Three in Waikiki

June 24th, 2011

It’s the end of the second day of our little family getaway in Honolulu. We are having THE most lovely time. Violet has embraced the spirit of Aloha to a nearly embarrassing degree. She is super friendly with people in the ocean, warning them to “Watch out! Watch out!” when a wave is coming. In the “hot pool” at the hotel, she insisted a woman in a yellow bikini top was her friend. When I asked what her friend’s name was, she announced, “Banana!”

She has twice now picked up the hotel room phone and pretended to call our friend David, once to let him know we got in and once just now to fill him in on our day today. This recap included only the very most important highlights, like how she saw a Hello Kitty towel in a store window (“and she’s so cute!”), and that she peed in the bed, “Ok? Bye bye!”

Ah, vacation with a rookie potty user in a hotel with awesome housekeeping staff. MAHALO and then some.

Warning: You Might Throw Up

April 12th, 2011

Violet’s first ballet class was today, and it was THE cutest thing I have ever witnessed. SO cute you might throw up when you see these photos. Seriously.

And here are photos from Violet’s and my journey to the South and from a visit from Steve’s mother. Hooray!

So far, Age Three is just fantastic.

Grandmas, Part I

March 23rd, 2011

Violet is such a lucky girl. She has three grandmas.

For Violet’s birthday, my mom visited us in California. My mom has six grandchildren. She goes by “Mama.” Violet has decided to call her “Grandma.”

A couple of week ago, Steve’s moher came for a visit. Anne has two grandchildren. The oldest has always called her “Nana.” WE have always called her “Nana.” Violet has decided to call her “Grandma.”

Now we are here in Georgia visiting my dad and stepmother. Pauline has three grandchildren. She has always gone by “Grandmother.” Guess what Violet calls her? You guessed it: “Grandma.”

Message: She loves all her grandmas just as much … A TON! (Violet is just a huge fan of grandmas.)


March 23rd, 2011

Violet continued to produce yellow-green snot at record volumes. She doesn’t like when it drains down the back of her throat; she spits frequently, like a professional baseball player from the 80s.

She has been using the potty here in Georgia with 90 percent success. Woo hoo!!!

We went shopping, and as we were about to pass a biker-looking guy with a beard and doo-rag, Violet shouted, “Pirate ship!” As in, Look! A pirate! Practicing my apologetic, oh-aren’t-kids-just-so-darn-cute look …


March 22nd, 2011

I haven’t had a lot of time to write here, but this week, someone else is doing most/all of the housework. With potty training off to a jagged start, housework involves a lot of laundry and steam-cleaning and emptying of an elaborate, pink-plastic chamber-pot with images of three Disney princesses on the lid and a musical “flush” handle. (Out of all of the potties on the Intenet, it was her favorite one.)

We are in Georgia, and can I just brag a moment: My wild little critter is one solid traveler. Removes her shoes and backpack with no prompting and puts them in a bin. Helps her mom by holding onto her tot-handle all over the airport and helping to pull our carry-on duffel. Waits patiently, embaces the adventure, and is an enormous hit with fellow passengers.

Not long after we sat down, she pointed excitedly across the aisle at a woman with a pet carrier and said, “Look, Mom! She has a doggie in her purse!” How very cute she is.


September 14th, 2010

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m feeling too out of touch with you guys, and I can’t seem to find a good time to call or message anyone. I’m sorry about that. It seems our window of East-coast-evening-meets-that-beginning-of-Violet’s-nap-time is out of whack, especially with Violet’s refusing to nap a lot of days now, and making calls with her awake? Yeah, that’s just not working. So please know you’re on my mind, and I am eager to know what’s new in your lives. E-mail me if you get time, and I will keep trying to call you. Things may improve as we settle back into a schedule here with our fall activities and with staying HOME.

Summer was a bit of a blur. I haven’t even printed any photos from our trips, and I usually have those in albums and frames by now. Life is challenging with this phase in Vibble’s toddler career. She stages a protest about anything and everything. These protests range from sit-ins, to scream-ins, to running away and going missing in a department store for long enough to take several years off of the end of my life. I feel like I have eight kids, and their name is Violet. She is suddenly into princesses (or, as she calls them, “pinches”) in a scary huge way. The demands for us to set up looping “pinches” bits on Youtube have reached a frightening level of violence here. Enough that I got on yesterday and overnighted Snow White on DVD. It was THAT BAD. Here’s hoping it works. I certainly can’t watch anymore Mary Poppins (also a “pinches” around here), or you will be visiting me in a padded cell where I am rocking back and forth in the corner singing Chim-Chimeny to myself.

Violet continues to amaze us with her personality. She is incredibly secure and confident. She has the typical toddler magic-energy but is exceptionally physical and agile. She is an adventurer, a fearless explorer, a TOUGH little TOUGHIE. She’s been spending a lot of time with her friend Greta lately, and since she and Greta were born the same week, comparisons are fascinating. Greta is advanced in her speech and logic. Violet … not so much. Violet talks when Violet wants to talk. And when she doesn’t? It’s “Ef you, I’m busy climbing this bookshelf to perform some stunt whereby I dive to this chair and then to the TV to turn it back on.” Greta is sensitive, in a way that will be both her greatest asset and, I think, her biggest challenge in life. Violet, like I said, is a tough little toughie. A bubbling burn the size of a quarter on her elbow from the fireplace in the rental condo? Wah-wah for two minutes and it is never mentioned again. A fall out of a chair onto her head? Whatevs. My friend has goldfish crackers and I want some? Suck it, “Friend,” I’m taking these, and here’s a shove, too. (You can imagine the Violet-and-Greta relationship requires a lot of supervision. If you play Mario, we liken Greta to Luigi, and Violet to Wario.) If sensitivity will be Greta’s asset and challenge, this toughness will be Violet’s. Because who wants to be friends with Wario? Only someone as sweet as Greta. But, too, such a tough girl is unstoppable.

