Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas is Coming


Norah is convinced all presents are for her. Yes, all presents should be for her, but it simply isn't the case. But that doesn't stop her from either ripping them open or shoving them in your face demanding, "Open dis, pleeeease." I have decided to wrap all the gifts in healthy food labels or bubble bath, so that she won't touch them.


Norah loves Santa. Well, in theory. She actually met Santa in person last week and was flipping terrified. But that's not the point of this. She loves Santa. Santa says "Ho ho ho!" Santa equals everything Christmas-y, which apparently means everything says, "Ho ho ho," including reindeer, snowmen, lights, gift wrap, everything. Somehow, Santa's catchphrase became another noun for him. And for everything Christmas. Check out the  Norah Loves Santa post.

But now it's rampant. If we drive past Christmas lights? "More hos, pleeeeease!" See Santa on TV? "More hos, pleeeease!" A commercial interrupts Charlie Brown's Christmas? "Where da hos?" We walked by our new Catholic daycare/school's plastic, glowing nativity scene and Norah cheerfully called out, "Bye, hos!" Uh-oh.


Speaking of our new, Catholic daycare/school, it is going swimmingly. She loves it. I picked her up and as we walked down the hallway, she enthusiastically pointed to all the Christmas decorations on the walls.

"DEEEER!" [Reindeer]

"NOMAN!!" [Snowmen]

I oohed and ahhed appropriately and she beamed as if she had made every last one of the cotton-ball glued, glitter-spattered pieces of art. At the entrance, there's a picture of Jesus. Out of curiosity, I asked her, "Who's that?"

"Jim," she said, matter-of-factly.

I blinked. "Oh." They must be good buddies if He lets her call him Jim.

I told this story to my mom, wondering if Jim-the-guy-who-worked-on-their-roof was a long-hair like Jesus and she said he was not. Then she seemed extremely concerned about Norah's lack of knowledge about Christ. I sense a Christian-themed gift under the tree as we speak.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Conversations with Toddlers

Taking a Bath, or, Getting to the Yes

Me: I know! Let's go splish splash in the tub!
N: No.
Me: Do you want to take a bath?
N: No.
Me: Bubbles in the tub?
N: No tub!
Me: We can play with seahorse and rubber ducky...
Me: Mama is going to run the tub...
..........Tub fills. N is throwing bath toys in and having fun............
Me: Okay! You wanna go in?
N: No.
Me: Socks off?
N: No... uh-huh.
Me: [internally: YES.] Okay. Pants off?
N: Pants off.
.........Yadda, yadda..................
Me: Let's go in the tub!
N: No.
Me: Please go in the tub?
N: NO.
Me: [Sigh.] You want Mama to go in too?

Simple Question, Right?

SuperWHY (TV character): And you! What's your name?
Dad: Uh, what's your name?
N: Noonie.
Dad: Norah.
N: Noonie.
Dad: Norah.
N: Noonie.
Dad: Norah.
Dad: Honey, your name is Norah.
Dad: Fine! Noonie. Geez.

Whatcha Wanna Do?

Me: Do you want to play with GoGo?
N: No. 
Me: Do you want to read a book?
N: No. 
Me: Do you want to play cars? 
N: No.
Me: Do you want to color?
N: No.
Me: Do you want to play kitchen?
N: No.
Me: Do you want to watch a cartoon?
N: No. 
Me: Do you want to play outside? 
N: No.
Me: Do you want to dance?
N: No.
Me: Do you want to build a fort?
N: No.
Me: Do you want a spankin'?
N: No.
Me: Do you want some milk?
N: No. 
Me: Do you want a pony? 
N: No.
Me: Do you want a million dollars?
N: No.
Me: Okay. What do you want to do?
N: GoGo!!

Please. Eat. 

Dad: Try some yummy noodles!
N: No. YUCK!
Dad: I give up. Let her have chips.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Daycare: So far, so good

Yesterday was N's first day at her new daycare, a Catholic school that also has childcare, infants to preschoolers. Here's how it went down:

N: Happy. Did the usual: reading books, playing with toys, requesting happy days, napping, watching SuperWhy, dancing, pooping in the tub, etc.
Dad: Mostly happy. Occasional worry about Monday. Did the usual: played with N, read books, watched TV, changed a lightbulb, freaked out about poop in the tub, etc.
Mom: Not happy. Stressed. Completely freaked out about Monday. Did not do the usual: hid tears, read N books about sharing and going to school, wallowed, hid happy days, fished poop out of the tub, etc.

Monday Morning
N: Woke up, snuggled with Dad, snuggled with Mom, got ready, Dad drove to school. Played with farm toys and cars and books. Total and complete meltdown when Dad left. "Daddy gone. Daddy gone." Went to breakfast with new friend, Rachel (head teacher), and stopped crying. Didn't eat much. Played more afterwards. A few tears on and off.
Dad: Stayed for a little while at school to play. The other toddlers commanded him to read them books and he obliged. Left and kissed Norah goodbye, and felt heartbroken. Then lingered in the hall to see that she had stopped crying on the way to breakfast and was being held by Rachel. Felt a little better and left.
Mom: Tried not to cry all morning and tried to focus on work. Waited desperately for Dad to come home with some information. Envisioned the worst.

Monday Mid-morning
N: Playing and having fun with baby dolls.
Dad: Came home and calmed down Mom. Then did whatever. Who cares.
Mom: Felt a little better when Dad came home, but called the daycare around 10:30 to confirm she was doing okay. She was happily playing baby dolls. Started to worry about lunch and nap time.

Monday Afternoon
N: Ate a little lunch. Napped for 2 hours! Played all afternoon with NO TEARS!
Dad: Did errand for his mom.
Mom: Still worried, but less so. Worked. Ate my feelings and blew my Weight Watchers Points.

Monday Evening
N: Played in the gym at school because the weather wasn't the best. Made new friends and also voiced her opinion on sharing.
Mom and Dad: Mom did a really quick lunch so she could bail a little early on work and they went to the school around 4:30. There were no kids in the toddler room. Before I could freak out, a dad whom had come in with us said, "They must be in the gym." We followed him down the halls lined with little winter coats and construction-paper turkeys and found the gym entrance. I grabbed Dad's arm and we held back for a few minutes, watching N play. She was holding a big purple ball, like the kind you play kickball with, and grinning. Rachel told her to kick it, and she set it down and took a mighty toddler swing with her short little leg and fell down giggling. Then another little girl ran up to her and yelled, "Your dad's here!" and yanked her up by her arm. Norah looked around and then spotted us. She ran, all smiles, and crashed into me for a hug.

We talked to Rachel for a little while and she said the morning was on and off happy, but that her afternoon was great. She said for a first day, she did amazingly well. I fought back tears of joy and thanked her profusely.

We went back to the toddler room and Norah showed us all the toys and dolls she liked, and the finger puppet Pilgrims they had made that day. It was nice they were allowed to celebrate holidays, unlike Old Daycare. All the kids names were also up on the wall in different places; on little snow boots, on birthday balloons, and on gum balls, and Norah's name was already up with all of them, as if she'd been there all along.

I know it won't be perfect, and that the transition period will be trying, but this seems like it will work. I really, really hope it does. Cross your fingers for us.


Friday, November 19, 2010

The Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you for this award, Daily Dose of Dahl! I am honored that a talented writer such as yourself even reads my blog!

