Monday, October 31, 2005
Full Speed Ahead
Lauren has 2 speeds: on and off. And when I say on, I mean full-tilt, 10 on the richter scale, bundle of never-ending energy on. She never quits. She's worse than the energizer bunny. She keeps going and going and going. And she's like that until the second she goes to sleep. No quiet winding down. No real signs of tiredness at all. Just when it's bedtime she runs into her room, climbs up onto the crib rails and starts shaking them, and then willingly flips her switch to off and she's out. O-U-T out. For about 10 hours and then we start up again at top speed.
She doesn't walk. Why walk when you can run?? Why sit when you can jump? Why stand when you can climb? All.day.long. And I thought Nicholas was busy. Ha! That was NOTHING compared to my spit-fire. The only thing Lauren sits still for is TV. Preferably Blue's Clue's. Otherwise it's go go go. Her newest thing? Using the back of the couch as her personal balance beam. My big picture window has lovely smudges and handprints on it about halfway up - just the right height from Miss Lauren steadying herself on the back of the couch. Climbing and jumping on the furniture is a big no-no in our house, so this is making me crazy. Also? She's figured out that she can reach all of our CD's and such by taking the stool out of the bathroom and using it in the living room. Or climbing up the stools we have at our eating bar and standing on them (!) to try to get into the upper cupboards. It never ends. And I'm having an increasingly difficult time trying to appropriately channel all of her energy. She's started hitting Nicholas. I tend to allow the kids to work things out on their own and not interfere too much, but when he's screaming bloody murder because she just cracked him on the head with something hard, I have to get involved.
Gentle soft touches? What are those?? She's not gentle with anything. We have a decent library of kids books and all of the "lift the flap" type of books are ruined. Ruined! She's ripped them to shreds. She pulls on a flap and just keeps going. Many of our CD cases and inserts are broken from her inquisitive forays into the CD shelf (see above). She seems pretty invincible and it's not unusual for her to take on her bigger brother with wrestling and take whatever he dishes out and come back for more. He dissolves into a puddle of tears before she does.
Like me, she's opinionated and expressive. And she's developing strong notions of the way things need to be. She recently started rejecting sitting in her booster seat at the table, insisting on sitting in a regular chair for meals. She'd sit anywhere BUT the booster and all hell would break loose if you tried to get her to sit in the booster. I had to get rid of the booster so we could all sit at the table together. My ass is too big to fit in it and that would be the last available seat come dinner time. Anything Nicholas has or does, she must have or do, too. She's pipe in "too! too!" to let us know she would like to be included. If Nicholas gets to do something or go somewhere she doesn't, it's a full-on, lay on the floor fit. Major upset. Actually, I find it pretty funny to watch. Fits and tantrums have never bothered me. When Lauren gets in trouble for something she has to do 2 minutes in the naughty corner (thank you, SuperNanny!). She will sit down and stay in the naughty corner for the full 2 minutes, but in no way does it have lasting effects in deterring her behavior. Thankfully the threat of the naughty corner works most of the time. The kids know that I follow through on my threats, so they hop-to if I ask them if they want to go sit in the naughty corner. I don't know what else to try disclipline-wise with Lauren. I'm against spanking, so please don't suggest it. I do slap hands if they're touching something they're not supposed to, but Lauren seems to just laugh at the concept of pain. I'll slap her hand, like today, for example, when she wouldn't stop messing with the birdbath after I asked her to repeatedly, and she just sort of looked at her hand where I'd slapped it, looked at me, and sort of shrugged her shoulders and moved on to something else. Nicholas would have been horrified that he'd gotten his hand slapped, but not Lauren. They are such different kids! She's going to be my bigger challenge by far.
If Lauren doesn't like the food that is served for a meal she'll simply not eat. I don't offer her something else - it's what I serve or nothing. And she has no problem choosing nothing. If you don't eat your dinner at our house you don't get any dessert. Food is a big motivator for Nicholas, so he'll eat razor blades if it means getting desssert. But not Lauren. So when it comes time for dessert, we give Nicholas a scoop of ice cream and nothing for Lauren. She'll get upset, but then she gets over it. But she WILL NOT, not for anything, eat that meal. Unlike Nicholas, who would eat nasty curdled milk if he had to watch someone eat ice cream and he wasn't getting any. Instead she'll go to bed without eating anything in the evening other than drink a cup of milk and wake up saying "food! food!" and making the sign for milk. I've gotten over my mother's instinct to not let my child go hungry. She broke me.
Am I the only one who is dealing with such a child? The terrible two's are very much living in my house, but she won't be two for another week!! I suspect it's going to be a very long year...
When It Rains It Pours
It was Mr. B, a law school friend who has a job locally and is staying in town permanently. He's single, our age (another "older than average" student) with a cool Golden Retriever. He owns a house about a mile away. He was calling, randomly, to ask what our plans were with the house. What timing! Mr. Chick told him about getting the offer just that day. Mr. B told him he was interested in buying the house as well, hence his call. WTF??! It seems that Mr. B is in a fat hurry to build up some assets to make up for lost time savings towards retirement during law school, blah blah blah. He's always liked our little house and envisions living here and renting out his current home, which has 3 full baths and is a better set-up for renters than ours is.
He came over last night. Late. He's been here many, many times before but now he's looking at the house with new eyes. The eyes of a buyer vs. friend. The wine was gone. Mr. Chick and I were feeling sort of weird about the whole thing. It would be strange to sell a house to a friend. Sort of like mixing business with pleasure, in a way. He started asking questions about what sort of heat we have and looking in the master bedroom. Pretty much our bedroom hasn't really been on display to casual friends before. He looked in the bathtub/shower. Thank God I'd slaved cleaning the house from top to bottom in anticipation of the other potential buyers coming over! They never even left the living room/dining room area. Mr. B, on the other hand, inspected everywhere. He started talking about turning our teeny tiny half-bath off the master into a full bath by putting in a stall shower into the space that is now the hall closet and is on the other side of the wall. Stuff like that.
