Sunday, December 24, 2006

More than a man

The festivities have begun. Santa has gotten three letters from Ittybit. All of them slightly different.

In the first she asked for presents for other people. She wanted a pear for me, a truck for daddy and bones for the dogs.

The second letter is largely a mystery since she wrote it with Lori and had is sealed and addressed so that Papa could pop it directly into the mail box (which he did as a dutiful grandpa, right after he affixed a stamp). All we know is that there was something purple, possibly a doll.

With Ama the request was for purple clothes and ice skates. It is now my firm belief that she wants things that the furry woodland creatures in her storybooks are getting under their tree.

Santa is coming tonight. Now I have it on good authority what he's going to be brining, however there is another santa. One with a beard and red suit, who will be trapsing up our stairs bearing a wee gift; and I have no idea what it will be. See my town has a Santa Claus Club that has been in operation since World War II.

The businessmen of the town collect funds all year long for the sole purpose of visiting every single child who resides here and bring them a small gift on Christmas Eve. It all comes from a time when Christmas was harder. When fathers were overseas, fighting a war; when sugar was rationed and money was scarce. When we had an ethic about war that was anything but "go on with business as usual."

This will be the first year Santa actually visits our house (the last two years we were traveling during the holidays, and I worried the Jolly Old Elf would just make her cry). I also worried about need. As is we are fortunate enough to have more than we need. Yet, Santa's visit isn't about that anymore. Most of the men are home, setting up the trees and putting up the lights.
It's about tradition of a town; and it's love of Christmas.

Friday, December 22, 2006

It's official, even the doctor says she's three

At her official well-baby-toddler-preschooler visit yesterday Annabel got to stand on the big-girl scale, sidle up to the measuring wall and don a funky pair of sun glasses to look at an optical illusion of a butterfly, then try to pick up said spectre. It was all going so well until Dr. Always-Somehow-Freaking-Me-Out listened to her chest and announced: "I heard something a little crackly."

Last week when I took her in because she sprouted a fever and was lethargic, her lungs were clear. This week - during her routine visit when she was feeling fine and being her usual talkative self - there was the crackle. So that means antibiotics.

Otherwise, little miss Ittybit is doing fine. She's in the 25th percentile for both height and weight at 35 3/4 inches and 26 pounds, respectively. She's got all her teeth and her skin, which she inherited from me, is only a little bit rashy.

And although the doctor asked me if we had any concerns about her development, she really didn't expect there to be any, especially after she asked Annabel how old she was and was told "TWO."

"Hmmm. I thought you were three?"

"Well, I don't want to be free just yet, thank you."

"Don't have to worry about those verbal skills, now, do we?"

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Can't you just FEEL the holiday cheer?

Now that she knows Santa is taking her binky when he comes this Christmas, she's no longer thrilled with the idea of a jolly ol' elf breaking into the house late at night and leaving gifts of toys and sweets behind.

Even though he's likely going to be giving her big-girl lip gloss (as a bait and switch) in exchange for the beloved soother, she's torn. If she were of devious intention, I'm sure she'd neglect to remind us to exinguish the fire in the woodstove (where she thinks Sir Claus will sneak in on Christmas Eve).

It would seem I've unintentionally turned his very elven existence* into something that is not so carefree and joyous.

I can't say that I blame her.

Bad Mommy!

* Please visit Exiled in Toyland on Sunday, and I'll tell you why I still believe in Santa.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

It's beginning to look a little like Christmas

I know, we're nowhere near done, but at least it's a start.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Put a sock in it, will ya?

Our babysitter informed me recently that she was taking the binky away from Annabel during naps.

It was just a fact. There was no "do you want me to ... or what do you think ..." just that her own binky-addicted daughter was also three when she pulled the plug and the screaming frenzy began, making her wish she'd never introduced the thing to begin with.

She's apparently been waiting for me to tell her the time had come to return the offending device to the "binky fairy" or the "binky mommy," or to whatever corner of hell pacifiers originally hail. She's just been waiting for a "partner."

In other words: I've yet again dropped the ball.

My mother-in-law has been asking for more than a year (on and off, and sweetly) whether this was the year the binky was going to be sent to "Santa."

