Sunday, January 27, 2013

Kid update

Wow, so it’s been a while.  My schedule changed over the summer, and I got out of the habit it writing.  Now that we have church at 1:00, we’re trying to do a little “quiet time” in the morning
for journals writing and such.  Some mornings it works great, and the kids play together without asking.  This morning, both of them are kind of needy and argumentative, even though we spent the whole day with them yesterday…I just sent CN upstairs to find something to do on her own, and I’m worried that she’s getting into something.

Today, I wanted to do an update on both of them—what they like, how they act, etc.  It’s probably not the best day to do it though, as I’m a little frustrated with them both and might focus more on their weaknesses at this stage.  I’ll try not to.

As I write this, I can hear CN moving chairs around in the room above my head.  That means she is getting into something in the kitchen.  Hopefully, she’s just trying to find a snack, but she is a little raccoon still, and there is a chance that she’s burrowing into the chocolate chips, or trying to use a whole roll of tape to put something on the wall, or “washing” the dishes.  By now, I can usually depend on her not to try anything too dangerous, but you still never know.  She is pretty independent, as she always has been.  She was annoyed to be banished upstairs to play on her own, but generally after a few minutes, she will be deeply involved in a complex pretend world, and it will be hard to pull her out of it again. 

We’ve finally figured out that she doesn’t like dolls, or, really, any toy that is human-shaped.  She thinks they’re creepy, and prefers animals.  She loves animals with a passion, still.  For Christmas, Grandma  got her a small stuffed animal for each of the letters of the alphabet (to help her learn them…it’s worked), and they are favorite present.  She loves people, though she gets pretty mad if they don’t want to play her games.  She is learning how to compromise, but it’s a struggle.

She was better at going to sleep for a while, but she’s backsliding again.  Last night I had to close her door because she kept getting up, and she simply used to opportunity to look at books by the light of her window until who-knows-when.  Oh well!  One thing we’ve known about CN since she was little is that, if she’s silent, she’s either looking at books or doing something naughty.  She hasn’t been super eager to learn to read, but I think when she does, she’ll be a voracious reader.

As I write this, DB is in the room next to me building something out of dominoes.  I feel like he’s grown up a lot; he’s going to be eight in a few short months.  We switched him to a charter school this year, which was a hard change, but I’ve really liked the school.  His teacher has lots of fun ideas, and the school gives him opportunities to work more at his own speed, which I like.  He struggles with handwriting and spelling still, but he is reading more.  On days when I go to the library and get new books, he’ll sit for over an hour at a time reading.  He listened to two Ramona books in the car and ate them up; it’s harder to get him interested in longer books these days, like The Hobbit or Harry Potter, but I guess we take what we can get.

His favorite Christmas present was a kids’ digital camera, which he likes because it can take video, alter pictures to make them silly, and play simple video games on.  He thinks video games are the coolest, and would play all day on them if I let him, which I don’t!  He’s gotten a little better at entertaining himself, now that he can read and play Legos.  I’m teaching piano now, and he and DB both have been good at taking care of themselves while I teach, as long as I leave snacks out for them, new library books, a list of “chores” to do, (like homework and taking a shower), and let them watch cartoons when they’re done.  I think it’s good for them. 

He just finished stacking dominoes to say “I love Mom.”  Sweet.

DB is still pretty moody, and we plan on seeing a counselor next month to learn how to deal with this better.  I’m also reading a parenting book I think will help.  Often, he is a sweet, obedient, normal boy, but then sometimes he gets in moods where he yells at us and wishes he’d never been born…over really trivial things, like taking a shower.  One cute thing he does lately is make a big show of clapping his hands when he hears a vocabulary word from school.  Sometimes PDan and I try to string them along in sentences to see how many times we can make him clap.

