Monday, February 26, 2007

The Kindness of Acquaintances

I was going to write the kindness of strangers, but these people weren't really strangers, they were acquaintances.

Today I was supposed to be on a flight to Washington DC from Minneapolis, after we had gotten 12 inches of snow on Sunday. We were concerned about making it out at all, and I'm still a bit concerned about making it back in time, since the weather system has now hit DC. I'm actually sitting in the lobby of a hotel we're not staying at, since the hotel we're staying at doesn't have power right now.

Monday morning I was leaving later in the morning to go directly to the airport so I was going to drop off the girls at daycare. I drove the three blocks there on roads that are only 1 car wide, due to plowing and snow depths. I got to the center and as I attempted to turn into the parking lot I realized that it wasn't plowed out! But it was too late, I was already stuck in the snow, with two girls in the backseat, I'm in nice dress clothes that have to somehow continue to look nice through a flight AND a meeting, I'm running late to the airport because I'm stuck in snow.

One of the other moms who just dropped off her kids saw my dilemma and, with the help of a stranger who stopped, helped push me out of the snow. She then stuck around long enough to help carry both girls into the center, as the sidewalk was not shoveled out and I had to go along the street, right along with the cars, to get into the center. It would have been extremely dangerous with me shepherding the two girls, as it was it was only semi-dangerous with her carrying Lindsey and me carrying Marissa.

I was ever grateful to her for her help that morning, and for the help of the man who stopped to help me get out of the snowbank. It's those small gestures that truly make me so appreciative, and desire the opportunity to reciprocate.


As with Lindsey, Marissa took much longer to enunciate "Momma" as opposed to "Dada" which she's been saying since about 10 months. They are both on the same schedule -- they started saying "Dadda" or "Daddy" near 1 year of age, they both started saying "Momma" around 18 months.

But "Momma" sounds so warm and smooth rolling out of Marissa's mouth -- it comes out "Muhhmmmah." It sounds like a long, warm hug and brings tears to my eyes, just the way it did when Lindsey first said it.

Now Lindsey says it ad nauseum -- "Mama," she'll say, with nothing to say after. I'll say, "Yes Lindsey," and she'll repeat, "Mama," with, again nothing to say after. She'll say it four or five times in a row with nothing more to say after, I think it's just her way of reassuring herself that I'm still there and listening.

After this past weekend, after bouts of "Baaahhbeee!" and "Maaahhhmmaaah!" from Marissa, Lindsey informed us this morning that Marissa could go to Children's World today, say "Bobby," and he would be there!!

Marissa's been saying his name non-stop this weekend, we ALL were getting tired of hearing it.

On a side note, Children's World will be changing its name to KinderCare. They were bought by the same corporation (Knowledge Learning Corp, or KLC) about a year ago, we were wondering which brand was going to win out; apparently KinderCare is more well known than Children's World, so CW will become a KinderCare. What is Lindsey going to do when we no longer go to Children's World but instead go to a KinderCare?! It's never been "daycare" to her, or "school," it's always been known as "Children's World." Guess we'll just keep calling it Children's World, even after the new sign goes up.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Marissa has been learning more and more words all the time. One of her favorite words right now is "Bobby." There's a little boy in her class named Bobby, a cute little blondie with big blue eyes. She'll point to him and say, "That's Bobby." She also wanders around the house randomly saying "Bobby. It's Bobby. Bobby. Baaaaahhhh-beeeeeee." We don't know why, we don't pretend to understand.

Today she came home from daycare saying a new word. She looked right at me and said, "Shit." Clear as day. "Shit." Not once, not twice, but three times over the course of putting her coat on and getting her home. I would respond by saying, "Sit!" thinking that perhaps her diction was such that it was coming out as a naughty word when she meant "sit."

Tonight she and Lindsey were taking a bath and Marissa clearly enunciated "Shit!" Lindsey looked up at Wayne with a shocked look on her face and said, "Daddy, she said shit!" So now we know that even if the little one doesn't know what the word means, the elder one has an idea and knows it's not nice!

Monday, February 19, 2007

It was HOW cold??

We're finally getting out of a four-week long cold snap -- I see that we might hit 40 today. Yippee!!

