Monday, June 30, 2008

Mommy Needs to Take a Chill Pill

I worked out an excellent schedule for this Saturday, which was the day we were going to try to get lots of chores done. After Pumpkin's morning nap, we would go to the toy store (we needed a gift for an upcoming birthday party and a paddling pool and some trucks for Pumpkin), and then we would come back and transfer her to her stroller and walk up to the local shopping center and take care of some errands there. Then we would walk home and have lunch, after which Pumpkin would take her nap while Hubby and I worked on our to do list. After Pumpkin's nap we would walk to our local park so that Pumpkin could play on the slides and the bouncy horsey (which she loves).

The experienced parents in the audience are now laughing, because they know what is coming next. Pumpkin had her own plans. She fell asleep on the way to the local shopping center, despite the fact that it was only 10:30 a.m. (her nap time at day care is 12:45 p.m.) and she was in the stroller that sits her upright so that she can look around and see the birds! and trucks! and all the other interesting things in our neighborhood. She didn't care. She was asleep within 5 minutes of getting into her stroller.

I just about had a melt down when I saw Pumpkin sleeping peacefully in her stroller. All of my plans were ruined! What would we do???? Hubby was a bit puzzled by my reaction, and (rightly) pointed out that we could just change our plans. Which is what we did. And it was no big deal.

I think that in general, I need to learn how to go with the flow more with Pumpkin (and probably with the rest of my life). It is what it is. There is no point getting worked up about it. But I don't think it is as simple as that. Hubby tends to be really good at just going with whatever happens, but that doesn't always work well for Pumpkin, either. She has usual nap times, etc., and it is best if we try to plan our days around them instead of just doing whatever takes our fancy and trying to deal with how Pumpkin reacts to that. There is clearly a happy medium that we need to find, in which we make plans based on Pumpkin's usual schedule, and then gracefully modify those as she modifies her schedule for the day. And in which Mommy doesn't turn an early nap into a catastrophe of epic proportions.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Zenbit: Spikes

Location: Russell, New Zealand
Date: January 23, 2007

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Pumpkin has a new word: uh-oh. She delights in dropping her sippy cup on the ground and saying "uh-oh!" She tends to use new words extensively for a day or two and then completely drop them- we haven't heard "hat" for ages, although at one point she was saying it fairly clearly. I'm not sure why she does this, but we're wondering if "uh-oh" may be the first word to go into permanent use, since she likes it so much.

"Uh-oh" is also a fairly apt description of her recent behavior at day care. She still gets described as "busy" and usually also as "happy", but the last two days have seen her described as "aggressive" and "uncooperative" as well. Apparently, she is hitting the day care workers when they try to get her to do something she doesn't want to do, and also throwing her impressive tantrums when they try to redirect her to different activities. On one hand, I'm glad that the tantrums aren't something she only does for me. On the other hand, I'm strangely bothered by the new reports from day care. Even though we all agree that her behavior is fairly normal from a developmental standpoint, I hate to see my baby getting negative marks! She has been very clingy at home, too, so I suspect some sort of developmental leap at work. Maybe this time next week, I'll be posting about her latest new skill.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Scheduling Woes

Moxie had a post today about work schedules for freelancing parents. This is absolutely not relevant for us, but got me thinking about some scheduling issues we've been having lately. For the most part, Hubby and I have a pretty equitable division of labor around the house. We both have chores that we tend to do more than the other one. I, for instance, almost always pack Pumpkin's food for day care. Hubby almost always takes out the trash. I try to do some baking so that we have homemade bread for Pumpkin (from the breadmaker, so don't get too impressed) and some other homemade goodies to try to get her to eat (so far, she like oatmeal cookies, but is unimpressed with scones). Hubby does the yardwork, because I have allergies and asthma and would be sick all weekend if I tried to do it. I also like to bake, and Hubby likes to garden. So it all sort of works out.

No one really likes to clean, so we try to split those chores. The parent who is not doing Pumpkin's bath and bedtime routine cleans up the kitchen. Periodically, one of us cleans the bathrooms while the other cleans the floors.