We told him about the other offer we've received. It's a solid, decent offer and they're willing to work with us and be super flexible. Mr. B acknowledges that. But from the sounds of it, he wants the house, too. He said he wants to come back and look at it again in the daylight. The yard is a big draw for him because of his dog. He commented in a slightly offhand manner that we might just have a bid war on our hands. Oh great. And GREAT! But in an uncomfortable sort of way, if you know what I mean.
This development was so unexpected and has left us reeling. We want to be fair and ethical, but in all honesty it might come down to money and the terms. If Mr. B can offer more money and the same flexibility on closing date and potential to rent back, then we'd be fools not to take it. Ahh! So now we wait to see what happens next. We have until Friday to respond to the first offer, and Mr. B knows it.
Let's not forget that all of this is happening on sheer word of mouth. We've never actually put the house on the market or established an asking price. When it rains, it pours!
Happy Halloween!! May none of your jack o'lanterns get smashed to smithereens and may all of your goblins get only the "good" kind of candy!
Sunday, October 30, 2005
Something To Consider
They want the hottub and we can keep the refridgerator. I wish it were the other way around.
They want to close on or by January 3rd. That's plenty of time. Except we still don't know when Mr. Chick will be getting a job offer and when it will start. They told us they would be willing to entertain the idea of us renting the house back from them after closing until we knew when and where we'll be moving. A very enticing option. One that may seal the deal. My gut reaction is to accept the offer and negotiate a rental agreement. How often do buyers land in your lap like this without you ever having to do ANY sort of marketing of the house? That's a big savings right there. Unless you try to put a value on my time for all the hours spent cleaning getting the house ready for them to see it. Three times now. I'd call that "priceless". Because it just ain't easy cleaning up even the smallest of houses when you have two young kids. You end up being in minimum standard maintenance mode, and then BAM! Someone wants to look at your house and you have to go into high gear, addressing all the dirt, muck, grime and filth that has accumlated since the last time they came over.
Mr. Chick and I will probably discuss what to do over the kids Halloween candy tomorrow night. I do my best decision making when chocolate is involved.
On a completely unrelated subject other than it also falls under the "something to consider" bucket, I received the following in an email today. I've seen it before, but it's worth repeating:
IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER - by Erma Bombeck (written after she found out she was dying from cancer).
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have talked less and listened more.
would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained, or the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have sat on the lawn with my grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and more while watching life.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner." There would have been more "I love you's." More "I'm sorry's."
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute...look at it and really see it . live it and never give it back. Stop sweating the small stuff. Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what. Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us. Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with. And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally.
I hope you all have a blessed day.
Friday, October 28, 2005
But to complete the sense that I'm living in a time warp is the fact that just before dinner I was sitting on my couch with my fuzzy green slippers crocheting. WITH AN AFGAN OVER MY SHOULDERS. Are you getting the picture? Did I become some grey-haired old biddy without noticing? Seriously, all that was missing was me muttering to myself or a cat and shoving a hankie into my cleavage (we'll call it bosom for better effect) or up my sleeve for safekeeping, and making references to the good ol days. I mean, a cream-of-whatever soup based casserole, crocheting, afgan - WHAT'S HAPPENING TO ME??! I even have sore knuckles a la arthritis from the tedious crochet I'm currently doing.
Oh yeah, we're TGIF'ing it up over here tonight - whoopee! Wanna come over and party? I think Lawrence Welk starts in an hour and that's about as crazy as I feel I should get in this particular state of mind.
I'm the youngest 80 year old you'll ever meet. Shoot me.
In the meantime, Mr. Chick has a strange, yet promising, meeting with a managing partner in Portland yesterday. He got the meeting through a well-connected contact he has - someone he used to work with and has stayed in touch with. It's all about who you know, people. Never forget that. So this lunch meeting was arranged. Mr. Chick, as the law clerk for a bank who used this guy's firm as their outside counsel, was denied an interview for an opening they had way back when. He had apparently called his contact at the firm and expressed his frustration with being shut out. Well, at the meeting yesterday the managing partner had heard that Mr. Chick had been upset. He essentially raked Mr. Chick over the coals for it, declaring himself the decision maker, not the guy Mr. Chick had been talking to, blah blah blah. Very intense, apparently. But then, in a sort of strange twist, he said he wanted to mentor Mr. Chick in a way and would help him out. He said he would circulate his resume throughout his firm saying that they need to hire this guy. He's also going to push his resume to a forum of managing partners in town saying the same thing. He asked how quickly Mr. Chick could move to Portland and is striving to get him a job within 60 days. Sweet, right?! It was so odd, he said, to be berated in one breath and then helped in the other. This guy said he can't guarantee anything but that by circulating his resume to the managing partner forum group it's likely something will happen. He's never seen it not work. So... it's great that he's getting this "insider help" from this guy, and his well-connected contact that arranged this meeting gets all the credit, but at the same time we're both hoping that a job works out in Bend over Portland. We love Portland, we're from Portland, we have friends and family in Portland. But. BUT. Bend has a special vibe that really appeals to us. It's smaller without being too small. Portland has nightmare traffic and friends spread all over. Bend is condensed. Bend is a destination. But then again, beggars can't be choosers and we'll be very happy to get ANY job at this point.
It's just so hard being in a state of perpetual limbo. I can't make plans. I can't commit to stuff. We might move! It's a very helpless feeling to not know what's coming next. To wait. I have a hard time being patient. I want to know what's next for us - the next chapter. I want a vision of my life. But for now I have to take things very much day by day. It's like life on a month-to-month rental agreement vs. having a long-term lease. I'm ready to sign the lease and get on with it!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
The Obligatory Pumpkin Patch Pics
Quintessential fall - mountains of pumpkins! Nicholas took this picture. Not bad, eh?
