Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lift

So yesterday (I think it was yesterday) I found out that Wondertime magazine is going to be discontinued next month -whaaaa! It is my favorite magazine, the most tolerable parenting magazine, and that - of all things - made me cry. I have another two years of subscription left, so I wonder what they're going to do about that? I also feel like a shmuck because I sent gift subscriptions to approximately a dozen friends in the last year and I wonder what will happen to their subscriptions - nice gift! I have had no luck figuring out where to go to protest this decision (Maybe I should make a Facebook group!), if any of you have info on this, please let me know! And my apologies to those of you who recieved Wondertime as a gift from me. Boo.

This reminds me of when Rosie's magazine got cancelled and I ended up with another two years of Redbook (I think) instead. No offense to Redbook but it was not the same.

Anyway I have found one thing to be nearly fail-proof at cheering me up so I thought I would share:



video

Michael is smiley 98% of the time, but it can be very difficult to get him to laugh, which makes the video even more precious. Hope you could hear it over the dog barking...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Disjointed

I'm feeling a little out of sync lately - in a way that's hard to explain. I think it is partially ripples from difficult times other people are going through. I think it is partially some uncertainty we've been going through lately (all is okay though, no worries). I think it is partially the state of the world and the cold of the winter and the challenge of parenting two little children without, say, a four-day rejuvenating solo retreat once a month.

It's not all bleak and doom and gloom, but it seems like the days are thick with shadows and I'm having a hard time finding my way out of them. Blah.

I feel disconnected right now. I'm having trouble keeping up with blogs, with email (a perpetual problem), with phone calls and letters. Not to mention the army of dust bunnies which now see fit to hold strategy meetings right out in the open. Or, oh help, the fortress of dirty laundry threatening to swallow us whole.

It is a motivation problem, because being connected with friends and having a reasonably clean house are things that make me feel happy, but I just can't seem to get enough of a handle on them these days to achieve the level connectedness and cleanliness that leads to happiness.

I'm in a rut.

We're facing down some changes around here - not in the next week or month, but we're trying to answer some questions about where Harper will attend school next year and whether I will return to work (hopefully, in some capacity, I will) and it seems unlikely that our family situation will look the same in, say, eight months' time. And I think that's good. Because change is never easy (and I tend to go kicking and screaming into any change) but it may be just the thing I need to get unstuck.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where Does the Time Go?

Lately it feels like my wheels are spinning and I'm behind on everything. Scientists really need to get cracking on ways to get more hours into the day, or at least ways to slow the passing of time while children are sleeping. Mmmkay?

Here's a hilarious bath picture of Michael - we don't really have much of a photo editing program, so the best I could manage was to put an asterisk over his delicate parts, but I HAD to find a way to share. I guess he's outgrowing the infant tub, we really need to find him a bath seat, we just haven't yet. He is nowhere near sturdy enough when sitting to put him in the tub unassisted - it would be like begging for stitches.

We think he's working on his own version of Pilates (Babylates? Tublates?) - instructional DVD and late night infomercial to follow.


And here's Michael's ten month shot... it doesn't look terribly different from the nine month one, but we're on a roll here, so I am presenting it anyway.


The picture was taken only a day late, on January 10th.

Recently I'd been doing a little fretting about Michael's speech. Did you know there was speech therapy for babies? There is. About ten days ago he really wasn't babbling at all and I started to feel like we were seeing a delay, even for his adjusted age. I had literally made myself a note to call our care coordinator and ask her about it when he started to babble like crazy. Now he'll talk to anything, although he seems to most enjoy conversing with his own reflection.

He's been making mamama sounds, as well as buh and puh sounds, grunting, and doing something that sounds like he's trying to imitate a motor. The BEST part about it is that Harper keeps insisting he's said actual words. I'll give her "mama" although he has no idea that it means anything yet.

Today they were playing on the floor of the living room and she came running into the kitchen to tell me, "Mom! Michael just said the words to get a rabbit out of a magic hat!"

When I looked at her blankly, she elaborated, "Mo-om, he said abracadabra!"

Kids are fun.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wandering Blogger

In a very strange turn of events, I am sitting in a BW3s, blogging from a crowded sports bar at 10:30 on a Friday night.

Instead of jazz music and a cup of coffee, I've got basketball on TV (too bad there's no NFL on Friday nights), music of which I can only hear the bass, and a Bug Light - whatever works!

Around 1 this afternoon our TV, internet connection, and phone just died. The phone will likely be reconnected by tomorrow (Saturday) night, but the internet and television will probably be out of service until MONDAY!!!! It has become a reflex to go to the computer whenever the children are safely occupied, especially during naps or after bedtime, and I felt like a lost sheep today. My tether to the outside world has been severed! To make matters worse, Matt is running a basketball tournament this week and is pretty much gone until Sunday afternoon, making it near impossible for me to leave the house with his laptop and check in during normal business hours (hence the 10:30 sports bar visit!).

Some people close to us have been burdened with truly tragic events lately, so I am at least able to recognize that our lack of connectivity is really just an inconvenience, but that doesn't mean that I like it.

