Monday, April 28, 2008

Blog entry, Virginia Woolf style

... the photo is from Jim's birthday party last month. Dan's buddy Carson, my best friend's son, had just toussled Dan's hair while they were riding in the wagon. Too cute!!

I've been real busy the past week so I haven't had much of a chance to blog. And I always put it off until there's what I think is a compelling installment of the Dan drama with a beginning, middle and end. I know, I know ... I'm a perfectionist. That's the real reason I haven't blogged. Stream of consciousness is not really my thing, but there are so many stories, funny things he's done, little milestones he's reached that I can't post every little story in neat prose. Come to think of it, my house is not as neat as it used to be. I used to declutter every night, now I look at Dan's toys strewn about and just clear a path so we won't die if there's a fire. In fact, I just think of it as an added layer of security ... a burglar could fall and break his neck. Most of Jim and my conversations begin with "Oh, you know what Dan did today?" And some people would criticize that, saying we need to have adult conversations that have nothing to do with our child in order to remain a healthy couple. Like so much "advice," this just seems to defy common sense. Adult conversations are overrated. Have you been watching the news lately? The menu of topics never fails to fill me with anger and sadness, often at the same time. Why would I forgo talking about the source of the most joy I've ever experienced to have "adult conversations?"

Watching Dan develop new skills and personality nuances daily is so much more interesting. I wonder what would it be like to giggle with delight at sights I've never seen ... like someone riding by on a bicycle or scooter or golf on TV. How does one go from peek-a-boo and chase being the funniest games ever to laughing at a video of your cousin frantically maneuvering down a slide with your Uncle Tim hot on his heels?

On the language front, he's starting to use "words" instead of shrieking at me. One morning, as he waited expectantly for me to cut up his banana, he looked straight at me and yelled as clearly as I've ever heard ... "BANANA." Wow. He mimics certain words now, too. We've heard the words booger, water, juice, bath time, outside and cat. Luckily, he hasn't picked up on any of the naughty words that sometimes fly around here. Especially this past weekend ... ugh, if you want to know, email me and ask. Nightmare central, but it seems to be working itself out. Being an adult is messy and irritating sometimes.

So, no, I don't want to wear three-inch heels and pole dance to feel sexy, or watch live music in the midst of rowdy, often drunk crowds, or have deep, existential conversations about the meaning of life all to somehow recapture a sense of adulthood from the pre-baby days. I've come to believe that the most meaningful things in life are not talked about on a deep level, but experienced and felt privately as life enfolds, as I talk about rain barrels and boo boos and my vegetable garden and a story a friend told me and whatever else comes up in a day.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

No peas please

So far, Dan is not a picky eater. And by that I mean he pretty much will put anything in his mouth - dirt, grass, leaves, sticks, dog food, petrified noodles, small plastic toys, and food, of course.

But I've found something the boy just won't eat. Yesterday I snatched the first few snow peas from the vine. Of course, I picked them before they were fully ripe. Fresh peas are just irresistible. I think of the vines as my outdoor snack. I offered one to Dan for his first taste of mommy's favorite spring treat. He turned it over in his chubby little hand a few times and gave me a quizzical look. "It's food Dan, you can eat it," I tell him and gently guided his hand to his mouth. He crunched it with his teeth, then took it out and threw it on the ground. (By the way, he has finally gotten two more teeth.)

The fruits of my labor have been spurned by a two and a half foot garden Godzilla. (Well, to be honest, I didn't really labor over the peas. Peas will grow pretty much wherever you drop them.) I was hoping he'd really like eating fresh peas from the vine. Now if I can just get him to stop eating sticks and leaves ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


My suspicions have been confirmed. Dan is in fact eating dandelions. We pick the seedy ones and I show him how to blow or shake off the seeds. So far, he just carries it around. I caught him today in mid chomp. Apparently when I turn my back, he's eating dandelions.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I didn't even realize that today was Earth Day until I flipped on the tele this evening and was accosted by the green marketing machine. Only in America would a day meant to encourage decreased consumption wind up being the new Christmas for companies seeking to hop on the green bandwagon.

Earth Day makes me think of one thing, and one thing only: Jim and I had a really neat date on Earth Day in Washington DC eight years ago when we first started dating. Other than that really sweet memory of listening to Carol King and James Taylor on the national mall with my future husband, ED, as I like to call it, has become just another mass marketing opportunity. I even found a nifty greeting card online. I'm surprised Hallmark hasn't come out with a line of its own, but then again I haven't really sought out an Earth Day card, so I can't say for sure.

Here's a statement that may get me banned from certain circles ... I don't think the earth is as fragile as we've been lead to believe. Mother Nature is so much more powerful than us. When I was 15 years old, nine years after Mt. St. Helens erupted, I stood in the blast zone that was still gray and barren. I've been through three hurricanes in the past 10 years - Fran, Floyd and Isabelle. That's power. And, in my mind, to believe that we are somehow causing storms to be more powerful or can cause more destruction than one storm or volcanic eruption is laughable and arrogant.