Baby Chicks at the pumpkin patch. Lauren is displaying a typical expression where she tries to suck back her smile and ends up looking shy and/or grumpy. It's cute in it's own way, but I hope it's just a phase or her two-year portrait will be a disaster.
I call this "Lauren poops a pumpkin". Looks about right.
The hay maze that Nicholas was scared to do because it was too dark, but insisted we take a picture of it anyway.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Just Call Me Miss Piggy...
A Child's View
This is how my 4 year old son sees his world:
L-R: coffee pot, electronic game (carefully placed for this picture), his closet with all his games out of his reach, our cuddle chair, me crocheting, his recipe for "sport candy" (aka chopped apples, nuts and cinnamon), stereo, calendar on fridge, dining room, magnetic alphabet, TV, vacuum.
More of Nick's pics (L-R): printer (which he longs to use), my shoes & fuzzy green slippers, the slide in his room, LeapPad game, kid portraits that hang in our hallway, yarn, our family portrait from a year ago, Abby our dog, MagnaDoodle, my crochet up close, me - again in the same chair in my pj's, Mr. Chick's Business Weeks
For those of you with preschoolers, give them a camera and see what they see. It may surprise you!
Monday, October 24, 2005
What sort of perverted people look for stripper pictures in places that aren't porn sites?
Back To Reality
Chick Book Review x2
I Don't Know How She Does It, by Allison Pearson:
This book was a fast and easy read. It's very much like Bridget Jones' Diary. Fully of funny quips and one-liners, which helps to make it entertaining and light. It's about Kate Reddy, a working mother of two. She has this high-powered job and struggles to keep it all together both at work and at home. Inevitably, she's unable to please all the people all the time and feels tremendous guilt about one thing or another. There is a powerful undercurrent that all moms can relate to when reading this book: the sense that no matter what we do we feel like we're not doing enough for our kids. Kate attempts to build an image of being just as present and capable of doing the same stuff as a stay at home mom would (aka "The Muffia"), while also striving to climb the corporate ladder. She's stressed, guilt-ridden, cajoling, and very, very funny. She wants more time with her kids whenever she's away from them, but when she's with them for a weekend she wants to escape them. Sound familiar? Amidst the humor there are real nuggets of truth that any mom, working or SAHM, can relate to:
"Children are the proof we've been here, they're where we go to when we die. They're the best thing and the most impossible thing, but there's nothing else. You have to believe me. Life is a riddle and they are the answer. If there's any answer, it has to be them."
"If I'm ever with Emily and Ben properly, for a few days and nights, I'm always struck by how shockingly alive they are. They're not the shyly smiling girl and boy in the picture...I keep in my wallet. Their need for me is like the need for water or light; it has a devastating simplicity to it. It doesn't fit any of the theories about what women are supposed to do with their lives: theories written in books by women who never had children, or had children but broght them up as I mostly bring up mine - by Remote Access. Children change your heart; they never wrote that in the books."
Even though I, personally, am not a working mother and have chosen to stay home with my kids, I was bothered by the underlying message that runs throughout this book that the real answer for Kate is to quit her job and stay home. That's the only way she'll be happy. I disagree - I believe there exists a happy medium. Does it have to be all or nothing? It was never presented as an option in this book that Kate could cut back her hours in any way. Negotiate a part-time arrangement for a few years. No, it was work your ass off and be gone from home far too much, or quit completely and be home all the time. That black or white thinking made me uncomfortable and the book lost some points for that. But despite that I found this book funny and real. I was able to relate to many of Kate's struggles with her kids ("Any [working] mother who says she doesn't bribe her kids can add LIAR to her resume."). I appreciated the sharp intellect that the author demonstrates with her wit. There are some very sad aspects to the story, but that makes it more real. This book has humor! This book has tears! There is revenge! And guilt! Temptation! And even more laughter all mixed in. It's short and fast and I think you'll enjoy reading it. It makes you think about the very basic concept of balance in a mothers life.
Light On Snow, by Anita Shreve:
I just finished reading this book and enjoyed it. It's a far-cry from "I Don't Know How She Does It" - there aren't remotely any similarities between the two. It's a very engaging book written from the perspective of Nicky, a 12-year old girl, who lives in a small, remote New Hampshire town with her father. One day while out snowshoeing, Nicky and her father find a newborn baby abandoned in the snow. The baby's survival is only possible due to the random chance that led Nicky and her dad across it's path. This sparks a lot of questions in Nicky about life and how hers is the way it is. There was an enormous tragedy in her life that changed everything (I won't say what). Nicky gets some very real glimpses into the adult world and the grey reality of tough choices and circumstances. It's a very emotional novel that is mirrored by the rich descriptions of the surrounding landscape. Hard, cold winter matches hard, cold choices and people. I found it deeply engrossing and yet disturbing. I couldn't help but dwell on the fact that a baby was left to die in the snow. I kept picturing my own kids as newborns and what I felt when I was pregnant with them and during their births. How could someone DO that?? That overshadowed my thoughts as I read this book, but that lone fact is also central to the story. Very poignant.
I'm currently reading "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey. It's Oprah's current book club book. It's very, very intense and disturbing in a lot of ways, yet compelling. It's about drug addiction and rehab. It's written like a stream of consciousness and it's dense. But it grabs you and doesn't let go - at least so far. I can't put it down. I'm reading it all the time - while I eat breakfast, in the hottub, during naps. Addiction and the ugliness that surrounds it is not a topic I'm personally familiar with, but this book, an auto-biographical story, has hooked me. I keep turning the book over to look at the picture of the author on the back cover when I read something particularly disturbing. How did he endure that? Why? I mean, this guy has to go through a dual root canal surgery on his two front teeth WITHOUT PAIN MEDS of any sort. He does it cold. When you're in treatment, you don't get any drugs. Not even for surgery. Brutal. His description of that ordeal is hard to read, very detailed, and uncomfortable, to say the least. He's on death's door and he's only 23. The drug world is such a far cry from my own existance. This guy had a normal family. An older brother, 2 parents who are still together, and was not abused or molested. It could be my family. And yet. And yet he started drinking when he was 10 and doing drugs by 13. Blacking out consistently by 15. Vomiting daily during high school from the drugs. He's angry. Very, very angry. And hurt. And broken. He describes himself as broken. It's a heart-breaking tale and I'm only halfway through. I'll try to remember to give a full report after I'm done. I have a feeling this story is going to stay with me for awhile.
