Friday, August 29, 2008

Mistakes of the Past

Yesterday morning I noticed that Vivi had scribbled all over my husband's meditation cushion with a black Sharpie marker. Granted, we don't do a lot of (or in my case, any) meditation around the house these days so the cushion has become more of a throne for our toddler. Nonetheless, I was horrified to see Vivi's mark.

Mama: "Hey V, I see that you drew on Daddy's cushion."
Vivi: "Yes mama. I do dat when I was two."
Mama: "Oh really? How old are you now?"
Vivi: "Mama, I five. I know better."

In other news, Vivi has started pulling the arms out of her doll Mariella's sockets. When I tell her that losing an arm really hurts Mariella, she seems completely unfazed. Personally, I must admit that finding a doll's dismembered arm tucked between the couch cushions REALLY freaks me out.

Note to self: Keep an extremely close eye on Turtle when s/he arrives.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


I should have known better. Vivi fell asleep in the car around 11:30 this morning and instead of taking her straight upstairs to her room and letting her sleep, I woke her up with the hope of getting some lunch into her. I thought she'd sleep longer on a full stomach.


After lunch, I read her a story and put her down in her crib. It was 12:15. At 12:30, I hear, "MAMA! MAAAAAMAAAA! MAAAMAAA? Come here please." I yelled up the stairs, "Vivi. It's time for a rest. I'll come up after you sleep."

Clearly, she needed to up the ante. "MAMA!! I takin' my diaper off." Oh god. I went upstairs and found her naked from the waist down. I said, "Vivi, did you go peepee in your bed?" She replied no and when I asked if she needed to use the potty, she again replied no. I put the diaper back on her, read her a story, and said, "Time for your rest. Mama will come back after your sleep and we'll go to the park."

Ten minutes later, I hear, "MAMA! MAAAAMMMAAAA! Where are you? I take my diaper off and pee on my bed." Indeed, she had and not only on her sheet but on three (!) of her stuffed animals. Was she just running in circles while urinating? I pulled her out of the crib and she said, "Mama. I get clean sheet and pillowcase for you."


After I get the crib cleaned up, I decided to take her downstairs. I wanted to air the mattress out and I figured she might sleep on the couch. I settled her (diaperless) on our loveseat and after some negotiation, promised to lie on our other couch. Well, she stayed put and talked to herself. I, on the other hand, fell asleep.

When I awoke about 20 minutes later, she was still talking to herself. I said, "Vivi, do you want to come over here and snuggle with Mama?" She said, "Mama, I stay on that couch with you but I snuggle with Turtle (the name she gave my growing belly)." She proceeded to climb on to the couch, kiss my belly, stick her finger in my belly button, and fall asleep in less than a minute.

And I thought having another baby would make things more complicated!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Two Versions of the Same Story

Last night, my husband had a hot date with his friend to watch the men's Olympic marathon so Vivi and I were home alone. I really don't mind having a girl's only evening since it usually means a couple of hours to myself after Vivi goes to bed. It's the big events that often happen before bed that often make me wish for some parental reinforcement.

Vivi and I agree on the basics of what happened last night: Daddy left at about 7:30 and we were planning on taking an evening stroll around the neighborhood before bed. As I was getting a clean diaper for her, Vivi went out the front door.

This is how Vivi relayed the story of what happened to Daddy this morning:

"I go outside on sidewalk and Mama say stop. I no stop. I going faaaasst. Mama run and catch me and I say 'Sorry, mama.' Mama very angry. Mama say no safe for me. I get big boo boo in street. Mama say Vivi sit on naughty step for two minutes. I sittin' and mama in livin' room and she very angry. Mama say I get off naughty step and I say 'Sorry mama. I no run away. I dangerous.' "

What Vivi recalled was pretty accurate. What she neglected to tell her Daddy was that she was running down the sidewalk totally naked carrying a purse on her shoulder and a big teddy bear in her arms. Three neighbors came out of their house and a couple walking down the street witnessed the spectacle as I, her pregnant mother who looks like she is carrying a litter of puppies, ran after her and caught her half a block away.

She also forgot to tell her Daddy that after time out, I had to put her in the tub because she "was all sweaty" from "her run." She got all cleaned up and when I got her jammies on, she asked, "Mama, now we go for stroll 'round neighborhood?"

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Nonsensical Sponges

All the more experienced moms and dads out there warned me that toddlers are walking sponges absorbing everything in their paths but I really had no idea the extent of it. Now, I am starting to get just how amazing and perplexing their little minds are.

