Thursday, February 25, 2010

All or Nothing

Claire has figured out how to ride her bicycle without training wheels.  And the process was just so... Claire.  Let me explain.


Claire -- talking

Claire said her first word at around 12 months old.  It was "bird" but she said something that sounded a lot more like "buh."  But it was specific and said while pointing at birds, so it definitely was a word.  I was pretty sure.  Definitely... maybe.  I thought from there she would most likely slowly add to her repertoire.  Instead?  Silence for three months.

Well, okay, not "silence" but no more words.  Not even "bird" anymore. What happened?  I must have dreamed the word "bird."  Or maybe something was wrong?  Then all of the sudden at about 15 months, she just started talking... and pretty much hasn't stopped since.  There wasn't the "ramping up" period I expected.  It was like one day she didn't talk at all and a month later she was not just saying a few words, but proficient.

For a long time she stuck with mostly one word at a time.  Then all of the sudden at about 2 years old, she said her first real sentence.  She started with two words, but within a couple weeks she was stringing together 4 or more words.  Sometimes these days, I wish she'd go back to one or two word answers because seriously, Claire, can we just stop talking for a few minutes so I can think???


Claire -- walking

Claire went through what we called a wounded soldier crawling phase for a LONG time, finally figuring out a "normal crawl" at about 11 months.  But no sign of walking.  Then at just over a year old she figured out how to stand up.  Like in the middle of the floor with nothing to hold onto.  She would just get up and stand there until she lost her balance or got bored.  But still no walking.  Didn't even cruise (i.e. walk around by holding onto furniture).  We spent lots of time standing her up against the couch and then trying to coax her to let go of the couch and take a step towards us, but nothin'.  (Oh foolish first time parents who actually WANT their child to be mobile!  Ah, the naivete!)

Until she was 15 months old.  Then one day, she stood up by herself in the middle of the floor and took a few steps.  A couple days later, she was walking everywhere, never using any furniture.  And I really mean EVERYWHERE.  She would just stand up and walk across the room and on the rare occasion that she fell, she'd just get back up from wherever she fell.  Because apparently using furniture is for sissies, yo.


Claire -- reading

I didn't "do" anything to get Claire to read.  I mean, don't get me wrong.  I'm an "involved parent" if I do say so myself.  I read to her.  I answered questions.  I occasionally and very casually mentioned phonetics when she seemed interested.  But things seemed pretty "normal" to me.  I mean, kids who are super great readers usually start when they're like three, right?  Or like in utero or something I'm pretty sure.  Claire was four and still didn't do more than recognize environmental print or the occasional word like "BOO!" on Halloween cards.  And I wasn't pushing it.  But she was interested and asking about it a lot and one time I told her that when she read a whole book by herself someday I'd buy her ice cream.  Wait, no, not just ice cream.  An ice cream CONE!!!

Well!!! Not long after, she laboriously trudged through "Go Dog Go!" with lots of help from me.  I coughed up the cone.  I thought that would be kind of the end of it for awhile.  Not so!  She took off.  She started out needing to sound out almost every word with help from me to decipher it.  In about a month everything in a beginning reader book was a sight word.  I think it's that she has this amazing ability to memorize.  It's like she only needs to be told once what a word is and it immediately becomes a sight word.  Man, I wish my brain worked like that!  Seriously, do you have any idea how many hours of my life in college were lost because I had to do the subtraction from 9 times 9 AGAIN to figure out what 8 times 9 was?

And it just kept going like that.  Trying to keep that child supplied with non-overly easy but not too scary books is no small task.  Especially when she has a morbid curiosity but anything that might possibly be construed as spooky is way too stressful and leaves her fretful.  (Note to self:  buy stock in "Magic Tree House" series)  (Other note to self:  make sure M is the one who has to break it to her in a few weeks that she's read and will have to branch out *gasp*)


Which brings us to:

Claire -- bike riding

We've been trying to teach Claire to ride a bike without training wheels for awhile now.

[Side note:  DO NOT get me started on the training wheels debate.  It appears that M and I see eye to eye on all matters of great import save it be the evils of training wheels.  I've conceded that they're fine for people like him who can just run out and try new things and have some modicum of success within the first fortnight.  Claire takes after me and my "impressive" coordination.  Training wheels teach people like Claire and me to ride firmly leaning to one side lest we find a way to trip on our own dorkiness.]

We made attempts at the usual running along behind the bike holding the seat.  But all we had to show for it was a sore back.  As soon as we would let go she'd slide her little bum over to one side of the seat and lean her body the opposite way.  Not sure what the goal was there, but it usually ended in a spill.  And a spill usually ended in a microscopic little superficial abrasion.  And with Claire each square centimeter of abrasion warrants a full 4 hours of whining, crying, and declaring that she "can't stand it."  (But those four hours can be deferred.  They can be applied on an "as needed" basis to undesirable moments like non-cookie dinners and bedtime.)  So we had temporarily given up on the bicycle thing several times.

Then a couple weeks ago, Claire's friend from school came over to play.  She already knows how to ride a bicycle.  You know, a real bicycle.  The kind that, as the name suggests, actually only has TWO wheels.  Watching that friend ride around on a bike, Claire was green with envy.  You could see it in her eyes.  This business of being one-upped was unacceptable.  So she got on her bike and told me that she was going to ride a two wheeler too.  She took a few minutes to figure out how to get her pedals into the appropriate orientation.  And then she rode off down the sidewalk.

Since then, she hasn't fallen down once.

