Occupy Alice

December 14th, 2012

It’s Christmas time here, and Violet is four-and-a-half. She has asked Santa for three things: (1) a princess, (2) a superhero girl, and (3) an octopus. Unbeknownst to us, she drew pictures of these things on tiny pieces of paper and shoved them back behind the TV, which hangs on the brick wall of our converted-from-a-fireplace-into-an-entertainment-center. You know, so Santa would see them there, by the chimney. Which we had never discussed. Anyway, thankfully, she pointed them out to me a few days later and explained what the drawings represented.

Will Santa oblige? Violet has been mostly nice this year, mostly by far. There has been some naughtiness, of course, but she’s four, after all, and an intense personality, and a girl (= DRAMA). Recently, there were two whole consecutive weeks when she was 100 percent uncooperative and even more moody than usual. And just as her mom was about to go irreversibly bananas, she woke up a few days ago and was her sweetest, most cheerful little self. And it turns out the lapse in good behavior was a side effect of some work going on in her young brain, because all of a sudden, she could synthesize all of these new things, and she could snap Legos together by herself, and so much more. Some neurological quadrant was coming online, and at the expense of a tolerable attitude, but we made it, and now she can think through how to get a message to Santa on her own, and she can draw a pig, and she says things like, as we pass a medical supply store we have never discussed, “That’s where they sell stuff for old people; because they’re starting to die.” I don’t know why that impressed me so much, maybe it’s just exemplary of this new level of expression of thought going on with her all of a sudden. I mean, it’s funny, and don’t repeat it, it could make people uncomfortable, but here she is, thinking about death and aging and why a store we pass on the way home from school every day would have a window display of walkers and Lil’ Rascal scooters.

Speaking of school, Violet is a superstar in her class. She’s a fidgeter, yes (“Violet, why are you in your socks?” “The teacher took my shoes away, because I was playing with them at Rug Time.”), and she has a tendency to “phone it in” when she doesn’t like the activity she’s assigned … but she pays attention and is learning all of the things she needs to in order to be ready for kindergarten next year.

For the record, here are some things Violet cannot accuse me of when she is older:

“You cut my hair too short!” You asked for it, Kid. And it suits you so, so well, and everywhere we go, people admire your haircut from the cheap-o kid salon, where the woman cutting your hair always looks like she crawled out from under a six pack of Budweiser.

“You made me take so many lessons!” No, I made you choose. Because at four years old, you ask over and over to take ice skating, and then I sign you up for ice skating, and then sometimes you are devastated that you HAVE to go to ice skating, and then by the time we leave ice skating, you are all, “I don’t want to leave! Can we come back after dinner???” And you want to take singing lessons! And gymnastics! And tennis! And world dance!” And you just earned your blue belt in karate, so I don’t know how much longer I will even be able to tell you no without your kicking my ass, literally.

“You let me quit ballet!” I have to let you quit ballet. Or maybe I won’t. Right now you have a love/hate relationship with ballet, I think because I got inspired to make a lot of the costumes for your Alice in Wonderland show, and so there’s been a project of my own I’ve been into … and as a result you are a bit jealous of Alice in Wonderland. You have threatened to get on stage the night of the show and “not move,” or, as your teacher put it, “Occupy Alice in Wonderland.” And in many a huff this session, you have insisted you want to quit, so I have told you after Alice we don’t have to sign you up for more ballet. But you do change your mind a lot, so we shall see, ALICE.

“You let me wear crazy outfits in public!” I love your crazy outfits, you crazy punk.

“You made me leave before the [insert event here] was over!” See, two hours of college gymnastics is enough for Mom and Dad; and we don’t always need to stay until the entire audience has left the theater; and that’s not an awesome drummer, it’s just some guy with a bucket and a stick and a hat for change, let’s go; and when it’s just Mom you’re with, no, we’re not reading all of the movie credits (Dad, yes, Mom, no); and I’m sorry, but after the actors bow, there is no more play!

“You let me go barefoot? In December? In public?” You’re damn right. Hey, how about you get in a time machine and go back to 2012 and try to keep shoes on four-year-old you? Mm hm. That’s what I thought.

And now I need to wake up Vibble for her daily juice cocktail (probiotic and liquid vitamins, YUM) and gluten free pancake (it will be her first and last high-maintenance meal of the day, if you call mixing two things into her juice and toasting a frozen pancake high-maintenance, which I do). She will play some game or watch PBS on my iPad and get ready for school. It’s share day, and she has to bring something that starts with the letter “K.” No, she does not want to bring Kristan. Oh, and Nana is coming into town this morning, hooray!

