Sunday, January 31, 2010

In which I can make absolutely anything dramatic

At the start of every Mother Goose session is a question that each of the parents are supposed to share their answer to, after introducing themselves and their child. It serves several purposes: in the context of the group, which is about learning songs and stories to share with your kids, it's about being able to speak in front of a group and tell a story. There's also the idea that we all get to know each other a little bit. And, in the case of questions like, "What's your favourite rainy day activity to do with your child?", you might learn some good tips and tricks from other people's answers.

That is the precise question that was asked last week, at our first Mother Goose session (actually, it wasn't the first: I found out once we got there that it had started the week before, but I'd written it down wrong and so we missed the first session altogether. Which is completely unlike me, before or after becoming a mother.). Oh, and by the way, we got there late, so I was already flustered, because I am generally never late. I calmed down by reminding myself that it was a class for parents and toddlers, and that toddlers are notoriously difficult to rush out the door, and that people are pretty damn understanding about running a few minutes late to functions such as this. I was right, too: at least four parent-and-toddler pairs arrived even later than we did.

So, Gwen and I found ourselves a seat in the circle, and the leader asked this question, and then each parent was to introduce themselves and their child and answer the question in turn. I was the third person and I was struck immediately with a cold panic. Favourite rainy day activity? What the hell? I don't have a favourite rainy day activity. It's been raining for five months straight, one day is pretty much like another. Gwen does whatever she wants to do and that's her favourite activity. And I do housework, or schoolwork, or volunteer work, or if I'm lucky I just get to sit on the couch and read my book for a few minutes. What's the weather got to do with anything?

Well, naturally, this quandary made me feel all the more clearly the primary difference between myself and all the other parents in the group. See, it's Friday at 9:30 am. Most working parents are at work, therefore, most people in a Mother Goose class held at that time are not working parents. But I am, because I'm lucky enough to have 3 Fridays a month off and doubly-lucky enough to have found a spot in a Mother Goose class that fits that schedule. But now, here I am .... a working mother .... in a room full of women who are doubtless more dedicated, more self-sacrificing, more attached, more devoted, and more loving than I am. The kind of women who have just dozens of rainy day activities ready to go at the drop of a ... um ... well, a raindrop, naturally.

It wasn't like that, of course. There were a couple of kids there with their grandparents while, presumably, their parents were at work. One kid was there with both her parents, because her mom is a substitute teacher and her dad has Friday mornings off. It was, as usual, all in my head. And still, that question loomed.

I couldn't think of a single thing that had anything to do with rainy days, except for the activity Gwen and I had done the previous Friday, which was to put our rain boots on and go stomp in puddles at the playground. Okay, it was actually a sunny day when we did this, but we couldn't have done it without the several days of rain prior to that, so it counts, right? Right?

Omission of truth ruled the day, because I failed to mention in my answer that we had done our puddle-jumping on a sunny day, and that I was a working mom. So all was well. I was so busy congratulating myself for a near miss that I forgot to listen to all the other parents' (and grandparents'!) answers on how they spend rainy days, so I didn't learn a damn thing.

Footnote: While at the library today, I learned that Toddler Time, which was previously held on Tuesday mornings, has been moved to Saturday mornings. I could not be happier! There are tons of parent-and-kid-oriented activities in this city, but ALL OF THEM happen during the work week. It's like the City of Nanaimo has not noticed that this isn't actually 1952, and most parents have to work. So I am really glad to have something to take Gwen to on the weekends! Hooray!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Friday Five!

1. Today is my Friday! Which is to say, it's the last day of my work week. Tomorrow I am taking Gwen to her second Mother Goose class. Hooray! Last week we discovered that the new rec centre at which the class is held has the most kick-ass playground either of us had ever seen. So tomorrow I will remember to bring her outside shoes and after class she can play as long as she wants! Hooray for activities that wear out children and make them happy while they're doing it.

2. We had a genuinely awesome weekend last weekend, and Chris says it was because we had a complete and utter lack of plans. We'll get a chance to do it again this weekend, too. I definitely enjoy lack-of-plan weekends, though I wouldn't go so far as to echo Chris's sentiment that all weekends should be like that. I do like having a social life, too.