Incidentally, Greta’s initials are GBL, so, in line with our VBL=Vibble formula, we call her Gibble. Or, when they are together, the Two Ibbles. Violet’s other friends include Jude (a darling boy who keeps track of his pals like a shepherd), Emme (who has a lot of fire herself), Avery (Run, run, RUN!), Brienna (who gives Violet a run for her money in the ring), Chelan (a sweetheart), and Christopher, who hides keys and knows more sign-language than I know English. All of these kids have a lot of soul. No lie. We know some extremely special kids right now.

In addition to “pinches,” here are a few quick translations from the Vibble lexicon at present:
- “I want Beep-Beep” — This means she wants to watch Road Runner.
- “I want Hey Hey” — This means she wants to watch Fat Albert. (She loves Fat Albert.)
- “I want Momide” — This means she wants to watch Madeline.
- “I want Bib-Boo” — This means she wants to watch Cinderella.

Yeah, that’s what most of her requests are like. We have to keep a serious eye on how much screen-time she gets in each day. If she had her way, she would watch TV without eating or sleeping or playing or ever putting on pants. (Well, pants in general are unpopular.) But what she really needs is high-impact physical activity every day, or else she gets punchy. Too much brain-centric occupation stresses her out, and even art projects don’t absorb her focus for long—unless they too become physically focused (textures are awesome, and painting on paper is SO LAST SEASON, the paints really do look better on her face). She is a very tangibility-centered person; always wants to touch people (sorry, guy-in-front-of-us-on-the-bus!) and stop in the middle of the intersection to feel the texture of the road. This is either a quirk or serious OCD, but it makes for very sweet cuddle times, because she loves to caress an arm while she snuggles.

She just started gymnastics at a place that has a preschool associated with it, and the plan is, once she gets comfortable there after enough mommy-and-me gymnastics (many months down the road, mind you), we try some school. Since it’s a program with a very physical outlet attached to it, I think it might be just the right fit for our little wackadoo.

Sorry if I’m all over the map with this post. I’m jacked-up on migraine medicine and trying to type out as much as I can before the Pinches wakes up and starts making demands. What else do I need to fill you in on …

We had a really nice week in lovely Tahoe with Steve’s mother and Auggie. I took my leave for a few days to go to Burning Man, which was an escape into a world of fun and creativity for me. It was way too hard to be off the grid, though, without my little munchkin, so I cut it half a day short. Somehow it gets harder and harder to be apart from her, as it seems to get easier and easier for HER to be apart from ME. I am only more attached, as she is more and more independent. Who invented this ratio? How bad is it going to get? (Mom, I know you’ll have an answer for that—one that makes the Internet cry!) But Burning Man was wonderful, and I look forward to going back, perhaps for a longer stay sometime. And for those of you who know Burning Man, no, I didn’t do anything wildly out of character for me. It was fun enough to have a mug of wine and wear a cowgirl hat and prom dress while climbing a statue or riding my bike toward the lasers.

I haven’t been doing much writing, but I do feel creative. It turns out parenting is a pretty creative endeavor, and I am lucky to have made some VERY creative mom-friends here. Together with my friends from grad school, friends through Steve, and others, I feel surrounded by creative people these days, and it’s inspiring. You should see what I made out of Play-Do the other day!

Speaking of Stevel, he is doing really well on a lot of fronts. A bit overworked, but I’m so proud of his progress on his iPhone apps and with the software he works on at Sony, which is about to be used at a number of effects houses. This is a huge deal, and he, with his team, has bent over backwards and turned his brain inside-out to make it a reality. He’s truly a marvel of a man! And all of this while being the sweetest, most patient, most adoring dad—it’s clear Violet feels very safe with him, very loved … and completely in charge. “Dad, come on …” she says as she drags him to the fridge for a half-hour session of I-can’t-decide-what-I-want-from-this-fridge or insists he play “My-oh” (Mario) to entertain her (as long as he doesn’t start to die [bleep bleep bleep], in which case she—”Oh no! Oh no!”—gets a little freaked out).

I can’t think of anything else to report just now. It was a wonderful summer, and I loved connecting with friends and family and enjoyed the many adventures. And now I’m looking forward to a few months of ho-hum routine. Ahhh.

Oh, and P.S. If you haven’t seen “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” I finally got around to watching it, and it’s my new favorite movie. Hot box.

P.S.S. Some photos of all of this

“Ambitious! Nutritious! Delicious!” or “Vibble and the Teetering Vases Tour the East Coast”

August 7th, 2010

We got back from our trip East Thursday evening, and we spent all day yesterday re-acclimating to our lives. I don’t think we’re done with that—may take all weekend. It will certainly take all weekend AT LEAST to unpack the alarming amount of stuff we brought with us.

