Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oh, the Big Decisions of Life

Hooray! With our official downgrade to Moderate Drought this month, North Carolinians are allowed to use words such as "fire", "party" and "backyard" in the same sentence without neighbors turning us in to the police. Of course, none of this really stopped people burning stuff in their backyards in my neighborhood. Most of my neighbors live as though we are in the wild west, where the landowner is The Law. Frankly, my distaste for Ayn Rand aside, I'll take rugged individualism over covenant restrictions any day. One more reason I love living in the woods.

"You can paint my mailbox buff-beige after you pry it from my cold, dead hands"

So we're thinking about the next bonfire party, and the 5th of November is a long way off. Memorial Day is better celebrated in the daytime. I don't know why, it just is. Maybe late May, on Joan of Arc day? Or Summer solstice in June? July 4 is too competitive. All the other neighbors will be busy trying to catch their own yards on fire to bother with ours.

Throwing an evening party with a toddler in the house is challenging, and that's really what is stalling the plans more than anything. It'll probably be late May. I'll let you know.

What big, important decisions is everyone else facing this week?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Hey, Mom and Dad- Does this look familiar?

I keep forgetting to mention this on the phone with my parents. Apparently, Funny Walks are hereditary.

Twinkle Toes, Jr.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If the Mountain Won't Come to e-baby, e-baby Must Go to the Mountain.

Yes, yes, it has been a dry blog season. But I have a really good excuse. I'm super busy at work and actually getting important stuff done! Nine weeks ago I was given some documentation to use for a project I was to start working on, and then spent the six weeks teaching, usually traveling. So the 1/2 day here and 1 day there I had in the office/not teaching were spent picking my toes and thinking, "Hmmm, so what will I do to organize my thoughts? What was I doing a week ago when I last thought about this project?" Do you know that feeling, where you can't do anything because there are not enough contiguous days to devote to the thing?

But I've been in town for 2 1/2 weeks and it seems like I've gotten more done than the whole first quarter combined. Yay!

It has not, however, been a dry weather season. The drought has ended with a great deal of rainfall taking us down to mere level-1 water restrictions. Being allowed to flush again is nice, but being able to wash a car one day a week is still one day too many (snark). The rain does ruin jogging-to-work plans, but better to get to shower in non-reused water like the good old days.

OK, I'm exaggerating the water restrictions a bit. But not much. There was actually a rule that you could not water indoor houseplants with potable water.

And now, an e-baby fable.

SNG, e-baby and I were sitting on the kitchen floor, e-baby on SNG's lap jamming on her steamer. She had asked for some "chee-wees" (does anyone remember Lance/Tom's snacks? I call all cheesey puffs "Chee-wee," so now e-baby does, too), and I told her no because it was almost bathtime. She protested but let the issue drop pretty quickly.

After her steamer, she stood up and went behind SNG, grabbed the shoulders of his shirt and pulled them UP! and said "UP daddy!" so he stood up. Then she came to me and said "UP mommy!" so I stood up. Then she went and found the step-stool I use to reach things in the kitchen, and put it right next to SNG. She grabbed my hands and lifted them and said "UP! UP!" so I climbed up. I wondered if she wanted me to kiss SNG, since she likes to make us kiss sometimes. But no. Instead, she busts a triumphant grin and completely out of nowhere (so it seemed), she says/signs "GOLFISH?" And where was I?? Right in front of the fridge, eye-level with the snack-bag, the Goldfish crackers peeking out the top. All part of her carefully orchestrated plans.

It seems the mountain always comes to e-baby.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What Did We Do Last Sunday?

This is what we did last Sunday.

At about 9:15 Sunday morning, SNG said to me, "Do you think we should build that playset you've been wanting to make? Want to go to Lowe's and see what they have?"

The man usually won't string together real words before 9:30am, so I did a double-take before blurting out, "Yes! Let's go right now."

About 2 1/2 hours later, we were home with most of the supplies needed to make a 4-swing playset with a platform and a slide, and a bring orange race-car baby swing that e-baby chose by pulling it from the shelving compartment and climbing inside.

SNG worked mostly on his own for about 2 hours, and we both worked on it for the next 4 hours while e-baby took a loooong nap, and by dinnertime it was ready for action. Our new neighbors gave us an old slide that they weren't using which happened to fit our platform. I don't have any pictures of the slide yet.

It has been test-played by two other neighborhood kids who gave it thumbs up. The older kid (6) said the slide is "really fast" which has me a little worried, but e-baby seems to think it's a blast, judging by the magnitude of the meltdowns we've had every evening when it's time to stop playing on the playset.

