Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Nobody tagged me, so I'll do it myself . . .

Seven things to do before I die:
1. Tour castles in Scotland.
2. Publish a book.
3. Spoil my grandchildren (moderately).
4. Make a complete patchwork quilt.
5. Take a second honeymoon in the same place as the first one--only for several days next time.
6. Perform in a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta.
7. Get the entire house clean at the same time.

Seven things I cannot do:
1. Catch up on the filing.
2. Keep my clothes dry.
3. Finish a cross stitch project.
4. Cook neatly.
5. Care about celebrities.
6. Sleep in (even when the kids do!)
7. Wait patiently.

Seven things that attract me to DOB:
1. His fine grasp of the English language.
2. His weirdness.
3. His hair when it's messed up.
4. His hair when it's fixed right.
5. His ability to motivate people.
6. His patience with me.
7. His imagination.

Seven things I say most often
1. Are your pants dry?
2. Oh, poor little Pookie Man.
3. Hi there.
4. No, that's not for Abbey.
5. Are you stuck?
6. That must be Papa!
7. Ooops. (That should probably be 1)

Seven books or authors you love:
1. G. K. Chesterton
2. J. R. R. Tolkien
3. Shakespeare
4. Tolstoy
5. Jane Austen
6. Dr. Seuss
7. W. S. Gilbert

Seven movies you (would) watch over and over again:
1. The Princess Bride
2. Taming of the Shrew
3. Much Ado About Nothing
4. O Brother, Where Art Thou?
5. The Scarlet Pimpernel
6. Pride and Prejudice
7. The Mikado

Seven people I want to join in, too:
1. Continuing the non-tagging tradition, if you want to do it, consider yourself tagged.

Facing Fears

I suppose most people have some deep, intractable fear of something or other. Snakes. Spiders (not naming names). The dark. Heights. Confinement.

I've never seen the proper name for my deep fear. I don't think I would want to.

What I fear is potty training.

I know, I know, everybody gets through it. I looked through the church directory, I watched movies, and I thought . . . All those people got potty trained! Their mothers did it, you can do it too!

Still, I was afraid. I'm not sure exactly what I was afraid of, except the prospect of absorbing every moment of my time wiping up accidents and extolling the virtues of dry pants.

And I finally realized that, afraid or not, the time had come. When a child starts sitting on the potty chair for fun and superintending the proper conducting of diapering, it seems only fair to at least let her give it a try.

So Monday we started. I spent it wiping up accidents and extolling the virtues of dry pants. We greeted everyone with inquiries about their moisture preferences. Everyone voted for dry, except for D2, who after all is a baby and doesn't know any better.

At the end of the day I wanted to quit, to the extent I was able to think at all. But I had promised to give it three days.

Tuesday we spent wiping up accidents and extolling the virtues of dry pants. With one key advance: most of the accidents occurred en route. There was a faint glimmer of hope. Still, one can only for so long chase around a toddler, watching for suspicious moments and trying to find out where they went.

So we will carry on, but at a slightly slower pace. I am counting the days until some waterproof cloth training pants will arrive in the mail, and we can resume use of our beds and couches.

Meanwhile, we have read Blue Bug's Circus 57 times, and can point to Blue Bug (who is a terrible role model for potty training, since he doesn't wear pants). We have learned several new words. We like dry pants. We like cheese. And the naptime load of laundry today was a little bit smaller.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

A Birthday, from various perspectives

27 is the cube of 3, one of only three cubic birthdays in the standard lifetime. I suppose the proper way to celebrate would be with cubes of cheese, lumps of sugar, and playing Yahtzee.

One decade ago, I was in my first semester of law school, spending endless hours designing complex diagrams of torts, contracts, and criminal law. I still hadn't managed to pass my driver's exam, so I had to bum rides to the law library. My only notion of Ohio was that it was that shield-shaped state somewhere in the middle of the country. Getting married was very low on the priority list. I hated the color burgundy.

It's great that my birthday coincides with the sales on Wheat Chex, because I love Wheat Chex and it's one breakfast I don't have to cook.

On the other hand, birthday cake is somewhat redundant this time of year. I am making birthday cupcakes so we can freeze the surplus and move on to Christmas cookies.

A decade from now, D1 will be old enough to bake my birthday cake uninstructed. And she won't keep putting her fingers in her mouth. At least not where I can see. D2 can help, too. There will likely be several more Ds by then. Hopefully we will live somewhere with room to put them.