We also have a big shared "to do" list for the bigger chores. We keep this in Google Docs, because we are geeks and because I often add to it at work if something comes to mind. Every now and then, we look at the to do list and divide up the most important items. For instance, right now, my number one priority is figuring out our estate planning needs, and Hubby's number one priority is creating a space for a compost bin in the backyard. This also works relatively well.

What hasn't been working so well is the scheduling of the chores. Our cleaning routine has led to some seriously dirty floors and annoying weekends in which we spend all of Pumpkin's nap times cleaning, so we are now going to try a new system where the non-bedtime spouse does some chores two nights a week (one for each of us). We'll see how that works. We were going to start it last week, but postponed it when I got so sick.

The scheduling of the big chores is even more of a problem. Hubby's chores tend to involve physical labor, and need to be done during daylight hours. My chores tend to involve researching things on the internet and/or filling out forms, and could theoretically be done after Pumpkin goes down for the night. This has led to an arrangement where Hubby does his chores during the day on one or both of the weekend days, while I watch Pumpkin. I enjoy the time with Pumpkin, but it is tiring, so by the time she is in bed at the end of the day, the last thing I want to do is think about my chores. The end result is that Hubby's to do list is getting shorter, but mine isn't really budging. We had a big talk about this a couple of weekends ago, and we carved out some time for me to finish the research I needed to do on wills and trusts (I basically learned enough to decide we needed to talk to a lawyer, which we did today). So my list is mobile again. We'll see how long that lasts.

I think the fundamental problem is that we haven't really accepted how much less we can get done now, compared to our super efficient pre-Pumpkin days, so we are both striving to meet some unrealistic ideal level of to do list clearance. We really need to let that go. I'm hoping that by coming up with a set amount of "chores" time each week, we'll free ourselves to enjoy some of our weekend time a bit more. Pumpkin likes to go to the zoo and the bay, and we want to try taking her to the beach, too. We need to include these fun things in our schedule, too!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Searching for Meaning

Every day, I drive past two wrecked cars on my way home. They are parked on the side of the main road I drive up after getting off the freeway. The side of one is bashed in, and the back of the other is crumpled. It looks a bit like the remains of an accident, in which a car broadsided the one parked car and forced it into the one parked in front of it. In fact, that is what I assumed had happened the first day I saw the cars. I thought, "some poor people are going to have a very unpleasant surprise when they return home."

That was two weeks ago. Now I just wonder why the cars are still there. Are they part of some sort of caution to other drivers, warning us to slow down as we drive up that hill? Have the cars' owners gone on an extended vacation, and are yet to receive their unpleasant homecoming surprise? Is it some sort of modern art installation?

And the bummer of it all is that I'll never know- it is not the sort of thing that gets written up in the newspaper.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Zenbit: Multicultural Pigs

Hawaiian javelinas?

Location: Sedona, Arizona
Date: April 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Question of Time

Whatever it was that made me sick, it did a good job. I had to stay home from work again today. It is hard to spend my precious days off on such a thing, but it could not be avoided. There was no way I could have worked today or yesterday, unless I had set up my desk in the women's toilets.

I felt pretty bad both days, and unable to do anything of any use. So I decided to take a bit of a holiday, and caught up on the Complete Jane Austen shown on PBS back in the spring. I had previously only seen Northanger Abbey (and Pride and Prejudice, of course, but I don't count that because it wasn't a new version). I have now seen all of the shows except for Emma. I also watched Cranford, which followed the Austen-fest on Masterpiece.

I came away from this with a few observations:

1. My illness, in particular the fever that came with it on Tuesday night, would have been far more distressing in Jane Austen's time and in the time during which Cranford was set. Coming down with a fever was positively terrifying back then (but an excellent plot device). I was annoyed, and even a bit self-pitying, but never terrified by my illness, or Pumpkin's illness that preceded it. Hooray for modern medicine!

