Monday, March 19, 2012

Trying to blog... or do anything...

Last night, blogger inexplicably deleted the draft of our WDW travel advice post that I've been working on for weeks. I'd been writing for at least two hours and wanted to work on something else for a bit. The details aren't interesting or important, just several weeks and two hours worth of work, irretrievably gone in the blink of an eye. First world problems, I know. I can't decide whether I'll cut my losses or if I'll try to rewrite the incredibly insightful and original tips and advice. I might write it again, just to spite blogger. Because I'm competitive like that.

Except that I don't know where I'm going to find time to write that much about any one thing, ever again, let alone a few measly minutes to write about nothing. Between computer issues, blogger nonsense, work, and toddler tantrums, I don't know how I'll ever get anything done on my own time again.

I took Alice shopping this weekend, Saturday AND Sunday. She and I both needed warm weather clothes, for both the 80-degree+ weather we keep having in LA and an upcoming trip to somewhere even warmer than here. Except that yesterday - the only chance I had to accomplish this - it was pouring rain. Literally the most rain we've at one time this whole year, the most rain we've had at once in a long while.

I wore TOMS on Saturday. A terrible choice. I couldn't figure out how to hold the umbrella over me while unbuckling Alice from her carseat**. I needed her to help me, I needed her to take her arms out of the straps and stand up, lean towards me, and hang on so I could lift her while holding the umbrella. I tried to hang the umbrella over the door so I could use both my hands, but it kept taking flight. She watched the umbrella blowing away, saw the rain pouring over me into the car, and stayed firmly put in her seat. I wrestled her from the car, waded through the parking lot lake, and dragged her through the store and into a fitting room. Then I hauled her across the parking lot, through another store, into another fitting room, and then to the grocery store. Luckily, it didn't start raining again until I pulled into the driveway with a car full of shopping and grocery bags. And neither of us had any meltdowns.

We did that all again on Sunday, but with no rain. That morning, I told Alice we were going shopping again and she said "raining?" Luckily, no.

I've never tried on clothes so fast in my life. I mean, I'm usually pretty fast, but this was ridiculous. All the while trying to keep Alice engaged and occupied. I let her empty my purse and then made her put it all away. I had her prep herself for her turn trying on clothes. Take off your shoes. Great! Now, take off your socks. Good job! Now take off your pants. Good girl. Now put these sandals on. Oh, you can't do it? Mama will help, just a minute while I try on ten more pairs of pants.

By the time it was her turn to try on clothes, she was totally losing focus. Arms on my shoulders, step into these shorts. Shirt over the head, one arm, the other arm. Looks good! Or: too small, we'll get the 3T. Or 4T... Arms up! Shorts off! Repeat. Sit on my lap, put these shoes on.

Inevitably, she would turn in the exact wrong direction for whatever garment we were putting on. She started shoving her hands through the head holes, she pulled her feet out of the shoe at the last minute, she squirmed and wriggled the entire time. But then, I'd get it all where it was supposed to be, and she'd start dancing to whatever awesome '80s/hipster tune was on the Old Navy soundtrack du jour. Like, really boogie-ing. And how can you be mad at that ponytail, those luscious, chunky thighs dancing around in a hot pink 2T romper??

We think she's teething again, working on those two-year molars. Or it's something else, who knows. Her gums aren't bulging yet, if it's molars, only God my pedo dentist BFF knows how much more of this we've got. She's short-tempered and waking in the night like she does when she's teething, sometimes during our dinner or just as I'm headed to bed. Sometimes at 3:30/4am when Marceline stomps all over, crying, and Jon gets up to work. Sometimes we have to let her cry it out, but her crying has turned into blood-curdling shrieking screaming and she is now able to straddle the front of the crib. She hasn't figured out that she could actually escape, and she hasn't yet fallen out, but I fear she will the moment I close my eyes... Sometimes we can soothe her with a cuddle, or a new stuffed friend for her bed. Sometimes she needs a bed-night snack, other times she cries and signs "eeeeeat" or "potty," which is usually just a stalling mechanism. How do you say no, though? How do you know for sure? We stopped giving her Orajel, thanks to the FDA/AAP warnings about methemoglobinemia. Orajel always worked like a charm for Alice, before we had to worry that it would turn her blue and kill her.

