Thursday, January 31, 2008

Well it's almost February

christmas tree, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

So I've slapped up the new masthead.

Although, I must admit, shamefully, the Christmas tree is STILL standing on our sun porch. Dry as a popcorn fart. But while it's standing there MOCKING ME with all its dry, pine scent, it is no longer adorned with ornaments -- thanks to an unusual burst of energy last weekend. I have hope that by the end of this coming weekend it will be dragged to the edge of the road by my husband.

I'd do it myself but I don't think it'd be wise with Annabel leading the way (down our steep stairs) and Silas tucked into his sack (trying to get fist fulls of needles into his mouth) with his octopus arms reaching out.

So ... let the screamfest begin!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Down for the count

brother bear, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

This is the last photo I took of the kids before I became an incubus for viral plague.

Aren't they cute?

I mean. I was a little concerned that Brother Bear here would topple, head first off the step while I tried to focus the camera, but Ittybit turns out to be a first-class seatbelt in that regard.

But I digress.

The day went on without any other concerns . ... well I did have a tension headache starting late afternoon, but nothing that really would herald the






symptoms which reared their ugly heads that evening.

You know ... Just your run-of-the-mill, overall full-body grossness.

Luckily the kids haven't gotten it yet. And the man wasn't out of town (or sick) so he could be the feeding, changing "don't put that in your mouth" parent for the day when it turned out the Babysitter's husband was home sick, too.

Of course I woke up this morning (feeling much better, thankyouverymuch) to find an earthquake had rocked our livingroom and a cyclone had blown similar debris through the kitchen.

"You know I did keep it pretty neat for the first three hours. ... you should have seen it then!" He laughs ... as he offers me a quarter cup of coffee.

Well, I had been feeling better.

Monday, January 28, 2008

I mean really ...

fine-line, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

How often do you see a cop on a horse pull over a car?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Bedtime stories: A cautionary tale

sleep/fret, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

When the cat's away ...

The mice inhabit the bed.

And they sleep diagonally.

If sleep is even what it's called.

One fidgets.

The other kicks.

Both make the king-sized bed seem only kid-sized.

And then the mommy sleeps on the couch. With the dog.

Who farts.

And growls at the cat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Impulse buy

concentration, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

We do so love our art projects in this house.

Jed sometimes clucks his tongue and gives me the stink eye when I come home bearing a white and red bag with the distinctive bullseye dotting it everywhere.

He hates convention. From his artistic pedestal on high, he looks down his abstract expressionist nose at the die-cut scrapbooking-shouldn't-be-a-verb flowers I bought that became her obsession for days.

He hates the coloring books that litter our floors, with their black-bordered princesses or pirates, telling you in all their commerical perfection: "Stay inside the lines."

NO! He tells us. Don't stay in the lines; swerve! Go crazy! Be free.

"Don't go to dollar stores. We don't need anymore pom-poms," he begs, chasing a glittery, furry globe across the floor for the umteenth time that evening.

We have enough crayons, markers and paint to color the world. Don't buy another version just because they're cool.

But what do you think should happen when HE takes the kid to Staples and she finds THESE?

He grabbed them right out of her little pudgy hands and tossed them in the cart.

"What? They were cool! I wanted them, too."

*dusts hands*

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The highchair wars

next week, college, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

What the ...

The baby's been eating what arguably can be called real food -- pureed vegetables and soupy cereals -- for only a month now and already I'm noticing a trend.

He gets pretty excited by the increasing proximity of the booster chair. It means food.

He doesn't like fruits just yet. He makes unbearably cute wrinkled faces when his lips touch banana, apple or pear. But he'll eat the rice cereal mixed with sweet potato or squash like it's Grandma's homemade pie.

However the spoon is driving the poor boy crazy. He wants it for himself. He wants to hold it, and lick it clean and stick it in his ear if that's where it ends up. Doesn't matter. He. Wants. The. Spoon.

And if you take it away you will break his heart into a billion little pieces.