3. I know the difference between the words "breathe" and "breath". Also, "lose" and "loose". Many people don't. I no longer fly into a rage when I see these words misused, but it makes me a little bit sad that something at which I possess skill is no longer considered to be of any value.

4. Gwen's newest word/concept is "different". She doesn't want that show, she wants a different one. She doesn't want that song, she wants a different one. She doesn't want that toy, she wants a different one. This has not yet crossed the line from fascinating new cognitive skill to Princess Syndrome, mostly because we respond with "Go get it yourself, then."

5. Gwen also really likes to bring me her baby and help me change her baby's diaper. "Baby, change bum," she says. Her baby is a Cabbage Patch Kid purchased by her grannie from a distant relative who buys such dolls, knits outfits for them, and then sells them for like $2 more than what she bought them for. The doll happens to have blue eyes and brown hair just like Gwen, and she loves it, so that's cool. I remember reading the doll's name on the adoption certificate, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was, though I can tell you that my own childhood CPK was named Mandy Karbel and her "birthday" was one day after mine (though, obviously, in a different year). Anyway, this whole digression is just to ask whether Cabbage Patch Kids always came with little plasticy diapers that you can actually remove and replace, because while I remember Mandy's name I can't remember ever ministering to her in this way. On the other hand, Gwen and I change her baby's bum several times a day. I guess I should learn the kid's name.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Blogosphere is Taking Over!

On Friday night Chris and I watched Julie and Julia. Just in case you haven't seen or heard of this movie, it's about a young woman living in New York who decides to spend a year making every single one of Julia Child's recipes in the famed book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." I was excited to see this movie for many reasons. First, it has been getting good reviews and looked, from the trailer, to be funny and enjoyable. Secondly, it was well-cast with two brilliant actresses: Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. But even more than that, I was stoked because this movie is about a blogger. The movie was based on a book, which was in turn based on a blog. Written by a young woman living in New York who decides to spend a year making every single one of Julia Child's recipes in the famed book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." And blogging about it.

I am a blog addict. It's true. I am bigtime hooked on blogs, and in a very real (and mentally unbalanced) way these people are important to me. I shed real tears when one "my" bloggers experiences tragedy. I yell "YES!" at my computer screen when one of them takes a leap of faith. Posts about the daily lives of strangers - insightful, witty*, thought-provoking, inspiring, hilarious, envy-producing, empathy-creating, and so on - genuinely affect my mood and my day. Yes. I told you I was unbalanced.

*Not actually a stranger. Hi, Amber!

So you can imagine how much it blows my tiny mind when the blogosphere becomes more real somehow. I've read several books that are based on and/or written by my favourite bloggers: Cringe, Things I Learned From My Dad (in Therapy), Sleep is for the Weak, Schuyler's Monster, Why Girls are Weird, and of course, It Sucked and Then I Cried. I've read dozens more books that I first heard about through blogs, the same way other people might get book recommendations from, you know, actual real life people that they meet with on a regular basis to spend time socializing ... what do they call those people? Oh yeah, FRIENDS. Anyway, my point is that when a blogger writes a book, s/he comes to the attention of the (perhaps dwindling? we hope?) portion of the population that still thinks blogs are weird. Depending on how the book is written and marketed, these Mainstream Non-Internet-Addicted People may not even KNOW that they are reading a book based on a blog, a book that probably wouldn't even exist if not for that Weird Blogging Thing.

And this, finally, is my point: the movie Julie and Julia is not just about a young woman living in New York who decides to spend a year making every single one of Julia Child's recipes in the famed book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." It's about a young woman living in New York who decides to spend a year making every single one of Julia Child's recipes in the famed book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about it. You can't miss the blogging: it's a major plot point of the movie, and there are several scenes that feature voiceovers that are word-for-word source (blog!) material. The film deftly draws parallels between Child's struggle to complete and publish her cookbook, and the young blogger's struggle to identify herself as a writer, essentially equating both types of authorship. That is a powerful message for the rest of us young bloggers, whether or not we dream of book deals. It's a powerful message for the rest of the world, too, those who wonder why we insist on documenting the fascinating minutiae of our lives and sharing it with perfect strangers.