Last night, the phone woke Alice after she'd gone to bed. Jon was at the store, buying Orajel Naturals in a last-ditch effort to have just one trick in our back pocket at midnight or 3am tonight. He called to ask a question and when he got home, he thought I was being bold by unloading the dishwasher while Alice was sleeping. I explained that she WASN'T sleeping and snatched the Orajel as I went to tend to her. Except, as is frequently the culprit in sleep interruptions, she was in the middle of soiling her diaper. I rushed her to her toilet so she could finish up there and was met with hysterical protesting - not the hilarious kind of hysterical, the literal kind. I tried convincing and cajoling and then gave up and whisked her back to the changing table. Where she immediately told me she needed to potty. So back to the potty we went.

I brought her book (a long one, an anthology of sorts) and mine. I got her toothbrush (she likes to brush on the pot, what can you do?), and we made ourselves comfortable. I didn't know how long we'd be there. After a while, she asked me "pea?" She wasn't talking about her bodily functions, she wanted her book Little Pea (which she enjoys reading on the pot, coincidentally). To be sure, I asked, "Do you want your Little Pea book?" and was met with a grin, a giggle, and an "ok?" When you're at the end of your rope, reading a book on the bathroom floor while your kid is brushing her teeth and dropping a deuce, that kind of grin and giggle can extinguish even the most seething rage. Which is exactly why toddlers are equipped with such superior survival techniques.

I can't believe that dichotomy of parenting. That she can make me mad enough to throw her stuffed animal across the room because she won't do anything else while holding it, but when I have to retrieve it to silence her screaming, she can stop me in my tracks by signing and saying "thank you." That even when I'm furious and need her to sit still/get dressed/eat dinner/go to sleep, I just want to freeze time and drink in her cheeks, her eyes, her bangs, her little teeth, her chubby thighs, her frog-hips. I want to remember every smile, every new word, every kiss. I want to bottle every sweet thing she's ever done and drink an elixir of memories any time I need a pick me up.

I think we're entering the terrible twos. If what we've seen so far is any indication, there's a reason they are called "terrible" and not just "kind of unpleasant." We're really lucky, though, that she's still very well behaved and very, very adorable. We're also lucky that both Jon and I generally have patience enough to ride it out and can relieve the other when they're at the end of their rope. I just don't think that I'm going to get much done. Maybe until she's three. Or four...


We made pizza on Saturday. Alice helped Jon mix and roll the dough, spread the sauce, and arrange the cheese and the sausage. We thought it would help entice her to eat the pizza if she helped cook it. And maybe it did? When we put her finished pie in front of her, she wanted nothing to do with it. I gave her a little bowl of marinara on the side, for dipping, and she went to town sucking marinara off each pizza point. And then, finally, she bit one. And chewed it, and swallowed it, and took another bite. Jon and I rejoiced. And here are the photos...

**Jon just told me that he refrained from sharing the secret to the getting-the-baby-out-of-the-car-while-it's-raining maneuver, because I was so harried when I left the house yesterday. And I'm so dumb, it probably would have taken me ten trips in the rain to figure it out. You sit INSIDE the car while unbuckling the child. Duh.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Gubs and Neeks!

We stuck close to home this weekend and kept it pretty low-key, except for a couple of quick outings. 

On Saturday, my company held an open house for their child care centers. They've just started part-time programs and we're considering enrolling Alice for some structured social and developmental learning. We were all really, really impressed with the facilities and the activities - Alice definitely didn't want to leave! Unfortunately, the center nearest our house doesn't have a part-time program for 2 year-olds, so we're working on a cost/benefit analysis to determine whether driving to the next town over would be worth it for now or if we should just wait until she's old enough for the preschool classroom at the center down the street.

Sunday morning, we took a quick trip to the LA Zoo for the opening weekend of The LAIR. Alice has suddenly become quite interested in bugs and snakes. Or, as she calls them, "gub" and "neek." We thought she'd enjoy seeing some real live "gubs" and "neeks" up close, in person. Let me backtrack.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a tiny little moth thing hanging out on a wall in our house. I think Alice said "yuck," and was all concerned about it, so I explained that it was a bug and showed her the sign for "insect."  She picked up the new word immediately, except she inverted the consonants and "bug" came out as "gub." After the moth flew away, she kept pointing to that spot on the wall saying "gub" and signing "all gone." Now, she points out any "gub" she sees. She even calls butterflies a "gub," which I think they might find offensive.