Now I am going to toot my own horn here -- because no matter what you all might think of me -- I'm not really quick on the uptake. Just this morning in the car Annabel and I endured 20 minutes of screaming during the morning commute before I thought to turn on the CD player and pump up the volume on the Dave Matthews CD that's been in the slot so long it must be stuck. Finally, we were able to enjoy the soothing sounds of musical silence for approximately 3 minutes until we reached our destination.

I digress.

I'm tooting because once I got the boy to calm down, I reached into the utencil drawer and retrieved ANOTHER SPOON. Yes folks, I played a little game of "I'll trade ya" with the pablum eater.

"I'll trade you this yummy spoon loaded with potato mush if you give me that empty old crusty one you've been sucking on now for the last half hour ..."

Worked like a charm.

Now all I need is a drain in the floor so I can use the hose for cleanup.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I know what you're thinking

You've been coming here for the last 21 days wondering to yourself: "when, for the love of mike, will she be taking down that holiday banner!?!"

I mean, sheeesh. You hate those people who leave up the Christmas lights until August.

This banner, dear readers, isn't the only thing still standing from our holiday celebrations.

So is this:

It's still Christmas at our house, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I figure, when I finally get off my ass and find the time to pack up the tree ornaments and haul the frasier fur (and for those of you worried about fire safety, this baby has shed remarkably few needles and the branches are still quite supple) to the curb, I'll replace the masthead, too.

I'd advise you check back again after Valentine's Day.

Monday, January 21, 2008

This little light of mine

Contemplation, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Mommy: Oops. I forgot, there's no school today.

Ittybit: NO SCHOOL?!? Why not?

Mommy: It's Martin Luther King Day.

Ittybit: Martha Cooker King Day? Who's Martha Cooker King?

Mommy: MARTIN LUTHER KING was a man who worked hard to make sure black people got civil rights. That's the right to be treated fairly and equally.

Ittybit: And white people too?

Mommy: Well the white people had all the advantages, so they didn't need anyone fighting on their behalf.

Ittybit: Why?

Mommy: Well, because a long time ago, even before I was born, people OVERTLY discriminated against people for being or looking different. And that's not right.

Ittybit: And then what?

Mommy: Martin Luther King taught people to stand up for what was right.

Ittybit: So it's better now?

Mommy: In many ways it is better. But it's more subtle now, and unfair things still happen. So we still need to remember. And that's what this day does. Help us remember.

Ittybit: But you didn't remember I had no school today.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Kiss, kiss ... bang, bang

kiss, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Now can I have my seat back, please?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

His and Hers' home improvement

jed, bubble wrap, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Him: I had planned to install the new replacement windows in the kitchen today, but I also had a meeting scheduled.

Me: *blank stare.

Him: I wasn't sure if I'd be able to finish in time so I put up some bubble wrap just in case I got called away.

Me: *blink. blink.

Him: But I never got around to putting them in anyway.

Me: I see that.

Him: I'm really liking the way the light comes through the bubble wrap, though.

Me: Nice try, but we are NOT having bubble wrap curtains.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Every Day is Sunshine ... In my eyes

morning commute, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I ended maternity leave the first of October. Fifteen weeks after I'd begun it.

The ending also came with a new beginning. A new set of expectations, a new set of worries and concerns: a new daycare provider and even a new, longer commute that brings me past ancient buildings, forgotton farms and furry creatures never before seen in these here parts especially not a hunnerd years ago.

Some days I bring my camera, and if the car is still and the traffic light, I hold my arm out and take a few snaps of the scenery as we pass by.

Last day of 2007 I spy a sign

my morning commute Last day of 2007

Annabel sometimes asks to take my camera. And she snaps away, recording the seat back or the top of her brother's head.

Other times she instructs me on where to look: "There's a horse coming up. Take its picture. .... There's a really good tree. Take it. Take it. DO IT. Don't forget the Llamas!"

It's funny how I go past this place every day, and yet I've only been inside twice. Neither time while making the trip from our house to the sitter's. Not enough time. Not enough energy to release two kids from the car and heft one inside while corraling the other; not enough patience, no matter how nice it would be to have a warm cup of coffee and a fresh scone.

