Wednesday, May 31, 2006

I'm NOT throwing rocks, mama!

I'm NOT throwing rocks, mama!

Ok. Someone tell me that the propensity for perjury is normal in preschoolers. Tell me that your ittybits routinely tell you they are NOT doing the very thing that you can see for yourself they ARE doing, even while you stand there watching, pleading with them to stop.

I thought I'd have at least a few more years before having resort to hidden cameras to find out just who did rip up the phone bill and flush it down the toilet: the dogs, the dear or the disgruntled dad.

I know all parents think their kids are the most brilliant animals on Earth and I am no different. There's a WHOLE Internets' worth of blubbery blob here attesting to this notion; extolling both the the virtues and vices of our toddling wunderkind. But really, I ask you, do we have a precocious liar on our hands or just a normal tiny tot?

Because I'm thinking, perhaps, instead of Yale we should be saving up for bail.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Another bad mommy moment

This is the look of victory
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Don't be fooled. This is not the face of sweetness. This is the look that says "I win" in no uncertain terms. It is the thin-lipped countenance of determined celebration; the knowing gaze of understanding.

The expression of delight in a job well done: she's successfully trained her parents, (*ahem, cough-sputter* read: mother) to acquiesce to her desire to keep her hair from EVER touching water.

Oh sure, she will get in the tub. Constant work and ample bribery have guaranteed her willingness to splash around with an ever-growing army of bath toys, combed from all four corners of our humble abode before each and every submersion.

By the time I've coaxed her in by telling her that I'm not going to wash her hair "right now," her mental time clock starts ticking. She washes between her toes and scrubs behind her ears, but when it comes time to wash the back of her neck she starts to squirm for the towel and an end to "baftime."

Obviously this is a "mommy matter ... a maternal failing," as I am routinely in charge of cleaning up the kid -- proof that I am unable or unwilling to deal with a struggling-soapy-squealy squidlet yelling 'I’m ALL DONE here!' as she scrambles out of my grasp.

The man in our life, after all, has it all down. He was even able to talk her out of taking home a pillow-shaped bag of Fruit Loops from the grocery store, averting a disastrous outburst by simple substitution.

When he handed me a happy toddler carting a box of plain-jane Rice Chex instead of sugar-packed puffs, I had to ask: "How did you manage that?"

"I said 'NO'."

Monday, May 29, 2006

Daddy is more fun than mommy

I'm a tiger
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Annabel: "You cay-n't wash my hay-er"

Daddy: "I can't? How about mommy; can she wash your hair?"

Annabel: "Not WANT wash hay-er. I'm all done here. I'm done!"

Daddy: Well, one of us is going to wash your hair. If I were you, I'd pick daddy cause he'll be using a firehose."

Friday, May 26, 2006

Ode to a bad day

keys to the universe
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
If only the keys to the universe were made out of Play Doh.

We could eat whatever we wanted and never gain an ounce.
We could hide our eyes and whatever it was that scared us would magically disappear.
We could pretend we could fly, and it wouldn't matter if it was a lie.
We could leave the dishes and the duties and know they weren't the boss of us.
We could stop before we said all the wrong things.
We could forgive each other anyway, regardless.
We could take our love and admiration for granted instead of our angst and misunderstanding.
If only the keys to the universe were so pliable.

What's happening at the other mom's house ...

Yaya has managed the near impossible (for me), she's gotten Annabel to wear her hair in a "pony tail" for most of the day. But while it does my heart good to see her in the new do, I'd be doing cartwheels of joy if she'd let me anywhere near her hair. *sigh.

ponytail  ... but not for me

Thursday, May 25, 2006

All in the family

Mi familia
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Just about this time a year ago, I received an unusual gift - a photo frame that looks like a family tree with metal-esqe medallons dangling from decorative limbs. It's just big enough to accomodate seven locket-sized photographs.

This is exactly the type of doo-dad that would stop me in my tracks at the trinket shop. The kind of thing that would have my head spinning with possibilities. I might even pick it up and carry it around for a while before I talked myself out of buying it.

Sadly, I'm not nearly as crafty as I appear. If it takes scissors and glue I'm likely to throw my hands up in the air and call a truce. Sure, I made a photographic Family Tree for Annabel, collecting dozens of images from our families' histories, but the cutting and pasting required was the virtual variety.

The frame has migrated around the house for the past 12 months. Moving from table to table, mantle to mantle. But sadly, it still contains the images of strangers that came ready-made.

As I aimed my camera at Annabel today, trying to capture her "writing a card," to Ama Linda, who will be visiting soon as she makes her way home to Maine for the summer, the tree was foremost in my thoughts (and shallowly in my viewfinder).

It occured to me just how excited I was at the prospect of seeing my mother-in-law, and how lucky I am to have real, honest-to-goodness family (who make the effort to come and see us, gush over our kidlet and sing into the answering machine on our birthdays) and not just two-dimensional reminders of their existence.