CN's latest word is “Whatever” accompanied by a sigh.  It is pretty teenager-y and funny.  She also says “Goodnight, I love you, have sweet dreams!” when we say goodnight to her, or “Goodbye, I love you! (kiss)” ot anything that strikes her fancy…stuffed animals, a pretty rock.  She is still our little heathen, hating church and primary, and only rarely saying prayers (but when she does, they’re sweet).

I liked this conversation between her and her cousin "U" during one of their pretending sessions:

U:  “I’m going to be a devil.”
C:  “Oh.  What’s a devil?”
U:  “Like an evil spirit.”
C:  “Oh.  I want to be a devil too.”
U:  “Devils are bad.”
C:  “Oh.  I want to be a devil.”
U:  “OK.  You’ll have to pretend to drink beer then.”
C:  “Oh.”
U:  “How about an angel?”
C:  “No.  I want to be a devil.”
(A few minutes later)
C:  “I’m scared of devils, and I don’t want to be a devil, because I can’t when I’m a penguin.”


Monday, May 21, 2012

I'm gonna buy me a...

Something major is about to happen in our family.  We’re adopting a dog!  His name is Freddie, and he is a Bichon Frise mix PDaniel found online.  He is currently in a shelter in Park City.  We went to visit him on Friday, knowing he was one of the breeds we were considering; his description on the website was glowing, and well-behaved, young dogs like him don’t show up in shelters every day.  So we went up to visit him.  He seemed like a very sweet dog, good-natured and loving, so we snapped him up.  He was still on medication for a cold, and had to be neutered, but he should be ready by Wednesday or Thursday for PDan to go and get him.  He is thrilled, and spent much of today rounding up dog supplies.  I'm glad, because the dog is his sole responsibility; I have enough people to take care of!

Dangerboy's birthday was last Saturday, and he wanted a Harry Potter party, just like last year.  Ended up inviting the entire neighborhood (almost) of children, as we have been known to do.  I think it was mostly a successful party…several kids asked to stay and play when it was over (roundly denied, we were so tired).  I dressed like McGonagall.  We played the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Bean game as an icebreaker, always a hit.  DB had requested we do a “Harry Potter IV party”, so we had a tri-wizard tournament: diet-soda-and-Mentos fountains to kick it off, then Quidditch, and obstacle course, and a dragon piñata for the three events.  PDan spent lots of time making the piñata, since I couldn’t find one to purchase.  Quidditch was played without brooms, with a soccer ball and a kid running around in one of my yellow t-shirts pretending to be the Snitch.  It would have been more of a success had the grass not been so wet because of sprinklers; several of the kids slipped spectacularly and got soaked.  The obstacle course was lame and last-minute, but the pinata was a hit (ha)!

The cake was another PDan creation: DB wanted the Monster Book of Monsters, so that’s what we made.  I did most of the prep work, and PDan did the creative parts.  Then all the kids went home, we opened DB’s family presents, he started acting weepy, we took his temperature, and realized it was 102.5.  Yikes!  He took a nap and some meds and felt well enough by evening that we all went to Brick Oven for dinner, but after a weekend of high fevers, barfing, and terrible sore throats, he is now on amoxicillin for strep throat.  Poor kid, that has got to be my least favorite illness.

Cookie-Nut funnies:

CN wants a chihuahua and a cat for a pet (not getting them, but oh well).  She wants to name the cat Popcorn; the dog, she wants to name Meat.  She has a stuffed cat she has christened Eyeballs.

CN was using a laundry basket, tied behind her neck with string, as a drum.  She was pretending to be marching in a parade (DB had one too).  Her string broke on one side, and she cried, “My drum is not working!”  She started dragging it along the floor by the remaining string.  “Now it’s a wagon!”  she despaired.  Then she giggled.  “I want it to be a wagon!!” she bounced away.  I thought it was a good example of CN’s flexibility and resilience.  (She can be stubborn too, though).

