The Utter Unself-Consciousness of Toddlerhood

One of the things I love about Monkey is her utter lack of self-consciousness. She unrepentantly picks food out of her teeth (usually out of her “triangle teeth” i.e. molars) with her finger at the table. She runs around pulling up her pants (who decided that toddler pants should be low-cut should be cursed to an existence of wearing very-low-riding jeans with granny underpants). She talks to her silverware, her stuffed animals; she decides she is going to be Gusk the dog at the slightest whim.

And I was reminded of these things Sunday, at the very low-key (but not low-riding) picnic at Kim’s house yesterday. Where I also got to see her again, and meet her family, and meet her and her family. It was a nice two hours out of a stressful weekend. And the cupcakes were a big hit.

On the way home, we were listening to the classical music cassette tape that has been DearDr’s choice of late (the CD player is broken). Monkey loves music, and she seems especially attracted to classical. She came in the house the other day to tell me about the nut crack music she liked. As we were driving home yesterday, I was thinking about all the stuff still facing me at home, and Monkey started yammering at me from the back seat.

“The crack nut music, Mommy! This is it. The crack nut, the crack nut!”

I finally realized she was talking about what was playing in the car.

A couple of tracks from the Nutcracker Suite are on the tape. We listened to them four times on the way home. I am thinking there is a matinee ballet in my near future.


Even though she wasn’t there, I have to link to her site. Because I really like stuff, and this contest looks too good to pass up.

Random Thoughts: The Kids are All Right

Bun looks curiously at my face, specifically, at my chin where a recent pimple is healing. (Yes, I’m 37 and still get the occasional pimple. Aren’t hormones great?)

“Hurwt?” she asks. “Boo boo, mama?”

“Yes,” I answer, surprised (and laughing a bit at her concerned face). “Pimple.”

“Pimm..ble,” she says. “Hurwt?” she asks again.

“Yes,” I say. “Will you kiss it?”

She gives me a fat, wet kiss on my chin. “Mmmmwha!”


Monkey throws a huge fit when we get home, after I carefully explain that dinner is already cooked and I am just warming it up, and it’s hard for her to help me cook dinner because I’m dealing with hot stuff on the stove — and she just lays down on the floor and starts screaming. I don’t understand everything she is saying, but I do hear, “Don’t say that to me” (a new favorite phrase) and “Go AWAY!” Bun is crying now, too. I am losing my mind.

I give Bun a kiss, and set her on the couch. I carry Monkey to her room, and just leave her there with the door closed.

I get Bun settled to eat, and go back to talk to Monkey. She, too, has calmed down.

I sit on her bed, and she comes over to me. I say, “I don’t get to see you all day.” Pause. “So when we are together, I don’t like us yelling at each other.” More silence, but that’s okay. I can tell she is listening by the simple fact that she is not talking — about anything. Monkey talks a lot, about the slightest thing that catches her attention.

“Okay?” I say. “Ready to go eat dinner?”

“Okay, mama,” she says. And holds my hand as we go downstairs.

And eats three helpings of dinner, plus a “push-up” yogurt, as she calls it. Gotta talk to the daycare to see how much she is actually eating at lunch.


As we are driving home one night, I am explaining to Monkey that it is autumn now. I say, “Summer’s over.” She repeats, “Summer’s over?” I say, “Yep.”

“We have a Summer at school,” she offers.

“Oh,” I say.

“She’s probably at home now,” she says. As it is 7 p.m., I would say this is a safe assumption.

Not sure which “school” she means (St. J’s or the Presby dayschool, as they call it), I say, “Do you mean she’s with you at St. Joe’s?”

She answers, “No, she’s probably at home now.” Like, der, mom.


I found what Slate had to say about corporal punishment in the home very sobering. I have spanked my children, or grabbed them a little harder than was strictly necessary, and after reading this, I am vowing to STOP putting my hands on my children in a violent way. No More. I’ll give myself timeouts if I feel the need to slap a hiney. Because I admit I have thought about slapping Monkey in the face, and I don’t like that feeling — the rush of violence, the aftermath of it. It makes me feel ill, nauseous. And I haven’t even slapped her, just felt the urge.

Which is not to say I won’t get angry at my children. Because I will. They drive me nuts sometimes. I just will find another way to deal with it than spanking or grabbing.


And holy cow! I am a political person, but not on this blog (although… more on that when I get to my long-delayed book post). But I cannot resist asking you to check out these two posts from Julia at I Won’t Fear Love, and their comments. These are subjects and issues that set my head aflame, and this amazing woman — who has a weeks-old infant!! — has written two amazing, nuanced posts about them. I agree with a lot of what she has to say, and I also am floored by the dialogue in the comments, which are also nuanced and well-argued (even the ones with which I agree much less). No flaming, no name-calling, no “I’m taking my comment and going home” attitude. No rudeness.