I hope you all find time to read a little something today. I read everyday and can't imagine not having a book or two going at all times. Take your kids to the library and get a new book for everyone!
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I'll get to drive 2 hours by myself in the car. No "are we there yet?" every 3 minutes. No too-cheerful kid music. Just me. I'll get to eat dinner on my own. In a restaurant, no less! No stern looks to get a child to stay in their seats. No mouths to wipe. No apologetic glances at the waitress because of the big mess. No hassles. Hell, I may even order a glass of wine. Then I get to visit with some friends I don't get to see often enough. Without an animated video in the background keeping kids occupied so adults can talk. Without having to wrestle kids into pajamas and read bedtime stories. No fights over brushing teeth. NO DISHES TO CLEAN! No whining. Just some lovely, fattening dessert and more wine. Then I get to sleep at my parents house. They're out of town so it will be quiet and peaceful and calm. I'll have the whole house to myself. I won't have to keep an ear open as I sleep listening for a child to wake. I won't have to deal with a snoring spouse. I can sleep in! If I wake up early out of habit, I don't have to get out of bed! I can roll over and go back to sleep! I can shower and pee without an audience! People, this is major. I can decide what and where I want breakfast. Do I want to fix my own and eat it in front of the non-kid TV? Would it be better to just go to a breakfast place and eat out and therefore yet again avoid doing any dishes? I'll probably opt for that. I can sit and read or crochet or do whatever *I* want. No one declaring they're hungry - again. No one shitting their diaper. Nothing. Just peace and quiet and owning my own time. For a change. And I really, really need this. I need to get away and recharge. I need to clear my head. I need... something. Space. So cliche, but I need some space. That's exactly it. I need to get away from the incessant neediness of kids. God, they can be SO needy. All day long needy. I love them, but I need to get away from them. Just for a few precious hours. One night. Less than 24 hours. That's all. And then I'll come home. Just in time for their naps, if I time it right. So I can ease back into my life. Before it all starts up again - the life of a SAHM.
And I'll probably have missed them and be very glad to be back. Or maybe not. All I know for sure is that I need this escape.
Friday, October 21, 2005
More Chick Musing...
Monday, October 17, 2005
Memories of Bad Manners
I feel I have some really terrific friends in my life. I enjoy doing nice things for them. Making these gifts brings me a lot of personal satisfaction, but I don't do it solely for my own entertainment. I spend the time (and oh - so much time - !) and money on these treasures because I want to give my friends something special. And from and of me, personally. So when I go to all this effort and then not receive what I consider to be a proper thank you, it really begins to make me question whether to do it again.
So what's a proper thank you? Is a phone call sufficient? An email? Is it ever too late to send a thank you card in the mail? Just what are the acceptable standards in today's busy society? I have vivid memories of my mother making my sisters and I sit at the kitchen table the day or two after Christmas and write out all of our thank you cards for the various presents we'd received. It was mandatory. It was what was expected and there were no two ways about it. Period. Grandma gave you something hideous you wouldn't be caught dead in? Write her a thank you note thanking her for thinking of you and for giving you a gift. We had to find something nice to say in each of our thank you's. I remember my mom bitching each year because my cousins NEVER sent thank you notes, and she felt insulted and found them ungrateful. She still harbors some negative feelings to this day because of that social gaffe. So when it came time for me to get married, it was very important that I get all my thank you cards mailed out within a month of the wedding. Mr. Chick wrote out the one's that went to his friends or family, and I did the ones that went to my side of things. It's just the polite thing to do. He and I still haven't forgotten that his cousin and his wife never thanked us for the wedding gift we gave them. We had to travel for the wedding, so it was sort of a big deal. We wonder if perhaps they never received our gift? These are the doubts that creep in when you aren't acknowledged for a gift.
To me, a proper thank you means a written note sent in the mail. There's just something about receiving a handwritten expression of gratitude that makes you feel good about giving. Knowing that your efforts were acknowledged and appreciated. Of course that's not the motivation behind the giving of the gift, but it sort of completes the circle in a way that's gratifying. Recently, I boxed up all of the clothes that Lauren has outgrown in the past year. We're talking about a HUGE box of clothes that would outfit a child for all 4 seasons from 12 mos - 24 mos. Shoes, coats, dresses, tights, pj's, tops, bottoms, snow gear - the works. And it was not inexpensive to ship across the country, either. But we never heard from our friends after we knew they had received the box. Perhaps it got delayed in getting there, we thought. So one evening I was emailing this friend about something else entirely when I happened to include a PS at the bottom of my message saying to watch her mail because she should be receiving a big box from us. She emailed me back that night saying that she'd received the box and how great it was, blah blah blah, but that's been the extent of any thank you. I'm left feeling disappointed somehow. It feels like I had to prompt her to say anything at all, and what I got was an off-hand couple of sentances in an email that was about a different topic altogether. Like it was an after-thought. My feelings are a little hurt, I admit. I specifically saved all these clothes for her, carefully washing, folding, and packing them away in this ginormous box, only to get a "oh! the box came and the clothes are great. Thanks!" in an email. Now I ask you, what would Miss Manners say about this? Am I being too sensitive or rigid in my expectations about what is considered good manners? I'd even feel better if she'd picked up the phone specifically to thank me for the clothes. She needs never buy another item of clothing for her daughter for the next year. Is it too much to think she could even just call me to thank me? Or drop a note in the mail expressing appreciation? I don't think so, but maybe I'm wrong.
