Thursday, August 30, 2007

Professor Daddy

Beth has taken to calling Scott "Professor," as in, "Professor, you come here right now!" and "Professor! Professor! Where are you? Oh, there you are." He loves it. We're living in Boston, I'm trying to teach her to say "wicked awesome," and she comes out with "professor." Love my kid.

Yesterday morning I caught her trying to feed Sarah toast. She'd broken off bits and was trying to shove them in Sarah's mouth (Sarah, of course, wasn't complaining in the least — her expression was more "Lemme at it!" than "Toast? I don't think so. Not yet, anyway.").

"Bethie, Sarah can't have toast yet. She can't chew it. She doesn't have any teeth."

A moment of worried concentration, then: "We'll buy her some!" Aha. The solution to all of our problems. I love how her mind works.

"No, sweetie, we can't. It doesn't work that way. Let's feed her applesauce, okay?"

Then Sarah took a morning nap (maybe her fifth? Ever?) and Beth and I were out on the front deck blowing bubbles. (This is hilarious: She can't figure out how to blow just right, so she either spits at the bubble wand or breathes at it.) Eventually I told her, "We're going to have to go wake up baby Sarah and go to Costco."

"And buy her teeth!"

Wow. Oh, just so you know: we didn't really look hard, but we're pretty sure Costco doesn't carry false teeth. At least not for babies.

Tuesday's splash park debacle really needs more explanation.

I'm trying to make friends, really I am. So I'm taking her to the ward playgroup, and the e-mail that went out about it said "splash pool," and I assumed (wrongly) that "pool" meant "pool" (as in short-person wading-style pool) instead of "overgrown sprinklers." She was terrified. Sarah would let me get her feet wet before complaining about it, but Beth just flopped down on her towel in sunbathing stance and screamed and cried when I even suggested going near the water. I kept my cool, though, and on our way out of the park I sat down with her on the grass and said, "This wasn't really a pool, was it?"


"Tell you what. Not tomorrow, but the next day, we'll find a real pool, you and me and baby Sarah. Okay?"


So (this being "the next day") we went. She had an absolute blast. The local pool is insanely, cliquishly, wonderfully local: you have to be a resident of the town just to buy a day pass, the red-suited lifeguards all look like they grew up swimming there in the summers, kids have to pass a swimming test to go in the deep end, and by late afternoon the place is chock-full of kids playing "Marco!" "Polo!" and swimming underwater and throwing beach balls around. Plus, it starts at just a foot deep, which is great for little Bethie who's only about three feet deep herself. We went this morning, slathered on sunscreen, put on hats, and spent an hour and a half walking around the kiddie half of the pool, coming back to our towel for snacks, and going back in again. Sarah finally lost it around lunchtime, so we came home, ate lunch (what's more appropriate for a pool day than PB&J?), took naps (all of us — I was wiped out), and went back. This time she was an old pro: she didn't need to hold my hand every minute, she went in up to her chin, and she even slipped while she was climbing down from the side of ramp and fell in. I thought it would be the end of things, but no — she kicked and splashed for a few moments while I hauled myself (Sarah in tow) from where I was sitting on the pool floor and righted her.

"Are you okay?"


"Was it fun?"


"Do you want to do it again?"


Sarah, by the way (and I feel terrible that so many of my comments about Sarah are "by the way"s — she's tremendous, and calm, and tough as nails — "quietly determined" would be the right words for her), is a total water baby. She stood up in the pool, holding onto my hands; let me swing her around on her back and her tummy in the water, and played beach-ball catch with an older boy (six? seven?) who thought (correctly) that she was a cutie. She also has the cutest baby swimsuit ever. It's a purple patterned halter-style tank suit with ruching on the sides and red and orange beads on the halter tie. I want one for me.

Beth played catch with three kids. She wants to take swimming lessons this fall. She pled with me to let her stay when I told her it was time to go home for dinner. Yay!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Brilliant kids, spacy mom

Sarah's almost, almost crawling. She'll get up on her hands and knees, rock back and forth, study the floor in front of her, then flop herself down like a little inchworm to get her hands farther forward. It's working quite well. I expect her to actually figure out how to alternate hand movements within, oh, a week, at which point we're going to have to buy baby gates to keep her off the stairs. Yikes!

It's been such a week.