Does this mean I think pollution is okay? Of course not. I just don't believe the damage is irreversible. Nature bounces back beautifully in its own time with little help from us. I have more faith that nature will heal itself than I do in man made solutions to man made problems. Do I think we need to respect and take care of the Earth? Of course, but not because we're capable of destroying it. We should take care of it because the Earth is a gift and a source of food, shelter and enjoyment.

When I was in high school, the youth leaders at my church were trying to "sell" a hip Jesus to us. I thought then, "Jesus doesn't need a PR firm." You either get it or you don't. Likewise, the Earth doesn't need a marketing campaign. You either respect the Earth for what it is or you don't. For those who don't respect the Earth, no amount of fear-tactic marketing is going to make changes that will stick.

Balloons and Bones

Enjoy. And, yes, Danny has a black eye. His father is so proud.



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I'm no yummy mummy

I know, you're thinking "What the heck is a yummy mummy?" There are so many answers and the "Yummy Mummy" TV show is careful not to choose any one. Yummy Mummy is a show on Discovery Health that says it aims to find the woman in every mom. The woman on the street definitions all seem very shallow ... "makeup, clothes, highlights and confidence," one little pop tart chirps. "A woman who knows who she is even though she has kids," one man (MAN???) says. Of course, what he means is, "A woman who knows that she's still expected to be my eye and arm candy."

The TV show, though, does a good job of putting forth the expectation that we should all want to be sexy and have adult stimulation. In one episode, the hosts talk about wearing heels when you just want to feel sexy (perhaps when I'm vacuuming the house?). In another, they presented Music to Strip To and pole dancing for exercise. Of course, there are other topics that are slightly less shallow like assuring women it's okay to take time for themselves (and if you need a TV show for that little revelation, you've got more problems than a TV show can solve).

Really, though, I suspect the women who craft this fairy tale of a TV show have nannies raising their children. Their kids are likely handed off to them after work squeaky clean and wearing $100 outfits. There's no way that these wafer-sized women in chic Bermuda shorts and three-inch heels have EVER cleaned their toddler's poop off the floor because they let their child run around diaperless after failing to wrestle that diaper and at least a shirt on the child. Nor have these women ever had spinach thrown in their hair, their face scratched by nails that are impossible to cut or had to eat a cookie in the bathroom just so they didn't have to share the damn thing.

But in all this, do I long for my former life? Rarely. Do I want to prance around in three-inch heels and pole dance for exercise? Honestly, when you're a parent, sleep is the new sex. And I get plenty of exercise chasing my toddler. Do I need music to strip to? Actually, that may be the key to stripping down the kid without drama.

And as a mother, do I really need to find the woman within? So often when I hear moms say they don't feel like a woman, I feel sad. They've accepted a patriarchal society's definition of womanhood as separate from motherhood. And that's wrong. Being a woman isn't about pole dancing, feeling sexy and attractive or keeping up our appearance. Funny, but I didn't really feel like a woman until I became pregnant, gave birth and nursed and nurtured a child.

(Sorry, no disclaimer today. I'm not feeling generous. If you think I'm being judgmental and are offended, tough.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Balloon boy

So apparently, Blogger doesn't post videos well for me. It shows up when I preview the post, but not on the actual site (which is really the whole point, right?). Anyhow, I had to go around my elbow to get to my thumb, but here's the promised video.

Our Achilles' heel is full of hot air

Don't you just hate those parents who cave in every time their kid whines, shrieks or cries, especially in a grocery store? Well, Jim and I have become those parents. For weeks now, whenever Dan is in public with us, he'd shriek everytime he spotted a balloon. And every time, Jim would have to take a detour and let Dan play with the balloon from his perch in the backpack. Twice in the past week, Dan has conned a pricey balloon purchase with his relentless shrieking in the store. Total cost: $8.

Dan is so in love with balloons right now. Balloons are becoming a permanent fixture in our home. He can't even eat a meal without it. Dan gets a gorilla grip on the balloon string that's about as strong as his shriek is earpiercing. Getting the balloon from him takes quite a bit of diplomacy. The balloon would go to bed with him if I allowed such nuttyness, but he and I have worked out a little naptime ritual. The balloon goes to take a nap in the bathtub. That's the official story here and I think he's bought it. Balloons are his best friend, too. When we visited his little buddy, he payed no attention to poor Louis, the most social tot I know, and was all about the balloons. And, of course, after one balloon went floating up to Jesus, we've had to enforce the "balloons are inside toys" rule. He also tries to take it into every small space he tries to cram himself into ... a tunnel, a cabinet, under the table, under a chair, into a closet.
Funny thing is, when I caved in and bought him a balloon, I was a little embarassed. I thought, "My husband would never cave in." But I guess Dan has worn us both down with the shrieking lately.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What are the odds?