Here are some known and little knows facts about me:

1. I started dating my husband when I was 16, got married when I was 19, and am now 32 and still happily married. 
2. We waited 11 years to have a child. But we got a winner!
3. I have a MA in English. Yeah, that's useful.
4. I'm working on a book. (It's the law if you majored in English.)
5. I hate getting mail and think physical letters, bills, and junk mail should be outlawed. 
6. I love Yo Gabba Gabba, and I'm not ashamed of it. 
7. I enjoy winning awards and welcome any future awards. (Thanks for that one, Kristi!)   

Thank you again for this recognition. 

Check out these awesome blogs for lots of laughs:

Friday, November 5, 2010

Daycare update

Well, Norah doesn't go to that daycare anymore. I just couldn't deal with it anymore, and I didn't want Norah to have to deal with it, either. I emailed the director a brief, professional message (opposed to my wishful thinking email: "Fuck off. Norah's out!") and she didn't seek any explanation or anything, so I dropped it.

Now the search is on. We've got three leads. One of them said she'd call me back yesterday and I've yet to hear back. Thinking of writing her off, but trying to keep an open mind.

In the meantime, the grandmothers are taking her more often and Ryan is asking for more evening shifts.

I'm really sad about it. Everyone is asking me if I feel relieved, but I'm a little heartbroken. Norah loved the infant room so much, and so did I. And she really appeared to be doing so much better in the toddler room lately. I am frustrated because I don't understand what happened. And I will miss a lot of the people there. One gal even found me on Facebook and said she'd really miss Norah. That was so nice. I'm also terrified at the prospect of a new daycare and the transition period that will inevitably occur there. I hate it when things are up in the air, and just knowing that it's going to be hard on Norah gives me a feeling of dread every time it comes to mind.

So. I don't want to have two blog entries that are depressing.

The other day I think Norah gave me a birthday present. It's not my birthday, but Norah loves birthdays, so I wasn't shocked or anything She set her little potty chair wrapped in Go Go's blanket down in front of me, and then proceeded to whip off the blanket, yelling "Happy day!" There were four little Hotwheels in the potty chair.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

#$%&ing Toddler Room Again

I thought everything was going well. And it was, for the most part. Norah still had some difficult drop-offs once in a while, but they were much better. The gals would always say she had a great day at pick-up. Her little report cards were unfailingly positive. There is a list of adjectives at the bottom and the ones circled for Norah are usually "Happy," "Smiley," and "Busy." Sometimes "Talkative."

And then one day I dropped off Norah and one of the gals stopped me. She told me that Norah had been having a rough few days. Um, what? Happy-Smiley-Busy, right? Nope. She had been upset in the mornings and would cry. Outside, she'd sit against the wall alone and cry.

Let me pause for a moment. I need to think of a way to articulate through prose how I felt about this news.


I can't even bear to think about my little girl doing this. I cried the whole way home. A million questions flooded my brain. Should I just take her home? Will that set a bad precedent? Why won't they calm her down? Why can't she just play inside with the other group if she doesn't want to go out? Why the hell do they use report cards if they're bullshit? What else do they gloss over? That last question was from my friend, Amy. Thanks, Amy. Like my paranoia wasn't in the orange zone as it was.

Before leaving daycare, I told the woman-- for the I-don't-know-how-many-th time-- that I was to be called if my daughter was having a terrible day and was inconsolable. She called me an hour later and I had to decide. What should I do?

I talked to the gal for a while. She said the kids needed to go outside. I didn't push, but I regret that now. Then she talked about setting a precedent-- that Norah would learn quickly that Mom would come get her if she cried. That wouldn't be good either-- I need to work. She seemed to think Norah should tough it out.

But I didn't want her to tough it out. I couldn't work. I could only picture her crying all alone. I know they hold her and coddle her when I'm there, but there are a ton of kids there. I'm sure they leave her. They have to. I don't want her to have any tough days. Life will suck soon enough. It doesn't have to as long as I have the power to stop it.

Should I take her out of this daycare? Obviously they are lazy about the report cards. They have so many strict rules that are supposed to help the child grow, but it seems like they're just inflexible to me. They don't tell me crucial information in a timely manner. I was so pissed. I still am pissed.

Then it dawned on me. "Give her Baby Orajel." She had been chewing on her nuk like crazy and sticking her fingers in her mouth. She hadn't been sleeping well. Maybe she was getting her molars.

I called about a half hour later, and they said she was doing fine. Excellent. Although I was pissed that they didn't think of it first. I don't care if that's rational or not.

I though all was well again. Then I picked her up yesterday. Her report card actually said something different for a change. They must have gotten my not-so-subtle hint. "Needed lots of hugs." That's daycare for terrible day. I asked the afternoon crew, "Did you give her Baby Orajel again?" They responded that they did after nap and then she was fine.


So the daycare people need to work a little on their communication, and I, too, need to work on mine. Perhaps I will invest on some custom printed shirts that have a bulleted list on them:

  • If there's poop in my diaper, please change me.
  • If I ask for a drink, I'm probably thirsty.
  • Same with food.
  • If I'm upset for seemingly no reason and you can't calm me down, give me Baby Orajel.

You may be thinking I'm overreacting. Maybe I am. I don't know-- I'm new at this. All I know is that I pay these people a boatload of money to watch my kid because they're supposedly professionals who supposedly care about children. And, yes, I realize that the individual caregivers probably don't earn that much. And they should! This society is jacked-- people who care for children, nurses, hospice workers, social workers-- they make squat. But athletes make millions and investment bankers have bonuses bigger than five years of my income. It's not fair.

But I don't care. It's my kid. I can't demand anything but excellence, perfection.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Norah Loves Santa. Mommy Hates Shopping.

It's official. We can't go to any stores until well into January. Norah loves Santa and everything Christmas-y.

So, why deprive her of such joy, you ask?  Because when a toddler sees a shining, singing, sparkling, spectacle of a Christmas display, she never, ever wants to leave. When you say, "Come on, Sweetie, time to go," you will hear, "NO!" as a reply. When you say, "Honey, come to Mama," you will hear, "NO! NOOOOO!" And when the store is closing and people are forcing us out and threatening to call the police, she will throw herself to the floor, facedown, and throw the mother of all tantrums.

Okay, it was morning and we'd only been there for about 40 minutes, but it was lunchtime and we needed to go.

I don't even know how she remembers this stuff. She was just a few days under one last year when Grandma taught her "Ho ho ho!" and gave her a Santa ornament. How could she have possibly remembered that? But she bolted toward the Christmas display at Kohl's and bellowed "Ho ho ho!" to the glittering Santa ornaments hanging on white and green plastic trees. I was surprised, to say the least, but also amused as she went to each Santa object she found (chotchkies, ornaments, Santa stockings, snow globes, etc) and said, "Ho ho ho!" to each one.

Soon she was dissatisfied by just ho-ho-hoing. Now she wanted to touch-touch-touch. I tried to gently guide her hands away from the displayed items, but she got more and more irritated with my interference. She'd whip her hand away and squeal, and then find another item to break-- I mean, touch.

Now a group of little old ladies were browsing the Christmas section. At first we got a couple smiles. We usually do-- Norah is damn cute. But then as Norah started getting more rowdy and resistant to my pleas, we started getting those looks. You know. The my-child-never-acted-up-due-to-my-superior-parenting-skills look, or the that's-what-bad-parenting-will-get-you-look. I even heard one of them utter something about a "plug." I'm assuming the old broad was discussing my nearly-two-year-old's pacifier.