The first Sunday of the cold snap (can't remember which one) we had heard that the temp in the morning would be our high for the day. We woke up at 7 a.m. and it was 18 degrees. We kept checking the thermometer and watched it plummet -- 10 degrees, 7 degrees, 2 degrees by 2 pm, then zero, -2, -7, until by Monday morning at 6:30 a.m. the temperature was -20 degrees. (That's air temp, not windchill.) It stayed below zero for a week, and then after that it stayed in the single digits for the high temps for some time.

This photo is of the window in our upstairs hallway -- it was covered with beautiful ice crystals every morning. It was really amazing to see the temperature drop like that while staying in a nice, warm house that never varied. Thank goodness for radiator heat!

In the meantime, we amused ourselves by marveling at Marissa in her new Mater jogging suit. (Mater is a character from the movie "Cars" that we all get a kick out of.) We also played with balloons and made Lindsey's hair stand up on end.

Today we had a couple of meltdowns, and the kids were acting up too, so everyone's down for long naps, hopefully everyone will wake in a better mood!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Can she...or can't she??

My mother (and grandmother) both tell me that my mother was reading at age 3. My sister was reading at age 4. However, between my husband and I, we began reading at the average age of 5.5. And the fact that neither Lindsey or Marissa get as much one-on-one time as they would if one of us were home with them makes me believe that they will be more on track with both of us than with any of their other family members.

The night before Valentine's Day I was organizing all of the valentines that I'd written out for Lindsey's and Marissa's classmates. Lindsey wanted to look at her classmates' valentines. I asked her to read for me which of her classmate each one was for. (She has 18 classmates). She read them all off and only got "Cyrus" and "Colton" mixed up. She even knew Ava, Alison, Alexis and Alexander and did not get them confused with each other.

So the question she reading, or isn't she??

I don't believe she actually is -- I think she had a select set of names to choose from (18 to be exact) and could recognize the length of the name to know which name it was. When I asked her to read off Marissa's classmates names, she didn't get any of them right.

I would like to think she is precocious enough, but I don't think she is. But I have to say, it was still amazing to hear her read them off -- she did it again for Wayne and he was surprised!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Boop Poop

It wasn't until after we went on vacation and returned that we realized that so much of the "babble" Marissa has been saying has words in it. She has such unusual intonation and speech that it was difficult to hear the words in there, plus we only really see them for 2 hours every evening between arriving home and bedtime. It wasn't until Wayne's sister Kathy and his mom Millie spent time with the girls (LOTS of time) that they informed us that Marissa has plenty more words she says then we were giving her credit for.

Now that we're listening better and hearing them, we're encouraging more use and repetition, so her speech is really starting to take off, as is her comprehension.

Saturday morning we were awoken by her babbling in her room. She gave a couple of little coo's, then the subsequent "Uh-oh....uh-oh....uh-oh...." I went in to her room to find her sitting on her head, pointing to her butt and saying, "Poop."

Yep, sure enough, she had a dirty diaper.

On Sunday afternoon she was playing downstairs when she went off and was quiet for a while, then began pointing at her butt and saying, "Poop. Poop." Once again, a poopy one.

Prior to this we thought she was just saying "Boop" or some other nonsense language. Now that she's got the actions to go with it, we finally associate the word with the action. It's not that we train our children, our children train us!

Even if she never tells us "Milk" or "More" or "No," I'm just happy she tells us "POOP!"

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Luggage Limits

I was telling my co-workers of the story of our travels back to the US from Mexico. Wayne and I had shared one large suitcase, and I had thought upon our return that we may run up against the 50 lb weight limit. Sure enough, we get to the airport in Cancun and it weighs 52.5 lbs. So we move out of the line, open up the suitcase and start to search for ways to make it lighter. Wayne holds out my toiletries bag and says, "I bet this weighs at least 2 and a half pounds, why don't you put this in your carry-on?" I immediately agree - yeah! It'll be easier than trying to sort through everything else, which all feels much lighter than my toiletries bag.

So we check the luggage and make it through security no problems. When it comes time to get ON the plane, however, that's the point at which they screen for the liquids. Oh, yeah. I forgot! The whole reason why my toiletries bag weighs 2.5 lbs is because it is filled with....liquids. New TSA regulations do not allow more than 3 oz of liquids on the plane, and by the way, they should have been declared back at security. (Apparently in Mexico they don't screen for it until you get to the gate, though.)

I watch in resignation as the security agent pulls out product after product: hair gel ($8), hair serum ($12), facial lotion ($14), pomade ($8), he tries to get rid of my prescription facial cream but I convince him it's a cream and not a liquid. And the kicker, my Proactiv solution, $45 worth.