So if you need to get in touch with us in the next couple of days and our phone isn't working - just give the cell phones a try.

Oh! I almost forgot the strangest part! Earlier today, when our phone wasn't working, people who tried to call our number got through to a different residence. So some poor woman was getting our phone calls all afternoon! I finally called from my cell phone and gave her that number, in case she wanted to pass it along to anyone who called, so they could stop calling her! Can you imagine? SHE called the phone company to clear up the problem and our phone worked for about an hour before going dead again. Hopefully someone else isn't getting our calls now.

I wish you all weekends of warmth and strong internet connections!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Harper Tales

Tonight I offer you a few Harper stories and a request...

For a long time Harper didn't watch any commercial television because all we had was PBS and videos. We'd expanded our cable package and she now watches Disney and Nickelodeon channels as well. While I appreciate some of the preschool programming on Nick, I do not like the fact that there are regular commercials during and between the preschool programs. I am amazed at what kids pick up from commercials (any television for that matter). Tonight I was flipping through a magazine and there was picture of that little green guy who is supposed to be mucus, Harper looked over and said, "Hey! That's for Mucinex DM!" Somewhere an advertising executive can get a high-five for the success of his (or her!) campaign.

***

We have a bag of hand-me-down books on tape from a teacher friend. We don't have the books, only the tapes. Once in a while Harper will bust out the Fisher Price tape player and listen to them. The story of King Midas and the Golden Touch is on one of these tapes. Tonight after dinner Harper turned to me and asked, "Mom, have you ever gotten the golden touch, where everything you touched turns to gold?!"

"No," I replied, chuckling a bit.

"Me neither," Harper said dejectedly, "Everything I touch just turns to normal."

***
One of the bedtime stories Harper chose tonight was less a story than a series of little poems stating types of things the author liked. For example: I like apples. Red apples, green apples, yellow apples, juicy apples, etc.

As we read I would pause at the end of each page and ask Harper to identify the word that was repeated a half dozen or more times on the page, i.e. "apples" from the example above. They've been working on letter sounds in preschool lately and as she looked for each word I noticed that she would make the beginning sound repeatedly, searching for a word beginning with the correct letter.

One of the pages we read had some simple three-letter words on it, the kind that sound exactly as they look like they should. So I pointed to one and asked Harper if she could tell what word it was by saying each letter's sound and putting them together. So she went:

buh, buh, buh, buh

a, a, a, a

duh, duh, duh, duh

It says, "Bad!"

Yup. Harper read her first word. I am getting goosebumps thinking about it. Reading is one of the things I love most in the world, and watching Harper make those first steps toward being able to read herself is so cool. One of my most favorite things about teaching first grade was watching kids learn to read. I feel so honored to witness this process in my own child. Amazing. I'm a proud mama tonight.

***

And speaking of my beautiful, amazing daughter... would you do something for her? Tomorrow (January 14) is the last day to submit public comments to the FDA as they revisit the issue of allergen labeling on food packages. Many of you already received an email about this today, but I want to make sure to cover all my bases. Here is the body of that email:

In recent years it has been the law that companies must list, in plain English, any of the top eight allergens (wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, fish, eggs, and shellfish) that are present in food. But that is where the requirement ends. Companies are not required by law to label for cross-contamination. Cross-contamination is a problem in the case of severe food allergies, like Harper's, because even a trace amount of the allergen can cause a reaction. That's why you see notes on some labels about products being manufactured on equipment that processes nuts or milk or eggs, etc. Companies voluntarily offer this information, sometimes. I send untold hours on the phone trying to figure out is safe for Harper to eat, and we still have to be prepared to administer an injection of epinephrine at anytime, because it is nearly impossible to be certain a food is safe, unless I grow it myself! Required labeling for cross-contamination would initially be a burden for many companies, but would make food much, much safer for people with food allergies.

I should have send this email sooner, as tomorrow (January 14) is the last day to submit public comments, but if you have a minute, and you feel comfortable doing so, would you please click the link below and leave a comment requesting stronger regulations and consistency in food allergen labeling? Especially if you work with children, this is a change that could make your job easier when dealing with any food allergies you might encounter.

(*You only have until tomorrow to submit your comments about the current "May contains" FDA food labeling. Click here for the form).

In my email I also posted the comment I left, as a suggestion of what you might like to say. Then I found these words on a facebook group page that I like even better than what I originally said:

"Thank you for accepting comments for your upcoming hearing on food allergy labeling laws. Please require companies to label for more than just the Top 8 allergens - perhaps the Top 12. I especially request that you require labeling for sesame, which is often hidden under the terms 'spices' or 'flavorings'. Sesame can be a life threatening allergen and consumers have the right to know if the food they are purchasing contains it. Please also require the allergens to be listed in bold letters on the label. Please require companies to label for shared equipment and shared facilities. Studies indicate that cross contamination from shared equipment is extremely common and extremely dangerous. Consumers should have this info to determine if they want to put themselves or their child at risk."