Okay. It was time to leave. Not only was it lunchtime, but I was dangerously close to telling some old bat to mind her own business.

"Time to go, Baby," I said quietly, crouching down to her level.

"Ho ho ho! Ho ho ho!" She blissfully galloped to the next display.

I must avoid a tantrum. Think, Heather. 

After bribing her with a number of things (we'll go find an Elmo toy, let's find more Santas, do you want some apple juice, etc.), I pulled out the big guns: "Should we visit Daddy?" Daddy works at a home improvement store, which is like Disneyland to a toddler for some reason, and Norah loves to visit. Grandpa works at the same store, so it's double awesome.

She broke out of her Christmas trance and looked up-- "Yeah!"

Then she turned to her Santa friends, as well as the sour old hens, and yelled at the top of her lungs, "Bye, Hos!"


Thursday, October 14, 2010

October Camping

Well, we made it.

The biggest thing I was dreading was the weather. I mean, who goes camping mid-October in Minnesota besides hardcore outdoorsy people? Norah and I are not hardcore outdoorsy people.

But the weather was unseasonably warm-- record-breaking nonetheless. We actually had the kids in the swim diapers playing on the beach and in the water. It was crazy! And dirty. But I promised myself I wouldn't spaz out about Norah getting dirty. Breathe in, breathe out.

The next biggest thing I was dreading was sleep. The first time we went camping with her, she was literally up 16 times in the night. She wouldn't sleep in the bed with us (we had a camper cabin), she wouldn't sleep in her pack-n-play. I just held her until she slept, but her down in her bed, and slept for 10 minutes or so until she got up again. Hell.

This time, she slept like a rock. She ran around like a maniac in the fresh air with the other kids and basically passed out. It was bliss.

The third biggest thing I stressed about was mealtime. Norah tends to eat nothing when there's the tiniest bit of distraction. We don't take her out to eat at all anymore. She picks at her food a little at our friends' houses. I don't think people even believe us when we tell them she eats like a horse.

Chow time
Anyway, mealtime did actually suck. She only ate a few chips and a cookie all weekend, pretty much. She ate a little bit of a cheese sandwich that Tamara made her and dunked it in applesauce. And on the last day, she raided the boys' Cookie Crisp. But, she's back to horse-like eating at home, so everything is fine.

Norah's Favorite October Camping Experiences:

  • Seeing three deer with Daddy
  • Rob showing her a fish and a frog
  • "Hiking" with Sara, Samantha, Tamara, Lincoln, and Will
  • Singing campfire songs with Tamara
  • Snuggling Mommy at nap time
  • Playing on the beach and dumping water into a hole

We're hiking!
Mommy's Favorite October Camping Experiences:

  • Camper cabins! Song long, tents, and all the unpredictable temperatures, wetness, awkward zippers, air mattresses, and other annoyances that go along with them.
  • Rob's campfire fajitas
  • Sleeping child
  • Hiking the loop with Tamara
  • "Hiking" with Sara, Tamara, and the kids
  • Having a couple drinks with my friends around the campfire under a zillion stars 

Hanging by one of the cabins

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flashback Friday: Our First Few Moments Alone with Norah

(Excerpt from Expect This: A Memoir on Pregnancy

The nurse took my blood pressure and temperature and asked us if we needed anything else. 
Um, yes. Someone to show us how to take care of a baby, I thought. “I don’t think so,” I said meekly. Mason shook his head no.
Once the nurses left, my euphoria waned. I looked at Mason, panicked. “What do we feed her? When do we feed her? Is it two ounces like in Baby 411? What do we feed her with? What if she needs a diaper? Do we have diapers? Can you roll that thing closer to me?” 
“Take it easy,” he laughed. He reached in the bassinette and carefully lifted the baby. She was wrapped up like a hard, little burrito. Soon she was cradled in my arms and I began to melt back down to my previous daze. Her eyes were still closed. 
“You’ve had a rough first day already, haven’t you?” I asked the little burrito. 
“Here’s what we’ve got,” Mason said as he pulled up a chair next to the bed. He reached over and showed me a piece of paper. “This is a log. We can keep track of when she eats and how much, and when she… um, goes to the bathroom and what, um, results from that. See? We’ve already done a diaper and a bottle.”
“You did a bottle?”
He smiled proudly. “Yup.”
“Wow…” I looked down at her. 
“This is where all the supplies are,” he got up and went to the rolling bassinette. There was a drawer in the bottom. Mason opened it up and proceeded to pull out things and name them for me. “Diapers… wipes… premade formula… nipples… changing pads.” Then he went over to a cabinet, opened it and began pointing at things. “In here we’ve got gowns, blankets, baby blankets, towels, rags… ah, feminine products, these things—“ (indicating the mesh panties) “—and what appears to be those bed pad thingers.” I was impressed. I don’t know where I had been, but Mason knew what was going on. I began to feel a glimmer of… no, not confidence… maybe competence. 
“What about clothes?” I asked.
“Yours or hers?”
“She’s wearing a little shirt under there.”
I stuck my finger into the opening of the baby burrito to feel the shirt, and felt warmth radiating from the wrap. A little breath came out of her mouth as if she was deflating a little. My eyes widened and my mouth opened and I looked at Mason. He had the same look of glee. “She made a noise!” I whispered loudly.
“I know!”
Before we knew it, it began to get light outside. We had arrived at the hospital around 9:30 p.m., and it was now nearly 8:00 a.m. It was snowing. Mason called it lazy snow; when the snow doesn’t all fall down in unison, but each individual flake zigzags gently down in no particular direction or hurry. Nurses had quietly come and gone to check in on us, to take blood pressure and things like that. We had barely noticed. It was just the three of us. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Day

We've been to a bunch of birthday parties, mostly because our friends, the Vix family, have seven kids in their family, four spouses, eight grandkids so far, and they like to party.

Because of this, whenever there are certain things around, Norah thinks it's someone's birthday, or as she calls it, "Happy day!" These things include: pizza, cake, cupcakes, ice cream, and balloons. Mostly it's cute, but it has caused some issues.

For example, I nuked some Smart Ones mini bagel pizzas for dinner one night while Norah and Ryan had some noodle casserole with meat in it. She thought they looked like cupcakes and chanted "Happy day! Happy day!" until I gave her one (I knew she'd just lick it and then be sad), and she just licked it and was sad. So, I lost out on food, and she started chanting "Happy day"again, but in a sad, disappointed tone.

Or when my mom made meatloaf that apparently looked like birthday cake. More "Happy day!" chanting, and then shock and devastation when the "cake" turned out to taste like meatloaf instead of chocolate.

Mostly it's cute, though. We went to a fundraising/celebration/party over the weekend complete with pizza, balloons, and a live band. Her new best friend, Kristi, even gave her suckers. She was pretty certain it was her birthday, singing "My happy day!" So either she'll think she has the best parents ever, hiring a live band and all that, or she'll be really let down on her actual birthday. We'll see. She fell asleep in the car, clutching her balloon. (Too bad that didn't last. She woke up completely refreshed when we got home and wanted to boogie instead of sleep.)

The next birthday, Tamara's, is this weekend. More sweets and fun! We're also camping. In October. In Minnesota. Yeah. I'll let you know how that goes.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PSA: Learn about vision care and win an iPad!

Vicki Davis-- an awesome classroom innovator with a blog called Cool Cat Teacher-- is promoting vision care with an exciting contest. Vision care is a bigger deal than you may think. Here's why:

  • Eye doctors not only look for blurred vision. They can see signs of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
  • Kids need eye exams at 6 months, 3 years, and before Kindergarten. 
  • 80% of what you learn is through your eyes.

