Monday, February 28, 2011

I Feel the Earth Move, Under My Feet

Okay, so it wasn't so much under my feet that I felt the Earth move as it was under my butt since I was already in bed.  But the point is we had an earthquake, and I felt it.

I was lying in bed with Maggie watching the debacle known as the Oscars when I felt my bed start to move.  I thought it was strange and honestly, the first thought maybe my house was haunted.  Yes, that is where my mind went first when the house and bed started to move: rather than the obvious process that would lead me to realize we were having an earthquake, particularly since we live super close to the New Madrid Fault line, I went with the haunted house option.

In my (meager) defense, I  was scarred by watching Nightmare on Elm Street at a Halloween party when I was in fourth grade- you know the one, where Freddy Kruger is under the water bed and stabs Johnny Depp up through the mattress- and have since been afraid that a ghost would attack me in the same way.

But then Keary came downstairs and said "Did you feel that?  That wasn't wind.  My computer and computer chair were just swaying and moving on their own."  So I hopped on twitter to see if anyone was saying anything about it, but they weren't yet.  Keary and I had already come to the conclusion of EARTHQUAKE!, but sometimes it is good to have the confirmation of twitter.

Now I am thinking that we need an emergency plan and supply kit.  Not just knowledge that we have plenty of first aid supplies upstairs and enough of canned goods in the pantry but an honest to God kit and plan.  Do you have one?  What all does it include?

The photo challenge at I Heart Faces this weeks was Anything but a Face.  Almost all of the pictures I take include faces, but I found this one of Maggie from September.  I love the chubby baby legs and arms, how she is balancing and still a little wobbly, and her shadow stretching in front of her.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Shopping with kids

I don't know what happened this week.  It feels like it flew by, and I don't think I have gotten a single productive thing done.  The piles of laundry and messy house confirm the barely anything has been done.  I'll play catch-up and get almost there, then do it all over again next week.  

Keary's birthday is tomorrow, so the girls and I went shopping today.  *See above, I haven't been on top of things this week. I asked the girls what they wanted to get him.  Gwendolyn shouted "socks!"  I tried to steer her to other ideas.  "Can we go look at girl toys?"  "We are shopping for your daddy," I reminded her.

You see where we wound up though: Maggie looking at leapfrog toys and Gwendolyn looking at princess stuff.  It is hard to shop for others when you are a kid.  It isn't that you don't want to get them anything, there is just so much other stuff at the store tempting you.

Honestly, I was surprised when we made it out of there with only the headset gift for Keary... There were a few thing I was eyeing for myself.  I can't very well set an example about how to shop for someone else for the girls though if we come out of the store with more stuff than me than the birthday boy.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Maggie, the scavenger

Maggie doesn't care much for Gwendolyn going to school.  Gwendolyn being gone means Maggie's partner and playmate is gone for the day.  We had hoped that her going to school would entice Maggie to start talking, but for the most part, all it has meant is Maggie is a little extra clingy and only wants me to hold her the entire time Gwendolyn is gone to school.  Luckily, she is only gone two days a week and one of those days, Maggie has a standing date of story-time at the library.

Maggie waits for time to go get Gwendolyn. I can ask if she is ready to go and she will hop off my lap and try to leave.  Then when we get in the car, she grunts and points at Gwendolyn's car seat, making sure I know who is missing out of the car and where we are headed.  Once Gwen gets in the car, the girls hoop and laugh and dance all the way home.

You might think as soon as we get home, the girls would start playing.  I mean, clearly, Maggie has missed Gwendolyn terribly all day.  No.

As soon as Gwendolyn sets her backpack down, Maggie runs at it and pulls her lunch box out.  It seems Maggie is part scavenger.  She pilfers and eats the rest of whatever Gwendolyn leaves in her lunch box.

I feed her I swear.  Most days we even eat for lunch the same thing I have sent Gwendolyn.  It must just taste better if it is out of a princess lunch box that her big sister has broken in for her at school earlier in the day.

I don't have a picture of her scavenging so here is one from Halloween when she was a gnome.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dental appointments and backwards pants

I took Gwendolyn to the dentist today and she was given a clean bill of health: no cavities and clean teeth (not going to lie, the clean teeth surprised me.  It feels like a constant battle to get her to brush her teeth and not just walk around with the toothbrush in her mouth.)  Yay!  The staff bragged on how well she behaved too, so I was pretty proud.

While we were there, I looked down at her and saw her pants were on backwards.  Obviously backwards. Slit pockets on her hiney kind of backwards.  Nothing to do about it there then though. And it wasn't hurting her, so no reason to say anything out loud to her and risk embarrassing her.

I sent Keary a message and his response was "Yeah, she was bragging this morning that her pants didn't have any buttons or snaps this morning.  I thought that sounded funny."  I probably would have checked or looked at the pants after that proclamation, but that is me.  I think it is a fine example of the differences between moms and dads: dads nod and go on, while moms check things out further.