Steve Explains Anxiety

January 9th, 2012

Upon discovering a half-sucked-on cough-drop (which I had given Violet, against his wishes) had been spit out onto the seat of his car …

Stevel: “Oh … [groan]”

Me: “Really? Is it that big a deal?”

Stevel: “Yes. It’s the exact thing I feared in my brain … and now it’s out of my brain … and into my eyes … and back into my brain.”

The Downside of Having Front-loaders

August 21st, 2011

You can see what’s being washed in the machine, so family members can monitor the housework and comment on things. Apparently, I erred in washing a certain dirty school bag:


Look, I don’t need you looking over my shoulder, VIOLET, aka the-reason-I-have-to-do-most-of-this-housework-to-being-with. OK?!

Yes, Dear

May 31st, 2011

Violet has been calling me/us “Dear.” Not as a pet-name, but as a name. Like this: “Dear? Dear? Where are you?” Since we never call each other “Dear,” we were stumped as to where it was coming from. Then, the other day, I sat down to watch The Jetsons with her.

I don’t typically sit down to watch TV with Vibble—if I have the time to sit down with her, we can turn off the TV and do something together, is how it is for me. I try to reserve her allotted TV-time-per-day for when I need to multi-task. So I’m usually in and out of the room, in orbit with laundry baskets and stacks of junk mail. She watches Apple TV, so there are no ads, and I was under the impression I didn’t need to monitor what she was watching if it was something familiarly innocuous. Like The Jetsons.

Violet loves The Jetsons. She always has a current favorite show, and right now this one is it. (Past favorites that have been the constant request include Beep-Beep [Road Runner], Hey-Hey [Fat Albert], and Madeline.) Recently, she went through a Smurfs phase, and this was my first encounter with something that contradicted that “no need to monitor, fairly innocuous” assumption. Flashback to the 80s. The Smurfs are BIZARRE. Fine. Smurfette is the only female and originates as a black-hearted temptress. Not so fine.

The origin of Smurfette is that there are no female Smurfs until Gargamel invents an evil Smurfette to short-circuit the horny blue creatures, who oblige by turning into utter morons in her presence. Of course, it all works out, and Papa Smurf eventually turns the bad (black-haired) Smurfette into a “real” (blond-haired) Smurfette, and everyone except Gargamel lives smurfily ever after. A nod to original sin, perhaps. OK message for my daughter in her formative years? Um … “So, you see, Violet, girls can’t help how sexy they are, but it’s still EVIL.”

Do I sound like a feminist who paid too much attention in grad school, or what? Yes, I let my daughter eat things she drops on the floor in extremely unsanitary public places, but no, I will not let her walk away from The Smurfs thinking she comes equipped with wickedness standard just because she is a girl.

Perhaps you feel I am overreacting. Will Violet really internalize messages I’m only picking up with my own keen analysis skills? And that’s what I love about America in 2011, everyone: Parenting is really a fun tray full of principles we each get to pick from the buffet. I’ll take two servings of critical thinking and only a very light helping of concern for germs (I will, however, continue to appreciate the fact we live in a place where hand sanitizers, baby wipes and antibiotics are plentifully available).

Back to The Jetsons … It turns out George and Jane call each other “Dear” a lot. One mystery solved. It also turns out Jane and all of her friends are portrayed as lazy, vain ditzes who drive terribly, have no concept of finances and are overwhelmed by the burdens of domesticity. Jane’s mother, and any other woman older than 40, is the standard fat, nosy and materialistic. Judy, the skinny teenage daughter, is always claiming to be on a diet.

To be fair, George is portrayed as lazy as well. He is also a grandly poor performer at his job and is a bumbling idiot when it comes to relations with his family. Because isn’t that just how men are?

This brings us to Elroy, the most well-adjusted cast member, and the only one about whom I have no complaints (Astro clearly has issues, so it’s truly just Elroy I can point out as an example of balance). And that’s simply not enough. I don’t have a good plan for how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to wean her off of The Jetsons. I like Yo Gabba Gabba a lot, and there’s a YGG Live show coming to town, so maybe I can get her back into that again (it’s one of the few shows that has persisted as a backup request option for her, even after her initial crush on it smoldered). She does love that “Chrit-mus” episode, where everyone makes presents for their friends, and Muno pretends to be a holiday tree. See how nice those messages are? That’s several loads of laundry I can fold knowing my daughter isn’t handing over a lobe of her brain to patriarchal values.