We mothers and women really should throw ALL the bums out. And take over.

Plus, her daughter’s nickname is Monkey! Just like one of mine.


And finally: laugh or cry, but this got my attention. (By one of my favs, Her Bad Mother.)

I Miss You

Listen, I’m sorry not to be here, and I’m basically showing up to simply say: I won’t be here in any quantity for awhile. I’m slammed at work and at home — everyone’s fine, by the way. I just can’t get any quality writing time.

New Cute Thing: Bun, walking up to me with something in her hand (from a barrette found on the floor to sections of the newspaper) and saying, “Hewre” (translation: Here, mama, I found this and am giving it to you.) Several times in a row. Also, offering me — or anyone — food (real or imagined) with this: “Bite?” Or, sometimes, “Bite!”

Hope to have something (good) to say, and time in which to say it, soon.

Tickle Me Funny Bone

This just cracked me up. I love Andrea Bocelli’s voice.

Bocelli’s duet with… gulp, Celine Dion… “The Prayer” was the song DearDR and I danced to at our wedding reception. (I’m sure admitting that I danced to a Celine song is going to cost me cool points. But it’s still a gorgeous song, and perfectly fitting for DearDR and me on our wedding day.)

Had to share. I am working on a post about books I am reading or gearing up to read, and it’s taking me much longer than I thought.

A Mother’s Wish

As I fed my children their dinner of grilled cheese and lentil soup, and attempted to eat my own, and cleaned Bun off after she got stuff all over herself, and got them both something to drink, and started to empty my dishwasher (because that’s where the clean dishes I used at dinner were) and made Monkey another grilled cheese sandwich, and changed Bun’s poopy diaper (“Poop!” she tells me), and my own dinner was getting cool, I thought, “I would like to just have one thing to do.”

I make this wish from time to time, as does every mother/woman/wife. While I’m at work, I have to call and make appointments and reserve tickets to the free Pittsburgh Symphony program on Saturday. Even now, I have a load of laundry (yeah, I said load) in the dryer and one in the washer, and the floor needs to be swept, and I should probably run the dishwasher.

And I don’t wish this too hard, lest someone hear. Because in all of the busy-ness is joy



(Okay, it’s an old picture. Go Steelers!)

Potty Time?

Bun actually peed on the potty last night!

She has been saying potty for weeks now, and she’s started backing into it, as if she wants to sit. So in the last week, I have been whipping off her diaper and holding her on it. I don’t expect her to do anything, but hey, she’s interested, may as well foster her interest.

Then last night, right before bath time, she actually peed while sitting there! (And drooled on the seat.) I was pretty amazed (about the pee, not the drool). I gave her lots of praise (although unfortunately no m&m’s).

Believe me, I’m not stocking up on pull-ups or big girl underwear for her yet. But maybe I’ll get out that little potty chair just for the heck of it.

The Good, The Bad, The Weekend

Good: Two birthday parties on Saturday. The first for my 3-year-old niece (Happy Birthday, Niece!), and the second for my 40-year-old Ex (Happy Birthday, Ex!).

Bad: Nothing got accomplished. Sunday, I had a to-do list with six things on it. I managed to complete one (“Balance checkbook”). I feel as if I am just getting further behind. Weekends are not catching me up.

Good: The Babysitter is coming along nicely. To get your very own babysitter, take a 14-year-old neighbor girl and send her to the American Red Cross baby sitter training classes. Saturday was her second night (so we could attend the second birthday party at the Sharp Edge), and she did a very nice job: Monkey bathed (not sure why Bun wasn’t — must make note), kids in bed, sleeping, in pajamas, AND house straightened. (She needed this explained to her: after kids are in bed, straighten house. This means: put stuff you and kids used/played with away, not clean/dust/vacuum my house. Although I would pay her extra for that. Then watch DVDs!)

Bad: Poop on both kids’ couches. Admittedly, Bun does have some messy diapers. This was much less damage than, say, having the digital camera dropped in the sink on your watch, which is what happened last time she baby sat. And poop washes out. Digital cameras, not so much.

Baby steps, people.

Good: Uh, two birthday parties. I know, I’ve already mentioned these. They were both really good times, though. And they illustrate my next point.

Bad: Driving all over Pittsburgh. From our house to Dormont for Niece, then back to our house, then out to East Liberty/Shadyside for the Ex, then home again, home again, jiggety jig.

Good: The lovely fruit salad I made for Niece’s party — cantalope, watermelon, and organic strawberries, all perfectly ripe and sweet.

