baby-proofing, health, Pilates

We’re (mostly) done baby-proofing. We made a gargantuan effort today, and got our playroom back to being baby safe. Ted put in two baby gates, I cleaned up the disaster that had been our playroom, organized and swapped toys around, and we moved some furniture around together. Ever since cleaning the rug after Chester decided to use the playroom as a gigantic litter box, we’ve kept the door shut and only gone in to use the changing table. We’ve been afraid to leave the door open, in case Chester resumes his unsocial habit. And in fact, when we took the rug up today we discovered that his eliminations had indeed made it through to the wood floor. So, we cleaned further. He doesn’t like trying to hop over the baby gates, so we’re going to keep a close eye on him over the next week and see what happens. We have all fingers crossed, hoping we don’t have to buy a new rug. But once we start spending time in there with the babies, we can’t be constantly paranoid about whether the door is open or shut. In fact, we’ll have to leave the door open.

Additionally, we put pictures up on the walls, I did a monster pile of dishes, and Ted vastly reduced the pile on the dining room table. Our goal is to have everything all nice and clean and picked up before we leave for our next family-visiting trip, so that when we come back we’re not distressed by walking into, as Ted said tonight, a hole of a house.

I am extremely grateful that this cold appears to be moving through pretty quickly. I had a sore throat, but only for a day and a half, and I can currently breathe through both nostrils. Yippee! It’s the small victories in life. The constant stress on my immune system is one thing about having kids that’s a real physical and emotional challenge. It’s not been as bad this winter as it was the first year we had Hazel, and I am taking generally better care of myself, but being sick this often does sometimes really get me down. Now, our hope is that we’re all mostly healthy when we get on the plane. Traveling while ill is no fun at all.

One thing that is different this time is that I’ve continued with Pilates for much longer. I am feeling so much stronger. My mid-back in particular, an area which is prone to weakness and stiffness, has improved markedly. This is exciting. Sometimes you live with a certain set of discomforts for so long it’s easy to assume that it’s irremediable, will never change, or in fact will only get worse as you age. But my back is now stronger than it has been in decades, and as I do more work with Pilates will get even better. I can feel it walking, moving furniture, holding the babies, cooking, playing cello, and of course when doing exercises with my teacher. She and her husband own their studio, and they are open to clients bringing their kids, a huge plus. Ted is going to sign up for some personal training with her husband, I think. We both feel better when we’re working out regularly.

wardrobe editing, and safety concerns

cherry trees in neighborhood
Today I was facebooking, as it were, and I saw a picture of a pair of shoes decorated by a friend of mine for her daughter. They are beautiful, exquisitely done, as is all her work. They also gave me an idea. Ah ha! I thought, diabolically. I will take the advice of Peggy Orenstein, and fight fun with fun. So, later on in the day, with Hazel sitting cuddled up in my lap, I showed her the picture. Within about 2 minutes, she said, “I want shoes like those!” And so, with that set-up, we segued neatly into the discussion about her “special shoes”, the ones with heels, and the amount of pink in her wardrobe.

It was easy. I told her that her daddy and I didn’t think that heels are good for your body, and so we were going to need to get rid of those shoes. But we’d see if we could get shoes like the ones in the picture for her. And we also had let things slide too much, and had wound up with too much pink in her wardrobe. Daddy and I don’t like how pink is used to sell things to people that they don’t need, and we think that it’s used to make girls not want to play games that boys play, and vice versa. So, we’re sorry, but we’re going to have to get rid of some of the pink things. Because we’ve made the mistake by allowing all that stuff in, we’ll make it up to her by going to the store and letting her pick new things in replacement of the ones that are going away.

“Ok.” short pause. “Hey, did you see the toys I brought home from the birthday party?”

Of course, we’ll see what happens tomorrow when we actually do it….

—–

This morning we took the kids to the stonehenge-inspired water fountain we love. Hazel loves water as much as I do, and had I not been plagued with a head cold, I would probably have run in and out of the water with her. As it was, I walked around it and dipped my toes in. It was such a fantastically beautiful day there were lots of people out and about. Hazel didn’t want to put her (soaked) clothing back on when we went from that fountain to her other favorite one nearby, so we walked through the mall with her dancing around us in nothing but undies. At the second fountain there was a woman in her ninth month of pregnancy out with her 2-year-old son. Hazel’s example inspired him to get pretty soaked, so we offered her a spare towel for him. She took us up on it. We’ll go back this summer when it’s really warm and let the twins toddle around in the water too.