Remember me folks? The one who walks the path of least resistance? The one who looks around at her office mates and decides not to worry about such things?

After all, no one here in cubicle land is sucking away on a binky.

But it's true: She doesn't need it anymore. She doesn't have it in the car.
She doesn't take it to school. She doesn't even keep it in her mouth the whole night through.

To everyone's surprise, mine especially, the official report is that Ittybit showed only brief resistance to the news her beloved "oro (Ittybit for orange) binks" had returned to its mommy. She slept with her tiny lamb pressed against her cheek for the requisite two hours.

The babysitter next suggested it was time for the binks to leave our house, too. (It was mentioned in what I would say was a 'Now-I'm-Not-Telling-You-What-To-Do' speech.) So I thought I'd try it. (Out of the unspoken "But-This-Is-What-A-Good-Mom-Would-Do" gist of the speech.)

Last night at bedtime I told Annabel that now that she was a big girl, it was time to send the binky back home. That it was needed elsewhere.

Instant tears and sobs of desperation.

"But I'm NOT a big girl, mommy. I'm still a little girl," she wailed.

And. She. Didn't. Stop.

"Well I think you are a big girl, but how about if we hang on to 'purple binks' until Santa comes? Then he can take it home."

She agreed, but I'm sure it was the kind of hollow agreement that means she's appeasing the one who can be manipulated. She's biding her time, hoping I'll forget the whole mission.

Really, though, I don't know how to react. I don't know how to feel.

This is a stress I don't need right now either: Christmas, a cold and cough that's been hanging on for weeks, guests, parties, presents ... I feel as if everyone is telling me what to do, how to raise her and I am genuflecting in guilt and shame.

A part of me is angry. Part of me is feeling guilty about being a wimp. But a part of me is tired, too.

When I reach down into the core of my beliefs. I always come up with the same thing: I don't think a pacifier is the worst thing in the world, and I don't particularly care if it helps her get to sleep. I am reminded about Jed and his need for "white noise," and how I've had to adapt my own sleep habits to compensate for the whirring of humidifiers and fans that he needs to get some shut-eye.

We all need something right? Perhaps I'd feel better if I could just put a sock in it.

Maybe I'll ask Santa to bring me earplugs this year.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Congratulate me. ...

I am officially the WORST parent on the East Coast.



Uhm ... Siobhan? This is Lori. Today was supposed to be Annabel's SPECIAL DAY at School, you know, because of it being her birthday and all today? They showed me your name on the calendar.

Oh ... shhhhhhhhhhhh T!

It's ok. Don't feel bad. They said you can switch and have her Special Day Wednesday.

Wait. I'll call Jed. Maybe he can get there with the left-over goldfish from the party.

And Jed is the BEST parent on the East Coast



Jed, are you busy? It's Annabel's special day today and I NEVER looked at the Calendar. Ok. I looked at the calendar but I was looking through the Wednesdays, since I typically DO Wednesdays. And now our kid is ALONE on her special day. And. It's. All. My. Fault.


Yes. Now.

OK. What will I bring for a snack?

There's a whole truckload of Goldfish upstairs.

I think I'm going to go cry now.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Behold the power of monkey cake

Sugar alone cannot shake a mom to the core of her being.

Neither will scientific minded simians nor a gaggle of Lego-eyed, cavern-building, pint-sized party guests.

Getting more presents than we can possibly store?

Nope. That doesn't frighten me.

Fewer naps?

Scary, but we'll manage.

But Ittybit turning three tomorrow?

That will do it. I am officially a puddle.

Happy just-about-birthday, babyofmine.



Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Tis the season to be rediculously cute ...

Even if you've been feeling under the weather.

So without further ado, Office Max allows me to give you Annabel as an elf Unfortunately, it's the most animated she's been all day.

Lets hope years from now Office Max offers psychological compensation for the unwitting elves.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Just for scuz

I've been browsing the sites of professional photographers again and contemplating re-upping my subscription to The Zoloft Times, so envious I am of all the cherubic faces in all their creamy beauty, dressed nattily in designer duds.

How effortless it seems. Multi-frame storyboards of children gallivanting in fields, hands joined, rubber boots kicking gleefully. Every shadowless exposure a marvel of continuity. I know the prices the boutique shooters are charging, and I know that even THEY can't afford themselves.