Last night, at dinner, she said she knows a girl named Guisie (“guy-zie”).  She said that she does not like Guisie.  When asked various questions about this girl,  it turns out the girl lives at Trafalga (local mini-golf place).  She has blue hair, is four years old, and eats bugs.  I asked her if she’d ever talked to Guisie.  CN:  “Guisie said, ‘Come here, come on and eat some bugs with me.’  I said, ‘No!’ and ran home.”  Guisie’s parents, friends, and brothers and sisters are of the same description, age, and disposition as Guisie herself.  This was all told very matter-of-factly, and rather offhand.  I think CN believed it her self as soon as the words left her mouth.  I almost did, too!

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

I forgot to mention that I threw a brunch party last week for a few of the women in my ward who are having babies this summer.  It was fun.  One of the women is a big Anne fan, so I made strawberry scones and raspberry cordial (straight from the Anne of Green Gables Cookbook), and a friend brought a yummy lemon cake, and I dug out an old Anne soundtrack CD.  It made me want to thrown an honest-to-goodness Anne party someday, maybe for Cookie-Nut, when she's interested.  

TMI time:  I went to the temple yesterday and thought more about the to-have-more-kids-or-not question.  It’s sure a difficult one, fraught with guilt and second-guessing.  I feel these days as though my life is more balanced than it has been in a long time, and I really value that:  I’m exercising a little, working a little, spending time with my kids, writing a little, cleaning my house a little, spending time with my husband a little.  I feel great.  I know that having another baby will throw that off, and if I have one, don’t I need to have at least two more?  So they’ll have playmates?  And then it will be at least six more years before I attain my present levels of balance, and that’s hard for me to fathom.

Then the guilt sets in.  I’m being selfish.  And of course I’d love a baby when it came.  But would I resent it too?  And then feel guilty about resenting it, because I loved the baby so much?  And then ignore it too much?  And don’t I have more time to serve and help others now (like all the babysitting I did today and will do tomorrow), because I’m freed up a little more than women with more kids?  And then there are PDaniel and Dangerboy, neither of whom handles stress particularly well.  DB needs more time with me as it is, and what would happen to that?  I need to consider them too. 

And then I think, well, if I finish my book, I will have accomplished a major goal.  Maybe then I can have one more baby, one to be cuddled and spoiled by the whole family? 

I grew up with only one other sibling.  And we were fine.  But it was what God wanted, right, because Mom just never got pregnant again naturally, and Dad didn’t really want any more kids. 

I think I came away with the feeling that it’s up to me.  And PDan (who is inscrutable when it comes to this question).  That either way, it’s OK.  But that’s hard for me to wrap my head around, with all my Mormon conditioning.  To be honest, I think I’d be happier stopping with the two kids we have now.  If it weren’t for the guilt.

Which is where the surrogacy thing comes in.  I think it would help assuage the guilt.  Don’t know if I’m right about that.

Cookie-Nut:  Mom, can you balance books on your head?  (Yes).  Like the ladies in New York?  (I had images of beautiful models practicing runway walking.)  With food on their head?  (Turns out she was getting New York mixed up with Africa…we talk a lot about travel in our family!  It’s easy to get places mixed up.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Journal highlights:

On St. Patrick’s Day Dangerboy made a leprechaun trap.  It was a cup baited with dried garbanzo beans and lentils(?!?) with a ladder made of straws and pencils leaning against it.  After they went to sleep, I tipped the cup over and left a trail of St. Patrick’s Day confetti around the house ending in a pile of gold chocolate coins behind a bookcase.  DB was thrilled (though a little disappointed it wasn’t real gold)!  He was so excited, he drew a really cute picture of a leprechaun and taped it up on the wall, hoping the leprechaun would leave more gold.  Unfortunately, I was fresh out, and he was disappointed again.  But it was fun.

