Monday, June 29, 2009

First haircut.

It has been long overdue. Geekyboy has been sporting the classic "baby mullet" for some time now. I trimmed the front so that he could see, but couldn't bring myself to cut the sweet long curls at the back of his little head.

After a lovely, if crazy busy eighty degree weekend, where we packed in a trip to the zoo, a trip to IKEA, a splash the paddling pool and a Barbeque with our neighbours, Geekyboy ended it on a high note by throwing up everywhere when I put him to bed. I kept him home today, and happily he is fine, though took a three hour nap. This made for a pretty nice relaxing day for me, especially since I didn't have my work laptop at home. I have to admit I even took a nap myself.

One of the many many tasks on my "must do this week list" has been "geekyboy's first haircut". Other items include: Sister's childen's birthday gifts (I forgot her third childs birthday last week, and feel like a terrible aunt) Cats need shots, all animals need flea treatments, tahoe house needs blinds, I need a dental visit, kids need a dental visit, and other critical things I have probably forgotten)

I took advantage of this unexpected break in routine, and headed down to "Kids Cuts" for his first short back and sides. He hated it, refused to sit in the cute car chair and had to be held on my lap, as if he were getting shots, not a gentle grooming by a kind lady. Throughout he cried "Daddy, Daddy". Now daddy, as you can see from my family picture, has a fine head of flowing California hippy hair. So lustrous is it, that the clerk at his favorite gas station calls out "hey, Fabio" whenever he fills up there. Maybe Geekyboy resented me chopping off the curls he inherited from dad. When he is older I have no problem with him choosing to wear his hair long, but when it comes to toddlers my conventional side kicks in. I think long hair looks a bit daft on little boys.

He ended up with a neat short crop, and looks suddenly older, more boy and less baby. And I have added to the endless contents of my purse a little packet of baby curls.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Evidence of motherhood

I was bustling into the office one morning last week, ready to present our latest findings to our scientific advisors, nattily attired in my black "business pants", pressed jacket and an elegant working woman top purchased from a real clothing store rather than from Target, when I dropped my handbag on the ground, and in that one moment destroyed the image of "serious professional woman" that I had until then felt confident that I was projecting.

My handbag had contained:
A cellphone, a treo, a camera, a wallet, sunglasses, a portable USB drive, a name tag from a conference I attended about six months ago (sounds professional enough so far), but then we got to; a ziploc bag of dog treats, loose change from three different continents, two tubes of glitter glue, two pacifiers, three sparkly hairslides, a crumpled check for soccer classes that I must have forgotten to turn in, a bottle of purel, a bag of animal crackers purloined from the zoo, an almost clean plastic fork, post-it notes saying "Geekygirl scratched her friend today (complete with frowny face cartoon)" and "Geekybaby needs diapers", some sanifizing wipes, some unsanitary looking used (for noses not bottoms, I must add) wipes, and a plastic monster.


What's in your purse/handbag?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

supersize us

Every now and again I'm reminded of how Americanized I have become in the thirteen years I have lived here. We recently had the great pleasure of having my brother and his wife come to visit, and we took a trip up to our place in tahoe. Not yet being so American that we have a car large enough for four adults, two kids and a dog, we split up and rode in two cars. My brother rode shotgun with me on the trip back. We stopped, as we often do, to get a fast food dinner for the road.

I placed my bag of fries on my lap, partially unwrapped my filet of fish and balanced it by the fries, draped my lap with napkins and put the car in drive. My brother looked at me, horrified. "You can't drive and eat, that's illegal" he said. I must have looked quite baffled, both because I don't recall him ever being so sensible, and because, well, eating a burger while driving is a national pastime. As any good American knows, about 50% of all the meals that people consume in this country are eaten in cars. I'd better watch out if I ever move back to the UK, I'll get arrested for elevating my cholesterol while driving.

We took another Tahoe trip this weekend, just us and the kids, and again had dinner on the road. Geekygirl has become quite practiced at eating her happy meal in the back of the car. (Before we had kids I would have frowned upon both the unhealthiness and the messiness of this, but when you have a 3 hr drive on a Sunday night, and just want to get home, eating in the car allows us to get home so much faster that I have come to embrace it). Geekybaby, only 16 months old, had not yet been initiated into the 'car meal' culture. On previous trips he had been too young for solid foods.