Bad: Forgetting said fruit salad, which was so frustrating for so many reasons. First, I had to go to the store to buy the fruit. Then, it took me a long time to make it because I had no kid-free time Saturday before the party (DearDR had to work, and Bun DID NOT NAP). Something that should have taken about 20 minutes instead took the better part of an hour (possibly an hour and a half), stopping and starting. Then, realizing half-way to Niece’s party that I had left my lovely fruit salad sitting on my counter. DearDR asked if he should go get it (after dropping us off), and I said no. Then I said it was totally up to him. We didn’t get it. (Earthmother and Niece did not seem to mind.) We’ll be eating a lot of fruit salad this week.

Good: The Steelers beat the Texans, 38 to 17.

Bad: I did not actually get to watch the game, per se. It was on the whole time, and Bun did nap. However, there were chores, and Monkey. We played Checkout, which is a weird little game, but okay to play with an almost-4-year-old.

Good: After we were done playing Checkout, Monkey decided she was a dog. We played fetch in the living room, which made it easier to pay attention to the game. And I told her to stay off the couch.

As a dog, her name was Gusk.

Good: The Ex’s 40th birthday get-together. Last time I got together with these people, it was weird. But this time, it wasn’t.

Or at least, not so much.

I have to recognize that I spent a lot of time with these people. Some are still close and dear friends, especially the ones that carried over from college (see Girlie Weekend). Some are dear acquaintances. And I must say, I didn’t see anyone at the party that I wished I hadn’t seen.

For better or worse, I learned a lot about myself in the company of these people. For that, I am grateful, and find a certain fondness in my heart for them. They taught me a lot about what I wanted and who I was. The Ex and I moved on to find spouses much better suited to us. I hope that his wife is grateful to me the way DearDR is grateful to the Ex. “He did me a favor,” DearDR says. I hope the Ex is happy in his life, in his love, the way I am happy. Because he deserves it, too.

And, hey, I got to see this guy again, before he becomes really famous. He was the “young, hot guitar player” in the Ex’s band, Kill Bossa (ya gotta say it out loud). If I recall correctly, at the time he joined the band, he was only 20 and not legally allowed to drink in the clubs in which they played.

Anywho, he could be big. I’m certainly rooting for him.

Priceless: The Ex is not taking turning 40 with good grace. He’s all itchy and restless. “You need a new band,” I told him. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I’m bored.”

To which I replied, “Have a baby!” The look on his face was, as they say, worth the price of admission. “Uh,” he said, “I’m pretty sure a band is a more manageable proposition.”

I never said he was dumb.

Speechless Saturday

Because I’m too tired for words.

Here are some images Monkey managed to capture before she dropped the camera in the sink. (For the record, the camera works now, but the flash does not.)

I’m going to start calling her Annie Lebowitz. (And just sue me if I spelled that wrong — too tired to look it up, even).

“What’s in here?”

“Cheeeeeezzze” and Chocolate:

I can’t even think of anything clever here. If I had the energy (and the commenters) I would run a contest. What the heck? Name the picture. I’ll figure out something:

Horsey-face Mommy:

A More Reasonable Distance:

The Babysitter’s Shirt:

Is This Thing On?

And now we come to Monkey’s favorite subject: Her sister, Bun.

Bun One:

Bun Back:

Bun Two:

Bun Blur:

Bun Bangs I:

Bun Bangs II:

Flip Side

We didn’t know each other very well. We only had a best friend in common.

You were the best friend who lived in her neighborhood. I was the best friend from birth, because our parents were close friends.

I admit to being jealous of you over the years. I was a selfish friend, and I wanted her all to myself, especially when we were all girls.

I know very little of your life as an adult, but N remained a close and true friend to you, as she did to me. I know you faced difficult decisions and a serious illness.

You don’t need me to tell you this, but you did the right thing. You were braver than I could be. You were braver than I was. Stronger and more true.

As you know, N is moving, going to Palo Alto. In theory, as we haven’t seen much of each other since marrying and starting our families, you may think this is no big deal. But knowing she has been in Columbus or Chautauqua has been comforting. It was easy to think, “Well, I can just get in a car and see her” even if it only happened a handful of times. But now she’s going clear across the country, which means plane tickets and plane rides and 3000 miles instead of 300.

You have taken a much longer journey, have left N and all of your friends and family much, much further behind than a mere cross-country uprooting could encompass or compare to.

N misses you, of course. And part of what she misses of you is the “other-side” that you played to our coin — the coin that was you and me. We were the “best friends for life” that N always had in her pocket.

I didn’t know you well, but I will miss you too. Miss you for your son. Miss you for our best friend.

I hope you found peace while you were still here. I hope you find rest.

“For one human being to love another; that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks, the ultimate, the last test and proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke