Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bethisms #5 (yep, they're coming fast and furious)

Yesterday the girls rediscovered their collection of finger puppets and played with them very enthusiastically in the kitchen for a while until I banished them (the puppets, not the girls) to the living room. This morning the girls very enthusiastically pulled all of Sarah's diapers out of their box and spread them around the living room.

When I went to put away the diapers this afternoon, I discovered one little finger puppet inside each diaper.


This afternoon the girls were eating snacks in the kitchen while I was trying (mostly in vain) to get a handle on the chaos that erupts in this house. When I went back into the kitchen, Sarah (with Beth's help, I'll bet) had flung all of her Cheerios on the floor.

"We're planting a Cheerio plant!" Beth announced. "It's going to grow Cheerios!"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


That's Sarah's new word. She uses it as often as she can, and often manufactures incidents in which it would be appropriate (including but not limited to dropping her sippy cup at a restaurant and announcing "Uh-oh!" in a loud singsong). Her eyes get very big and her mouth rounds down to a little pinprick of an "o" at the end. Really, it's the cutest thing. It's annoying, but it's cute.

Beth has been using it, too, and her incidents aren't manufactured — they're the result of poor parental attention span. About a week ago Scott put the girls in their pajamas early (we were having dessert or something before they went to bed), and figured he'd change Beth into a diaper when it was actually time for her to go to sleep. And he forgot. Beth woke up at 12:30, crying, "No, no, no, no, no!" and when I went in to check on her she was standing up in bed, soaked, in tears.

Scott gave her a bath; I changed the bedding (really, if you have a kid this age, having two mattress pads for the bed is a terrific idea, 'cause one of them will probably be wet a good portion of the time).

During the bath, Scott said, "Bethie, did you wet the bed?"

Sad voice: "Yes. I had a accident."

"Yeah. Whose fault was it?"

Sadder voice: "Mine."

"No, not this time. Whose fault was it this time?"

A gleam in her eye, a small grin, a triumphant note to her voice: "Yours!"

Now, lest you think that Scott is the only dunderhead in this marriage, I did exactly the same thing a few days ago when she took her afternoon nap, with identical results. Uh-oh, indeed.

Grandpa Wes

My dad came to visit for two weeks, which was awesome, and actually gave us enough time to do a few of the things we'd planned, in between everyone's naps. (He flew out here on his 74th birthday, and I teased him that he and Sarah were on the same nap schedule.)

So we dragged him to Beth's last gymnastics class, where he took a bunch of pictures, and he helped Scott and our downstairs neighbor with the weekend yard work (I hid inside the house, which has never been cleaner), and we saw the baby giraffe at the zoo, and at some point he discovered Linda's Donuts, so we feasted on fried sugary goodness for pretty much the whole time he was here.

We also got up reeeeeeeeally early on Patriots Day (sans kids and Scott) to see the reenactment of the Battle of Lexington. Dad loved it, and especially loved the fact that the historical society rep who was keeping our corner of the crowd entertained before the battle started had a lot of information about clothing and the different dyes used by the British officers and rank-and-file for their red coats.

We spent a lot of time downtown: a trip to the aquarium (way cool, but which I will never, ever again attempt during school vacation week), a day walking most of the Freedom Trail and taking the ferry up to Charlestown to tour the U.S.S. Constitution, and one great evening when the girls woke up quite late from their naps and instead of running to Star Market to find something to cook for dinner, we parked at Alewife and took the T to the North End for Italian food. (To be fair, here, the day we walked the Freedom Trail we ended up meeting Scott for Japanese food in Porter Square, which was equally yummy.) The girls love the subway — Sarah is big enough now that she insists on climbing out of the stroller and pressing her nose to the window next to her big sister. I'll never understand this, since there's nothing to see. Keeps them happy, though.

Oh, food. We took Dad to Legal Sea Foods, which of course was good, but the hit of the stay had to be the stuffed clams we picked up at Frankie's Catch of the Day, five minutes away. It was like a clam cake stuffed back into the clam shell, and we all sat there making happy noises about how good it was.

Somewhere in the two weeks Dad was here I finally pulled together a cover for the 43-year-old cradle my mom made (yes, made) for my oldest cousin — said cousin's sister is having a baby this month and the cradle, now with a fleece-lined denim cover that was the cause of much bad language and some very sore knees (from kneeling on the floor to cut out the huge pieces of fabric), is on its way back to her in Salt Lake via UPS. I felt an odd sense of relief the day I shipped it off: I won't be the next person to stay up all night with a crying baby. Felt good to get the cover done, though.

