Sunday, August 29, 2010

Scratching the Itch

Ooooh, I can feel it. It's right around the corner, isn't it? FALL!!! BACK TO SCHOOL!!! Found myself sneaking into Winn Discount yesterday to check out the school supplies. Left with a new weekly planner, a notebook, pens, pencils and some comfort grip thingys. Even spent more than a few minutes debating the merits of mechanical pencil vs. pencil & sharpener combo...apparently I don't even listen to myself anymore. Went with mechanical. Then sat in the park and gleefully began scribbling away. Very therapeutic stuff. If you like that kind of thing.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Reality check

We need a new dishwasher. The one we have now will be 34 years old in October and is pretty tempermental.

This thought popped into my head tonight as I was elbow deep in dishwater, which got me to thinking about how I shop almost exclusively online these days. That means that before I make any purchase I spend incalculable amounts of time reading reviews of dozens of versions of the same thing before actually making a purchase. And you know what I've discovered? People will complain about ANYTHING.

I'm thinking specifically about a yogurt maker and a thermal coffee mug that I recently ordered from Amazon. These were both painful decisions to make. The yogurt maker is something that I know I will abandon if it's not very easy to use and doesn't irritate me in one of a thousand possible ways. And the coffee mug is for my husband, who is frighteningly particular about his portable beverage containers. This is my point.

For both of these purchases I spent days, yes - days, researching all of the possibilities. It turns out that J and I are pretty status quo when it comes to our desire to have life and everything in it as tailored to each of us as possible.

It has been said before. We are selfish, egocentric convenience-junkies. We have become far too preoccupied with perfection. We are absolutely convinced that it is our right as human beings to have all of our extravagant needs and passing whims satisfied...immediately.

Problem solving in this day and age is based on avoidance. You don't like the weather, your neighbour, your school district? Move. You don't like your religion or your political party? Invent a new one. You don't like what mom cooked for dinner? Order take-out. People have so many choices that no one needs to be tolerant, or flexible, or cooperative anymore. Everyone in the car can have a different microwave-reheated burger because there are 5 fast food joints on one block.

It would not surprise me in the least to discover (though my ability to discover it would be most surprising indeed) that our species had gone extinct as a result of our unwillingness to adapt to changing conditions. No one has to try very hard anymore. There's always something out there that will make life easier. People used to sharpen pencils with razor blades. Imagine their delight when someone came up with this. I bet sales of gauze bandages plummeted. But of course, that soon became much too taxing a job for the average person requiring a sharp pencil, and so we moved on to this beauty, straight out of the fondest of my grade school memories. And, as progress progresses, the idea of having to expend any effort at all for the purposes of such a mundane goal as having a sharp pencil collided with our basic human need for things to make unnecessarily loud noises, et voilĂ .

Of course, my quarrel doesn't really lie with progress and human ingenuity. My problem is the fact that if I'm too lazy to sharpen my pencil, how do I find the motivation to sift through no less than 431 results on Amazon to decide which is the perfect sharpener for me. Come on people. Get a grip.

Benny - er - Brian and Joon

This summer we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming our friends June, Brian and Zoey to Brooklyn. It's always fun to be a tour guide, to show someone what you love about where you live. It's even more fun to see them really enjoy themselves and start to feel like they live there too. I get the feeling that these three could carve out a cozy little Garden of DeWagner anywhere they went, but it was nice to see them do it here.

They were here for almost a month, and what was intended to be a long, lazy month of playdates for E and Zoey turned into a whirlwind 5 days of goodness before the Cowfam had to leave town on short notice. We didn't get to do nearly all the things that I wanted to do with them, but it looks like they took over where we left off and had a great time in our hood.

Of course, we completely forgot to take any pictures while we were together. Fortunately June snapped a few here and there, most of which you can check out here.

I really like these cats. I like the way they live, I like the way they treat each other and the world around them, and I really like the way they're raising that cute kid of theirs. They gave me fresh perspective on life and family and all that matters in the world, and for that I am grateful. I only wish we had enjoyed more time together, and that I could have managed to bake something chocolatey for them. It's how I show I care.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

If I had a nickel for every time J and I have said this in the past 6 months or so...well, we still wouldn't be mighty, but we'd be rich.

Rules I made before our daughter was born:

* NO fast food of any kind whatsoever for any reason until she can go out and buy it for herself with her own money
* NO television of any kind whatsoever for any reason until she is 2 years old
* NO sweets of any kind whatsoever for any reason (except for her birthday) for as long as possible
* NO eating sweets in front of baby (setting a good example and all)

Things I have been spotted doing since E has graced the planet:

* Giving her french fries so she will stay away from mama's margarita
* Turning on the in-flight television to get her to keep quiet
* Feeding her ice cream and cake to avoid hearing what a mean mama I am
* Sharing ice cream with her from the ice cream truck because he stops right out side the house, and the ice cream truck is fun, and mama needs ice cream

And it only goes downhill from here...


