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Today. A Day.

June 2, 2014 at 8:12 pm

Today is Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day. I have had this day on the calendar for at least a month now. But the month of May completely got away from me. In lieu of anything more creative, here is a summary of our day. This was today, June 2nd, 2014. (I haven’t blogged in a while waiting for some creative Baba-inspired things to happen – and in the meantime, life as a parent has taken over.)

5:30am. Ben (almost two!) wakes up. It’s my turn, so I get up with him. I trick him into cuddling on the guest bed for half an hour and then I turn on Dora for another half hour while I snooze.

6:30am Ells (now five!) wakes up and comes looking for us. We eat cereal together.

7:00am Mama is awake. We’re still eating. Ben decided he wants to eat cereal from Mama’s bowl (it tastes better!)

Today is our family day. Mama worked all weekend so we get to spend Monday together. We’ve planned on going strawberry picking. But we are in no hurry to get out the door. We lounge around in our pajamas for awhile. Check email, read the news. The kids do that thing they do where they manage to spread toys across the floor. Of course the grown-ups do the breakfast dishes, make a picnic lunch, load the car. Everyone gets dressed.

10:00am We’re on the road to the you-pick strawberry farm. I’m in the middle of an eight-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction class (another reason I haven’t posted here lately: 45 minute of homework each day), and so I attempt to practice a guided mindfulness session in the passenger seat of the car during the drive. SPOILER: It didn’t work.

10:30am We arrive at the farm. Ben has fallen asleep in the car. He usually only naps in the afternoon, so this really throws things off. Also, it’s a sign that waking up at 5:30am isn’t working for him either. We eat our snack while sitting on the back end of the car. Mama and I eat our lunch now, a mistake we will regret while driving home at 1:00pm.

11:00am We wake Ben up and take the hayride out to the strawberry fields. This is the best part of the day. It’s a Monday, so it’s not crowded. The sun isn’t blaring down yet, so the weather is perfect. We all pick strawberries. Ells goes off on her own with a basket. Ben helps us by pointing and then dropping berries from our hands into our baskets. We see butterflies, birds, flowers. We end up with fourteen pounds of strawberries.

12:30pm The kids eat their lunch in a gazebo. Ben spills his milk down his shirt, into his pants. He is sitting in a puddle of milk. He says, “Uh oh, milk, shoe.” And he’s right, there is milk dripping out of his shoe.

1:00pm We drive home. This is Ben’s normal nap time and we had hoped he’d nap in the car on the way back. He doesn’t.

1:30pm Mama tries to get Ben to nap in his room. I’m exhausted and lay down on the couch hoping to read some fanfiction (Gail & Holly Rookie Blue, currently), but Ellie wants to play with ribbon. I tell her she can go get it herself. She does. Then she wants to know what to do with the ribbon. I offer a few suggestions (tie it to something, glue something on to it…) that she refuses. She decides she wants to wrap a present. But she needs a box. I find her a box. Then she needs something to put in the box. I offer a few suggestions (draw a picture, find something little…) that she refuses. She finds a cookbook and reminds me of a story in one of her magazines where a family makes cookies to send to a cousin. She wants to make cookies to put in the box. I tell her to spend some time with the cookbook to figure out which cookies she wants to make. Eventually we find a recipe. We go to the kitchen and assemble our ingredients. We run into some issues because I don’t know if the yeast in a jar in the fridge is the same as instant yeast and I don’t know how much of that yeast in the jar is equal to half a packet. Really, I’m not the one for cooking projects. I tell her to wait for Mama. I tell her I have work to do and Mama is going to play with her during Ben’s nap so I can work.

3:00pm I realize that Mama has fallen asleep with Ben.

3:15pm I open the door to the bedroom hoping to wake Mama and Ben.

3:30pm Mama is awake and eating a snack. Ben and Ellie join her. I decide to get a jump on the evening chores and take the trash and recycling out. While outside I remember that I need to hose down the sidewalk (we were drawing with chalk yesterday but our neighbors don’t like chalk drawings left on the sidewalk).

3:45pm Both kids are now outside splashing in the hose water and drawing with chalk again. A neighbor comes over to talk. We visit awhile, our kids playing together.

