Friday, July 27, 2007

Just one more place to which you should not take a two-year-old

DH's grandpa died and the funeral was held today. DH did not want to take the kid. I didn't want to take her either, but I felt that taking her was the right thing to do. Kids have to learn about these things sometime and plus, if we didn't take her along everyone would just ask where she was anyway. The good news is that there was not an open casket. P's grandpa died on Friday and was found on Tuesday, so that should answer all of your questions right there.

Grandpa Ray was Catholic so it did not come as a suprise to us that the funeral was held at a Catholic church. I told A that this was an important day and that she needed to be QUIET. I was armed with 421 Nemo fruit snacks in hopes it would get us through the service. We had about 45 minutes of visitation time prior to the service, though. I chased A around so that P could visit with his relatives. She made several loops through the reception area, through the church, went careening past the casket, and tried to play the organ.

And then she saw it. A statue of the Virgin Mary, in which Mary is wearing long, draping garb. The kid sucked in her breath and then said (loudly), "A PRINCESS!" We attend a Unitarian Universalist fellowship so needless to say she has not been exposed to the mother of Jesus until now.

Things didn't get much better during the service. She "read" the hymnal upside down, dropped her Spongebob sippy cup, ate a fruit snack pack and loudly announced the color of each piece, and had several tantrums of varying degrees. We took her out of the sanctuary into the lobby area. She ran around, ran up and down the stairs, found an elevator and somehow set off an elevator alarm of some sort, spent two minutes in time out for kicking (I always feel like we are giving hockey penalties: "TWO MINUTES FOR HIGH STICKING, TWO MINUTES FOR HIGH STICKING.")

The service was only about an hour but it seemed longer somehow. (To my Catholic peeps - what's up with the whole up-down-up-down-up-down-up-down thing? It gets old pretty fast.)

Finally it was over. Well, not really. We were invited to a luncheon so we went. My sister-in-law and I immediately ordered drinks with the assumption that our husbands would look after the children. Their child is only 6 months old so she doesn't cause that much of a commotion yet. After seeing A's antics today, I have a feeling that my sister-in-law went home and tried to shove her kid back into her womb.

A did a lot more running around and we heard lots of comments like:

She sure is a pistol! (Yep, that's one of the names we call her.)

She's fast!

Um, I don't think you're going to catch her.

She has a lot of energy, huh?

When we thought we had stayed for a respectable amount of time, we headed home and put the kid down for a nap. We prayed that a) she would sleep and b) none of our elderly relatives are thinking of passing on to the sweet hereafter anytime soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Give me groceries, or give me death

I've written in a previous entry about the trauma and drama I've endured in the course of grocery shopping with my daughter. She is two and some days her two-ness gets a little overwhelming.

It's gotten to where I wait until we are subsisting on stale Wheat Thins and expired milk before I will go to the grocery store now. I get off work a couple hours before P does, so it only makes sense that I head to the store after work. This means that I do have to take the kid.

Yesterday's shopping trip was almost as bad as this one, minus the pierced-bag-of-sugar incident. A had been in the cart for .039 seconds when I heard, "Where's the toys?" I resolved to stay out of the toy department if at all possible. That type of excursion never ends well. I brought her Doodle Pro into the store and suggested that she draw some stuff. That lasted less than five minutes.

I needed shampoo and conditioner and soon found myself in an overcrowded aisle with other local residents in need of haircare products. As I was searching for something to make my three strands of hair look like three thousand, A plucked a styling product off the shelf and tried to toss it into the cart. Because this product was for, um, people of color, there was zero chance of anyone in our household needing it. I put it back on the shelf and handed her a fruit snack pack that I had brought along. I had hoped to make it to pet supplies before pulling it out, but c'est la vie.

Then I felt a little rumble in my stomach. I had eaten a Fiber One bar earlier in the day and apparently my innards had noticed. A rumbly in my tumbly, if you will. A small bubble made its way out and for a second I almost thought I got away with it. But then I saw the look on her face and knew that my precious daughter was going to nail me to the wall. "MAMA, ARE YOU BURP?" she asked. "No, shhhh." I replied. Then, "MAMA, ARE YOU FART?" Oh, geez. (And yes, she gets "did" and "are" mixed up but give her a break - she's two.) "Eat your fruit snack," I implored as I pushed the cart over to the vitamin section as fast as I could.