I also can't seem to get past this old broken down farm with it's myriad travel trailers and rambling buildings. Maybe it's the curve in the lane that seems like a nice, safe place to let my mind wander from the road a bit. Maybe it's the highs of the trees and the lows of the land with nothing else in between that has me revisiting time and again with my camera. ... Whatever it is, I can't seem to get past this place.

Last day of 2007

morning commute 12.28.07

morning commute 1.8

drizzle 1.09.08

Course, it would be a little easier some days if we weren't traveling East.

"MAMA! Can you tell the man who works the sun to turn it off?"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

How first they practice to deceive

The making of a Mudslide, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

"Mother! I dropped one.

"Don't worry. It's still good. I can eat it.

"Oh no! I dropped another one!"

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ittybit, light and dark

shadow, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Ittybit: I got in BIG trouble this weekend.

Terri: How's that, sweetie?

Ittybit: I throwed the busy fish at my mommy and she took away my carrots and made me clean my room. All. By. Myself.

Terri: Well, gee. Why'd you throw the busy fish at your mommy?

Ittybit: I don't know. ....

But THEN I got in BIGGER trouble after I wouldn't get off the bed when daddy told me to. He made me go to my room.

Terri: Well, why wouldn't you get down off the bed?

Ittybit: Oh, I was just having a bad day.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A second helping

needs a wipe, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Ever notice that flavors seem to meld and mellow the second day you eat anything?

It's not always the case, but sometimes the leftovers just taste better on the second day.

I know a lot of moms who feel that they've shortchanged the second (and not like the short sheeting effect of college pranksters) child by having a first child holding on to the apron strings and poking around in the pots as they're trying to get the food to the table.

For me, it seems the second child has a kind of clarifying effect.

There's a generous serving of "oh, yeah, I remember this" kind of delicacies as well as a smattering of "MMMMM. This is different.

Maybe it's my forgetful mommy brain or just the jogging of a flabby memory that leads me to relive the early days with Annabel through the second round of firsts with Silas.

She was bigger at this age
She didn't like avocados either
I don't remember if she held her own bottle.
She definitely didn't drink from a sippy
I don't think she babbled nearly this much
but she was too busy trying to move
I wonder if she would have liked the sling?

And then you realize what's the problem ... it's not in the ignoring of the first when you have a second, it's all the stuff you learned in the meantime that makes the second seem so second-nature.

And with that comes a stunning amount of regret. A stunning amount of worry that you may feel closer to one than the other, even though you love them both the same. The same. Only different.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Sitting. Not still.

Dear Silas,

Two days ago you couldn't sit unsupported at all.

You'd lean too far backward or sideways and topple immediately.

But last night (and again today) you found the balance and perhaps even the rhythm of sitting.

It's strange to me how these past months, as I get to know you, I've thought you a docile, placid little guy. Content to sit and watch. I've dubbed you coy but not terribly shy. Not immediately frustrated but also not easily distracted from things that torment you.

I love how you look at your sister. I love how you screach in a rock-star-like range to get her attention. I love that your happiness is loud and vocal. (I even love that your crying in the car can often be quelled now with Dave Matthews ... although I'm sad sometimes it can't be touched by the voices on NPR.)

I love your surprises. Because every day as you reach out, as you turn things over and figure them out, you are a new and delightful soul.



Tuesday, January 08, 2008

An epic tale in sixteen words

I'll Get You, My Pretty, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

With one fell swoop, the baby took the camera away from the mama and ate it.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The surrogate

changing dipes, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

Ever ask your kid what they want to be when they grow up?

I know lots of people recoil from the answers, especially when said answer seems to pigeonhole a certain fairer gender into a role their mothers and grandmothers have been fighting against for generations.

For instance:

When the kid says "Nurse" the adult says, "Why not be a Doctor?"

When the kid says "Secretary" the adult says "How about being an Executive."

Of course no one gets too put out when the kid tells you they want to be a princess or a ballerina, because what are the odds? Right?

But when they say to you ... I want to be a mom and a wife ... what do you say?

I know lots of people, myself included, who say 'Yes, but you can be so much more.'