Like most parents, we noticed when Vivi would copy us. The other day she grabbed her purse, headed for the back door, and said, "I'm off to see my patients. Be home by 6:30." Of course, she doesn't have patients (that we know of) but her daddy does and he's always cruising home on his bike at about 6:30.

Or, somewhat unfortunately, she has started yelling, "Oh, stupid dogs!" whenever we walk by our neighbors incessantly yippie ankle-biters. I would like to blame this on my husband but he would have the sense not to mutter complaints about other people's dogs in front of our kid. I do not have that sense and thus it is a direct quote from my mouth.

It seems Vivi has taken to doing more than quoting us though. She is now memorizing songs, nursery rhymes, and books. The other day, out of nowhere, she recited this:

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
How does garden grow?
With silver bells
And cockin shells
And pretty maids in a row!

Huh? Seems the last time I read her nursery rhymes was about two months ago. Where did that come from??!

She also does her own very dark interpretation of Ring Around the Rosie. Check it out:


I can understand how little rhymes and music can get stuck in her head but it's the books that are really blowing my mind. Vivi has recently developed an immense love for The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. I can't say that I blame her since it is a pretty cool book. (Special thanks to our friends Karen and Will for introducing us to it!) When I sat down to read it to her the other day, she recited the book verbatim to me. Now, she spends a fair amount of time "reading" her books to her stuffed animals.

This is what I don't get: how come I can't recite that little book? Would I ever have been able to? Is this something that just got lost when I became an adult and learned to do one thing and think about ten others? I don't know and there's some discomfort with that uncertainty.

While I ponder these questions, I inevitably end up having a conversation like this one which I had with Vivi this morning:

Me: "Vivi, I see you drew on your legs with Mama's pen."
Vivi: "Yes, 'cause I'm going to the gym later."

That's when I am reminded that toddlers sometimes only make sense to themselves and I should spend less time worrying about why I can't recite a a book about a mouse and a strawberry and a big hungry bear.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


As I've written before, I am no big fan of the summer but being pregnant makes it about as enjoyable as a root canal. Since most human pregnancies run about 40 weeks, I've done my best to limit any overlap between carrying a child and the summer heat. (I am just that type.) I admit that being nauseous and tired in July and August is still probably preferable to being 32+ weeks pregnant with heartburn in the middle of the heat but I'll complain about both because that's what I am good at.

I think the reason I am cranky is because I just haven't been my usual peppy self. My house is a mess. I've barely cooked. Longstanding playdates and appointments have literally vanished from my consciousness and I've found myself groveling for forgiveness. The one prenatal workout I did resulted in a yucky cold that I currently have. Oh, and Vivi has joined a pack of wild wolves and seems to be thriving despite my absence. As my sister in North Carolina says, "Things just ain't right 'round here."

So my one hope (and it's a hope that I've carried with me throughout my life) is that everything starts over in September. I'll be turning the ripe old age of 32 and I'm optimistic that everything will be back to normal. The wolves will return my daughter, some semblance of order will overtake my house, and we'll be eating more than take-out and cereal. And maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to let my husband sleep in.
Oh, and there won't be any humidity.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Babies, Babies Everywhere...

My husband, Vivi, and I have a very important meeting tonight. Normally, a very important meeting on a Monday night would involve me, the TV, a bad reality show, and a telephone with speed dial to my friend Kathy. Alas, this is no such rendezvous. Our meeting tonight is with our midwife to inspect the little critter that took up residence in my belly about twelve weeks ago. Yup, that's right, I'm pregnant and we couldn't be happier!

Some observations about being pregnant the second time around:

-I just knew. I had a good idea the first time but that was because we had been trying to get pregnant and I felt the odds were in my favor. This time I actually knew within a couple of weeks that something within my body was very different and we weren't trying.

-It is crucial to have Vivi clean up her toys before bed. Last night, I got up to use the bathroom and stepped on a lego. Swearing while hobbling around on one foot can't be good for a growing baby.

-You really are more tired the second time around. I remember feeling like I'd been hit by a truck the first couple of months of my pregnancy with Vivi. I've discovered that there is nothing more exhausting than feeling like you've been hit by a truck and not being able to lie down because you have a toddler to look after. That's how I feel now.