Check out seemuchmore.com for more trivia and information on eye health and vision care savings, and also like them on Facebook and "send a wink," which donates money for service dogs for the blind.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Questions we never thought we'd ever, ever ask

  1. What's in your mouth?
  2. Did you poop?
  3. Is that spit-up or snot on my shoulder?
  4. Why is Bear Bear wet?
  5. Is Princess Presto saying "Wands up!" or "Kwanzaa?" Is that racist? 
  6. Is this pee or sweat?
  7. Well, whose nuk is that?
  8. Is this crayon or marker on the dryer? 
  9. Seriously-- can I see what's in your mouth, please?
  10. Where did that booger go?
  11. How many Weight Watchers points for these yogurt puff things? 
  12. Are you trying to bite me?
  13. Why is it so quiet in there?
  14. Did you just lick the refrigerator? 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fear of the Week: Mean Kids

I have no idea what I'm going to do when Norah starts school. Probably fall apart.

On Saturday we went shopping for diapers and the like, and wandered into the toy aisle, so Norah could explore a little. There were two little boys there, and she ran up to them.

"Noonie," she said, patting her chest. She was like a polite little cave person, introducing herself. Me Noonie. You friend. 

They ignored her and walked away.

She followed and sort of positioned her self in between them and the toys they were looking at. "Noonie,"she repeated, beaming.

They ignored her again and walked away.

She trotted back to me with a perplexed look on her little face and motioned "up." I picked her up and rubbed her back. "It's okay," I murmured. "They are socially inept little neanderthal jerkfaces."

And that was nothing. Nothing! She would be damn lucky if that's the worst a kid ever did to her. Kids are monsters. They naturally contrive social hierarchies and ruthlessly administer daily reminders of caste position. The playground is Lord of the Flies at best. Even sweet, normally kindhearted children wield plenty of hurt if it means self-preservation.

I vividly remember coming home from school one day and running straight up to my room. There was a bully in my class and he had tormented me the entire day. I threw myself on my bed and wept, my mother not far behind. As I tried to explain to her the situation in between heaving sobs, I could tell she wanted to do something. She was just as upset as I was. She rubbed my back as I cried into my pillow and asked me questions she knew the answer to: no, she couldn't talk to the teacher or the bully or anyone. No, ignoring him didn't work. No, it doesn't help that he probably has low self-esteem and is trying to build himself up.

I can picture her desperate, pained expression even to this day. I bet if she ran into this kid-now-an-adult-and-likely-a-normal-person, she'd probably give him the finger.

And that will be me. And my sweet angel will be the one draped across her bed, soaking her pillow with tears. And I will envision bursting through the wall of the classroom like a deranged Kool-Aid man, kicking over desks until I make my way to the perpetrator. But I'll just listen to her cry, give her the same advice my mom told me, and my heart will break.

So, we've got that to look forward to.

Monday, September 20, 2010


Norah and I headed to the mall on Sunday, with a goal to get a couple hats for fall. Of course, being that I'm completely oblivious of things others seem to know, non of the stores were yet open when we arrived. The anchor stores like Target and Sears were open, but everything else was dark and gated. We had three options-- 1. leave, which would mean coming back later; 2. stay at Target, which didn't seem like a great idea being that we always spend a buttload there unnecessarily and Norah terrorizes the entire store for some reason; 3. Playland.

Playland is an area for little kids. The entrance is guarded by a large, plastic bear, holding his or her finger up, indicating you half to be this short to enter Playland. There are a bunch of rules posted, but I only remember that you have to take your shoes off. The Playland "equipment" is kind of a mix between plastic and Nerf material. There's a dump truck/slide and different outdoorsy-type structures, like a tent, a log, a dock, and some creatures. The floor is a little bouncy. Norah was in heaven.

She climbed on all the structures, hid in the log to play peek-a-boo, and climbed up the truck-slide while I caught her on the way down. She screeched with happiness and bounded around.

Soon, there were a bunch of other kids. They were all in heaven, and all seemed well. Then a little girl ran up to me and handed me her socks.

"Socks," she said, matter-of-factly. Then she ran off to play more.

I looked up and saw that I was the only parent on the floor. And the only mom. There were a pile of dads, all either on the benches, or standing around the entrance. Hmm.

"Um," I said, raising my voice a little over the ruckus, "Whose is the pink shirt girl?"


"Um, hello?" I said a little louder. I walked over to Pink Shirt Girl and pointed down to her head as she bounced on a dragonfly structure. "Who belongs to her?"

"What's wrong?" a startled dad perked up. I gave him her socks and he said, "Oh."

Then another boy came and his father sat down and started texting or something with some fancy phone. He started to come to me: "Look at me slide! Look at me jump off here!"

Then another little girl about Norah's age started having me catch her down the slide.

Then another little girl, a little younger than Norah, started whimpering. Her dad snatched her up and asked her what was wrong. Obviously she couldn't talk, so he just stared at her, bewildered. I told him she was sad because her big toe had poked through her tights. "Oh."

As I was listening to Norah tell me which fish structures were the mommy, daddy, and baby, the little girl around her age went down the slide alone and ended up in a pile, crying, at the bottom. I ran over and stood her up, gave her a pat, and she scurried around, climbing up the slide again.

Now this is no commentary on all dads, so don't get all up in arms. But these dads were pretty... hands-off. And I was just confused. I thought the people there were possibly just people who didn't realize the stores weren't open yet, too. But that seemed strange, being that they were all dads. (Sexist, I know.) And they all kind of coupled or grouped off, like they knew each other, chatting about the Vikings or boasting about the daring leap their kid just made off of the turtle structure. Maybe it was a Sunday dads' group thing. None of them said more than "Oh" to me. Interesting. Maybe I infringed on something private. I almost asked.

But I was tired of watching all these kids, clapping for their acrobats and helping them climb stuff. Finally the lights started turning on in the stores and gates were slamming open. I scooped up Norah and dug her shoes out of my purse. Off to get hats. I may go to Playland again on Sunday. Or maybe send Ryan in as a mole.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Flashback Friday: Baby Names

Ok, I'm doing something new-- Flashback Fridays. This is when I dig through my repressed memories of either pregnancy (shudder) or newborndom and find something hopefully useful or amusing to write about. Let's give it a whirl.

This is an excerpt from my pregnancy memoir. Hope you enjoy:

“Have you thought of any names yet?”