4:15pm I go inside to find Mama cleaning and cutting strawberries. She kindly points out that if Ellie and I wanted to do a kitchen project we could’ve cleaned and cut strawberries! We had previously decided that tonight would be pizza and movie night. I call in the pizza. We realize we also need cream and shortcake. The kids are yelling at each other. Mama is groggy. I am still exhausted. Mama takes Ben to get the pizza, cream and shortcake. I clean and cut the rest of the strawberries. I make Ellie sit on the couch reading the second issue of LumberJanes. Then I make her put away all the toys that are spread out all over the floor. She says, “This is so Mama doesn’t feel so overwhelmed, right?”

5:30pm The co-op didn’t have shortcake so I’m making sweet Bisquick biscuits. Pizza arrives. We pile up in front of the TV. Ellie chose “The Adventures of Milo and Otis.” SPOILER: She is the only one that liked this movie. I did dishes instead of watching the movie. Mama started boiling down strawberries. Ben put the toys back on the floor.

7:00pm Normally the kids are done with the bath by now, but we are running behind schedule. Quick shower for everyone. Quick stories. It’s my night to read to Ellie and Mama’s night to read to Ben. Ellie and I are reading The Wizard of Oz on our nights.

8:00pm Kids are asleep. Mama is finishing the strawberries. I am blogging. After this I will do that work that I need to do today. Hopefully I’ll be done by 9pm, because I plan to watch some TV to relax.

 

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Ben’s adventure

April 21, 2014 at 9:47 pm

The previous post about loosening my protective urges was drafted before I left for vacation. But while on vacation we had a scare, a few minutes at most, but a scare nonetheless. It made me rethink when and how far I’ll let the kids wander. It also reinforced that I can let Ells (at 5) have more independence than Ben (at almost 2). Obviously.

I have been letting the kids out of direct eye sight more and more. At home, I’ll let them wander onto the porch while I am still putting my shoes on. I did the same while in a hotel room this past week. I let them go out into the hall while I was grabbing the key and bag. Before I made it out the door, Ells started hollering about Ben. Apparently she had pushed the button for the elevator, it came to our floor, the doors opened, Ben got on and the doors closed. I hollered for SA (fortunately we were both around) and sprinted down seven flights of stairs. When I got to the lobby, Ben was surrounded by people. I grabbed him, someone asked if I was okay (breathless!), and I got on the elevator to return to our floor. He was fine, didn’t seem bothered or even aware of his adventure. But when SA and Ells returned to our floor (they had taken the elevator to the lobby), they were both white as a ghost and Ells ran to me crying, “It’s all my fault!”

I’m going to guess that a kid probably rides an elevator accidentally like that at least once a day, somewhere. And 99% of those rides are frightening to those involved but have a quick reunion. Later that night, SA told me that she was particularly freaking out because she remembered the book “The Deep End of the Ocean” about a boy who vanishes from a hotel while with his sister. (I just googled it and the boy’s name was also Ben: freaky.) Other things to panic about: most floors that the elevator opened onto led through a sliding glass door into the parking garage. The (unattended) lobby level also led to an outside patio with a water feature ripe for toddlers to fall into. On the other hand, the reassurances: it was spring break in Florida and we were at a family-friendly resort. The odds were pretty good that there would be an adult around when the door opened. But in that moment of panic, the anxieties and irrational fears override the logic and reassurances.

The worst part, though, was the effect on Ells. That night when I checked on her in bed, she wasn’t asleep and said to me, “When I lay here, I start remembering. I remember when I lost Ben, I was so sad. I love him so much. It was my fault! I shouldn’t have pushed the button!” I told her that it wasn’t her fault. That she is never “in charge” of her brother, and that I will no longer put her in situations where she feels that way. That, in fact, it was my fault for letting them go alone into the hallway. I agreed that we could all hold hands when we left the room from then on. And, per her request, only adults pushed elevator buttons for the rest of our vacation.