-Potty-training and pregnancy is a messy combination in this household. Vivi has regressed and has started peeing and pooping everywhere BUT the potty. Her location of choice is under our piano. When she notifies me of her evacuation, she'll say, "Mama, I just poop under piano. You upset?!"

-While we are very excited to have another child, I have not been an anxious pain-in-the-ass like I was the first time. Prenatal care? Well, I guess I should get around to calling my midwife. (Hence the first visit at 12 weeks.) Goat cheese? I'm going to eat it and enjoy every creamy bit of it. Review those baby books? Maybe, I'll get to that but it's unlikely.

-I am showing, showing, and showing. After a big meal, I look about six months pregnant and yesterday, I had to bust out my skirt with the elastic waist. I didn't wear maternity clothes until I was at least 5 months along with Vivi. Now, there is no secret.

-Vivi has named the baby "Turtle" and that's what we've been calling it. She likes to lift up my shirt, put her head on my belly, and say, "Hi Turtle. I big sister. You gonna get big and come out. Call me back later. Bye."

Friday, August 15, 2008

My New Friend Gus

Vivi and I returned from an exciting five days in Vermont. It isn't often that I use the words Vermont and exciting in the same sentence but since our trip was to see Vivi's new cousin, there was no other way to describe it. Little Augustus came into the world a week ago and we've been in a tizzy ever since. Here he is:

Gus is Vivi's first cousin on my side and we are elated that she'll have another child to play with when we make trips to Vermont. (Not that Grandma and Grandpa and Bear, the chocolate lab, aren't enough....) When Vivi first saw him, she said "Gramma, this is my new friend Gus." Things are looking good for future play dates!

It is amazing to be around a newborn. Not only because they are just fascinating little creatures but also because, as the parent of a toddler, I have come to realize that my memory stinks. I really don't remember Vivi ever being like Gus-- sleeping the vast majority of the day, not being able to see me, having no idea that her arms and legs belong to her, and all of the other ways newborns commence to live in the world. In my mind's eye, I see a small baby with a big smile but that is probably Vivi at two months. Her birth is very clear to me and some moments immediately following but then it seems like there are just a couple of months completely missing from my memory.

I realize that Gus is a different kid from Vivi and there are probably differences in how he is and she was during those first weeks. After all, Gus weighed in at 7 pounds 10 ounces at birth and is all skinny arms and legs. Vivi was NEVER that small. She was just under 9 lbs. and had huge chipmunk cheeks and her mommy and daddy's thighs. I do remember very clearly walking from the delivery room to the recovery room while a nurse wheeled Vivi in her isolette. As we were walking, I called Vivi "my peanut." The nurse said to me, "Sam, six pound babies are peanuts. You got yourself a walnut here."

Because of Vivi's size, I remember thinking she was a good sleeper but if that was immediate, I couldn't tell you. Was my walnut sleeping 18 hours a day and nursing voraciously in between naps? Probably but again, I'm just not sure. Did she mind if just anyone held her? Did she have hiccups after she nursed the way Gus does? Did she curl up her legs too? Hmmm... I'll have to get back to you on these questions. I need to ask someone else for the answers.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Well, we've done it. After much deliberation, my husband and I decided to let Lu, our Chinese babysitter, go. As I've written before, I was not without my conflicts about the situation. Lu clearly loved Vivi and for many months, they shared a wonderful, fun relationship. I put my own inability to communicate with Lu aside because Vivi really seemed happy when they were together.

Like her father, Vivi has a remarkable ability and confidence with words. She was an early talker and it was not a surprise to us when Vivi's language surpassed Lu's several months ago. It didn't seem to be a problem though until May when Vivi started to say, "Mama, I no want Lu coming to our house." She would fuss on Wednesday mornings and not want me to leave. Plus, I could see that Lu had no idea what Vivi was saying. Unlike me, who could use props and gesticulate until Lu understood, Vivi couldn't do that as effectively.

Still, I struggled with the power I had as a parent to sever my child's relationships. It seemed cruel to cut Lu out just because her English stinks (trigger Peace Corps flashback and trying to get by on my crappy Russian...) but it also seemed cruel to put Vivi through some kind of cross-cultural experiment that clearly had faltered months ago.