Just hearing the question made my butt cheeks clench together. Ever since I started looking pregnant and not just fat—although fat still took up a considerable amount of my total composition—I heard this question at least once a day. Family. Friends. Acquaintances. Co-workers. Clerks. Randoms. It wasn’t necessarily the question that made my body tighten up and my inner lip become raw with anticipatory bites, but the inevitable and lengthy conversation to follow. I could make a flow chart of the conversation before the person would even launch into the formulaic dialog, which painfully included even similar facial expressions. The first part of the flow chart diverged into three paths, depending on my response: One, I tell the person our potential name list. Two, I tell them we’re keeping it on the down low. Three, I lie and tell them we haven’t yet decided. Each one of these paths is treacherous, but after enduring multiple reenactments of each conversation, I’ve settled on three: the lie.
The biggest lesson Ryan and I learned was to absolutely not tell people the names we were considering. I was astonished time and time again at what would spill out of peoples’ seemingly innocent mouths. And about a baby’s potential name! It was practically blasphemous. Granted, when I heard of a co-worker naming their child Merlin, I viciously gossiped behind their back, but I never would have said anything to her face.
What we learned from loved ones and strangers about our names was this: Eleanor is an old lady name. Parker is too WASPy. Laurel will remind people of Laurel and Hardy. Sophia is too popular. Mia is the name of “some bitch” someone went to high school with. Victoria will turn into Icky and/or Sticky Vicky. Morgan is a boy’s name. Madeline is too popular. Nixie is too weird. Noelle is cheesy if the due date is in December. Amelia is from the Amelia Bedilia children’s books. Bunny is a stripper name (and this person held this position even after learning that Bunny was my great aunt’s name who recently had passed away from leukemia. And to be fair, Bunny was only going to be a nickname anyway.) Anyway, little by little, our girl name list shrank.
On top of verbally abusing our treasured list, painstakingly created by going through a name book of 50,001 names—literally one by one—and arguing with each other to near tears, people had the nerve to offer up name suggestions to us. As if their suggestion was inadvertently left out of the 50,001 names recorded in what claimed to be the best baby name book in the history of the world. Really? Madison? I hadn’t thought of that. I should have gone to you in the first place. Silly me; making such a production out of something so simple. Madison it is. Name suggestions came from everyone and anyone. The baffling thing about it was that if you showed anything but sublime reverence for the name offered up, the person was offended. You insulted some imaginary baby’s name. Or rather, you insulted someone’s idea of the perfect name. But that didn’t stop them from letting us know that Gwendolyn was “an ugly girl’s name.”

After this little life lesson, we decided not to tell anyone our name list; to keep it safe from unsolicited opinions and obnoxious nickname generation. We figured we’d tell people once the ink was dry on the birth certificate. Anyone who would say anything after the fact would just be a jerk, hands down.

But trying to tell people that it was secret was nearly as offensive as telling them you weren’t in love with their baby name suggestion. By telling them we were keeping secrets, we were basically admitting that we thought people were acting like jerks. Half of the time, I think actually just calling someone a jerk straight to their face would have been less of an affront. And I, being a person who avoids conflict and hurting peoples’ feelings like the proverbial plague, would predictably offer up cowardly excuses (Oh, my family is being so judgmental, or, I promised Ryan I wouldn’t tell) or even throw them a bone or two, usually in the form of a name we’d rejected a long time ago (Well, we’re not really telling, but I kind of like Quinn or Margot.) My sickening need to please people would then catapult me back into the first path of the flow chart. 
It was definitely easier to lie. We may have lost some significant karma points in the cosmic justice bank, but I figure we’ll earn some back by never, ever again torturing any more parents-to-be by offering up name suggestions or trying to come up with a schoolyard rhyme about their great grandfather’s name to show them how wrong they are for choosing it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I am... Noonie

While she generally tries to pronounce things the way they sound, Norah also has odd little words for a few different objects. It takes us a little while to figure out what she means. For example, we are to sing "The Wheels on the Bus" when she says, "Round-a-round!" "Bob Barsh" is Spongebob Squarepants. (Yes, she watches a little Spongebob. Judge away.) "Hoppy" is a rabbit. So when she started saying "Noonie," we tried to figure out what she meant.

A week or so ago I thought I had discovered the answer. We were playing our game Goodnight! Good Morning! and I put a little blanket on her.

"No! Noonie!"

I paused. "You want Noonie?"


I thought for a second. "Show Mama your Noonie."

She ran out of her room and we ended up in the living room, her clutching her favorite blanket.

"Is Noonie your blanket?"


I was pretty proud of my detective skills and let Ryan and Grandma know.

But then the other day I was holding her jacket.


"You want your blanket, Baby?"

"NO. Noonie jucka."

I paused. "Is this Noonie's jacket?"


Now I was a little worried. "Does Noonie want to wear her jacket?"


"Baby... are you Noonie?"


I told Ryan this revelation later. He rolled his eyes. Norah was cuddling on my lap. He asked her, "Norah, does your toe hurt?"

"Uh-huh," she answered absentmindedly, bending her Mommy Hugs a little backwards.

"Do you want a unicorn?"


I snapped at him, "Well of course she wants a unicorn. Who doesn't?" I was convinced our daughter either had an imaginary friend, an alter ego, or another personality. All were a little worrisome. Mostly the personality one.

The next day happened to be Norah's 18-month appointment. Yeah, I know she's 20 months. I'm an idiot. We were seeing a new doctor, and our old doctor apparently chose this particular doctor because she's "laid-back." In other words, she thought we were kind of excitable. Anyway, after a few basic information questions, Norah warmed up a little and introduced us to Dr. Wendi. She patted me and said, "Mommy."

"Is that your mommy?" Dr. Wendi asked.

"Mm-hmm." Then she patted her belly. "Noonie."

Before the doc could say anything, I blurted out, "She's Noonie. She renamed herself. Is that normal? Can she just not pronounce 'Norah?' Does she have an imaginary friend or another personality?"

These possibilities suddenly seemed terrifying to me. Well, mispronunciation isn't terrifying, but imaginary friends are. I've heard a million times that it's not uncommon; that there are tons of kids who have little friends to talk to and play with. But I never had experience with that. Maybe I just wasn't creative. But the fact is, people talking to themselves, or to their made-up companions, freaks me the hell out. And multiple personality disorder is beyond terrifying. Years of therapy, medication, total dependence, the lost opportunities... I couldn't even let my mind dip a toe into that one.

My panicked eyes searched Dr. Wendi's face for any sign. Worry, sadness, stress, concerned, a twinge that would indicate she was worried but knew she had to be calm and professional...

She just shrugged. "Kids are weird."

The rest of the appointment was fine. The doc said Norah was very verbal and that she had lovely eyelashes. She left us to get dressed and I looked at Norah, dancing with her new little Curious George book, chanting "Mon-key! Mon-key!" and grinning.

I grinned, too. "Come on, Noonie. Let's roll." Kids are weird. Good lesson.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Beloved children's characters who should die

This post was inspired by a blog post from the Bad Moms Club : Calliou Makes Me Stabby. It made me think, which characters from cartoons and children's programming make me anywhere from annoyed to homicidal?

Pronounced ky-you.The author of that blog post had it right. Ugly kid. Ear-pieringly horrid voice. Stupid name.

Gerald from Sid the Science Kid:
You are not a rock star, kid. And I'm certain that your parents should take you to be evaluated for Ritolin. When Teacher Suzie says it's rug time, sit the hell down.

Curious George:
Doesn't anyone care that this monkey screws everything up? He's touching people's food in restaurants, he's dicking around with instruments at a train station, he's always making a huge mess everywhere. The yellow hat jerk always just smiles embarrassingly and apologizes, as if that is enough when your monkey lets zoo animals out of their cages. And why does he visit the zoo? He's a monkey. It would be like me staring in my neighbor's living room window.

I know I'm not making any friends here. But it's as if some Sesame Street executive was sitting around a conference room with a bunch of marketing people saying, let's create a monster specifically for what we believe a girl is and should want to be. She has to be pink and purple. There must be sparkles somewhere. She should be wearing makeup. Oh, girls like fairies-- make her a fairy. And Abby is in the top ten names of the decade, so little girls can relate to it. Wait, could you make her voice a little more irritating? Yeah, that's it!

Mr. Lopart from Handy Manny:
Um, what the hell is wrong with this guy? He lives with him mom and has picnics with his cat. I think he owns an ice cream shop or a candy store. Is he registered?