 

Overprotective Parents

April 21, 2014 at 9:08 pm

This article, The Overprotected Kid, made the rounds in social media a few weeks ago and I heard the author speak on NPR. Parenting advice is a dime a dozen and likely I could find articles that I agreed with even if I changed my mind every day. In fact, though The New Yorker is not known as a satire publication I particularly enjoyed this piece about the saturation and overwhelm some of us might feel towards those articles.

But this idea about our overprotected kids really resonated with me. I want my children to be independent and free to roam. I spend a good amount of time wishing I didn’t live smack dab in a dense dirty urban area, because I think that urban-ness is what is requiring that I be overprotective. After reading this I decided to break some of those protective urges. And I realized that there were plenty of ways I could loosen up.

The day after I read the article Ells wanted to play outside while Ben napped. I sat on the porch and let her gather her own supplies and choose her own activities. She decided to wash the car. Fortunately the car was parked only a few doors down. She got a bucket and rag and filled the bucket herself. Because our porch wall is brick, most of the time she was out of my view though I could hear her puttering around. Other than letting her play out of my sight, I found the hardest thing was to not nag and remind her during play. I caught myself from saying “don’t forget the rag” and she had to come back to get it. I didn’t say “be careful” carrying the bucket of water and she figured out to hold it differently after she spilled it.

While roaming free in the woods isn’t an option for us, I think I can easily lighten up on my nagging and play directing, let the kids make messes and learn to clean them up, and let them figure out on their own what tools they need for which projects.

April Fool’s Day

April 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm

At five years old, Ells quickly got the hang of April Fool’s Day. Today at breakfast I told her it was a new month and after she excitedly changed the picture on her calendar I told her it was also a holiday of sorts. A day when we tell lots of jokes.

She must’ve discussed this with her peers and possibly teachers at preschool because she came home full of one-liners.

“Ba, did you know today is the last day of summer… April Fool’s!”

“Ba, tomorrow I’m going up to outer space and I’m going to stay for ever… April Fool’s!”

“Ba, I ate a pickle at school today. A whole big round one… April Fool’s!”

And on and on. I was only with her for a few hours for dinner and bath and I heard more than I can remember. She got me with the pickle one!

But I got her with this one, “Ells, our gas is out so you will have to take a cold bath tonight.” She looked at me, “Really again?” Me, “April Fool’s!” Ells, “I knew it the whole time!”

Fingernail Polish

February 27, 2014 at 9:27 pm

My son has an older sister. Whom he adores. If she throws a ball, he throws a ball. If she sits at the dinner table, he wants to sit at the dinner table. If she walks down the sidewalk without sitting in the stroller, he wants to walk down the sidewalk.

If she wants to paint her fingernails, he wants to paint his fingernails.

Fingernails We haven’t painted his fingernails before. Not because he’s a boy. But because he’s one. And he hasn’t been able to hold still long enough for them to dry. But today we gave it a try. Before I left for work Mama and I painted their nails. Ells chose her color because it is the one actual “grown up” variety we have in the house. We have a kid’s bottle, coincidentally blue, but Ben wanted the exact same bottle that his older sister used. And he sat patiently still long enough to have one hand painted.

And then he helped blow on his fingers to dry them. And then he happily modeled them long enough for me to take this one blurry photo.

When I came home from work, he was sitting at the dining room table (he prefers the chair to his high chair now) and he yelled “Baba Baba!” and held up his hands so I could see.  All day and he was still excited about it.

Mama took them out today and she says a girl about three years old asked, “Is he a girl? … Then why are his fingernails painted?”

Boy and Ergo
This might be a good time to point out that he also loves playing with dolls. Because his sister does. Though I think he might enjoy it more than she did at this age. Perhaps because he has a model for how to play with them. He has his own (anatomically-correct) doll. But he also frequently plays with his sister’s (anatomically neutral / bald) dolls. He picks them up, kisses them (“mwah”), carries them around, covers them with blankets. Here he carried around his baby while wearing the grown-up Ergo and my ball cap.

 

Fingernail polish. Dolls. Not just for girls.

Five Years Old

February 19, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Our oldest is five years old today.