Or today, when I was out with a friend of mine for whose daughter I'd made a darling sun dress for her first birthday last year. I never received a thank you note, yet she thanked me verbally when she opened the gift. Is that enough? To my way of thinking (and upbringing), it's not. Of course you say thank you when you open a gift in the presence of the person who gave it, but that doesn't necessarily excuse you from the polite obligation of formally sending a thank you note. Or does it? Do you only need to send a thank you card if you open or receive something when not in the company of the giver? I was once part of a group thank you email, I kid you not, from a friend on behalf of her daughter, a few days after the party. She claimed she didn't know who gave what to her daughter so she sent out this blanket email thanking everyone for their gifts. It was so impersonal and left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. She came across as too lazy to have paid attention to the gifts her daughter received.
And as bad as that was, it's still better than those people who just never send or say anything. It's like your gifts go out into this big, black void and you have no idea if they liked what you gave them, if they even got it, or what. I think never acknowledging or thanking someone for a gift is rude. Plain and simple. Call me old fashioned. I put a lot of thought and energy into the gifts I give. I'm not able to spend a lot of money on gifts, so I give of myself. I make a lot of stuff. I get creative. To not have someone say thanks belittles the gift and makes me feel bad. Like what I'd done didn't matter. We all appreciate receiving a thank you card for something we did or gave, so why is it so hard to write one? I know my friends are good people, so I'm willing to overlook the occasional lapse in good manners and continue to celebrate the big events in their lives with special gifts, but I must confess to feeling a little less enthusiastic about investing so much of myself if I've been stung in the past. Once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes. It's the little things that mean so much, so remember what your mother taught you and don't forget to say thanks!
Sunday, October 16, 2005
The Chick Family is feasting today with the sights and smells of fall. It's my favorite season. We're having a low-key family day today but I HAD to capture the warmth for posterity. Mr. Chick has spent the morning re-building a fence and gate for the side of our house so he smells faintly of cedar and mud. He's enjoying the physical, manual labor. He took a break from his work to make caramel apples with the kids. It was his idea, his project, his treat. I enjoyed watching the 3 of them construct these delicacies together. That's the soul-feasting for me today, and it was nourishing indeed. While they were assembling yummy caramel apples I was making homemade cheddar chive bread and it's aroma is beginning to waft through the house. And finally, during a lull in the food activities, the kids discovered that there were matching Batman shirts shoved in the back of a drawer and they both HAD to wear them. A small skirmish broke out because we only have one mask, but I'll make another one ASAP. I think we may have decided on Halloween costumes, but it's early still. While I'm posting this the soothing strains of classical music can be heard coming from the stereo, to which the kids are gleefully dancing. It's Nicholas's music of choice these days for his daily Dance Party.
Life is good.
Tasty caramel apples, courtesy of Mr. Chick and the chicklets
Yummy cheddar chive bread I'm making for a ladies potluck hottubbing belated birthday party tonight. It smells delicious! (and the party should be fun, too! More MP soul-food)
The crime-fighting Bat duo. All you villians better watch out!
Friday, October 14, 2005
Just a Little Bit Jealous...
The only sliver of hope he's clinging to is that he hasn't received a rejection letter, and those are usually form letters that go out right quick. So... there is still a glimmer of hope. A small glimmer. So small that it makes a 4 watt nightlight look light a spotlight annoucing the grand opening or premier of something important. But a glimmer nonetheless.
So we continue to live in this strange limbo-land, setting our sights on our ideal life-to-be and picturing it in the quaint, friendly, slightly upscale town of Bend, and I have to deal with the fact that my friend is getting her ticket to the show before me. And they weren't even looking to move! So the evil green-eyed monster named Jealously is tickling me and I don't like it. I don't like begrudging my friend this very good, very exciting development. I just wish it could be me. It still might be, but I don't know for sure and I wish I did. That's my problem - the unknown. I guess if we don't end up moving to Bend I'll have another reason to go there - to visit my friend. And that will be fun, too.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Stuck in Cartoon-Land
On an up-note, Nicholas is starting to read. This is very exciting and gratifying. We've known he recognizes certain words for a long time now. He can identify every pizza place we drive past. "Mom! There's a pizza restaurant. Can I have pizza?" And he knows the word "Oregon", too. And many others, really. I've learned that his "reading" method is known as whole-word reading vs. phonics. He's not seeing the individual letters and sounding them out to figure out the word. He sees the word as a whole and has learned what it is in totality. Sort of like memorization, I suppose. Anyway, at preschool yesterday he was reading with a teen from the adjoining high school and must have been recognizing some words in the story and "reading". The teen was blown away, never having encountered a kid in the preschool who could do that. She told the lead teacher, Miss Laura, who told me. She said she wasn't surprised he could do this because of his high intelligence. We'll see... I hope she's right. I mean, every parent believes their child is smart, but it's nice to hear it from a professional. His former preschool teacher, Miss Nadine, also said Nicholas was bright, so this is a trend I'm happy about. Of course, he totally resists any attempts Mr. Chick or I make to actually teach him something. He resists our instruction. But he's apparently learning despite himself if we keep hearing about his skills.
So, on the heels of this latest reading report I thought I would try, try again to work on reading with him. I've always approached it from a phonics standpoint, but it seems he learns in a different way. OK, fine - we'll do it your way. So before his nap (my saving grace in the day), he picked out a book about bears. Very factual. We sat on his bed and I started reading the book and moving my finger along the words as I went so he could better track the words and story. He's always liked when we do that. He knew the book was about bears so every time I came to the word "bear" I would pause so he could "read" the word and participate in the reading of the story. This was working - he felt comfortable and unchallenged by this (his preferred state - when we push or challenge him he resists). Then I started pausing at different words - words like "cub" and "babies" and "sun", and he was reading these as well! He was correct 90% of the time! I think it helped that they were all in context to the story so maybe a lot of it was lucky guessing. I usually had read the word first at some point, then paused when I reached the same word again for him to try. But he was able to "read" more and more words than I had thought he could (or would?) before. So this is encouraging progress! The high point of this exercise is when Nicholas read an entire sentance. And read words we hadn't yet come across in the story! The monumental sentance? "Bear cubs love to play." That alone made up for an otherwise shitty day.