When Imitation Is Better Than The Real Thing, or “Where I Get My Food”

May 19th, 2011

I just got back from the faux-op, aka Trader Joe’s. I’m onto you, faux-op: I know you train your employees to be all the things that are great about hippies, without being any of the things about hippies that are hard to take. (I think the word “skippy” actually describes them better than does the word “hippie”.) I know someone in Corporate at Trader Joe’s has been refining the initiative to invoke just enough of that co-op atmosphere to make me feel like I’m buying the best for my household, even though I’m barely looking at the packaging, because I’m trying to get out of your crazy crowded-ass aisles and away from your skippies who are ringing up and bagging my items and acting like they have been my neighbors for 20 years, asking me about my weekend plans and telling me which items from the frozen foods section they like best.

And I love you! I LOVE YOU, TRADER JOE’S! I’m onto your gimmicks, and I still love you. I don’t find you an imitator at all; in fact, I think you represent an intelligent alternative. I like Whole Foods, and I go there sometimes, but the grocery industry is a money making industry, after all, and oh, Lord, have they made some of my money theirs at Whole Foods. It’s true, the 365 brand is affordable. It’s true that nothing else in that store is (for me, anyway).

I enjoy the Farmers Market now and then, but it’s gotten fairly corporate itself in places, and I don’t have the time or interest to get to know the people in the stalls to keep it all straight. Also, the prices are pretty high, and the crowds sometimes make me want to scrap it all and go back to the days (last Saturday) when I ate exclusively what was available in Aisle 11 of CVS. (If you lived across the street from a CVS, you might do this, too.)

As for the co-op, it’s great, and I do shop there, maybe once a month. I don’t want to badmouth it one bit. But here are five things I personally prefer about Trader Joe’s, versus the actual co-op:


The employees at Trader Joe’s are ambitiously efficient. They’re kind of dorks for efficiency, and they are nerds for groceries. The members working their shifts at the co-op are cooler than that, it’s true, but when I need hormone-free milk and free-range eggs, I need them stocked and scanned and in my car in the least amount of time possible. I don’t care how cool, versus how skippy, the people are who make that happen for me.


I feel constant co-op guilt when I’m there, because I did have a membership for a few years, and now I don’t, and maybe I should? I should support the co-op, here I am shopping at it, shouldn’t I let everyone who sees my keychain know I want it to be an option for all of us, always, like NPR and the Natural History Museum? Even if the savings don’t add up for me, shouldn’t I take up the cause? I hate feeling guilty the whole time I shop.


While Trader Joe’s may not have every brand I like best, they in most cases have an alternative that works. Where I prefer Prego, Trader Joe’s offers me its own brand of pasta sauce that tastes similar. Where I prefer Sarah Lee, Trader Joe’s offers its own soft whole wheat bread. But where I prefer Honey Nut Cheerios, the co-op offers me kasha. Or quinoa. Or a bin of brown nuggets I don’t want to dig into with the community scooper.


Sweets. Trader Joe’s has the world’s most awesome frozen cakes, pies, and such, and its selection of baking mixes and chocolates and candies is terrific. Not all of them are outstanding, but most of them are. At the co-op, the new baked good, box of cookies, or candy bar I decide to try always ends up tasting the way it smelled in GNC in the mall when I was a kid.


Finally, there’s the customer base. This may sound judgmental, but I’m going to own it: I like it best, when grocery shopping, to be among people I feel are similar to me. By that, I don’t necessarily mean my own “demographic” 100 percent. I don’t mean people of the same economic circumstances or family situations or ethnicity (although let’s all be honest, no one wants to shop with Canadians, they’re like natives for God’s sake). What I mean is, I like not having to navigate around extreme nutters. And there are always half a dozen of these, minimum, in the co-op, like the guy in the yellow tie who told me the Russians are still dropping nukes on us. Or the woman who had an employee cornered by the hand creams for my entire visit, asking about ingredients and basically trying to squeeze an education in dermatology from this poor guy. Or the lady in line at the register in front of me who felt the need to include special instructions for each and every item, like “That’s a very ripe avocado, so please handle it carefully.” Don’t these people have text messages to send? Because I do, and I’d like to get done with my grocery shopping and send them.

This does make me sound like someone who isn’t very “in touch” with where my food comes from, and that would be a fair accusation, and one I would like to work on, in ways that suit me. I love the farm tours we have gone on and would love to do that often. I also want to get cooking more, even though I hate it … in all reality, what I would love most is if Stevel got cooking more. Until Violet is eight, then it’s Chore Time, and chores include duck l’orange (it’s from Trader Joe’s, Violet, so you can juts unzip the packaging, chuck that duck in the slow cooker, and head off to soccer practice, NO BIG DEAL. Earn that allowance, Missy!).

Sugar High

May 18th, 2011

If someone had told me how much fun it is to bake things from mixes-in-a-box with a three-year-old, I would surely have majored in Cooking-with-Three-Year-Olds in college.

