Sunday, August 24, 2008

Bethism #7

Beth, playing with a rubber duckie while I'm taking a bath: "I'm putting this duckie under the water because he's gonna get baptized."

Rite of passage, or "Hmmmm...does this fit?"

Between toddlerhood and kindergarten there are the preschool years, also known as the sticking-things-in-various-orifices years. Beth is running headlong into this: tonight she stuck a little round noodle (thanks to Google I can tell you the singular of "acini di pepe" is "acino di pepe," but that probably doesn't help anything) in her nose. Utter panic on Beth's part when she realized it was really stuck! Fortunately I got her to blow out her nose — she usually blows in — and I extracted the noodle.

I know, I know — it's my fault for serving her Italian wedding soup. But it's her favorite!

Just wonder what's next....

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Money management (pre-K version)

We pay a 5-cent deposit on bottles and cans here in Massachusetts, and though I'm good about rinsing them out and bagging them, I usually forget to take them back to the grocery store. So a while ago I made a deal with Beth: if she remembers to take the cans to the grocery store and helps me feed them into the recycling machines, she gets the money for them.

Much enthusiasm. It's very cute to see her carrying two unwieldy plastic bags filled with soda cans across the parking lot, and though she can't reach the machines, she's perfectly happy to hand me individual cans and then carry her little redemption tickets through the grocery store.

It's turned into quite the big deal. She is figuring out how many cans give her how much money, and we're cementing the idea that she can earn money by doing some work. We count out her tithing (awfully cute to see her solemnly hand her tithing envelope with all of 13 cents in it to the bishop!), and once she has a dollar (and five cents for tax, which is another good discussion about government and everyone helping everyone else) she can take it to Target and pick something out of the dollar bins. Anything above and beyond the $1.05 ends up in her piggy bank, and we talk about savings.

How did I stumble on this? I have no idea. But I feel like such the good mom for the hands-on cross-curricular learning experience. And Bethie loves her newest acquisition: a pair of plastic Hello Kitty bracelets.

Birthday, and other good things

Yes, we spent a week and a half in sunny Southern California, and yes, it happened to coincide with our seventh(!) anniversary and my birthday. Perfectly glorious weather, old friends who are still good friends, the beach, the Mouse. Heaven.

Oh, and murderous traffic on the 5 (and the 405 and the 110 and the 101 and the 10). We snagged a bright blue Prius from the rental agency to mitigate the gas costs, but there's no mitigating the time on the freeway with two peevish children. I remember L.A. having bad traffic. Really. I think it's just easier to handle without squirming and fussing in the back seat, especially if I can't hear the urban music mix on KCRW over the fussing. And with a sunroof. I definitely miss my sunroof.

Beth and Sarah have new buddies, thanks to my oh-so-considerate friends who have kids just their age. We got to see Allison & Chris's fabulous house (especially fabulous because Chris did all the work himself, and they lived with his parents for 18 months while he was doing it). Awfully cute to see Beth and Annelise walk to their Moonbeam class holding hands. Lisa and I took all of our kids to the beach and to Downtown Disney and they got along beautifully while the two of us talked and talked and talked and talked and talked. Beth and Benjamin really hit it off:

We spent time with some friends from ages and ages ago — dinner with Ashley up by her work in Burbank, and with her parents and sister and brother-in-law on the beach in San Diego. All of which was lovely, and easy (once we got through the traffic), and felt very familiar. Beth had no interest in the waves and was perfectly content to sit and chat with Gary and Nicole and Mike, who were just as content to sit and chat with her.

On our anniversary Lisa had planned to host a dinner party, and to that end she invited a bunch of friends from our L.A. 1st days, and at the last minute she had puking kids (not conducive to a good dining experience) and the lovely and talented Dora-chan stepped in and took over. And then she blogged about it, and I'm surprised and touched by her Xenocide reference, because it's a part of the book that really speaks to me, and something I've had in the back of my mind as I try to put together this little family of ours.

My birthday involved me packing the girls into the Prius, driving up the 5, and spending the morning in the L.A. fashion district — reminder of the times when I lived close enough to walk there (and no, it's not as bad as you think). All three of us now have Ugg knockoffs to keep our toes warm this winter, and I have a faux Coach bag, and the girls have frou-frou fancy dresses for next Easter. Beth kept asking, "Mommy, why are you talking Spanish?" and I didn't have an extremely good answer for her. (Um, it's easier?) And then I happened to meet an Orthodox Jew from Buenos Aires who was sightseeing and wanted to see the "real" L.A. Delightful man, fun chat; he wanted to see something a little more historic, so I pointed him toward Olvera Street. I hope he enjoyed his visit.

We drove west, had lunch and saw a movie (the American Girl one, which was cute) and then Beth threw up her Jamba Juice in the car on our way home. So there I was in south-central L.A. with a half-naked kid on the sidewalk and a bag of baby wipes, cleaning off the car seat, and if there's a Mom Olympics there has GOT to be a good start value for that event. I was still in a pretty good mood, though, and Beth is none the worse for wear.

If I can't live there, this is the kind of vacation I want: somewhere with palm trees and sun and old friends and interesting people and lots of kidlets running around and enjoying some good chaos.

Jen, this one's for you

(Note, please, the correct conical princess hat AND the pink-and-purple gown. Seriously. It's the Mouse version of my Lady Macbeth costume. There are deep, deep childhood memories to be mined here, and they all involve the word "mousemeat.")

Friday, August 08, 2008

Terrified by the Mouse

We're in Southern California, which is fun. Right now Beth is curled up on her so! cool! fold-out sofa bed watching Dragon Tales while trying to ignore Sarah, who's climbing all over her. But Tuesday and yesterday we went to Disneyland [insert flashing lights, over-orchestrated music and dancing cast members here].

I tried to prepare Beth for the whole experience, but no amount of looking at the resort website and watching YouTube videos of spinning teacups and little girls meeting princesses can really prepare an easily-overwhelmed three-year-old for the madness of Disney. We made it through a few kiddie rides and the Muppetvision 3D show at California Adventure without a total meltdown, but seeing Cinderella live and in person was just too much for her: she clung to the stroller, refused to get down, screamed, cried. Sarah took her cues from Beth and hid behind the stroller too. We saw Mickey Mouse (decked out as a tourist, cool Hawaiian shirt and all) across the plaza; I asked, "Do you want to go say hi to Mickey?" and Beth said, "NO."*

Fast-forward two days (including lots of talking about what we're likely to see, looking at brochures and spending some more time on YouTube) and you get this:

The girls got to meet THREE princesses: Mulan, who was a total mystery to both of them (Beth referred to her later as "Sulan"), Princess Minnie Mouse, and (drum roll, please) Ariel! Beth's favorite princess ever. Beth walked over, gave Ariel a hug, and just didn't let go. And still didn't let go. Lots of good photo op time for Daddy. Mommy just got all teary. So, so sweet. Aw, shucks. We were doing a pretty good job at avoiding general Disneyfication, and now this!

* Day 1 turned out okay by the end, but it took two somewhat-familiar carousel rides, a chocolate-covered Mickey Mouse cookie, and a nap to get Beth in the right frame of mind. We went back after dinner and enjoyed ourselves immensely!