Wednesday, July 16, 2014

On Top of Things

It's not often I feel like an adult. Sometimes I realize my birthday is coming up and that I'm going to be 26 this year and it makes me pause for a moment. The last thing I remember, I was graduating college like, yesterday.

There's no way I already have an almost two year old baby. I remember the day I told Smiley I was pregnant while covering my stomach with a pillow. It feels like last week. I told him right over by our kitchen counter. I had taken three pregnancy tests.

But here I am, adulting it up like a pro. Balancing our budget and raising Silas to be one darned awesome baby (are you detecting a little bias there? Whoops!) and prepping to start nursing school this fall. (Oh, and writing a lot of fanfiction. If you're wondering why I haven't posted here in forever, that's why. Every free moment of my life has been fanfiction for this past month.)

Why, this morning, I made four phone calls. That's right, count 'em - four. I made a vet appointment for Sophie, scheduled car maintenance for the weekend, called my Ob/gyn to get my records and called my regular doctor to schedule my physical. You just don't see that kind of call output from me normally, but here I am, getting all of my ducks in a row before I go up north with Silas for a family visit before school starts.

Did I mention I also watched my lecture for my summer class and wrote three hundred words for my fanfic? All of this - and more (and by more, I mean eating a greek yogurt and drinking some ice water like a BAMF) was accomplished during Silas's nap. Whew. It's exhausting being an adult you guys. I think I'm going to embrace this whole being an adult and go to bed early.

That's how it works, right?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blankets! All The Blankets!

The other day, I told Silas to come to his room and sit by his giant stuffed giraffe and I would nurse him there. I went down the hall ahead of him and sat down in his room. A moment passed and I noticed him going into my room instead.

"Wait, Silas," I called out, "I'm in your room, not my room."

A few moments later, I heard him start to cry - not in pain, but in frustration. I got up to go check on him and found a rather hilarious - and touching - sight.

I should backtrack a moment. Ever since Silas has understood the concept of blanket, he has had a method of letting me know he wants to nurse; he would go to my room and sit on the bed and when I sat next to him, he would give me a blanket. He's too sweet.

So when I looked into my room, I saw the reason for his frustration - Silas was trying to pull the whole blanket off of the bed and drag it to his room and it was just a little bit too big for him to manage. There he was, all tangled in blanket and trying so hard to bring it to me.

He stared up at me with tears in his eyes. "Blankie," he said, giving the blue cloth another futile tug.

"Oh sweetie!" I said, because what else could I say? I thanked him for trying to get the blanket, helped him put it back on the bed and showed him how his room already had a blanket that we could use.

I realized that he grown to associate nursing with blankets because, well, we spent the whole winter nursing under layers and layers of blankets to keep warm. Now that it's a bit warmer out, the blanket isn't strictly necessary, but he does smile so brightly when he hands me a blanket that I can't say no.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When The Party Ends

Dear lovely blog readers,

Enjoy a short piece of fiction. This was written from the prompt: "1st person POV after a party."

The events are not exactly based on a true story but I think it's safe to say I've borrowed elements from true stories.

When The Party Ends

It was my party and I was going to cry if I wanted.

Amidst my keening wails, the tall lady with blonde hair that was most definitely not my mom tried to pick me up out of my mostly comfortable stroller. I cried harder, making sure to add a pitiful little gasping sound when I stopped to catch my breath.

It worked. My mom appeared in front of me and I was so happy that I reached out to show her how much I loved her by grabbing the trailing end of her ponytail and pulling as hard as I could.

"Ouch!" she gasped. I think that means "I love you too!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

You Say "Bag", I Say "Bag"

The past week of 90 degree highs confirms that summer has a firm grip on Florida and will not be letting go for a few very long months.

Summertime means park time and park time means I am once again reminded that I am not from around here.

Silas and I were playing near the slides when another group of kids showed up. Silas's go-to friendship gesture is to grab a big handful of wood chips and bring them to the new people.

One of the older boys, perhaps about ten, looked at me and asked, "What is he doing?"