Violet did all of the adding of ingredients, kept an eye on the baking cupcakes, and helped to frost them. And of course, she has been helping to eat them! In fact, it turns out she and I should never, ever, EVER be left alone with a bunch of cupcakes unsupervised. I think I might throw up, and we haven’t taught Violet yet how to hold back Mommy’s hair while she barfs up Funfetti cupcakes, so that’s just going to be a disaster.

Seriously, can someone please come be in charge of us?

Photos here

Day Two

April 14th, 2011

After seven years of marriage, there are still things I’m learning about fashion from Stevel. Like how different colors of the same shirt heat up more than others. Here’s an example from today. As Steve picked up off of the floor the wadded jeans he had worn yesterday, I said, “Day two?”

“Oh, yeah ..” he said, “Day One is too stiff. Day Three is pushin’ it. But Day Two: That’s the sweet spot.”

She’s Too Young for Nyquil, huh?

October 21st, 2010

It’s the morning after our second night in a row of toddler insomnia. Is this common, does anyone know? I’m not exaggerating here: This kid is operating on about three or four hours of sleep right now. (Steve and I got more like two or three.) Night before last, same thing. She did take a nap yesterday, which is rare anymore, but still … I think we are all three about to crack. I need to go hit the Diet Pepsi now. Hard.

A Day in the Life

October 10th, 2010

Today I woke up around 8:30 and got to work preparing a dish to put in the slow cooker I got for my birthday. I still hate cooking, but so far the slow cooker is exciting to use, so that helps. And it means I can do the prep work when I feel more into it (late afternoons are so not my best time of day).

Vibble joined me at around 9. She got to work removing toys from her toy kitchen and creating an obstacle course in the kitchen. Then we all got dressed and went to Kay n’ Dave’s and then to the Brentwood Country Mart to walk around a bit and buy a princess book at Diesel.

Next we tried to go see Aladdin at the Black Box Theater, but it was cancelled. What is UP with cancelled stuff this week?? We were all scheduled to take an overnight sleeper-car train trip to Albuquerque on Wednesday, but a freight derailment in Arizona meant that was a no-go (they offered us an 11-hour overnight bus ride in exchange, which we politely declined).

So yeah, no Aladdin today (maybe tomorrow), so we walked a bit and came home and played with Play-Do for a while, then Vibble and I took a nap while Stevel worked on some code for his apps.

Post-nap Vibble played a while and then wanted to watch a princess sing-along DVD. We had the slow-cooker dinner—chicken tangine, I think it’s called?—and hosted some friends to share it with us. After dinner, we all—me, Violet, Stevel, Christine, David, and Jeremy-on-his-bike-with-lights-and-sound-system—walked to the frozen yogurt by-the-ounce place. Yum! Violet rocked out in her stroller on the walk home to the music Jeremy was playing on his bike.

Back to No. 6 for some YouTube surfing, and finally had to tell everyone goodbye. Violet was really bummed her friends were leaving. She stood in the middle of the living room expressing this with gestures and sighs and sad faces. But now Steve is putting her to sleep, and I’m about to join them.

That’s our Saturday. Hope yours was as nice. :-)

“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.

I Just Need to Vent a Moment

July 8th, 2010

This has been a trying week and a half. A lot of events that, taken one by one, alone, I could absorb with not a lot of impact, are adding up to make me feel pretty stressed: Getting rear-ended on the freeway and all of the errand-running that has followed for car repairs, added to Vibble’s trip to the ER. We’re trying not to feel constant stress about taking her back in next Tuesday to have the staple removed, but that’s hard. I don’t want her to have to walk back in that scary place, let alone get held down by orderlies again for another, albeit quick, procedure. It’s just not something I look forward to in life, for either of us.

Then there were cat problems; Mia has always been a “pee cat,” but it’s gotten increasingly worse, and this past week she peed on the living room carpet, on some stuffed animals, and in a giant box of Legos. LEGOS! Just stop a moment and imagine the clean-up involved. It’s about a hundred bucks’ worth of Legos, so I don’t want to pitch it, but EW. SO GROSS. So I took her to the vet, and long story short, she had her teeth cleaned, and we had to rearrange our upstairs to basically create her own country up there and give our master bathroom completely to her, and now she is on some kind of antidepressant that apparently causes her to have the squirts all over the house. You’re right, Vets, this is way better than the peeing. I’m just at the end of my rope with that one, and I’m not the only one; the tension here in the house over her this week has been trying. And so every night now it’s medicate Linus, medicate Mia, clean up after Mia, clean up after Mia some more, and try not to hate this kitty. It’s not her fault, but oh man, she’s hard to love right now. Our house smells embarrassing.