Perhaps what I'm experiencing is a little bit of sour grapes of the "I-really-can't-do- what-they-do" vintage. I know the tricks. I know how to adjust the "curves" until the texture of the skin is washed clean. I know to sharpen the irises and clean up the sclera so no shadows or pronounced blood vessels smear the windows of the subjects' tiny souls. Matchy-matchy clothes, cute props natural settings all add to the ambiance.

But as I once railed against the "Sears Portrait," the face-front studio disaster I ridiculed in art school, I am now finding myself weary of all the pint-sized perfection the boutique shooters are peddling. The very same images I once admired for their simple beauty and stunning sharpness, and even tried to emulate, are beginning to look alike to me in an eerie formulaic way.

You know, because kids with smeared faces, matted hair and mismatched, ill-fitting clothes -- how they look 95 percent of the time anyway -- just aren't good enough for display. We'd much rather enshrine the myth of well-scrubbed perfection, especially if we're paying through the nose for it.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An inside joke

Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, does Christmas better than Ittybit's other mommy.

Thanksgiving was hardly a memory when we walked through Lori's front door and were greeted by a fresh Christmas tree, festooned with all manner of holiday jewels and jubilations. Other trinkets and curios, all categorized on shelves by their rank in the holiday army: Nativities scenes on one table; Santas on another; snowmen, deer, stars -- each with their own space of shelves and mantles -- all together trumpeting the advent of a new Christmas season.

With dozens upon dozens of Christmas stories in her collection, I suspect our Lori may indeed be a close relation to the Clauses, and no doubt the genesis of some of the ideas dancing around Ittybit’s head, including all those sugarplum fairies.

Sadly, neither her father nor I have been able to muster the excitement of all things Christmas-y the way Lori can; we have all we can do to dig out our old ornaments and hang them on a tree before the clock strikes midnight on Christmas eve.

Annabel's animation is helping a bit but I am still woefully inept. But I try. We even "practiced" making cookies for Santa one evening before bedtime. As we dropped five spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet, she allotted each a recipient: "This one is for Santa. This one is for Mommy. This one is for Daddy. And this one is for Annabel," she announced proudly.

"And this one can be for Rudolf," I say dramatically.

"Mom! That's not for Rudolf!"

"You're not going to give Rudolf a cookie?" I asked surprised.

"No," she responds without elaboration.

"But why not?" I ask, "He works very hard. He might like a cookie."

"MA-aaaaa" she says with all the exasperation of a child who's mother has gone mad. "He is NOT getting a cookie."

I really didn't think much about the exchange until I started to tell Lori about our weekend a few days later, and how Annabel's imagination seems so surprisingly intricate.

I was explaining how Ittybit was walking on a sidewalk that was all spider-vein-y with cracks when she announced that she was walking on the back of a big monster, when Lori told me about the reindeer bringing Annabel to school.

I remembered about the cookies, and told her how Annabel didn't want to give one to the red-nosed reindeer.

"Oh … she told me about that," Lori said slowly. "No, they don't like cookies,” she explained. "They like carrots."

Really, though. It's so hard to keep up with with the mind of a toddler when all the stories she knows about Christmas are not your stories. Jed even got a taste of what it's like this evening when he collected her from Lori's house.

See, he had no idea that reindeer had brought Annabel to school that afternoon in Lori's car or that they picked her up and took a nap with her in the playpen.

"Jed just called me from the driveway," Lori said laughing into the phone, she called me at work, bubbling with the news.
"Uhm ... is there some reindeer she forgot? She's really crying and screaming not wanting to leave without her reindeer."

"They're pretend," Lori explained. "Just stay right there, I'll let them out."

Monday, December 11, 2006

Fairy tales do come true ...

Remember ... oh, a couple-a few days ago .... I lead off a list of stressors that included meeting for the first time an imaginary Internet friend and her rock star toddler and newbie bebe?

Well we met and it was as fabulous as could be. She's known around the flickrverse as the Beast but she's all beauty. And Annabel was quick to dub her "My new friend."

As in: "Where is my new friend?" Sunday night before bed, Monday morning upon awaking and again Monday night before bed.