There are other things I take for granted, too: I remind myself how nice it is to have my own parents a stone's throw away; how much I miss the people who have their own busy lives and schedules to keep across the country, even though I know they'd like to live nextdoor; and how amazing the Internet is for allowing me to keep in touch with every one of them without even thinking about it.

It's a good thing, too. Because otherwise, I know I'd have to give names to the ready-mades and invite them for Christmas. That's just the kind of gal I am.


There's not enough dirt on sticks ...
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
What's happening at the other mom's house ...

"Okay, stop everybody stop messin' around!" "Come on everybody, come on!"

She marches around and then very politely offers E. some dirt on a stick.

Seriously, I don't think there's enough dirt on sticks available to the general public. Marketing people, how 'bout we get on that?

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Our lives ... now with 33 percent more color

purple murple

Most of the time Annabel is a play-by-proxy kind of gal. The kind of child who looks at the tub of finger paint with longing for the end product but has no interest in the procedure. "You do it," she commands, directing with the point of a finger - from a clean and safe distance - to the spot on the paper where she wants the color to wind up. "No. Red. Put red here, mama."

But last night another child sat in her place at the painting table. As this stranger baby painted her arm a pleasing shade of purple, raising the marker to her lips and accidentally leaving a mark, it gave Jed an idea. And he joined the stranger baby in becoming her ever stranger parent. I'm not sure if he had really thought it through before the deed was done.

As I snapped away while he pretended to be Bobby Brown, I announce that tonight's bath will be brought to you by Daddy. To his credit, his intentions were honorable in completing the soapy mission right up until the bath banshee baby we know and love returned to her rightful place in our humble abode, refusing to go anywhere near the water.

The father we know and love returned, too, handing up a tag-team verdict: "You were encouraging me by taking photos so you're IT," he announced. Then he made himself a SECOND margarita and went into the livingroom to watch TV.

"Well that's all well and good, pal. But if this purple doesn't come off, it's going on your permanent record."


What's happening at the other mom's house ...

The war within.

ITTYBIT: "I don't want binky for naptime."
LORI: *jaw drops. "What?"
ITTYBIT: "I don't."
LORI: "Ok ... you sure?"
ITTYBIT: "uh hhh. .. Not ... I want. No. I not want it."
LORI: "You are such a sweet and precious boo. You are such a big girl."
ITTYBIT: "I want my binky for bed."

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The winds of change

windy days
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
I remember when I felt time was just standing still. Ten years after college ended, I was still wearing my ratty Levis with the worn knees and sitting on salvaged couches. I could move through life as I pleased, or so I thought, even if it wasn't true.

There were signs of responsibility -- there were more bills to pay, pets that needed attention and care, and there was a growing accumulation of things that seemed to own me -- but nothing that quickened the passage of time. It just seemed to drag along from one day to the next.

Then along came Annabel. Even in pregnancy, I felt time speed up. Nine months didn't seem long enough to adjust to this new existence that was headed our way. I spent a lifetime coming to terms with who I thought I was only to have a 6 pound, 2 ounce little girl show me who I could be, and, more importantly, who I wanted to be.

Time is just flying by much too fast now. Weeks are flowing like minutes. She's already half past two, and if I'm not careful to pay attention, I miss the best things.

On the way to Yaya's house today, Annabel demanded "wind."

It was cold. I tried to talk her out of it, but she persisted. She wanted the wind. So I pulled a jacket across my lap, turned the heat to high and acquiessed.

Turns out she wanted me to open the windows of the car so she could liberate a roll of paper towels - leftover from a recent cleaning - one sheet at a time. I had to laugh when she heeded my rear-view admonitions and, drumming her fingers on the roll, asked if she could make "little pieces" dance on the wind.

"Absolutely not," I stiffle a laugh. "That's wasting AND littering. And we don't do either of those things."

I didn't really expect her to listen, but I had no idea how closely she was paying attention.

As we continued to drive she asked me if I "yiked" the wind.
"No," I answered. "It's too cold out today. I have goose bumps."

A few streets later she started to list our differences on the matter: "You no yike wind. I yike wind. Mommy not yike it. An-na-bell yikes it."

Something about the categorization of this new knowledge and the tone in her voice, which was matter-of-fact if not melodic, made me add something else to the list of differences. Something I didn't want to think about at 8 in the morning. Namely our names.

I didn't want to lose my indentity in marriage and neither did my husband, so we kept our respective names. Up until Annabel was born I corrected people who called me Mrs. The Mister, and delighted that during her first days on this Earth the name on her wristband was mine. For those four days in the hospital at least everything about her was mine.

It was stunningly greedy of me, yet I felt she was a part of me; someone I knew better than anyone even if it was only for a moment in a lifetime. When we left the hospital, I left as the person I had always thought I had been and she left with a new name on her birth certificate. Our first major difference, and not likely the last.

As we drove down the road with the windows fully open now and the heat blowing hot against the tops of my feet, Annabel asked the question again:

"Mama, you yike the wind?"

This time my answer was different: "Yes, Baby. I LOVE it - I love the wind."

I could hear her excitement bubble over: "You yub it? I yub it, too!"

