Sunday, May 31, 2009

Funny and Precious Toddler Moments: Things Toddlers Say

Darah, the other night, exclaimed "what happened" (well, more like "waat happeeeen") after the cardboard toilet paper roll that she was playing with fell off the couch. Now she says it often. Like, for instance, after she puts food down her lap she will say "waat happeeeen" before putting more food in her secret place.

She has just learned to take this command: "Kiss your foot." She will hold each of her feet to her mouth and say "mmmm muh."

I announced to Darah that we were trying to call Gramma Sue, and she sang "tap tap tap" to herself..."tap tap tap" is part of a song that Gramma Sue sings to her over Skype ("Wind, wind, wind the thread...tap, tap, tap...Mr. Shoemaker mend my shoe, have it done by half past two...")

If I say "are you going to sing a song," she will start to sing a song to herself (granted it's usually one that I am unfamiliar with).

She has a tennis-player doll with blue hair named Sue Blue (after her Gramma Sue)that she carries all over the house. She makes Sue Blue climb the floor lamp, ride the pony, sit on the toddler chair, and sometimes she puts her on the table and then looks at me to let me know that she knows Sue shouldn't be on the table.

The other night, we were watching a movie with Darah (she was sitting between us on the couch). It was too scary for her (A Night at the Museum), and as soon as the displays at the museum started coming to life she said "Ut oh, ut oh, ut oh." Well, we turned it off pretty soon after that. She was very anxious about it but could not keep her eyes off of the television. She was very serious about it and very upset. A few minutes after we turned the movie off, she said "ah pooey, ah pooey," which we soon figured out meant "I pooped."

And just now she opened her dresser drawer, took out a pair of shorts, shut the drawer, and walked the shorts across the room where she placed them on the floor. She repeated the behavior, and on the second try the drawer did not close totally so she gave it an extra push. Oh, she just shut her fingers in it. "Ohhh" she whined. She went back for more. She pulled out a pair of pants and said "pint," and then proceeded to put them on her head. She will surely take every item out of the drawer. She loves clothing. We don't have any fun costumes for her (I guess we need to take a trip to the thrift store for some scarves).

Darah's sweet nature comes out so often, especially when she hugs her animals makes them kiss each other (and us). There is a lot of kissing going on in our house. It seems to be a (or The) central experience in our house.

She calls marshmallows and some other things "chimies," for some reason.

She loves clothing, and frequently wears Sandy's bras around the house - petting them lovingly as they hang over her shirt.

She is in the process of figuring out the difference between "all gone" and "all done." Sometimes she gets it, but she definitely prefers "all gone."

During most meals, she blows on some of her (cold) food items and says, "hot." We say, "cold," and she repeats "hot." We are convinced we scarred her when we had a plate of candles burning on the coffee table. I said "No, HOT. Be careful. Hot. Ouch..." when she approached the candles. She was very concerned about the candles after I scared her, and ever since she has been saying "hot" all the time, quite indiscriminately.

Well it's no surprise, but she is obsessed with ice cream. We started buying ice cream for me for dessert. I share mine with her. But now all she thinks about and wants is "iye ceem." If Sandy goes in the freezer for something, Darah starts begging for "iye ceem," saying "pees" ("please") and visiting each of us, frantically. The other night, though, she shocked us both. She took a box of waffle bowls out of the cupboard and brought them to me and said "iye deem?" It took me a second to figure out that she was asking me for ice cream. I didn't know how she would make the connection between the waffle bowl box and the ice cream since she had never seen the box before. But there on the box was a picture of an ice cream sundae covered in sprinkles and the works. She must have recognized the image as ice cream somehow.

She pulls animals out of her pop up books (rips them out) and then frets - "ohhhh" or "ut oh" she says and brings them to me with a very concerned expression on her face. She doesn't know how to NOT rip them out of the book but she recognizes that something bad happened once they are ripped out.

Darah loves to play "Minkey" with Momma Sandy. "Minkey" or "Mink" are Darah's words for monkey. She loves to have Momma Sandy go all out and be a crazy monkey. She giggles and throws her head back. She has trouble when Sandy tries to end the game, though. Before Sandy even finishes her impression of a crazy monkey, Darah is already asking for more. "Moa, Moa, Moa Mink."

Darah is very good at making cat and kitty noises (like "wow," "weo," and "yeeeow,"). She makes other animals sounds, but not as well as she makes her cat sounds. She can do a "ruff" for a dog, an "ah" or "ooh" for a monkey, a "baa" for a sheep, a (very good) "moo" for a cow, and a few others, as well. She loves making animal sounds and reading about animals.