OK, so the list continues: Yesterday I took my car into the shop and picked up a rental car. The wait for the rental car was a real drag, and poor Vibble was really doing her toddler-best to be patient. So we headed from there to the mall to meet up with friends so Violet could play, and this kid—this kid who NEVER PUKES—let go a gallon of gushing vomitousness in the back seat of the rental car. A rental car in which I had NONE of my usual supplies with which to clean her up, reclothe her, etc. Flash forward to naked Vibble, escaping from the store where I am buying her an outfit and streaking into the mall. Yes, she felt fine. But the car seat was ruined. It was that much puke—chunks of it down in the mechanisms, and the padding soaked. Having once before tried to clean the exact same model of car seat (in one of only four other times in her little life she has puked), I know this: I can get the stench out of the fabric, but no amount of cleaning, with any amount of products, gets it out of the plastic. And anyway, I can’t sit her in this car seat, no way, it’s soaked, and I can’t snap the clasp shut. Our other car seat is now in the repair garage. This is going on way too long, this venting, so let me just say thank you to Brooke and to David for watching Vibble at the mall while I ran to Target to get the only car seat they had that fit the bill, so I could get her home and beyond.

Add to all of this that we’re in some kind of long home stretch with Stevel’s app he’s been working on, so he’s spread thin enough to be transparent, working too hard all day and coming home to work too hard all evening on the app a lot of nights. Add to it the unexpected expenses of the ER bill, the vet bills, the new car seat—again, all things we could absorb individually without saying “ouch” too loud, but all at once, well, it’s just been an expensive and draining couple of weeks. A few too many of those moments where I’m standing there going, “OK, I need a plan to deal with this mini-crisis.” I know I shouldn’t even be complaining about ANY of these things. They ALL turned out just fine in the end, none were serious, just minor bumps in the sidewalk, but I just feel so … remember that commercial where the lady goes, “Calgon, take me away!” I wonder if you can still get Calgon.

Thank you for listening. I do feel better now. And we just had a 5.9 earthquake. Shake it up, Cali!

A Day in the Life

June 16th, 2010

Today has been a rare day without TV. Not that Violet watches a TON of TV, but ideally, for us, she would watch none. It’s just that, sometimes I need to use the stove or something, and I need her distracted and to stay put. And then sometimes, she is just blue, and nothing seems to work, and then I say, “Do you want to watch Madeline?” and she grins and gets all happy. Madeline is a very effective mood-lifter here.

Anyway, no TV today, but let me tell you why sometimes if I need to do something besides watch her every move I have little choice but to put her in front of the TV for a bit. So just now I was trying to get some laundry done. First she played in her room. Then I had to take a break from laundry to clean up the broken light bulb in her room. Then she played downstairs. Then I had to take a break from laundry to vacuum flour off of Violet’s arms and legs and the entire—yes, the ENTIRE—first level floor. It smelled like a bakery in here for the second time this week (earlier in the week, she got into the spices and decided our living room needed a dash of cinnamon—in every square inch).

When I found her with the flour, she knew she had been caught. Immediately, she said, “I sorry!” She said it about four times, shrugging her shoulders, and the tone she used was one you might use if, say, you accidentally stepped on someone’s toe in line at the grocery store. Like, “Oops! Clumsy me! I got into the flour!”


May 23rd, 2010

If your answer is no, learn vicariously. Stevel spent some 25-plus hours over the last two weeks retrieving data from my fouled-up hard drive, and then delicately performing a hard-drive transplant on my iMac, and then getting everything restored for me. If you’re not married to Steve, you should find some other way to make sure your photos and documents and videos are safe. (Even if you ARE married to Steve, you have now found some other way, because he didn’t deserve to spend all that time making sure, as he put it, “Yes, you deserve to learn that lesson. But losing the photos of the first two years of your kid’s life is just too hard a way to learn it.”) I’m now using Mozy. Stevel uses Time Capsule.

Two Crashes

April 30th, 2010

Two important things happened this week in the way of “getting back on the horse.” Horses.


We rode our bike again.

I have a great kid-seat on our bike, and I started taking Vibble for rides in bicycle-friendly Santa Monica at about 6 mos. old. When she was a year-ish, we had an accident. It was actually pretty hard to talk about, and I hadn’t been on the bike since, but here’s what happened that day:

I put Vibble in her seat in the garage and mounted the bike. It was very dark in the garage. I rode out into the extremely bright sunlight and was momentarily blinded, and in that moment, I misjudged the location of a pretty high curb in front of our building. We toppled over the curb into the busy street. The first thing to hit the road was my knee (after months of physical therapy, it’s kind of ok now, heh). Second thing was my arm. Third, my precious kid’s helmet. As in, her head, on 26th Street. Cars whooshing by within centimeters.

She was fine within, I would say, 45 seconds. The helmet did its job, and I limped over to the front steps and held her, and she was smiling and laughing in no time.