Sometimes all it takes is a little fresh air to remind me what's important.


american idol
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
An american idol

Just singing ALL DAY at the top of my LUNGS! About EVERYTHING and NOTHING ... into my SALAD SPOON!

It goes sompin' like dis ...

La, la, la, la. Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya. No, no, no, no, no. La, di, da, da, da, doh.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Who says people don't read newspapers anymore?

can you believe this rag?
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Who am I kidding? They don't. I don't even get a paper delivered to the house anymore. Is that horrible or what?

My job, my way of life for the past decade or so, is on the verge of extinction and I don't even have a subscription. Why? Here's the short (and embarrasing) list. ...

7. We get enough free newspapers in the mail, which we use to start fires in the woodstove, line the flower beds and pack away old dishes.

6. I don't have a bird ... ergo no cage.

5. I do have a toddler, which means I have been unable to read anything that requires large pages be turned since late 2003.

4. I can't stand that stories featuring Brittney Spears or American Idol make Page One ... ever.

3. I listen to radio. I read magazines. I surf the Internets.

2. I can't stand that icky feeling I get from newsprint ... and the ink stains my hands.

1. Recycling is not as pleasurable an experience as the other "Rs" - reduce and reuse.

What's happening at the other mom's house ...

Let's just say the only good thing that happened today was that Annabel was reported to be a "little angel" while she visited with Miss Sherry (one of Lori's dear friends, who also provides daycare for kidlets) while Lori went to the doctor to see about her lingering cough. Diagnosis: Walking pneumonia.

In other not-so-good news: Lori's other half (whom Annabel calls "No, Honey") broke his leg playing soccer on Sunday. His cast is blue.

This just in ... my tiny patron. During a diaper change Annabel turned her head in the direction of this photograph on the playroom wall and said, "I yike your pisher, Yaya." To which Lori replied, "You know, your mom took that picture. She'll be glad to know you like it."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Suffering fools and learning to share

good sharing

Somebody once asked me, on a job interview no less, what I would do if I had a magic wand.

"I'd change that question."

"Well, where do you see yourself in five years?" she continued her probe.

"In your job."

Surprisingly, I wasn't offered employment.

So here I sit in sheer amazement that Annabel's favorite thing is a bit of that old "magic" - literally.

Although It took careful prompting at our yoga class today to convince Annabel to share her coveted toy - A Cinderella magic wand she received last week as part of a plethora of costume playwear - when she finally handed over the pink glitter stick with the metalic finial, she did so without animosity.

It is always kind of exciting to see how toddlers react to the world around them. Little people, who sometimes "get" the basics much more forcefully than the big people. It wasn't beyond her understanding that since the wand was her toy, she could have it for always and her friend could only use it for now.

It is also a little humbling to know that this little bean already seems to have ample logic and a healthy dose of restraint.

Quailities I don't often see in myself.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Out of the mouths of babes ... the new and improved, revised Toddler-English dictionary


    "Turn yight off, daddy, turn yight off fo' sweet dreams."
    (In 20 seconds she will tell him it's dark and scary in her room.)

    "I'll be right back. You stay here, OK?"
    (The new and nice version of "Don't FOLLOW ME.")

    "You yike dis? You yike it, mama?"
    (That's great, honey. Now please take your elbow out of my eye.)

    "We get shawshege at bank, mama?"
    (No, baby. We get 'mondey' at the bank.)

    "I'll be right there."
    (Translation: I'm going to stay RIGHT HERE).

    (Translation: I'm HERE, come find me).

    "This has the weary, weary, bad, scary, scary, shark in it!"
    (But that's what I like about it.)

    "No, you fired!"
    (Even she thinks I'm a bad mommy.)

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Little reminders

    Foggy bottom
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    Dear Annabel,

    When you were born I couldn't stop thinking: How did we manage that? How did we manage to make such a beautiful, perfect child? They must have made a mistake.

    I am sure that in time -- perhaps on the occasion when your father meets your first boyfriend-- you will question the very same thing; I hope you won't go as far as to disown us and search for your real family.

    As much as we think you belong to us right now, I know you are your own. You will have to make bad choices to get to the good ones. I need you to know that I will be biting my tongue and chiding myself when I can't be silent and let you find out for yourself.

    Even with decades of experience on you, I know I won't always be right. Although I hope there will be dozens of years when you don't find out this fact for yourself.

    While I watch you play with an intensity I never knew toddlers could possess, it is difficult for me to comprehend that you won't remember most of our early experiences together. You won't recall the bed bouncing we did (shoes on) or the tea parties with lemon sorbet. You won't remember dragging me onto the sunporch to see the rollercoaster ride-on toy in the yard. You called it a rollerskate.

    I mourn that you won't have any recollections of throwing your arms around me when I come home and whispering a language all your own into my listening ears. I wish that you could have full use of these memories that will never archive, eventhough I have pictures for you to ponder when you are older (or perhaps to tear up in shame, although I hope it never comes to that).

    You won't remember how you'd sing your answers to my questions. I couldn't help but get all gooey inside at your sweet voice, and laughing at myself. Knowing that very same thing will make me crazy when you are a teenager.