As I'm saying it -- as I'm telling my daughter that she can be a wife someday if she chooses to be, and she can be a mommy, too, but she can also be a writer or an artist or a lawyer or a banker or a politician or a nurse or a secretary as well if that's what she wants -- all I'm thinking is being a mommy is huge. It's perhaps the biggest thing she'll ever be, and to many, many, many people -- perhaps even herself one day -- it won't be enough.

Of course this mothering gig may never happen for Ittybit ... not the way she wants it to, anyway:

MOMMY: "What do you think you want to be when you grow up?

ITTYBIT: "I'm going to marry Elias when I grow up because I want to be a mommy. But I want you to born my babies, OK, because I don't want to get cut."

I guess now is as good a time as any to let her down gently. Hardly anyone's birthing plan ever goes the way they thought it would.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Some spooky things about New Year's Eve

the shadow, originally uploaded by toyfoto.

I told you a bit about our New Year's Eve exploits, right?

No? But you saw some of the pictures, right?

Perhaps I had a little too much of the bubbly ...

Well, better late than never. ...

So we wrangle ourselves an invitation to a bash at Clatter Hall -- the not-so-humble abode of some dear friends (not so humble now that most of their painstaking renovations are compete) -- and show up with the kids at our usual half-hour earliest.

Annabel could not contain her glee at the idea of staying up until midnight to ring in the new year, despite the fact that she understands neither concept.

After our coats are hung and our offerings of cheese, crackers and bottles of champaign, procured at the last possible minute, are abandoned on the kitchen counter we skitter off to the porch, where trays of vegetables and candy confections are spread out on a knee-level table.

Ittybit gathers a fistful of shell peas and runs off to find her friends. And save for a few hot-pink flashes through the living room and back into the porch for more crudite, she is on her own.

Silas, on the other hand, is always at arm's length (except for the moments when he is baby-napped by dozens of infant deprived revelers.

At one point, Annabel found a tradition of her own to try out. With her father's help, the pair burned a champagne cork and proceeded to endear themselves to the guests by asking them if they would like their faces painted.

Oddly enough, 7 out of 10 folks -- including yours truly -- couldn't turn down a preschooler bent on blackening faces.

But I suppose I wasn't the only one surprised by what happened after midnight. ... And I'm not talking about a gaggle of neighborhood carolers who'd apparently got waylaid after Christmas. I'm talking about Annabel's disappointment at having to wear her coat home.

"Wait. I thought it would be spring?"

"No honey, The New Year doesn't change the seasons. It's still winter."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Yeah ... No, you can't go by her

We had a medical day today. A well-baby, well-child extravaganza that started in the morning and stretched into the afternoon.

Got everyone into the car in time to drive through an apocalypse if we had to just to be on time. And strangely enough, we left on dry pavement and arrived an eternity later in a whiteout with two inches of accumulated snow.

Of course the real fun was juggling two semi-nekked children as each had to go in different directions. Suffice it to say Annabel did a wonderful job reading the eye chart, peeing in a "hat" and getting a shot.

Annabel told the doctor that she liked broccoli, cucumbers, peas and yogurt (but only the plain kind not the kind with the fruit). And that she also liked raccoons, but not to eat. (whew). The doctor's mouth was only slightly agape (no spittle or drool visible) when Ittybit took a gander at the eye chart on the wall and noted that she liked "the frame."

She apparently doesn't see too many art movers kids.

Silas, however, screamed his way through the scale, the examination and the immunizations.

The doctor asked how he was doing. Was he rolling over from both sides? Pushing up from his tummy?

"Yes. Yes. But he's not pulling himself up to a seated position yet. By this time with Annabel we had to retire her cradle and pull the bassinet insert out of the Pack and Play."

"Oh, Annabel was always precocious," she warned. "You can't judge a normal child by her."

So for the record:

Annabel, at 4, weighed 30 pounds and measured 38 inches tall.

Silas, at 6 months, weighed 14 pounds 8 ounces (5-10 percentile) and measured 25.5 inches (10-25 percentile) and head circumference 42 cm (10 percentile).