entomology 101

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Apparently, 3 is the age when you become obsessed with caterpillars and the magical transformation they undergo to become butterflies. We talk about this process EVERY DAY. And it just makes me smile that my life includes this kind of conversation...sandwiched between discussions about poop and Spider Man and traffic lights and coyotes and princesses and who has babies in their bellies and who doesn't (I don't).



We did our own little home study. We mail-ordered 5 caterpillars (yes, you can have caterpillars sent to your mailbox) and nurtured them and observed them for a couple weeks while they went into chrysalises and emerged as butterflies. And, I have to admit, I was as awestruck as B was watching the whole process.

Then, to cap off the experience, we took a little field trip to the butterfly exhibit at the local botanical garden. It was a big hit with B....not so much with Miles. But then, he's not yet 3.


house rules

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This was my response to B constantly helping herself (and Miles) to whatever she wants in the pantry.

Little did I know it would actually work: She can't read, but she asked me what it says...I told her, and now, every morning she checks to see if she's tall enough to enter.

Not yet, love. 

click, clack, moo

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Am I the only one who pines for simpler communication tools? Not faster. But less fancy. Typewriters. Rotary-dial telephones. A handwritten letter.

B knows her way around an iPhone better than I do, and when we call a loved one, she expects to be able to SEE them (ala Skype). If she can't see who she's speaking with, she gets bored and walks away.

Recently I scored this fully functional 1960s Royal manual typewriter. I had been drooling over vintage typewriters on Etsy and other sites that restore them, but couldn't justify spending hundreds of dollars on one. But $40 for this powder blue beauty? I could do that.

Kris didn't quite get it. "What will you DO with it?" he asked. "It's just going to collect dust." He didn't think I would actually use it, and he didn't appreciate the significance of a writer having such a beautiful, historical instrument of her trade on display.

I assured him it would get some attention, and before I even finished that thought, B ran up excitedly saying "Mommy, you got a typewriter!!"


"You know what this is?" I asked, a burst of hope swelling in my chest. Maybe, in fact, my children would grow up to appreciate the stepping stones to modern communication.

"Yeah, like the cows have." she replied.

And it dawned on me. Her favorite book right now is Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. (If you aren't familiar, go out and buy/borrow it. Trust me.)

In my quest for a little nostalgia, I inadvertently bought her a toy.

So, I've been teaching her how to use it. She found the "B" key right away.

288/365

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I know I complain about all the sugar presented to my kids. But here's a little confession: I don't mind it so much when that sugar takes the form of Belgian chocolate (provided my kids share with me). I also kind of like the little rush that comes from tearing the head off of a chocolate animal.

So there.

You probably noticed in my last post that I let Miles have a lollipop so he'd stand still for a photo (and to prevent him getting run over by a parade float). So clearly my rules around sweets are a bit fuzzy... Let's just call it "all in moderation" and "quality over quantity." Does that work?

happy easter!

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The heat broke just in time for the Easter parade Saturday. It was beautifully overcast and still warm, in the low 80s, but breezy and so much fun! We biked from our house to the parade route and met up with friends.




We haven't attended many parades with the kids, so it took a few minutes for them to get into it. But once they did? ...Well, let's just say I spent the next hour chasing Miles out of the road. He wanted to run up and touch every car/truck/float that passed us by. 



Yes, I bribed him to stand still.

Happy Easter! Hope you all are resting and celebrating with loved ones.

heart-shaped eggs

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I'm not sure if this is a win or a fail. I was searching for some non-sugary Easter treats to offer my kids, and I ended up on a bento box designer's blog and thought these little heart-shaped eggs were so cute:


So I followed the directions, and mine were less cute:


And the kids did not for one second mistake them for treats.

I haven't given up hope yet. Anyone have ideas for healthier goodies?

what's cookin'?

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Well. This is interesting.

Of course, we heard all the legends: 

Get a good sunshade for your car, because my brother got a third-degree burn from his seatbelt!