As mentioned above, the movie has been well-received by both audiences and critics, and I was deeply impressed with the humour, the performances, the writing, every last detail down to the sets and costumes. I adored the way Julie and Julia's stories were woven together, and naturally I drooled over the food. This film has even inspired me to at last forgive writer/director Nora Ephron for Sleepless in Seattle. (I will probably still rip into her another day, however, for her book "I Feel Bad About My Neck", anti-feminist tripe that it is.) But really, you can learn about all those aspects on many other sites (or even magazines, newspapers, and non-print media like television and FRIENDS!). Here at Blogging For Two, you'll hear about why this movie makes MY life better, because it's all about me. It makes my life better because it makes blogging a justifiable and valued pastime, hopefully clarifying to the masses why it is we do this thing we do. Making it more normal. Apparently sales of Child's book have surged since the movie's release ... I wonder if there has been a similar increase in blog usage?

As a footnote: Heather B. Armstrong, one of the "realest" bloggers out there, has become just a bit more real. Apparently spurred on by being featured as a Jeopardy! question, she has now decided to take over the world of television by signing a deal with HGTV. Holy shit, y'all. Blogger be UNSTOPPABLE.

Oh, AND? About six months ago, Intel decided to sponsor a blogger's life list. As in, that list of a hundred things you'd like to do before you die - now paid for in full, and all you have to do is write about it. Now THAT is real, my friend!

But most importantly - Annabelle. Welcome, sweet girl!

There are 27 links in this post. Amuse me and tell me how many of them you ended up clicking.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Dear Gwen: Month Twenty-One

Dear Gwen,
Today, you are twenty-one months old!

You have really astounded us this month with the changes in your development. You seem to be going through another language explosion, and have added so many words to your vocabulary that I can hardly keep up. You hit 100 words around 18 months, and I stopped keeping track at that time: it wouldn't surprise me if that number has doubled in the past three months. Here are some examples: splash, catch, Gwen's turn, I like it, have it, good morning, counting, colouring, snuggle, blanket, pick [a book to read], sing, big girl, movie, treat. That brief list also gives a glimpse into your personality and what you like to do! However, even with these improvements, communication still has its challenges. Sometimes, you will just say "more," out of the blue, and we have no idea what you're asking for! "More what?" we ask, and you say "more, please!"
You are much more reliable with saying "please" these days, which makes us very happy. You are now learning the cruel lesson that just because you say please, doesn't guarantee that you get what you want! Another development is your growing sense of self-awareness. When you see pictures of yourself, you usually say "baby," but recently if we respond with, "Yes, that's baby Gwen," you will point to yourself and say "Gwen". And your pronunciation of that challenging "gw" sound is pretty darn good!

One of your new phrases is "Help me," which isn't actually a request for help: rather, it is a request that you be allowed to help me with laundry, cooking, etc. After all, I usually say, "Do you want to help me?" so that is how you learned that phrase. I think one of your favourites is the laundry. We are a good team: I pass you the items, you put them into the basket or washing machine or dryer as directed. You really enjoy being a big helper, and I enjoy having your help!

On the whole, you are getting more independent. Over Christmas, we did some rearranging that included moving a lot of your toys from the living room into your room, so you now have a safe and fun place to play both upstairs and downstairs. You can happily play in either place on your own (with one of us nearby) for as long as 10-15 minutes, when you're in the mood. On the one hand, this makes us really proud that you are growing and changing and becoming your own person. On the other hand, there's a bittersweet sadness that comes with the realization that you are needing us less and less. WAAAAHHHH my baby, etc.

Our Mother Goose classes, a free class to learn songs, rhymes, and finger plays, started this week. We took this last year when you were just nine months old, and while it was fun for me, I don’t think you got much out of it. This round, however, I knew you would really enjoy learning the songs and the actions, and I was right! You love music and singing, and you absolutely love it when you get a chance to participate. I’m really glad that even though your dad and I both work full-time, we’ve managed to find a class that fits into our schedule.
You are becoming very interested in imaginative play. You are fascinated by the concept of your dolls or animals going to sleep, in particular. Over and over and over you will say "Ni-night," to a stuffed animal, give it a kiss, tuck it in with a blanket, and then announce to whomever is nearby that "[animal] sleepin." Then after a moment you will shout, "AWAKE!" and pull the animal out from the blanket, wishing it a "guh-mornin!" before starting the whole process again.

