Friday, September 28, 2007

In Stitches

I realize that my blog is starting to get lopsided with all these entries about stuff Meredith is saying. But just in this past week I cannot believe how much she is talking. Basically, she never stops. And I’m having a hard time keeping a straight face when she needs discipline. She tries to talk her way out of everything and she uses her own little two-year-old logic to do it.

A (calling upstairs): “Meredith, where are you?”

M: “I’m giving Clara a massage.”

A: “WHAT are you doing?”

M: “I’m just playing with my sister!”

And then, as if anticipating my response, she says: “Yes. I am being nice to her!”

M (setting some pretend food on the table): “THAT is for potty train. It is a treat.”

A: “When can I eat it?”

M: “You have to pee and poop FIRST. It is for potty train.”

[She understands the concept, it's just the execution that she has a problem with.]

M (to her grandpa as he was leaving): “See you in a while alligator!”

M: “Do you want an egg sweetie?” (She uses terms of endearment a lot, including “babe.” For instance, “Where is babe?” meaning Kevin.)

M: “I want a bottle of milk.”

A: “Remember? You got big and you don’t have any bottles anymore.”

M: “But I can’t reach the sky yet [pointing up]. I have to get another birthday and then I can reach the sky, like mommy. I want a bottle of milk!”

And then, this just happened a few seconds ago:

A (sternly, because Meredith was up from her nap): “What are you doing?”

M (stuffing tights down her PJs): “My baby sister is in there.” (i.e., She’s “pregnant.”)

A (pointing to tights): “What are those?”

M: “Those are my bras. For pretend.”

And here is a picture of Clara. I love her too! Honestly!! It’s just that, like I said, Meredith has been providing all the commentary lately.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A dream is a wish your heart makes …

Cinderella has become Meredith’s all-time favorite movie lately. I let her watch it a few times a week while I take a shower or work on the computer.

You know how little kids often like to describe events and movies to you and you have to sit there and listen, being bored out of your mind because you weren’t there and it isn’t even interesting? Well, Meredith has started doing this! And it’s all about Cinderella!

She has started telling me and Kevin about the Cinderella story while we are at the dinner table or riding in the car. The other day she said, “That stepsisters ripped Cin-erella’s dress [hand motions included] and broke her necklace. It spilled everywhere. Cin-erella was very mad. She cried in the garden.”

She has started wearing her dress shoes constantly. She says, “These are my glass slippers.”

The other day while she was watching it (you know the part where Cinderella is dancing with the prince at the ball and they are singing “So this is Love”?), she looked over to my direction and said, “Look, mom. Cin-erella is singing with her daddy.”

More Sayings and Doings of Meredith

The other day as I worked in the kitchen, Meredith was talking in the background. Suddenly her voice got louder and she said, “Mommy, I’m talking. Now you listen!”

This morning she told two-month-old Clara, who was innocently sitting in her bouncy seat, “Hey! Look at me. You listen when I talk.”

Kevin recently read a picture book to Meredith about Indians. In the back was a map with the names of various Indian tribes printed on the map. One was the Kickapoo tribe. Meredith then interrupted him and said, “I kick. I kick Winnie the Pooh!”

The other day I told Meredith to drink some milk because it will make her grow big and strong. (Since we took her bottle away, she’s nearly stopped drinking milk altogether.) She looked up at me and said, “But my food will make me strong. I already healthy.”

It’s so annoying having a logical child.

These are things Meredith often says these days:

“It will be fall soon!” [Then she explains that the leaves will change and it will snow soon.]

“Someday when I be three …” [Usually she adds that we will go to the state fair again after “I be three.”]

“Someday when Trara gets big …”

“Hey Trara, someday when you get big, you can play with [insert name of toy] too!”

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Wind in Our Ears

United Way of Central Indiana gives a free book of the month to preschoolers in Marion County. They are brand new, beautiful books. Meredith always loves receiving these in the mail. I keep thinking that one of these days I’m going to write a gushy thank-you note to the donors who make it possible for young kids to have a decent home library. It’s fabulous! The books have quickly become some of Meredith’s favorites.

The book for September is about a wild, little pony that “feels the wind in his ear” and goes on an adventure. The morning after I read the book to Meredith for the first time, we went on a walk to the park. As we were walking along, a gust of wind picked up and Meredith laughed and said, “I feel the wind in my ear!”

Well, today I’m feeling the wind in my ear too!