This week we have watched, in very short stages because it's impossible to do anything any other way right now, two old favorites of mine which DOB had never seen: Cyrano de Bergerac and The Quiet Man. We watched one new favorite neither of us had seen: The Great Escape. All for free. I love the library, except for my inner anarchist who still thinks it's evil.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Random Notes

  • Taking two babies grocery shopping is every bit as difficult as it looks.
  • Do not run over your cell phone.
  • If you destroy the display on your cell phone, text messaging is not going to work no matter how well it still dials.
  • Snow is beautiful from Thanksgiving week through Valentine's Day. But no longer.
  • Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

What Baby Likes

D2 likes to eat. All day. Most of the night. D1 was sleeping through the night about now. With D2, I don't look forward to him sleeping through the night so much as being able to get up and get his own snacks. But I couldn't sleep if he did (storage capacity does have its limits), so it works fine. We can get the feeding done while both of us sleep. Meanwhile, he's looking on track to double his birth weight by two months.

D1 likes to talk. She has started coming up with the occasional two-word phrase. "Bible go?" "Mo' Nah-nah?" (Nah-nah means water, for reasons not entirely clear.) Mostly, though, she likes to chatter congenial syllables, sometimes a random "Odley, odley, odley," sometimes a more devout "Beelahbeelahbee" (The B-I-B-L-E) and sometimes a Shakesperean "Nonny, nonny, nonny."

She's also showing every sign of being the organizer I so desperately need. Yesterday she reminded me to get the clock for my exercises and located Carl's missing hat in the playpen. This bodes well, within limits.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Oh yes, that sounds exactly like my life

The Monk
You scored 34% Cardinal, 56% Monk, 29% Lady, and 40% Knight!
You live a peaceful, quiet life. Very little danger comes you way and you live a long time. You are wise and modest, but also stagnant. You have little comfort, little food and have taken a vow of silence. But who needs chatter when just sitting in the cloister of your abbey with The Good Book makes you perfectly content.

Link: The Who Would You Be in 1400 AD Test written by KnightlyKnave on Ok Cupid, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Too poor to even pay heed

Kim, in the eponymous (now there's a word one doesn't get to use every day) book by Kipling, begins his training in the Great Game with a humiliating defeat in the art of noticing things. He can't even remember the contents of a tray of household objects as well as the jeweler's apprentice. But with a little practice he has mastered this essential skill for a spy.

Or for anyone else. Noticing things and remembering them is largely a matter of education; and vice versa, education mostly consists of noticing things and remembering them. Learning styles may influence how easily you pick up a certain type of noticing, but the real clincher is practice. Through long practice editing, I can't skim anything in print without one eye out for misspellings and those loathsome misplaced apostrophes. But ask me to describe a car that just drove by, and I might be able to tell you its color--even though that's a visual skill, too. DOB, on the other hand, will rattle off its make, model, year, and a close estimate at the mental abilities of the driver.

I used to blame the things I didn't pay attention to on innate ability. I'm not an auditory learner--so don't expect me to listen to what you're saying. I'm not good at spatial perception--so don't expect me to avoid your car in the parking lot. But I've learned that I can learn. I can learn how to notice which muscle movements shoot the ping-pong ball back at my opponent and which send it careening into the shelves. I can learn to focus my mind on a speech and not spend the time composing my own thoughts on the subject.

The reason I'm working harder at paying attention is not just to make my own life easier. I want to be able to teach my children to devote their whole attention to something, as a matter of choice, not just of ability or interest. That means I have to learn it first.

So I'm working on what is perhaps the hardest for me: listening. I've set myself the challenge of actually listening to the sermon every Sunday, recounting in the car all the main points and any particularly noteworthy illustrations without notes. It's hard work, because I'm not used to it. You would think it would be the children who make it hard, but it's not--just my own bad habit of being more interested in my own thoughts than in what I'm hearing.

Maybe once I master this, I'll learn how to notice how close my shins are to the dishwasher.

Monday, November 14, 2005

An Unmentionable Quandry

QOC: I don't know how we're going to pottytrain D1. Apparently a key element in everyone else's potty training is the desire not to wet on the child's favorite cartoon character.

DOB: Don't worry about it. Maybe we can find her duck underwear.

QOC: But ducks like getting wet.

Quack. Quack, quack.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Educational Toys

By that mysterious process known only to marketers, I am starting to receive educational toy catalogs. (I haven't even bought any toys except at garage sales, except for one measly, but much loved, package of alphabet blocks at Wal-mart.) I was unimpressed by their collection of write-on plastic birthday cakes (Teaches writing skills!) and books that read themselves (why bother?). Maybe I should start my own catalog:

Bowl of Beans
This attractive plastic dish full of black and white beans, accessorized by an empty film canister, will provide hours of fun and learning as your child masters fine motor skills, sorting, colors, math, and auditory discrimination. For added fun (and less vaccuuming), buy the extra "Charmin Soft Tissue" box to use when playing with the beans.