After several tantrums (from her) and some exaggerated threats (from me), we made it out of the store once again. Later that evening, my baby sister called. She complained that she, too, had had a rough trip to the store with her kid. My nephew is four weeks old.

"Um, did he stand up in the cart and yell, 'wanna get out!'?"
"Oh, okay, did he throw items back out of the cart as fast as you put them in?"
"And did he put stuff in your cart that you can't possibly use and demand that you buy it anyway?"
"Well, alrighty then."

My nephew's main complaint is that he wants my sister's boob in his mouth at all times. He gained two pounds in two weeks. I told my sister that she is going to have a third grader by the end of the first year. But anyway, she ain't seen nothin' yet. Her day is coming. [insert evil laughter here]

Saturday, July 21, 2007

8 True Things - I've Been Tagged for a Meme

I've been tagged by Green Bay Vegan for my first meme. Is this like a chain letter? Will horrible bad luck befall me if I don't participate? What if I can't think of 8 things? What if I don't have 8 friends to tag? Actually I definitely don't know 8 bloggers that I can tag, so I suppose I will have to do a half-assed job at this and then wait for the swarm of locusts or whatever.

So here it goes:

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

Now the 8 true things.
  1. I can touch my tongue to my nose (without any involvement from my hands). And not just barely, either. Apparently I have a freakishly long tongue. In elementary school I used to perform this little parlor trick on demand until one day I did it in the mirror. The underside of one's tongue is . . . well, it ain't pretty.
  2. I have never had a cup of coffee or a beer. I have plenty of vices - just not those two.
  3. Because my daughter is adopted, I secretly worry that she will reject me one day, screaming, "You're not my mother!"
  4. I secretly (okay, publicly) think my daughter is the cutest, smartest, funniest, coolest kid who ever lived and I don't care who thinks I'm obnoxious for thinking that.
  5. After high school I only dated military guys. I did not date one single guy who was not in the military. I hit every branch of the service except the Navy (I even dated a Coast Guard guy briefly). My friend Kevin used to say that I entertained more troops than Bob Hope.
  6. I have a hard time caring about my health. I'm a vegetarian, but only for ethical reasons. I would eat brownies every day, for all three meals plus snacks, if I thought I could get away with it.
  7. The most listened-to songs on my iPod right now are Candy (Iggy Pop), It Takes Two (Rob Base), Come Anytime (Hoodoo Gurus), Jane Says (Jane's Addiction), and Stray (Aztec Camera). I don't know what this says about me, except perhaps that I am old.
  8. At night I still jump into my bed from across the room, just as I have done for the past 30+ years. I don't know what's under there, but I believe it must have very long arms.

As for tagging somebody, I am going to tag Vegetarian Mom. She is a grieving mom (who breaks my heart every day with her blog entries), but maybe she would enjoy playing this light-hearted game.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Twisted Sister (Or: Geography Lessons)

So, let's say, just for the sake of argument, that you invited one of your sisters to come to your home for a visit. And let's say your sister sent you a list of possible flights for this trip. Suppose you are looking at the list and notice that she initially flies out of the nation's capital. This makes sense, seeing as how she lives there and all. Then suppose you scroll down and notice that her flight arrives in . . . Fort Lauderdale. You think this is odd because you live in the midwest and Fort Lauderdale is not, in fact, "on the way." Then you scroll down a bit further and notice that her connecting flight (to the land of cows and corn) doesn't leave Fort Lauderdale until three days later. That's quite the layover, you think.

What does it all mean, you wonder? Is the midwest so boring that a detour to the land of thongs and wickedness and debauchery is required? Hmmm. (I should add that I've never been to Florida, so I am basing what I know about it from watching MTV's Spring Break, circa 1989.)

Other transgressions from said sister, which I would like to report at this time:
  • In 1978 she took my favorite doll, renamed her Linda, and wrote all over her with a ballpoint pen.

  • In 1982 she took my bead collection to school and hid it in her desk.

  • Some other stuff that I just can't think of at the moment.

