Wednesday, November 28, 2007

And She Likes to Lick Stuff!

In addition to her continual consumption of dirt, Stella has taken to licking things. She was licking the laptop's power cord last night. (No, not a dangerous part. She won't be electrocuted. I may be laid back but I'm not a ninny.) When I commented on this Jamie said, "She was licking her library books in the car."


And no, I don't think she has pica. It's probably much more boring and pedestrian. She likes to lick. I liked to smell things when I was a kid--new tape, library books, school handouts, etc.

(I've resorted to writing about things like this because the alternative is Cat Stevens-fueled nostalgic ditties that will make you question your existence and that of God. I'm depressing when I reminisce.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Kid Likes High Fiber Cereal

As I write this Stella is on her third bowl of Trader Joe's High Fiber Cereal for the day. I shit you not. (Pun intended!)

This might seem like a really great thing for a two year old to love, but consider the result. Yesterday there were three diapers of the "Number Two" persuasion to change. There were four on Sunday! Four. The Sabbath. The Day of Resting. Not the Day of Changing Many Number Twos by a (sniff, sniff) Two Year Old.

I laughed as I was tried to teach her the word "bran" when she wants that particular cereal as opposed to her guttural grunting. It went something like this:

"Stella, say 'Bran.'"

It's good to eat bran and other high fibers. I like to think of the "insoluble fiber" coursing through my colon soaking up renegade food particles and preventing the development of cancerous polyps.

We all like this particularly bland bran cereal. We go through two boxes a week. We're just your regular old fam-a-dam.

(Pun intended!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Buh Bye, Bloon

When I was in sixth grade I wondered if my right and my left would ever come naturally to me. It was one of those difficult concepts for me to grasp. I still say left when I mean right. Not all the time, but frequently enough for it to be disturbing. My friend Caroline taught me how to hold my hands up with thumbs out--see the left hand becomes an "L." You'd be sad for me to know how frequently I indulge in this reminder.

That's why I'm not shocked it takes me a long to time get the hang of this parenting gig. I took Stella in for her two year check up and I got a little handout with useful information. The thing I've thought about for days is the section that talks about being positive rather than negative when giving directions. For example, instead of saying, "Don't run," try, "Walk slowly, please."

I am conscious of this throughout the day. I was conscious of it this morning when I was walking the girls and I forgot Stella's jacket so she wanted me to hold her so she'd stay warm. Really, that's a pleasure. Sure, I'll hold you, little girl.

Then she wants to get down and go in the neighbor's yard.

Please, no.

Then she runs into the middle of the street and this always gets a strong yelp and a swat on the butt for emphasis. Really, though, how bad is a swat through the jeans? She never cries and is barely phased. Awesome. Great parenting. Random swattage that proves no point.

Then she runs back into the neighbor's yard and I chase her. She turns to say, "Uh oh" as she looks over my shoulder. Is this a clever deflection of my attention? No, Gigi is rolling into the street.

Thanks for your help.


I am constantly reflecting these days. Constantly aware of how quickly time goes by. the days, weeks, months. Is it supremely self-absorbed to record that sadness here? That pre-nostalgia for future empty-nestedness? I decided it is not. There is nothing new about the way I feel. There is nothing so poignant in my love for my children and their baby-ness. Everyone feels this. Not everyone writes about it. Some don't dwell on it.


Life is full of letting go. Stella lost a balloon today. She let it go and the helium carried it up. This was a heart-breaking event for her. She cried and mourned that little balloon. She stood out front and watched it until it couldn't be seen anymore.

I wanted to distract her so she'd stop crying. It occurred to me that this was selfish. I just didn't want to be bothered with the tears and the noise. I still have a memory of losing a balloon when I was at Disneyland and I was about Stella's age. It is a sad first thing to lose.

I cried for days when the exchange student from Iceland (or was it Greenland?) returned to her regular fourth grade class in her homeland. I no longer remember her name, but her departure made quite an impression.

Stella will lose much more than a mylar balloon. It's how she deals with that loss that is important. So I stood out front with her until she couldn't see that balloon anymore. We said goodbye and waved, "Buh Bye, Bloon." We blew some kisses. And when she brought it up again later, with sadness, I concurred. It is sad. Does it make it less sad to act like it never happened? Does it hurt her less to diminish the loss?

Writing this all out makes me feel like I'm emphasizing some sort of over-parenting. I don't want to make mountains out of molehills. But right now Stella's sadness is relative to her life. She lost that balloon and it broke her heart. She doesn't realize how many balloons will come into and out of her life. And someday she'll have the same feelings over friends and boys and jobs and other things she loves. I'm just trying to start small alongside her so when the bigger losses arrive maybe she'll be able to share with me.

Have I told you lately that I love her? And little Gianna, too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Worth Mentioning

This weekend we traveled North. There are parts of Arizona that get rather cold in the winter. We went there so we could use the sweatshirts and jeans that we own--to be good stewards of the fabrics entrusted to our care.

While traveling through one of the many interesting towns we saw this sight:

We realized how urban we are when we didn't think that those could possibly be real cows. It had to be a modern art installation on that hillside.

I learned that if your husband drops his favorite eyeglass cleaning cloth/chamois in the Safeway parking lot, you can bet that the Marine veteran with eagle eyes will find it. Does that sentence make any sense? (When in Globe one must give a shout out to Sandy!)

We learned that Stella reads labels before drinking her beers:

This one, apparently, is up to snuff.

And we learned that Gianna gets cuter by the day. Especially when wearing the cool hat that Auntie CJ made for me a few years ago. Swanky!

When we returned we learned that Gianna is acquiring a sense of humor. And she gets a kick out of Buddy and Tiny.

We learned that Stella gained a paltry seven pounds in the last year. She's three feet tall and twenty-seven pounds. That's why she reads beer labels. She has to be aware of the alcohol content and pace herself accordingly.

Last but not least, I learned that when I throw toothbrushes in the garbage I should bury them lest Stella decide she does actually enjoy the practice of oral hygiene. This morning I had to lock her in the bathroom with me while I took a shower. The girl gets lock jaw when you try to brush her teeth. However, I heard the sink going on and off and I peeked around the shower curtain to see what was up and caught a glimpse of her wielding that discarded tool like a pro. At least she was thorough.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I Got the Bug

I tell ya, man, this writing thing, I just have lots to record lately. Who knows why?

Stella knows how to open my laptop. This made me think about the large chasm that will permanently exist between her childhood and mine. I mean, my big technological indulgence as a child was the Texas Instruments Speak and Spell. This was a big deal because it was portable and it taught you how to spell really challenging words like hat, fat, shat (heh. not really). I remember becoming very confused with its pronunciation. You had to figure in the poor pronunciation when you were counting how many words you actually misspelled. Because the sounds would get all addled. And if you thought it said, "Spell bat," and it really said, "Spell that," you could hardly be at fault. I mean, right?

This got me to thinking of all the things that she will think of differently than I do. Take Michael Jackson for instance. As I sit here typing this I am listening to The Jackson 5 on my iPod. (Which is a whole 'nuther subject.) When I was a kid Michael Jackson was still cool, popular and representative of a African American male human. This cannot be said today. If I tell her when she's older that I used to love Michael Jackson she will think I am some sort of freakazoid. She will have no idea that miniature scale Asian teenagers fainted at the mere knowledge of his nearby presence. She will not know the terror that was inflicted upon his fans when his hair caught fire while filming a Pepsi commercial. Besides, what's plain old Pepsi anyway?

Like I said, I'm sitting here listening to my iPod. I received it from my brother two weeks after Stella was born. He received the upgrade for his birthday so he was no longer in need of this iPod. However, my receipt of this gift coincided with the conclusion of the era in my life where I might possibly have a moment or need of filling any silence in my life with music. Surely you jest, you say. Reader, I jest you not. Today is probably the third time I've placed these headphones in my ears to partake of my iPod luxury. And while I was at it I played some Solitaire, too.

This whole experience is making fantasize about some parallel universe where I have a job that I commute to on a subway. I live somewhere that is always cold thereby necessitating jeans and a scarf. I have to fill my time on my urban commute by plugging in my little iPod and listening to music. Or perhaps books. Whatever. This parallel universe is pliable. But the only part of this universe that I envision is just that commute. I grab a coffee and get on the subway and off I go to my job. But in this universe I never actually have to go to the job. I don't have a fantasy job. Unless it's something like Jenna Rink's job in Thirteen Going on Thirty. She makes it look fun and stress-free to be a big shot magazine editor.