Monday, February 22, 2010


We need a new couch.  There are many reasons, but M and I have found yet another very important motivation. 

Our current couch has only two cushions.  They're big cushions, so the problem isn't so much that the couch is not big enough (although once Kate starts taking up significant couch real estate that will become an issue as well).  The problem is that we really need three cushions in order to keep Claire and Scott from fighting when they're both on the couch. 

"Mom!  Claire's not giving me anywhere to sit!"
"MOM!  Scott's pushing me!"
"MO-OM!  Claire's kicking at my feet!"

One might think that two is enough because it provides a clear halfway point.  All I SHOULD have to do is call a cease fire and then designate Claire's side and Scott's side, right?  But in practice the only way to really achieve lasting peace is a demilitarized zone.  Or should I say a "demilitarized couch cushion"?

Friday, February 19, 2010

In Parallel

Scott has been adding to his list of what he wants to be when he grows up.  The other day he added a third career. 

"First I want to be an ambulance driver, then I want to be an astronaut, then I want to be a paleontologist."

Did we point out the unlikelihood of managing all three of these careers?  No.
Did we simply encourage him that he can do it if he works hard?  Of course not.
Instead, geeky parents that we are, we tried to help him streamline his goals.  M was quick to suggest that perhaps he could be the first aid specialist on a mission to excavate fossils on another planet.

Does anyone know of a college that lets you study to become an EMT certified xenobiologist???

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm Really, Really, Really, Really, REALLY Sick of That Word

I have a new rule of thumb for Scott:

It's true, using the word "really" is an effective way to add emphasis.  HOWEVER, if you say so many "reallys" that you have to stop for a breath (let alone four breaths), you are overdoing it.

Here is a typical scenario.

Scott:  I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really...

*G tunes out for awhile and thinks about where she will get her next chocolate fix*
G, thinking to herself:  Oh maybe he's done now...
Scott: ...really, really...

G, thinking to herself:  I guess not.  Maybe I'll go make a sandwich.

*time passes -- a lot of time*

G, thinking to herself:  I should check in again...

Scott:  ...really, really, really, really...

G, thinking to herself:  Geez kid, spit it out already.

Scott:  ...really, really, really want a treat.

G:  Scott, you didn't eat your dinner.

Scott:  But I HATE dinner.

G:  Well, you can't have a treat unless you eat dinner.

Scott:  But I really, really, really, really..........


And now "really" officially doesn't look like a real word to me anymore after writing it that many times.

Monday, February 8, 2010


I don't ACTUALLY have any spare time, but I need something to look forward to. Otherwise this time of year the days just blur together... or maybe it's just my itching gunky allergy stricken eyes that make everything foggy. Either way, by carefully neglecting other tasks, here's what I have been doing.

Making hair bows:

(And I have the hot glue gun burns to prove it.)

By golly, Kate will wear ribbons in her hair or so help me! (Claire would rather die than let ribbon come anywhere NEAR her hair. Now Kate is paying for it.)

Valentine's Garland:

I started this project when I saw several people on the web doing it because I thought, "Hey! That's pretty simple. Maybe Claire and I could work on that together." Yah, so I forgot that, genius as she is, motor skills are not really Claire's forte. Watching her decimate huge chunks of felt buy cutting right smack dab in the middle of the fabric was hard. And the result was a whole bunch of itty-bitty worthless irregular polygons. If you squinted really hard, some of them ALMOST looked like hearts. The few that were big enough to use basically had to be re-cut completely. I'm an impatient jerk and a failure as a mother, but oh well. No more trying to craft with Claire for at least another year or two. It's not worth my brain exploding.

New Lights in the Kitchen:

These lights are troublemakers. You know how you always start a project and think, "Oh, this will be easy. I'll just do this real quick"? And then it never is easy and it always takes WAY longer than you planned for? Well, I know that's at least how it usually works at our house. Everything always takes way longer and you start to think that you will mend your unrealistic expectating ways and get real. You will stop dreaming quite so big. You will lower your expectations.

And then something like these lights comes along.

You start shopping for a totally different light for a totally different spot in your kitchen. And while you're at it, you and your spouse casually toy with the idea of looking for something to replace this light too. Then at one point you're at IKEA looking for something else entirely, and you decide to stop into the lighting department, just to peek. And, miracle of all miracles, you and your spouse agree with almost no prior discussion on a lighting fixture. AND it's only $25. So you buy it. Then in about an hour and a half, you install the light. No problems. Smooth as can be. And now you have all this glorious light over your kitchen sink. And you're thinking, "We should replace ALL our lights!" And so it begins...

This stupid light just got my hopes back up that maybe every home improvement we want to do will be this easy. And now let the biting off more than we can chew commence...


And speaking of replacing ugly lights, what is it with lighting fixtures shaped like unfortunate pieces of anatomy??? The light pictured above replaced one that reminded me of a piece of anatomy that well, let's just say I don't have. I'm glad that one is gone because it's really nice to look at the light above the sink without sniggering.

We are in the market to replace a couple fixtures that remind me of something that might make Kate hungry.

"Hey boob light. You're next!"

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Just a Little Tip

When you're cooking dinner and you put one of your stainless steel pans into the oven, you should be careful.  I think we all know that we should use a hot pad to take the pan out of the oven.  But did you know that when you go to serve the food out of the pan, you should NOT steady said pan by grabbing the bare metal handle with your bare hand?  Your ENTIRE bare hand?  Yes, well.  You can trust me on this one.