Oh, and did I mention that I NAMED MY CHILD after this sister? My sister's first name is my daughter's middle name. (The other sister was elevated to Godmother status.) Did someone in Florida name their child after my sister? Methinks not.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Miscarriages, a Frog, a Wish Granted

It's the summer of 1999. I'm pregnant. P and I are vacationing in Myrtle Beach with my family. We find ourselves at an outlet mall and soon wander into a Carter's outlet. I'm far enough along that I've started to feel confident about buying stuff for the baby. I pick out a green frog made by Gund. It has a bell/chime in its roly-poly tummy and the noise just makes me smile somehow. It is perhaps the most satisfying sound I have ever heard and I cannot resist it - I toss it into our cart.

A couple weeks later I begin to bleed. It's a Saturday. I had had some bleeding early in the pregnancy and I told my OB/GYN that something was wrong. I asked for an ultrasound. The doctor informed me that I was just a first-time mom and didn't need an ultrasound. He told me, "You're supposed to worry! That's what moms do." And besides, their office didn't have an ultrasound machine.

But now they can't ignore what is obviously happening. I am sent over to the hospital for a thorough ultrasound. The technician is silent and methodical as he scans my uterus. Afterward, P and I are sent to sit in a small waiting area. I hear the technician call my doctor. "Something something something fetal demise something something." I fall onto P and will my own heart to stop beating. Back at the doctor's office I endure a D&C while I am sedated but still conscious. It is harrowing. It is one of only two times I have seen my husband cry.

Little did I know that I would repeat this nightmare three more times – each time I would miscarry a bit earlier in the pregnancy. On my third pregnancy I saw my baby’s heartbeat on the monitor when I had an ultrasound. That was an amazing, surreal moment and I've replayed it in my head a thousand times. Two weeks later, that beating heart had fallen silent.

Eventually I pulled out some boxes and began packing away the things I had purchased for the nursery. A tiny pair of Carter’s jeans. A little white cardigan. A bottle from the House of Blues that was imprinted with the words, “Don’t cry, blues baby.” And the frog. I put the boxes in the basement.

From time to time I would find myself drawn to the boxes when I was doing laundry, but I would almost never allow myself to look in them. I got used to the aching feeling in my arms. I stopped dreaming of the brown-eyed boy who would have looked so much like his dad (but with my nose).

In the summer of 2004 we found ourselves contacting an adoption agency. For us it was never matter of thinking that adoption was second best. It was a different way of building a family and besides, biology was never important to us. Soon we were on a waiting list to get the homestudy process started. By Halloween we were filling out mountains of paperwork. We’d fill out a packet and send it in, and another packet would arrive. My friend Nancy helped me create a scrapbook to give to the agency. We filled it with photos of our dogs, our niece, our nephew, our house.

In February of 2005 we were invited to meet with a potential birthmother who had reviewed our profile. She was bright, articulate, pretty. We tried not to act like complete buffoons. A few days later we got the news - she had formally chosen us. We would be parents in three months.

Three months! Ack! I was giddy as I began preparing the baby's room. I painted, I sanded, I decorated. My mom sewed curtains and began shopping for the baby like it was her full time occupation. I dug out those old boxes from the basement. I gave the frog a little shake and set him on the dresser next to my Kermit toy that sings "Carribean Amphibian." And then I waited. And then I became a mom. One of these days I will chronicle the story of my daughter's birth so that she can read it when she is older. I hope it will always bring her comfort to know that her birthmother loved her so much that she chose for her a life she could not provide. And that she chose parents who still wake up every day and wonder how they got so lucky. Even when our little buttercup bites us, throws a tantrum, or refuses to sit down in the bathtub. Still lucky.

Today the frog lives in a colorful room with a talkative little girl. The frog gets to listen to the same Laurie Berkner CD every single night. He hears Elmo saying good-night (usually at the wrong time, because we forgot to update Elmo’s software last time daylight savings changed). He sees a plastic kitchen where the room’s resident serves up milk and doughnuts on pink and purple plates. He hears Dora saying "Let's go shopping!" All of the toys talk, some completely at random.

When my daughter, with her made-up songs and her curly mop of hair, pulls the frog off her dresser and carries him around, I hear the chime and a shadow rolls over my heart. He is a symbol of all that I have lost and all that I have gained. He is the bold wish that I made (“would someone out there like to give us a real live baby to love and raise?”) I tell A that I always hoped to have a baby who would love that toy. And now I do.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Does Anyone Know of a Sleepaway Camp that Accepts Two-Year-Olds?