Our story begins in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, where Vibble and I spent a wonderful week visiting old friends and spending great times with my family there. This includes: THE MOST AWESOME COUSINS ON EARTH! This trip was a long one for Violet, but I can tell you on her behalf that she would gladly go another nine rounds if it meant getting to be with Dani and Erica. She just adores being in their presence.

Highlights of this visit included an overnight in Pittsburgh with Cindy and Matt and Bridget and Dave; a day at Idlewild Park; a visit to Keystone Equestrian Center, where my nieces take horseback riding lessons; two cookouts at Cheri and Brian’s house—one of which was attended by Tracey and her husband and kids—and lots of trampoline time! I think Violet is likely dreaming about that trampoline as I type this.

From Latrobe, I borrowed my oldest niece, Erica, as a mother’s helper, and she and Violet and I headed to Penn State for a little reunion weekend. Despite the heat and some toddler moodiness to match, we had the very best time walking around campus and downtown and swimming in the hotel pool. My roommates and I, who have kids around the same age now, were there, and Jen & Pete and Kelly also joined us. It was a great little dynamic, and I so enjoyed being there and being together.

OK, here’s where it gets ambitious: From State College, we drove all the way to Bear Paw, NC, where my grandparents are summering. Yes, that’s a 14-hour drive. With a two-year-old. All I can say is, THANK GOODNESS FOR ERICA. There were so few moments of complaint from Violet on this trip, and in fact, she seemed to enjoy most of it immensely. I would say I gambled and won with this plan, wouldn’t you? The overnight in a hotel in Wytheville was especially memorable. Erica decided while I was in the shower to give Violet half of a chocolate bar. (Note: This is but one example of Erica’s DEVIOUS SIDE.) What followed looked a lot like that first time freshman year when your friend comes home completely drunk, and you and your other friends, being not drunk, enjoy just sort of messing with that person. Erica and I laughed until we cried at Vibble’s nutty high-jinks for an hour while she jumped on the beds singing, whipped off her diaper and danced all over the room, and talked to us in a high-pitched and speedy little voice. Needless to say, she slept like a rock that night. Also needless to say: No more chocolate for you, Little One, YOU ARE CUT OFF.

On to lovely Bear Paw. Lovely and REMOTE. Our cabin was fantastic, and the lake was gorgeous. The company couldn’t have been better: My grandparents, The Kinkers; my dad and Pauline; my mom’s brother, John, and his wife, Lynn, and their two kids, Olivia and Lillian, from Northport, MI, all week … we were also joined late Wednesday night by Stevel, and my mom and Mike and Dani came down for one day of overlap visit as we were heading out. Lots of great fun in the pool, a wonderful day on a rented pontoon boat on the lake with my dad and Pauline, and whitewater rafting with the Northport Kinkers.

FINALLY, we headed to Georgia for some relaxing time at my dad’s and for visits with my Nana and with my dad’s side of the family there. By this point, sadly, I was sort of burned out on taking photos, I guess, because I don’t seem to have a single one. Know, though, that we enjoyed the time together a great deal, and seeing everyone is always a treat. Plus, Vibble got to play with her great-uncle and great-aunt, and I’m not sure if she knows they aren’t some Georgia toddler playgroup.

The kid was good as gold on the flights, such a smooth little traveler! She arrives back here with a mastery of the iPad, a dozen or so mosquito bites, and a LOT of new words (thanks to her cousins). And yes, you can check out the photos—on Facebook and via this link.


June 25th, 2010

We took the TRAIN today! Met up with a couple of playgroup pals at Union Station and rode about an hour and a half down to San Juan Capistrano, where there’s a petting zoo and restaurants and other fun stuff right by the station. I will be understating it to say this, but I’ll say it anyway: IT WAS SO FUN! And Violet was incredibly good all day. Aside from a brief wah-wah on the train ride home, she was just the best little kid.

My favorite part of the day was when we first got to the petting zoo. Along with your entry fee, you can choose a purchase from an assortment of veggies and animal food. I picked the bowl o’ pellets, knowing if I went with the cut veggies, a certain little animal I know might feed herSELF. Anyway, once in the pen of bunnies and guinea pigs (aka The Rodent Infested Pen—[shiver]), Vibble made her rounds. She took her bowl of kibble and set it in front of an enclave of bunnies and then sat back on her haunches. A few seconds later, she took it away from them, moved along to another enclave of bunnies and guinea pigs across the pen, and let them munch from the bowl for a few seconds. This went on and on and on and on. It was just adorable. I got some video; I’ll try to upload it sometime soon.

After the petting zoo, we had lunch and then killed a little time at a playground that had a sand pit with a water-pump in it. It was like every two-year-old’s fantasy sandbox, and we let the girls get soaked and dirty, then cleaned them up for the train ride home. Our hope was that they would nap, but while Emme was down with that plan, Vibble and Brienna were too wired. Because TRAINS! And ANIMALS! ANIMALS YOU CAN TOUCH! And ICE CREAM! What an exciting day they’d had. (Me, too.)

Enjoy some photos of our day!