Luckily, Norah really is only in love with Abby, and she has just average fondness for the monkey. I think mostly because she likes to dance like a monkey. I think once she hits Hannah Montana age, we'll just get rid of TV all together.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yours and Mine

Now that Norah has mastered the art of "MINE!", she has started to take notice of what belongs to others. And she really doesn't like it if someone has something that she has deemed belongs to another. Especially if that object belongs to Mommy.

It started a month or so ago. Ryan slipped on my flipflops, which I wear embarrassingly too often, to run out to his car. Upon seeing this, Norah dropped her Weeble and screeched, "Mommy shoe!"

Ryan, being Ryan, either didn't hear her, or wasn't paying attention. Norah took off after him and grabbed his leg.


He stopped and looked at me, confused. She bent down and tried to pull off the flipflops and he braced himself against the wall so as not to topple over. He dropped them both off of his feet, one by one, and she grabbed one and ran to me. She took the flipflop and set it on top of my foot.


"Yeah, Baby?" I said, putting on my flipflop, as I could tell she was waiting for me to do so.

Then she went to retrieve the other one.

"I guess I can find my own shoes," Ryan said, laughing. I laughed, too. It was nice having a protector.

Then it happened a few days later. It was a weekend Ryan didn't work, and it was his day to sleep in until-- wait for it-- 8:00 am! Around that time, Norah started getting anxious to see him, so I said, "Let's wake up Daddy!" She tore into the bedroom, only to find that Daddy had rolled over onto my pillow, blissfully sleeping away. Norah stopped in her tracks.

"MOMMY! MOMMY!" she yelled, and tried to climb up on the bed.

"What is it, Baby?" I asked, slightly concerned. I hoisted her up on the bed as Ryan half sat up, groggily. She made her way through the covers on all fours and grabbed the corner of the pillow.

"Mommy!" she said, right in Ryan's face.

He blinked. "Sorry?"

"Mooommmeee," she said slowly, as if to help him understand. He shifted himself off the pillow, and Norah tugged on it with all her might, finally releasing until it was just resting on top of her.

"Thank you, Silly Goose Egg."

My stuff isn't the only thing she protects, although she probably knows my stuff and Ryan's more than anyone else's (she tried to get behind the counter at the eyeglasses place when the gal was adjusting my frames! "Mommy! Glasses!"). She knows Ryan's favorite blanket. Hannah's dog biscuits and yellow chew toy. Papa's measuring tape and miscellaneous tools. Nana's shoes and purse. Don't mess with other peoples' things, or you will hear about it. And then she will deliver your objects to you, as if you've been wronged.

She needs people to have their own stuff, and she also needs to have things the way they're supposed to be. Cookie Monster does not belong in Go Go's swing. Bear Bear does not go on Daddy's head. Not exactly... flexible. Or as my sister would say, she's OCD. I really, truly hope not. That's actually kind of a crippling diagnosis. Hopefully her fastidiousness will wane later in life, as Ryan and I aren't exactly sticklers on the everything-in-its-place philosophy. Until then, Ryan wears his own flipflops and I wear mine.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Working at Home

A few months ago, I started working for an amazing company: Atomic Learning*.

This job allows me to work from home, as I'm recording video tutorials and I need quiet. I'm really quite lucky-- interesting work, super cool co-workers, fun techie stuff, still education-related, and I get to wear sweatpants. So, what's the problem?

People do not understand what it means to work at home.

Here are my top three most annoying misconceptions I encounter:

3. "Come on, you can do that whenever. You work from home."

Here's the deal: maybe some people can do stuff whenever, but I do keep office hours. That means two small breaks during the day and a lunch period. I am on at 8 and off at 5. Yes, there is some flexibility if need be, but these are my regular working hours.

That doesn't mean that if Ryan is off and home with Norah, that I will be readily available for feedings and diaper changes (i.e. anything that isn't fun). I love having Norah run to the office and give me a hug during the day, and being able to play with her on breaks. But I can't just up and stop working because someone stuck their hand in the toilet and needs washing.

Also, that doesn't mean I can just go shopping, take a 2-hour lunch, or just take a half-day whenever and work at night. And I don't want to work at night. I want to sleep.

2. "Oh, you 'work from home,' wink, wink."

People automatically think you're watching TV, sleeping, or playing games online all day long. Nope. Actually working. Yes, AL employees do have fun. But these are some majorly hard-working people as well. I am proud to be one of them.

1. "It must be wonderful being home with your daughter and work at the same time!"

Well, it's not. It's impossible. People say this to me all the time, and I think either they don't have kids or they have forgotten what it's like. Which is fine, but it makes me feel guilty and horrible.

Norah is 20 months. I can't even take her grocery shopping anymore. She's the Tasmanian Devil.  She requires constant attention or she'll find something sharp or poisonous or esophogous-sized. I can't look at my computer screen for more than 60 seconds.

So, Norah goes to daycare Tuesdays and Thursdays, Nana's Wednesday, Grammy's Friday, and Ryan has her Mondays sometimes at home, if I'm not recording, and sometimes at a grandmother's or the park or something.

And even though I am fully aware that caring for Norah and working simultaneously is not an option, every time I hear someone say this to me, I feel terribly guilty. A former co-worker whom I didn't really know was gushing over my good fortune right before my last day at the college, and I felt so bad that I actually just smiled and nodded. I felt pathetic.

A lot of the time, though, I do realize that I'm doing what I need to do. Norah is happy. I would feel guilty about something no matter what. I think that's just a mother thing... guilt. And I'm really lucky to actually like my job. Misconceptions about working from home are just another thing that I need to let roll off my back. And that's the life of a parent-- and lots of non-parents, too-- people make judgements about you and you decide whether or not it's going to tick you off. I just need to be a little more resilient.

*Atomic Learning is a company that provides technology training and solutions to schools and universities (and companies, too). Wanna know how to use Word 2010? Go to AL. Photoshop? AL. Blogs and wikis? You know it. And I get to be one of the people who creates the training! Each tutorial we make is one to three minutes and captures just one little task. So you don't need to view a 30-minute seminar just to learn how to do a hanging indent. It's awesome.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Greatest. Day. Ever.

The Liberty Bell Chair is officially out of my house.

Background: My father bought the ugliest chair in the history of furniture at an auction, and it soon became the property of my husband, through no fault of my mother, so she says. Let me see if words can do it justice: The color scheme is orange-y rust, brown, olive green, and brown. The arms are scratched up wood. The patter is-- now really try to see it-- historical icons, such as the Mayflower, and, you guessed it, the Liberty Bell. It's old. It's faded. It can't even be cleaned anymore. It sounds like a cannon exploding when you recline it. And twelve years I've had to look at this piece of shit. And finally, finally, it's gone.

Well, sort of. Ryan has yet to bring it to the dump. Sigh. Baby steps.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Is that what she's wearing?

Ryan is color blind. I'm not really sure how it works, to tell you the truth. What I do know is that monochromatic colors seem to kind of bleed together for him. Reds and oranges are pretty similar. Blues and purples. If a color is pretty muted, it just looks grey to him.

I used to be fairly sensitive about it. Making fun of someone's disability is one of the douche-iest things you can do. But then one day, this happened:

"Are there no clean t-shirts in this house?" Ryan is notoriously bad at finding things that are in obvious places. Like in a drawer.

"Your purple shirt is clean," I said, trying to be helpful.

"What purple shirt?"