At the end of the day, the backwards pants didn't hurt anything though.  Gwendolyn has clean, healthy teeth. And the dental hygienist gave her a little timer to help with the "Mo-om, how much longer do I have to brush my teeth?!"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Like I said, the weather this weekend was fabulous.  We spent plenty of time outside and shoes were optional.  Maggie had a blast!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I've got no coherent thoughts....

It had been my intention to get several ideas out of my head and posts made up of them this afternoon.  I sat with Grandy this morning though so her husband could go to an appointment and I am now mentally exhausted.  She is getting around fine physically, but her short-term memory is awful.  I answered the same two questions probably 150 times easily, chased her and the girls around the house, and never did succeed in getting her to eat anything.  

So here is a picture of the girls playing outside. The weather was divine this weekend.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

I hate trying to go out to eat for Valentine's Day.  All the restaurants are always so busy, and then the food and service is only so-so.  That is not even taking into consideration the pain of either taking the girls with us and hoping against any tantrums until we can scarf our food down or trying to get someone to watch them.  We like to eat out, but Valentine's Day is one day a year we make sure and not eat out.

When I ran across the Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin at Imparting Grace, I decided that sounded like a great meal.  I mean bacon-wrapped just about anything sounds good to me.  It was pretty easy too.  I just sprinkled Montreal Steak Seasoning on the tenderloin then affixed bacon to it with toothpicks and cooked it on 425 for 20 minutes.  Then I bumped it up to broil for another 5 minutes to make the bacon more crispy.  Easy and good, my kind of meal.

Then I tried to make everyone happy with the sides they like which succeeded in making the meal less than easy.  Maggie likes sweet potatoes but not regular mashed potatoes, and Gwendolyn likes mashed potatoes but complains about sweet potatoes, so I made both and Maggie ended up not being interested in eating either.  And Gwendolyn didn't like the brussell sprouts I made, but I kinda figured that would happen.  I am the only one in the house who likes brussell sprouts, but I still make everyone try at least one.  Then I made Keary banana pudding because that is his favorite.  So we had three mushy foods in one sitting.  

It was still better than going to a restaurant on Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pierced Ears

Gwendolyn has been talking off and on for a year and a half about getting her ears pierced.  I've been a little unsure about it, mainly because my ears reacted horribly (I'm talking disgusting, swelling up over and around the little started studs twice kind of horrible) when my ears were first pierced, and I'm not sure she understands that it  will hurt at least at first.  She has been asking more and more often lately, so I think it is time.

For the third time in as many days, "Can we go get my ears pierced today?"

"Well, I tell you what.  Not today, I'd rather go when your daddy is with us or can watch Maggie, but next time we are out and your daddy is with us and if you still want to get them pierced, then we can go do it."

Clearly, that wasn't the answer she thought she would get and her face lit up.  "Oh! And then we go can where you got your butterfly stamp* for your back and get me a stamp for my back too!"

"NO! Ears pierced first and then when you are much older, we'll talk about getting you a stamp..."

Keary and I are going to have our hands so full when the girls get older.  So full.

*Stamp is obviously what she calls tattoos.

Monday, February 14, 2011

This time it wasn't me

I've mentioned that I feel socially awkward and sometimes flub up my words.  I'm not the only one though, and that makes me feel better... Sort of.

Today I took Maggie and Gwendolyn to Chic-Fil-A for lunch since it was Valentine's Day and... Yes, okay, I was attempting to bribe the kids into acting right when we ran our errands.  As the girls and I were sitting in the booth, one of the workers came to check on us.  She was soft-spoken and polite but seemed to linger.

"You look just like one of my teachers."

"Oh?" and I nodded my head because I'm never really sure what to say to that kind of comment.  "My sister is a teacher."

"Ms. Johnson was my Spanish teacher.  You look just like her..."

"No, my sister teaches physical science. I don't think I know Ms. Johnson, but thanks."

"Ah, you just look so much like her.  She just had a baby."


I don't *think* she was saying I look like I just had a baby.  At least not deliberately.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The 3 hour Valentine project

Why do things never turn out like you think they should?  Yesterday what could have been a fun, sweet, educational activity was turned into an excruciating 3 hour experience.

Gwendolyn's teacher sent a not home saying she needed to make a valentines bag or box.  So I gathered a gift bag, stickers, scissors, and construction paper and told Gwendolyn she could decorate it however she wanted.  Of course, it didn't look anything like what I would have done.  She took a picture from a coloring book of Strawberry Shortcake and taped it to the front, then put approximately 543 stickers around it.  Then he tried to write her name across Strawberry Shortcake in Sharpie but only got GWEND written and then the marker stopped writing on the crayon.

It was hers and she was proud of it.  It wasn't how I would have decorated it, but that doesn't matter.

We moved on to her filling out the cards to give her friends.  I stacked all the like cards together, got a pencil and the list of her classmates together and went through the process with her.

"Pick out which card you want to give your friend.  Copy your friend's name where it says 'to', write your name where it says from. After you are done, mark out their name on the list, then go on to the next name."

I didn't think it was that complicated of a process, but maybe my expectations were too high?  She had something to say or ask every 30 seconds for the next hour.  "Whose name is next?", "Look at this," "Maggie, no!!!!!!!"