Hot Kid

January 21st, 2010

Vibble had a fever the day before yesterday, and we were still recovering yesterday. It wasn’t a huge deal, just low-grade, but it feels so wrong to have her be so hot. We tried to keep ourselves in check this time—last time she got a fever we took her to the ER, where everyone working there was basically like, “Um, yeah. CVS would have worked fine for this.” But this time she wouldn’t take the Tylenol, just kept spattering it out. And she was over 102, which we read was the borderline for “low grade.” And, and … she was SO HOT. And so sad. Finally, we found good tips online for how to get medicine into a toddler, and I gave her a lukewarm bath in the sink, and it all worked like magic, and hours later she was her old self again. Whew!

Between my not taking her around other kids so as not to expose anyone to her sickness, and the news-making El Nino rains we’re having here, she has serious cabin fever, too. We’ve got a playdate this morning at a friend’s house nearby, so hopefully that will help.

A couple of weekends ago I went to Baltimore. I had a terrific trip, checking in on friends with a lot going on in their lives, and also relaxing and laughing with friends. Vibble, meanwhile, hung out with her Dad here at home, and the two of them had a fabulous time. She is more and more into what Dad is doing, and often leaves me in whatever room I am in to go downstairs or wherever Stevel is and hang out. She loves to sit on his lap while he is at his computer, loves to wear his giant headphones, loves to watch him play video games, loves for him to read her books. What an adorable pair.

I feel like we’ve gotten past a difficult stage with a lot of tantrums into one with only a few tantrums now. She has become extremely FRIENDLY as well, and waves hello to everyone, everywhere. She loves to walk up to new people and just launch into babble. And dogs, oh man she loves dogs. At least once a week, some dog owner tells me, “You’re going to have to get this kid a dog!” I think it’s dog-owner code for, “Can you please get your kid to stop stalking me and my dog?”

We are definitely seeing improvement in her interest in talking. Still not as interested as other kids I know, but again, she demonstrates she CAN say all sorts of words and phrases, from “awesome” to “happy” to “sad” to “night-night, Mom.” She just doesn’t seem to WANT to that much, but it is improving. Her favorite word is “apple.” She says it all the time, points to the Apple icon on the Mac, or goes to the fridge and gets an apple for herself and tells us about it. She has also taken to giving us clues about what she’s been up to when we’ve been apart. When I return from the grocery store, she will run up to me all excited to tell me, “Ball! Ball!” Because she has been to the park to play with her ball. Stuff like that. She still doesn’t use words to really ask for things or express desire for things too much, although on occasion she does. Definite progress every day, enough that Steve and I compare notes every evening about the new words/phrases we’ve heard her say and new ways we’ve heard her use language that day.

The funniest has been the sound effects lately. My favorite example is this: When Steve changes her diaper, if it’s bad, he makes this involuntary face and sound, sort of like “Ug,” but more revolted-like. So Violet has started pointing to diapers and diaper-pails, cat-boxes and even cats, and making this same face and sound. Hilarious!

Hot to Hot

November 26th, 2009

Our visit to Florida last week was truly an enjoyable one. A LOT of travel, but it was worth it to be together with Vibble’s great-grandparents. We relaxed at LVT, where my grandparents live, and had some fun outings to Umatilla, Eustice, and Alexander Springs. Nice, hot weather (just like we’ve been having here in L.A.—November is swimsuit weather this year), and some computer time in Grandad’s office. Vibble was the hit of the dining hall, and we played it up by letting her have her own bowl of pudding one day and her own plate of cake the next. Haz-mat suits were in order.

For more, here are photos of the trip. A Happy Thanksgiving to all!

A No. 6 Vacation

September 19th, 2009

Hawaii was beautiful. We stayed in Waikiki, and we enjoyed the beach and the fun things to do in the city. Three nights was just right for us—since we had the kid along, it was in no way “relaxing.” Fun, yes; a getaway, yes; relaxing, no. What we were aiming for was togetherness, and four days of it was perfect. A little self-spoiling. The photos tell the story … Meanwhile, red-eye flight with no sleep for cramped parents = needing a vacation from our vacation. Nap time.

Photos here. :)


July 31st, 2009

We are home and trying to get back on track here, although Stevel leaves for SIGGRAPH in New Orleans this weekend, and my mom is visiting … normalcy, I miss you. Please come back sometime.

The report:


We first went to Atlanta (Marietta, specifically, to my dad and Pauline’s house), to spend the week with my sister and her two girls, who were in town from Penna. My mom and Mike were also in the area, staying with Mike’s sister Jill. So while my dad and Pauline worked all week, we did the zoo one day, Fernbank Science Museum another, and Centennial Park and downtown another, as well as plenty of shopping. My nieces and sister actually tacked on an aquarium day, but Vibble and I sat that one out. It was intense fun, although maybe not the best agenda for me and Violet with our fevery illnesses. Quality time together and Atlanta adventures. It did us all good to see each other and enjoy the kids, each so unique in her current stage/age.


My mom and Mike departed, returning to Penna. The husbands arrived. We all drove down to Tybee Island to enjoy five of the most gorgeous beach days I could have asked for. Tidal pools, warm water, small-town, laid-back Tybee. I thought about just staying. Forever. But mostly I tried not to think too much at all. Nope, no thinking. Perfect.