My husband has never had to travel for work. Wouldn't you know it, he wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time this week - Dallas, Texas. He was stranded in Dallas nearly 24 hours past his original flight. And I was stranded at home with turbo tot.

The first few days were fine. Dan and I had fun and I have the photos to prove it. Check it out. On Tuesday, we went to the museum with my friend Jen and her son Carson. Then, later we had dinner at their house and the boys took a bath together. On Wednesday, we visited our friends Marisa and Louis. But by Thursday, Dan was just miserable. He went on a napping strike. It was as if he decided not to sleep until Daddy got home. I couldn't get him to stop crying and I was scared and strung out and started crying myself. Then Jim called and said he was on a plane. And I started crying even harder. Dan began laughing at me, then I began laughing at him, then he began crying again. What? We were both just a little insane by then. Luckily, my girlfriends arrived with their kids for play group around 3 p.m.

But the coolest thing happened this afternoon ... Dan actually sat with me as I read The Touch and Feel Kitten book. One of the tactile surfaces the book presents is a basket for the kitten. About an hour later, on our back porch, Dan went up to the blinds, which have a basket-like feel, and got all excited. Then it dawned on me that he was thinking of the book we had just read. Wow. He actually is thinking about something other than goldfish crackers, balloons and sticks.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Comic relief

This afternoon, I fished dog food out of my son's mouth for the umpteenth time (there's a phrase I didn't use much until I had a toddler). I try to be as emphatic as possible with him. "Yucky, dog food, not for Dan, not for Dan. Dog food is gross ... " And as I realize what I've just said, I turned to see my poor long suffering dog, who's looking at me like, "yet you feed that stuff to me."

I couldn't help but laugh, and then feel sorry for poor Bob, who has been watching Dan eat, play with and throw his food all afternoon. Jim thinks we should start getting organic dog food and feed him from a dog bowl.

I could totally see this in a Family Circle comic strip. Sigh. At least my life no longer resembles a Cathy comic strip.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Chim chim charoo

Whatever Dan gets into I see as his latest career-training session. Today, it was the fireplace. Apparently, this isn't the first time this weekend. I'm thinking chimney sweep? Maybe he watched Mary Poppins over the weekend. The pictures are more descriptive than I could ever be. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

An unexpected visit from the Lewises

What's up cuz?
My sister Jackie decided to start the Southern Farewell Tour a day early. My BIL stayed behind to babysat a bureaucrat so that he and his family could be reunited with their belongings which are currently on the slow boat to China (well, to Okinawa, which used to be part of China). Anyhow, what follow is heresay (not admissible in a court of law, but perfectly acceptable for reporting on my adorable son):

The Lewis' arrived - Aunt Jax, cousins Chas, Simon and Mia and Nigel the dog - a week after Dan and I had visited them in Virginia, thus the memory of his cousins and their uber-shaggy dog was fresh in his memory. Plus, Dan and I talk about Chas, Simon and Mia every day before naptime as I point them out on a pillow with their photos. Dan's reaction to their arrival was unrestrained glee. With wide eyes and a big smile, he recognized and greeted his cousins and Nigel. Aunt Jax puts it this way: "His face just said 'I know you guys and now you're HERE, at my house.'" Throughout dinner he would spontaneously break into a giggle. They all laughed back, then they'd laugh again when he'd bang his head on the table. Guess what he did next? Banged his head on the table. He apparently liked the results even if it meant a bruised forehead. Crazy kid. And with four kids in the house, Dan was bound to get into some trouble. We usually keep the bathroom door closed, but the kids left it open. Dan unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper and came running down the hall with it.

And the sweetest part of the visit was watching Dan gravitate toward Chas, now seven, who was the very first baby in my life. He really took to Chas, sitting on his lap, following him around, chattering away at him.

Dan's changing so quickly I can hardly keep up with all he does. But here's a laundry list: He can nearly climb in and out of the tub on his own (The crib is next, I'm sure.); when he's tired, he humps the floor (a little embarassing when he does it in front of others); when he gets a hold of the phone, he puts it to his forehead (apparently, he has a forehead ear); his latest passion is balloons (Jim says he saw one way up in a tree in our neighbor's yard ACROSS THE STREET and reached for it); and that reminds me, the boy has NO depth perception. Dan will get down on his hands and knees three feet and at a 45 degree angle from the stairs when he's ready to go down. He often winds up straddling the door frame or bumping into the wall. I try not to laugh ... well, I don't try too hard. It's hilarious. I wish I could find a video of Kevin Nealon as Mr. No Depth Perception, whose ability to see on in two dimensions caused him to shout at people right next to him or back his truck into a house.