2. If your position in life depends entirely on a man (be he your husband, father, kindly uncle, whatever), it is particularly terrifying if that man catches a fever. I am very glad that I live in a time when I can work to support myself and Pumpkin. Don't get me wrong- I'm also very glad to have Hubby's help in doing this right now. However, when I have silly, irrational worries about Hubby's health and safety, they focus on how much I would miss him and other sappy things like that, and not practical things like how I would feed myself and my daughter without him.

3. The dresses women used to have to wear look dreadfully uncomfortable.

All in all, I came away glad that I am living now. And also wondering what things people 200 years from now will look back on and pity us for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Was It the Milk?

Once again, I am belatedly experiencing Pumpkin's latest illness. She had an upset tummy all weekend, and had to stay home from day care yesterday. Last night, I got sick, too. I thought I was better this morning and went to work, but had to leave halfway through the day. I feel so horrible that I can't even nap or read. I've just been lying on the sofa watching Monk and Law and Order reruns. I always feel guilty when I "waste" a day like this, but I'm not sure what the little voice in my head thinks I should be doing instead.

At least we know that Pumpkin's tummy distress wasn't a general problem with dairy. It had gotten better when we stopped giving her cow's milk. I was hoping that it was just a bug, but was afraid that we'd have to take Pumpkin off of dairy. We're still nursing, and I plan to keep that up, but I had finally decided to start tapering off the pumping at work, and am down to one pumping session per day. I really didn't want to start pumping more again, but also wondered if Pumpkin would like soy milk. I don't like it, but I'm not a huge fan of pureed bananas, either, and Pumpkin seems to like those.

Anyway, last night, I had a glass of the whole milk we usually give Pumpkin. A couple of hours later, I started feeling terrible. Maybe it was a coincidence, and I'd just caught whatever bug Pumpkin had. Or maybe the milk had gone bad. It was nowhere near its use by date, and tasted fine, but it still could have gotten contaminated, and it had been open for awhile.... We may never know what caused the problem. I guess we'll just have to wait and see if Hubby gets sick. He didn't have any of the milk, but he did change quite a few diapers during Pumpkin's illness!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

What Pumpkin and Petunia Are Reading

I'm just going to add Petunia's books on to this post... it seems excessive to have two book list posts. Petunia's book preferences start at the entry for when Pumpkin is 3 years old.

One of the potential advantages of blogging is that it provides a more detailed record of Pumpkin's babyhood. One of the things I suspect I'll enjoy remembering is which books Pumpkin liked. I realized that I am putting the "What Pumpkin's Reading" information in a non-permanent sidebar rather than in a post, so I've decided that I'll also keep a running post listing what she's reading. Here are the early entries, which I'm recovering based on the cover photos that I have saved:

Bunny and Me, by Adele Aron Greenspun and Joannie Schwarz. This was her first favorite, and it has never really fallen out of favor. It reappeared on the "What Pumpkin's Reading" list at least once.

Max's First Word, by Rosemary Wells. I remember thinking that Pumpkin was smiling at the punchline, which is that instead of "yum, yum" (what his sister Ruby is trying to get him to say), Max says "Delicious!"

10 Little Rubber Ducks, by Eric Carle. I wasn't sure if she liked this one so much because she was really into ducks, or because it was the tallest book on her shelf.

Seek and Slide in the Desert, by Debi Ani. She still enjoys this one quite a bit.

A Cat and a Dog, by Claire Masurel and Bob Kolar.

I realized that there are a couple of close second-favorites, at least some of which I've written about in other posts:

Down the Back of the Chair, by Margaret Mahy and Polly Dunbar and Brown, Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle. Of the two, I think reading Down the Back of the Chair is more fun. It has a good cadence, rolling rhymes, and is a really cute story. Pumpkin really enjoys pointing out the red bird and yellow duck in Brown Bear, Brown Bear, though.


When Pumpkin was about 14 months old, her favorite books were Zachary Quack Minimonster, by Lynley Dodd and Are You My Mother?, by P.D. Eastman. Both were gifts from the grandparents. It is wonderful having two sets of grandparents who send us good books for Pumpkin. We rarely have to buy anything!

