Thursday, July 31, 2014

This week, I learned...

The week is not yet over, and already it has been an insightful one.  This week, I learned...

...that when you are limited to drawing stick people, drawing a mermaid is a definite challenge.

...that zucchini butter is a real thing.  And it is good, nay great.  Slathered on toast, studded with fresh mozzarella and cherry tomatoes (if one is so inclined, and hey, 'tis the season...), it is a humble feast yet a delightful one.

...that Target has a hold on me second to none.  It's like that Jim Gaffigan bit about cake: (paraphrasing) "Hey, it's Joe Smith's birthday...I don't really know the guy...There's cake in the conference room...Well, I should at least say hello."  Target does that to you.  "We need dish soap...That means I have to wash dishes...I can get it at Target and then wander aimlessly through the aisles, amassing a small fortune of vital but discounted merchandise in my cart...Well, those dishes do need to be washed."  I already knew about my attraction to Target, but it doesn't hurt to admit my affection for the old place every now and again.  Keeps me honest in my addictions.

...that the maternity bathing suit I own fit well neither when I was pregnant nor when I am not pregnant.

...that 1 box of strawberry cake mix, 2 lbs. of baking soda, and some pink tinted water when mixed together does indeed make a lovely scented Play dough-ish compound, but it also makes a mess that surpasses understanding.  And then we added sprinkles just because.  

And to close, it always tickles me purple when the girls use "big" words in conversation.  Big A as we are leaving the driveway about an hour before lunch to go to a local water park, when she saw me stash some lunch snacks in the car for them to munch on to both start their lunch and keep them awake on the way home:  "Good thing you brought those along.  We might get drowsy on the way home."  Good thing we're prepared.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The little one

Prologue:  Camping Adventure 2014 episode 2 has come and gone, again more successfully than not.  This was even a longer trip (2 nights!!  Are you gasping in shock yet?), but all survived.  Because I'm sure my devoted fan base (???) is wondering based on Camping Adventure 2014 episode 1, the answer is YES.  It was again far, far too cold at night.  In July.  It's not like we haven't made an honest effort at sweltering; Mother Nature hasn't gotten that memo. 

I want to take a moment and talk about the little one.  The peanut.  Our sweet baby cakes. 

First of all, she's almost all the way potty trained, and that's pretty great.  This turn of events led me to "deconstructing" the changing table...with a rubber mallet.  It was hauled away in the garbage truck this morning.  Why such brute force?  Well.  Surely by now I've made this point, but just in case--WE'RE ALMOST DONE WITH DIAPERS FOREVERRRRRR.  We're not excited about that.  A couple of days ago, she was working on a #2 on her potty seat when she suddenly ducked her head and covered her eyes.  When questioned, she responded "I'm hiding...from the poopy."  Aren't we all.

The little bean is good for 7-8 word sentences, which is fun.  She's also a crazy little mimic, mostly of big sister.  This results in all sorts of hilarity.  She also just told the boy to "Hey...take your hands off of me!" when he was helping her onto his lap.  I wonder where she heard that before. 

Sweetness is also good for memorizing her favorite books after a couple of read-throughs.  It's always good to let the kid do all of the work at story time.  That let's me start my own nap time that much earlier.  (Anyone want to hear a variation on Boo Boo or Brown Bear, Brown Bear?  She has a whole repertoire.)

The nugget still insists on a very specific set list for "cuddles" before sleep: Silent Night, then ABCs, kiss, lay down and tuck in (including animals), then Peace be Still, and finally Jingle Bells.  But you can't smile during Jingle Bells.  That's a crime in toddler-ville.  And you dare not cut in for the "hey!" and the "ha ha ha" parts of the favorite Christmas song.  You get a serious tongue lashing for that.

Sweet pea is turning into my baseball buddy.  As she climbed up in my lap yesterday while I had a game on, she told me that she likes baseball.  However, she repeatedly tells my boys on the senior circuit to "Don't run!  Walk!"  Who said that baseball is too slow?  Apparently, it's not slow enough.