Here’s why: a family member generously enabled us to have a second car. It’s something that will get us through the end of Kevin’s schooling until we can buy a larger vehicle for our family. I’m so grateful. It’s so freeing to know that I can grocery shop during the day, or go meet up with a friend for a play date, or take the kids to the Children’s Museum, without having to go downtown two or three times in a day to transport Kevin.

So, yes, both me and Meredith are feeling the wind in our ears!

Dear Good Food, I Miss You

Lately I’ve really missed cooking nice meals. I love quality food, fresh ingredients, and complex flavors. Really decent dinners have been hit and miss lately—it’s been hard to find the time to be consistent. Hopefully my life will get saner soon because my taste buds are going on strike.

Friday night was a really low point in our family cuisine standards. Kevin had class until late. I decided to take Meredith to the park at 4:30 since none of us had been outside all day. So, I figured we’d just make grilled cheese or something quick for dinner. When we got home from the park, hungry, I discovered that our loaf of bread had some mold on it. So, we ended up having grilled cheese on hamburger buns. Blah. As I sat there flipping grilled cheese on hamburger buns, I tried to be cheerful about our prospective dinner but it was really hard.

When Kevin got home, I announced, “Welcome to my gourmet kitchen” and handed him this plate.

So, after this low point I decided I’d had enough and planned an entire week’s worth of really yummy food. Tonight we’re having honey baked chicken with parmesan zucchini chips. So far so good. At least I have the chicken thawed already.

My fingers are tightly crossed, and my taste buds are hopeful.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Potty Training, First Attempt

For those of you women out there who have accomplished the task of potty training a toddler, wow, I really respect you a lot. You are an amazing person who is completely underappreciated by the masses. You are an attentive, creative, gifted, articulate, persuasive, and most of all patient person. If the world won’t sing your praises, I will do it here on my blog.

This morning was my first attempt at trying to potty train Meredith. I read up on the subject, armed myself with all the necessary materials, created anticipation on Meredith’s part, and after only three hours I decided that if she gets potty trained by age 13, just in time to switch from diapers to maxi-pads, that’s okay with me.

At this precise moment in time, if you were to ask me which task do you think would be less challenging, potty training a two-year-old or negotiating with a hostage-taker, I would likely choose the hostage-taking situation.

We did have one successful time, first thing in the morning. That was followed by three “number one” accidents and one “number two” accident. Never mind the fact that she had been sitting on the potty for lengthy periods of time before each accident. Just before one of the accidents, she started getting off the potty and I told her, “No, you need to stay on the potty.” Meredith looked up at me and said, “But I can’t get no pee out!” Oh, okay honey, I guess you can get up to play for five minutes. Within thirty seconds there was a puddle on the floor the size of the Atlantic Ocean.

While on the phone trying to explain all this to Kevin, I told him, “You know, there’s only so much a girl can take. After three hours of getting peed on, pooped on and spit up on [because of caring for Clara too], I can’t take it any more. It’s not THAT important to me right now. It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining. I’m getting out of this house and I’m going to take advantage of that sunshine.”

So I think we’re going to take a break for a few months, or maybe until 2010.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Double Fun

Here’s an update on my girls—Clara is getting so chubby lately. She’s a tank compared to what Meredith was at her age. We are enjoying her so much! She is so fun to hold and is cooing and smiling a lot these days. Meredith keeps cracking us up with her verbal expressions and fresh take on life. I think I’m finally going to (for real) start potty training her. Paying for diapers for two is getting old. As you can tell from the picture below, she is still enjoying choosing her own clothes to wear. She is very opinionated about this area of her life. And whenever she is wearing something with a princess Disney character (or her Minnie Mouse dress, which is under the sweater in the picture below), she thinks she is the most beautiful person in the world.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Book Club Miscellany

This is probably the worst time in my life for me to start a book club. “Do not stop” has become my mantra lately just so I can get through the busy days. But I really do enjoy the club. It’s fun! And in ten years I’ll remember the books and the conversations a lot better than fatigue. So, there you have it.

Last night we discussed Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. Catherine told me that her husband calls our club the “Jerks Around the World Club” because three out of the five books we’ve read so far have, in some way, dealt with the oppression of women. Honestly, we all love our husbands. So, it’s not like we’re purposefully looking for a forum to besmirch the male species. But it is funny to think about. We’ve read books on women in China, India, and now Tehran, all of them experiencing various forms of oppression. So now Josh asks, “Where’s the Jerk from this month?” Ha!