This time I was hoping he might be sleeping when we hit Burger King, so avoiding the dilema of whether to let him watch his sister dig into her delicious empty calories, but he was still fine and lively. I bought him his very own carton of fries. And he did a fine job, gripping them tightly in one hand and eating with the other. I have to confess these are not his first fries. Geekygirl was at least 18 months old before she tasted their evil goodness, but this little guy has eaten them ever since he developed the abilty to grab and eat finger foods. We felt so proud at this latest landmark, his first fast food in the car and he passed with flying colors!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

on language

There are so many intangible pleasures of watching one's kids grow up. Delight in their delights, amazement at their imagination, and the sheer joy of snuggling with a pudgy infant who changes almost daily into a little person. For me though, my greatest fascination is with the development of language. I feel such a leap of understanding and connection when the kids can explain to me what is going on in their inner world. Of course we communicate before there are words, but this language explosion is such a fabulous, unique, human thing, that I find myself constantly amazed by it.

Many people told me "Oh, if you have a girl first and then a boy don't worry that he is developmentally retarded, boys just speak late". But Geekybaby seems to be breaking the mold, maybe he falls more into the "Second kids speak earlier than first kids because they want to talk to their sibling"theory. Because our two kids were born within a few days of each other, separated by two years, it is easy to compare milestones. Geekygirl went through her "language explosion" at about 18-20 months. Geekybaby had his first words at just over 12 months, and now must have 10 or 20. I'll list them at the end of the post, for posterity. And for grandparents!

This week we had our first true conversation. I was sitting on the living room floor, next to the dogs bed, and Geekybaby came over and said "Dog. Woof. Where?" in a quizzical tone, and pointed to the empty dog bed. "Are you asking where the dog is?" I clarified. "Yeh" he said, and nodded. "I think she is in the kitchen" I told him. "Oh!" he exclaimed, and toddled in that direction to find Geekydog, and obtain his daily big sloppy dog kiss.

I sat back and went over this little conversation, and was awed by the fact that my little 16 months old and I can understand each other through language already.

Geekygirl, also a prodigy in her mummy's eyes, talks non stop, I love this window into her mind. She made me laugh with this little exchange on the drive home from preschool. She has become interested in age, in particular the fact that she is 2 years older than her brother. "How old will he be when I'm 10?" she asks "Well he is two years younger, and 10 minus 2 is 8" I reply. This conversation can go on for a while, but should be productive in mathematical learning (She can add, but subtraction is still a mystery). Then I heard "How old are you mummy?" "I'm 38" I replied.

"How old will you be when I'm 38?" She asked. This challenged my mental arithmetic skills and cast my thoughts into the unimaginable future, but I managed to reply, with a sigh, "I'll be 72".

Geekybaby's word list:
Mummy, Daddy, Ball, Book (first word!), cheese, cracker, milk, dog, woof, yes, no, ball, balloon, bubble, airplane, apple, neigh, moo, baa, pig, cow, quack, duck, fish, shoes, socks(gocks), up all done, bird, baby, sister, tub, whats that?, where, open.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Its all fun and games until somebody loses an eye...

or: Well that's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

Three year olds and pointy sticks don't mix. Now, no one was seriously hurt, I assure you, but lessons were learned.

This Sunday the geekykids and I accidentally invited ourselves to a friend's child's third birthday barbeque. What happened was that on the preceding Saturday we were at the 41st birthday party of a different good friend, mom to Geekgygirls friend N. The other friends husband said " will you make it to A's birthday party tomorrow?" We had not actually been invited, which I attempted to communicate gracefully, without seeming to be slighted (I was not at all put out, guest lists for parties have many constraining factors, and I always consider myself happy to be invited to anyone's carefully planned occasion, and completely understand if numbers/prior fashion faux pas/badly behaved kids/simple sleep deprived oversight have deemed me and mine uninvited.)

But of course we were invited on the spot, and I felt that they did genuinely want us to come. Well, I really wanted to feel that way, since they had secured a wonderful location (Fort Mason, overlooking the bay), it was a fabulous warm day, I needed a nice 'get out of the house' activity since Geekydaddy was feeling "kidded out", and they are both vegetarians (like me) and superb cooks.

So we went to the party. The drive from where we live over to Fort Mason never fails to take my breath away. The car crested, then tipped over to point down at Alcatraz, and Geekygirl gasped "Mummy, look at the ocean! Don't drive into it", quite understandably, because it really feels as if you could just fall right into the bay.

We toy with leaving our city for the burbs, Geekydaddy and I. The terrible schools, our ridiculous commutes (mine is only 30 miles but Geekydaddy drives over 50 miles each way a day, down to Santa Clara) make us question why we stay here, but the sheer breathtaking beauty of the bay, bridge and sky on a sunny day recharges me with the will to remain a San Franciscan. For an Engish girl, living here still feels like waking up in glorious technicolor. The scientist in me knows the sky is bluer because of the curvature of the earth, but the affect these cornflower skies and the azure water have on me is not rational. Just when I think I know the city like the back of my hand I find a new spot with a different, even more perfect view.