I was giving her plenty of attention and help, but the experience was still not the fun experience I wanted it to be.  I'm never going to get my June Clever badge.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

SuperBowl Flubs

I'm a little socially awkward, I always have been.  I tend to be more quiet and observant of others, and generally, the bigger the crowd, the more introverted I become.  Keary and the girls tend to be more extroverted and thrive in social environments so when some friends of ours were having a Superbowl party this weekend,  I wanted us to go for their sake.

I was doing okay. I wasn't feeling too overwhelmed and I was carrying on small talk here and there, until a big, loud group of people came in.

Keary, Maggie, and I were in the dining room where the food was and as one of the ladies was getting a piece of the strawberry cake we brought, Maggie started gesturing and grunting (because she still doesn't talk!) at the cake.

"Oh, does she want me to cut her a piece of cake?"

"No, she just wants the spatula.  She saw her daddy licking the icing off of it while ago.... -- No, not that one! It was at home while we were making it... --Not while we were making it, after we were done, he licked it."

The lady just looked at me and then looked at her cake.  Then she looked at Keary.

Then I shot Keary the "Oh God, Help me.  Why do I keep talking?!  Make it better" look.

And he just looked at me and shook his head and chuckled to himself.

And my socially-awkward streak remains intact.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Finding the Right Answers

She's growing up too fast for me
And asking lots of questions
Some I know the answers to
And some I'm looking for suggestions

                                  --Jimmy Buffett, Delaney Talks to Statues

This pretty much sums up how I am feeling with Gwendolyn right now.  She is a very bright, curious, 4 year old girl so I know to expect lots of questions, but man, I just I don't know how to give age-appropriate answers sometimes.  Adding to the questions (and my lack of good answers) is the social issues of her asking these questions VERY loudly and sometimes pointing.  I don't want her to stop asking questions, but I don't want her to hurt other people.

I have handled many questions about people looking different than us: Why is that person bigger than us? Smaller than us? Have purple hair? Have so many stamps (tattoos)? Wearing a patch/ brace/ cast/ wheelchair?  Last weekend, she asked very loudly "Why are those women all covered up?" (they were wearing burqas, and you could only (barely) see their eyes).  As Keary and I were trying to answer her and were stumbling over our answers as we tried to explain that some people of other cultures and religions just dress differently, she came up with many of her own reasons that she loudly proclaimed.  I'm not even sure how to explain culture or religion to a 4 year old, they seem like rather broad concepts.

I don't want her to stop asking the questions, though it would be mighty fine by me if she would learn to use an indoor voice.  It would be nice if I could stop stumbling over my answers.  Ultimately, I want her to continue to be curious and ask questions.  And even moreso, I want her to be understanding that everyone doesn't look/ sound/ communicate/ etc the same and be accepting of them.

The question I am having the most problem providing an appropriate answer is one she has asked multiple times over the past year:  Where is her Grandma Sue? Keary's mom, Sue, died nine months before Gwendolyn was born so she exists only in pictures for her.

I have tried explaining that she died/ she is dead, and she is just not grasping what that is.  Honestly, with as much death as there is in Disney movies, I would have thought she had a better hold on the concept of death.  We have checked out books at the library that try to explain death, but those haven't helped either.

Even though Keary's and his family were not religious and against my better judgement, I tried to explain that she died and went to heaven. I hesitated to explain it that way only because I know how confusing it can be to tell a child that someone is somewhere they can't go and that the person can't come back to see them.  Sure enough, as soon as I explained it that way she asked "Well, can we go there sometime."  I said "It isn't really a place you can just go.  You have to die to go there and then you can't come back.  It isn't like Florida or Memphis."  That answer was not received well either.  

We have even tried telling her bones are in the cemetery.  That sounds awful.  I still don't know that she "gets it".  Keary is grasping at straws and has considered taking her where Sue is buried, that is over an hour away in the middle of nowhere though.  And I am not sure even then everything will click for her.

I don't remember figuring out the concept of death, but I am starting to think that it has to be one of those developmental milestones like object permanence and Gwendolyn just isn't old enough yet.  Or maybe I am just failing at coming up with the right answer for her and that is my excuse.  I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

25 years and a few days later

This past Friday was the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.  I've read multiple posts commemorating and remembering, many remembering where they were and how they felt that day.

I was five years old and in kindergarten.  I remember sitting in the school library with the rest of the elementary school, watching the countdown and take-off.  I can't say I actually remember the explosion, I think my five-year-old self just thought the flames and smoke and loudness that happened with take-off just extended into the explosion.  Flames and smoke are flames and smoke so I didn't know anything was wrong.

That is, I didn't know anything was wrong until our very tall, kinda domineering principal, Mr. Knight, started yelling at everyone to "Just be quiet", that this "Wasn't how we are supposed to act" and if we were going to act that way, "Teachers just need to take the students back to the classroom now."  I still don't know that I realized anything had gone wrong on TV, I just thought the principal was a hard-ass.

I don't have anything significant to contribute to everyone else's memories about that day. I just think it speaks to how resilient kids are and how their minds work.