Someday I'll download that movie onto a super tiny video device and watch it with my daughters. And then I'll direct them to the following little treat on youtube:

The man had mad skills! "Mama always told me, 'Be careful who you love. Be careful what you do, before a lie becomes the truth.'" Truer words have not been spoken, Michael.

For Your Viewing Pleasure

To think Christa almost didn't come over the night this video of spontaneous pleasure was recorded.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

"Texas, Here I Come (Went)"

Last weekend we traveled to Texas for a wedding. It was an old roommate of Jamie's. We braved the airplane with the girls and found that we were rather successful. Of course, Stella didn't totally grasp that she was 30,000 feet above the ground, but she was fascinated by the take-off and landing part of the trip(s). We had one stop one the way there and two on the way home. Other than those superfluous stops, flying with the children was not bad.

I started to get really nervous before we left. I was leaving my comfort zone--and theirs--for the unknown (read: the unknown sleep schedule). I would like to think of myself as easy going (Jamie insert guffaw here) but I know that I am most definitely not when my sleep is either threatened or compromised.

Of course no one but Gianna got to take naps. Stella was up late but slept late, too. She shared a bed with her dad, so I think that made the trip successful for her. And every morning she'd wake up in the hotel room and say, "Hey! Look! Look! Look, Mommy!" as she pointed at the large television set. Then she proceeded to turn the TV on.

We ate lots of Chick-Fil-A and snacky foods.

I'm glad I went. The wedding, what I saw of it, was a beautiful. Jamie was one of the groomsmen so I spent most of he wedding in the vestibule wrangling the children. Stella met another little girl named Sasha. They ran around with each other and crawled with a baby that was just as wedding-rambunctious. When we got to the reception Jamie said Sasha and Stella saw each other again and smiled and waved giddily.

I'm all for making positive traveling experiences as I love to travel.

And right now I just glanced at my kitchen counter. I have all the ingredients for a soup for dinner. A soup that Jamie actually likes. This is an outrageous experience as my husband rarely comments on his enjoyment of meals (that I make) or only likes meals that require tremendous preparation that is only undertaken by the likes of his mother or grandmother. Perhaps if we dated longer before we married and I was really worried about whether or not Jamie liked me I would've slaved in the kitchen to make homemade noodles for his favorite beef stroganoff. But as it was, there was never a doubt about whether or not he liked me.

More on that later.

If you look hard you can see Stella, Gianna and myself in this photo. We are waiting at the car while Stella grabs a few zzz's as Jamie attends the wedding rehearsal. Thankfully, November in Dallas is unlike November in Phoenix in that you can actually wait in the car.

Excited Gigi.

One of Stella's first photos: Gianna's thigh.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Brace Yourself

I have just put Stella down after a long day. It has not been a difficult day or a particularly grand day. Just a day. Her grandpa came over and played with her. She put her stuffed animals to sleep over and over again. Her bears, Papa and Baby, a lion who she calls, appropriately, "Rrrarr," her cat that she calls, "No," which is her version of a cat's meow. That's what she calls cats--No.

She tucked them in and bid them all a "Nigh Night." This is how her world works.

She played in the tub and looked up at me with her wet hair and face. It is at this time that her little unibrow is more pronounced than usual. She gathered her "Shish" and her "Gucks" and put them in her bucket.

This is not unusual. This is very normal.

But sometimes it is in the rhythm of these very normal tasks that I am overwhelmed. And, embarrassingly, I am moved to tears at the sight of my own child.

Our child, our children, my child. What is it that is so overwhelming? To me it is the fact that here is this little cosmic force that I have unleashed into the world. She will grown and change and still be, cliche as it is, my baby.

As I held her before bed I told her that she's my favorite first baby. I was flooded with the memories of two years ago. Before she was born. All the expectancy. All that I had no idea about. All that was prescient and on its way. I knew that life would change, but I assumed that change would be in diapers, in physical labor, in the amount of bodily fluids I came into contact with on a regular basis.

When you read about how to prepare for a child--as a consumer--you're told to get multiples of everything. Multiple bed sheets, multiple burp rags, onesies, sleepers, blankets and on and on. If you've never had a child before you're thinking, perhaps, "I know this child of mine will be loved by me, but I cannot conceive of that love yet. But I do know that it will pee through its sleepers and poop all over the bed and spit up on the blankets. I can conceive of that. I know how to prepare for that."