"He's trying to share some wood chips with you," I responded as I brushed the chips out of Silas's hand, telling him that not everyone wants to hold onto wood chips.

"What are woodchips?" the boy asked next, and I blinked, so he clarified. "You mean the mulch?"

"Yeah," I said, nodding. "Wood chips are another name for mulch."

What I didn't say is that where I came from, the term "mulch" was much more closely related to fertilizer as a term. And to be clear, when I say fertilizer, I'm thinking of manure. Feces. You know? Yuck. I thought about how I had never heard "mulch" used in conjunction with a playground growing up. And then I remembered something that had happened several months ago.

A friend had taken Silas to the park while I was taking an exam. Later, when I picked him up, she apologized. "He only wanted to sit down in the mulch and play! Luckily, they had just put down clean mulch, if that helps."

I had been slightly confused, wondering what the definition of clean manure meant. I trusted her judgement and figured Silas had not been harmed. I joked about how he'd have to build his immune system some day. Then I went on with my life completely unaware that I had experienced a communication error until just now.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The Difference Between Splits and Spit is an "L"

I want to be able to do the splits, but I don't have the patience to stretch daily.

There's something about the lack of immediate results that greatly affects my ability to push through a tedious task. Trust me, I know it's a personality flaw.

Silas recently started learning to spit. At first I was thrilled, because we were brushing our teeth and he was trying to imitate me; a great next step for him in his own personal care.

Then he realized that this wonderful trick could be applied to everything he put in his mouth. Now he was chomping onto toys and spitting them out. Now he was taking big sips of water and spraying it on the floor, nearly choking on his laughter.

I know that I have to be patient. It will take many explanations that we spit in the sink while brushing, but not on the floor while drinking. There will be messes. I get Silas to help clean up his messes in an attempt to gently rebuke him (but the kid really likes blotting up spills with paper towel so I'm worried this might encourage him).

Just like the splits, I know I have to work with Silas every day as he learns to navigate the basic activities we take for granted (brushing our teeth, using the toilet, putting on clothes). All of these have a vague starting point and a defined ending point, but the steps in between are brutally slow going and the day to day changes are essentially non existent. Only when I stop to think back to a few months ago do I realize how far Silas has come in any of his skills.

I am not a particularly patient person - I am all about the destination rather than the journey - but hopefully teaching Silas will help me to change my viewpoint. And maybe one day, I'll look back to a time when I thought I was incapable of doing the splits.


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

A Breakfast Tale

Every morning, I offer Silas a choice for breakfast, usually between eggs and hot cereal. Sometimes he picks eggs, sometimes he goes for the cereal. Sometimes he just asks for chocolate milk, please.

This morning he picked hot cereal and as I stood over the stove, waiting for the milk to heat up, he started bawling. Just out-of-nowhere crying as though his little heart was breaking in two. I stooped down to give him a hug and ask him what was wrong.

He looked at me through tear-filled eyes and sniffled. "Green beans!" he told me, his expression suggesting that I was depriving him of the one thing in the world he wanted.

"I'm not making green beans," I said, assuming he was confused about what was in the saucepan. "I'm making malt-o-meal on the stove."

"No! Green beans!" he wailed plaintively, the tears starting up again as he flung himself at me, burying his head on my chest and hugging me as he cried.

Long story short, I heated up a can of green beans and served them to my smiling toddler who, by the way, proceeded to dip them in his hot cereal as if this was the most natural combination of foods.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Time To Talk About Frozen

(Spoilers will show up in the following post)!

Frozen is a great movie filled with amazing songs, love experts, and horrible parenting. But we'll get back to that third one in a minute.

In case you need a quick background - Elsa and Anna are sisters and close friends until Elsa accidentally hurts Anna with her ice powers. The king brings Anna to the trolls and they are able to save her, but in return, they caution Elsa about her powers. When Elsa runs away from the kingdom, Anna teams up with Kristoff, Sven and Olaf to go after her.