Saturday was just awful. One of those days when I shouldn't be allowed around heavy machinery or loaded weapons or small children. It was hot (90-plus degrees), humid, and I had no ability to focus whatsoever. First, on my way out of the house to the grocery store, I actually backed the car into the deck (itty bitty dent on the bumper, no damage to the deck). After battling two children, cramped aisles, long checkout lines and Beth crying most of the way home because she wanted to drive (but wouldn't actually climb in the driver's seat while I was loading the groceries — it was "Too hot! I burn myself!"), I clipped one of the side mirrors trying to pull into the garage.


The mirror was still (mostly) attached to the car, but I figured the universe was telling me to stay inside for the rest of the day. So later in the afternoon, I got domestic and homebody-ish: I decided to finish cleaning the oven.

(The oven was absolutely grimy when we moved in. I don't think anyone's cleaned it since it was installed eight years ago. And this is a self-cleaning oven. All you have to do is set it to the clean cycle and wait four and a half hours. But I digress.)

I ran a cleaning cycle a few weeks ago, and while it mostly worked, it also left some still-icky spots that I figured I'd get with some spray-on oven cleaner. So I took the pizza stone out of the oven, picked up the blue spray can, covered the inside of the oven door with foam, recapped the can, and looked at the clock so I'd know when my two hours of soaking the grease-encrusted mess would be over. And then I thought, "Wow, that oven cleaner really smells good," and I looked twice at the blue spray can, and realized that I had just covered the oven door with spray starch.

Grr, again. I wonder: Should I include stories like this in the article I have to write about our family for the ward newsletter? "Libby likes to read, play the violin, and have completely spacy days where she does everything — everything — wrong."

We got new cell phones, which is a source of endless wonder for Beth. "Is that Mama's new cell phone? I want to hold it. I call Aunt Gigi?" Last night Scott was trying to set up his new Treo (ooo, the tech geekiness we exude!) and had the instructions laid out in front of him on the living room floor.

Beth marched over and picked up the paper. "I have to read it," she explained, and proceeded to peruse the instructions. After quite a bit of deliberation, she gave the paper back. "It says 'cell phone.'" And she walked away.

(For the grandparents who are convinced of her budding brilliance, it didn't. She can't read. It said "smartphone," and it had pictures.)

But today after our wearing trip to the park, where Beth was afraid of the sprinkler-type water play area, and another grueling grocery run (don't ask — it's too painful to tell — but it involves me forgetting to change Beth out of her swim diaper before putting her in the shopping cart), we still had to stop by the tailor shop to pick up Scott's pants that we'd dropped off yesterday morning. I found a parking spot a few doors down from the shop, hauled the girls out of the car, and told Beth, "We have to find the tailor shop. Can you help Mommy?"

"It has a number eight on the door," she said.

And so it did. I'm going to let her park the car next time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Farm girls

We went to a farm! The ward playgroup was held at a farm out in Natick today. Beth thought it was glorious. As soon as she heard we were going to a farm she started talking about piggies.

(It's not really that kind of a farm. It's a pick-your-own-apples kind of farm, but lucky for us there's a petting zoo section with a single placid cow, some ostriches and emus, a big collection of sheep and goats, and a solitary sleeping piggy. Beth was afraid of the ostrich, and when confronted with the big ugly guy's head shrank back and said, "I don't know him.")

She got to pick her own apples off short apple trees, and ride "trains" (a long motorized peoplemover thing, plus a kid-sized caterpillar one), and pet the goats, and play on a playground, and have lunch with some new little friends who are just older than she is.

Sarah sat up in the front seat of the stroller and watched everything: the animals, the other babies, the apples. She wasn't really thrilled about the stroller — Sarah would much rather be practicing her hands-and-knees maneuver right now — but she was patient with our needs to get out of the house.

On the way home Beth had to sing "Old MacDonald Had a Farm" over and over and over. (She was pretty creative with it, too — used a bunch of the animals she'd just seen — didn't resort to kitty cats for several miles.)

Late September is apparently Asian pear season, so we'll be back for that. And we saw pumpkins nestling low in their big leaves, so we'll be back for that too.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Yes, all the synapses are in working order

Grandma was taking pictures of the girls and their baby cousin tonight when the itty-bitty digital camera slipped out of her hands. Something was obviously wrong with it — she couldn't turn it on or off — so I said, "Let's try reseating the battery."

At the word "battery," Beth's ears pricked up and she toddled off toward the kitchen. We fussed over the camera and she reappeared a moment later holding out a big D-cell battery on her open palm. "Here you go."