Since Christmas, you have eaten most of your meals at the new toddler-sized table you got from Grannie and Grandpa. It's sometimes a struggle to get you to stay in your chair during mealtimes, but on the whole you do very well. You often like to have your puppy on the other chair, and you will pretend to feed puppy some of your food. A few days ago, you found a small empty bottle meant for a single serving of salad dressing, and you went and "fed" it to puppy the way one would feed a bottle to a baby. The aspect of you sharing food with your stuffed animals, of course, reduces your dad and I to a tearful chorus of "awwwww!"

You are starting to show some signs of readiness for potty-training, though your dad and I agree that we are nowhere NEAR ready. I think the earlier we start, the longer it will take. For now, we provide you with the opportunity a couple of times a day to sit on the potty for as long as you'd like, which you are generally happy to do. I think you're starting to become a little more aware of your bodily functions, and that's enough for now.

Well, I guess that's it for now, Gwen. Your dad and I are so proud of you, and as always, we love you so much and are so excited about every stage of your development. We feel so very lucky to be your parents, blessed with such an amazing and adorable little girl.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Doctor, Again

We took Gwen to the doctor yesterday evening because she'd been coughing pretty badly since Saturday night and then in the afternoon we got a call from her daycare provider that Gwen was running a fever.

Aside: Gwen coughs a LOT. I don't always write about it here, because I think Holy Crap, Wordygirl, get some perspective, but she's pretty much been coughing since September. We've been to the doctor ... maybe four or five times? I kind of think I *should* start keeping track, at this point.

Chris is the one Denise calls, because he's on the road and is sometimes able to pop in and pick Gwen up ... or, if he's far away, he'll call me and I'm happy to do it. He isn't paid by the hour the way I am so it makes more financial sense for him to do it if possible. Not that it doesn't break my heart and scramble my brains to know that Gwen is sick and I'm not going to her. When Chris called me yesterday to tell me Gwen had a fever and he was on his way to get her, I still had a couple hours of work left, and he told me there was no point in my leaving early.

Aside: One of the reasons it's hard for me to let go of my conviction that sick little girls need their mommies in particular, is because Chris relayed to me that Denise took Gwen's temperature at 107 degrees. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVEN DEGREES. Her actual temperature was 100.7 degrees. Oh, those pesky details!

Chris called our clinic to see if he could get Gwen in for an appointment, but no dice. We had to do their "urgent care" walk-in clinic, which starts at 5pm. It's a little better than the regular walk-in clinic, because you are not going to have to wait 2+ hours for a 30-second appointment, but not much.

I met Chris and Gwen at home and decided that I would skip yoga (the sacrifice!) because although Gwen did not really require full parental doting, there was no way I'd be able to concentrate or meditate or get anything out of yoga if I was thinking about her and her sad little sick face. She is so different when she's ill: cuddly, soft, quiet, still. We had a good snuggle on the couch waiting for it to be time to head to the clinic. By that time, the Tylenol Denise gave her had brought her fever down. She was really chatty and silly during the car ride to the clinic, which gave both Chris and I pause.

Aside: I really struggle with when to take Gwen to the doctor. I hate feeling like I'm overreacting. I also hate feeling like I should have come earlier. It's definitely one of the most frustrating dilemmas of parenthood. I think I err on the side of not overreacting, and yet she's been to the doctor 4-5 times this season. GAH.

We waited for about half an hour to see the doctor. We'd brought two things to keep Gwen happy: her beloved puppy (the one who says her name and sings to her) and a laptop playing a DVD of Blue's Clues.

Aside: We've become THOSE PARENTS.

When at last the doctor came in, Gwen immediately curled into me, gripping on with all her strength and saying "Shy, shy." She's recently started using this word when she feels shy (of all things) and although it made me kind of sad at first, I now think this is a positive thing for her to do and say. But unfortunately, in the case of doctor's appointments, I am not able to respect her wishes to avoid the stranger in her midst.