Sarah-Nicole, my cousin, got married on the beach on Tuesday. It was lovelier than whatever you are imagining a beach ceremony might be like. One thing about a beach wedding is that every photo you take looks amazing. The shots I took on my PHONE are gorgeous. The extended family was there in almost full turnout, so there was Nana time, aunt and uncle time, cousin time, and all that. Great food, great party. And a new family member, the very gracious, super-super-nice Tim. Welcome, Tim. Brace yourself.

The highlight of this trip was absolutely seeing Vibble and her cousins together. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say this was probably the most fun two weeks of Violet’s year-and-a-half-long life. She ADORES Erica and Dani. She follows them around squealing, goes looking for them immediately upon waking up in the morning, smiles a face-breaking smile at all times in their presence pretty much. In general, Dani is her playmate, and Erica, her comforter.

To sum up what my nieces are like right now isn’t too hard. Dani = ENERGY. Wild, unbridled, unfiltered. She is a blond bolt of lightning in the room. Says what she thinks, demands what she wants (and she wants it ALL), and knows what she likes. She is my shopping buddy, as she loves clothes and trying on different styles. And she is the best playmate anyone could ask for. To play with her at the beach is to be six again, and not in a nostalgic way, but in a pure and total way.

Erica, meanwhile, is curious and smart. Somewhat bookish, although not in any way that excludes being a physical kid. The best summary I can give of her is this: She likes to find things. She likes to find hermit crabs in the ocean, coins in the parking lot, neat things in the closets of a beach-house rental. She is always sort of scanning. She has an amazing command of words and describes things in original, vivid ways. And she is a STORY TELLER in the tradition of the Edgars. Gifted in so many, many ways.

Never have two siblings been so different from each other. They play together well much of the time, but they FIGHT. I’m not always sure what they’re competing over, other than who is better at giving Aunt Krissy a migraine. But when Vibble enters the picture, the dynamic changes. The only thing they fight over is who gets to sit by her, and even that argument fizzles out quickly as they both turn their attention from themselves to her. They were selfless with her, generous and understanding of her mini-person limitations, not just physical but emotional (e.g. she doesn’t really know how to share yet). They both wanted to make her laugh and smile, to entertain her, to comfort her when she cried. She brings out the best in them—they are excellent cousins to her. Just another of the many reasons I’m so proud of both of them.

Vibble did some more talkin’, although still not much of a vocabulary. “No,” “car.” There were reports of phrases and even sentences, but neither Stevel nor I witnessed these, so I can neither confirm nor deny them. She grew BIGGER, that’s for sure. She likes a Southern buffet! Like her MOM! … and to the disappointment of her dad, I think, heh. She got more exploratory, a bit more independent. Much steadier on her feet.

Now that we’re back, we’ve been going for a bike ride every day. THIS CANNOT HAPPEN FAST ENOUGH FOR HER each time, and she lets me know this by screaming and banging her helmet against my bike until I load her in the little seat. She is more and more demanding also. Thirsty? SCREAMS and claws at the refrigerator. Hungry? SCREAMS and shakes her high-chair. In CVS with your mother and she won’t let you remove all of the eyeliner pencils from the makeup display and bang on the print-your-own-photos computers? SCREAM for 45 minutes. Yeah, I’m not sure I am allowed to go back to CVS. Learn to talk, please, little Screamy One.

She was great on the plane, though, both ways, and by great I mean great-for-a-one-year-old, as in, no one glared at us, not once. I count that a success. So far, she’s a decent traveler. I give her a B+/A-. My own score continues to creep down. I used to be an A+ traveler. Now I get such awful motion-sickness I was still feeling it two days AFTER we returned. As for Steve, he might need to repeat a grade in terms of travel. But he seemed to do a much better job of enjoying himself for moments here and there on this trip than I’ve seen in the past. One day he and I rented a scooter, and he drove us around some.

And now I think there was just a little earthquake, and I am going to take that as nature telling me to get off the computer and take Dramamine in case the Big One is right behind it, because I will not be able to hold onto the door-frame and my child if I am throwing up. Also, I need a Diet Pepsi now.


Cousin Fun and Family Fun

A Gorgeous Wedding on the Beach

Back at No. 6

And Then I Was Cited for Environmental Law-Breaking, and My Child Was Removed from the Home

May 15th, 2009

Our trip to Oregon was great and included some Nana and Babba time for the kid, as well as an idyllic small-town weekend in Corvallis. Debi, Mike and Sam live on a cul-de-sac in a wonderful house with a lovely lawn. Kids show up and come in and out of the house to play Wii or jump around on the lawn or ride their bikes and scooters in the street. Violet was in HEAVEN. The weather was gorgeous, and to top off the attention from KIDS, she had an endless flow of bubbles, thanks to her Aunt Debi’s embracing of the hyperventilation that can ensue when one wields a bubble wand for too long. I got to do some shopping, and Auggie and Anne took Violet and me to Multnomah Falls.

Coming home, we didn’t have a chance to grocery shop right away. So Vibb got to have peanut butter for lunch, and in case you’re not familiar with the greasy properties of peanut butter, it took a serious cleanup effort, involving TWO BATHS, to combat the haz-mat. Then, yesterday, she pulled a Clif Bar out of the bag of groceries on the floor. She insisted I open it, with the kind of insistence that would make a terrorist divulge all of his secrets and scream PLEASE GOD, WATERBOARD ME BUT NOT THIS, so I opened the package. I was thinking she might take a little bite and move on to more fulfilling destruction, but she ate the WHOLE BAR. For those who don’t know, Clif Bars are energy bars for men. Also, the chocolate ones look enough like poop to cause my neighbor, on his way to the mailboxes, to stop in his tracks and say, “WHAT is she eating?!

