Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pics from Potty Week so far...

Here are a few pictures from our adventuresome week -- be sure to check out the self-selected outfits, especially the shoes (a shower gift for the babe on the way and Silas's new favorites):

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Potty Learning

We have just finished day 2 . WHEW.  The experience is like being on a plane all day long with a 2 year old -- being ON, full of energy, alert, attuned, suggesting, encouraging, cheering, producing prizes and beverages, making sure no upholstered surfaces or carpets are in danger, urging the wearing of socks and t-shirt in the 60 degree morning despite the demands for nakedness, sitting for so many long stretches with my 33 week pregnant belly on the slate bathroom floor reading and re-reading and re-reading his beloved "potty learning" book to him (and it really is learning not training).  This afternoon, after Silas burned out on drinking and hadn't gone to the bathroom for a while, I even resorted to drinking games: clinking glasses with him (a favorite past-time) over and over and making him take a sip after each cheers!  

Tomorrow will be day 3, and we will be camped out, carpet pulled up from the living room floor, blue bulldozer potty seat in full effect, Lightning McQueen underpants, and the prize bowl of boats, cars, and candy waiting on the kitchen counter...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

On the Brink

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe,
she had so many children she didn't know what to do...

I can't remember any other lines of that rhyme, but pray tell, what did she do???  I am finding that "too many children" is one 2 year old.  What do you do when 1 is the limit and child #2 will be taking up residence in your house in a matter of weeks with or without your consent?

It is 10:30 AM and I am done for the day, ready to tuck Silas into some safe padded space with his blankie and some snacks and head out alone somewhere far far away.  To be fair, we started the day with a few strikes against us: jetlag, being 2 years old, no diapers in the house, an unshowered, frizzy-haired mother.  

And so, at 8, after coffee with Ben, we headed to Target.  The soundtrack of our trip sounded something like this:
"I want go to da park, mama."
"what you do?"
"what he do?" (random shopper)
"what he say?"
"I want thomas toothpaste"
"i need dose goldfish"
"I want go beach, mama"
"what you doin?"
"I want cereal now"
"I throw dis"
"I throw dis on floor"
"I want dat"
"I don't want diapers!"
"I throw this?"
"Where she go?" (child shopper)
"I WANT GO TO DA BEACH!" (crying)
"I kick dis"
"I kick cart"
"I kick car" (referencing kicking front seat of car, which I'd said all morning not to do)
"ready go, mama"
"I NEED CHOCOLATE!  I NEED CHOCOLATE!" (huge melt down with tears -- down the check out line and all the way out of the store). 

You know it is been a bad trip when you have ducked into a nearby aisle (again) to escape the Small Madness dominating your cart and are gone long enough to overhear a stranger say, "Well where IS your mommy?  Let's go find her," at which point you have to gallantly step out of hiding with a confident smile and reclaim your child.  And you know you've probably crossed a line and should remove yourself from people when your impulse is not only to throttle your age-appropriate-mannerless son but also the nearby shopper who asks you if you've seen swim diapers anywhere.

When I got home, I did the only thing I know to do these days when I am on the brink, which is to retreat not to a shoe, but to a hot shower, in hopes that the impatience will burn off and the tension will melt down the drain.  Silas, all of the sudden oh-some-complying, asked to take a nap right when we got back, and though it was 10AM, an hour of napping that puts the rest of the day at risk, I did not hesitate. 

Now I am clean, I have vented, I have eaten my 3rd meal of the day, I am dying for a soda -- the only can of anything in my fridge is a V8 that is literally 3 years old -- and the small voice in my head is telling me it's time to wake him up so the rest of the hour isn't shot... So off I go.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

aaaaaand ... we're back

We got a text from mom my this morning as we were packing up that said Silas has a fever. The poor kid has been clobbered by a cold that's going on two weeks. . . 