Alice got a great alphabet book for Christmas from her grandma. The Alphabet from A to Y With Bonus Letter Z by Steve Martin is the kind of book that parents can enjoy reading over and over with their kids. It's totally over Alice's head but has really detailed drawings that she loves to look at and has new things to discover on every page, every time you read it. Anyway, the 'E' page has an eel sitting in a chair, and somehow Alice decided that it's a snake. We're not even sure where she learned to say "snake," or how she even knows what they are, but she turns right to that page of the book and says "neek." When she wants to read that book, she says "neek," and has started pointing out every other "neek" she sees. One of the classrooms at the open house yesterday had a plush rattlesnake, she went right to it and told me it was a "neek." So in addition to airplanes, we can count "gubs" and "neeks" among Alice's main interests right now.

And that's how Jon and I found ourselves planning a visit to the zoo specifically to see some creatures that make our skin crawl a little bit. This was sort of our first experience doing something solely inspired by our child's interests. I imagine there will be many more such experiences.
Because how can you resist this face??
The LAIR was a bit crowded and Alice got a bit overwhelmed with all the feet and knees and kids (I hung out at her level, so I can vouch for the feet and knees and kids). But she still enjoyed all of the lizards and turtles and "neeks." The first snake she saw was doing a particularly charming dance that made the rest of the sleeping snake piles look especially tame. There was also a Gray's Monitor lizard that was very enthused to make Alice's acquaintance. 

In line for The LAIR. She's looking at the carousel.

There was a small line to enter The LAIR that snaked down below the carousel. Somehow Alice spied that while we were waiting and she made sure I knew that there were horses up there and that she wanted to ride them. Luckily, The LAIR line wasn't very long or we would have had to amend our itinerary... So after we saw all the "neeks," we headed straight to the carousel with a couple ride tokens in hand.

Alice initially chose to ride the gorilla, but the ride didn't start quickly enough before she wanted to switch to the neighboring "araffe." Of course. She loves carousels but this time, started crying as soon as it started moving. We were able to convince her to get back on the horse giraffe to finish out the ride and then she cried when we had to get off. So we got right back on. And she wanted to ride the giraffe, again. Of course. And then she cried, again, when it started moving. It's hard being a toddler.
I know I picked the gorilla, but that araffe looks pretty nice... Yeah, araffe.
I don't think this photo needs a caption.

getting back on the horse.

We said hello to all of our other favorite animal friends before Alice ran out of good and we had to head home. We stopped at the gift shop on our way out to see if they had any "neeks" that wanted to come home with us. And surprise, they totally did!

nigh-nigh, neek.
And because I didn't get a chance to write a proper post last weekend, here are a few pics from those adventures as well.

Mama and Alice went to the optometrist. It was Alice's first official visit, and she got dilated. They think she's nearsighted and has an astigmatism, which is no surprise, since that's the case for both Jon and I. No glasses yet, but I'm guessing she'll definitely need them down the line. She did get nifty roll-up sunglasses to wear until the dilation wore off. That lasted, like, five seconds. Now we all get to wear them at her command, including her stuffed friends.

We had a playdate at a local park with another fellow, local mom-blogger who discovered some very small-world similarities between us (workplace/home town connections). I took a few photos of Alice before they arrived and then forgot to take any more because we were so busy chatting and eating and chasing after our little ones. We really enjoyed meeting them and making friends with another family - and such a nice one! I hope we can arrange another rendezvous soon!
Then we powered through the last steps of a much anticipated, long-awaited DIY home improvement project. I've been dreaming about such shelves for a year at least, if not more, and Jon totally made it happen. He used these plans from Ana White and made a slight modification to use trim moulding as the front lip, which I think is quite a bit more elegant. 

Alice totally approves.
The first one was easy. The next one, not so much. Alice spent some time reading in her crib while I helped Jon, because she just couldn't keep her hands off the drill. I don't know how those Young House Love kids get anything done with a toddler underfoot!!
But we bested that second shelf and got the other six up by the end of the day Sunday and STILL managed to finish our iTunes movie rental (Hugo, you really disappointed me). So the useless wall in our dining room went from this:
naked and useless
To this:
awaiting a coat of paint and bunch of books
 To this:

We still need to paint, and finish arranging the books to our satisfaction. But I'm pretty much in love, and so is Alice. Hopefully I can get a better "after" shot one of these days, but I was just too excited to not share a little bit! Now we just have to decide which project we'll pick next from my "For Our House" Pinterest board.