Check your shoes every morning for scorpions. One sting can make your whole leg numb for a few days!

Your kids will learn the hard way about not touching a cactus.

But I guess if the stories are true, then they're not really legends at all. Take, for instance, cooking an egg on the sidewalk. Or, heating up your food by letting it roast in your parked car. True and true. I'd just never actually SEEN it until today, in the back window of a car parked next to ours. Lunch.

confession

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When I tidy up my kids' toys, I stage little vignettes that defy gender stereotypes. For instance, I always have the female Little People flying the airplane. I put the daddy figure in the kitchen of the dollhouse. Sometimes I switch the books in their rooms so that B has access to the monster truck and astronaut stories and Miles can read about Ladybug Girl if he wants to. Also, one time I hid the princess gowns in B's dress-up box at the very bottom and put the doctor and firefighter costumes on top. (It didn't work). It's the small things, right?

first swim

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I spoke too soon. It's 96 degrees today, and after a test run last evening, the pool is officially open...


Chilly, but swim-able. B kept repeating "It's not cold, Mommy! It's not cold!" Her face tells a different story:


Miles' tolerance was lower. He waded to his waist and then he was done.


outside

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I can feel it. The desert heat is nipping at our heels. Before it arrives--so oppressive and cruel--I am savoring our time outdoors. I usher the kids outside at every opportunity. We eat meals on the patio. We swing. We bike. We walk to the coffee shop and sit outside with cool drinks. I am wondering if I can build a daybed out of discarded wooden pallets and we can all nap there in the shade.

Our secret weapon against the heat, the pool, is not quite warm enough to swim, but the kids are eying it. Dipping their toes.


I slather them with sunscreen and still their cheeks are pink. Miles' hair is translucent and his scalp is tan. Anyone know any tricks for getting an 18-month-old to keep his hat on?

"I think it's ready, Mommy."

the long view

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I've spent a lot of time this past year thinking about beginnings and endings. Beginnings: childhood, marriage, jobs, birth, moving to, friendships, creative projects large and small. Endings: singlehood, childlessness, moving away, death, friendships, creative projects large and small.

I see a new landscape in front of me.

Imagine a photograph in which the foreground is clear, but the background is obscured. There's enough space to move around, dance a little and enjoy what's in front of me, but the long view is limited.




Lately there's been a shift, a slight twist of the lens and I can see further than ever before. There's not the veil there that once was. I have more freedom to move, to explore. Dance waaaay over there.



Look at your mental to-do list. Not your grocery list or that scrawl of upcoming appointments, but the floating, nebulous list you keep locked away in your mind. Things I'll Do Before I Die...Starting Right After I Change This Diaper. 

Close your eyes and scan it for a moment. Pick one thing. One important thing. And write it down on a piece of paper. What can you do for five minutes today that will help you achieve that thing?

For me, that thing is a writing project that's very dear to my heart. I've been secretly scribbling, late-night typing for almost 4 years. It's been my journal, my therapy, my gift to my children when they're grown. Over time, it's swollen to 120 pages, and I'm not done. I've been so afraid to call it a book, because that would mean it has a beginning and an ending. It would mean I have to finish it.

I decided this year I will finish it. I don't know what happens after that.

In the landscape before me, in this photograph I hold of 2011, I finish writing a book.

summer bedding

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We gave our bed another facelift.

I loved that bright blue mod bedding, but it wasn't very soothing. Having suffered insomnia in the past, I've learned just how important it is to have calming colors and patterns in your sleep space. We had to dial it down a notch and lighten things up for the heat that's just around the corner. So I exchanged the blue duvet for this lightweight coverlet by DwellStudio.

Speaking of heat, we had our first 100-degree day recently and I just about panicked. Seriously, friends. I'm having a little PTSD from last summer. (If you're new to the blog, our first summer in the desert wasn't easy: exhibit A, B, & C).