Just wondering.

Yesterday I read a blurb in Parents magazine that mentioned a new "Elmo Knows How You Feel" video in which Elmo's dad gets deployed overseas. As further proof that we are going insane, DH and I actually had this conversation:

Me: Check this out. Elmo's dad is getting deployed.
Him: No way. Really?
Me: Seriously, I think he is too old for military duty. (Editorial note: after having seen "Elmo's Potty Time" (in which Elmo's dad is prominently featured) 12,756 times we feel we've had ample time to study Elmo and his family and can therefore extrapolate data as needed.)
Him: Well, maybe he's in the Guard or something.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Not the molars, man - anything but that

I'm 90% sure the kid is getting her two-year molars. We had hoped she would never get them. I mean, she seemed to be faring just fine without them. But as near as we can tell, at least one of them is thinking about breaking through the gums. It's hard to tell because when we check her mouth, well, she bites us. So I squirt some Orajel in there periodically and hope for the best. The thing that tipped us off was that A seems to have lowered her tolerance level to an almost imperceivable threshold - almost anything can and will offend her at this point.

We have been dreading this day because we barely lived through the arrival of the cuspids (a process that took several months from start to finish). My sister-in-law is a dental hygienist and she mentioned that the cuspids (AKA "canines") have the longest roots and therefore take the longest to pop through. She reminded me that teeth have to come through bone and when you think about it that way, you can see why the kid is pointing to her mouth and saying, "Owwwwwie."

In an effort to distract Short Stuff from her dental woes, I set up an art easel in her bedroom. It was a gift from a friend. I went to Office Depot and carefully compared oversized art tablets in order to find just the right one. Last night I attached the tablet to the easel and filled the tray with chubby washable markers. "Make a picture for Meemaw!" I said brightly, and then left the room. (I can hear the experienced moms muttering "Rookie!" under their breath right about now.)

Indeed she did color a picture for her Meemaw. The difficulty is that I'm not sure how I can mail a bedroom wall to my mother. I gotta give props to Crayola, though, as the markers really do wash off most items . . . except the fabric-coated castle mirror that we got the kid for Christmas. :::SIGH:::

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Joke is Always on Me

"So I said, don't even think about wearing white shoes after Labor Day."

My kid, she's funny (in the ha-ha sort of way). Most of the time I can't tell if she's laughing with me or at me. Probably the latter. Last night I put her in time-out for biting me. When her two minutes were up, I knelt down and asked her to come over and apologize. I could tell she found the whole scene to be pretty amusing. She gave me her sing-song apology ("sooooorrrr-ry ma-ma") and then put her index finger in the middle of my chin and said, "You're pretty!" All along I've been thinking that she is headed for a career on the stage, but now she has me wondering if she is destined to go into politics.

This is sort of a random blog but I wanted to catalog a few of the things A has been saying because she is growing up at a lightning pace and it will only be matter of time until she is in college, blowing our money on microbrews. Darned kid.

When I pull her out of the bathtub I always say, "You're getting big. Are you growing?" She always replies, "I'm growing flowers." This cracks me up every time.

Although I'm convinced that my daughter is borderline genius, she does get her pronouns and genders mixed up, which makes for some amusing conversations. "Good boy, mama," she tells me. When I put her in her crib at night she flips over on her stomach and says, "Scratch your back!" Whenever she breaks/drops something she yells, "You broke it! or "You dropped it!"

Earlier this week P asked her if he could play with her Backyardigans guitar (possibly the most irritating toy of all time). A said, "No, you're in time-out."

We've also learned that she seems to have picked up incorrect meanings for a few words/phrases. For example, one day last week she ripped her barrette out of her hair, handed it to her daddy and said, "Here's your birthday party." As near as we can tell, she thinks the term "birthday party" has something to do with putting something on your head, as she has used it in similar context on other occasions.

I'll be back to edit this post if I think of more amusing things that my impossibly witty child has said.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Back to the Grind

My niece is gone and my five-day weekend is even goner, so it's back to work I go. We had an eventful week. We attended two 4th of July parties, visited an amusement park, went swimming, went to a farmer's market, saw a movie, went on a nature walk, went to church, and attended a pow wow. A passed two minor milestones during her cousin's visit: she got her first haircut and she rode her first amusement park ride. Oh, and she also held a frog if that counts at all.