PDaniel and I made it to New York!  (Many thanks to my parents, who watched our kids for us!)  PDan's conference went great.  I wrote about the trip lots in my journal, but here are some things we did:  The NY Public Library, the Empire State Building, The Metropolitan Museum, the Guggenheim, MOMA, Central Park (two gorgeous walks), saw Memphis and Freud's Last Session (about the hypothetical meeting of CS Lewis and Freud), saw The Daily Show taped, walked up Lexington avenue for, like, 60 blocks, visited 30 Rock and St. Patrick's Cathedral, had pizza in the Village, had amazing Greek food, had tea and scones in a shop called Alice's Tea Cup Chapter Two, walked through Times Square (once was enough).  Had my first creme brulee doughnut.  Had mediocre barbecue (felt sick, went to see The Hunger Games afterward.  Made PDaniel more sick.) Hung out in The Strand Bookstore on a rainy afternoon for, like, three hours.  Ate pie for breakfast.

Loved it, had so much fun.  I can't wait to go back!  PDan may go to this conference every two years, so I've already planned some of it...the Cloisters, more of the Village, I can see it all now...

We went to a live Radiolab performance in Salt Lake a couple of weeks ago.  Radiolab is a podcast I listen to on NPR…it’s science-tainment.  Amazing stories, and Dmitri Martin was HI-larious. It was great, but just as great because my brother Shaun and his friend Mandy went with us, and PDan’s friend Matt from BYU.  We drove to SLC together and went out for delicious pizza afterwards.  It was just fun to spend a night with friends, laughing lots.

Now all my music stuff is over.  Last week was spring break, and PDan had a conference in Dallas.  He had a blast there, ate some really good BBQ (WAY better than what we had in NYC, apparently).  He also found a painting he thought I’d love, and I do.  It’s beautiful…of two birds, with collage pieces of music notation and other pages, but it’s non-cheesy.  I really like it.

I’ve been trying to work on flower and veggie gardening.  I’m determined to get something to grow.   

Cookie-Nut:  Mom, can you balance books on your head?  (Yes).  Like the ladies in New York?  (I had images of beautiful models practicing runway walking.)  With food on their head?  (Turns out she was getting New York mixed up with Africa…we talk a lot about travel in our family!  It’s easy to get places mixed up.)
In a very (eerily) quiet Primary in my mom’s ward: 
Teacher:  (holds up a bicycle helmet for an object lesson)  Now, what’s this for, boys and girls? (I think she was looking for "protection" or something.)
Clara:  (at the top of her lungs) HEADS!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

More than real life

So last weekend I either had stomach flu or ate something weird. It took a few days to recover, and I still haven’t felt like myself on the elliptical machine. I’m down to my lowest weight in a while, even before the flu. I’d be happier if it didn’t mean have to give up an hour every night of staying up with PDaniel so I can go to bed early (10:00) and wake up to go to the gym. If Cookie-Nut would go to bed before 9:00, it would be better, but usually she doesn’t. She sure isn’t tonight. One of us has to keep an eye on her until she goes to sleep or she’ll get up and wander around.

I had a performance at BYU last week that didn’t go well. I don’t really want to remember it, but here goes, for future laughs: I had to perform with two other pianists onstage looking over my shoulder (long story), which made me nervous; I put up my music upside-down; I did NOT play as well as I practiced (nerves); I lost my balance as I was bowing and had to lean on the pianist next to me; I (without meaning to) probably made said pianist feel bad backstage after the concert. Which was sad, because she is a very nice person, and an excellent pianist. Argh. Other rehearsals and performances have been fine, I think, but one bad night can damage a reputation. :(

Everything else is going OK, more or less. The kids have been talking about death a lot. At a St. Patrick’s day party at CN’s school, Dangerboy decorated his wind sock craft with a picture of a skeleton and a broken heart being pierced by an arrow. Oh, and the word “DETH.” Cookie-Nut told me (again) today that she likes me, and doesn’t want me to die, in this case, to be eaten by lions. ARE MY KIDS OK??


Dangerboy (after CN threw a fit because I wouldn’t let her have another piece of gum): “Cookie-Nut, you know, gum doesn’t matter more than real life.” (He gave this as a piece of brotherly advice, as we’d said similar things to him many times).