    Your already acting like a teenager -- the kooky-zany kind that joins the school plays because they're fun. One day, you will be the angry, mopey kind that will want me to drop her off and the end of the block when I drive you to parties.

    I hope we can teach you all you need to know to find out more. I hope you will forever understand that you are part of us but you belong to yourself.

    Sometimes I will need reminding, too. It's just nature's diabolical plan -- I am your mother. It's my job.


    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    B is for ...

    Beer-battered chicken
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    This morning as I revved up the car and eased it into gear, steering it sleepily toward Yaya's house, I looked at the fuel gauge and realized I'd have to gas up.


    Halfway to the station, Annabel started clammoring for "tcholate ayes," and whimpering about her "hot milk" being "told."

    Double ARGH!

    I pump a small fortune into the tank and try to swipe my card to pay. It's offline.

    Tripple-dog ARGH!

    Unhooking her from the carseat, I tell Annabel we're going inside. She is ESTACTIC like I haven't seen for days. As soon as we get into the store she wants to get down and explore. She tells me she will find the "tcholate ayes."

    I know this is going to take a while, so I go over to the central perk area and pour myself a steaming cup of "wait a cotton-pickin' minute you white-trash woman; Don't let your kid wreck our display items."

    My image is indelibly etched as she finds the see-though refrigerator wall and, making her way down the aisle, gives a shout-out of its contents to the store patrons and staff: CHEESE ... AYES ... MILK ... JUTZ ... APPLES ... BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER!!!!

    I'm so proud. Tomorrow I think I'm makin' fried bologna sandwiches for lunch.

    What's happening at the other mom's house

    Annabel is up from her nap and she doesn't feel well. She's warm again, *sigh. She told Yaya she wanted "mama," so she called me. As usual once Annabel was presented with the phone she pushed it away.
    For the rest of the day they'll be watching "Little Mermaid," and though punky, she's alert enough to be calling the dolphins "sharks." Lori tries to explain that no, these are "good fish! ... SEE? NO TEETH."
    I'm not looking forward to the discussion about how dolphins are actually mammals. *sigh.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    I could sleep for a week

    bed heads
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    It's been raining non-stop. Lori's still sick and Annabel's temperature continues to ebb and flow. Every so often the cat caught in my throat coughs up a hairball. As it is, every time I sneeze my head turns into a swollen puffer fish and my breathing seems to stop. I can't tell whether I have allergies or the virus. But I know I could use more sleep. I also know the past few days have been pretty darn good.

    There's something kind of refreshing about a non-serious illness; a bad cold that sweeps through our little lives and reminds us to take a step back and look around.

    Annabel slept nearly four hours today. I think she's on the mend - her spirits are certainly better even though she wanted to spend her day in bed when she wasn't grocery shopping in the pantry. (I can't believe I haven't thought of this game earlier since she loves the market and we had a hand-me-down kidlet cart gathering dust in storage.) My theory is she wanted to hang out with her best friend, binky.

    I cleaned up, and waited for her and binky to have a parting of the ways. Listening from the hall outside her room was quite an enlightening experience. Her imagination is really flourishing.

    This is what I learned today:
    * She sings songs about yogurt;
    * She feeds her toy horse milk;
    * There's a show on public television in which a bear is trapped under a bush throughout the whole episode. She wants me to help him escape;
    * She will NOT eat ravioli ... not even if you beg.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Girls gone home - we're just sitting around, eating rice with chopsticks and telling tall tales

    sickday 'stopsticks '

    Annabel spent all day yesterday sleeping off a fever. Seeing as how Yaya's little bug spent a week trying to get over this same nasty virus and Yaya is sick, too, when Annabel woke up this morning and felt a little warm I kept her home. An hour or so after I gave her some Children's Motrin her temperature went back down. I can't praise Children's Motrin enough, even though getting the correct dosage into her is kind of like trying to feed tofu to a Bears fan. It ain't pretty.

    What's worse than her spiking temperature, however, is the color of the Jell-O coming from her nose when she sneezes. (I'll just leave the discription at that.)

    Since we were both twiddling our thumbs at 11 a.m. wondering what to do with our sorry selves before nap time, I got the bright idea to teach her how to use chopsticks. (She calls them STOPSTICKS). Yesterday I cooked some sushi rice, so I made little balls, sprinkled them with sesame seeds and set her loose on them. Aside from getting the sticky rice all over the couch, in her hair and launched through the air to land squarely in the center of Mad-o-wyn's hackles -- at the precise spot where the dog couldn't reach it without the circular motions usually seen only in puppies chasing their tails, and even then I had to perform an assist -- I thought it was a pretty successful "first" lunch. After all, she did get a few bites into her mouth and no one lost an eye.

    My guess is that for "second" lunch she'll be wanting finger foods. She's had enough with the stopsticks for one day. I could tell the look in her eye what was going on in her head: "These is about as useful as tits on a bull, mom." Of course, it might have been the clatter of wood sticks against the wall as they sailed across the room that did the talking.

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    Mum's the word ...