And Diana (aka Jesamin) is as sweet as can be. How could the mother of the sweetest newborn on Earth and the most brave toddler in the universe, AND who traveled HOURS to attend a crazy cacophonous yoga class and eat overcooked lasagna in a BARN with a smile NOT be an amazing woman?

Not to mention a killer photographer, too.

I must say, I'm feeling pretty splendid about the whole weekend, and I can confirm with certainty it wasn't a stretch.

Now if the rest of the holidays go just this smoothly, we'll be in business.

THE YAYA REPORT: Almost perfect

"Oh, you'll hear about this for sure," says Lori when I call this afternoon to see how the day’s going. "You know how she never tells you about anything good that happens at preschool? Well today was different."

I brace myself for the first "negative" progress report from school. It took a while, I think, but it was bound to happen. She was bound to snap sometime. My little Eddie Haskel offspring couldn't be a charmer forever. She was bound to show the chink in the perfect child armor she wears for her teachers sooner or later.

"NO! NO! Nothing like that," Lori laughs when I ask if she did something wrong. "But as soon as I got there she ran over to me and said Cole took something away from her."

Of course the teacher reminded her that it had all been taken care of -- that the boy gave whatever it was back with an apology -- meaning that should be the end of it.

"But Annabel just gave her a look like 'What are you crazy; I'm telling Lori about my trauma!' and proceeded to tell me how Cole took her bread, but then he gave it back."

Lately, I've noticed, she has a little trouble letting go of others' transgressions, even those directly relating to her own.

Whenever I tell her sternly not to poke the dog, or throw toys or play with knives she looks at me with a shiny wounded eyes and announces: "You made me cry."


Friday, December 08, 2006

There's a lot to be said for hope

I don't really want to tread too heavily here (in Blogger land) because I have a tremendous fear of the ground opening up and swallowing up all the useless thoughts collected here in one great watery slurp.

So I'll try and write quietly.

I feel as if I'm walking around in a fog. There's so much going on in the next couple of weeks that I don't seem to be able to get my head around all that must get done.

So I'm breaking all the rules that are designed to make reading this drivel fun, and I'm making a list:

  • Sunday will be my first yoga class since the studio "reorganized" this fall. They are having an open house and inviting people to come and see what we’re all about – hoping that maybe we’ll entice some new participants. Previously my class has been free but now the studio is asking for donations to allow me to continue using the space. I suppose that's better than demanding $15 a pop, but still. My inner soul of souls thinks this class should be gratis, yet I understand they got bills to pay. On the good/scary side is that I'll be meeting in real life some of my internet friends, who intend on making the trip and checking out the class. No pressure there. Right?
  • Tuesday I have a meeting at the Marilla Cuthbert School for Unspeakably Charming Children, in which I will vote to abolish for next year the two-year-old class my daughter attends this year. While it pains me that this wonderful class won’t exist for two-year-olds in the future, the teachers feel it’s time for change. I know that it means more three- and four-year-olds will get a shot at enrollment.
  • Wednesday is WOO HOO Christmas. I don't talk about this much, because I have very little social life outside of once monthly preschool board meetings and pick up and drop off at the sitter's house, but before baby, I went out WEEKLY with a group of great women whose sole purpose was to celebrate each other. I'll just say we raised our glasses often. Now I see these women once or twice a year, usually for the holiday bash. If Jed is home. Or I can get a sitter. Or I'm not too tired to drive the extra 45 minutes to and from after work.
  • Friday is Yaya's annual Christmas party. Must figure out something to bring for people to eat that is not a bag of Cheetos.
  • My annual Christmas shopping trip with Martha is next Saturday. With baby? If Jed has to work, you can pretty much bank on it. Hoo boy that will be fun. I predict no one gets gifts this Christmas.
  • Annabel's birthday party – complete with a lunch/cake extravaganza is set for all who wish to attend (Did you get that invitation? Nope? Could it be that I haven’t sent them? Yup! Do you think I’ll get to it before the party next Sunday around noonish? Nope? Good guess).
  • On the 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd I plan to be freaking out. Jed’s family will be en route to spend the holidays with us and the house is a giant box of phlegm and dog hair. Did I mention yet that my cleaning skills are that of a troglodite?
  • On Dec. 24, when I come down off the roof (because I'm counting on Jed's sister to talk me down and take me for coffee and last minute shopping, which I've thus far neglected) I'll be feeling better. I hope.
Does this list require me to check it twice? Nah ... I might as well just ball it up and pitch in the trash right now.