In the end, I am happy and relieved that we made the decision we did. Lu will be with us until the end of August which seemed fair to everyone involved. We'll struggle along for a couple of more weeks, Lu can have some time to say good-bye to Vivi, and we can all start the fall anew. Heck, we might even have a little goodbye celebration. Haw flakes, anyone?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Car Seat Troubles

As if parents today just don't have enough to worry about, a recent study by the Michigan-based Ecology Center has added another concern to our list. It seems that those seats we are required by law to have to keep our children safe in the car may be off-gassing toxic chemicals. The Ecology Center tested 62 leading-brand car seats and found that one-third had one or more components containing high levels of toxins linked to cancer, reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, and other health problems. Well, that's just great.

Until I heard about this study, I had no idea that car seats could contain lead or arsenic. We have all heard about the dangers of those substances but apparently bromine (neurotoxicity, cancer), chlorine (hormone disruption), and antimony (cancer) were also tested by Ecology Center. Am I the only one who is starting to think she needs a PhD in chemistry to keep her kid safe?

Below I have listed the best and worst car seats. Keep in mind that not all car seats are created equal. For example, a Britax Roundabout Onyx may rate very differently from a Britax Roundabout Camooflauge. If your child's seat is not listed below, you can check the Ecology Center's car seat database at


Infant: Graco Snugride Emerson
Convertible: Cosco Scenera 5-Point or Eddie Bauer 3-in-1 Convertible Montecito
Booster: Evenflo Big Kid No-Back Gold Dust


Infant: Combi Centre EX Mango
Convertible: Britax Marathon Platinum
Booster: Graco Turbobooster Emily and SafeSeat

Monday, August 4, 2008

Daddy's Girl

I'm not sure what happened but I seem to have fallen out of favor with my daughter. I'm no longer the chief snuggler or storyteller or general all around companion. I have been displaced by my husband and I'm not sure how I feel about it.

It's not that Vivi doesn't still need me for the basics. This morning she said, "Mama. I need to have my own crumpet........please" when taking nibbles of my breakfast didn't suffice. I also seem to be her parent of choice to deal with the inevitable clean-up that follows, "Mama, I just peed over dare." But the cuddles and fun? No mamas allowed.

Yesterday, she was upstairs in my husband's office inevitably tearing the place apart while my husband was on the computer. When I went up there to see what was going on, I was greeted with "No mama. You no come in here. I wid daddy!"

This morning, my husband and Vivi were reading a story on the couch when I sat down next to them. "Mama. You no sitting right here. I sitting right here wid daddy." Well, okay. It's not like I wanted to listen to I'll Love You Forever for the eight thousandth time anyway.

But it bothers me. Of course, separate from my own mothering insecurity, I am really happy that Vivi and my husband have a gorilla glue type bond. And I recognize that their bond does allow me the opportunity to slide a little when I'm just too tired to be as engaged and mindful as I should be. Still, it's the wondering about how good a mother I am that makes me feel like I want to be the chosen one as if that were an indication of what it means to be a competent parent. (I doubt my husband struggles with these ideas...)

Since there seems to be little I can do to change my daughter's "talk to the hand" attitude right now, I think I'll just try not to take her actions personally. It'll be difficult but I'm starting to learn that Vivi's actions tend to go in cycles. I'm hoping this "no mama phase" is a short one though.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Escape Artist

I knew on Wednesday that something was up. I put Vivi down for her nap at around 12:30. She was clearly tired and went into her crib with little protest. Within five minutes, I heard her talking to herself. She sounded pretty happy so I left her there and she soon got quiet again. About half an hour passed and I heard her again. Since she wasn't yelling for me, I didn't check on her. Then the talking and the noise started to increase and I had an inkling that I should probably see what was up.

I was glad I did. When I opened the door to the room, she was sitting on the futon and tearing pages out of her books. She proudly exclaimed, "I eating paper all up!"

Now, I've known that she could climb out of her crib for a while but since she has never done it during nap time before, I guess I didn't think it would actually happen. Why not? Because I am clueless, that's why. (To be fair to myself, I suppose that eating her books wasn't the first thing I thought she would do upon her escape either.)

Luckily, we haven't had any escapes since. On Wednesday night, she was so exhausted from not napping that she fell asleep at 6:30 and slept twelve hours straight. Then yesterday, we were out of the house most of the day and she napped in the car. Last night, she didn't want to go to sleep and proceeded to yell various incarnations of "Mama" for ten minutes. When I finally couldn't take it anymore and yelled upstairs, "Goooooood Night, Vivi." Ten minutes of various incarnations of "Daddy" ensued. Still, she stayed in her crib.

Today, she will be napping at home and my husband and I will be undertaking the inevitable task of parenting a toddler: perusing the IKEA website for a big girl bed.