I was not fine. Aside from my physical injuries, I had just come a little too close to Bad Things. I shook and sobbed, and while the sobbing eventually abated (after hours), the shaking lasted almost three days. And we didn’t ride the bike again, I couldn’t.

The other person who was not fine—perhaps the person least fine—was Stevel. This was a family bike ride, so he was on our other bike behind me, and witnessed the whole thing. I think for him, watching Violet’s tiny helmetted head hit the street was the very thing his anxiety is constantly assuming might happen: Complete horror. He still doesn’t understand how I drove that bike so that it went over sideways into the street.

I don’t need to tell you how awful this all was. We sort of agreed I wouldn’t blog about it, and that wasn’t going to be a problem, since I could barely choke out a one-sentence version of what had happened to tell the doctor when I went in about my knee. But I’ve since told the story to friends and family, and I wanted to record it here and report that we got back on that bike this week. I knew I needed to do it. It was a trembly ride for me, but by the end, I’d hit my stride again, and OH MAN, does this kid love to ride. Holy crap. She chattered the entire way to the library. Twice, drivers got honked at from behind, because a light turned green and they were still talking to Violet: “Look at you! Goin’ for a BIKE RIDE? You like your bike?”

It was all very smooth from her perspective, I think. She was enthusiastic about getting in the seat—she clearly remembered and was eager to ride. She had a new helmet (I was told after any accident you should replace the helmet), which she has since put on in the house a few times and worn around, as if to say, ‘When are we going on that bike again, Mom?’

Soon, Vibble, and often.


The other horse I will abbreviate, as it is still kind of fresh in my mind (and the bruises are still green).

I had some things mounted in the kitchen, a tiny cabinet up high with our liquor in it being the highest, screwed in as instructed to the thick wood (actually, it’s double-cabinet thickness) side of the cupboard bank over the sink. It was on there good and sound, trust me. BUT then I mounted a Can Crusher on the side of it and proceeded to release all of my frustrations on Diet Pepsi cans, with the force of all of this going into the side of the cabinet and rocking it slightly on its screws. I knew this was a bad idea. KNEW. And yet …

So one day I’m crushin’ some cans, and BA-BOOM!!!!!!!! The cabinet comes OFF the wall, on its way down taking out a nearby wine rack, the medicine cabinet that serves as Vibble’s play kitchen fridge, a piece of the cupboard, some chunks of the floor, and oh, a little bit of my leg.

Fortunate thing of fortunate things: Vibble is not playing in her kitchen, although she is pretty eager to get into the middle of the mess, and Dad has to keep her from trudging through glass and wine and booze and fractured wood and Diet Pepsi cans and laughing-weeping Mom (I felt momentarily insane).

OK, so back on the horse: This week, I had a professional handyman come in to do some things in the house, and I had HIM re-hang all of these things—liquor cabinet, wine rack, kid-fridge, Can Crusher (in a new spot, of course). He put billions of heavy duty screws into everything. I don’t know if you could get these things down with a sledgehammer. He also mounted some other things onto walls where I had been considering hanging them myself. His instructions were: “On there good enough so if she hangs off of it, it’s not coming down.”

The lesson here is, Kristan and her cordless drill: Too ambitious. I wouldn’t say this was a “close call,” since it was clearly the can crushing that caused the disaster, and I never crushed cans while Violet was in the kitchen. It made me RIGHTLY nervous to have her anywhere near that action. But what if … ?

OK, put the helmet back on, Vibb, if you’re going into the rooms where Mom has screwed random cabinetry into the walls herself.

That wasn’t as abbreviated as promised, sorry. And yes, both of these fallen-off-horses were my fault. I blew it. I’m learning from it, still.


And now I need to try and get myself back to sleep. I’ve got some awesome friends coming into town today, and I want to be ready to PLAY! Bridgey comes in around 3, and Cindy around 10, and with Cindy coming I’m thinking we will likely grocery shop right away, since I don’t know the first thing about buying bacon. Or foie gras.

Dad Reads a Bedtime Story

April 18th, 2010

Stevel [to Violet]: “What’s this book you’re bringing me?”

Me: “She’s bringing it to you because I didn’t want to read it.”

Stevel: “I don’t want to read it, either. I don’t know much about this Strawberry Shortcut.”

Me: “Cake. Strawberry Shortcake.”

Stevel: “I said I didn’t know much about her … OK, here we go … Strawberry Shortcake Plays Soccer … ‘Strawberry! You’re late! You promised you would practice soccer drills with me today,’ Huck said. ‘I’m sorry, Huck,’ said Strawberry Shortcake, ‘But as I was walking through Cookie Corners I met Ginger Snap. And then Angel Cake joined us at Cakewalk. And in Orange Blossom Acres we picked up Orange Blossom—’”

Stevel: “These sound like porn star names.”