Anyway, the day before Dad left the weather finally turned ugly (we'd had clear days in the 70s and 80s for two weeks) and we got drenched walking around Bentley. Beth got to use her new umbrella, which made her week, and I think Dad enjoyed himself. Miss him already. It's hard to be this far away from my family, especially with little girls who need to know their grandpa.

Happy 3rd Bethday!

I've been meaning to post pictures from the two Bethday parties, which were, respectively, two and three weeks ago now. (I've been a bit busy with my dad in town — see next post).

On her birthday we opened up family presents in the morning and then had our neighbors and her uncle David, aunt Chelsea and cousin Spencer come for cake in the evening. Cute little Beff-Beff! She looked absolutely radiant all day. And grown up! All the attention got to her as the day wore on, but she did a pretty good job of holding up under pressure. She just got very, very quiet toward the end there.

As for the friend party...we stole the idea from Fancy Nancy: Bonjour, Butterfly, which is one of Bethie's favorite, favorite books. We took around cute butterfly invitations to the kids she has playdates with (Beth pasted construction paper squares to the backs to make butterfly "mosaics") but had to change the date/time because two of the three little invitees couldn't come! I think three is about the last time ever that you can change a kid's birthday party to a different day and have her not notice and not really care.

I baked and decorated a butterfly cake, which I have to post a photo of simply because no one but the little butterfly girls (and Scott) ever actually saw in its entirety. The girls decorated their own butterfly wings and helped me make their antennae, and we read The Very Hungry Caterpillar and then played wrap-the-girls-up-in-a-toilet-paper-cocoon and let-them-burst-out-as-a-beautiful-butterfly, and we played musical chairs and hide-and-seek and red light/green light, and they were served (but did not eat due to the excitement level) peanut butter sandwiches and string cheese and carrot sticks arranged to look like butterflies, and of course there was cake and a lot of crawling through our butterfly tunnel and then their moms came and I was EXHAUSTED. Really, that's what it felt like: one big adorable run-on sentence of a birthday party. Scott stayed home to help (hooray!) and Sarah blissfully napped through the whole thing. I'd made a list of possible games to play, and we ended up going through ALL of them and then some. It was just warm enough to go outside and run around for a few minutes, so we even got in some good backyard time.

Bethie had a glorious time. She still talks about her butterfly birthday party. She's so, so thrilled with being fwee.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bethisms #4

Two quick things:

Since Beth knows I get peeved when she takes her clothes OFF during her nap, today she decided to put clothes ON. Two PJ tops, to be exact. I was laughing too hard to tell her that wasn't exactly the idea either.

And on our way back from dinner tonight, Beth sang out, "Mommy, that says zoo!" Sure enough, off to my left there was a Zoots dry cleaner. Hurrah, hurrah! She's getting it!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Sarah has a tooooooooooth! Finally! It's just one little razor-sharp line along her bottom gum, but at least we know she has teeth in there somewhere. It poked through yesterday, and she's 15 months old today.

She's also very self-conscious about it, is favoring her bottom gum, and woke up twice last night screaming about it. I'm going to carry Tylenol with me while we're out and about at the zoo today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Kid freedom

I really, really need to write about Beth's birthday party today. And I will. It's just that my friend Mendy passed along the recent Lenore Skenazy column from the New York Sun: Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone. I just have to comment about this, and about all the resulting hysteria.

My next-door neighbor Kiersten and I have been talking about kid freedom quite a bit over the last few months. It started when Kiersten's mother asked if Kiersten's son Sam would be taking the bus to school. "Uh, no," she said. "He'll be walking the half-mile with Beth and Sarah." And then she called me saying, "I'm not wrong, am I? They're walking to school, right? Because it's just half a a mile." I assured her that, yes, they would be walking, and as soon as Beth was comfortable with the route she'd probably be walking by herself before Sam and Sarah were old enough to join her. Another neighbor whose kid isn't quite three months old echoes the sentiment, so there will be four little neighbor kids doing this. And we won't be shadowing them. (But then, we won't be paying for full-day kindergarten, either, and we have plans to put the kids in a neighborhood rock band, too, so maybe we really ARE bad parents.)