Now it is 4 a.m., and someone is awake. Why, you ask? Well, see, a certain dad who shall remain nameless has a unique ability I call The Magic. He can put Violet to sleep just about any time. I think the chemistry of it has something to do with Steve-Body-Heat PLUS Steveling-Body-Heat EQUALS Nine-Thousand-Degrees. While I took a nice long shower yesterday evening, the kid apparently got grumpy, so the dad used his Magic to put her to sleep for the night at 7:45. Superhero Ethics: Fail.

I’ve been meaning to note on this blog her special little language, as it is the cutest thing I’ve heard in all my life. Her most common “words” right now are “Nn-DIE?”" and “G-zOI?” She seems to have communicative intention, to know what she is saying. We don’t know of course, but when speaking in her own language, her inflections and mannerisms are her own, versus the imitated ones she uses when she sometimes deigns to mirror some word we’ve laboriously suggested she pronounce … although she does say “Hello?” frequently while holding an iPhone up to her ear. She also does this with various other “phones,” like a Wii remote or, yesterday for several aisles in the grocery store, a packaged block of cheddar cheese.

The Many and Varied Luxuries of a Mom’s Weekend in Vegas

April 21st, 2009

48 hours of no one needing anything from me
A bed to myself
Leaving my shaving razor on the side of the bathtub without worrying about it
Midday cocktails
Spa treatments
48 hours of not only not having to clean constantly, but not having to clean AT ALL
A little roulette, a little slots
Wearing high heels and “pretty clothes”
Breakfast buffet
Hours and hours lounging by the pool
Room service chocolate cake at 11 p.m.
Uninterrupted time to chat with the girls
Getting to read a little, and not “Where’s Nemo” or Dr. Seuss
Long showers, with leg-shaving time and everything
The restaurant in the Bellagio that serves only dessert
Leisurely shopping in uncrowded stores
People expressing their thoughts and desires in words other than “Eh. EH!!!!!”
No litter-boxes
Getting to sit down and eat my food without having to grab bites in between cutting up and serving someone else’s food
Kelly time—it does me good

The weather was gorgeous for us, sunny and breezy, hot in the middle of the day and warm in the evening. Time by myself is such a precious thing, nothing can compare to it … so I bailed on the people we were with both nights around ten or so. They went out, I enjoyed time in a room ALONE.

It would have been perfect had I not had this awful, gut-wrenching feeling in my insides all weekend. Every time I saw a baby or toddler I felt for a second like the wind got knocked out of me. Oh, little ball and chain, I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!


March 5th, 2009

We just got back from Gym n’ Swim at the Y. Violet was in LOVE with the gym half, which takes place in a room full of cushy climby things and other 12- to 18-month olds. She literally did laps around and around the outside of the big mat and then went wild climbing all over the place. We sang corny songs, and she was in heaven. AND THEN they busted out the BUBBLES. I think she may have broken her face smiling over that one.

The swim part she was a little less into, and that just confirms for me that it’s a good thing we’re doing this. The other kids were amazing, kicking and dunking like pros. They’re all very comfortable in the water, and I hope to see Violet get to that point, too. The other moms assured me in no time at all she will be a little pre-swimmer. Glub glub. Now she is out cold. Glub Gl—zzzzzzzzz.

The trip to Florida was relaxing, really terrific. We flew out on a red-eye, and you know how you’re supposed to just sleep? Violet wasn’t interested in sleep as long as there were other people awake. New friends! And she must touch every one of them WHAT IS WITH THE TOUCHING. It’s very awkward for me on the plane when she lunges forward and rubs the head of the bald man in front of us. AWKWARD. Fortunately, most people are quite happy to be touched by Violet, and they offer her their sleeves to caress with smiles. Finally, once everyone around us had turned out their reading lamps, the kid went to sleep.

In Atlanta, we saw her grandparents, her great-grandmother, and her great-aunt Janet, as well as cousin Chels. A short but quality visit. On to Orlando, where we rented a car and drove on up to Altoona, a mini little town at the Southern end of the Ocala National Forest. The senior village where my grandparents live is an idyllic little place. They have a nice garden condo on a lake, and they are truly happy being an active part of the community there. The dining hall food IS a highlight, although I’m not sure it compared to the highlight in the high-chair at the Kinkers’ table each meal. POPULAR CHILD.

We mostly relaxed (per my request, not theirs!) and watched Violet crawl around, but we did take one day and do a little something fun. We drove over to the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings House and toured it and saw a few local sights. I really love seeing the homes of literary greats for some reason, and it’s motivated me to get reading. I’m going to re-read The Yearling, but first I’m catching up on some of her first publications. I just finished Jacob’s Ladder, and I enjoyed the poetic, illustrative quality of the worlds Rawlings creates. I’ll keep you posted as I read more. Meanwhile, I can give a hearty recommendation to Jacob’s Ladder.

The trip home from Orlando was a bit trying. It began with Violet puking up her whole breakfast just ten minutes into our hour-plus drive to the airport. Wardrobe change! This put us a bit behind schedule, but we still managed to return the rental car and make our plane. Commence the TOUCHING. Fortunately, we were seated between two women who seemed to have no problem putting away the work they had brought to do in order to entertain a one-year old instead.

It’s not as easy to fly with her now as it used to be. She wants to MOVE. On one recent flight, she escaped out of the seat and took off up the aisle. By the time I could get my seatbelt unfastened and get up to chase her, she was nearly to the cockpit, with all of the passengers looking around like, ‘Um. Whose kid is this?’ She also sleeps less and for shorter periods of time. If not for her love of destroying magazines, I don’t know whether we would have survived this last five-and-a-half-hour flight. (Thanks, SkyMall and American Way Magazine! Thanks, Seat Pocket!)

We were glad to be home. I say “we,” because Violet went happily into her dad’s arms in the Baggage Claim area, and there she stayed.

One other thing I need to mention is that she decided on this trip to bite or pinch me whenever she was displeased with something. This meant I came home with little brown bruises all up and down my arms. Next time I see someone roaming the streets who looks like this, I will be less quick to think, ‘Ew. IV drug user.’ Instead, I will concede the possibility that there is a tot nearby with chunks of this poor person’s flesh in her teeth and under her fingernails.

Just in case you think Bitey McBitey is satisfied with such abuse, let me tell you she has also taken to ARGUING with me. No, she doesn’t talk yet, doesn’t say Yes or No. But when I tell her NO, she NODS her head vigorously and continues to do whatever behavior is being forbidden. This usually involves an attempt to climb to her death.

Still no walking; when we hold her up to try and walk her around, she goes limp and wants to crawl. She is a crazy efficient crawler. My grandparents and I did discover that if there is a floor she doesn’t like having her knees on, like cold tile, she walks on all fours. So maybe it’s just a matter of motivation. In any case, she is content to crawl and CLIMB. Sitting? Not interested. I mean, why SIT when you can STAND on your high-chair? What good is a skull if you can’t do a little dare-devilry now and then … or AT ALL TIMES. Besides, when Mom freaks out, it’s almost as hilarious as when she says, “Ouch!” or “No!” HILARIOUS!


February 19th, 2009

Vibble and I are off on a red-eye cross-country tonight. After a one-day stop in the Atlanta area, it’s on to visit the Kinkers at Lakeview Terrace, the retirement community. Not to be confused with Lakeview Terrace, the unpopular suspense thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Baltimore Trip

January 22nd, 2009

More on the trip soon … meanwhile, here are photos:


Dave’s Wedding Photos


It’s International

October 28th, 2008

This past weekend saw us road-tripping to Tucson, where we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. While Stevel and his sister Becky did some treks around Tucson, car-less Vibble and I ate at the IHOP—the International House of Pancakes—next to the hotel. A lot.

The thing about Vibble is that she draws attention, and I meet so many people now. They just come up to us and start conversing. Any excuse to get close to her. So the first day we go in there, and there’s a restaurant full of pre-teen male gingers wearing scout uniforms and eating pancakes. As they filed out, one of the leaders knelt to say hi to Violet … 20 minutes later, I had learned the troop of 50 boys was from Scotland, here to see the Grand Canyon and other Southwest sites. The leader explained that due to the heat that day I had been cheated out of seeing his troop in their kilts, which they typically wear.

The next meal, we sat at a table with a glass wall on one side. On the other side of the wall was a little girl—maybe 7—eating with two men. Little kids make Violet go GIDDY. So there was much smiling and laughing and face-making until the threesome left, and we waved goodbye through the glass … but they went up their row of seats and made a U-turn to come talk to us. Well, ONE of them spoke to us. He said, “My niece wants to know how old the baby is.” Turns out Uncle is the only one who speaks English, and not Dutch. Through him, Vibble and I had fun making the acquaintance of young Ninka. (And yes, Abigail, that makes two Dutch references on this blog in just a few months!)

I also met a couple from Michigan, and while that’s not international, we talked a long time, and Violet tried real hard to take the guy’s Rolex.

In other news, Becky has come back with us to L.A. for a while, and Violet is finally cutting her first tooth at almost nine months. And now, your moment of Zen.

Gold Rush

October 17th, 2008

We just got back from a very California morning activity. We went to the Co-op to buy $5 organic eggs, and we did it on a bike, which we rode in the bike LANE. On our way we passed this. Vibble was into the ride, although she wasn’t a fan of the helmet. I can’t blame her. It’s a lot of helmet for such a little noggin. Also, she looks like a fireman. She’s out cold now—the ride wore her out.

We bought the eggs because her doctor gave us a semi-lecture on account of our not following his chart for what she should be eating at each stage. He says she is supposed to be getting strained meat and egg yolks at this point. That advice disagrees with a lot of what I’ve read and been told, but he says his chart represents the latest recommendations in the pediatric community. I would feel more confident in the truth of that statement were the chart not clearly created with a TYPEWRITER. I think I’ve mentioned how much we like our aged pediatrician. He’s a sweet man, even if he clearly has never used a computer. Anyway, we’ll try some eggs today.