Smart cookie, that.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Swimming Sarah

Sarah's having such a blast with the hardwood floors — she can scoot around quite easily on her tummy, mostly backward. And she'll pick up her arms and legs, balance on her tummy, and do a lovely Superbaby. Such a cutie!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The big move

Highlights from the past week and a half:

  • Scott asked me to pack up the clothes the girls would wear on the trip up to Boston, and I replied with, "Yep, I'll pack Beth and Sarah tonight."

    Beth, who had been watching (and occasionally helping) the whole packing process, got this totally worried look on her little face and said, "No, mama, don't put me in a box!"

    "Oh, sweetie, no," I said. "I won't put you in a box!"

    "Not baby Sarah either?"

    "No, not baby Sarah either. I'm going to pack your clothes in a suitcase so that you can have them on the trip."

    "Oh. Okay."

  • Forget the Waldorf-Astoria — my favorite hotel is now the Homewood Suites. There's a kitchenette, enough room for two portable cribs, a swimming pool, breakfast every morning, and dinner most weeknights. It's clean. There are highchairs. It isn't too terribly expensive, especially after you add up what you'd spend on those meals. And the girls lovedlovedloved going swimming last Tuesday night. Sarah, who hadn't been swimming before, was apprehensive for about two and a half minutes before deciding that she was born to be a water baby. Seriously. She kicked her legs and waved her arms around and giggled. Seeing her in a swimsuit is about the cutest thing ever.

  • We read the last Harry Potter book all the way up to Boston and then all weekend while we were waiting to get into the house. Excellent, excellent book. (And if you haven't heard my rant on this before, you're getting it here: What is with the crazy evangelical folks who think the Harry Potter books are evil? Come on.)

  • Beth didn't throw up in the car. Yay Dramamine!

  • Beth did, however, throw up in the Friendly's in Sturbridge. I think I'm at fault for giving her too many fruit snacks to keep her quiet while I was reading Harry Potter to Scott.

  • We figured out on the second day of our drive that listening to a tape of old Sesame Street songs will keep Beth quiet and happy for hours on end. No exaggeration, no kidding.

  • Closing on the house? Totally anticlimactic. We signed a bunch of papers, the girls played in the corner, the sellers' agent was woefully unprepared and glaringly unprofessional. Our agent, whom we adore, actually handed us her garage door opener and let us stay at her house for four days before our furniture arrived.

  • Boston is impossible to get around in. We bought a GPS unit for the car and improved our navigational skills only marginally. It's just bad.

  • Oh — if your profession depends on an internet connection, e-mail access and a collection of software your husband is unlikely to have on his computer, just don't move. Ever.

  • Stephanie, you were right: Bear your testimony the first chance you get in your new ward. All spirituality aside, it gives people a chance to size you up. (Thanks for the tip, girl.) Someone from church actually recognized me today at Costco and said hello. That random enough?

  • Scott got to use his cordless drill to take apart a window on the second floor. Then he and the movers hoisted our couch up over the balcony and squeezed it through the window to get it into the living room. Fun to watch.

  • Today's the first day it's actually been bearable to be in the house without air conditioning (which we only have in the bedrooms, thanks). Ninety-plus degrees in Boston is just hot.

  • Beth and Sarah had been increasingly frantic about the move. The first few days were like a vacation, then Mom and Dad got serious about something, then we took them to an empty unfamiliar house and said, "Hey, this is where we're going to live! Won't that be fun?" Then we didn't actually get to live in the house for a few days, and then it was hot and humid and everyone got cranky and a bunch of men were moving a lot of things into the house and it was past naptime and everyone got hotter and crankier.

    In the middle of the moving-in-the-furniture chaos, the phone/internet/TV guy came to hook everything up. (Somehow this house made it to 2007 without getting cable...but that's another story. And we have co-ax cable draped and duct-taped around the moldings until we can get a contractor in to embed it in the walls. Again, another story.)

    But the technology all eventually got hooked up, and the TV got unpacked and put on top of a great steamer trunk we bought in Pittsburgh, and Mommy found the on-demand kids' shows and found (drum roll please) an episode of The Wonder Pets. And everything was immediately, miraculously better.

    Beth slumped down in her chair — I could actually see her shoulders relax — and five minutes later she was asleep. Poor kid. She really needed it.

  • Oh, we have a terrific downstairs neighbor. She's been saving Bed Bath & Beyond coupons for us, she's fed us dinner twice, and we just genuinely like her. We're counting our blessings.

  • First room to be almost completely set up: the kitchen.

  • Second room: the guest bedroom. We're hoping for lots and lots of visitors (and you know who you are).