I think his reasoning was not the total ounces that anything equaled, I think he was looking to see what he could potentially give to his wife for her to use, which is why my argument on the prescription cream was successful -- it was a prescription, did he really want to give it to his wife?

The following weekend I went to Target and Walgreen's to replace my product -- $90 total.

I tell this story to my co-workers, then one of them asks, "How much is the extra charge for the additional weight on the luggage?"

The answer? $75.

"So..." as she continues to follow the obvious logic all the way through now, "it would have been cheaper to pay the $75 for the additional luggage weight than for you to lose all your products."

Yes, yes, that is correct. And thank you for pointing it out! I travel HOW often?

And last point, thank GOODNESS most of my product can be replaced at Target and Walgreen's, and not at the Macy's cosmetic counter. Can you imagine??

Final point -- yes, it is amazing that my hair can yet be THIS frizzy and out of control with all that product in it. Anyone else with naturally curly hair have any favorites to help tame the curls?? I'm always up for new product trials!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Surprising Benefit of our Vacation

This one deserves its own post.

While on vacation in Cancun Wayne's mom Millie and sister, Kathy, stayed at our house to watch the girls. During this time, Lindsey was officially and finally fully potty trained. Now, if you are a non parent, or perhaps not so fond of the details of bodily functions that go along with being a parent, just stop right there, join the jubilation with us, know that a milestone has been reached and move on to some other post. For those of you who are more used to the discussions around our children's bodily functions, read on.

Lindsey's been potty trained in so far as she'll go peepee on the potty for quite some time. Going "poopy," however, has been met with fear and reluctance. She's been going poopy in pull-ups for months and months, even going so far as disrupting her bedtime to do it because she'll wait until she has a diaper or pull-up on, which doesn't happen until bedtime, and then will do it and need to get changed before going to sleep.

We've encouraged, we've discussed, we've rewarded, we've talked about prizes she would get should she ever go poopy in the potty. Her answer is always, "I'll go poopy in the potty when I'm bigger." Never mind the fact that the girl is 3 years and 8 months old, and that everyone else in her pre-school class is already fully potty trained.

So we were shocked when on our first day of calling back to the house on our vacation we were informed that Lindsey had gone poopy on the potty, and was rewarded with a piece of gum and a popsicle. Perhaps it was the fact that we weren't home at all and she may not have wanted to ask someone other than one of us to change a diaper on her. She told her Aunt Kathy that her tummy felt better after she went poopy. Yep, that happens!

We were hoping this would keep up upon our return. On our first day back, she said she had to go and she sat and sat on that potty several times and never did go. She ended up going in her underwear at about 5 in the morning. Sigh...

But the next day was met with success! About 7 at night she announced she had to go poopy, and sat right down in the little portable potty chair in the kitchen and went! Can I just say, I didn't realize a body that little could create something so large? Yikes!!

So hopefully we're on the road to good potty habits and no more pull-ups or diapers for the biggest kid in the house. Whew!!

Now on to Marissa...hopefully she will be a bit younger than 3 years and 8 months when she finally hits that milestone. I know that someday this will all seem so far in the past, but a day without having to change diapers seems like a utopia that's so far off in the distance, and it's now gotten just a little bit closer!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Bringing Down the House

I just added this book to my "favorite books" listing. It's the first adult book in my life that I've read in one day. Wait, let me re-state that. This was the first book that was not being read to my child that I read in one day. Where was your mind?!

I picked it up in a bookstore in the airport one day when I did a daytrip to Washington DC. I read the first half on the plane on the way there, I read the second half on the plane on the way back.

It's the story of six M.I.T. students who figured out a system to counting cards and took Vegas for millions. The amazing thing about this is that they never actually broke the law. As long as they didn't change the outcome of the game and they didn't use mechanical means to count cards, they were not breaking the law.

It's an incredible book -- anyone who has any interest in math or science, or how geeks always prevail over the jocks, should read this book. I loved it!


For the first time since becoming parents, Wayne and I took a vacation just the two of us. It's the first time EVER that Wayne has been away from the girls overnight for more than two nights in a row. It's the first time either of us have been away from them overnight without it being a business trip.