When we drove back into town, we found Silas limp and red-cheeked, listlessly sucking milkshake from a straw on Papa's lap in Macdonald's.  After I scooped up his hot little body, he looked into my face with his puffy little eyes and asked, "Where you go, Mama?"  

And now after an hour and a half of his nap-rejection-crying, I am imprisoned on the floor of Silas's room keeping him company while he  t r i e s  to nap --an effort that seems to have shifted to his reading aloud to himself...

We leave for the pediatric clinic, unnapped, in an hour -- ahh yes, back to real life. 


Well, after making fun of the commercialized idea of a babymoon, I find myself on a luxurious and heavenly one of my own. Ben and I have spent the past three nights in an old inn at St. Michael's -- a teeny town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Some impressions so you can better imagine it:
-The inn is made of white clapboard houses (mannors)-- the old one dates back before the turn of the century -- with black roofs and little porches opening out to the river
-Adirondack chairs scattered all over a bright green lawn that spreads to the sea wall and sparkling water beyond
-Pairings of Canada geese clustered around the grass in the mornings, mallards in the afternoon, swallows and sparrows -- all the birds darting and dancing and wooing for Spring
-Spring! daffodils, narcissus, juicy red tulips, blooming rosemary, crab apple trees dense and bursting, red bud trees, even blooming lilacs, and marsh grasses hemming them all in
-A brick driveway with grass peeking through the seams -- a quaint lain to the inn from main street
-Tea time outside -- little glass apothecary jars of loose tea to smell -- pear and the most fragrant earl gray. Ben's discovered he likes Lapsong (gross -- Eli, you and he can have it together!)  Little scones -- airy, crusty perfection with homemade raspberry jam
-A shed full of bikes to cruise on -- we tried a tandem, but it turns out I like steering, braking and balancing on my own bicycle with my own personal view of the road.  It was tricky but we didn't crash.
-And the water... I love the ocean. And i love the beach.  A river satisfies in a completely different way, though -- soothing, silent, rippling, sparkling, silk-smooth, wind-textured, iridescent, full of sky and sun and weather. I have loved my mornings sitting out looking at the water.
-The town is a one street down -- a few blocks of stores and the rest beautiful old houses snugged between the harbor and marshes a few blocks away. We discovered that stores and restaurants are really only open wednesday-sunday (or thursday-sunday), a fact which doesn't seem to strike anyone here as odd, and most everywhere closes by 5... Though there are a few kitschy stores in the mix there are also some gems. Here are links to my two favorites:

* (a Paris to the Moon -- one of my favorite costa mesa stores: -- who has spread it's wings!) Drool-inducing. I wanted to move right in to the middle of it and stay there. Ben was patient...

* -- this store we visited 3 times yesterday! more than anything else, it is aesthetically pleasing with its large glass jars of homemade candy, bottles of silver-ball cake toppings, jams, honeys, oils -- all eye candy.   The menu is so delectable that I glued it in my journal! The woman who runs it, Jennifer, is nutty and wonderful! She does *everything* herself and seems inexhaustible -- she's there 7 days a week, knows everyone in town, has two children and a husband who owns the big crab restaurant in town.  Crazy.  I am definitely a big fan. Her slogans (printed on pink/green and black/white bumper stickers) are "get fresh" and "get fancy" -- yes, fresh and fancy she is!

It's like Ben and I have been drugged here. We have slept somewhere between 9 and 11 hours every night, taken naps during the day and still been for more sleep.  I guess one could call that relaxation or unwinding.  I am off to wake him so we can enjoy our last breakfast in town, hit the farmer's market, say goodby to lovely Jennifer and head back toward the Bay Bridge. We've decided that though this will probably be our last child, we will take Babymoons for the rest of our lives.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eli and Hollie's Wedding!!