So let's get to the songs. You guys, it is beautiful. The movie is just jam-packed with catchy (and occasionally heartbreaking) songs. There's just music everywhere and I love it. Of course, everyone has heard about "Let It Go," but "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and "First Time In Forever" are also quite wonderful songs that set the tone of the movie - hope and excitement mixed with loss, sadness and fear.

Even the goofy duet between Anna and her love interest Hans ("Love is an Open Door") is great. The two characters sing about how they're so in love that they finish each others sandwiches. (The song opens with Anna saying, "Can I say something crazy?" and Hans replying, "I love crazy!" to give you an idea of their courtship.)

But of course, the silliest song moment goes to Olaf the snowman. Olaf's biggest wish is to feel heat for the first time. Kristoff says, "I'm guessing you don't have much experience with heat" and Olaf responds with a show-stopping full song-and-dance routine to show his anticipation for "when I finally find out what frozen things do in summer!"

Olaf the snowman is only one of the many love experts in the movie; Kristoff also knows a few of them - he and Sven grew up with the trolls. And the trolls are indeed love experts. They have a great song called "Fixer Upper" in which they sing a few of my favorite lines to Anna:

"We're not saying you can change him
Because people don't really change ...
People make bad choices if they're mad
Or scared or stressed.
Throw a little love their way
And you'll bring out their best!"

These lines speak about accepting people for who they are and understanding that when people feel accepted and loved, they're more likely to respond in kind. No, this doesn't work in extreme cases, but in general, it's a great philosophy.

And later, Olaf reveals exactly what makes him a love expert. When he starts a fire to save Anna's life, he sits down with her. Anna tells him to move so he won't melt and he smiles up at Anna, telling her that, "some people are worth melting for." He explains how love is about making other people a priority and understanding when their needs are more important than your own needs. He also moves away from the fire before he melts completely to show that you don't need to ignore your own needs completely.

Unfortunately, that brings us to Elsa and Anna's parents, who do not understand what their children need at all. After Elsa accidentally hurts Anna, they decide the best course of action is to reduce their staff, close the gates to the castle and never let Elsa see Anna again. This is done under the idea that isolating Elsa will help her learn to control her power. I mostly have to ignore this part of the movie, because it makes me want to scream. Yes, deal with your daughter's powers by making her spend her days alone, unable to play like a little girl or feel close to anyone. Does that sound like the start of a supervillain to you? In Elsa's case, she only accidentally freezes the kingdom into an eternal winter, but plenty of honest-to-goodness supervillains have done less.

Meanwhile, this leaves Anna to grow up alone and unable to make other friends since the castle gates are closed off. She sings about how "it gets a little lonely, all these empty rooms" and how she's "started talking to the pictures on the wall." This, also, sounds like a less than ideal upbringing. And her loneliness is highlighted in the way that she agrees to marry basically the first guy who looks at her.

Their parents aren't the only ones who deserve the blame though. Those danged trolls, the so-called love experts, could have sang their song about love for the king and queen instead of waiting fifteen years later to sing it to Anna. The whole climax of the movie is based on the idea that true love will thaw a frozen heart. That love can thaw. This is literally what Elsa says as she lifts her arms up and manages to unfreeze everything. Based on Anna sacrificing her life for her (It's ok. She gets better), Elsa realizes she is loved and instantly gains control over her powers.


I'm not saying the king and queen didn't love Elsa. I'm just saying that the whole movie shouldn't have happened because the trolls should have sang their song about love at the beginning of the movie instead of the middle. (But I guess the trolls didn't pass the love expert boards until sometime during Elsa's exile at home. They could have sent the king and queen a singing telegram!)

Obviously I'm willing to overlook this questionable plot point in order to enjoy the parts of the movie that excel - the great songs, the fun characters and the exciting scenes. I've already watched Frozen several times and it is dangerously close to Mulan as my favorite Disney movie. Silas asks to watch Frozen daily, even weeks after he saw it last. Parents can highlight the part about accepting others when they watch the movie with their kids. And I will sing along to every song without one iota of shame.