Aside: We asked the doctor if he'd mind examining Gwen's puppy first. We had really good luck with this approach a few weeks ago when a very kind and gentle doctor listened to Puppy's chest and back and looked in her ears, etc while a very calm Gwen watched. She was then much more open to going through the same experiences herself. When we asked this doctor to do the same thing, he looked at us like we were nuts. He gave it a try, but since Gwen's head was buried in my neck while she chanted in a panicky voice "shy, shy" I don't think she got much out of it.

Gwen did not co-operate during the exam. She was very agitated and upset. We had to hold her head still so the doctor could check her ears. I tried to soothe her by saying, "It's okay, it's okay" but the tears were coming and she was so sad and scared. Being at a walk-in meant the doctor had no time to try to put her at ease, and she paid the price for that. I soon realized that through her tears she was saying, "Okay, okay," in the same tone I was using.

Aside: She's started doing this when she falls down and hurts herself, too. As she gets up she will say "Okay," because I always say, "Are you okay?" She has started to associate the word "okay" with the feeling of being hurt or scared. When I realized this, my heart shattered into a million tiny pieces. It was not okay.

So, my daughter was using every communication tool she had at her disposal to tell us how unhappy and uncomfortable she was, and we disregarded it and carried on with the exam, which resulted in (yet another) prescription for antibiotics and the suggestion to use an inhaler mask (which we already have from a previous doctor's appointment). He said her lungs sounded wheezy and she might have a touch of bronchitis. He might have said more, but the screaming drowned him out.

Aside: I have the distinct feeling that he gave us this prescription to get us out of his office. He looked at us as if we were crazy mollycoddlers, even BEFORE we asked him to examine Puppy.

Gwen did fairly well for the rest of the evening, and from the reports I've gotten from Chris (who shared Gwen-duty with his mom today, as it's Gramma Time Day) she's doing alright today too. Slightly more whiny than usual, but her fever is under control (not skyrocketing up to ONE HUNDRED POINT SEVEN, OH NOES), her appetite is fine, and she is getting lots of fluids.

Aside: There's a reason for making sure she gets lots of fluids today. And it's not the vomiting-related reason. Say no more!

I feel sad for Gwen, not only because she is sick, but because she is starting to learn that the world is cruel. I feel like we treated her disrespectfully yesterday, that we betrayed her trust. I feel really sad about that. The bronchitis (if indeed it is such) will go away, but that violation of trust may last. I hope I can make it up to her.

Wordy Girl Jr.

I actually took this movie back in November, which is when Gwen started saying "I did it". She now speaks even more clearly than she does here, and her counting has improved greatly as well. It took me two months to figure out how to add the captions. Enjoy!

(For the uninitiated: "Kenshin" is the name of a Japanese cartoon that Chris and Gwen watch together.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


A few days after I sent out the emails directing people to the Christmas letter I wrote (which I've since taken down, since it is not really blog material, but it was the easiest way to combine text and pictures), I realized I'd forgotten to include one major detail about my life. And it irked me to no end, because part of the reason I wanted to do a Christmas letter in the first place was to inform people of all the various things we are doing, so that I don't get these uninformed questions after my Facebook status updates:

"Oh, you live in Nanaimo?"
"Oh, you go to church?"
"Oh, you have a daughter?"

I am exaggerating a tad, obviously. I don't think I've ever been asked any of those questions. But the one I get all the time is "Oh, you're going to school?" And guess what I forgot to mention in my Christmas letter? Yeah. Good work, wordygirl. *sigh*

This probably says something about mothers always considering themselves last and especially considering efforts that have little or nothing to do with Real Life last. But that's depressing so I'm not going to go there today.

Instead! I will tell you that YES, I have been going to school. For the past gazillion years (actually, about seven). I am trying to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree with a concentration in English, through distance learning at Athabasca University. Read: correspondence learning that does not require me to attend classes or quit my full time job. Are you starting to get a sense of why I've been working on it for seven years, and I'm not even close to finishing my "three-year" program?