Another Nicholas learning that sort of helps to minimize my current frustration this week is something else he got from preschool. Apparently he was having a "sad" morning yesterday after I dropped him off and it took him a solid half hour to get into the groove of school. He was missing me and asking when I'd be back to pick him up. His teacher had the brilliant idea of drawing him two clocks: one for the time he's dropped off, and one showing the time I arrive to pick him up. He clutched that clock picture for most of the morning, comparing the pick-up clock drawing with the clock on the wall. Sooo... taking my cue from this I asked Nicholas if he wanted to learn how to tell time all by himself. He was very enthusiastic about this notion. So after naptime I rummaged through the recycling for a bit of cardboard, cut out a square, and drew a clock face. I cut out big and little arrows and fashioned a way to attach them to the center of the clock so they moved, just like the real thing. Then I sat down with Nicholas and explained how there were 60 minutes in an hour and proceeded to mark off 60 ticks around the clock. I went through the whole schpeel about how to tell time and he seemed to be catching on. He's now able to identify the time on the hour. If the big hand in pointing at the 12 and the little hand is pointing elsewhere, he can tell you the time "it's 4 o'clock" or whatever. He knows what bedtime looks like. He still struggles with half-hours, but we're getting there. He's planning on taking this silly clock with him to school so he has it to show his teacher and not have to have them draw him a clock.
The rock painting adventures and the time telling and reading lessons are all well and good. It's encouraging for me as a mom to see my kid learn stuff and demonstrate his intelligence. Really, it is. But in the meantime I'm rapidly losing my patience by the end of the day and I'm sick of playing cruise director. I think we're ALL bored with staying home. My kids don't entertain themselves very well and rely on me to get the party started. There's only so many trips to Costco and so many times I can clean the kitchen. It's just a hard week.
Maybe I'll borrow Nicholas's clock and set the time to when Mr. Chick comes home. That's always something to look forward to.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Lauren got a haircut! You can see how the sides aren't quite the same length as the back, but they're finally close.
Back view of the bob. She has a hint of a wave on the right side... maybe she'll develop curls like me? They emerged in puberty - what a fun time (NOT!) The left side lays so nicely and cups just right at the bottom, and then this strange flippy wave that seems to be the result of her big-ass colick/hair swirl, giving her a natural side part. My girl will always have the ability to get some height at the crown. Let's hope that's in style when she reaches her teen years of critical hairstyle foundation.
Side view, stylishly tucked behind her ear like the cool baby chick she is. The corn is good, too!
Monday, October 10, 2005
Artists In Residence
Lauren enjoys painting...too much!
Nicholas is more deliberate about painting the TP roll
Lauren is a "full body" artist... note the smudges on her collar, all over the shirt, her hands and even her face. Nicely done!
Nicholas's masterpieces. He's particularly proud of the striped one 2nd from the left.
Taking Heat About Dr. Laura
I was out with some friends the other night to go to a small (tiny) jazz club. One of my friends organized the outing because she knew one of the musicians. We met up with several other women before going to the club for a drink and it came up that I listen to Dr. Laura. It was like it was a criticism that I do. It's not like I'm glued to my radio for 3 hrs every day in order to catch every word she says, but if I'm out and about running errands or whatever and she happens to be on, I tune in. One of these ladies seemed stunned that I would listen to her - she was absolutely against the notion that Dr. Laura would have anything constructive or helpful to say. Her take was that Dr. Laura was a horribly conservative, judgemental bitch with nothing good to day. I agree, she tends to be somewhat controversial and very conservative - dare I say traditional? - but she makes some excellent points that I believe have merit. But I sure felt like I was the town whore in church for admitting I listen to her program. At least with this group. Which is funny, really, because most of these ladies are stay-at-home moms with small children, which is exactly the set-up arrangement Dr. Laura encourages whenever possible. But I think it's the assumed reputation or position that they perceive her to have that makes them believe they don't like what she has to say. I doubt they've ever listened to her themselves, instead believing the hype. Yes, she's anti-abortion. Yes, she believes in the sanctity of marriage and a 2-parent family arrangement. Yes, she believes the needs of children should be placed above the needs of adults. And she jumps the frame of callers who challenge her on these types of points and pushes them into changing the paths they're on. She's blunt and direct and makes judgements. Lots of people don't like feeling judged. But I say that if you don't honestly feel that you're not doing something "wrong", then you won't feel judged if someone calls you on it. You only tend to get defensive if you truly know you're wrong.
I agree with Dr. Laura that a 2 parent home is better for kids than a single-parent arrangement. HOWEVER, and I believe even Dr. Laura would agree, there are times and situations when you find yourself a single parent. Death of a spouse comes to mind. Even divorce, although she and I believe people get divorced (and married) without enough work and forethought. Dr. Laura is not anti-divorce, but I think a lot of people believe she is. She feels there are certain situations when a divorce is appropriate - she calls them the "3 A's": Abuse, Addiction, Adultery. But if you find yourself a single parent, whether by death or divorce, Dr. Laura takes the viewpoint that your sole responsibility is to care for and raise your children (if you have any) before you complicate matters by going out and dating and trying to find another spouse. If you do meet someone and want to begin seeing them, do so without involving your kids. Don't get them attached only to have the relationship break apart. Take it slow and put your kids first. Ideally, wait until your kids are grown and out on their own before dating and marrying again. How is that so bad, I ask you? Where she (and I) have problems is when someone willingly and knowingly has a child as a single person without being married. Why do that to a kid? If you got pregnant unintentionally (hard to do if you're smart and careful, btw), then it would be better to give the child up for adoption so s/he could be raised in a loving 2 parent home vs. a single parent situation. I agree. It may sound harsh, but I do. And better to have the baby and give it up than to abort. On this I agree as well, but I still believe we need to protect a woman's right to an abortion. Dr. Laura is against pre-marital sex, but I'm not so cut-and-dried on that subject. I don't want my kids being promiscuous and sleeping around like loose tramps, but I think that if you are in love with someone and have a long-standing, committed relationship that is leading to marriage, then it's ok to express your love and emotions for that person. Even if you're not married. I don't believe many, if any, high school relationships fit those parameters, for the record. I don't think it's realistic to expect someone to wait until they're married if in the same breath you're saying that your best chances of marital success happen if you delay marriage until you're 26 years old or older.