E&H got married April 5th in Yakima!  I just IMed with them from France, which he described as "big blooms, breezy, billowy clouds, warm sun, short rains -- 'Spring' exactly" --yum!  
Here are a few pics--

Hollie the bride when she first put on her dress:

Practicing putting the ring on her finger:

Hollie's bouquet -- she attached wedding pictures of her ancestors by ribbons to her bouquet:

KJ took this one through the window:


Friday, April 11, 2008

When I couldn't sleep and got up for orange juice in the night

I walked out on the front porch to watch the rain and thought for a split second it was snowing. Cherry blossom petals blustered in the wind and splattered all over the sidewalk. It was so windy that between the horizontal rain and the ominous swaying of the trees, I was sure a natural disaster was about to split the house in two and sweep Silas away into the night.

My parents' house sidles up next to the woods. The towering old trees, still holding their winter silhouettes in the dark, creaked and swayed in the roaring wind as I stood there. I am surprised by how unaccustomed I have become to these old friends. Living in California for so many years, where the only deciduous trees are 20 or 30 feet high, I find myself struck and startled by their sheer size and presence. Especially under the wind...

The rain is calming, but thunder still rumbles around the sky as I sit at this table. I have the back door open and can smell the grass and dirt, the wet concrete, and blooming bulbs mixed into the night air. Wind chimes are clanging and the rain falling from the gutter slaps the ground. It is Spring in Washington.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

a croupy crappy night

Last night around midnight, Silas started croup coughing.  For those of you (my 4 readers) who don't know what this sounds like, it sounds like a beached seal stuck in the rocks calling for help.  We've never had croup in our house before, though when I was a kid, Max used to get it all the time, and I remember the distinct sound and his hot, little, red face sitting on my mom's lap in the bathroom while the shower ran.

Thankfully, I was at my parents' house when the episode struck, so I got my mom out of bed (thank goodness for moms) and had her come listen to Silas's labored breathing.  She agreed croup, so off to the shower I took him.  I made a pile of pillows and blankets on the bathroom floor and ran the scalding hot shower.  While the steam billowed out into the dark bathroom, Silas fell asleep with his little arms over his head.  As the air got thicker, I started to imagine, in my 1AM sweaty state, that the water was taking the place of all the oxygen in the room and that I was surely going to pass out (why else aren't pregnant women allowed in steam rooms at gyms and spas??), and that Silas, my poor coughing baby, was actually already unconscious with water collecting in his lungs that was definitely going to turn into pneumonia.  It suddenly occurred to me that there are probably methods and tricks to running the shower safely for croup, some level of steam that is acceptable, that there was something more I should know -- where IS all that information?  Where is the how-to-raise-a-small-human-being, neatly-color-coded, tabbed, glow-in-the-dark guidebook that helps in dark hours of the night?? 

Instead there is floating information -- tips that people assume you already know or that you luckily hear in the nick of time, or that you invent brilliantly on your own, or that, of course, you try and then scramble to undo.  (Other helpful guidebook categories would be: how many "treats" are too many in a day, especially when your mother is pregnant and eating junk food all the time; how not to let threats like, "if you don't sit in your car seat you'll never play again!" not fall out of one's mouth and when they do, how to provide any kind of follow through that keeps you from crying wolf;  how in the world to make a two year old stop walking when his mother says stop (or screams it embarrassingly angrily at the park) or to come when she says come -- in short, how to raise a toddler who is remotely polite and mindful -- where ARE those instructions??)  
Fortunately, hours later, Silas was still asleep -- and conscious -- on his nest in the bathroom, was breathing and not coughing.  Unfortunately, this calm, soothing state expired around 5AM.   After an attempt to have him sleep in my bed, at 6 we were up, (cheery little "hi mama!  i wake up!" in my ear), and in a cross-eyed state I scrambled an egg and made grits for the cheery rise-and-shiner who instantly had become Crabby McGee refusing all breakfast fare.

Two hours later, enter my mom (thank goodness for moms! can we say that enough?) who took Silas out back to the park, played with him at the sink, and watched birds flutter to the feeder, while I slept for two heavenly hours and woke a little bit more sane and a little bit more patient.  (thank goodness for sleep too).  