Since starting school in November 2002, I have taken two extended breaks from it. One was several years ago when I left my (first) husband and my job and my hometown and moved to the Island to figure out how to stand on my own two feet. The second was in 2008 when I had Gwen. In spring of last year, I decided I was ready to start again, and registered for English 373 - Film & Literature.

This was a really dumb move on my part, because I registered for the course right before a whole lot of stuff changed. I went back to work, I was elected to Church Council and chosen for the Call Committee, I felt rushed all the time and no matter what I was doing I felt guilty for all the things I wasn't doing. There was no balance whatsoever and I spent the majority of 2009 feeling like I was doing a half-assed job at everything in my life. I hated it, and in the fall of 2009 I decided to put a stop to it. This has been a long process as I don't just quit things in the middle: I have been working hard to not say yes to any new things, to alter my involvement in various things to be more reasonable, and to walk away when a commitment finishes up. I promised myself I would continue Operation Commitment Reduction until it felt like there was some breathing room in my schedule.

One of my big commitments just finished up. On December 18th, I wrote my final exam for Film & Literature. I just heard yesterday that I got an A- on the exam and an A on the course as a whole. YAY!

I didn't register for another course, and I am struggling with this choice. If I chose to do another course at this time, something else I am already committed to would have to go. There are two possibilities: either I quit Church Council (after completing only one of my three years) or I quit going to fitness classes (I currently go to yoga and two Belly Fit classes a week). Neither of these appeal to me. The fitness classes are important because they are genuinely For Me and very enjoyable: school is For Me also, but not always enjoyable. Church Council is important because I gave my word and I would have difficulty living with myself if I quit.

At the same time, I feel frustrated that my schooling keeps getting sidetracked. I feel discouraged that Church Council, which I find unrewarding and disorganized, will continue being part of my life while schooling, which is very difficult but does hold some reward, as well as being arguably "useful" for me as an individual, will end. I do believe in being "of service": I think being a member of any volunteer organization or community (like a church) obligates you to take your turn doing the work of the group.

I feel like I am good at school - which is easy to say when I've just finished a course, but is also supported by the fact that I have a solid B average. I don't know if having a degree will ever lead me anywhere, career-wise, but even if it doesn't I still want to finish it. Preferably before Gwen gets one of her own.

It's clear some prioritizing is in order. Ideally I should be able to fit in all the elements: Free Time, Social Life, Self-Improvement, Family Time, etc. I tried doing it all and it made me miserable. Not sure where to go from here.

*If you'd like to comment with advice, feel free, but do me a favour: don't tell me what to do, tell me how to figure out what to do. I need to wrap my head around this.

Edited to Add: Commisseration entirely welcome! Thank you, Lindsey & Amber.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Good Deeds

I spent the weekend doing some good deeds. It was a balm for my spirits, as I came home from work on both Thursday and Friday feeling very undervalued and discouraged (for reasons I am not going to go into here).

On Saturday, I spent the morning baking for Mary's family, who are soon to be home from the hospital and need their freezer stocked.) I wasn't confident about preparing meals, but when someone suggested baking, I was all over it. I made two loaves of bread, two batches of muffins (in both toddler and grown-up sizes), and an apple loaf. Gwen "helped" for some of it, as well. I am getting better at managing her in the kitchen. (Except for the part where I turned around and found her with a paring knife in her mouth. She was actually fine until my loud gasp and terrified face scared the crap out of her. She didn't cut herself, though. Also, GAHHH.)

In the evening I continued the theme of good deeds by donating money to two good causes: my cousin Sonia is participating in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, and a mommyfriend is doing the Weekend to End Women's Cancers, so I gave them both money. Some of you may not know that in 2005, I raised $5,500 for the Canadian Diabetes Association and did a marathon in Rome, so I have a soft spot in my heart (and wallet) for anyone who undertakes something similar.

The final good deed was to finish up the Advent Conspiracy this morning. Those who took home the giving cans were asked to either bring them back to church by today, or give them to another charity of their choice. Out of 36 cans I made, 15 of them came back, netting a total of just over $300. Along with the other monies donated, this gave us enough to build 2 wells in a developing nation. Once the money is tripled by CIDA, we'll be able to build six wells, which will provide clean drinking water for over 230 families! That's a lot of water. That's a lot of hope. That's a lot of love!

