Thursday, September 28, 2006

Even more miscellaneous than usual

We finally got the books on the shelves! They're not on the right shelves, and this is somewhat distressing, but they are there. They are, moreover, no longer in the middle of the living room, for D2 to climb up and fall off of and bonk his head. He has a lovely shiner left from the last stack, though.

After watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers this past week, I would like to express my fervent gratitude for my in-laws, and my hopes for their long and healthy lives. I am grateful that I don't have to superintend marrying off all of DOB's brothers in order to get out of doing their laundry. (Actually, they're pretty good at doing laundry themselves. They even fold mine sometimes.)

After watching various other movies, most recently Batman Begins (which was really quite fascinating, much to my surprise), I'm musing over how the ideal of the knight, the Western gunslinger, and the superhero are all at heart essentially the same: a man (usually) who carries the law within him in a world where the structure of law is absent or inadequate. Apparently it's an image with staying power. What I wonder is, is it an essentially Western ideal? Or are there parallels in other countries?

One thing I don't get about Cincinnati is the weird stuff in the chili--cinnamon? Noodles? Another thing I don't get is corn hole. Corn hole is a game without which no church potluck, family reunion, county fair, or beer garden is complete. For those of you outside of Cincinnati, it involves throwing small stuffed bags at a hole in a wooden target some distance away. That's right, it's a game of beanbag toss. Now, I have no objections to beanbag toss as a game, and the ducklings adore playing with the equipment (although they don't stand at the proper regulation distance from the hole). But I don't understand the obsession. It's a kid's game, people!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Food for thought

A visiting friend from Taiwan was, I heard, astonished to watch D1 coolly feeding herself with a decent mastery of table utensils. Apparently, chopsticks being a complex skill at the developmental level of good handwriting, Asian mothers customarily administer each bite for their children until they are nearly school age. No wonder they have such small families.

Not that D1 uses table utensils all that much anymore. You see, long ago, when she was one and D2 was as yet not in need of table food, she was eager to learn to wield a spoon just like the big people. Now D2 is eager to feed himself, too. But he does not look at a bowl and a spoon and think, "Aha! A way to be like grownups!" No, he looks at them and thinks, "Food! And then, things to throw on the floor!"

So now with D2 happily eating with his fingers, she has another option of someone to imitate. And she finds his method quite efficient, except for, say, tomato soup (this week we caught her spooning that onto her sandwich, announcing that she was making pizza).

Well, anyway they do it, it's going to be messy. But I cannot bring myself to sit still long enough to fill one bottomless pit, let alone two. They have the interest and motivation to feed themselves; I say, let them do it. It's still faster to wipe up later.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

So many things

There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew
Who had so many things which he wanted to do
That, whenever he thought it was time to begin,
He couldn't because of the state he was in.

~A. A. Milne

I have all kinds of blog posts I want to write. I have a pile of half-read, fascinating library books and I find more books I want to read every time I open another box. I really want to finish putting things away and get the house decorated for fall (if we can ever get around to getting our fall decorations out of DOB's parents' attic) and ready for company. I have all kinds of new ideas for Cool Things to do with the Ducklings (on top of our mandatory two hours at the park). I have a cold and should probably take a nap.

What I will probably do with the rest of the day is go grocery shopping, cook supper, and do dishes. I will end late at night without having the dishes entirely done. I will neglect something normally essential to do something else I'm just dying to do, but will not get very far on that, either.

Those people who say you have time to do the things that are really important to you? They must not have much imagination.

So he thought of his hut ... and he thought of his boat,
And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat,
And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) ...
But he never could think which he ought to do first.

And so in the end he did nothing at all,
But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl.
And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved -
He did nothing but bask until he was saved!

The rest here.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Books in Boxes

Just thought I should post to note that we all seem to be alive, despite recent spinach consumption. I'm in some doubt on the matter for myself, as I have such a head cold that I cannot sleep, but objective evidence is still strong.

We decided this weekend that we really must start putting the books away. What with all the other things we had to do this weekend, what we succeeded in accomplishing was getting the shelves in place, putting an enormous pile of boxes back in the living room, and settling on a general organizational scheme. There are a few on the shelves. It's good to see them there again, like welcoming old and long-absent friends.

The ducklings, of course, think we've created a special indoor playground for them. They both seem to have entered the climbing stage at once--D1, in one fell swoop, has mastered the arched bars, the slide ladders, and the riding toys at the park. Prayers for their safety and my sanity would be appreciated.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Too cheap?