Ells is 5

 

We’ve been celebrating for a while, as these things tend to do. Her party was this past weekend, and it took us a few days before that to clean and decorate and prepare. A special birthday breakfast today (puff), followed by a special birthday snack at preschool (pancakes with peanut butter and applesauce), followed by a trip to the aquarium store to get her very own pet.

She’s finally five. The last few weeks: “Ba watch me skip jump on one foot. I can do this because I’m almost five.” “Ba when I’m five I’m going to start doing chores like sweeping and dusting and maybe you can teach me to mop.” “Ba these clothes are getting too small for me because I’m almost five.”

Marshmallows

January 14, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Ells and I were enjoying some hot chocolate this afternoon. And she noticed that I had more marshmallows than her.

Ells, “Why do you have more than me?”
Me, “Because I’m bigger.”
Ells, “Why does that mean a little girl can’t have as many marshmallows as a grown up?”
Me, Well it doesn’t. It’s a bad argument.”
Ells, “But my tummy is bigger than yours.”
Me, “I don’t think it is. Whose hand is bigger?”

Hands palm to palm.

Ells, “Yours.”
Me, “Whose foot is bigger?”

Feet side by side.

Ells, “Yours.”
Me, “Whose knee is bigger.”

Knees touching.

Ells, “Yours. But my tummy goes from side to side here in this space. And it’s as big as yours.”

Pause.

Ells, “But still when I’m a grown-up, I’m gonna let my kids have as many marshmallows as I have.”

 

Ells Selfie

 

 

And then while I was putting the toddler down for nap she found my phone and took this selfie.

Charades

January 10, 2014 at 3:26 am

Having a pre-verbal child is a bit like playing charades, all the time. What is he trying to tell me with these gestures, signs and grunts?

This evening I asked Ells if she wanted a treat after dinner, she mentioned that Benny hadn’t finished his teddy graham crackers from snack and asked if she could have those. Benny ran to the cup and carefully carried it to her. He then went and got himself another cup and held it out to me. I assumed he wanted more teddy grahams so I gave him some. Which he promptly dumped out onto the kitchen floor. Then he walked to the refrigerator and gestured and made sounds. I opened the fridge. He pointed to the guacamole and said “chee”. I asked if he wanted guacamole, he shook his head and said “chee” again. I told him the cheese was in the bottom drawer so he reached for it. Ah, he wants cheese. I poured some shredded cheddar into his cup and he smiled and sat down to eat it.

Chee!

 

Ten minutes later I heard him making sounds again, at the refrigerator with the little toy tea cup. This is a known charades game: he wants water from the dispenser on the door of the refrigerator. I meet it out to in small swallows because I’ve learned the hard way that if the cup is full most of the water will end up on the floor.

Boy drinks from cup

 

Hidden Toys

January 9, 2014 at 3:27 am

Ells, “I’m just looking under here to see if there are any new toys I haven’t played with.”
Me, “Do you see any?”
Ells, “Nope, just some old food… some cheese, a raisin.”

Refrigerator Ninja

Thankful

November 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Originally posted on EllsandBaba, November 21st 2012, Ells aged three and three quarters

I sat down with Ells and talked to her about Thanksgiving and how it’s a time for family to come together and be thankful for the good things in our lives. And a time to eat a big meal together. I asked her what kind of things she was thankful for.

 

November 2012

“I’m thankful for you going trick-or-treating with me.

I’m thankful for treats.
I’m thankful for a lot of things.
I’m thankful for all the people who work hard as soldiers.
I’m thankful for all the family who are in my life.
I’m thankful for my school which is made of friends and I am a friend to my school.
I’m thankful for my Hello Kitty toy.
Thank you for inviting us over for dinner.
I’m thankful for going over to Aunt A and Uncle A’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, and for the twins who are my favorite cousins ever.
I’m thankful for [grandma and step-grandpa] who are my best friends, I’m thankful for that, right?
Um, I’m thankful for you letting me get a white pumpkin to paint orange.
I’m glad you reminded me to say thanks for all these things there are.
Oh, and thank you, please and you’re welcome.”

It was clear she had some recent previous holidays on her mind, was sometimes looking around the house naming things she saw, and was also recalling some times when we talked about manners and used thank you phrases.