My niece is a great kid. She's bright and funny, and she also helps keep her cousin entertained. I learned at the beginning of the visit that my niece is obsessed with Webkinz. She had some spending money that my sister sent along so she hatched a plot whereby she would hoard the money until the last day and blow it on Webkinz. I let her purchase one Webkinz during her visit after she mumbled something about how she only had a couple. After the purchase, she admitted to having nearly a dozen of them (the number seemed to shift minute by minute). Eventually I broke it to her that the money was intended to cover her expenses during her visit (as in food, snacks, admission tickets, etc.). She still wanted another Webkinz, but eventually settled for just staring at them longingly any time we were in a store.

One night I served pasta and garlic bread for dinner and my niece exclaimed over how much she LOVES garlic bread and how her mother never gives her any. She also lamented the fact that she does not have a portable DVD player like her cousin does. I reported these facts to my sister and told her that I was planning to report her to social services.

Anyway, it was a fun visit and my niece was a good sport even on the outings that didn't thrill her. She seemed excited about going to the farmer's market but later I realized that she hadn't known what a farmer's market is. She said, "I just wish there weren't so many vegetables here."

First Haircut!

First amusement park ride!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend

The weekend was pretty chaotic. On Friday I received a check for some stock that I sold back to my employer, so we decided to go out to dinner and then head to a car dealership to (gasp) look at some mini-vans. I compared various features while A picked flowers for the sales guy. She kept telling him to put the flowers in his bucket (some would call it a pocket but I see no need to split hairs here).

The dealership was about to close so we decided to come back on Saturday. I was torn between two models (both were Grand Caravans, though). One model was two grand more but had lots of extra features, such as the side doors opening and closing at the push of a button. The other model was less expensive, but had fewer miles on it. Quelle dilemma.

On Saturday morning I took A to a play group while P stained the deck. I asked some of the other moms for an opinion on the two mini-vans but the ones who drive mini-vans wouldn't admit it and the others gave me a look that said: I'm sorry to hear that, it happens to the best of us. Okay, maybe I'm exaggerating/hallucinating/projecting. After some playtime at the park we headed over to the car dealership. P met us there, covered in deck stain.

Even though it meant selling the kid on the black market in order to afford it, we ultimately opted for the van with more bells and whistles. It also had much better tires than the less expensive one. The dealership people acted like they were doing us a big favor by giving us what they offered us for my Explorer. We had hoped to get more for it but after giving it more thought, decided to accept the offer. One of their service guys drove my Explorer in order to appraise it but here's what he doesn't know: the door on the driver's side no longer locks, the speedometer sticks if you drive over 65 (not that I would do that, but that's what I've heard), and one of my foster dogs chewed the wire on the rear defrost years ago and it hasn't worked since. In the winter the engine sounds like it is going into full-on death spasms. So yeah, we took the deal.

When I told my middle sister that I bought a mini-van she said, "OH, CLAUDIA MARIE, NOOOO!" Apparently I embarrassed her even from 1,000 miles away. On Sunday I tried to call a couple of my friends and they didn't answer. Coincidence? Methinks not. I'm being shunned like an Amish whore.

I left the dealership and headed straight to the airport to pick up my niece, who is visiting us for a week. She's 8 and this is her second visit out here by herself. She lives in Northern VA. Her little brother is deathly allergic to dairy and peanuts, so my niece requested that I buy her any peanut-related product that I could find. And so I did. At home she can't really eat this stuff because even if Cheese Doodle dust gets on my nephew, he breaks out in hives. My sister has to carry an epi-pen at all times.

We left the airport and met P and A at a 4th of July party. We only stayed for about an hour because Short Stuff had refused to take a nap in the afternoon and was on the verge of a meltdown.

The pace slowed down on Sunday. I took the girls to church. I then made a two-hour round trip to drop off one foster dog and pick up a new one (the fun never ends). The new foster is a female Boxer that I fostered in 2005. Her owner dumped her back on the rescue, which is always nice. After dinner last night we stopped at the store so that I could buy an adapter that allows me to listen to my iPod in the car. I may be a midwestern mom who drives a mini-van, but at least I can listen to some old Liz Phair or Pixies and pretend that maybe, just maybe, it's not that bad after all. Maybe.