What about you? Done any awesome home improvement projects lately? Have you indulged your kid's strange interests and requests? Do anything or meet anyone fun over the weekend? See any gubs or neeks? 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Daddy and Me

We did it. Alice and I had our last rec. center baby toddler gymnastics class yesterday. Buckling her helmet and strapping her into her bike seat was a bit more emotional than I had anticipated. Eight weeks ago, we set out together (with some daddy trepidation) to our little trial of our city’s rec. center offerings to see if it would be something we’d like to do more of in the coming terms. At the time of sign-ups, Alice was bumping into everything, and had that infamous two-tooth-strike day she had back in December, so a nice and safe (padded) room with lots of things to jump and play on sounded like just the ticket for this effort. 

I had spent far too long in our insular world, just me and Alice, controlling everything about it, doing everything we needed/wanted in exactly the way in which we saw fit. It had occurred to me that I may be stifling her social growth and keeping her from organized social activities because of my own reluctance to “mommy and me” programs. And, like every big change in my life, I decided I was going to join a mommy and me class. And guess what? I really, truly enjoyed it.

The gymnastics class was about what I had expected from a civic recreation center—a large classroom with those bright blue and yellow fold-up foam mats covering the entire floor, a few modest apparatuses to jump, climb, flip on. But it was perfect for us. The instructor and other kids were just a delight to get to know and play with. We lucked into a class with only two other kids, so it was really small and intimate. Leaving today, I felt for the first time, Alice had made two little friends. Casual acquaintances at best, but two kids she was able to see repeatedly in the same spot each week. And I felt the same for the instructor and wonderful nannies who accompanied the two little ones.

she loved rolling around in this big egg.

At the start of our first class, Alice was hesitant to walk out on the mats. I had flashes of what I remember of my first day of Kindergarten. That feeling of being dropped into a world you’re ready for, but don’t want to leave the old world, or say goodbye to the person you love and depend on. All of that faded quickly for Alice and before the end of our first 45-minute class, she was hard at work on her somersaults, trampoline jumping (still her favorite apparatus), and hanging from a bar, to name a few. But most importantly of all, she was having fun. And I was having fun doing it with her. I was having fun at a mommy and me class. 

Each week went by, always having something on the calendar to look forward to with her. Thursday: 10:45am Baby Gym at the rec. center. I found it remarkably refreshing and almost responsible to have some place to be. Mind you, I still work my tail off morning, noon, and night professionally—while caring for Alice—so it’s not as if I’m slacking here. It was just nice to have an actual, commitment on the books to get to. Kind of how normal people do. 

A few weeks in, we started riding our bike to class. No matter what kind of day I’m having, or how difficult Alice is being, when we get on that bike, it all fades away. It is impossible to not be happy riding a bike in the sunshine with a little girl in the tiny seat in front. I cannot believe the number of smiles and positive words we get passing other people on our route. Especially funny to me are the “awwws”, points and whispers of the teenage girls at the high school we ride by. It’s hard to not feel like that’s the most fun you can ever have with your kid. Simple joy.

Each Thursday came, and every class, Alice was a little bit bigger, a little more talkative, more eager to try new things. She was the youngest in her class so she had some trouble with the coordination and strength exercise, as well as the moments that tested her short toddler attention span, but that’s okay. Where she is today, at least partly because of this class, is a much more mature and capable little girl. And as a kid, I wasn’t ever particularly good or competitive in athletics. I enjoyed playing them, but wasn’t at any sort of league level, so I have a very soft and nurturing spot in my heart for my own child to just go out and have fun. If she’s super talented like her mama, I’ll be there cheering her on. If she’s more like me and likes to keep it fun and relaxed, I’ll be out in the back yard teaching her how to throw a baseball like a boy.

Baby Gym from Growing Up Senge on Vimeo.

At the end of yesterday’s class, we all lingered a bit, seemingly pretending that we’d all see each other again next Thursday before saying our goodbyes to our new friends, buckling up and hopping back on the bike. It’s tough not to be sad about this experience ending. This was the first thing Alice and I did together. I saw her grow so much, and have so much fun. But after all, this is just the first thing we did together. We’re thumbing our way through the Spring term classes right now: music? dance? sign language? So many fun things to think about doing, just daddy and me.