So we're minutes away for leaving for a night out (free night at the Children's Museum!), and I have a lovely supper for the road packed up: tortilla wraps with a chicken/bean spread, swiss cheese, and . . . spinach.

And then DOB calls me to say he just remembered to tell me to throw out that bag of spinach in the fridge because there's been an E. Coli outbreak.

I have no other supper-suitable ingredients. I used a lot of very nice, expensive (from my perspective) ingredients to make those. We ate the spinach last night, so we've already been exposed.

We're eating them.

I did find something else for D1's supper, though. She hasn't had any, so she has a chance of escape. I figure we're doomed anyway.

If I die, it was in the interests of frugality. But I'm not feeling very hungry all of a sudden. My stomach is getting queasy.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Nothing's Wrong With Me, Thanks

Meandering around the internet, I stumbled across this drug company website with a helpful quiz to figure out if you might be suffering from Adult ADD and thus a prospective customer.

Some of the symptoms that they state indicate Adult ADD:
  • Do you have difficulty concentrating or focusing your attention on one thing?
  • Do you often start multiple projects at the same time, but rarely finish them?
  • Do you have trouble with organization?
  • Do you procrastinate on projects that take a lot of attention to detail?
  • Do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
  • Do you have trouble staying seated during meetings or other activities?
  • Are you restless or fidgety?
  • Do you often lose or misplace things?

Hmm . . . and I thought all those things were perfectly normal. Not in the sense of everyone being like that, but within the range of normal behavior, mostly as a natural side-effect of being creative and intelligent. * Being fidgety is even good for your health--burns more calories, and maintains function in your joints better than * being still.

I don't begrudge drug companies their profits--profit is capital, and capital is new developments. But I do begrudge them running around amplifying problems to drum up business. Maybe there is such a thing as Adult ADD that genuinely needs drugging, * and of course you're supposed to talk to your doctor and find out if it's "right for you." But if those traits are all it takes to qualify, a third of the population are good candidates for their drug. Which I'm sure they wouldn't mind.*

Personally, I think it's those other people who have the problem. * I'd like to diagnose them with Excessive Attention to Detail Disorder (EADD--on the obsessive/compulsive disorder spectrum) and give them a pill so they would stop stressing out over minor things and learn to think outside the box. I mean really, in the grand scheme of things, does it matter that I sent the container of straight spaghetti sauce to lunch with DOB and left the dish of sauce mixed with noodles in the fridge? (Actually, DOB is very gracious about such things. He has to be, or he would go crazy. It's better than the time I mistakenly sent him a pound of cheese in his lunch. Or sending him empty bags, which happens all too often.)*

*Just out of curiosity, I stuck in an asterisk every time I surfed away, got up and moved around, or otherwise got distracted. Fidgeting that didn't move my hands off the desk didn't count. I think it's just the power of suggestion. **

Some obligatory pictures

Every parent has to have these:
The Boy With Baseball

The Girl With Makeup

Monday, September 11, 2006

Just about one

I have not encountered very many different ages and temperaments of children yet. At least, not in children of my own. But I have to say, the age right around one (say ten to fifteen months) seems like the most difficult so far.

There's no denying that it's also the most adorable. All the chubby baby cuteness is still intact, combined with all the curiosity of a toddler and the occasional attempt at communication in some entirely unique dialect. D2 will copy D1's inflection perfectly, sitting around muttering undecipherable questions to himself ending in "esss" or "oooo."

But at the same time, they stop taking all those lovely extra naps they used to need, but they're still too small for those handy activity ideas to keep your toddler busy. You can't leave them alone for a second with anything smaller than their head, because they will eat it, or larger than their head, because they will use it to climb onto the piano.

Besides, the only activity that really interests them is learning to move, and for that they want your constant assistance: if your fingers aren't available, they'll wrap around your legs. Forget taking a shower being a luxury; ANY trip to the bathroom is a luxury.

Then of course there's that little problem of Original Sin, which is beginning to poke its head out, so cleverly mixed with innocent babyishness that you never know quite what to do. Just the time you're sure it's a temper tantrum, it turns out to be a howl of anguish--just the time you're sure it's a real problem you see that little, "I got you!" look in their eyes. Whatever you do, you're bound to get it wrong.

But it doesn't matter, because they're stuck with you. And they don't care how evil of a Mommy you are. They still want you.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Of hair and sheep

I cut D1's hair for the first time this week. It wasn't particularly momentous; I don't even think she noticed what I was doing. There are no before and after pictures, because you really can't tell the difference. But now she has official bangs, and it's one of those things you're supposed to write in the baby book, which I don't keep, so there it is. Haircut.