This year, though, we have a few tricks up our sleeve. We're peppering our calendar with concerts and swim lessons and playdates with new friends...and we're escaping to the mountains for a few weeks to see old friends. We'll be the opposite of snowbirds. Oh, wait....we WILL be snowbirds.

stroller makeover

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Our little doll stroller has seen better days.
It was an impulse buy. $10 at Target last summer. Sometimes I wonder if companies intend for their toys to be disposable?

The cloth liner ripped off the first time Miles tried to sit in it. So I sewed new loops on, which ripped again. The seat of the liner is worn through and the handlebars are beyond gross.

I just can't bear to send things to the landfill if they can be revived. So, during nap time this week, I gave this stroller a little makeover.

I took apart the old cloth seat and traced the shape onto new fabric (from my scrap bin) and sewed it together. I was able to reuse the existing buckle, and I covered the handles in duct tape.

Good as new?
Total cost $0. Total time: 1 hour

I didn't follow a pattern, though I know some other mamas have developed patterns for doll stroller liners that are much more precise than what I made. Here's one from Prudent Baby.

Hopefully we can get another year or two of fun out of this toy!

selective hearing

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Where are your shoes?
Put on your shoes.
You need shoes.
Go to your room and pick out some shoes. 
We can't leave until you find your shoes.
It's time to put on your shoes. 
No, you can't have a lollipop.
Shoes.
Shoes.
Shoes.
Shoes.

She is deaf to these words. Barefoot, wearing her favorite pink dress, hair in a yellow barrette, she flits about the room, savoring the feel of the cool tile against her toes. I wonder if my request is unreasonable. Can you expect a 3-year-old to know where her shoes are and put them on unassisted before school?

Ask her where her princess is. The black one wearing the orange flower dress and the blue tiara (not the pink one). And she'll tell you immediately: she's in a corner under a blanket, next to her tortoise book and beside her nightgown, the shiny purple one left exactly where she took it off two days ago.

The clock is ticking.

About the 15th time I mention shoes, Miles comes toddling up to me carrying his shoes. Not yet 18 months, he hears me. He gets it. And his shoes were harder to find than hers, strewn about the playroom. One hiding under a corner of the couch. He can't yet say "shoes," and he fetches his shoes.

I buckle her into the bike trailer and hand her her backpack and shoes.

"Lollipops are for good listeners," I say.

"I am a good listener, Mommy."

pretty boy

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Someone has a compulsive need to decorate her brother. Do you remember this? And this? And this???

I'd tell her to stop, but he really loves the attention. And someday he won't. And he'll tell her to stop. Just like the day my little brother Andrew said I could no longer style his hair with my crimping iron.

the edge of joy

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I recently had the privilege of screening a new documentary by Dawn Sinclair Shapiro called The Edge of Joy about maternal mortality in Nigeria.

More than 36,000 mothers die in Nigeria each year due to a simple lack of blood for transfusions and a lack of family planning that puts them at risk for multiple births. The film profiles the midwives and OB/GYNs who are fighting an uphill battle for change in the hospitals and villages there.

As much as we may be dissatisfied with health care and access to affordable prenatal care in the U.S., this really puts things in perspective. Especially for me. Being self-employed, Kris and I's individual health insurance did not cover maternity when I had B, so we paid close to $10,000 out-of-pocket for prenatal care and a normal, uncomplicated hospital birth. That definitely wasn't easy or fair. Yet, many of these women don't even have access to a $60 pint of blood for a transfusion if they hemorrhage. Their lives hinge on a single pint of blood!

Part of the challenge is due to the custom that women cannot travel without a male family member. So if her husband is out working when she gives birth and she bleeds, she can't be transported to a hospital. My favorite quote from the movie is from the male OB/GYN who encourages everyone to value women more and says "no matter if you are man or woman, we all come from the woman."

It just made me want to hug my babies a little tighter.

If you want to see the film, check online for upcoming screenings at www.theedgeofjoy.com A lot of the screenings include discussion afterward about the healthcare crisis and how we can help these women have better access to life-saving technology.

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