Doing things like that, I often find that different voices are warring (sometimes quite loudly) in my head: the propriety/what-will-other-people-think voice is busy lecturing, judging, taking exception, projecting terrible consequences, and generally attempting to throw cold water (so to speak) on the day; and on the other hand, my UK- and liberal-USA-city-inspired childhood voice is delighting in Hazel’s confidence and freedom from stuck-in-the-box thinking. Sometimes it’s pretty hard to untangle real safety concerns from the narratives that are held over our heads every day in the media. At the second fountain there was a guy just a few feet away from us who started videotaping Hazel playing in the water. It freaked both of us out, but we didn’t know what to do. I mean, do you instantly call your daughter over, throw a towel around her, and tell her it’s time to go? Do you challenge the guy and ask what he’s doing? Do you assume bad motivations or good? He didn’t *seem* creepy, but that doesn’t really mean much.

It does make me think about the extent to which we’re trained to not act on our instincts. It also makes me think about the extent to which our “instinctive” reactions are informed by a relentless media narrative that inspires fear. Consider the “Stand Your Ground” legislation in Florida, which has allowed people to kill other people and get off scott-free because of their claims that they felt afraid. To be a bit flip about a topic which is anything but, I prefer a stereotypically feline rather than a canine response. In other words, if something feels off, yowl menacingly and then run away rather than growling menacingly and then attacking.

This is a challenging issue for me as a parent. The protective instinct (there’s that word again) is so strong, that it can take me quite a while to process it, think about my options, and then try to decide what to do. By the time I’ve gotten to that point, the moment will more often than not have passed. Having thought more about this morning’s instance, I now wish I’d politely asked the guy to turn off his camera. But in the moment, I just knew I was uncomfortable, and then judged myself for feeling that way.

Ugh, this parenting gig is hard.

—–

To end on a nicer note, I took a solo walk this afternoon when Ted had all three kids. We’re having rather spectacular weather right now, and I spent quite a while lingering under some cherry trees, taking pictures, breathing in their delicate scent, and appreciating their creamy blossoms set off by a backdrop of an evergreen tree next to them. It was a gift of a day.

Friday evening

Today was glorious. Sunny, warm, blossoms everywhere. After Ted got home we spent an hour outside together. I got a blanket and we spread it out on the sidewalk and put the twins on it. The light slants through the trees around our house, and in the late afternoon/early evening everything glows. There was dappled light on the babies. Neighbors were out too, so Hazel got a chance to play with another kid, push a doll baby carriage around, try out a scooter, and draw with pavement chalk. She did fall off the scooter and have to come in for washing and bandaging of her “really big” cut, but didn’t take too long to be up and having fun again outside. Then we had yummy dinner (I made chard with roasted beets and peas, beef & onion soup, and a chicken & black bean casserole this week) and an easy bedtime. It was the perfect Friday evening.

One thing we’re going to do this summer is take down the old garage, and then there will be more room in the back yard in which to play and hang out. That area of the yard gets great late afternoon sun. We’re looking forward to making border gardens, a raised bed for veggies, and seeing the kids play in the grass.

Tomorrow our piano tuner is coming, so we are going to head over to a wonderful local fountain and play while the piano tuner has peace and quiet in which to calibrate the piano. I’m looking forward to it. Hazel loves to play in fountains (like mother, like daughter), and we love to laze around without too much scheduled. It’ll be a nice way to spend a beautiful morning.

Our pink-less household

There is a big, beautiful cherry tree outside my new Thursday studio. It was lovely to look outside this afternoon and see it. Blossoming trees are one of my favorite things about spring in the Pacific Northwest.

—–

Pink. We’ve been slipping and we’re going to go through and get rid of some things this weekend. We will offer alternatives, as there is an entire rainbow of colors which aren’t used to sell things to girls and women they don’t need, aren’t used to convince girls and women there are all kinds of things wrong with them (which require the expenditure of money to address), and aren’t used to segregate girls and boys from each other. Yeah, we’re that serious about it. But this is one point upon which we are in total agreement, and for that I am very grateful. Also, the shoes with little heels go. We’ll find other special shoes for special occasions.

Here are some great alternatives listed on Peggy Orenstein’s site: (this is just a small selection of a very big list)

Clothing:
http://www.polarnopyretusa.com/index/page/static/subpage/guide_unisex
http://tootsamacginty.com/
Dolls:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dtoys-and-games&field-keywords=melissa+%26+doug&x=0&y=0#/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dtoys-and-games&field-keywords=woodkins&rh=n%3A165793011%2Ck%3Awoodkins
Fabrics and Toys:
http://sarahssilks.com/catalog/playsilks, for a dress-up bin
http://www.roominatetoy.com/, toys to build with

Oy vey, it’s a full moon!

Wow, what a day!