At 18 months, Pumpkin's favorite book was Hairy Maclary from Donaldson's Dairy, also by Lynley Dodd. She writes good kid's books! Pumpkin also likes Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Christmas, by Joy Cowley. My parents gave her this book last year. She has recently been picking it off the shelf and bringing it to us to read. I think she likes it because the cow says "moo, moo, moo", and she likes to do that part.

One of my favorites of the books in her current rotation is The King's Bubbles, by Ruth Paul. This was a gift from Hubby's parents, and doesn't seem to be available here in the US. That is a shame, because it is a lot of fun to read. I love how it describes bubbles: "Perfect and round, a sigh without sound, a circle of air, simple and spare..." and "Happy and whole, a whisper of soul, a breath, a nought, a blossoming thought."


At 19 months, Pumpkin is into another book from the Brown Bear, Brown Bear
series. This time, her favorite is Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?. She asks for it by saying "mama", because this is the book with the mama bear in it. I know these are cute books, and clearly they speak to Pumpkin, but I have to confess that I get tired of reading them sometimes!


Pumpkin got lots of great books for Christmas 2008 (i.e., when she was about 21 months old). Her favorites are:

  • Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems. This is a very cute story, which I still like to read a month later. Pumpkin asks for this one by saying "Fuffle Bunny", and calls all stuffed rabbits "Fuffle Bunny".
  • That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown, by Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton. This is another cute story that stand up well to repeated readings. Pumpkin asks for this one by saying "Emy Bwown", and sits through the entire story, even though it is fairly long.
  • Who Is Driving?, by Leo Timmers. I think this book is originally from Austria. There is a New Zealand publisher (Gecko Press) that specializes in translating kid's books into English, so we get a lot of foreign literature for Pumpkin. It is fun. This particular book doesn't stand up so well to repeated readings- at least not for the adults. But Pumpkin loves to tell us who is driving each car. And she is awfully cute when she makes the sound the fire engine makes ("wheeoh, wheeoh").
  • Who's Hiding?, by Satoru Onishi. Another import. Pumpkin likes to identify the animals for us. At one point, while we were still in Hawaii, I hid this book because she made me read it so many times in a row. It is back out of hiding now, and still much loved.


Pumpkin's 25 months old now. She's currently really enjoying a couple of books she got for her second birthday, both of which have longish stories without that many pictures. Hubby and I were surprised by how well she sits for these stories. Once again, she's growing up faster than we care to admit!


Pumpkin's two and a half years old now. In the last few months, we read a lot of books about becoming a big sister. Her two favorites were:

  • I'm a Big Sister, by Joanna Cole.
  • The New Baby, by Fred Rogers (yes, Mr. Rogers! My Mom found this at a used bookstore, and Pumpkin loves it.)

She has also been enjoying:

Pumpkin's 3 years old, and is only getting more fun to read to. It is almost impossible to keep up with all the books she likes, but her absolute favorite right now is The Wonky Donkey, by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley. This one goes to day care almost every Friday for share day. She (and all her classmates) particularly like the page where the donkey toots on the bird.

Petunia's first favorite book was I Kissed the Baby! by Mary Murphy.  As she got a little older, she started liking Bunny And Me, by Adele Greenspun and Joanie Schwarz just as much as Pumpkin did when she was a baby. I wonder what it is about that book? Her current favorite is probably Where Is the Green Sheep?, by Mem Fox.


Pumpkin is 3.5 years old right now, and it is hard to pick favorites- she cycles through books so quickly. One book that we got from the library that she requests frequently is Snakes!, by David Greenburg.  Petunia's current favorite is Miss Spider's Tea Party: The Counting Book, by David Kirk. She is also fond of any book with flaps, like Baby Says Peekaboo! from DK Publishing.


Pumpkin is 4 years old now, and princess-obsessed, so her favorite book is Princess Bedtime Stories. I don't care for the book at all, but she loves it. It was a birthday gift (from one of her classmates). Luckily, we also got a lot of great New Zealand books for her birthday. Fierce Little Woman and the Wicked Pirate, by Joy Cowley and The Beasties by Jenny Nimmo and Gwen Millwar  are two of our favorites.