Tupperware Cupboard
Bursting to the seams with educational activities, the "Tupperware Cupboard" teaches shapes, colors, stacking, sorting, and dishwashing skills. Plus, it will increase your own coordination as you learn not to step on scattered tupperware.

Baby Brother
This adorable little fellow will give your toddler wonderful opportunities to role play, practice sharing and social skills, and learn anatomy. Best of all, it grows with your child! Cost varies with delivery method. Ongoing maintenance costs not included.

This one does it all. In addition to the letters, numbers, colors and shapes that everything teaches, this one can teach hygiene, nutrition, safety, household maintenance and pretty much anything else. Sings songs, reads stories, and serves as jungle gym. Some models also do windows.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Moving at the speed of life

My life used to seem busy. After all, I had a full-time job. For awhile, I had another part-time job on top of that. I volunteered. I spent part of the week in one house and part in another. I had a large, close-knit family who were always doing something. I cooked dinner every night. I went for a walk every day.

Now I know I didn't know what being busy was. In the past twenty-four hours, I've served over 20 meals, changed about 15 diapers, and changed somebody's clothes 12 times. I've had an oil spill, two eruptions, and 345 instances of tears, many occuring concurrently. I've read or told at least six stories and washed or folded six loads of laundry. Someone is always moving, and as a general rule every person in the house and at least two appliances need attention at the exact same moment.

The month I spent traveling around the state promoting a new curriculum while studying for an unexpected bar exam seems serene and straightforward by contrast. The only job that I can imagine providing a similar sense of nonstop crisis would be managing an emergency response station during a natural disaster.

Sometimes I lay down to rest and find I can't because my mind is spinning, trying to process everything that has just happened and subconsciously convinced that someone, somewhere, has just gotten into my makeup drawer again. Even if everyone who might is temporarily immobilized.

I used to think that the comment "You'll have your hands full," was a figure of speech. Now I know that it is quite literal. I almost always have someone in at least one arm, often on both. I think of efficient things I should do--take this here, move that there--but I can't because my hands are full.

But I think I can feel my brain expanding to the new challenge. Eventually you learn to do more with your feet, your elbows, and your nose. Eventually your brain adapts to the constant adrenalin and indeed even thrives on it. I probably would go through withdrawal now at a lower level of adrenalin. That's probably what empty-nest syndrome is.

And to think, this is just with two.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Week in Review

So we come to the end of the first week without full-time (or close to full-time) assistance. And it went like this:

Monday: Did all the exercises, took a walk, kept up on the laundry, cooked a meal from scratch. House was clean and supper on the table on time. Helper came, but had a hard time finding anything for her to do.

Tuesday: Called Grandma to take care of D1, stayed in bed all day. Ate leftovers. Laundry rotted in the washing machine.

Wednesday: Skipped exercises, pawned some of the dishes off, took an extra nap. Laundry got finished (amazingly enough).

Wednesday night: D2 up all night sniffling and gagging.

Thursday: In zombie-like state, found enough food for everyone to survive. Washed a load of towels. Watched D1 take everything in the house from points A, B, and C to points Q, M, and R. Took D2 to the doctor's office and got ear infection diagnosed. Nobody died trying to cross the parking lot.

Friday: D2 is a little better. D1 has a cold and gets to fulfill her dream of constant nose-blowing. Helper has a cold; in case it's not the same cold, I tell her not to come. Adjust to the fact that the house will not be cleaned this week. It's a beautiful day; take a walk and let the dishes rot.

While I was trying to get in the door at the doctor's office on Thursday, a lady opened the door for me and remarked that I looked 16 and certainly not old enough to be the mother of two children. So I guess it hasn't started aging me . . . yet.

I'm getting closer to finding out what a maintainable pace is, I think. And as mother always said (to herself), this, too, shall pass. Too soon.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Reading through the paper

Today is Husbands Make Dinner day. Tomorrow is Sandwich Day (commemorating the birthday of the Earl thereof, I believe). Shouldn't they have combined the two events?

A quote for those of us who blog about everyday life: "Little minds are interested in the extraordinary, great minds in the commonplace." By Elbert Hubbard, whoever he is.

Speaking of earls reminds me that we never got around to awarding a title. Naturally everyone was very far off, but even when everyone missed the target someone must have come closest to staying on the grounds. (Guesses made after hearing of the birth do not count.) And so (drumroll please) based on my best calculations, the title of Countess of Calculations goes to Sara Jones!

(Actually Anonymous scored higher, but the Duchy is too politic to award titles anonymously.)