Me: “You’re right, they do.”

[From here, Stevel continued on with the story, until page 12, when ...]

Stevel [reading]: “‘Okay, enough jogging,’ Huck decided, coming to a sudden stop. Strawberry Shortcake ran right into him. Huck fell, and Strawberry landed on top of him. Angel Cake landed on Strawberry. Ginger Snap topped off the group. ‘Let’s practice some passes,’ came Huck’s muffled voice—”

Stevel: “Oh my.”

Me: “It is a porno!”

Stevel: “Shh. [continuing to read] “Strawberry practiced a throw-in from the sidelines …”

[And this dedicated dad carried on with the story. But even Stevel had to admit when Honey Pie Pony showed up on page 18 with Custard and Pupcake that this soccer match had gotten TOO WEIRD. So we decided to put the Strawberry Shortcake Storybook Collection away until Violet is a little "older."]

At No. 6

March 20th, 2010


Steve got a new computer. It is very large, too large for his desk. And so … and so … we traded desks! This has turned our world topsy turvy. EVERYONE is cranky about it. Until the dust settles, cords are stowed, and we all learn to avoid banging our heads on the unexpected sharp corners, there will be tension shrouding all life here. This is not a metaphor. It could be, it would make a lovely one, but it’s not.


Our bed FINALLY arrived!!!! We purchased this bed in SEPTEMBER. We have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor since then, and it has been actually pretty nice and fun. But ooooooh, the bed feels good. And it looks super nice! And Vibble has decided it’s her newest piece of gym equipment. Rollsies off the bed—whee! Headboard is a horsey—whee! Oh, Two, you are so fun. And neck-breaker-scary.


Vibble is really into dressing up right now, but let me clarify. Thursday she took to the courtyard carrying a cold/heat-pack like a purse. Wednesday she put a small box on her head and tucked a placemat under her armpits and went a-walking up and down the courtyard for an hour. FANCY. I took a photo on my phone, so I’ll have to get that up for you. It’s very challenging when she’s in the courtyard to keep her from knocking on people’s doors, and a lot of our neighbors work from home or are retired or whatnot.


I need to just mention she is nearly never—NEVER—still. She dances while she EATS. She spins in circles twice a minute. Pants, ants.


This week we busted out the kiddie pool. It was hot for a couple of days, and on the first day, Vibble stayed in there for almost two hours and was falling asleep with her head on the side of the pool before she “agreed” to come out. (By “agreed,” I mean “she lost the physical brawl that ensued when I decided she was getting out.”)


Steve got a treadmill. He has been getting up mornings and walking far, far away. In our basement. He always comes back. There is a fine dust of treadmill rubber on the floor. If you know Steve, you’re not surprised, and you realize this is not a fault of the treadmill. I’ve never seen anyone wear through shoes to the bottom like he does, for example. As Steve says of the treadmill, “We’re probably going to have to buy one of these every year.”


I painted some walls, just touching up, covering that fingerpaint handprint, stuff like that. It wore me out, took me two days to recover. I am old.


Violet and I went to Pretend City! With Christopher and Oliver! I already posted photos of that.


I made Violet a cardboard-box house yesterday. She was less into it after I made a house out of it than she had been when it was a box, but I felt creative, and I was proud of my box-house, so _I_ played in it.


I’m not sure why food seems to be more appealing after it has been dumped on the floor/ground/cement, but this kid promptly dumps all food and then grazes on it. Usually at her seat at the table, she is satisfied with eating it off the tray. But we STILL don’t trust her with dishware of any kind, really. She’s like, Whee! Dishware! [DUMP]


She says a lot more words now, but almost never on request. She says her name (sort of). She still does not really ask for what she wants, but she repeats the last couple of syllables of what we say sometimes, says little phrases she has heard (she loves the sneeze-”Bless You”-”Thank you” routine). Mostly she sings incoherently, constantly. It’s sort of like living with a little drunk hobo, especially with the box on her head and the placemat wrapped around her torso.


I need to mention how much she loves to read. LOVES. TO. READ. “Likes” to be read TO, but loves to hang out with her books. It’s right up there with watching TV, her all-time favorite thing to do. Like when you turn on a TV, before it even makes any sound, just the subtle click of the button depressing on the remote or on the appliance itself, she is like a rabbit who hears a dog two miles away. All activity immediately stops. She sniffs the air. She tenses all over. Teeeeee … Veeeeee … [slurp]


Our cats are Old.


Apparently, we had a little earthquake the other day. I didn’t feel it. It was only a 4 or something. Not like these other earthquakes killing half the world right now. What are those, like 20s? Sucky.