Petunia is 19 months old, and still very decisive about which books she will consent to listen to. Her favorite is Where's My Mom?, by Julia Donaldson and Axel Schleffer. I like this one, too- which is a good thing, since I have to read it every night.  Since I haven't updated this in awhile, I missed at least one other favorite: Hippos Go Berserk, by Sandra Boyton. She has also finally warmed up to a book I bought her a few months ago called When the Elephant Walks, by Keiko Kasza. I picked it up when Pumpkin and I went to the zoo for her special day, and Petunia refused to read it for at least three months. Now I read it to her almost every night.


Petunia is 21 months old, and recent favorites are:
  • Llama, Llama Red Pajama, by Anna Dewdney.
  • What a Wonderful World, by George David Weiss, Bob Thiele, and Ashley Bryan. This is an illustrated version of the song Louie Armstrong made famous, and it is really a quite charming book. My sister gave it to her for her first Christmas, and it is indeed a great "welcome to the world" gift.
  • I Am the King, by Leo Timmers. 
Pumpkin doesn't fixate on books quite so much right now, but she loves Richard Scarry. We have his Silly Stories book, which was mine as a kid. She loves it as much as I did.


Petunia is 27 months old. We just finished a period in which she loved Knuffle Bunny, by Mo Willems. She also really liked Baby Brains, by Simon James and Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam, by Juliet MacIver.

Her current favorite is Each Peach Pear Plum, by Janet and Allen Ahlberg. She points to each "hidden" character and say "right there," which is unbelievably cute.

Pumpkin is 4.5 years old, and has been learning to read on her own for the last few months. The first book she read on her own was The Foot Book, by Dr. Seuss. She's also read Hop on Pop and Ten Apples Up On Top!, also by Dr. Seuss. Other early favorites have been Are You Ready to Play Outside? (An Elephant and Piggie Book), by Mo Willems and Sam Sheep Can't Sleep, by Jenny Tyler.

She's currently enjoying Green Eggs and Ham, another Dr. Seuss book. She's also starting to be able to read some of Petunia's board books, and is trying to read some of her other story books. It is fun to watch.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Six Random Things

Mimi tagged me for a six random things post. I've already done a six quirky things post, but I have decided that random <> quirky, and I don't have any other excellent ideas for a post, so I'll do a new one.

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website.
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

And here are my six random things:

1. Mimi wrote about a brush with a famous person (the founder of the company that makes Blackberries). My brush with a famous person happened in Ireland. I was eating dinner at the restaurant in the Jury's Hotel in Galway with my then boyfriend. I noticed that the woman at the next table was Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh, the lead fiddler of the Irish trad group Altan. My random decision to purchase Altan's Island Angel CD was what had made me decide to start learning to fiddle (Up until then, I was a classical violist). I didn't say anything to her, though, mainly because I couldn't pronounce her name. I made my boyfriend teach me how to say her name in case we saw her again during our stay, but we did not.

2. My favorite flower is the stargazer lily. By random chance, that was one of the flowers that was available for my wedding bouquet, seen here looking a little worse for wear the day after the wedding. A cyclone had blown through the island a couple of weeks before our wedding, wiping out most of the flowers. If I'd hated stargazer lilies, I would have had a fairly sparse bouquet.

3. Pre-Pumpkin, my ideal sleep time was 8.5 - 9 hours. (I rarely got this much sleep, even then, but if left to sleep until I woke up naturally, I'd usually wake up about 9 hours after falling asleep.)

4. I've only had one pedicure in my entire life, on the day of my wedding. This horrifies some of my more carefully-groomed friends.

5. My favorite animal is the rabbit. I have married a man who comes from a country where rabbits have caused a huge amount of economic and environmental damage and are reviled as pests.

6. Hubby and I have a goal of spending a night in every U.S. state. We have made it to 14 so far: California, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine. We only count a state if we visited it together.