There at this glorious edge of the western world, we ate our gourmet barbeque, our kids ran and played on an ancient cannon, and indulged in the time honoured game of climbing up and rolling down a grassy bank. Geekygirl, who, when I observe her play seems to take over groups of children and bring them into a world of her own making, had devised an intricate game of "lets save the baby alligators" which involved giving the imaginary baby alligators hidden in the trees food dangled from sticks found on the ground. How sweet, me and my friend of the 41st birthday party observed. Not once did we think "should they be playing with sticks?".

Sure enough a wail ensued and apparently Geekygirl had gotten her stick in her friend N's her eye. I give great credit to my friend for not being in the slightest bit angry, or wanting to seek explanations and assigne blame. N was fine, but I found myself wanting to know what had actually happened. Geekygirl was sheepish. But was she just worried about her friend, or had she deliberately hurt her? I was just recently reading "the secret of happy children" by Steve Biddulph, which reminded me that our assumptions about our kids can become a self fulfilling prophecy. So I assumed innocence, acted with empathy and an attempt to draw her out; "You look like you are worried about N", which was met with agreement and relief, and culminated in an apology for the accidental poke in the eye.

I keep a mental checklist of "successful parenting moments" (and the unsuccessful ones too, maybe I should make myself a sticker chart) and chalked this one up as a situation well handled. If the birthday party invitations dry up though, I may have to rethink my assessment. And it could of course all have been prevented if we had realized the obvious, and not let the kids run around with sharp sticks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

a lovely award

Thanks to Coding Mama at WAHM-BAM for this award.

I recently joined "British mummy bloggers" and came across all sorts of lovely people, including Coding Mama. As a recipient of the award I am to tag five blogs I have recently started to follow, and to tell you my five pet peeves.

When I got this tag I thought "I'm a very chilled out person. Not much peeves me", and I struggled with what to write. Then a news article and its blog fallout, followed by a related issue at work both made my blood boil, and triggered all manner of peevishness!

So here are my five:

1. The absolutely awful, dismal employment rights protections that this country (the USA) provides for women with children. It didn't escape my notice that the article about women being unhappier now than in the 1970's that spurred the debate on the Times blog was an American one. When it comes to our kids and our careers, most of us have the stark choice "Come back after 12 (often unpaid) weeks, or leave, and take your chances on getting back into the workplace if/when you do want to return"

2. People in HR who don't know their job, almost screw my people out of the meager legal maternity protections that they do have, and then blame others for their errors.

3. Women who don't support other women (see above).

4. People who oppose gay marriage, especially those who say that "we need to protect our children" from it. I hate to break it to you, but some of our children are/will be gay. Don't we want their relationships with their chosen partners to be equally valued under the law? We need gay marriage in order to protect the rights of all gay people, now and in the future.

5. Children who don't say please and thank you. Especially when they are my own.

Now I need to link to five blogs I have recently discovered, and pass this award on to them. I don't actually have five recent finds, too busy, but I have recently enjoyed reading the eloquent Noble Savage, the amusing and touching Mothership, and the savvy Susannah at a modern mother. I'm also going to break the rules and link to my bestest friend Followthatdog, over at "From stage dives to station wagons" , because she rocks, and because by chance she just posted a list of peeves anyway!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

all dressed up and ready to go?

This morning we set off to work and daycare bright and early and all in good spirits, everyone dressed and fed, lunchboxes packed. I even had mascara on both of my eyes. It looked like a good start to the day.

I had already complimented geekygirl on her attire as we got ready to go (she was sporting a yellow sleeveless shirt over green short sleeved shirt and pink polka dot leggings with socks and sandals). My mental checklist said "clean clothes; yes. appropriate for the weather; yes (I'd already nixed her wearing the yellow sleeveless shirt alone, hence the colourful layering), socks and shoes on; yes.

As I strapped her into her car seat, however, I realized that my list checked only that items were not forgotten, not for extraneous clothing. I'm glad that one of us noticed before taking her into preschool that she was wearing a pair of "sleeping beauty" underpants over the top of her leggings, superman style!

When asked why, I was met with the entirely rational explanation that "People can't see Aurora on my underpants if they are underneath".

I explained that underwear are for, well, wearing underneath clothes, regardless of how pretty they may be, and took Aurora off. She was, fortunately, wearing princess Ariel underpants underneath her leggings.

I realized today that though I am happy to let my daughter choose her clothes and mix and match to an eclectic degree that many other parents may find bizarre, I do have a place where I will draw the line!