CN (resigned): “Yeah, I know.”

And another:

(DB was throwing a fit in the tub because he didn’t want to be there.)

DB: But Dad, I can’t remember how to do this! (i.e., wash himself)

PDan: What? Why?

DB: Because I haven’t done it in a long time!

PDan: (belly laugh) That’s why you’re taking a bath, kid!!

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Of love and teeth

Journal highlights:

--Yesterday Dangerboy decided he wanted to make milkshakes after school, so I let him do it himself, with minimal help from me. He had a recipe he’d found in a book. Cookie-Nut, who was in the bathtub, could hear the blender whirring and asked me what the sound was. I said DB was making milkshakes. She said, “By himself?!?” I nodded. “That’s great! He’s learning!” she said maternally. I felt the same way. I love it when my kids are independent. I need to be better about teaching them how to be.

--DB doesn’t say cute little-kid stuff quite as much as he used to, but he’s still as cute as can be. His big blue eyes still make my heart skip a beat, and his dimples just make me happy.

But, we found out he needs to have his two front teeth removed because the permanent teeth underneath aren’t growing right (they’re growing straight out!), and I’m so sad about it. He doesn’t ever get to have wiggly teeth, and no prep for PDaniel and I either…just, suddenly we have a toothless first grader. No more baby-teeth smiles. It really breaks my heart. And I feel so bad for him that he has to go through it. Having teeth pulled is traumatic.

He did amazingly well at the extraction, considering how scared he was. He was very brave, didn’t struggle much, panicked only a little, and cried not at all. It was better than last time in that he didn’t feel much pain—none at all when the teeth were pulled out, actually.

Before the appointment, PDan gave him a blessing, which he wasn’t sure he wanted at first, but I think maybe it helped. (The kid has an aversion to praying which I’m not really sure what to do about.) I took a really cute last picture of him with his baby teeth, too…then CN and I promptly dropped the camera on the kitchen floor (those tiles break anything they touch, they’re so unforgiving) and broke it. There goes another $300…sigh. I think I can salvage the picture though.

DB got to pick the ice cream and movie that night. He chose Superbowl Swirl (whatever that is) and Cars 2. And he got $10 from the tooth fairy (she splurges for extractions).

--Today was Valentine’s Day. We basically ate junk food all day. I got donuts for breakfast, then was brunch. I put a brownie (heart-shaped) in DB’s lunch, and the kids ate lots of valentine’s candy from friends. We had heart-shaped Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner, with fruit and Martinelli’s, and each of the kids got a little stuffed animal and a little box of candy from us. PDaniel and I aren’t doing much…trying to save money for New York. Hope we can scrape some together so we don’t have to starve while we’re there.

One night, at bedtime (I love those times!), we were talking about how PDan and I met and dated, and I told him that I hoped someday he’d find a nice girl to marry. (He’s considered it…he gave Tiger Lily a ring when he was four, expressed desire to marry a sweetheart named Riley in preschool, and his latest crush is a little freckle-nosed blonde in kindergarten—he saved the valentine she gave him in a place of honor). Anyway, his comment this time was, “What happens is my birthday and my wedding are on the same day? Then I’ll have two cakes!” He’s thinking ahead.

Cookie-Nut has crushes of her own. Hers is a little guy named C. in her preschool class. The other day we were eating snacks, and she said, “I love C. He’s my boyfriend. I love to kiss him. I’m missing him so much” (pout). Where does she get this stuff? She doesn’t even really watch princess movies.

More cutenesses:

CN is getting good at rhyming. I tried to kiss her cheek, and missed, so I sang “Air-kiss!” And she sang back, “Pear-piss!”

CN’s word of the day was “Moab.” It was in a scripture story I read to her last night, and she just kept repeating the word at random times throughout the day. She just liked the sound of it, but I was surprised she remembered.