This is a fine mess ...

I was just sitting here, minding my own business, when I noticed that blogger was telling me to move.

"Go to Google. You'll like it there. It's nice. It's better over there."

"What? Google? Wha? Move. To. Google?"

"Oh, yeah," it cooed "it's still beta, but it's ooooh soooo much better."

So in my state of mindless anticipation, sitting here waiting for Ittybit to get out of bed and shuffle in to the warm cave of a livingroom, telling me one last time of monsters and bears gobbling up her cereal and forcing me to put her back to bed before I can make my way to my own, I toggled the necessary toggles and shipped this puppy on over to Google.

They said it would be more reliable.

The window that popped up told me it would take a few minutes.

"Go," it soothed. "We'll send you an e-mail when the move is completed."

"Don't worry," it whispered. "It will be better. You'll see."

Fuck all. Now Blogger is spamming my inbox with e-mails telling me I've moved.

So far, since I've been writting this little rant, I've gotten 15 ... no, make that 16.


I'm going to bed now before I find something else wrong with this picture. I hope when I wake up tomorrow things around here aren't so gloomy.

*** PS. Too late. Just found out the spell checker isn't working -- Gof held mu.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

She's still my baby ...

I wanna sleep here tonight, ok?
Originally uploaded by toyfoto.
Even if she's too big to sleep (comfortably) in the laundry basket.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Aw, let the pigeon drive the bus ... it's only for pretend

Annabel always sticks up for the underdog. ... Or in this case the under bird.

This interactive little picture book starts off with a bus driver taking a break and asking readers to please make sure that no one - not even the wheedling, pleading, cajoling, wormy pigeon - drives his bus.

But the little squab is incorrigible:

"I'll be your best friend!"

"How 'bout I give you five bucks."

"I bet your mom would let me."

"I have dreams, you know!"

Annabel, it turns out, understands about dreams. From page two, when pigeon peeked in his little head into the story to ask permission, she was ready to hand over the keys.

"I would let him drive the bus. It's only for pretend."

Friday, December 01, 2006

One, Two, Three. ... Ready or not, here we come

Dear Annabel,

In just a few days you'll be three. Everyone who sees you lately remarks on how tall you've grown or how mature you've gotten.

I can't believe it myself even though for months I've been telling folks who ask your age that you're almost three. I feel as if I wasted a sizable chunk of the twos - and for the record, they weren't that terrible.

It's hard to believe that in a few more years I'll probably forget about how you used to sing to yourself in the car. Songs made up out of bits and pieces of the day.
"Oh I had and cat at the lake. She said MOOO. And Meow. And she didn't eat cake only OR-E-Os. ... MAMA, SING!"

Or how you'd admonish me with gravel in your voice and exaspiration in your tone when I'd tell you that I didn't know the words. "MA-OM! SING!"

I love how you tell me "I luf you," and "I din't know the cewewool spills from the top of the box when you lift it up by the bottom."

It's a good thing we have dogs, because the vaccum cleaner is pretty freaking useless and it's always in need of being emptied anyway.

I love how you giggle and say "You are my favorite mommy" and how your dad is "your favorite daddy" and how you pat Maggie's head and say she's your favorite doggie. It's even funny how you look at Madeline and call her crazy, like it's such a shame.

I love how lately the world and everything in it is superlative:

"This is the best cookie I ever had."
"This is the greatest pear I ever ate."
"This is the best drawing I ever made."

And how your tastes evolve:

"I don't want the lemony buscuits or the chocolatey ones, but maybe the coconutty would be good."

Even how you watch TV is endearing: Body all busy with a slight smile on your face as if it's all just so wonderous. And then you'll say - as if to reassure yourself - "dogs don't really talk do they."

So now that you really are almost three, I am pleased to report that life with you around is still magic, and you are still a wonder. And I would guess that you're at least 76 percent cuter than you were last year.