I'll push myself up through the dirt and shake my petals free
I'm resigned to being born and so resigned to bravery.
~Dar Williams

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Lily Chronicles: The Art of Eating Food

I’m not really sure how to say this other than to just blurt the unpleasant truth:  Lily is a bit messy when eating. 

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“Hey Mom, I swear I didn’t eat any candy while you were gone.”

eat 5 (2)

“No, that’s not yogurt all over my face.  I just have a very glow-in-the-dark complexion."

eat 5

“The applesauce was so tasty I felt compelled to rub it all over in my hair, ears, and eyeballs.  Once I got going, I couldn’t stop.”

eat 7

“Thanks for the pumpkin-chocolate cookies, Grandma.  I’ll have 16 more.  You’re really great, I mean that sincerely.”

eat 8

“I’m so excited Mom graduated I’m going to smash cake onto my nipples.”

eat 9

“This is the best first birthday ever, except that my dress is sticky.  Gross.  Now I shall lean to the left.”

eat 10

“I’ve invented a new dish.  It’s called pea and cupcake casserole.”

eat 11

(Gluttony is exhausting.)

eat 13

(Gluttony is exhausting, the sequel.)

food mess 1

(Gluttony is exhausting, part 3.)

eat 14

Mom:  “Lily, don’t throw your chips on the floor… hey pick up your chips… stop stomping them into the ground… LILYYYYYYY!!!!”

food 20

“Somebody dropped some crumbs on the floor.  What a slob. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll clean up here…”

eat 12

“Yeah… uhhh… don’t make that again.”

photo 4 (5)

“Cheese!”

eat 17

“Hey, why do you take my clothes off before I eat?  Weird…”

photo 3 (7)

“Don’t worry, Mom.  I’m not going to eat any dirt.  I swear I’m not eating dirt.  Mmmm… dirt.”

eat 16

The Lily Chronicles: Spider Baby

Lily is, as Jill will attest, “pure Dickey.”  She loves to climb on things, and I just dare you to tell her not to do it.

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“Hey Mom, I’m just up here eating all the things.”

eat 3

“Hey Mom, I’m just up here eating all the things again.  No seriously… I took a bite out of every single item of fruit in this basket.  Orange peel tastes like diesel fuel, in case you were wondering.”

table 2

“Hey Mom, I’m just up here eating all. the. things.  Kale is not quite as good as escarole, but it’s slightly less bitter than bleach.”

table 3

“Hey Amelia, I know you spent hours building this cool gingerbread house, and you probably don’t want me to obliterate it, but it’s my job to eat all the things.”

table 4

“Hey Mom, this light is burned out.  If you let me stay up here for a couple more minutes, I’ll try to fix it.  I’ll probably burn the house down, too, because that’s how I roll.”

table 5

Lily:  Knock knock
Me: Who’s there?
Lily:  Sorry, I lost my train of thought because I saw this glass of milk and knew I had to stick my fist right into it forthwith."

table 10

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So we took Jill’s advice and put the chairs on their sides on the floor.

“Hey Mom, I’m smiling like a jerk because within about five minutes, I’m going to figure out how to push these over to the table and climb up.  Nice try, though, Mom.  It was a cute idea, LOL.”

table solution

“Hey Mom, thanks for putting all the things on the table.  Imma go eat them now.”

photo 1 (11)

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Lily Chronicles: Trouble with Toilets

winter 2014 226
The Lily Girl, awake and chipper at 2:30 am.  Every night.

Preface:
Most of you are familiar with the fact that my second-born child is possessed.  In the womb she entertained herself by kicking me constantly, stretching into a fully horizontal position, doing somersaults,  jumping up and down on my pelivc floor,  and/or positioning herself on top of my right ovary (inducing massive levels of pain… think broken femur) for the majority of her stay.

Since arriving Earth-side, she has found myriad other ways to while away her time.  Read:  she is the most mischievous angel-straight-from-heaven you ever did meet.  I’ve tried to capture many of these moments on camera so that I might someday say, “Dearest daughter, you owe it to me to take care of me in my old age because LOOK at all these shenanigans I put up with.”  I thought I might make a blog post about her endeavors of evil; however, upon compiling the collected photos last night, I discovered that I had well over eighty – far too many for one post.  So without further ado, I bring you The Lily Chronicles.  These posts are dedicated to the Children Jones, who delight in Lily’s wickedness.
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It’s unclear whether Lily is aware of why toilets were actually invented, but she has found several alternative uses for the objects:

A swimming pool:

toilet 1

A reading chair:

rules 1

A washing machine:

toilet 2

A toy box:

toilet 4

And in addition to misusing toilets, she seems to think plungers make perfect walking sticks. 

toilet 6

There is some evidence that she understands the measure of the commode’s creation.  The other day I walked into the bathroom to find this scene:

toilet 20

Me: What’s that, Lily?