Dr. Laura takes a strong stand on marriage. She believes in marriage and a marriage being a sacred thing and is very against people living together (she calls it "shacking up"). Now, as someone who DID live with their boyfriend/now husband before marriage, I still agree with her. Looking back, it wasn't the smartest thing to do when we moved in together. In fact, a few years before we got married we stopped living together and bought our own homes independently. It made a big difference, I think. It made the whole process of getting married and creating a home together more special and unifying. And even though I did it, I'm certainly not going to tell either of my kids that it's ok for them, because it's not. It's just not. I want them to have strong marriages, and living together hasn't proved to be a formula for marital success in this nation. You can tell if the person you're dating is someone you could live with after marriage as part of the dating/courting period. Anyone who tells you otherwise if full of shit and/or not paying attention to the person they're seeing. Dr. Laura also preaches about respecting your partner and treating them like you would want to be treated yourself. Golden Rule sort of thing. Honor them. Respect them. Give them credit where credit is due. And sometimes that means putting on a happy face even when you don't want do, but you do it anyway. And it goes for both people - not just the women.
Where families are concerned, she's an advocate of staying home with your children whenever possible. You can always work once your kids are in school. I think this is where she turns a lot of people off, but I think she's right. I KNOW it's hard to live in our society on a single income, but it CAN be done. What some people think are must-haves aren't really and adjustments can be made. It's not always easy, but it's possible. Nothing is sacred. Live in a smaller house or in a different area where cost of living is less. Don't go out to eat. Drive a car that you can afford or is paid for. Only have one car and take public transportation. Stuff like that. Dr. Laura tends to come down hard on daycare, and this is where I tend to differ from her message, because I don't agree that all daycare is bad. Sometimes it's a necessary evil in our society. But I do agree that people fall into the trap of believing they HAVE to have two incomes to make it, and that's just not true. A lot of people work to support a lifestyle, but if you change the lifestyle then you change the requirements for that lifestyle. Dr. Laura is against the children paying the price for a family to live a certain lifestyle, and I agree with her. Sure, I'd like to have a bigger house, but I'd rather raise my own kids and make the home we do have as comfortable and warm as possible.
So I ask you, are these messages so bad? I think people get turned off by Dr. Laura because of her tone and abrasiveness when calling people to task. She can come across as very inflexible, and I'm not down with that, either, but I do appreciate the message if not the delivery. I guess deep down I'm very traditional so her messages resonate with me, but I sure didn't appreciate being villified for admitting I listen to her. I think if more people did we'd be better off, frankly. And I think if more people listened to her they'd get past the ID of the speaker and hear the words of wisdom instead. I don't agree with everything she has to say, but I think she's on the mark with the majority. I'm able to filter out what I disagree with but find a different point of view interesting to hear. I urge those of you who've never heard her to listen to her for a little bit and see if you can hear what she has to say. If you only THINK you know what Dr. Laura is all about, I challenge you to listen to her for yourself and see if your preconceptions are correct. I'm going to guess that you'll find they're not. Mr. Chick doesn't like her, not necessarily for her messages but because of how she sounds. He doesn't like hearing her on the radio. I don't listen to her if he's around. But when it's just me and the kids in the car, between renditions of the the "ma-na-na-na" (Muppets) song or the "Hoppity Song", I tune in. I challenge you to do the same.
Now, let the online villification begin! Rake me over the coals for admitting I listen to and like Dr. Laura. I can take it.
Saturday, October 08, 2005
From The Mouths Of Babes...
"Mama, do I have any cracks by my eye like you do?"
I guess I'm showing my age (and burgeoning crows feet), at least in the eyes of Nicholas. Nice. Excuse me while I go sob my wrinkled eyes out. WAH!
Lady Lauren - 23 mos old today
She only LOOKS innocent...
Lauren, this month you've had me on my toes. You are so BUSY that it's nearly impossible to keep up with you. You like to drag stuff all over the house and do so all day long. You tend to re-deposit stuff where it doesn't belong and I only find things days later in the least likely places, all thanks to you. Your brain is always working overtime. Nicholas left some Play-Doh out? You cram a chunk of it into the doorjam and prevent the door from latching. Clever thing, you. Crayons put up out of your reach? Ha! You just take a chair and get those crayons down all by yourself, risking life, limb, or concussion to do so. You say crayons are only for coloring on paper? But Mama! There is a big wall here just begging for a little color! Coloring is big for you right now. That's one area in which you differ from your brother. You seem to love to color and will scribble, ever so carefully, just a little bit on EVERY PAGE of the coloring book as if to mark your territory like a dog. See? I colored that speck right there so this page is MINE! We are encouraged by your enthusiasm for this sort of creativity but wish you would stop trying to color walls, doors, counters or your own body. Another element of your coloring we're happy about: you seem to naturally hold crayons/pens/markers correctly vs. in a fist like your brother still wants to do. You're a natural, I say! I'm trying to stay one step ahead of you by only giving you the special markers that only work on certain paper, but you've caught on to my ploy and get really pissed when the marker doesn't seem to work on the wall and now tend to refuse those pens when I offer them to you. I have to search every room now to find my shoes, Lauren, because you like to walk around in them. You try on my shoes, walk to a different room, and then one will fall off and you just leave it there, behind the door or wherever. It's adorable to see you clomp-clomp-clomping around in my shoes, but I wish you'd either keep them together or bring them back to me so I'm not left searching for them when it's time to go. You have also recently started trying to put on and take off your own clothes. You can take off any shirt lickety-split. Taking shoes off is tricky, but you're managing to put shoes on. We busted out the rain boots last week and you fell in love with wearing them and putting them on and taking them off over and over. Your method of boot removal is to simply kick your feet back and forth until the boots fall off, but it does work eventually.