We’re recovering from a lot of travel in the last month. The travel, along with Vibb’s new phases, has us a bit worn out. But it’s all wonderful stuff. Violet is now 17 pounds, a very efficient crawler with the cutest bum-wiggle you ever saw. She is ambitious, crawling further and further and pulling herself up on any and every surface. She is still a little off with the sleeping, but we can’t blame her—between teething and our flying her at unthinkable hours to places two time zones away, she is understandably confused. Anyway, she needs a lot more minding and is irresistible—she wants to play and interact and snuggle all the time, and so do we.

Little by little, she is making sounds not just on her own, but on cue. For a few weeks, she has been happy to repeat back a little lip-smacking sound. Last week she began to repeat back one of her favorite sounds to make on her own, “Ha! … Ha! … Ha!” Today for the first time, she mirrored my “Buh. Buh.” Still working on “Da. Da.” On her own, she makes “Mmm” sounds and others—she loves to sing. But definitely the most common sound to come out of her mouth is the “Ha! … Ha!”

So, the travel: This past weekend saw us on a whirlwind trip to the D.C. area for the wedding of Emily Freeland and Elizandro Salguero. It was a super-sweet event, and I was in heaven to be spending time with my college roomies and friends. They all look terrific and seem happy with their lives—careers, families, etc. We stayed in Laurel with the Modis, Jitu, Reshma, their two kids (Shivani and Sohan), and Jitu’s parents. They watched Violet during the wedding, and for Violet’s and my longest time being apart, it went pretty well. We were eager for our reunion at the end of the night, but for her part, she reportedly had a GREAT time (she just loves slightly bigger kids with their running around and animated talking). For my part, I can’t imagine better peace of mind than having left your kid with a house full of doctors who have raised or are raising healthy, happy kids.

The wedding was preceded by a baby shower for the bride and groom. Their family will be complete come December. A highlight of the day for me was helping Emily and her new stepdaughter, Jazlynn, get ready for the big event. How beautiful they both looked! The wedding itself was a fun evening of DELICIOUS Italian food, Latin and American music, and friends. The couple had already had a private ceremony, so after introductions of family members, the rest of the night was all-party. Emily AMAZED me with her third-trimester stamina. Oh, man. Super Bride.

Enough talk. Check out the photos!

All Bets Are Off

September 24th, 2008

There’s a lot to catch you up on, so very quickly …


We had a wonderful trip to Oregon recently, where we enjoyed the crisp, pre-fall mornings and hot afternoons in Corvallis and were treated to the company of Steve’s family and our friends the Kissers and Kate in Portland. You can check out
photos here.


No sooner were we back at No. 6 than we headed out to Palm Springs for a relaxing overnight. Steve’s sister Debi (from Corvallis) had a conference there, and it’s just two hours from Santa Monica and such a fun getaway. Debi said, “We’re going to get together every weekend now, right?” I do wish. What a good time.


I’m teaching my one class at Otis, and I have an enjoyable group of students this semester. Engaged, positive, on-board, and all at 3:45 in the afternoon. So it’s going well. I teach one day a week, and Stevel comes home from work early to stay with Vibble.


Speaking of Vibble, ALL BETS ARE OFF. I don’t know if it’s the teething or some kind of seven-month-mark phase or her true personality coming out or what, but she is a bit moody, and anything resembling a schedule or consistent demeanor … well, I just can’t predict her. She is still the world’s smiliest baby, still LOVES people everywhere we go. But she cries quite a bit more now, crawls around crying a lot. Pulls herself to standing and stands there and cries. Cries a lot at night in her sleep (or wakes up and cries). Sometimes she cries because she is being restrained. Sometimes, because no one is holding her. Sometimes because I have left the room. Others, because I have ENTERED the room. Cries because she is hungry, cries because we have put her in her high chair and suited her up with a bib. Cries—SHRIEKS—because we are trying to change her diaper and would like her to remain on her back on the changing table for five seconds. Cries about twenty times a day because she has fallen backwards and bumped her little head.

But then she will be happy as can be for hours with no complaints. I don’t know how to make this happen on purpose. I just enjoy it when it comes. The rest of the time, I go down the list. Teething pain? We have MANY solutions to help with this, from a frozen washcloth to Orajel to Tylenol. Hungry? Bananas? Cereal? (If I could just stop her from snorting them all up her nose.) Sleepy? She still calms to the swaddle. Want to crawl? Want to cruise? Change of scene? Need a little Baby-Einstein-in-your-swing time? (Amazing how miraculously this sometimes works; the reaction on her face reminds me of when I’m really stressed out and step into a hot bath.) Most often, the only thing she wants is to be in my arms. “Hold me, Mom.” OK. We live in 15-to-20-minute chunks. Change it up often, that’s the Vibble ideal. But a schedule? Not so much. I mean, some days she does her “usual” thing, but other days, it’s up in the air when she will sleep, for how long, how much she will eat, etc. Fortunately, she still does the whole night-sleeping thing for the most part.

Meanwhile, the crawling is quite accomplished. She is compelled to pull herself up now on anything she can reach. This involves a lot of falling down. A LOT. And also a lot of crying while standing, presumably because she’s not sure how to get down without falling?

Summary: She is more enjoyable than ever … and more work than I imagined. Hm. Also, her cheeks are tasty. I eat them frequently.


Kelly is here! Hooray!!!!!

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