And, impressively (to us) Darah can point to many of her body parts/regions - such as her nose, head, hair, mouth, teeth, ears, eyes, feet, belly button/belly, hands, and fingers. She thinks she is having a baby, though. When I ask her where the baby is, she points to her belly.

Her interest and curiosity is endearing. The other day I was sitting, naked on the bathroom floor cutting my toenails. She started to point to my breasts with great interest. I called them "boobs" and "boobies." I think she thinks I have three boobies, one that is called "belly button" or "be bo." My pregnant belly button sticks out like a third nipple, so I am not surprised by her desire to connect all three nipples. I would think she might have some fixation with my breasts since she loved them and drank from them eight times a day for the first year of her life, but I think she only vaguely remembers them. I wonder what she will think when her sibling is breastfeeding.

While Darah was helping me put the crayons back in the box, she put on in upside down. She then said "ut oh," pulled it out and put it back in, right side up.

Darah is into make-believe and has been for a while. Today, as I was trying to put her down for a nap, she bopped me on the head with Beatrice Bunny. Then she said, "ut oh...chientow (gentle)" and pet my head. It was like she was teaching Beatrice to be a nice bunny.

Darah also managed to figure out how to (try to) open the Pella blinds. I never knew she was around when I opened or closed them (well, I never knew she was paying attention). To open/close the blinds, you have to twist a small piece of plastic that sits at the bottom corner of the windows and doors. Ever since we put the baby pool on the deck, Darah has been obsessed with looking out the window and begging for "Poo." I went to get her during one of her latest obsessive moments and found her, sitting on the floor, trying to turn the knob to open the blinds so that she could see her pool.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pregnant and Caring for a Child: Happiness, and I guess

My daughter, Darah, is extremely cute and smart and sweet. I feel so honored to be able to spend some of my life journey with her. She is a little ray of sunshine, and brings warmth and light to those around her - even at the young age of sixteen months. At this moment, she is bringing a pile of miniature books to her other mother, Momma Sandy. Two of her favorite things this week (it changes weekly and sometimes daily) are to point to her head and say "heh" and to hug her arms around herself (often her animals and sometimes her moms, but mostly herself) and say "huck." It's almost too much preciousness to bear. I have very little energy and feel very tired, but she is happy to do simple things with me - like read book after book after book (mind you, the books are about five cardboard pages long). She is happy just to hand me each of her stuffed animals and have me say their names and "thank you." She is also happy to play on her own at certain times during the day. Usually, she makes the biggest messes and the cutest noises when she plays alone. I am glad that she is not clingy. I feel we are doing a pretty good job; she enjoys our love but doesn't feel too much anxiety. She doesn't need to be clingy! Every so often she comes to one of us for a hug. Sandy is holding her right now, because Darah came to see her at the dining room table and said "boo dee huck" while reaching her arms up for an embrace.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pregnancy Week 18: Nausea and A Brain that Fascinates

Some things that I have been and am experiencing during this pregnancy that I do not recall experiencing during my last are jaw and tooth pain (especially along the right side of my mouth and neck. It seems a little too severe to be caused my all of the Altoids I have been chomping on after each meal. I also have been having headaches periodically throughout the day. It's very strange but my lips are extremely dry (and have been for the past three months). I have been trying to put on a neutral-flavored Chapstick (which is difficult), but it doesn't seem to help. They dry up and crack. It's really gross. Not only that, but I am also congested all the time. I seem to be feeling a lot more soreness in various parts of my body earlier on than in my last pregnancy. My neck aches, my pelvic region aches, sometimes even my elbows throb. Today my right arm is in pain, as if I pulled a muscle. But I am SURE I did not pull a muscle. I spend almost all of my time sitting on the couch, lying on the bed, or lying on the floor.

I am approaching Week 18 but I am not feeling well yet. The nausea and weakness (and heartburn) prevail.