It is impossible to prepare for the love and the fear that enters your life when you have a child. I look at Stella--all two years of her--and I think of all that she has ahead. All the superlatives of life and the firsts and the work and fun and it blows my mind to think of her out and about acting on her desires and dreams. It's thrilling and frightening.

And I think of how this evening I was sorting through some of Gianna's clothing that she has outgrown. I made a pile to save. Such a mundane action with so much pluck. I made a pile to save for another child. I think of how my perspective has changed. This time last year I found out that Gigi was on her way. And now it all seems so brilliantly timed. Really, there was no timing. There was no planning for either child. But what if I had planned. What if I had planned on waiting until we were married for three year before I had a child? Three years was last December--two months before my ovarian cancer.

Life is unpredictable. And I know it might see macabre to say this. But when I find myself quiet and alone with either child, sniffing their heads and handling their limbs and taking in the weight of their body against mine I have to imagine a life without them. A life after them. A life if they were taken from me. I have to know it would be OK--after a long while--to carry on. That these children, these gifts from God to me, make my life so full but they do not complete it. If I don't realize this my daily flounderings are much more devastating.

I have to tell myself that it's OK to write whatever I want to remember here. I find myself editing things before I write them down. But I realize this blog is a future gift from me to my children. I want them to be able to look back and know how deeply and daily they are loved. And part of the love that I have for them is couched in a fear of losing them.

That is something this last year has given me. Something for which I am thankful as I enter into this season of thanks and giving.

Spousal Comminique

from Alishia 1:44 pm (1 minute ago)
to James
date Nov 5, 2007 1:44 PM
subject the hell?

Cast: Stella & Alishia
Location: Stella's pre-nap room
Time: pre-nap
Occurrence: Alishia slapped in the face by an angry Stella
Resolution: Stella swatted on the thigh and left for dead in her crib

this? this is my thanks?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Speaking of Little Sisters

Mine lives in town now--for a while. Long story.

But here's a fun little glimpse into her life--and logic. While she's here she's living at our dad's house. For all you non-Phoenix folk, he lives in Fountain Hills. This is a beautiful suburb but a long haul--about forty-five minutes from my house. About thirty from her work and thirty from where she works out, etc.

One day she stopped by my house in between errands and working out. She had bought chicken to make my dad for dinner. She wanted to work out first. Here's the conversation in the car on the way back to my house from the grocery store:

Cast of Characters:
Alishia (32 year old female, wife, mother-of-two, clad in frumpy clothing that she wore throughout her pregnancy but only recently noticed was xhilaration SLEEPWEAR!)
Christa (28 year old female, sister-of-one, wearing nice, chic workout clothes)
Stella (almost 2 year old, eldest child, I guess it's worth mentioning she's wearing Circo--represent)
Gianna (four sweet months, wearing a Onesie)

Alishia: -----
Christa: How long do you think the chicken will be ok in the car?
Alishia: Why?
Christa: I want to go workout before I go home.
Alishia: Let me remind you it's still hot here, don't leave your chicken in the car.
Christa: It's only for a little while. I'll just do cardio.
Alishia: OK, so you'll put the chicken in your car, drive from my house to 24 hour fitness, twenty minutes, workout, another thirthy minutes and then drive back to Dad's, another forty minutes. And you want to leave the chicken in the car that whole time?
Christa: ----
Gianna: wah, wah wah wha, eh eh eh
Stella: jibberty . blabbity, goigiggiy, thithistliy, mommy, daddy, baby, mommy, daddy, baby, mommy, daddy, baby, mommy, daddy, baby (ad nauseum).
Christa: I'll put it next to the frozen corn. It will be fine.
Alishia: Ahh, yes, a package of frozen corn, individually frozen pieces of corn, mind you, that take no time to thaw out, will keep your chicken above that danger zone temperature in your car at the tail end of an Arizona summer. Remind me never to eat your food again.

She continued to insist that All Would Be Well. I did not inquire after the meal or whether or not this sequence of events actually occurred.

I'm only saying this for Dad: Beware!

Don't worry, Gigi, you're still safe as long as you're breastfeeding!