There are two things I really appreciated about Nafisi’s book. First, it made me think more deeply about the purpose of fiction and its value. The women in Nafisi’s reading group were able to survive their bleak circumstances mainly because the novels they read offered them beauty, truth, and hope. Like the book says, we don’t look for realism in fiction but for the epiphany of truth. Fiction provides an outlet into another world, one of beauty. By offering us the ability to surpass the limits of reality, fiction offers freedom and hope. The author also noted that “empathy is at the heart of the novel.” Fiction makes us more empathetic people.

The second thing I appreciated was the author’s ability to convey exactly what life is like under an Islamic fascist regime. Nafisi articulated what she calls “the small horrors of every day life” in Tehran. When you think about government oppression, it’s easy to focus mainly on things like house raids, executions and tortures. But I never really deeply thought about the constant, overwhelming oppression of having all you freedoms of expression taken away. These women were forced into uniformity, without being allowed to define themselves. All of their freedom to imagine, to be unique and creative, had been suffocated by the regime. They weren’t allowed to wear color, to show their hair, to lick ice cream in public, to publicly express emotions. Men were not allowed to look them in the eye. Nafisi did a good job of helping me to understand a little bit about what this oppression must be like. The young women in her book seemed very realistic; they were people I could easily sympathize with.

One fun thing! I found a new favorite coffee dessert idea by reading the book! The author described on several different occasions how she liked to take a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a scoop of coffee ice cream, pour coffee over it, and top it with toasted walnuts. We tried it last night and it was fabulous. I’m already looking forward to making another one. Soon. Very Soon.

You know it’s a good book when, once you’ve reached the end, you realize that you have been holding your breath for the last few pages. So, yes, I really enjoyed Reading Lolita.

Mer and "Trara"

Meredith calls her little sister “Trara.” Clara doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, Meredith is quickly becoming her favorite person. Meredith can already make her smile faster than anyone else in the room.

Meredith is very affectionate and sweet toward Clara. The other day I saw Meredith stroking Clara’s head and saying to her, “Hi Trara! You’re so precious. You’re my sweetheart.” It was music to my ears. I hope they always love each other. They probably won’t on a lot of days. But I hope they can be lifelong friends. Having a sister is a gift from God.

Last night while I had book club Kevin took Meredith on a “date” for ice cream. When she heard that daddy was taking her out, she said: “Let’s take our purses and go shopping!”

This morning Meredith came into my room and said, “Mom, go take a shower. You’re dirty. I need to watch Cinderella. Cinderella is my friend!” (I let her watch a video while I’m in the shower. Can you tell what her new favorite is?)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

It Must Be Fall

I’m back at MOPS and back to work. Kevin is back in school. And Fantasy Football has begun.

I really wish I had a picture of the guys on Monday when they were doing their Fantasy Football draft. There were like ten of them sitting around the table, each with a laptop in front of them, agonizing over their next pick. Us girls were upstairs in the loft visiting and conducting our own draft, occasionally hearing squeals of delight or dismay, whatever the case may be, from the men folk on the first floor.

Next year I’m definitely going to bring my camera so you can see how cute they were all huddled together around their technology taking their draft so seriously.

I’m not really into gambling but I do think the winner of Fantasy Football should get something. Not that I’ve personally ever been the champion of a league but I think it would be a let down to win and not get anything for it. Your friends should at least take you to dinner. Or something.

Oh, the baby ...

Since having a second baby I’ve had lots of flashbacks to my life two years ago, to the time right after Meredith was born. What a difference!

As we were sitting in church on Sunday, with Meredith squirming between me and Kevin, I looked over and noticed Clara lying peacefully in her carrier-seat, her eyes moving around to focus on various objects in the room. It’s often easy to forget that Clara is around when we take her to public places. That was never the case with Meredith.

I was always so tense when taking newborn-Meredith to public places, like a church service, where she might make noise and be a disturbance. What if I couldn’t control the crying and make it stop? It was the unpredictability of this new little creature that made me nervous.

I remember trying to coordinate Meredith’s feedings so that we wouldn’t have to move her from her carrier-seat during the service hoping against hope, tightly crossing my fingers, that she would just sleep and not cry. Every newborn grunting noise emanating from her mouth set me on edge. It was like I viewed her as a time bomb waiting to go off. We kept her swaddled tight with a pacifier in her mouth the whole time. Even then, I was nervous. (Yes, I know, I seriously needed a chill pill.)

Clara, on the other hand, just sits there without a pacifier, peacefully moving her hands about, and probably making noises that I’m unaware of at the time.

Nowadays I’m too distracted with a toddler to worry about the newborn acting up. I’m also more experienced and therefore more relaxed. It’s nice to have finally arrived at this place.