this are frightening.

15. Paperwork.

16. Wal-mart – everything about it. The smell. The shoddy merchandize. The way it treats it’s employees. The impact it has on our economy.

17. That characters in children’s books are still disproportionately male.

18. Waking the girls up early because I have to get to work. And then being late for work after all.

19. Cutting. I can remember this bothering me even when I was a little kid. Cutting in front of someone in line seems like the ultimate act of unfairness. This doesn’t bother Dave so much. He thinks “we are all going to get what we are waiting for. In the grand scheme of things, it isn’t that big of a deal”. Rational thinking, I know, but it never changes my attitude. I sometimes replay in my head the time when the ugly American cut in front of me and Dave in the Frankfort airport after 9/11. We had been in line for a few hours and here she comes, bitching about her flight being delayed the day before and not getting a free hotel room for it. She waddles her overweight derrière right in front of us. I tap her on the shoulder (before Dave could stop me) and say (nicely) “I’m sorry ma’am, I’ve been stranded in Europe for the past ten days because of the terrorist attacks. I don’t think I can wait in this line for the next two hours knowing you just cut in front of me and all of the good people behind us”. People clapped! She huffed and puffed and got all indignant and then went to the back of the line. It was sweet.

20. Tom Leykis. It is weird. I actually remember a time in 1992 when I used to listen to him on the radio. I don’t know if I got smarter or he got dumber over the past 14 years, but the guy is now a complete idiot. I don’t just say that about his ‘Leykis 101’ that is your typical misogynous rant or his immature ‘flash me Fridays’ when he asks women to pull up their shirts. On July 15, 2004 he started his show by talking about the family that was killed the day before. A Washington state father strapped his two babies into their car seats, set the car on fire and then shot their mother. Leykis actually said that she deserved it for being in an abusive relationship (she was 18 or something) and it was probably better because the kids would have grown up to be criminals anyway. Idiot is the word I use only because I try to keep this blog clean. Tom Leykis is a jerk. If you don’t believe me, ask any educated woman or myself.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

 

No More Ear Impection

As Rebekah told several people last night at Pappa Murphey’s and Albertsons “this is baby Letsi. Her have NOOO MOORE ear impections.”

As Dave and I were driving to pick up Lex to take her to Overlake, I confided that I am worried about her. It didn’t help that I had just had lunch with a co-worker whose husband is deaf due to – you guessed it – multiple infant ear infections. I have also noticed that beyond the first day we brought her home after getting the tubes, she just isn’t talking.

Well, we picked her up from school and the minute she got into the car she started doing this “dadadada mamamama tetetetetete kakakaka” it was if she was doing vocal calisthenics. I started to feel much better. Dave pointed out that it probably isn’t her hearing that is holding her back, but the presence of a certain chatty three year old. After awhile, I got bold and said to Lex “where is your nose?” She smiled and pointed to her lips. I asked again, “where is your nose?” Again, she smiled and pointed to her lips. After the fifth round, I was convinced she could hear me. I decided, today I will not worry about her hearing. Tomorrow I will worry about her smarts.

When she got the tubes, the doctor told us that the ears had too much puss and gunk in them to get an accurate culture. It is important to know what kind of infection is in the ear. A bacterial infection can attack the wall of the ear and deteriorate it, causing hearing loss. When she looked today, the doctor said the infection is completely gone and the walls of both ears look pristine and strong; leading us to conclude her infections have all been viral. It looks like ear and throat infections are gone and we are waiting on the results of the sinus culture.

Again, Lex amazed the doc. She smiled brightly as she checked her ears. The doctor wanted to look in her mouth so she said “aaahhhh” for Lex to imitate. Lexie laughed at her as if she were the funniest comedienne on earth. She made no objections when the doctor used the tongue press on her. Then the doctor said she had to do a sinus culture. That involves a q-tip on the end of a hook that goes up the baby’s nose. Again, not a peep from little Lexie. The doctor said that was when she lost the good graces of most babies.

So here is the odd part – Lex was a little trouper through all of parts of the doctor visit. From the waiting room to the final check out, she was an angel. However, she cried her eyes out - a deep woeful cry - each of the four times we got on the elevator.

We don’t know if it is because she is conditioned to dislike the elevators there (we are pretty sure the pressurization gave her trouble the first two times we visited the hospital). Or maybe she has a bit of claustrophobia (would that explain why she cried in the car for so many months?) We aren’t quite sure.

At any rate, we are all breathing a little easier about this whole thing. Now… if I could just get her to point to her nose when I ask her where her nose is…..

Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

Stinky

Haiku

Homemade sour cream
From bottle found in hot car
Is really quite gross


My car stinks right now. A few days ago, I thought I found the offending object (an old bottle full of… milk? Maybe milk. Something yucky) But removing it didn’t help much. The only good thing about my car smelling in that every morning it reminds me of one of my favorite stories.

When I was about 24, I was living in Ballard with my friend, Nancy. In the late spring, my little Toyota Corolla started to smell. I finally figured out that I had a broken seal in the trunk and the rain had gotten the trunk wet and it was starting to mildew (something only a Seattlite can appreciate, I’m sure)

So in the evenings, I would leave my trunk open, in hopes that it would dry out and stop smelling. However, every morning when I went down the garage, I would find the trunk closed and no progress was being made on the mildew. I was starting to get a little frustrated.

One day, I was a little late coming home from work and I pulled into the garage at the same time as our downstairs neighbor. He and his wife were from somewhere in England and a delightful couple.

We were both getting out of our cars at the same time and as I came around to the back to pop my trunk, I said to him, “I had a leak in my truck and I am trying to dry it out.” He looked at me knowingly and nodded.

“Very well then,” he said in his British accent. “I will knock off closing it every night.”

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

 

Tough Questions

Last night, as I was picking the girls up from day care, I drove past a car on the side of the road. It was a junker of a car and it looked like it had a flat tire. There was a Hispanic man changing the tire and a Hispanic woman sitting on the sidewalk beside him, holding a baby that looked to be about Lexie’s age.

As I drove past them, I thought about how sad it is that poverty begets poverty. I mean, if you are poor, you drive a beat up old car, so your chances of getting a flat tire are greater. And when you get a flat tire, you miss work, so your chances of getting fired are higher, making it harder for you to get a reliable car to get to work to keep a job.

When I drove back that route on my what home, they were STILL there. I had been awhile at school because I had to pay for Bekah’s ballet classes and buy tickets for the next four weeks of PlayZone. I started to think again about how depressing our economics can get then it hit me – THERE IS A FAMILY SITTING IN THE HOT SUN ON THE SIDEWALK. I thought what it would be like if that was me sitting there with Lexie, as Dave tried to change our tire. Which, would never happen because I would be on the Blackberry to USAA and they would be assuring me that a tow truck was on its way.

It gnawed on me all the way home. I got home, got the kids out and then looked down and Bekah and said, ‘I have a question for you.’ She replied, ‘is it a good one?’

I told her there was a family with a baby on the side of the road and I wanted to help them. She said yes, I should.

I made up my mind that I would pay for a tow truck for them. Then I thought I should probably bring them water or something. It was hot yesterday. I combed our pantry, which is embarrassing in its emptiness right now. I had no real water, only sparkling water. So I put that in a thermo lunch bag and found some Gerber vege-crackers and put those in too (they were already opened, but it was all I had.) I cut out the yellow page section for tow trucks and headed back there.

They were STILL there. So I got out of the car and walked up to them. As I approached, I realized they had another little girl. She was about 8. The mom was trying to breast feed the baby on the side walk and the girl was sitting in the baby’s car seat, that they had taken out of the car. I asked them if they needed a tow truck. I looked at the tire and realized they had been in an accident or something because everything was all crunched. I knew I couldn’t afford to fix that so I didn’t offer it up. The father smiled at me and said (in broken English) that his brother had brought him a part (it looked like an axle) and that he could fix it. I told them I brought them some water, in case they were thirsty and some snacks for the baby. I felt like a total clod that I didn’t bring anything for the little girl. It was all awkward but they were nice to me and said thank you. Then the mother said (also in stilted English) that she had been there since one. It was almost six in the evening! I wanted to bring them dinner, but I…. I didn’t know what they would want to eat or where I would get it, or how I would get it to them with two kids in tow. So I just wished them luck and walked back to my car.

As I opened my car door, it dawned on me, that Bekah was yelling (and probably had been through out this entire exchange) “I WANT YOGURT COVERED RAISONS. I WANT YOGURT COVERED RAISONS”.

Now, I know she is only three and I absolutely cannot expect her to understand the plight of that poor family, but as we were driving home, she was in the back, kicking my seat and shouting, “I’m hungry. I’m hungry”. I said to her, “Bek, you don’t know hungry”.

I know I am expecting too much from a three year old to be as somber as I was as we drove away. But it got me thinking. I know I am raising intelligent, active, interesting, self reliant little girls. But am I raising compassionate, empathetic, generous girls? We certainly teach them not to hit and to be nice to one another and share with friends, but is that enough?

I suppose time will tell.

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