I rummaged a little and pulled out the shirt triumphantly. "This one."

Ryan blinked. "That's... purple?"


He took the t-shirt in hand and looked confused. "What color is this stripe?"

I knew that this wouldn't end well. Because he had had this t-shirt for years and years. He has worn in a million times. Obviously he didn't know that he was wearing a purple shirt with a pink stripe on it. I didn't think of it. Who the hell cares if a shirt is purple and pink? Well, Ryan does, apparently.


"Oh, that's it." He chucked it in the trash can.

Now I can't not make fun of him.

But I try not to be a shrew about it. He's really trying hard. He has Mondays off, and that is Daddy/Daughter day. He is in charge of dressing her. This is where I use every strength of my being to remind me that it doesn't matter what she's wearing. She's clean. She's happy. She's warm/cool or whatever the weather dictates. It doesn't matter....

Of course, sometimes I fold under pressure. For instance, if they're going out in public. I try to be subtle about it, like, oh-- she got a little stain. Let me change her. Or, I think she needs something warmer. Or I'll lay out an outfit on the couch for her, hoping he won't be offended. But for the most part, I really try to let it go.

Sorry, Daddy
Recently it's become a little game. Will Daddy pick out a cute outfit for Norah? We've been popping her in front of the webcam, letting a couple friends be the judges. I think I'm undefeated.

But I know in the grand scheme of things that it doesn't matter. She's not going to have less fun. She's not being harmed. She's just a toddler with an unattractive outfit. So, this is a good lesson for me-- letting go of the control freakness and just enjoying the ride.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fun and Fear

Norah and I went to the Benton County fair with Sara, John, and her little pal, Samantha. It was here where I discovered I may never actually have pure, unadulterated fun ever again.

It's not that I don't like a good ol' county fair. Quite the contrary-- I love animals, fried food, beer, and midway games. I'll drop $20 without a second thought if someone gives me a dart and some balloons to hit. Sure, the prize may be a tiny stuffed alligator that cost .03 to make, but I love it. In the past, it was a great time to get together with friends, listen to local bands, and drink cheap beer. Now it's a different story.

And it's not as if Norah didn't have fun. I doubt she could have had more fun had we gone to Disney World. She desperately loves animals and with each new one she saw, she got the same amazed-aghast-thrilled look on her beautiful face. Mouth wide open, eyes searching for me as if to say, "Are you seeing this?!" and laughter that could barely even escape from her throat. I couldn't even feel my normal pity and sadness for the animals trapped in the cramped petting zoo in the sweltering humidity and heat because Norah was so flippin' happy.

Girls having fun, me worrying about duck bites
John took a rabbit out of a little rabbit house for Samantha and Norah to see. Was this allowed? I highly doubt it, but John usually doesn't care about details like that. Sara took pictures. Soon John was swarmed by happy children wanting to pet the bunny. He also took out a baby duck, which was beyond adorable, and the girls quacked at it.

The girls rode ponies, and again, even though it was hot, the ponies had probably been walking slowly in a circle all day in the heat, and they had to endure miserable little kids sweating and dripping ice cream on them, I pushed those thoughts out of my head and tried to memorize Norah's look of pure joy. She got off the pony and politely said, "Bye, Horse," and gave him/her a pat on the nose.

So what's my problem? The babies had a blast. I was there with my pals. There were minidonuts. Utopia.

But I realized that night, as I tried to fall asleep, that I will always and forever be in a different state of mood. I will never be able to let go and have fun. Ever again.

I had a good time, yes. But there is always a very prevalent feeling of alertness and worry. No matter if we're at a county fair in central Minnesota or camping or shopping or at the splash pad or wherever. I have two streams of thought above all else-- Norah is having fun! She is so cute and awesome! This is great! and then I have the low drumming of strangers... keep her in sight... animal bites... dirty... too many people... weather... too warm/cold.... hurt... danger... 

Even camping I had felt like this. The whole time. I wondered if my companions felt the same, if Ryan did. He was happily giving wagon rides to the kids and picking wild flowers. I was doing the same sorts of things, but also thinking bugs... injuries... sun... weather... keep her in sight... I don't know that one second went by that I just felt... content.

Even at Play Land at the mall. She's having a blast with the other kids. I'm thinking Why is that freak sitting over there looking in here? Those kids are running too fast. They're going to run over Norah. Can she get a foot disease in here? These kids look dirty. 

It's a dark and heavy feeling in my chest. A dread. I'm ok when we're playing in our living room. I'm ok at Sara and John's or my Mom and Dad's. But I feel like I should be carrying a first aid kit (or just go back for some kind of medical degree), have my black belt in karate, and be concealing and carrying when doing pretty much anything else. Because there's a real threat at the Waite Park Public Library. Psycho.

Does this ever go away? I may have to call my mom and ask her if she has ever had fun in the last 32 years. Maybe I don't want to know the answer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Full of It

I'm slowly starting to realize that Norah is a little person, rather than just my little snuggle monkey. She surprises me every day with her thought capacity, that is, what she all understands and how she makes decisions and her favor over one thing or another. It's amazing. I know it's kind of dumb, but it's difficult for me to think of her as a little person, rather than an I'm-hungry-tired-wet-comfortable-uncomfortable-amused little baby. She's becoming so much more complex.

And thusly, she has finally discovered that her mom's full of shit.

We were coloring the other day. She just learned the word "yellow," and now declares every color to be yellow. She triumphantly held up a crayon and pronounced it yellow, and I gently told her the real color. Then she went for another color.


"That's red."

She looked down, unfazed, and grabbed another. "Yellow!"


She dropped it and picked up a turquoise crayon. "Yellow!"

"Blue, Baby."

She picked up the blue one. "Yellow!"


Then her little brows knit together. She still clutched the blue crayon, but looked down with a frown and snatched up the turquoise crayon. Then she looked at me accusingly.

I had dumbed down "turquoise," thinking the word was too hard to learn right now. And now she looked at me like I was either screwing with her or I was an idiot.

"Yellow..." she muttered. Then she took the crayons and scribbled side-by-side, one in each hand, as if she was examining them more closely. Could Mommy be right? Could they both be blue?

I stammered, "See, Honey, they are both blue-ish. They're different shades of blue."

She lost interest immediately when Ryan came in from the kitchen, thankfully, and ran to him. Was this it? Was this the end? Had I lost all credibility? Was I no longer Mommy, Queen of the Universe?

If she sees a butterfly flitting around the yard, she squeals in delight until it disappears. Then she quickly turns to me with a deadly serious expression on her face and says, "More," while smashing her fists together (the baby sign for more). As if Mommy could wave her arm and make butterflies appear.

She points to all the images in all her books and looks at me expectantly to name the item. Curtain. Moon. Mouse. Clock. As if I'm the keeper of all the words.

She calls to me in the night when she can't get back to sleep, and knows that a few minutes snuggled warmly in Mommy's arms will do the trick. The Sandmom.

And now? I'm either a liar or a dumbass. Not very good options. But at least now I know that she's more clever than just a baby, and deserves to not have me dumbing things down for her. And hopefully she's still trust me enough to ask me what letters or numbers she sees. And to summoned more bunnies in the yard.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Just a Few Days Ago...

Norah has a pile of new words. Or rather, new pronunciations.  It happened nearly overnight. Mama is Mommy. Coo-coo is cookie. Dada is Daddy. Peace is pleass (still working on that one). I already miss coo-coo. She even has a couple new sentences: "I need help" and "Bye-bye, Caw-caw [bird]."