All of this is to say that I'm thoroughly absorbing as much of the little one's incredible toddler-ness while it lasts.  For here's the thing--she's my girl.  Truly, truly, I'm her favorite, her world.  I have never, ever ever ever, had this with her sister, and this devotion working in conjunction with she's our final little homemade confection that I'll ever bake, it's my IT right now.  It's the highlight of many a day.  It's the way I thought #1 would be.

We made a good choice to make a kid that likes me for a change.  


Thursday, July 17, 2014

By special request

Red alert, red alert, everyone...I'm going to write about cats (by special request).  That opener was also a small nod to a certain science teacher in my life who used to have a Starship Enterprise alarm clock whilst a young(ish) lad, and the alarm part was actually the RED ALERT, RED ALERT sound.  It has never entered my home, nor will it ever.  I prefer not to wake up by sounds that induce pulse-stopping fear.  Also, it's not my style. 

From about the middle of June to just a few days ago, I didn't have much of anything to say.  My well of inspiration was (actually, still is) strongly resembling much of California and the Southwest as a whole.  Dry, baby, dry.  But I got a request during that yawn-inducing stretch of nothing to write about cats.  Well.  I've been there sometimes when I have waxed poetic about sweet, diabetic Leo (who's off his insulin but will forever be expensive-food-dependent for the rest of his kitty life).  But I can't remember writing about the general topic of "cats" before, so that is kind of new.  And I have actually been thinking about what I would say.  It's come down to this: stop dissing cats, people.

In all honesty, I don't get it.  Why the hatred towards cats?  Why not a hatred towards birds or rabbits, both of which I argue are far dirtier and more useless as a pet.  Cats seems to be the scapegoat for all that many in our society deems as deviant, problematic, or evil.  Shouldn't we kind of admire cats for their I-don't-care-no-matter-what-you-think-of-me attitudes?  They do have some amount of grit and self-loving that many of us could use a little more of. 

Perhaps I should offer the disclaimer that we do adore our two kitties, and I have always had at least 1 cat in my life since I was quite young.  But I also think that it's more than that.  I admire others' cats much like I admire dogs.  They're nice, but they're not mine (not unlike my thoughts about children in public).  I don't want scads of them.  Qualify me if you must, I probably am what you would call a "cat person," but in actuality, I'm much, much more so an "animal person," one who admires that which is in God's creation. 

Animals are stunning elements in our world.  Really, truly stunning.  More than once, I have been witness to someone disparaging animals in the manner of "We shouldn't care about saving animals because we don't save ourselves first."  I hear the argument; I understand the emotion and gravity of this statement.  Yet, I don't believe it to be at all this simple.  These are not and will never be the same issue.  How, and why, do we compare them as if they are?  I have a love of animals, true.  I also have a deep appreciation for the value of a human life.  Why must I feel guilty about promoting the care for animals even though there are still humans on our Earth who are not adequately cared for?  Must we ensure that every human is safe, fed and provided for before we care a whit that animals the world around have their natural habitats protected so that they may live as God intended?  Are we to be so compartmentalized that we cannot care for both elements of creation at the same time? 

I lose some faith in humanity when I hear the either/or ultimatum.  We can and quite often do open our hearts to care for God's world in total.  Perhaps the human life that we need to sacrifice, just a little, is our own in order to do so.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Speaking of miracles

The boy has an odd habit of starting many a conversation thread with the phrase "Speaking of..."  You might be reading this with confusion right now, wondering "Why is this odd?"  Because, friend.  His "Speaking of..." comments usually refer to random crumbs of dialogue from six minutes ago.  You have to be on your toes to follow his line of thought many a time. 

Speaking of being on your toes...

We took our first vacation with children this past week, and that took a lot of planning.  It didn't have to be as time consuming as it was, but the fruits of my labors, we did reap.  It was a week of small miracles.