With that, it finally feels like Christmas is over around here. Chris finally took down the outside decorations - he wanted to wait for dry weather, and I feared this would mean our house would be festooned with half-lit reindeer until sometime in June, but the rain actually stopped long enough today for him to go out and disassemble the poor creatures. Glory Hallelujah.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Video of Gwen Losing Her Mind on Christmas Eve

Toddler + both sets of grandparents + presents + staying up late = this.

(I tried FIVE SEPARATE TIMES to upload this video via Blogger. Basically, every time I have been at home and the toddler has been asleep, I have done this. Every day for a full week. Every time? BLOGGER HAS FAILED ME. So I finally turned to Youtube, where I got it uploaded in under 20 minutes. And now as I am posting the embed code, it tells me there's an error. I am hoping like hell that it resolves itself by the time anyone wants to watch the video. Otherwise, I'm locking myself in the bathroom with a box of chocolates and I'm not coming out until summer.)

(Why does the Internet hate me?)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Gwen's 2009 in a Nutshell

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
So many things! I turned one, I started daycare, I stayed overnight at Gramma and Grandpa's house, I ate an ice cream cone, I slept in a tent, and I learned a BUNCH of new words. And I'm just getting started!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I resolved to learn how to walk, at which I succeeded admirably. (I also learned how to run and hop.) This year, I intend to master doorknobs.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What countries did you visit?
None. I don't have a passport yet.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
The ability to fetch my own snacks. Or bend my parents to my will.

7. What date from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I don't really have much of a head for dates. But I guess April 27th, the day I started daycare and my mom returned to work, was kind of a big deal.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Definitely learning to walk. Do you have any idea how much stuff I can get into, now that I'm upright?

9. What was your biggest failure?
Failure? Pshaw! I blow raspberries in the face of failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I had a couple of owies, but no serious ones. I went to the doctor a bunch of times and ended up on antibiotics for a throat and ear infection. That wasn't fun, but it went away soon enough. And everyone was so impressed with me for being so brave and using my inhaler mask for my cough, too.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I don't really get a say in how money gets spent around here. If I did, you can bet there would be a lot more bananas in the place.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Well, mine, obviously. And Mom and Dad are pretty great too. Dad knows this terrific game where he runs around and hides and then jumps out at me. It is HILARIOUS! I wish you could see it. And Mom, she knows like a ton of songs, and will always sing them for me if I ask. I think I must have asked her to sing Frosty the Snowman about ... well, I only know as high as ten, but I bet it was even more times than that.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Appalled and depressed? Does that mean throwing myself on the floor and having a tantrum? If so, the answer is Mom and Dad, when they wouldn't let me eat before dinner or watch an Elmo video in the middle of the day. Appalling and depressing, indeed.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Again, I don't get a say in the finances around here. But I'm going to guess that "my" money went to daycare, diapers, clothes, and groceries.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Seeing either one of my Grandpas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
"If You're Happy And You Know It." I am! And I do! Thanks for asking!

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

i. Happier or sadder? Happier - sleeping through the night on a regular basis really did make me a more cheerful person.
ii. Thinner or fatter? I don't know, but I am definitely taller.
iii. Richer or poorer? I have a lot more toys - does that count?

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Playing on my slide.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Brushing my teeth.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

On Christmas Eve, we went to church and I got to be in the Christmas pageant! Then, we went to my Gramma Karen's and Grandpa Keith's house and we opened a lot of presents. The next morning, Grannie Maureen and Grandpa Ron came over and we opened even MORE presents. Then my mom spent the whole rest of the day cooking, which was silly because all I ate was vegetable dip.

22. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I don't think so.

23. How many one-night stands?
I don't know what that means, so I guess I didn't have any.

24. What was your favorite TV program?

I get to watch In the Midnight Garden and Blue's Clues at daycare. They are both highly excellent.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, that would require more of an attention span than I possess.

26. What was the best book you read?
The Monster at The End of This Book. What an exciting roller coaster of a story - and I don't want to spoil it for you, but the ending has a terrific twist!

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?

28. What did you want and get?

Lots of quality time with my family.