I spent as long as I could in bed this morning, with either the third migraine in three days, or just a migraine that lasted three days. Hard to tell. Anyway, I was feeling crappy.

Relentless pain is so wearing. The combination of headache, nausea, and exhaustion starts putting my toes on the path toward depression. There is a relief particular to the ending of a migraine that’s hard to describe, but it has an aspect of giddiness I haven’t experienced in other circumstances, except perhaps when the months of heartburn ceased immediately after my twins were born.

Then the regular activities of feeding babies, playing with Hazel, and napping occurred. No big deal.

Then, after our evening babysitter arrived, I gave Hazel an hour of time with me to draw, play, etc. That was fun.

Then I started cooking. Ted and I had a miscommunication, so he didn’t walk in until an hour and a half after I expected his arrival, and I cooked with increasing intensity right up until my student arrived. During this time, Hazel had a huge fit, a screaming, kicking, hitting fit, because the babysitter had told her that she had to pick up her Go Fish cards before she could help me cook, and she wouldn’t do it. The twins are reacting to their environment more and more, and so when Hazel cries or freaks out, it sometimes will set them off, as it did tonight. Hazel screamed. Emily screamed. Joanna cried. Ted took Hazel upstairs so she could calm down. Eventually, they came back down. Hazel said she wanted to help me cook. I said no, because she hadn’t done what she was supposed to, and not cooking with me was the consequence. She cried. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I taught a lesson. I am looking forward to this fall’s construction of basement studio. Hearing, “I want Mama!” wailed at top volume for minutes on end is a tad distracting.

I came out at the end of the lesson, and sat with Hazel for a bit when the babysitter allowed her to come downstairs for a hug once she’d calmed down. When it was time for her to go back upstairs there was more crying, but thankfully not too much. We’ve had months of her going to sleep by herself now, and that has paid off in spades.

Then I cooked some more, and some more. I finished at 11:45 pm.

Then I came upstairs with the twins, and (eventually) nursed them to sleep – Emily is sick, and wakeful and tearful as it’s hard for her to breathe. Ted washed a metric ton of dishes, and waited for the last dish to finish baking.

I blogged.

zzzzz

Multi-generational sharing

My mom remembers a time that she and I went out and lay in the back yard one night star-gazing. I don’t remember it more than very vaguely. But it is a clear memory for her, and something she recalls fondly. Some of that emotion has carried over to me. Tonight I was walking home from my writing session and saw a glorious almost-full moon, huge, low in the sky, and mistily lambent. Today was a hard one with Hazel, who has been in a stretch of not listening. And I have not been feeling very good, and have not been very patient or creative. So, when I walked in the door, remembering my mom’s story of sharing the night sky with me, I told Hazel there was a beautiful moon outside, and asked if she wanted to go see it with me. She ran to get pants, shoes, and coat on, and we jogged down the street to a spot where it was visible. We didn’t stay for too long. I picked her up, and while I was holding her, one of her boots fell off. We giggled about it, and I held her hand to steady her while she got them back on. Then we ran back to the house: “I’m gonna beat you, Mama!” She probably won’t remember, but it was a lovely way to end our day together, and it helped me to get to a better place internally.

—–

At the writing session, my writing laptop wouldn’t boot. grrr. So, with a pen and some scrap paper given me by one of my friends, I started writing down things I know and things I need to find out about my main character. It was quite productive. I feel further along now. And I am glad there’s a reasonably recent copy of my writing project saved online!

babies and manuscript submission

Emily is lying on Ted’s chest, pulling at his lip and giggling madly. He’s responding by squeezing her tummy so that she sounds like someone doing vibrato on a theremin. Then he simultaneously does the same thing to Joanna, and it’s madly cute in here.

Emily is really starting to travel. She’s close to making it from the living room into the dining room. Further baby-proofing is very shortly going to become extremely necessary. Today she starting rocking back and forth when she was really excited, getting so enthusiastic in her motion that her nose got quite close to the floor. She was able to pull out of it, though. She’s getting stronger and stronger.

—–

I mailed off my manuscript excerpt for my first ever professional critique. I was having low blood sugar, a migraine, and nerves when I did it. I am consequently wondering in paranoid fashion whether I made some horrible mistake in the addressing of the mailer. Hopefully not! Today, of course, my printer decided to spectacularly jam up, so I wound up having to go to Kinko’s, twice. However, it’s off. And I’m looking forward to the session when it happens later on.

As part of my final proofing process, I read it aloud to my nanny. This was good, as I caught a couple of typos. However, Hazel got tired of listening. “I don’t like what you’re reading. I hate it.” She was quite patient for the majority of the reading, though.