I asked her if she wanted a ponytail this morning, and she said she wanted “frogtails,” because tadpoles have them before they turn into frogs. So I have her two low ponytails, and she was satisfied, though she said she really would have liked them more if they were green.

Her latest volcab is “never mind” and “usually”, like when she announced at dinner tonight, “Usually, baby cows drink milk.” It’s pretty cute to hear her talk like a grown-up.

I was strapping her into her carseat tonight, and I saw her looking at my earrings. “Do you like my earrings?” I said. “Yes, she said, “and I like your brown hair and your eyeballs, and your pretty lips!” It warmed my heart.

CN: “Mom, I think I’m ruined.” (I forget the context…maybe she had on ouchie or a stain on her clothes?)

CN was playing in the car by herself for a while. When I went to check on her, the car didn’t smell the same as it had. “Cookie-Nut,” I said, “Do you have to go potty? It’s kind of stinky in here.”

“It wasn’t me, Mom,” she said. “A stinkbug came in here and did it.” (She’s been blaming lots of things on fictional creatures lately).

CN often remarks that someone or other (usually her) is “faster than a bullfrog.” She’s shown off for complete strangers by shouting, “Look at me! I’m faster than a bullfrog!” as she takes off running.

CN: “Mom, what are we having for dinner?

Me: “Swedish pancakes.”

CN: “Dangerboy! We’re having selfish pancakes for dinner!”

DB’s starting to ask fun metaphysical/religious questions. The other night at bedtime I overheard him and PDaniel talking about the origins of the human race, and another night they were talking about heaven. PDan was trying to explain the three degrees of glory, and DB was trying to understand. Finally, it came down to what he really wanted to know. “But, Dad,” he said, “Where do people go who are mean to their sister?”

(He went on to explain that he knows it’s wrong, but sometimes, he just can’t help it!)

Another day, while I was making dinner, he commented, “I think if someone smokes in church, they’ll go to jail and die.” (We had a talk about that one too.)

Monday, February 06, 2012

Don't spice me up!

Well, it's that time of year: the sick time. We don't get sick often, but this time of year it seems like it's always one thing after another. I was sick last week with a bad-cold-turned-infection, and PDaniel has it this week. Meanwhile, Dangerboy woke up with croup Wednesday night and we had to take him the the ER for a steroid treatment. It wasn't too bad; we'd have taken him to urgent care, but nowhere else is open at midnight. The doctor said he should stay home from school for a couple of days, but he was feeling fine, so I was stuck with bored kids for a few days. Now Cookie-Nut has a bad cough and I'm keeping her home. And getting a little stir-crazy and tired of entertaining children!

I must admit, though, they both stayed home from church yesterday and played well together all day long. That was a treat. I love it when that happens, especially because CN worships DB so much, and he doesn't often, at this point in his life, give her the time of day. I hope it changes.


Cookie-Nut at dinner, telling what she did outside in the snow. She’s been saying her “L’s” correctly more and more lately, which makes me treasure sentences like this all the more: “We made a swide. Then we got on our sweds and swid down!!”

One night I made bok choy/eggplant/tofu stir fry with hoisin sauce and a little red pepper. It wasn’t much of a success; neither the eggplant nor the tofu sucked up much flavor, though the bok choy was OK. I was trying to shovel one last bite into Cookie-Nut’s mouth; she’d tried it and liked it, but she was done by this point and was avoiding the fork, begging for raisin bran instead. Finally she ducked under the counter. “No!!” She yelled frantically. “It might spice me up!!”

CN is so funny. She can create worlds and stories with whatever objects are at hand. In the last 24 hours, she’s created elaborate scenarios using, each on a separate occasion, the following: a hymnbook, a couple of shoelaces, spoons, a puzzle, half an orange and a paint set, a zipper, the pull string on the blinds, a partially-eaten banana. In every case, if her attention needs to be redirected (to brushing her teeth or eating her dinner, for instance), it’s very difficult to pull her out of her world, but I love that her imagination is so vibrant.