The Cowfam took a trip down to Atlanta in July so that J could take yet another exam. The trip was a great success, and quite monumental for little E. It marked the beginning of her love affair for Airplanes!, Fish! and, oddly enough, Tunnels! Especially Fish Tunnels!

We had lots of time at the airport to wait for our flight, thanks to J's last minute "Let's fly carry-on!" epiphany. Flying carry-on with a toddler...who knew? Not having to wait in an endless baggage check line-up with an ants-in-pants-E: Priceless. But when we got to the gate an hour early, I thought we were pinched for sure. Our mission was to try and keep the girl awake and happy, when at this point it was already a couple of hours past her nap time, so that she would sleep through take-off and maybe even the whole flight. (Isn't the wild optimism of first-time parents sweet?)

Mission accomplished. Dada brought her over to the window to look at our airplane. And for the next - oh, 4 days - it was "Airplane! Airplane! Up! UP! UP!!!" And by some divine miracle, I put her in the Ergo about 5 minutes before we boarded and she was out like a light. Unfortunately, we then sat on a stationary plane for an hour, and she woke up about 5 minutes after take-off. Can't win 'em all.

Of course, now we're those people. The people with kids. The ones no one wants on the plane at all, let alone seated beside them. The look we got from the woman seated by the window as we took our seats was chilly at best. With an attempt at levity I quipped: "Cross your fingers that she sleeps the whole way!" The response, from a disapproving frown set in a very thin line, was "Trust me. I already did." Grrrrreat.

The good news is that when she did wake up, she was the world's best behaved child. Heck, she was better behaved than most adults. She opened her eyes, looked out the window and said "Airplane! Airplane! Up! UP! UP!!!" and then smiled and giggled her way through the next 10 minutes as she realized she was actually inside an airplane. Then she lunched her way through the next half hour, thoroughly enjoying everything mom had to offer. After that we went on a little stroll up and down the aisle, repeat ad nauseum, charming all of the other passengers with our cuteness. And lo and behold, the flight was an hour shorter than it was supposed to be, and we landed! When our disgruntled neighbour broke her stony silence long enough to say "She's a really good girl", well, I can't tell you how nice that sounds. Take that, grumpy old hag.

We spent 3 days in Atlanta, and didn't plan to do a whole lot as the primary goal of the trip (after the exam) was relaxation. But we did manage to go to the Georgia Aquarium. The Georgia Aquarium is a utopia for fish-o-philes. It is gigantic, there are a whole lot of fish, many of which you can touch, and it houses the world's largest fish tank in which you can scuba dive if you feel that way inclined. J is a fish-o-phile. And the apple did not fall far from the tree. Me? I like fish. They're great. But I kind of get the idea after the first half hour or so. Also, being surrounded by fish tanks kind of makes me feel a little woozy and nauseous. But to see this girl's face light up the way it did that day I would turn our apartment into a giant aquarium and live underwater. Or maybe just buy a really big fish tank.

Back to this world's largest fish tank. It's enormous. You can walk around it, and there's a huge tunnel through the middle that you can walk through. Hence, the Fish Tunnel! that E is still talking about to this day. It really was impressive. There's a moving walkway through it so people don't just set up camp. J totally would have set up camp.

Other than that, we did a little sight-seeing, ate some seafood and bbq, and spent a lot of time sitting in our hotel room by the airport, watching planes and yelling "Airplane! Airplane! Up! UP! UP!!!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Uncle Hill!

Here are a few shots of E getting mauled by her Uncle Hill this summer in Kingston.

It was the first time they had seen each other since she was 2 months old, and she fell in love pretty quickly.

We spent two weeks together, and she still talks about him every day. Every time she sees someone on a bike she points and says "Hill! Hill!". And when I ask her if she wants to run down the hill, she says "Uncle Hill!".

Tell me these don't make your soul smile.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Ant and the Aardvark

One of the things I love most about my husband is that he's a sucker. He likes chick flicks and is not afraid to admit it. And when it comes to his daughter, well, we knew even before she was born that he was in trouble.
As I mentioned in the last post, E has a new infatuation with aardvarks. After our visit to the zoo, when she ran around the apartment all night yelling "Aardvarking!", dada couldn't just sit by and let the phase pass. He was instantly on the computer, finding images and cute little aardvark videos to show her.
That's when we discovered The Ant and the Aardvark. Has anyone else heard of this? It's hysterical. Enjoy.

p.s. And of course, like any good daddy, he bought her this.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

All Good Things...