Speaking of miracles...

This isn't really a post about the vacation itself.  It wasn't flashy, exotic or jealousy-sigh-inducing.  But, frankly speaking, it was just right for our family right now.  If A + B = C, then I'm going to go out on a limb and say that my family isn't flashy, exotic or jealousy-sigh-inducing either.  That is an accurate statement.  And, that works for our family right now, too.  Living the life, my friend.

Here's my effort to reign it in here; I know you want to hear about the miracles.  Ask and ye shall (maybe) receive. 

*Five days.  Hours in the car, including a stretch of 4 hours (a new high score for this bunch) to start the trip.  Nary a whine.  Nary a complaint.  Nary a weep.  I call that a miracle when sometimes I can't make it fifteen minutes across town without flailing and gnashing.
*Food.  I was soaking up some HGTV early in the week, and one of the participants on the show was talking about his love of airplanes.  He admires them so much to the extent that his self-proclaimed hobby is to buy a round trip cross-country ticket, say D.C. to San Francisco, and then fly the route just to fly.  He doesn't stay in the destination city, doesn't sight see.  He just enjoys what he calls the relaxation of the flight.  It was something of a light bulb moment for me.  If he can get away with calling that a hobby (though his partner definitely argued against the use of that term), then why can't I enjoy visiting new grocery stores as something of an odd hobby?  I can.  I did.  I hit up 3 upscale, even swanky, little spots along the way, and managed to seemingly bring home more food than we ate for the week.  Popcorns.  Coffee.  Vanilla macaroon granola (oooooooohhhhhhh, I love this).  Roasted coconut chips.  Coconut cashews.  One place had a make-your own trail mix bar.  One had three unique restaurants in it.  One had a line of flavored vinegars and olive oils that you could sample before filling a jar with your preference.  One had a little child care situation at the front of the store.  Finding grocery stores isn't really a miracle, but it was a miraculous bit that they were all so accessible to where we were and that I walked through all of them sans-kids.  It's hard to enjoy a good vinegar and olive oil bar when a small fry doesn't have the same interest.  So...miracle.
*Ice cream.  Prior to the trip amidst all of my hours of researching/planning/detail checking, I happened upon 3 ice cream/frozen yogurt places that were must try spots for me.  And, in two days, I did.  We hit up Jenni's, which is arguably one of the best in the country.  We found a Graeter's with a playground in the store.  I slipped into Bad Frog for some coconut (I see a theme emerging) froyo.  They all live up to the hype, and I basically still fit into my clothes.  Miracle.
*Accommodation #1.  We tried the VRBO route for the first time, and it did not disappoint.  Bedrooms for all.  A stocked kitchen.  Space to play and then veg after the kidlets were tucked away.  Cheaper than a small hotel room.  I wasn't sure how this was going to play out having never used this site before, so I'm going to label this a miracle.
*Accommodation #2.  I found a cute-as-a-button bed and breakfast cottage for the 2nd leg of our tour de force, which frankly means knicknacks everywhere.  Kitsch is one thing.  Kitsch with young kids in tow is another.  And nothing broke, which from any mother-of-young-children's point of view is a huge miracle.
*Prove me wrong.  One big reason why we haven't really taken a vacation before is that I haven't been convinced it wouldn't be torture.  Our kids generally don't ride well for long distances, and the boy isn't about to buy plane tickets for everyone.  So we've been at something of an impasse for a while.  Finally, we (mostly I) pushed aside our misgivings for the sake of a zoo and a couple of children museums that hit a good balance between child-friendly and adults-will-have-fun-too.  My parents have a lake cottage that is easily accessible to us, and that has always sufficed to be our getaway spot for the last few years.  But now, I already caught myself thinking about the next trip.  And not only has my mind blazed that new trail, but also I found myself looking forward to another trip soon with the brood.  I interpret this as all of the other small miracles adding up to this big one.