Next weekend we will anchor the supports to the ground and put the race-car decals on e-baby's orange swing. It comes with both boy- and girl-ish decals, so I'll probably mix them up. The guys next door race cars on track and so they know all about the regulations for decaling a race-car. I just have to figure out what her number should be.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Finally, an 18-month Post

I'm finally getting around to writing about what things are like for e-baby and the rest of us at 18 months old.

* What is she, a shark? E-baby is sprouting her incisors (the pointy canines, in case you don't know which the incisors are), which brings the tally up to 14 teeth. That's FOURTEEN! Each and every single one of them came with a set of sleepless nights, drooling, and general grumpiness. The latest two are no different, except that now she knows that chewing on ice can be soothing. So all day long she says ICE? ICE? ICE? But really, I thought incisors came much later. We were due for a break. Where's that teething break? All I can say is we better not get any more until next calendar year.

* And speaking of things we won't have any more for a long time-- SHOTS! At her 18 month doctor's visit, she got one shot, which was the last one until she goes off to Kindergarten. E-baby, I, SNG, daycare, the three nurses required to restrain her for a shot and everyone with an office nearby there are looking forward to the next 3 years and a few months needle-free.

* By 18 months, especially because she's an early talker, it's becoming very clear that she's been soaking up EVERYTHING for the past 8-10 months, and now has ways of getting it all out there to share with the world. Here are some examples:

* She knows her colors quite well now and, except when she's tired, loves to tell you what color everything is. She's usually right, as long as it's pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, brown or white. She'll have to work on pewter, magenta, chartreuse, turquoise... But seriously, I really didn't spend much time teaching her colors until after I realized that she already knew several of them. I asked the day care, and they said that she had probably been practicing them in her mind for a long time but is just now figuring out how to map the word-labels to the colors of objects.

* Size is fascinating. Or, Small is Tremendous to quote Zoe Lewis. E-baby loves to compare things that are big and small. Only, she doesn't just say big and small. She says BIG (slowly, with a deep voice) and tiny! (with a teensy little high-pitched voice, and a remarkable southern accent, so it's like taaaahnee!). She'll compare anything. For instance, daddy's nose? BIG. Her nose? tiny! My nose is either BIG or tiny! depending on whether she's comparing it to her nose or SNG's.

* Role playing like crazy. She has her dolls read books to each other, she moves their hands/paws so that they can use sign language, she pretends to be the neighbor's cat and lies down on her belly in the yard like she's stalking birds, she imitates me cooking with her own little set of pots and pans (from IKEA-- they are SO CUTE and you can actually cook with them if you want to). There's a lot more going on in e-babyworld than in mine or yours.

* a few shapes, a few numbers... she has circle, oval, and diamond nailed and is working on others, and she knows the difference between One thing, Two things, and more than two things. Beyond that, she can count numbers up to 10 with some help, but I don't think she knows the difference between the meanings of 3, 4, 5 etc.

Her daycare's 18-month conference was last week, and her teacher remarked on a couple of things that were interesting. One is that she's very good at playing independently, which will prbably translate well to school someday. Another thing she told us is that e-baby while affectionate and sweet, and not at all mischevious, is also really good at sticking up for herself against other kids. No one steps on her and gets away with it.

Which is just one of those things that you never really think about until you realize how glad you are to have a daughter like that.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Girl Wants to Party All the Time

In an ironic twist, SNG is out of town this week and I am doing the baby care thing by myself. It's outrageously busy at work and this would of course be the week that e-baby gets sick again. I can only blame myself for that. We went to Marbles (the children's museum) last Saturday and she played in the cloudy greyish splashy water exhibit with a dozen other kids, one of whom was apparently communicable. The one time I didn't wash her hands before leaving the museum. So, of course, I am getting the Crud as well.

It's unusual that I take care of e-baby alone at home. Maybe it's because she was waiting for Daddy to get home, but tonight she wanted to play all night long in her room. Might also be the Crud keeping her from sleeping.

In the category of Stupidest Parents Ever: Sunday, we had two of e-baby's 16-month old friends and their parents over for dinner and e-baby was just in a foul mood. The kids (and their parents) were so sweet and sympathetic but e-baby just whined and cried the entire time. She kept whining "Teemo! Teemo!" over and over, and neither of us had any idea what she was trying to say, but figured it was related to "Dima" and "Mahnee" and other things that she says which we haven't deciphered yet. A few times in the evening she made her signature "I am an espresso machine" noises, which she started doing when we got the Dingus. She sounds just like a frothing wand, I tell you.