I have been really moved today by all the return emails I've received from people saying they'd already left a comment. It certainly can't hurt to try to make a difference here. I know Harper would appreciate it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Quiet Moments

Not too long ago Giselle wrote a post that included some musings on the terribly boring home videos that first time parents take. We don't actually have too many of those of Harper, mostly because we didn't have a very easy to use video camera. In 2007 I got a video camera for my birthday, I have mentioned once or ten times that I'm still figuring it out, but (editing aside) it is really easy to whip out and film things on a whim.

Today I took what may be the world's most boring video of Michael (unless you're his grandparent), but it captured some rare moments. When Harper was a baby it often felt like I had nothing but time to spend with her. Sure, I failed to get most anything else accomplished, but I was free to lay around and stare at her fascinating baby self all day long. With Michael, of course, things are completely different. Even the quiet moments I manage to sneak with him are colored by the fact that our family cannot revolve solely around his schedule and I often have one eye on the clocking thinking about feeding/clothing/dropping off/picking up/ or entertaining my other child.

This afternoon the schedules got flip-flopped a bit, Michael's morning nap (which is often nonexistent, btw) stretched into the afternoon so that Harper was "napping" by the time he was ready for lunch. I was able to do what I so rarely have the pleasure of these days and just linger over his lunch, and stay at the table playing and talking with him. I could watch him forever, this one, and I pulled out the camera to document those big beautiful eyes in the afternoon light, the way his fingers explored the spoon, the way his feet wiggled and tapped with happiness, how intently he can concentrate on something, how he always has at least a hint of a smile for me, and, yes, even the extreme drool situation we are currently experiencing.

There's very little action in the 90 second clip, but it's a movie I could watch again and again. (Confession: I do watch the clips I post, over and over, I'm fascinated by my children - which is as it should be. I'm also totally annoyed by my own voice, but there's nothing I can do about that.)

video

****

I took Harper to gymnastics tonight, and was feeling very hurry-up about getting her in bed once we got home (gymnastics nights run about 15 minutes later than what I'd consider ideal). In all my grumping and rushing I disturbed Michael, who'd been trying to fall asleep. So I ushered Harper into bed, and then went into Michael's room to snuggle him in the rocking chair for a moment or two.

So I was all nestled in, with my fleecy warm baby a pleasant weight against my chest, enjoying the dark and quiet, when Harper tiptoed in and said, "Mom, I hardly saw Michael at all today." Which was true enough (see afore mentioned flip-flopping schedules).

Relaxing the bedtime regulations, I let her come over and give Michael a kiss and a hug. He immediately picked his head up and grinned at her. Then he leaned back against my chest, but, instead of putting his thumb back in his mouth, he reached out to hold Harper's hand.

We shared the dark and quiet for a bit, the three of us, Harper occasionally reaching out ever so gently to pat Michael's back or kiss his cheek. And I thought, "Yes. This. More of this please. More calm and fleecy warm children and rocking chairs in the quiet. More peace."

By tomorrow those quiet minutes will probably be far from my children's minds, but I think I'll hold on to them for a while.

***
Edited to add: The song in the background of that video is, "Whole Other World," from Right Outta Nowhere by Christine Kane - one of my absolute favorite artists.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Dedication Explanation

This might be one of those stories that was more funny when it happened than funny in the retelling. . . but I have to share to explain the dedication below.

The past several holidays we've spent the week after Christmas at my parents' house in Wisconsin. It has become a loose tradition to play games together on New Year's Eve. This year we played my brother's new Trivial Pursuit game (the 25th anniversary edition) and then we played Taboo.

If you've never played Taboo, the object is to get your team to say a word, which is on a card along with words you cannot use while talking to your team. So the word might be Christmas and you would have to get your team to say it without using words like Santa, holiday, December, stocking, tree, etc. You "give" as many words as you can during the allotted time and then play moves to the next team. It's a fun game, often made more fun when people are giddy from staying up late (like trying to make it to midnight) or have perhaps sampled some holiday "spirits".

We were well into the game when my dad, who was giving clues to my mom, had to get her to say the word "teapot". So he sang, "I'm a little. . ." and my mom confidently yelled, "Teacup!" We all dissolved into near hysterical laughter at my mom's mistake and it only got worse as my dad kept singing the song and my mom kept saying "teacup." By the end of it my mom was quite literally rolling on the floor laughing.

I know it was probably one of those, "You had to be there" moments. But without sharing that little story, you wouldn't understand why I laughed so much when Harper came home from school today, singing this song:

video

Saturday, January 03, 2009

In Which 2009 Already Surprises Me

We made it back from Wisconsin in only seven hours, this is unheard of when traveling with small children. It was the perfect anti-storm of sleeping children, cooperative bladders, light traffic, dry weather, and vacant construction zones.

***

Michael was excited to see his room, he got all smiley and wiggly when I carried him in there to change his diaper.

***

Harper said, "This was such a good day."

"Driving in the car all day?" I puzzled.

"Well we got home safely Mom!"

Good point.

***

Matt went to pick up the dog, the dog entered, Michael cried. Michael apparently forgot Rebound and/or is now afraid of him.

Wha?