Darah is just amazing. I couldn't have asked for a more forgiving and loving presence to be in my life during this time. She is so good at bringing me things to play with -- books to read to her, stuffed animals to hug and dress up. And she seems to enjoy being with me, despite my utterly boring state of existence. Just a moment ago, she brought me Sweet Pea and a pair of her pants. She wants me to put the pants on Sweet Pea (a little Sweet Pea in a pod). I tied them around her and handed them back. She was pleased. And she says "Swee-pee" very well. Then she cleared off the couch and asked to come up. Now she is sitting beside me playing with a barrette for her hair and singing a song while watching a farmer remove pollen from a male flower and rub it on a female flower (PBS, of course!). She can say SO many words - any word, I am convinced. As long as I tell her "Say ..." before the word, she will (usually) try to say it. She just started saying "I love you." Or, well, one of her versions "ah joo" or "low oou"...for some reason, she loves to say and wave "bye." She will say bye to us many times a day, usually when she is walking away (not far, though). Sometimes she will just say it randomly. Her brain fascinates us.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Verizon Wireless Bathrooms Customer Service, and Grandma Mel

Just a short story, a very short one, about my grandmother - Grandma Mel. Like others approaching their eightieth birthdays, she has some minor issues with incontinence every so often. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go. When she has to go, sometimes the police get called. The first time her potty problems required law enforcement was in Vermont in 2002, when I was a Freshman at Hampshire College. She stopped at a store (a gas station, perhaps?) to go to the bathroom. She HAD to go, it was about to come OUT. So she ran (really ran, and probably holding her bum all the way in)into the store and asked the clerk to use the bathroom. The clerk told her it was closed to the public. She probably started screaming, "I have to go. It's going to come out. Please! Do you want me to go on your floor? It's an emergency." And I am sure she was more than a bit demanding and wild, making a huge scene for those around her. The clerk refused her, telling her it was not a public restroom. So she did what anyone else would do, right? She called the cops to demand that she be allowed to use the restroom. I think it worked. That time.

The second half of this story takes place in a Verizon Wireless store in Buffalo, NY just a few weeks ago. She is (or was) a Verizon customer and was buying a new phone when she had a sudden urge to GO. She had to go IMMEDIATELY. The feeling just came on strong. She asked the salesperson where the bathroom was located, and the salesperson informed her that it was not a public restroom. "Well, I have to go. What do you want me to do? I am customer here, and you will not even let me use the bathroom. I am going to go in my pants. I need to use the restroom." And, again, I am sure she added a few more - obnoxious and angry - sentences to that list. The salesperson refused her and said that she was just following store policy. Grandma Mel gave into her animal instinct and started running toward the bathroom. The woman ran in front of her and blocked the bathroom door. Grandma Mel, still in Animal Mode, shoved her forcefully out of the way and managed to get into the bathroom and on the toilet. The salesperson then proceeded to call the police. The police came and warned Grandma Mel that she could have been charged for assaulting the woman. Needless to say, my grandmother is no longer a Verizon customer.

I ask, what might YOU do in a similar situation? Yikes!

Monday, May 4, 2009

How to Make Buffalo Wings: First off, Buffalo Wings Should be Wet

Darah is sitting in her orange vinyl toddler chair, watching "Clifford" on PBS. I need to feed her breakfast this morning, since Sandy left for work early, but I am putting it off for a few more minutes. The back of Darah's head is very adorable. She looks back at me every so often. Maybe she is checking to see if I am still here or just to see what I am doing. She does that a lot. I probably reinforce it though. By smiling and saying, "give me a kiss." She is now singing a song, "da da da da da da da." She likes to say and sing "da" and "daddy." We like to joke that she calls every man "daddy."

Sandy, Darah and I went to Chicago this weekend - by train - to Sandy's MPA conference. The three and a half hour train ride was pretty long for Darah because she cannot roam around and has a limited number of activities available to occupy her attention. She really wanted to do her favorite thing - to empty out my wallet and throw my credit cards around (she collects and distributes them whenever she has the chance), but she couldn't do that on the train. I think my wallet was her favorite "toy" on the trip. She likes to make messes with her toys, to spread them out all over. But not on the train. So Sandy and I had the task of entertaining her by singing and reading books over and over. It went pretty well, considering what could have happened. Our friends and Sandy's colleagues were sitting in front of us on the train ride to Chicago, so they had the joy of holding Darah for at least a half hour. Darah had a great time; she likes new people. We passed supplies over the seat, but they seemed to do just fine with her (and they had a cool cell phone that she was very interested in).