While we love them dearly, we needed a break. It was so nice to be able to sleep all night through, without having one ear being "on call" for cries or calls in the night. And we took a nap almost every single day, whenever the hell we wanted. Although I was irritated as all could be when our nap one day was interrupted by a phone call from the hotel informing of us of some special promotion we could get, a free steak or lobster dinner or something. I'm assuming there was some catch to it, like we would have to go listen to a timeshare presentation or something. All I knew was, this was my one time to nap and get up when I was good and ready, and instead I got woken up by a phone call. Needless to say, I wasn't polite, and they never called us again.

Unfortunately the weather didn't cooperate terribly well; it was sunny only one day, otherwise it was cloudy and it rained two of the four days we were there. But even when it rained, it was a WARM rain, and the breeze was always warm. I'm sure the locals thought we were all crazy, sitting on the beach in our swimwear, when they were all wearing long pants and sweatshirts.

My trip, however, was definitely colored by my experience in Honduras in 2002, in which I saw the abject poverty that many of these Latin American people live in. One day we took a tour bus to see Tulum and Xel Ha -- a normally spendy tour that we got for free through a promotion (but that's another story). As we were being driven back in the nice air-conditioned tour bus, we saw a lot of people walking across a pedestrian bridge over the highway, obviously all just getting off a public bus from a day's work in the city. Sure enough, just down a ways you could see the street where most of these people live, and I use the term "street" in the crudest fashion -- it was simply a path down which to travel. You could see the braced up walls, the "roofs" made of blue tarp, the cardboard resting along the side of the homes. These were the landscapers, the bellhops, the housekeepers, the servers working in those luxurious hotels that line the coast living in these hovels.

I can't imagine what it would be like to get a glimpse of how some people live, with running water, electricity, air conditioning, strong walls and a roof over your head, only to have to take a bus back to your own abode in which you have none of these things. It's amazing there hasn't been more labor rebellions in Mexico, but I think they are so beaten down they can't afford not to work, and for every person who has a job there are five more in line, waiting for any opening, ready to work under any conditions.

Our hotel was all inclusive, and everything we read said that the gratuity was included. I think they say that because people get tired of spending $100 or more per vacation tipping people, but I can guarantee you, if gratuity was included in our bill, it was not making it down to the people actually doing the work. So we tipped well everywhere we went -- the bellhops, the housekeeper, the servers at the restaurants.

I had forgotten that Hurricane Wilma had come through Cancun in October 2005 -- you would hardly be able to tell by looking at it today. Only a few resorts were still under construction, some were re-opened 3 months after the hurricane. We were told that the beaches had been entirely washed away, all you could see was the large rocks that are the actual landscape itself. The government spent untold money bringing beautiful sand in again and rebuilding the beaches back to their former glory. Like I said, you could hardly tell they had been decimated.

A couple of people told us about a Sheraton resort that had opened in August 2005, only to be brought all the way down to the ground by Wilma 3 months later. Only two resorts actually went down in the hurricane, the rest were damaged but mostly intact. Theirs had gone down entirely, and was still being re-built. Ugh.

I mentioned Tulum and Xel Ha -- I'll go back and tell you what those are. Tulum is a Mayan ruin south of Cancun by about a 1 hr 40 min drive (or 3 hours if you take a tour bus). They did not allow people to walk on the structures anymore, since some people were tapping off bits of the stone to bring back home w/them as souvenirs, and they even found graffiti on these beautiful buildings. The Mayan people were incredibly smart, mastering mathematics, astrology and creating a calendar based on the soltices and equinoxes that equaled 364.3 days (thus not needing a "Leap Day" every fourth year). Pretty smart, eh??

We then went to Xel Ha, touted as a natural aquarium. It's an inlet from the ocean that's quite craggy and full of caves. Because of this, sealife is naturally attracted to it, so you can snorkel to see the beautiful fish that you normally have to go out into the open ocean to see. They also have underwater caves that you can scuba dive in, if you can stand the thought of rock above your head instead of open water. They left as much of the natural landscape in place as possible, but created trails, shops, little restaurants and places to get scuba gear, towels, life jackets, etc, all around this inlet.

I was really interested in trying snorkeling. I'm not very comfortable in or on water, but wanted to give this a try and see what I thought. It had been cloudy most of the morning tour at Tulum, and as we got to Xel Ha it started to clear. We hadn't eaten yet, though, so we sat down to get a little something to eat, and that was it for the sun. The clouds came back over and it began to rain. Then it got cool enough that even looking at the water (which now appeared a deep blue, as it was reflecting the sky) made me feel cold. It was also quite windy, so I was more than happy to skip it under those conditions. Yikes!