For the past 11 blissful days, the Cowfam has been on vacation. Well, I haven't really been on vacation because moms are always on the clock. And E is always on vacation. Lets not even discuss Ralph. So the difference here is that dada has been on vacation. That never happens. Even when he has time off from one thing he's usually studying for something else. But not this time. So what did we do? African safari? Mediterranean cruise? No way dude. We live in New York City. Fun is right outside our front door.

We went to the Bronx Zoo. E fell in love with aardvarks and we ate funnel cakes in one of the most spectacular days this team has seen in years.
We soaked up the sun with the hoity toity at Sunningdale Country Club in Scarsdale to celebrate cousin Willy's 4th birthday.
We watched movies every single night and stayed up until midnight. Oh yes.
We dedicated an entire day to finding the coolest park within walking distance.
We dedicated another entire day to food by trolling the world's coolest grocery store, enjoying key lime pie from the world's most eccentric pie man and munching on fresh figs from the neighbours' yard.
We went swimming, we went out to breakfast, we stoop-saled like it was 1999, and topped it off last night with our first date night since Valentine's Day.

This is the most time we've had together since E was 3 months old. Today is the last day of Cowfest 2010. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go squeeze out the last couple of drops of sweet, sweet togetherness.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Summer Snapshots

Up early with a coffee, writing. Sometimes a little kick in the keester is just what you need. And a few nice words at just the right time.

Lots to catch up on, but here's a little taste of the summer we've been having. It is by no means comprehensive, just a teaser.

Friday, August 20, 2010

This one's for you, Brian.

Oh man...busted. I haven't written in a few months. And here I thought I was getting away with it because my parents and the few friends who take a look from time to time are too polite to say anything. The sad truth is that disappointing one's parents is generally not enough to spur most of us into action. And those who see you day to day aren't too concerned about your latest blog post, because chances are they were there. But when someone decides to dedicate a chunk of his valuable time to spend on checking out my life, it's fairly embarrassing to admit that this blog thing is one of the many, many, many things that get neglected in the great toddler race.

This guy Brian is the husband of my friend June. June and I used to work together, and have kept in touch on and off over the years. They have a pretty spectacular little girl named Zoey who is a week older than E, and together they make a pretty awesome team. Brian has his own blog. For the past few months I've made it a habit to visit it almost daily. It's just a nice place to be. It's mostly about Zoey, which makes sense.

Although I've known for some time that June and I have a lot in common, it turns out that Brian and I have quite a bit in common as well. Most notably our delightfully rambling love affair with words. Also, a rather strong attachment to our daughters and a sense of awestruck gratitude toward the tolerant natures of our spouses.

So just for you Brian, I've made a point to give you something to read tomorrow that hasn't passed its expiration date.

My daughter is so friggin' adorable these days I can hardly stand it. When I'm out in public, I'm constantly looking around to make sure that onlookers are catching her adorableness. When we're alone I find myself looking around and saying to myself "Seriously. Am I the only one that gets to enjoy this right now?" She pretty much spends her day listing everything she sees, with a few descriptive adjectives like awesome, cool, crazy or nice. She even knows a few French words, and I couldn't be more proud. She's just now starting to put a couple of words together, like "Help you" when she's asking for help or "I'm sitting" when she doesn't think that we realize that she is, in fact, sitting. So darn smart. She also has a mean Downward Dog, thanks to Toddler & Me yoga, and would spend all day in the water if she could.

The very best thing about E right now is that she has started to poop on the toilet. Wheeee!!!! I can see my days of scraping poo off of cloth diapers and dragging said smelly diapers to the laundromat twice a week coming to an end! Not an imminent end, mind you, but at least we're in the ball park. It all started about a month or so ago when she started saying "poop" about a million times a day. Then she started giving me her bath toys and telling me they needed to poop. So I started holding them over the toilet and making "poop noises" and telling her they were pooping. What we do for our kids. Since then I've made a point every time she says poop to ask her if she needs to go, then ask her if she wants to sit on the toilet. One day it was "Yeah" to both, and she just went for it. I made a huge deal, cheering and clapping and saying bye to the poop as it flushed away. She just looked at me like you would expect her to look at you if you did the same thing when she was fifteen. Priceless. But it was a start. And her enthusiasm has grown. Now she sits on the toilet and grunts and makes faces and when the inevitable toot slips out she gives us the classic "Gasp! What was that?!" look of delighted surprise. It's going well. And it's just the beginning of what will be a long road littered with poop stories. Stay tuned.