Our stay at the Palmer House Hilton was very nice. The bed was luxurious. I spent a lot of time in it. We all did. Darah wanted to be on the bed with us at almost all times. She likes to jump around and test the boundaries. She would crawl quickly to the edge of the bed and then look back at us, smiling, as we warned her to "come back here right now or we will put you down on the floor." It was nice to be surrounded by down pillows - at least six of them. I wish I could transport the fluffy bed and smooth linens into our bedroom. Our bed is fine for me, but my uncomfortable pregnant body finds some comfort in the Palmer House bedding. Darah ate a lot of bananas during the trip. She managed to eat small amounts of food at restaurants, but not as much as I would have liked. She did well for one or two meals out a day, but usually the third meal out was difficult. We had some trouble with her at the Miller Pub, when she was cranky and didn't want to sit in the high chair. She smacked her cheekbone (just under her eye) on the table and cried for a while. That was after she was throwing every item we gave her onto the floor. The place was cramped and we were in the way of servers. It was pretty unpleasant. But Sandy really enjoyed the cold beer (Blue Moon, was it?) and I enjoyed the piece key lime pie that I ate in bed at the hotel later that night.

We took Darah to the Navy Pier on Thursday afternoon. We just caught the end of a children's concert (Darah got to sway to the last song by Jeanne and the Jellybeans or something like that?). She had a great time at the Children's Museum. Hands down, her favorite activity was playing in the water. But she also enjoyed running around other stations and throwing pieces of shredded rubber into the air at the Dinosaur Digging Exhibit. On our way out, we ran into a character, Maya, who was dancing to music with some kids. Or trying to. It is amazing how self-conscious kids can be about dancing. I don't know at what age that self-consciousness kicks in, exactly, but it seems to kick in early. I know I was highly self-conscious as a child. I don't know why. I will be so sad if there comes a time when Darah's self-consciousness interferes with her ability to do something she enjoys - like dancing. Darah danced with (or in front of) Maya. She swayed and bounced. She is a great dancer. The people running the show all thought she was a boy. "See, he knows how to dance!" Well, she (or he) DOES know how to dance. S/he's a natural! It's amazing how an orange tee-shirt with tiny monkeys on it and gray sneakers can confuse people so easily. Well, Darah didn't care. She just wanted to dance. The character, Maya, was played by a person who did not have much charisma or rhythm. The body inside the costume looked very masculine, and we think we noticed a bulge in the pubic region. I really wonder who was under there.

The other fun activity for Darah that we did while we were in Chicago was swimming at the hotel. She loved it. When I was taking classes at the YMCA with her, she kicked her legs and was a lot more adventurous (she was younger and her brain was smaller). She did a lot of splashing water in my face with her arms, but did not kick her legs this time. I sat her on the edge of the pool and had her "jump" in (lean forward as I helped her into the water). She liked that, and would repeat after me before leaning forward and making a scrunched up face. "Ready?" I said. "Ready?" she replied, as she froze in the forward-leaning position. Darah became a bit constipated over the trip (maybe it was the bananas), but yesterday (Sunday) she recovered. She made four large deposits into her diapers yesterday, to our surprise!

Oh, and I must mention the "buffalo wings" that my poor Sandy ordered. We tried to eat at the Lockwood restaurant in the Palmer House on Friday night, but I was feeling sick and the menu did not appeal to me. On top of that, it was an upscale restaurant and Darah started screaming at the top of her lungs shortly after we sat down. But before we left the restaurant, we overheard a man behind us raving about his dinner. He said to the waiter in a very sassy and confident voice, "I lived in Buffalo for four years, and these buffalo wings are far better than any I ever had there. And I don't have messy hands!" I should have taken it as a warning rather than encouragement. His snotty tone should have been the warning. And then, if I missed that, I should have been warned by the fact that he wasn't a native of Buffalo. Most people have bad taste in food, anyway. They settle for less. Or maybe it is me - I have the bad taste. Either way, I am finicky about food and very difficult to feed.

Well, we ordered room service (served from the restaurant we decided not to stay at). What a mistake. It was gross. I ordered an individual deep dish pizza (simple, I thought...impossible to mess up) and Sandy ordered Buffalo wings (hey, wings even sounded good to do you mess up Buffalo wings? They are so simple). Well, the Lockwood messed them up. They were the worst wings Sandy has ever had in her life. She felt sick while she was eating and after she finished (even the next morning). They were dry. They were breaded chicken wings. Buffalo wings are not breaded. I think it's a Midwestern Mishap - the breading of wings. The breading had spicy seasoning in it (the seasoning was supposed to emulate the traditional Buffalo wing sauce). But they were dry. They were served with a dish of creamy blue cheese and a couple of sticks of celery. I would have loved to have celery dipped in wing sauce and blue cheese dressing, but there wasn't any wing sauce. It was a great disappointment. I did not like my deep dish pizza, either. I almost gagged when I took my first bite - but that may have been because pizza doesn't sit well with my nausea. That was probably the low point of our trip.