And right now she's wearing a 2T top. Ok, it's a little big, but not that oversized.

And she hands me her nuk when she wants a drink of her milk before bedtime instead of just spitting it out willy-nilly.

And we went up to size 4 diapers.

And she's really starting to play pretend, to use her imagination. She doesn't just slam her Weebles together anymore. They have little Weeble relationships. There's a baby, a mommy, and a daddy. There's one chicken or duck character who scolds the baby for driving the motorcycle. And they say "Whee!" when they go down their Weeble slide.

And now she wants to spit when she brushes her teeth because that's what Mommy and Daddy do. Of course, she just spits indiscriminately, which is kind of gross.

It's all happening at lightening speed. It's so exciting... and terribly depressing...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Unhappy campers

Well, we're still alive. And camping was actually a ton of fun. Up until the frickin' hurricane. (And, yeah, we live in Minnesota.)

First, Norah and I slept in, much to Ryan's chagrin. If it was up to Grizzly Adams, we would have been on the road at 6 am. But it did allow him to fuss over the perfection of his packing job in the Subaru while Norah and I cuddled on the couch for a while.

Then we hit the road. Ryan couldn't GPS the campground for some reason, so we stopped by a store and bought a good ol' fashioned map. I was the navigator. Mostly because Ryan loves to drive and I become navigator by default. Besides him cringing every time I folded the map against its original creases, he followed my instructions cheerfully and without question. Norah bopped to the iPod and played with Bear Bear.

Then we got lost. I am a sucky navigator. We pulled over and the map was taken away from me.

Eventually arriving at the campground, Ryan and John began setting up the tents and Sara and I brought things from the car and watched Norah and Samantha, who is just a month older than Norah. John and Sara also didn't have a perfect morning, so she and I kept our distance from the men for a while. The Vix fam showed up with their boys, Lincoln (4) and Will (2), and brought their VW hippy bus for camping. Seems Rob and Tamara also were slightly stressed and angry from getting lost, so that was awesome.

Once we were set up, everyone was in a much better mood. The ranger stopped by to say hello and to tell us about the weather warnings. I asked him what we would do in case of a tornado, and he mentioned that there were concrete bathrooms at the horse camp nearby. That sounded cool to us.

Then the moms hit the beach with the kids, and the dads went to town to buy batteries, which apparently was also code for hitting a local bar. Whatever. It was a blast. Norah charged into that lake with a vengeance. Her first lake experience, too! She is fearless. Unlike me, who can't swim and is terrified. Kristi and Amy joined us, too, and set up their tent.

It started to rain a little after lunch, which wasn't bad. The kids played in the tents and bounced on air mattresses while the rest of us gabbed in the screened areas of the tents. Another screen tent protected the food and stuff. Once it cleared up, the formidable heat was conquered, leaving us with a nice, cool breeze and an overcast sky.

After about the fifth text to my mom, telling her that the weather was great and we were fine (someone must have had the weather channel on at their house), the sky began to churn. Everything transformed into a green haze. The rain started coming down again, and the wind through the trees was so spooky, Amy and I looked at each other asking, "What the hell was that?" Then the sirens went off.

"Let's go," I said, scooping up Norah. The men folk sort of rolled their eyes, but everyone scurried, gathering a few things to take along-- purses, the weather radio (which had said some other area was getting spanked, not ours), and kids. John and Rob actually decided to stay, as they had just thrown some meat on the grill.

We caravanned to the horse camp down the way; Kristi, Amy, Tamara and her boys in Kristi's car, Ryan, Sara, me and the little girls in ours. The bathrooms were as small as mine at home. There was no way. We decided to drive to town.

Kristi's car turned to go back to the campsite, so we followed. Maybe we could convince Rob and John that they were idiots. As Kristi's car parked, everyone flew out of it, including two crying little boys. Each had gotten nervous and thrown up their entire dinners in Kristi's car. The stench hit me and I almost joined them. We abandoned Kristi's car for Amy's. Rob was trying to get the camper part down in the VW. John hopped in their Bronco and Sara and Samantha joined him. Ryan disappeared.

He was running down the path to the site. I yelled at him, but he was gone. The trees were bending. The rain was pouring. The sky was a milky green. Amy and Kristi took off. Norah was in her car seat playing with a couple flashcards Samantha had left. "Quack," she said at D is for Duck.

Then Ryan finally appeared again. He jumped in the car, soaking wet, and triumphantly held up Bear Bear. I think I fell in love with him all over at that moment.

We ended up driving through the worst storm I've ever driven through. You couldn't see a damn thing. The wind was crazy. It was terrifying. I prayed the whole time, which is uncharacteristic of me, but I did nonetheless. We ended up at a Super America when it was nearly over. There was a full, double rainbow painted across the sky.

Amy and Kristi had headed back to the horse camp, where a few other campers from other sites had joined them, including a couple dogs. Tamara and the boys ended up in Big Lake, where a tornado had been reported. (They're fine!) Rob stayed at the campsite, and it got pretty ugly-- he ended up taking shelter in the outhouse.

We got back to the site at 9:30 pm. Everything was soaked and covered in mud. We abandoned everything and decided to just come back in the morning. Norah slept through our entire adventure, except when I took her out of the car to see the rainbows.

Whew. Next year maybe we'll just stay home.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Camping trip tomorrow

Tomorrow we're going on our annual camping trip with a group of friends. BC, this usually just involved drinking, swimming, eating, and drinking some more. With children, it's a little different.

The first camping trip with Norah was fun at first. She was about 7 months old. She loved playing outside with her little friend, Samantha. They couldn't walk, and I believe Samantha was just starting to crawl, so it was easy enough to keep them contained. But then it got cold.

I was nervous enough being away from home with the baby, but I was terrified about her freezing to death out in nature while mommy sat by the campfire BSing with her pals. John and Sara had a camper, but no room for two pack'n'plays (not that we didn't try to wedge the other in). Eventually, when she wouldn't sleep at all, I bailed. Luckily we were only about 30 minutes from home. Ryan stayed, as it would have been a huge PITA to take down the tent in the dark.

Then came September. We got camper cabins with friends. They were awesome! Clean, pretty, surprisingly spacious, and even had screened in porches. Again-- fun at first. She loved being carried through the trails strapped in her pouch to Daddy. She liked stealing toys from her friend Little Ralphie. But she had a little sniffle...

That night I was literally up with her 15 times. 15. No one slept. She was wheezing and hacking so much, Ryan GPSed the nearest hospital, and if it weren't for the slightly more experienced parents camping with us, we would have ended up in some strange ER somewhere in northern Minnesota. When morning came, Norah seemed her regular, chipper self, but Ryan and I were the walking dead, and a little embarrassed at our huge overreaction the night before. Ugh.

Present day: we're going tomorrow morning. It's supposed to be hotter than Hell-- around 90 degrees. There also may be thunderstorms that night. And Norah has a little cold. Am I freaking out? Of course I am. That's how I roll. But we're getting back on the proverbial horse. We have stuff to keep the kids cool: ice packs, ice, spray bottles, a little inflatable pool, water, and even a tent ceiling fan. We have stuff to keep the kids entertained: toys, books, beach, wagon, tents, food, each other. But I don't have anything that will keep her asleep and A) not waking up the entire state forest in the middle of the flippin' night, B) keep her in good spirits for the next day by providing her with rest, and C) not give Mommy a bleeding ulcer.

Cross your fingers.