Monthly Archives: April 2007

Afternoon at Lake Michigan

Sun, warmth, beach

Blue lake, little boys, white sand

Pail, shovel, watering can, shovel again, where’s that football?

Three boys whirling, twirling, I’m a helicopter! ing

Exploring the sandbar island like diminutive pirates in search of crab leg treasure

Unknown small ones wander in, are welcome

Is the big one so tall already in those swim trunks?

And yet more sand

Crunching on the towels, the crevices of my ears, in my drink

The front porch, the long hallway, the bathtub

In their hair, between their toes, gritty on their little legs

Pink noses, rosy cheeks, smelling of sunscreen

Running back before dinner to catch just a few more minutes

Sleeping fast, sleeping sound, the sleep of a beach day


Potty Party!

What seemed to elude Lyle yesterday had apparently taken hold by today. He successfully used the potty four times this morning! What I am most happy about is that twice he stopped in the midst of playing with his babysitter to run in and go; that’s what I was starting to doubt he was capable of yesterday, but it’s the key to readiness. There are a few more photos here.

I am trying not to daydream about a life here without diapers and just appreciate the baby steps, but we’re all feeling proud of our little one.

Today’s Special Index

I like to think that each and every day is special. But some days, you know? They’re just more “special” than others. Like when I gave up 4 hours of my life to wait for Salvation Army to blow me off. That was special. See what I mean?

So here’s a little index about today, just because I rather enjoy writing in index form. It shakes things up. And shaking things up? Now that’s special!

35: The number of colorful M&M’s I put in a clear container way up high in the bathroom for Lyle to admire as he sat on the potty.

120: The number of minutes spent sitting on the cold bathroom floor over the course of the day reading “Froggy’s First Kiss” (what a bizarre choice for a 2-year old to make), two large Richard Scarry books, and “Eight Silly Monkeys” over and over while said 2-year old attempts to produce something in his potty. Mostly because he wants one of those M&M’s.

2: The number of tears that welled up in my eyes when my little dog figurine asked Lyle how old he was: “I’m two and a half. And Baxter’s six!” he added. “Oh, who’s Baxter?” asked the dog. He thought about it and finally said, “My friend.”

10: The number of seconds that Lyle laid in his bed at nap time before hopping up, declaring, “We better open dat door, get some fresh air in here,” and then made a break for it into the playroom.

45: The length of time – in minutes – of Lyle’s nap before I had to wake him up to go pick up his brother from school.

45: The length of time – in minutes – that he cried about being woken up too early. (Perhaps if he hadn’t been so worried about FRESH AIR he would have gotten more sleep. Ahem.)

3: The number of plays of the Sesame Street CD that I had to endure. We had to be in the car waaay too much today.

140: Minutes in the car logged.

80: Percentage of that time spent on lovely Ashland Avenue. Ugh.

1: The number of text messages I sent to Matt in desperation that read: “I NEED A MINIVAN!!!” after trying to squeeze three children in the back of our station wagon (with each in a car seat or booster). I had to jam them in their seats closer and closer together until each of us had either scratched or pinched a finger. No joke. I love our Subaru but let me tell you: there is really no solution to our carpooling situation that does not start with the word “mini” and end in the word “van”. And yes, this is from the woman who once bet friends back in 2000 that if she ever bought a minivan she’d pay them $100,000. Thanks to that bet, it’s going to be one pricey vehicle for us, but worth every penny. (Note to the Smalls: the Talls are going to have to write you a BIG check soon.)

Potty Time

I am often amused by the data on my site feed. The real gems are the Google searches. For example, today someone Googled the phrase “modesty in the bathroom” and got a post on my blog.

That rules.

I am all about the bathroom.

Salvation Army Sucks!! (A Rant Vent)

I just need to take a moment here to vent about my morning.

Some background: we are still officially renting our old house on Fletcher St. because we’re in a lease and that piece of junk house hasn’t sold yet. (I can call it a piece of junk now that we live in our lovely new home.) I like to think of it as our second home, except usually that would be the one at the beach, so it doesn’t totally work. Anyway. Because we don’t have to be out of there until the end of June, we have been in no hurry to get it completely empty and clean. We left a few items that either need to be sold or given to charity. Honestly, there’s been enough to do in the new house to keep us more than busy.

Matt went to the old house the other day and discovered the owners had refinished the floors and repainted the place. Would’ve been nice if they’d told us this was going on – we are still renting it, after all – but whatever. Anything that gets it sold faster could help us. And I love that those dorks have tried to beautify the interior and yet the front stairs are lined with planters. Planters filled with dead leaves and cigarette butts. Now that‘s attractive to a buyer, wouldn’t you say? Is it any wonder that place has been on the market since last July? But I digress.

So I decided last week that I have an urgent need to have that place empty. I want to be done with it. I don’t want to drive by and see our floor lamp in the window anymore.

I called the Salvation Army pick-up truck service yesterday and they set up a pick-up for today. Perfect! I would be available all morning or Matt could be there in the afternoon. They told me to call at 9 AM to find out if we were a morning pick-up or afternoon. So far, so good. I couldn’t wait to get that old stuff out of there!

So, I dutifully called them at 9 and found out that our time was 9-12; I explained (as I had yesterday) that we were 20 minutes away and that I’d been told the driver could call me half an hour before so I could be there. Oh, no, I hadn’t been told that at all, according to today’s charmer. I’d apparently lost my chance for that. Okay, so I flew down there with Lyle and got there at 9:30 with no way of knowing if I’d already missed the guy. (Mr. Phone couldn’t contact Mr. Truck, I was told. I’m. so. sure.)

Okay, but we were fine. It was a gorgeous day, I had brought Lyle’s tricycle so we motored up and down the block (I had to stay within view of the house of course), he got more driving practice, and we explored the old house and remembered what it used to be like. We were fine, that is, until 12:00 approached and Lyle was getting tired and hungry and we’d blown through the snacks. And the truck hadn’t arrived. I called Salvation Army back, thinking that maybe our window extended until 1:00 and I’d misunderstood.

“It’s 1-4,” said Mr. Phone.
“Oh, no, it’s definitely not,” I told him. “I called at 9 and was told I had the morning window. I just wasn’t sure if it ends now or at 1. I don’t know how much longer my son and I need to stay.”
“Fletcher St.? 60657? Yeah, you’re 1-4.”
“The guy left out late. Now you’re 1-4.”
“He left an HOUR late??”
“No,” he explained like I was some kind of idiot. “He left OUT late.”

I thought my head was going to explode. No one bothered to call me? Who on earth can spend an entire day waiting for a stupid freaking Salvation Army pick-up? It’s worse than waiting for the infamous cable guy! Even at their own house it’s ridiculous to expect someone to be available for 8 hours, but when you’re hanging out trying to make the best of things with a toddler at a vacant home for 4 hours?

I gave him a piece of my mind. You all would’ve been proud of me.

And then I marched off with my sobbing, exhausted child who was totally confused about the lack of truck and his mad mama, and grieving about leaving his old house again. And mad as hell that I wasn’t letting him actually drive home. (Yikes.)

Which means that all the old stuff is still there.

This would be a particularly good time for that flexibility to kick in.


You already know that I’m a big proponent of “thoughtful” parenting. But have we discussed flexibility? It’s inherent in being a thoughtful person, not just a parent, because if you are thinking about things – mindful of what you are doing day to day – you are more than likely well-schooled in flexibility. As in, “Hmmm, this doesn’t seem to be working, maybe we ought to try that,” or “I don’t want to do that just because everyone else is, so I will do this instead”.

So you may recall that I referred to the Pokemon craze that has hit first grade; you know, that weird fad my son knew nothing about and that caused him a little bit of ridicule? If this rings a bell, then you remember that I fished around to find out if he felt left out and it was clear that day that he didn’t care. Well, not surprisingly, when the Scholastic Book Fair was held at his school the next week, Baxter’s wish list included – you guessed it! – a Pokemon book. I have to say that I am generally in favor of books as a means to learn about the TV shows and movies other kids are watching without having to see junk – especially scary junk.

So, I bought it for him.

And it had a poster inside.

And I helped him tape it to the kitchen wall where we can refer to it at least, oh, a hundred times a day, and choose which characters we are going to “be”, because he has a great imagination. He hasn’t asked for any of the playing cards (yet) and has been perfectly satisfied with pretending to be Pikachu all day.

I get to be “Ditto”, whose claim to fame involves being able to turn into any Pokemon character he wants when he’s under attack.

Now that‘s flexibility!

Autism Speaks Video

The following is from an email that was sent to me today. If you can take a moment to view this video, it would be appreciated:

Autism Speaks created a music video of the Five for Fighting song, “World”, which features images of autistic children and their families. It is a truly moving video and was the work of Bill Shea.

The band is generously donating $0.49 to Autism Speaks for each time the video is viewed – the funding goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment, please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along to your friends and family. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can help them to surpass this goal.

Just Look at These Beauties, Will Ya?

Baby You Can Drive My Car, Pt. II

This driving the car thing, it’s getting to be a fun ritual after music class on Thursdays. This time I was prepared to capture me some cuteness. More can be found here.

The Cocoon

At what point do we let our small children in on the secret that the sweet, safe little cocoon of their lives isn’t simply a microcosm of society at large? This is close to the heart of the topic I wrote about last week, of limiting a child’s exposure to media in order to, well, provide him with our idealized notion of a good childhood, whatever that means to each of us. For me, it’s an innocent time of life for our children to learn and develop with a loving foundation beneath them – and free of anxiety to the extent that it’s possible. We all create that foundation from our own values and life philosophy as we see fit, and within the parameters we’re given.

We have sheltered our elder child from tragedies thus far. He was only 10 months old, nursing in my arms in fact, when I saw the first footage of the news on September 11th. We have yet to tell him about it, although I think of it often as I watch the boys build ever-larger towers, calling out to each other, “Knock this one down!” As it should, it will become part of the American history these boys learn and we will be right there to delve deeply into the issues with them when the time comes. But a 6-year old has no way to make sense of such an event.

So today, the day after the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech, was the first time I realized that I had to say something to him. No, he can’t really make sense of this event either, but he is going off to spend the day with a group of children who will know. And they’ll be talking about it. Probably in grim detail. How awful it would be for him to hear of such a thing from 7-year olds and not from us.

I sat down with Baxter a bit before school, interrupting him as he self-taught Morse Code from an old Charlie Brown book. I explained in outline form what I knew of what had happened. Of course, I couldn’t answer that most basic question, “Why??”, other than to say that someone was deeply, deeply unhappy and made a tremendous mistake. He asked if the man was in jail and I hesitated but did tell him that the man had committed suicide; again, he was going to hear it from someone less tactful soon enough. This became the focus of the conversation after that, as Baxter had never heard of or imagined such a thing as someone taking his own life. In the moment, he was mainly concerned with the logistics of suicide rather than the emotional ramifications, i.e., how would that man have to hold the gun to do that? I startled him when I suggested that a great many people are feeling very sad today, and watched his face change as this dawned on him.

And I guess that’s what I mean about our young children truly not being prepared to deal with such an event. The level at which they understand something so inhumane is probably that basic level about how it was carried out; this is, after all, what they later act out on the playground when they “shoot” at each other and die, or put each other in jail. It’s no coincidence that they believe in super powers, too, is it? (And yes, they really do believe in super powers – after all, they believe in the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny, so why couldn’t someone have those powers?) I suppose it’s what they use to protect themselves from this information that begins to seep into their sweet little worlds: if they can suddenly turn into a hawk and fly away – if they can shoot lasers from their eyeballs against enemies – then they’re still safe in a world that’s scarier than they thought, right? I’m glad they have a way to feel powerful and strong as they are learning more about the world.

So I think the best we can do is to bring some real emotion into tragedy for them. Don’t let it simply be about how that man held the gun to take his life; let it be about how horribly sad and lonely that man was, how scared the students were, how bereft the families and friends are. We don’t need to overdo it because that can also be traumatic, but it’s incredibly important to attach some emotion to this for our big kids, no matter how desperately we want to hide them away from any such information.

They surely can’t live in their cocoons forever, but at least we can support them by holding the fragile, cracking shell in our hands as they begin to peek out.