Later in the bath, she's still fussing and complaining, and saying "Teemo!" and making espresso machine noises when it dawns on us: if you can't pronounce S's very well, and your "er" sounds haven't quite bloomed yet, then you might pronounce "steamer" kind of like "teemo." And, to really make your point, you might MAKE THE SOUND OF A FROTHING WAND because mommy never showed you a sign for steamer; you just have to improvise. Oh, and then keep trying to make your point for about 3 hours while these goobers you call parents keep asking whether your diaper is full or you want some cheese, all the while pulling espresso shots for their friends-- For goodness sakes, could we be any thicker? We made her a steamer after her bath. She was in a good mood the rest of the evening.

Friday, April 4, 2008

A Post That Is Not About Babies

Last weekend we got ourselves a little present (affectionately named The Dingus by SNG) that had nothing to do with individual endurance sports, clothes, or babies-- a refreshing departure. Some of you know that I was once a barista and have opinions about coffee, but I would not call myself a coffee snob (I grind my beans at the store, how snobby can I possibly be?). The Dingus is marvelous, and the culmination of a lot of research. But it is also a compromise since the machine I really want is one that grinds and measures the beans, connects directly to our plumbing for its water supply, makes great espresso, makes drip coffee in a separate system from the espresso (with different beans and different grind), and has a professional-quality frothing wand. Such a thing can't be found for love or money, although this one came close. So, um, no. The one we got hits the mark on good espresso, a good frothing wand, a LARGE water tank and a few nice extras. But we still have our drip coffeemaker and use it every day alongside The Dingus. Unfortunately, the horrendous noise it makes frightens e-baby, so I make her a steamer every couple of days to give her positive associations with the sound. She likes steamers.

Still, I reeeeeally wanted a machine that would hoook into the plumbing. *sigh*

Oh, another topic altogether. I need some opinions and advice on expanding storage capacity. The laptop, which is where we do most everything, is nearly out of disk space. The desktop has some space (not a lot), but is inconveniently located so it's not ideal for managing all our photos, videos, music... not to mention I have no hope of installing the software of the company I work for on a home computer since its footprint is gimongous. We're thinking of getting an external networked drive, say 500GB, to map as a drive on both computers and store all our big stuff (iTunes files, pictures, movies) there. What I don't know is whether this will work. iTunes strikes me as clever enough to disallow you to read your music from an external, shared network drive. There might be other issues I'm not considering as well. Does anyone have experience or advice on the most effective way to seriously expand our storage capacity, short of buying another computer?

We've been getting some rain here lately, which is great news for the drought. But I am about to eat my own feet from the boredom of not getting to go bike or hike or jog. Hopefully Sunday will be nice, since we have some friends coming over to cookout.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Waterfall Dreams

*Edited to add: I recently uploaded a ton of pictures to Flickr in two sets: March 2008 and Easter. I haven't had a chance to annotate, title, or label anything yet, so MST3K to your heart's content.

I realize that I've been behind in my blogging lately, although not for lack of interest in writing. I've been out of town most of the last month with limited internet access, and when I have been in town, work has been crazy-busy.

I had intended to write an 18-month entry, since e-baby turned 18 months old last week, but just never got around to it. I'll still write one up soon, but in the meantime here's a little story.

Last night we had barbecue and hushpuppies for dinner. It didn't really agree with any of us, especially e-baby. So come 1:20am, e-baby starts screaming and nightmare-crying. SNG went to help her, and she made some underleg-music and felt a little better. Then she cried for mommy, so I went upstairs and it was a couple more hours before we got her back to sleep. As she played in the den upstairs, SNG sat on the couch supervising and I lay dozing on the futon. She put her stuffed dog inside a big basket that she called her "boat" and she alternated pulling the boat around and sitting in it with her arm around the dog like it was her date for the drive-in-movie-regatta. I was only half-awake for this, just enough to know that she was still in the room. At one point she toddled to the coffee table and found a big water glass. She drank a little, offered some to her dog, and I could hear her say "Mommy want wa-wee?" a millisecond before I was doused with about a pint of cold water. She said "Uh-oh!" and wandered off for more nautical fun with her dog-boyfriend.

I wasn't laughing much at the time, but it is sure funny now that I have dry clothes on. When I relayed the story to a friend at work, she said "She just gave you all she had to give!"

Thanks, kiddo.