Lily:  Bunny go pee. 

She then closed her eyes and nodded several times, as is her way when she knows something to be true.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Play

Since exiting my womb 21 months and 2 days ago, Lily has not stopped making noise. Her auditory repertoire has evolved from cooing to babbling to shrieking to shouting to talking. Once her first word (doggie) was uttered, she seemed to realize how powerful language is and has learned a thousands words a day since. And the girl. does. not. stop. talking. ever.

A sampling of what one might hear any given minute:

“We go to the park? Go to the park? The park? PARK PARK PARK? I like the park?”

“I can has a hot dog? I can has a cookie? Lily has some cheese? No… no cheese. I has a circle cracker? I can has water? I can has more cookie? Cookie cookie cookie cookie cookie. We go to the park?”

“It’s a lamp, it’s a couch, it’s a ball, it’s a chair. It’s a purple chair. It’s a purple purple purple chair. It’s a light. It’s a door. It’s a jacket. It’s a purple, purple chair. It’s a pen. It’s a puppy puppy puppy puppy puppy PUPPY!”

“Mommy tickle my toes? Tickle my belly? Tickle my toes? Tickle my nose? Tickle my ears? TICKLE MY TOES MOMMY!!!! We go to the park again?

I would estimate that she asks to go to the park about three or four hundred times a day. Fortunately, we live near many excellent parks – several of which are a short walk away.  I’m a huge, huge, huge believer in the importance of unstructured play in cognitive and emotional development, so to the park we go – sometimes three or four times a day.

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photo 1 (9)

photo 3 (4)

photo 3 (6)

photo 5 (3)

photo 5 (6)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

I promised my friend Michelle I would update my blog.  She became a mother a couple days ago, so I thought I’d write a few thoughts about motherhood.  But instead of a “how to” piece (which would be a big joke coming from me), I want to write about something that has bothered me since giving birth four years ago: so-called “mommy wars.”

Making a human is an incredibly awesome and absurd thing to do.  Our bodies can make humans…  Humans, for the love.

For most of us, the process of growing a baby in a uterus is incredibly taxing, emotionally and physically.  For most of us, childbirth is incredibly taxing, emotionally and physically.  And for most of us, learning to be a caregiver once the baby arrives is incredibly taxing, emotionally and physically. 

And by that point, our reserves are kind of spent.

Not only do our bodies go through a process of healing from the ridiculous (read: amazing) human-making process, our hormones take a nosedive, our sleep patterns are hugely disrupted and… most of all, we suddenly have these incredibly intense new emotions of responsibility and love (perhaps delayed, but eventual) for a tiny little human… a love that is so ferocious that it hurts in our bones.  It’s a lot to process.  We’re terrified, we’re overjoyed, we’re exhausted, we’re hysterical, we’re in love, we’re completely and utterly tired.  In our bones.

And we’re raw.  Our emotions are all over the place – one minute we’re deliriously happy, another minute we’re deliriously terrified (note that we’re always delirious), but every emotion we feel is deep and raw and exposed.  Others’ words, even when completely innocuous, can feel so abrasive and attacking.  And others’ words are not always innocuous.

“Mommy wars” are ubiquitous in conversation and on social media sites.  People have opinions about so many things, and conversations can get kind of nasty.  It’s dumb.  Most people are intelligent enough to make good decisions for their families – we don’t need to be bombarded with unsolicited advice and passive-aggressive memes filling our newsfeeds.

It starts early.  I love giving birth in hospitals and I *really* love getting epidurals, but I LOVE reading about my friends’ natural births, water births, hypnobirths, home births, and all manner of births.  Implying that home-birth mothers are reckless is as insulting as implying that epidural-birth mothers are uneducated about childbirth.  

The question of whether to feed a baby breast milk or baby milk is a frequent topic of a couple internet forums in which I participate.  I was hell-bent on breastfeeding both of my girls,and the way things are going, I’m currently on track to nurse Lily full time until she gets her driver’s license.  Chances are good that if I have another baby, I’ll breastfeed that one as well.  That’s what works for us – it’s free, I enjoy it, it’s an easy way to comfort my babies and toddlers, and it’s nutritious.  However, a recent matched sibling-study has shown that a lot of previous studies showing the benefits of breastfeeding were likely due to social stratification rather than breastfeeding per seThis study showed that with the exception of a small difference in asthma occurrence, there were almost no long-term differences in health, parental attachment, or intelligence between children who were fed breast milk and those who were fed formula.  I think the results are awesome, and I wish that shaming related to bottle vs. breast and would stop.

The list goes on.  Some mothers let their babies cry it out; others nurse their babies 20 times a night.   Some mothers cosleep; others have their infants in a separate room from day 1.   Some mothers only give their kids home-made, organic, pureed baby food, while others rely solely on Gerber Goodness. Some mothers wear their babies in an ERGO, some mothers wear their babies in a sling; some mothers wear their babies in a Bjorn; and some mothers (gasp) push their babises in a stroller. 

And what to do about education?  Waldorf vs. Montessori vs. Reggio Emilio preschools.  Homeschool vs. public school vs. private school.  Suburb vs. city.

The potential kindling for mom-shaming never runs out.  Should I be regurgitating baby food into mouths like a bird?  (Just kidding… it was in a magazine.)  What the hell is a paleo diet, and should my kids be taking a Vitamin D supplement if they’re covered in sunscreen?

The issue that currently has me losing sleep is whether to work or stay at home full time.  Actually, the choice is made – I’ll be returning to work full time in a week.  There are many good reasons for mothers to work, and there are many good reasons for parents to stay at home full time, but the reality is that most parents don’t have a real choice.  Either they can’t afford to work because of daycare costs, or they can’t afford not to work because it turns out that running a household is expensive.  Bills must be paid.  Leaving my babies with other women for a few hours a day is difficult in many ways, and I would be lying if I said that I’m not heartbroken.  But past experience tells me that they will be loved and nurtured and happy while we’re gone.  My girls’ teachers will be playing with them, helping them with art projects, singing them songs, and supervising their play with other children.  But here’s the thing - they will not be raising my kids.  It is incredibly hurtful when people imply that.  What caretakers do is different than what parents do. 

On the other hand, being a stay-at-home mom or dad is a completely awesome and valid thing to do.  Taking care of children around the clock is draining and rewarding and exhausting.  I’ve stayed home with my girls for the last year, and I have really (truly) loved it.  Not on an every-second basis, but on the whole.  Some of the smartest women and men I’ve ever known are stay-at-home parents (hello, my sisters and sisters-in-law, not to mention many friends, cousins, etc.)  All of these parents could have successful careers.  They have carefully considered what is best for their families and careers.   Some parents work part time, some full time.  And there are households where no parents are blessed with work.  We all just do the very best we can.  We all agonize over our choices.  We all need to give each other a break.

When faced with the prospect of becoming a mother (in the form of having a fetus in my uterus), I was traumatized by all the the choices we would have to make.  I was traumatized even more by all the mixed messages, many of which came across as judgmental and shaming. 

But I eventually figured out that regardless of choices, I completely suck at being a mom sometimes.  And I completely rock being a mom at other times.  And that’s okay.  My kids eat too much sugar, watch too much TV, go to bed too late, have too many toys, and fall off tables far too often.  And they’re ridiculously healthy and happy and – most likely – will turn out fine even though I don’t pre-chew their food.

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P.S.  I really loved this “mommy wars” photo piece:  http://herscoop.com/posts/empowering-photo-series/

and this piece, too:

A Letter From a Working Mother to a Stay-At-Home Mother (and Vice Versa

Monday, February 3, 2014

You have the right to remain silent. Or not.

photo 2

Amelia often pleads the 5th in social situations, but rarely stops talking when she’s home.  She is especially verbose when she wakes up every morning, and when Tim comes home from work.  This morning’s monologue, approximately:

“Mommy, today let’s make an igloo with two windows and a door, and we’ll put some chairs in there, and a cot with some stuffed animals, and lots of blankets so we can have a snuggle party and then we’ll sleep in it.  We have to go get some white blocks from Target, or maybe I can make some with some papers, and then we’ll put down some blocks like this, this, this, this, this, then we’ll put some on top and it will be finished so we can sleep in it.  Let’s do it RIGHT NOW.  And for my birthday it will be in five more weeks in March and I want an easel with a round little table and chair and some cups with paint and a paint brush so I can make a lot of fancy pictures.  And let’s go outside and sit on our bottoms and put our legs out and kick each other in the air like kangaroos, and I want to ride on a giant bird with seatbelts and some blankets. Did you know that my Uncle Zack and Uncle Motorcycle Banana Cycle are really, really funny? And Mom, someday when there’s a baby in your tummy, you need to drink water so she’ll grow into my baby sister like a tree and my baby sister’s name will be Anna and then you and Daddy will have one, two, three kids.   And, Mom, I already told you that I need a unicycle.”

Monday, December 16, 2013

Three-year-old logic

Amelia is starting to hone her critical thinking skills.    The other night:

“Mommy, uhhh, I don’t think Santa is going to bring me any presents because I haven’t been making good choices.   So, can you and Daddy buy me some more presents?”