As I mentioned in my post about quirky things, I don't have anyone to tag. Thankfully, this isn't like a chain letter and I am not now doomed to seven years of bad luck!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Zenbit: Reflective

Location: Near Idyllwild, California
Date: July 25, 2003

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Mimi tagged me to post six random things about myself. I'll do that post next week, because it has been a long week at work and I can't summon the energy to write a coherent post. Right now, I'd apparently rather post random things about Pumpkin's day.

Today, Pumpkin was "adventurous, busy, chatty, happy, and helpful". I'm really enjoying the reports from the bigger babies room. It is funny how happy they make me. I suspect I will be crushed the first time we get a report that said she was aggressive or uncooperative!

Pumpkin was adventurous when we got home, too. She insisted on practicing stepping in and out of our front door (which has a decent sized doorstep) until she could step in with no help, and out with just a hand on me for support. She likes to be out front so that she can see the cars go by, but it is a bit nerve-wracking for me, because she doesn't understand about the street yet, but also no longer wants to hold my hand. She pushes my hand off of hers when I try. So I was happy to stand by the front door for 10 minutes, opening our screen door after she had shut it, and watching her clamber in and out of the house.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

A Good Day

Pumpkin got to spend the day in the bigger babies room again today. Her report said she was "adventurous, happy, and busy", and that she had a great day. She will almost certainly be officially moving to the new room in a couple of weeks. So all that hard work on the sippy cups paid off. She is clearly going to enjoy the new room. Not only do the get to go outside, but they also get to do art and dance and other fun things. I came home today with a construction paper rocket to which Pumpkin has glued bits of aluminum foil. Her report said she also enjoyed pretending to be in a rocket. I wish I could somehow see some of these activities without Pumpkin noticing me. What does a room full of young toddlers pretending to be in a rocket look like?

Since Pumpkin slept fairly well the last two nights, I felt like I could go out to my session and play some music tonight. It was good fun- I miss the music and I miss my friends. However, when I got home, Hubby said Pumpkin had been difficult to get down and may be suffering from gas. So we'll see if I regret the later bedtime tomorrow....

Monday, June 02, 2008

It Was the Best of Times....

I've had the opening line from A Tale of Two Cities running through my head for days. This is partly due to a conversation with my parents (who were here last week) and my sister about famous opening lines (Pride and Prejudice and A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man were also contenders for the most famous opening lines, but we decided A Tale of Two Cities probably wins the title). However, it is also somewhat appropriate for life with a young toddler. It really is the best of times- Pumpkin is delightful right now. She is learning new things every day, and is even adding (albeit slowly) to her vocabulary: we're pretty sure she knows "up" now. She can stack one of her blocks on top of the other, even the long cylinder blocks, and she has also clearly figured out the order of her evenings and what cues signal bath time, which she usually really enjoys. When she thinks it is bath time, she takes off down the hall towards the bathroom, with a big grin on her face.

Pumpkin is happy and playful, too. She loves to play peekaboo. Today, while I was getting her stuff together at daycare, she ran over into the main play room, which was empty because the babies had all been moved into the other room. She pushed a chair out from the wall, and hid behind it. When I came over, she leaned out and giggled, then crouched down to hide a different way. We repeated this several times before she came out and let me get her in her car seat. She also likes to go for walks, so that she can see the birds, cars, and flowers in the neighborhood. She points these things out, and then looks at me for confirmation that they are as wonderful as she thinks they are. It is a lot of fun, and is a great way to forget about work once we get home.

However, it is also, not the worst of times, but fairly difficult times. She is still not sleeping through the night (although things do seem to be getting better on that front now that she is over her latest cold). And there is just so much to do. Day to day life can feel like a slog. I think I need an attitude adjustment, to use the junior high school phrase for it. I know that we actually have it pretty easy for working parents, since we are not stressed about money and have family nearby who will help out by giving us the occasional night off. So I think I just need to rethink what I expect my nights to be like, and try not to resent the chores that have to get done.

And on that thought, I'm going to sign off and get to work on tonight's chore: paying the bills.