And now, after days of clouds, there are hints of blue sky and patches of sun through the cherry blossoms.    

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oh Glorious Chives

My grandmother Kaia has a green thumb. Every Spring, well into her 80's, she would spend May down on her hands and knees in the Carolina dirt planting and tending her gardens, which she would keep thriving all summer long, along with the red wooden window boxes, clipping begonias, lilies and daisies for bud vases all over the house. Often she would gesture to some thick bush or blooming plant in the yard and mention how she'd snapped a sprig off of so-and-so's such-and-such and stuck it in the dirt and Voila!

Naturally, I've grown up believing that I too have a green thumb, or would have a green thumb if I tried my hand at it. Just like Nan's, my soul and the earth are intricately attuned, and fresh sprouting leaves and buds are bound to nose up toward my fingertips from pots or plots or patches of garden.

At least this is what I thought until I started growing plants of my own. The first few died, but to be fair, they were potted, or indoors, or we were traveling -- there were reasons.

Then a few more died.

And a few more.

Until ALL the plants I'd ever had were gone, including the ones "easy enough to grow in the palm of your hand." Basil -- forget it, leaves full of holes. Rosemary? No, the stalks turned black. The rose, tiny invisible bugs. Rananculous, juicy bulbous caterpillars. So it seems that I have no green thumb, or at least that despite repeated resolutions, I forget to water the plants...

During the past year, I thought my friend Amy was going to restore and mentor my buried plant-nurturing skills (plants quietly flourish on her patio, even now in the wake of an 8-week -old). But alas, even this week, an orchid that supposedly only needs water once every few weeks, is wilting and dropping blooms inexplicably in my dining room.

But this week, I found hope.  Sitting on the warm wood of the back deck facing a stack of forsaken pots of dirt (I threw the plants out months ago), I noticed that from the largest pot -- the one on the bottom nearly completely covered by the others -- a green, healthy tuft of chives was growing its head off, secretly flourishing in the privacy of its own existence and found sun...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


In the past few months, one of my favorite indulgences has been the haven of a long, hot shower: alone with my thoughts, quiet, hot water drumming on my head, temples and achy back, smells of soapy goodness in warm humid air, scrubbed pores and even - on the very long showering days - shaved legs to boot.

This is not Ben's favorite phase seeing as I luxuriate in there until I've eeked every last drop of hot water from the tap and am forced out against my will by the cold, and he gets up for a shower after me. (what can I say? the early bird...)

So today, after feeling grungy through breakfast and a meeting, I am ready for a shower and this is how it goes: I begin my state of warm cleansing bliss (with the addition of a small naked boy on the other side of the shower curtain who poses the threat of pee all over the floor at any moment and who is repeating "I come in, I come in mama" like a mantra) when a little glob of extra body shampoo inexplicably flies -- from where? the bottle? my hand? mid-air?-- into my eye where it burns as if some small fiery meteor has landed.

So there I am hopping from foot to foot in pain in the slippery shower, sure to be blind forever in one eye, saying things like "Aaahh!" "ACck!" "Ow!" "OWW!", which make Silas worry and switch mantras to an urgent "mama? mama? mama?" As I am trying to rinse my eye, I realize the shampoo I just put in my hair is now streaming with the flushing water into my eyes, and as I try to reassure naked exiled Silas that Mama is fine (a lie), I resort to sticking my open burning blind eye straight into the hot shower stream (thereby probably singing all eye nerve endings, but I am blind anyway, so does it matter?)---

10 mintues later: naked Silas has entered the shower, my burning eye of fire is still closed and sure to be blind and brilliant red, and I am still attempting to flush it with water, which seems to do nothing.

By 3 PM, after playgroup, park, OB and chipotle, I am back in the shower (Silas is napping) and miraculously can see out of both eyes. This time the hot water runs out and I feel a little more sane emerging than when I entered -- ahh, thank goodness for take 2.