Kelly is coming this weekend! HOORAY!

Three Sets of Visitors

March 1st, 2010


The Marietta Edgars—what fun to have them out.


Aunt Debi and cousin Sam from Corvallis. An overnight to Sea World was awesome.


Some kind of awful cold. Vibble started coughing and sneezing while her grandparents were here, and her status declined as her aunt and cousin’s visit arrived. Boo. She is a sad little coldling. Not feeling so great myself, so please forgive the short entry. We did get some nice photos, though, so enjoy!

Journal Entry from the Toddler Planet

February 18th, 2010

Tuesday I woke to find a feral child crouched in the room. She refused to be bathed, despite several days’ odor and a face caked in day-old ketchup. Any moves toward the bathtub elicited primal shrieking. Piece by piece, I removed her clothes over the length of an hour. Each clothing item required strategic immobilization of the child’s strong, flailing limbs. Finally, she was down to just the diaper. I had filled a bucket with warm bathwater and brought it to the TV. She eyed it suspiciously. She refused to go near it. I turned off the TV and explained that if Caillou was to continue, a certain little bum would have to be sitting in a certain bucket of water. The young primate threw itself to the floor and grabbed and threw nearby objects, all the while eliciting a wail we refer to here in the city as “noise pollution.”

I slowly cornered the creature. The volume of screams increased. As I tore at her diaper, she shifted her screams from primal wails to a repeated shout of the word “STINKY! STINKY!”

“Yes,” I said, “You are stinky.”


I turned on the TV and stuck her in the bucket, where she stiffened and howled. With one arm around her waist, I quickly soaped and rinsed the feral child. I soaked myself and the carpet, but a scientific curiosity drove me to want to see what was underneath the strata of ketchup. Then, I had an idea. Perhaps the fickle creature was not interested in Caillou today. I stretched an arm to the TV, flipping up the channels as quickly as I could to reach Dora.

My hypothesis was correct. The creature giggled and sank into the bucket, allowing me to wash her hair without protest. As a result, I was able to determine that the animal was in fact a cute little girl who is in a phase of Refusal to Bathe and who, admittedly adorably, now says all kinds of words, like “shoe” and “thank you!” and the ever-popular “STINKY!,” still needs to learn to just let it be known when all she really wants is to change the channel.

What You Are Witnessing

February 12th, 2010

What you are witnessing in this photo is this: I was cleaning up the kitchen, and Vibble went and got this empty grocery bag and proceeded to do some “shopping” in the pantry. She filled the bag, and even though she dumped a LOT of spaghetti all over the place, I thought it was SO CUTE, so I went and got my phone to take this photo … and AS I SNAPPED IT, she dumped the cats’ water bowl into the bag, soaking the entire contents. STINKER! Soggy spaghetti, anyone?

O Christmas Lamp, O Christmas Lamp

December 22nd, 2009

Here at No. 6, we are preparing for for the holidays with festive verve. We have decorated the Christmas “tree” and wrapped the gifts, sent out the cards, and invited the friends to play on Friday. You will note our “tree” is actually a lamp. Reason: Vibble cannot be trusted with an actual tree. I learned that at Sizzler.

Stevel is working from home this week and off next week. Awesome!

This year Violet is getting … not a lot. She doesn’t really know what’s going on, so I’m not about to drop a wad on her. There IS a new tricycle in the house (well, new to us—recycled), and I’ve ordered some accessories for it. And when Nana and Papa-Auggie visited for Thanksgiving, she got an early holiday gift in the form of a cute little dollhouse. So the newness is well underway.

Vibble went to speech therapy last week. Overall, she is behind—the speech pathologist says she is about 25% behind—but not for any medical or mental reason. The doc attributed it to “desire,” meaning, Violet doesn’t want to talk more, or doesn’t have incentive to talk more. She didn’t advise speech therapy, just a continuation on our part of things we’ve already been doing and perhaps an increase in the activities we do with other children. She did say Violet is advanced in terms of coordination and physical agility. She thinks she will likely catch up to her peers with encouragement from us to practice talking more.

On an unrelated side note, a holiday shout out to our friends at Table Toppers, one of my favorite products and something I’m thankful for this holiday season. These things have saved us. Everywhere we go (and we eat out a lot, for various reasons), everyone seems so impressed when we whip these things out and attach one to the table. Like we are such great parents for insuring our daughter eats off of a sanitary surface. Little do they know the actual reason: Violet cannot be trusted with dishware. (We learned that at Sizzler, too. Also at Akbar. And Thai Dishes. And …) Oh, and on another unrelated side note: Toddler leg warmers are some of the cutest things ever invented, holy crap.

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