29. What did you want and not get?
More cookies.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
The only one I sat through from start to finish was "
How the Grinch Stole Christmas". I was a little bit afraid of the Grinch, but the music made me very happy.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned one! Family and friends came to visit me and my mom let me have CAKE. Cake is AWESOME. Also, my mom's friend
Amber made me a crown, which just goes to show how well she knows me.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Being able to talk, so that I could issue my orders more clearly.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
I am a big fan of hats. You can't have too many, I say. Two or three hats on one head is a fabulous statement.

34. What kept you sane?
Sane? ... What are you talking about?

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Elmo. So red, so fuzzy, so shrill! What's not to love?

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Full voting rights for toddlers. I'm in charge of the letter-writing campaign.

37. Who did you miss?
My Grandpas.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

Denise, or as I call her, "neese", who looks after me while Mom and Dad are working.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009:

If you say please, they will probably give it to you.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"I want it all, and I want it now!" by Queen.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Gwen's First Knock-Knock Joke

A few days ago, Chris told Gwen the knock-knock joke involving bananas and oranges ... you know, the one with a punchline that goes, "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?" Today Gwen, at 20 months old, not only demonstrated her excellent memory, but also put her own twist on the joke.

Gwen: Knock knock.
us (me, Chris, Uncle Mikey): Who's there?
Gwen: Nama! (Banana)
us: Banana who?
Gwen: Knock knock.
us: Who's there?
Gwen: Nama!
us: Banana who?
Gwen: Knock knock.
us: Who's there?
Gwen: Nama!
us: Banana who?
Gwen: Knock knock.
us: Who's there?
Chris (whispering to Gwen): say orange.
Gwen: Yes, please.

Much hysteria ensued. And yes, we gave her an orange - after all, she said please!

Saturday, January 2, 2010


On Thursday afternoon I was busy writing a post about my New Year's Resolutions and Gwen's New Year's Resolutions and even recapping our resolutions from LAST year and how they played out, when suddenly a terrible, horrible, no good very bad MALWARE VIRUS came and ate my lappy.

The meaning is clear: both Gwen and I are perfect the way we are, and should initiate no change.

(The resolution I was writing about at the time was the one about giving up sarcasm. I AM NOT EVEN KIDDING.)

Chris is out at the movies right now, so I have borrowed his lappy. Before he went to the movies, he took my lappy to a computer repair place. That is how desperate the situation is: for the first time in my life, I am actually going to pay someone to fix my computer.

(I don't mind that much, actually. I'd much rather pay some stranger to do it, than listen to Chris sweat and curse and be grouchy and completely unavailable to help with anything else for a week and a half, OH YES I WOULD.)

(Maybe I will feel differently when they hand me the bill.)

Since Thursday's post is utterly gone, and also my motivation to recreate it, I'll just hit the highlights.

Laura's Resolutions 2010
1. Give up angry sarcasm. Not all sarcasm, just the hurtful kind. Can I still be funny without hurting people's feelings? Let's find out!
2. Be more accepting of myself. I've got a lot of stuff going for me. And according to recent photographic proof, I'm actually not fat!
3. Stop using that really annoying way of asking people to do things. "Do you wanna ...?" No, they DON'T wanna. If you need/want them to do something, just ask them with real words: "Could you please ...?"
4. Spend more time doing the things I want to do. These include blogging, needlework, picture management, socializing, and family time.

Gwen's Resolutions 2010
1. Grow. If I got just a little taller, I could turn the doorknobs, and then I'd be UNSTOPPABLE.
2. Learn how to work the DVD player. If I want to watch Kenshin, I want to watch it NOW!
3. Explore the possibilities of snuggling with my mom in a location that isn't my crib. It seems impossible, but maybe, just maybe, it'll work.
4. Pee on the potty. Maybe just once, so I can see what all the fuss is about.

Anyway, I have no idea when I'm going to post again because (a) dead lappy, and (b) I have to go back to work on Monday. I'm very mournful about this because I was really starting to like sleeping in till 8:30. 6:45am is going to hurt so very, very much. Oh, my life is SO HARD.

(When I do get to post again, remind me to tell you about Gwen's search for Jesus, and about her shopping trips at Gramma and Grandpa's.)


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