I rather like that my children are slow in the hair department, requiring two years to come up with a respectable quantity of blond fluff. Babies with full heads of hair always look so much older. I don't really want my children to act like babies a second longer than is necessary, but I'll take looking like it.

D1 feeds D2 pretty regularly now. She doesn't have the patience to do a whole bowl of food, but once I'm finished eating she'll often shovel it in for awhile, which gives me a moment to get started on the dishes or run downstairs and switch the laundry. D2 likes it because she drops even more food than I do, and then he can pick it up with his fingers.

"Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" continues its prominent place in our lives. It happened the other morning that D1 was beginning to get a bit drizzly, and I requested that she produce some more cheerful sounds. She began singing, "Baa, baa, black sheep . . . "

"Yes," I said, "That's a happy song."

Well, somewhere in the inner workings of her mind, she's taken from this the idea that singing it is the proper response anytime she is miserable. Whether she thinks that singing it has the power to make her happy, or whether she thinks I will accept it as ipso facto proof that she is happy now and not send her off to her room to compose herself, I cannot tell. But so it goes:

"Baa (sob), baa (sob), black sheep (sniifffff), have you (sob) any wahhhahhahhoolll?"

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Three years ago today

4 moves . . .
3 jobs . . .
2 kids . . .
1 big adventure.

Those are, of course, carrots on the cake.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Nursery Rhyme Improv

Heard from the back seat:

D1: Baa, baa, black sheep, Have you any wool?
Have you any . . . cats?
Have you any . . . cars?
Baa, baa black sheep,
Have you any . . . Uncle Dan's house?

At the lunch table:

QOC: What are little boys made of, made of? What are little boys made of?

D1: BEEEeeaaaans!

Farewell to Eden

I am no fan of hot weather. But my joy at seeing the temperatures coast back into the low 70's is tempered somewhat this year, as I realize it will require radically readjusting everyone's wardrobe.

In dressing children, my philosophy is simple: The less time and money spent on it, the happier everyone will be. So since April, they've worn little besides hand-me-down t-shirts and whatever protection for the lower regions seems suitable to the current state of potty training, laundry, and my interest in cleaning up messes. D1 gets on sandals and shorts to go out, or a jumper if she is feeling particularly girly. D2 is still innocent of the concept of shoes and was quite alarmed one evening when we put a long-sleeved shirt on him--he couldn't figure out what had happened to the rest of his arms.

But now we must find complete outfits. Here the second-hand clothes become a bit dicey. Not everyone seems to believe in completely interchangeable clothing (don't their children ever eat tomatoes?) and often the tops and bottoms did not survive together. Worse and worse, we have to find shoes. And socks! And all those have to match, too, or at least not look noticeably hideous together.

Plus, there are now twice as many garments to get wet or stained. Twice the laundry.

The good news is, D1 loves her new tennis shoes, which, being white with pink, go with pretty much everything she has. I still haven't gotten my nerve up to put shoes on D2; size 3 is far too small and size 4 is hopelessly big. But sooner or later I'll have had enough of his cold little toes.

Friday, September 01, 2006

You pick

Version A:

D2 has shown great strides in fine-motor skills and self-feeding lately. He can really get around, too, and he's eager to take those first steps. D1's love of reading becomes more apparent every day, and she's also taking an interest in housework and organization. They're both quite affectionate towards me. We've been enjoying the cooler weather and have been eating well lately. I find myself constantly challenged by my work, drawing upon previously-unknown reserves of creativity and strength.

Version B:

D2 spends most of his time shredding Kleenexes and eating off the floor, when he's not climbing on those moving boxes that seem to have become a permanent part of our living room decor. He expects my fingers to be available every moment so that he can walk where he wants to go. D1 thinks I have all day to read her stories, unless, of course, she's dumping the wrong ingredients together while my back is turned or rearranging the pantry. They both want my lap exclusively if I dare to sit down or even make eye contact. It's raining too hard to go to the park. The dishes have backed up to an alarming degree. I'm at my wits'* end of things to do with them and I need a nap at 10:30 and bedtime at 6. I'd have a nervous breakdown, but I haven't got the time.

*Edited when, after due consideration, I decided I have more than one wit. The Grammar Commando is never wrong about apostrophes, but sometimes has trouble determining the intended meaning.