As a ten-year-old kid, I walked downtown every day after school (about a mile), got bus money from my dad, and took the bus out to the babysitter's house (another eight miles), where my mom picked me up after work. I knew the UTA bus schedules so well that it actually irks me now that they've changed bus routes and numbers — I don't ever take the bus in Salt Lake any more, but if I need to I'd like to know that the #5 bus is going to be at the corner of 13th South and 19th East at 5, 25, and 45 minutes past the hour (except on weekends). Taking the bus was the cornerstone of my independence. I knew how to get around by myself, how to trust a map and a bus schedule. Because I took the bus as a (pretty little) kid, I wasn't afraid to take the subway in Washington, D.C. or the tram in Moscow, Russia as a sixteen-year-old. I wasn't afraid to go back to Argentina after my mission, toting two friends who'd never been there (one who had never been outside the U.S.), for a three-week, four-city trip. I wasn't panicked about finding my way around L.A., or Pittsburgh, or now Boston. My younger sisters, who for various reasons never took the bus, have very different views of the world and their ability to navigate it.

Beth is three. We already talk about which numbers we see on the buses in our area, and where those buses go. ("Look, Beth, that's a #73 bus! Is that OUR bus?") I just HOPE that by the time she's nine she begs me to let her take the T by herself. If she hasn't asked by the time she's twelve, I'm sending her and a friend to the zoo with Charlie Cards and $50 for lunch and admission.

If I don't let my kids walk to school alone, take the bus and subway alone, and learn to do things like read a map and remember landmarks, how can I expect them to be responsible drivers (and navigators!) when they're 16? How can I expect them to survive away from home when they're 18? How can I expect them to be adults who can function outside of an air-conditioned SUV?

Your thoughts, please. I'm interested in what people have to say about this. (And I'm especially interested if you don't agree with me, by the way.)

(Oh — and I love the title of Lenore Skenazy's blog: Free Range Kids. Someone actually suggested that as the name for the group that ended up being Half Day Play...hilarious!)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Beff is turning free!

Beth turns three today, and I'm not ready for it. I have the kitchen table piled high with presents (it's Potter family tradition to celebrate birthdays as early in the morning as possible), and we're well into the planning of the butterfly birthday party next weekend, and she's itching to be finally three instead of having her birthday "coming up in April," but I'm just not ready. I'm feeling nostalgic (and, yes, a bit weepy. Sniff!).

Three years ago right now I was in the hospital with a magnesium solution IV, a headache, and an automatic blood pressure cuff so I could only sleep in 15-minute increments. I was scared, tired, and majorly pissed off because the baby wasn't due until May 10th and I'd just left a bunch of things hanging at work. When Beth was finally born (emergency C-section, five weeks early, at 4:08 in the afternoon) she was itty bitty: 4 lbs., 10 oz. Here's the mildly famous shoe picture for reference.

And now she's a Big Girl who goes on the potty (most of the time), talks up a storm, knows her ABCs and loves to figure out which words begin with which letters ("What does cookie begin with? Cuh-cuh-cuh-C! Oh, I did it!"), and is sweet to her little sister (again, most of the time, and there's nothing sweeter or more maternally satisfying than seeing her take Sarah's hand to help her go throw away a diaper). She's also a drama queen of some note (I think it goes with the age, and the fact that she's female and related to me), bossy, opinionated, defiant (daily), and, on occasion, even manipulative and sneaky.

I miss my tiny skinny little Bug. I love my big girl Beff. I miss the freedom I had when I was kidless (Road trip without worrying about someone puking in the car? Sure! Three-hour trip to the mall, trying on every green sweater, knowing that everyone with me will behave? Why not?), and I love her snuggling up with me on the couch to watch the Food Network (we're both big Ace of Cakes fans, which I fear has greatly inflated her faith in my ability to adequately decorate her butterfly birthday cake). I miss the little mewing noises she made as a newborn, and I love her soft little grown-up-sounding voice from the back seat of the car telling me that her imaginary friend Mei is strapped in the car seat with her. I loved being the center of her world, and I love that her world is expanding beyond me.

While I'm thinking about birthdays: congrats to Danika and Amy, who both had baby girls this week! If the first part of this post didn't make it clear, I'm just a wee bit partial to baby girls...and the big girls they eventually become. Happy birthday, Bethie.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bethisms #3

As I was taking a bath this morning, Beth came in bearing a loaf of imaginary bread that she had baked in her kitchen, and insisted that I try it.

I took some nibbles. "That's good bread, Bethie! What did you put in it?"

"Oh...just some melted butter."

She is so, so my child.

Sarah can now say "Uh-oh!" when she's done something worthy of the word. We've heard it a lot today.