    It's not like I don't waste enough newsprint with my weekly column, now I'm tearing down forrests in cyberspace. Come join me, it's fun. ... Fodey's fake newspaper

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    Instant understanding

    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    Uh. ... hello? Ma?

    *SQUIRT, squirt, squirt.


    *SQUIRT, squirt, squirt.

    (more silence)

    I don't think this is working.

    Happy almost Mother's Day, anyway.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    A little privacy, please!?!

    P-L-O-P ... she can spell
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    For those of you NOT interested in potty training, please close your browser window, now.

    . ... waiting for the stragglers ...


    Here's the scoop. We introduced Annabel to the potty back when she was 18 months old. We were in Maine and we bought one at Walmart since she was beginning to show interest. Also since it was summer and she could spend a good portion of the day running around nude, we thought it would be a good time to practice.

    Well, I think she peed and pooped in the thing once each and then learned it was a much better stepstool for the sink, where she's decided washing her hands compulsively is what she should be doing in the bathroom.

    We didn't push it. Occasionally we ask her if she wants to use the potty, to which her answer is always 'nope.' The only time she'll sit on is before her bath, while she's trying to stall for time in the hopes of getting out of the soap and water drill.

    Well a couple of days ago, again before her bath, she decided she needed to POOP. And since I had about four zillion things to do (return phone calls, find lost toys and clean up dog slime) I totally missed the effort she must have gone through to pass a really, really large loaf of multigrain bread.
    I did, however, make it to the party in time to hear her say, "Wow! Stinky POO!"

    This post made possible by Little Skills box set: zip! plop! and brush!

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    It's my birthday !@#&! Please send vodka ... or some other mind altering substance

    happy birday to yooou
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    I really dislike complaining. But I feel I must for the sake of my sanity.

    More so than not, my birthdays start off well. This morning especially, as Annabel and I headed off to the park for a little fun before work, it showed excessive promise. All was fine until we got to Yaya's house and I didn't take enough time to play pretend games of front-yard fishing, which apparently includes a liberal dose of rescuing bad swimmers such as Elmo and Baby Bopp. Let's just say the temper tantrum that resulted from my faux pas was IMPRESSIVE.

    The torture continued at work when I arrive and find an ENLARGED version of my passport picture (you know the one where if you actually resemble it you need to get yourself to a doctor IMMEDIATELY?) taped to a sign announcing "Happy Birthday Salvador Dali ... May 11" hanging above my desk.

    If that wasn't surreal enough, I was informed that a certain co-worker was perplexed that I was turning 50! (He had heard the tale-end of a joke the night before and took the rumor seriously enough to inquire as to its veracity.)

    Is it any wonder then that I'd rather be in New Zealand where my birthday would be overwith by now?

    The best part of my birthday today occured yesterday when I was "specialed" (Ittybit translation for surprised) by an early birthday celebration complete with cake, four new coffee mugs and about 17 pounds of dark chocolate candy bars.

    Of course I quizzed Jed: "You do know my birthday is the 11th right? And ... today is the 10th?"
    Yes, yes. ... He knew that.

    What I don't give him enough credit for, though, is how well he really knows me -- He just KNOWS how small gestures, such as as celebrating a birthday quietly and BEFORE I actually have one, are the best to get me to relax and enjoy.

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    I'm so mad I could eat P

    chomping mad ...
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    Playing Cariboo, the Cranium preschool game, with Annabel is quite a lesson in patience. Especially for Jed, who is intent on playing by the rules, which stipulate one must FIRST select a card and THEN select a corresponding door to unlock in the quest for burried treasure. It doesn't help that Annabel always wants to pull a green card and doesn't much care if the cards match the doors she's planning on opening. When luck has her finding Cariboo treasure (colorful rubber balls) that must then be placed into into their designated area for a spectacular game finale, she runs and hides in a cunning display of spherical hording.
    "No, dis my special. Dis MY special!"
    A war of wills has errupted. It does no good when they move on to the next activity - letter puzzles. Suffice it to say, she knows where all the characters go, but she's NOT going to say their names aloud --
    "I not know, I not know."
    -- no matter how nicely he asks.


    What's happening at the other mom's house ...

    It's a Barney day at YAYA's. YES!!!! There's FINALLY a chink in the armor, dear readers. Yaya felt a little feverish last night so today she's taking it easy, kicking her feet up with Annabel, watching some movies and eating bon-bons*. Annabel probably thinks the end of the world is upon us. Afterall, this kind of thing ONLY happens at HOME. *(I made the bon-bon thing up).

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    So many books, so little time

    my books
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    Just a few days ago we received a package from Great Aunt Maureen containing a treasure trove of books from Politics and Prose and a very cool pint-sized bag to lug the veritable library back and forth from ama and papa's house to Lori's and back home again. She will NOT be parted from them.

    So if you are looking for some interesting reads check out the following titles:

    "What Would You Rather Be?" by William Steig, illustrated by Harry Bliss. This is a sweetly drawn little book that Annabel loves because she gets to CHOOSE as we go along. For the record, Annabel would like to be the stone, the man (not the knee or elbow), the dog, the snake, the elephant and the BOY hockey player (not the girl hockey player).

    "Widget" by Lyn Rossiter McFarland, illustrated by Jim McFarland. There are absolutely NO questions (or fidgeting) when we're reading this one about a homeless dog that takes up residence with a house full of cats. Always a good sign when they can't take their eyes off the page.

    "Shoes" by Elizabeth Winthrop, illustrated by William Joyce. Annabel is as interested in footwear as the next toddler, and this vintage-esqe (c. 1986) volume is charming. It's cleverly rhymed and beautifully illustrated. The topper is it's making Annabel think about trying on something other than her well-loved "purple murples."

    "Jennie's Hat" by Ezra Jack Keats. If you've got any residual fear of avian life as a result of Hitchcock's "The Birds," you may want to steer clear of this book. For the rest of us, however, it's a delightful little tale of a not-so-gracious girl who is helped realize a dream by some of the feathered friends she feeds at the park. And the pictures are more ART than illustration.


    I WIN!!
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    What's happening at the other mom's house ...

    "Jacques" and "Just Gus" (yes, you win Mom) are having tea at the green table.
    - Lori

    *Nah-na-na-na BOO BOO.
    *(That's me gloating).

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    Scream like you mean it

    cult of personality
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    On my father's birthday I gave him this photograph of Annabel, which was taken on the occasion of the first time she ever played dress-up.

    The next day he praised the quality of the photograph, but wondered if she had been unhappy when I released the shutter. He thought she might not have been having fun.

    As I pondered his question, I wondered if my father was starting to join my mother in her quest to have just one "SNAPSHOT" of her granddaughter. Something unpretentious and off the cuff. Something to prove the child is, in fact, more happy than sad or serious. Translation: A photograph that showed her as a child and not an object.

    Long before I had been dubbed "mamarazzi" by my partner in crime, I had taken great pride in the fact that I was an observer first and a photographer second.

    I click back through my favorite photographs of our Ittybit, and try to see what I've captured from their points of view. What is real? What is exaggerated? What is contrived?

    I have wrestled with this dilemma before; wondering what effects all the marveling at my daughter through the lens of a camera (not to mention editorializing on every move she makes) will have on our relationship later on. I have, on occasion, purposely left the camera at home so that I am forced to be in the actual moment instead of the Kodak one.

    As I assure my father that she was indeed having fun under the big floppy hat and feather boa, I am reassuring myself. I know even the smallest of momentary traumas are exaggerated when they are stopped for all time.

    What's happening at the other mom's house ...

    She's crafty. After plucking 48 dandylions from Lori's yard, swinging in the swing, pretending to fish (catching mostly sharks, which required her to cut her line) and reading stories to Brianna, who was home sick today, Annabel made little girl and boy mice. No word as to names, although I tried calling them Gus and Jacques. ... Lori explained to me the error of my ways: "Usually, Siobhan, we let the kids name the mice."

    making mice gus and jacque
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    A rose by any other name

    We spent a good portion of the day today searching for puffs, the cotton-headed dandylions that disperse hang-gliding seeds with the gentlest breeze. It's been so long since I've picked one of these nasty little weeds with something else in mind than depositing it on the compost heap that I'd almost forgotten how delicate and ethereal they can be.

    One after another, we picked as many as we could find. I chose the ones with full globes. She didn't care if they only had a few seeds clinging to an empty stem. Just the idea of it made her happy. Who knew such joy could be contageous?

    Other things I learned today:
    * Annabel knows ama Linda lives in Minnesota but doesn't know we live in New York
    * She will sing Happy Birthday! over and over again at dinner unless it is ACTUALLY someone's birthday. (Happy Birthday, papa).
    * Toast should NEVER, under any circumstances, touch (or even be on the same plate as) scrambled eggs.
    * Jed and Annabel can fit in the tool box on his new crane truck.
    * Tire swings are completely underrated for playground pleasure. New rating: 9.0.

    A couple of days ago I told the internets our CO detector was waking us up at night. And while we did open up all the windows and go right back to sleep, we also called in the fire department the following day to sweep the place and find the cause. Turns out the problem is Jed's forklift. When its battery is charging it emits some kind of hydrogen gas. The KFD claims the fumes are not carbon monoxide but will set off the detectors anyway.

    I'm fairly certain this kind of thing doesn't happen to too many folks. It's just what you end up having to deal with when you are part of a circus (or you live in a barn).

    mobil home - traveling circus
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.

    Saturday, May 06, 2006

    She IS my daughter

    woot woot
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    HIM: Annabel, come help me make dinner.

    HER: No Daddy. Nooooo!

    HIM: Why not?

    HER: Cause I'm a BID girl NOW!

    ME: *giggling ... You GO girrrrl!

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    Just another manic midnight

    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    This time it wasn't the wakeful, woeful cries of ittybit that roused us from a sound sleep. I wish. Instead it was the insistent buzz of a smoke detector, or so we thought when Jed tumbled out of bed and sleepily looked for cause of alarm.

    I, of course, trained to ignore errant office fire alarms unless I see, smell or sense smoke, stayed put. After several minutes and the dissassembly of every smoke detector in the house, Jed ascertained that the mechanical mayhem was being caused by the digital carbon monoxide detector we bought this winter. Now I was FULLY awake. The readout showed 30 parts per million and growing. By the time I found out what the PPM reading meant it was headed for 60.

    Oh the silent, scentless killer - CO.
    I saw the worry in Jed's face, and the desire that this turn out to be a faulty alarm. I am ready to wake up Annabel and run from the house as he is investigating the potential causes for the build-up.

    I begin ticking off the list:

    *The furnace is off, but it is used to heat water. ... could that be it?

    *It's not the wood stove, we haven't used it in weeks.

    *The dryer is electric, as are the range and other household appliances.

    The only other thing I can think is one of Jed's big trucks was left idling in front of the house and the fumes drafted inside ... collecting enough of the killer vapor to finally -- after single alarm chirps each night for weeks -- set the REAL alarm loose.

    "Oh ... maybe that's it," he says, opening the windows and turning on fans.

    After a few minutes of outdoor airflow the numbers start to subside. He decides to go back to sleep.

    However, I can't let go of an image in the movie "GARDEN STATE," specifically the scene where Jean Smart tells Peter Sarsgaard and Zach Braff "Oh... guys? Don't stay in here all day. I had to take the batteries out of the carbon monoxide detector; it was beeping all night."

    So, even though the monitor registers "0" again, I am still WIDE AWAKE and I'm pretty sure I might never sleep again.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Oil and water


    Okay. Okay. Okay. I know you must be sick of all the portraits in bathing lately, but I just can't wrap my little mind around anything else. Well I can, but I've decided that those among you who are familiar with my penchant for catastrophizing should be spared the full disclosure of my latest fear gone fatal: the annual visit to the opthamologist (yesterday), who checks to make sure the nevis on the inside of my eyeball is staying put and that the family history of glaucoma hasn't caught up with me yet.
    It will suffice to say: I am fine.

    Instead of returning to work with pupils the size of saucers, I went with Jed to pick up miss not-sleeping-anymore from Yaya's house.
    It is always something special when our routines get a little mixed up. Take for instance an impromptu bath before bedtime. Since we also messed up our routine by going to the pub (to celebrate 12 months of eye health with greasy food) I thought we might as well cancel bathtime, too. I mean, really, she's gone WEEKS without proper baths before, what's one more day?
    As any good reverse pyschologists would expect, a mere 10 minutes before bedtime she was begging for a bath. She is, afterall, fully embracing her terrible twos.

    "Wanna baf, peas."

    How could I resist?

    Even her protruding lower lip (which made its appearance after I told her hair washing was part of the deal to delay bedtime) seemed just one more thing to love about my little late-night bathing beauty.

    What's happening at the other mommy's house ...

    clean up
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    All work and no play is right up her alley.

    Yaya, visiting her father yesterday, brought home some toys from her own children's past, and Annabel couldn't have been more excited if I'd left her alone in the big girl section of our local toy store. Among the items Lori snared from her father's house was a Fisher Price vacuum cleaner, which Annabel immediately decided had the magical ability to transform her into "Cinderedda." To illustrate, Lori holds the phone out toward Annabel as she pushes the cleaner across the floor. I can clearly hear her singing "Someday my prints will tum."

    "Here you are slaving away and hoping someday some man will come and rescue you from your drudgery," Lori laughs sardonically. "I can tell your mom is so proud right now."

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Mother, may I?

    mommy and me
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    I think my attitude about motherhood (or lack thereof) spared me from constant and bitter disappointment. I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn't pretend otherwise.

    You see, I didn't EVER want to be a mom. I didn't ever want to be pregnant. I didn't ever want to be married. I've now done all three, yet all along the way I thought the worst: I was going to lose my identity, I was going to hate being pregnant, I was going to be a terrible mom. None of that has come to pass (with the exception of the last one, which remains to be seen for the next 20 or 30 years).

    I have listened to a LOT of women drone on about how they would NEVER give their kids pacifiers; they'd never let them eat junk food or watch television; they'd never let the children cry themselves to sleep or have a moment of discomfort if it could be avoided. They were going to raise gifted children who were self-aware and self-actualized. In short, they were going to be supermoms. They had it all mapped out. They KNEW the right way and that's all there was to it.

    I just sat quietly and listened.

    If there's one thing I knew, it was not to count on anything I "KNOW."

    My mom got very sick when I was about 27, nearly a decade before my own daughter was born. I learned I was not the person I thought I was the moment she told me the news. While I could do physical things for her (shave her head after chemo started making it fall out in clumps) I could not TALK to her. I couldn't be in the same room with her if she cried or got angry or even mentioned the words "cancer" or "death." My reaction stunned us both. To this day (and she is still with us, though not in the health she would have liked) she will not tell me anything BAD unless it can't be avoided.

    I bring this up because I don't think any of us know how we are going to be under stress -- ever. Although I never thought this parenthood path would be mine, I've come to ADORE the life I have now. This love, however, has not made it any easier. Nothing is a gift. All progress seems hard fought and over thought. Worry and mom, I've learned, are identical except for their parts of speech. And yet, despite all of the gray hair growing from my scalp like weeds, I am strangely able to let things go. I am able to know, in my heart, that I am doing the best I can, and while I am always striving to do better I will not berate myself (or others) for the mistakes we are all destined to make. We are, after all is said and done, human.

    "Forgive" is my new mantra. I now firmly believe having doubts is a good thing. I think when you have doubts about yourself or you think you will screw everything up you have no place to go but up.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Things are looking up

    contemplating her navel
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    I think this might just be the week I shouldn't have gotten out of bed. It's just shaping up that way and it's only Tuesday. The way it's going, tomorrow looks to be just a whole-nother set of neuroses waiting in the bushes to ambush me.

    Let's just skip to the good part, shall we? The highlight of my day yesterday was bathtime. Annabel got into the too-small baby tub without much fuss, especially since the "You not wash my hair?" thing has been really working to her advantage. However, unbeknownst to her, I was crossing my fingers behind my back when I nodded in affirmation this time.

    Exactly five minutes into the soapy fun, at a time when she was sufficiently clean and letting down her guard on my continued hovering, I dropped the no-tears shampoo bomb. I got her hair wet, sudsed her up, and rinsed it clear before she had the chance to get up and slop soapy trails through the house.

    you said not wash hair ... taking pitty on me

    Don't let the look fool you, though, she continued to splash and have fun until she got even more pruny.

    What's happening at the other mom's house ...

    I'll tell you what's NOT happening. A Nap. The midday siesta is NOT happening at Yaya's house today. Annabel is apparently too busy trying to suffocate the other toddler on the premises to be bothered with the pesky business of napping.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Good weather, bad karma

    Yoga Baby
    Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
    maya and mom reaching, mama legs up the wall
    I'm not sure, but I think my weekend may have been craptacular, literally and figuratively.

    Please bear with me as I recap:
    We had FABULOUS weather. Fabulous! Which of course means Annabel was severely constipated and didn't want to do anything but sit around and warn us "I'm pooping."

    As one might surmise, her warnings of impending poop didn't materialize into anything substantial until after 4 p.m. on Saturday.

    Although we tried to take her mind off her tummy troubles, it didn't work. We attempted a walk to the park, but as soon as we got there she wanted to go home. She was "pooping." So instead of playing on the slide, or taking a hike as I had planned, we wasted the bulk of the day sleeping. I can't believe I'm complaining about GETTING SLEEP, but it really was too nice of a day to fritter away in bed.

    Sunday, I told myself -- just a mere seven full diapers away -- would be a better day. Afterall, we have our weekly yoga class. Of course, I was wrong.

    Turns out my yoga studio is getting evicted. How's that for bad juju?
    Since Annabel was three months old, we've been traveling to Great Barrington to run a FREE yoga class for moms and babies, thanks to the generosity of Berkshire Mountain Yoga for the lend of its beautiful studio. Over the past two years, it's turned into a class for moms and … well … anyone who wants to show up, regardless of whether they calculate their ages in weeks or decades.

    This week, however, when I unlocked the door there was a note waiting for me that explained the director hadn't been able to contact the landlord for six months, and that the lease was up at the end of May. So as of May 28, Berkshire Mountain Yoga will be homeless.

    So, happy birthday to me: No more yoga, mom.

    On a positive note, however, one of my favorite bloggers Mom-101 has nominated one of my posts as "A Perfect Post" for the month of April.

    A Perfect Post

    It's quite an honor for me, especially coming from such a skilled writer as she. Thank you Liz. I guess I don't have to mention it was a nice bit of sunshine in an otherwise bleak but sun-shiney, poopless, non-relaxing weekend.

    What's happening at the other mom's house ....

    A seething mass of putrid

    That would be the diaper bag. Turns out the smell of used diaper that wafted in my car all weekend was, in fact, coming from the diaper bag. Lori detected it this morning as she sat at her computer checking her e-mail while Annabel napped. Her nose pointed her in the direction of DOWN. (The location of where I drop the bag of useless crap I tote around but never {apparently} check).

    Now mind you, I noticed the smell but had decided it was A.) The remnants of my olifactory sensations after the SEVENTH smelly diaper I changed or B.) the garbage bag I had thrown a banana piece into Friday morning.

    She couldn't believe I had ACTUALLY left a dirty diaper in there for her to find with her keen sense of smell. She was right. I hadn't. I had, however, left a little bag of leftover dinner from two weeks ago, a care package from my mom and dad who had been watching the kidlet. My mom had been careful to remind me to put the remants of a dinner I hadn't gotten a chance to eat in the refrigerator. But having NOT found the bits in a cursory search, I assumed she had forgotten to include it in the bag and forgot all about it.

    Not too bright, am I?

    The YAYA REPORT today is brought to you by FREEBREEZE. It doesn't work to kill smells, it just masks them in a more putrid way.