A couple of weeks ago I put you back in cloth diapers during the daytime. You hardly seemed to notice. Like your brother, you don't seem to care if you walk around in a wet diaper. Doesn't seem to phase you in the slightest. But poop is bothersome to you. You have no trouble telling me you've pooped, and you tend to do so at least twice a day.
You're very verbal, Lauren, but it's time you started speaking a language the rest of us understood. Like me, you don't shut up, but it's jibberish you speak and I'm very ready for actual words to come out of your mouth. Oh sure, you have some words, but not enough for any sort of meaningful communication. You tend to favor non-verbal ways of getting your point across. You're hungry? You simply bring me bowl after bowl after bowl until I give you something to nosh. Thirsty? You open the refrigerator and point at the milk, and then cross the kitchen and point to where we keep the sippy cups. Ok, I get it! But wouldn't it be simpler and more expeditious to say "Milk"? Let's work on that, shall we? Instead of "yes" you say "yah". You recently started calling the dog by her full name (Abby) instead of just "Ah" and you like to call her to you. You're starting to put two word combinations together, like "bye-bye Daddy" and "poo poo all gone", but that can only get you so far. When we ask a question, like "who wants to go in the hottub?" you and your brother simultaneously raise your hands and say "I do!" - it's very charming. I think your favorite word is NO - we hear that A LOT from you these days. Especially when you're being put in the naughty corner for some misdeed you've committed. NnnnnOOOOOO!!! followed shortly by "sorry". You seem to think that saying you're sorry is the magic get-out-of-jail-free card and it's just not, Lauren. You still need to sit there for the full 2 minutes. We've only recently started attempting this sort of discipline with you and it's working! You really, really don't like going to the naughty corner and the threat of it seems to get you to stop doing whatever misbehavior you're doing.
The diva-fits have started - it's all part of being two. When you're mad you tend to lay down on the floor, face down, and pout. Or you turn away from me and squat. You're very cute when you pout and it's hard not to smile when you pull this stunt. You've also started trying to push your brother around and you will mix it up with him physically. Yes, you two fight and sometimes you're the aggressor. It's not always his fault, no matter what you say. You like to push him and throw your weight around. You protest and get mad and come out swinging if he takes something away from you (which he tries to do frequently). You used to just take it and cry, but now you try to get even. You recently learned that he stops cold if you pull his hair. BUT, pulling hair gets you two minutes in the naughty corner, so be careful.
Eating has become a battle lately. This month you've preferred to drink your nutrition rather than eat it. I think your two-year molars are giving you trouble and that's why food (chewing) is bothersome. The other day you existed on exactly 4 bites of food all day. You drank a sippy of milk in the place of a regular meal. Yet you had several poopy diapers.... hmmm... your favorite foods, when you choose to eat, are pasta, rice, cheese, yogurt, crackers and popcorn. Not the most wholesome array. You simply do not eat meat, unless it's hidden in the sauce of spaghetti or something. You get your protein from dairy. But I'm not overly concerned about the days when you don't eat much because you are a solid girl of 31 pounds - you can skip a few meals just fine.
Like always, you tend to be a dare-devil. You have no fear and are physical. You climb everything! You recently mastered climbing up on the tall stools that sit at the eating bar in the kitchen. These are not the most stable of stools, yet you're able to climb them and sit proudly on them without falling. It makes my heart flutter to watch you, but you're good. You've been climbing vertical ladders and such at parks since the beginning of summer. You have excellent balance. Just last week we were at a new park that had a bunch of big rocks for kids to play on and around. Nicholas climbed up the biggest one but stayed on hands and knees at the top, but not you. You got to the top and walked around upright like it was no big deal. When you saw me next to you, you flung your body off the edge, trusting completely that I would catch you. I did, but I wasn't expecting that and nearly dropped you! You do the same sort of thing in the hottub. Going under the water doesn't seem to scare you because you trust we'll be there to pull you up. It scares the shit out of me, but you just laugh. Pretty much the only safe thing you do is to hold my hand while crossing a street. You didn't used to - you would fight me like crazy, but now YOU seek ME out, saying "hand! hand!" and demurely hold my hand as we walk across the street. Thank God for small mercies.
You seem to require less sleep than your brother and can keep your composure longer if you happen to go without a nap. It's quite common these days for you to take a shorter nap than he does, yet go to bed at the same time and wake up earlier than him. He's 4, you're not quite 2. Thankfully you're back to sleeping a solid 10 hours at night now that we've gotten you a nightlight. What a difference that made! It used to be that if you woke up at night you would cry and need me or Daddy to come re-settle you. We figured out that you got scared of the dark and of not being able to see anything. So we got you a nightlight and now you don't need us in the middle of the night anymore. When I put you to bed at night I sing you the "night night" song and you lay your head on my shoulder with your blanket for the first verse. Then you start waving your hands for a hug while I'm finishing the song. As soon as the song is over we hug, then you give me a quick kiss, then one more hug and down you go. Simple as that, and it's the sweetest thing.
Lauren, you are following in the family tradition of being one cool chick. I'm very proud of you. I love when you laugh. I love when we flirt back and forth in the car and you do that impish shoulder-shrug move of yours. That's going to drive the boys wild! I like that you've found your voice and stand up for yourself. I even like your fearlessness - you are always willing to try things and challenge yourself. You are very independent, and that's a trait I always hope you retain. I wish you didn't like watching tv or videos so much, but one thing at a time, right? Here's to you, Lauren, my little big girl!