Saturday, March 31, 2012


They say, sometimes, that you shouldn’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.  Margaret only needs once around the car.





This trip, however, was enough to convince her that Daddy was okay, and probably competent to read her stories.  Probably.  Maybe she needs to try out some of his other shoes, because flip-flops don’t tell you that much.  And he only wears those on the weekends, anyway.


But he sure knows his Peter Rabbit.*

*Not as well as Mommy, but Mommy knows way too much about Beatrix Potter.  Indeed, her knowledge of Peter Rabbit’s family tree – did you know that Flopsy marries Benjamin Bunny? – is a tad frightening, and shouldn’t be encouraged.

Overly Thinky Narration

One of the things that I spent a lot of time thinking about while I was writing my dissertation is the way that historical event becomes narrative, and the way that the past is shaped into something coherent and meaningful.  This process involves, necessarily, and element of fictionalization; in order to make something conform to any sort of narrative structure, some sort of alteration takes place, and the alteration distorts reality.*

Even when we have things like photographic evidence, it’s only evidence of one brief moment, and can’t possibly represent reality.

Today Margaret was telling me about her playdate yesterday, and she said “Margaret hugged M—and M—gave Margaret a flower and Mommy took a picture.”

Here’s the picture:


Two seconds before, when I began fumbling with my phone, they had been standing there beautifully, looking at the camera and smiling.  But I caught them as they broke apart, and it suddenly looks like Margaret is tackling M—and she isn’t.  For once.

Anyway, they were very cute.


We did get a picture of flower exchange.  I mean, I didn’t.  I pulled out my camera and they did things like tackle each other and pour mulch on their heads.  Humph.

m and m flower

And pictures were taken of me with my kids, which happens so rarely, so here they are.

me and m and e

me and m and e 2

This is my life.  It’s a little overfull of tackles at times, but it’s nice.

*Trust me.  And I’m aware that in this sort of discussion, clinging to any sense of objective “reality” is probably na├»ve, but I don’t care.  I do, however, apparently care enough to look up the keys required to get my umlauts in the right place, so that’s something.

When Life Gives You Lemons

Actually, I want to make clear that no one gave Margaret the lemon in this video.  She unsafely reared up in her high chair to grab at it, and we didn’t take it away from her, because last week she did the same thing to a lemon wedge off of some Thai takeout, and seemed to like it.

Of course, in reviewing her interactions with that lemon, I do sort of remember that she didn’t put it in her mouth, which would make it considerably more enjoyable.

Anyway, we went out for Greek food this evening, and Margaret grabbed a lemon and bit it.  It amused me.  And there was enough time between the grabbing and the eating to get the camera turned on.  Which means that there was enough time to take the lemon away, but I thought that it would be more fun to record it for you all to enjoy.  I’m thoughtful like that.

Mulch, Mulch, Glorious Mulch*

(Not that it has anything to do with this post, except some spurious connection to the title, but Margaret COMPLETELY ADORES the Mud song.  Those of you who don’t know the Mud song should feel undereducated and deprived, and may wish to consider some sort of class-action suit against somebody who must be to blame.  But before you do that, go here and remedy this oversight.  Anyway, I have sung it to her approximately eleventy-billion times, and am, truth be told, getting a mite sick of it.  But she likes it, and that, coupled with the backyardiness of her life, suggests that she is a decent, sensible, right-thinking sort, and we should keep her.  And now I should perhaps write the post that I came here to write.  Ahem).

As I have mentioned, Margaret loves the backyard and the weather and the playing and all of the things.

One thing of which she is particularly fond is the mulch around the hedges and the flowers and whatnot.  The possibilities afforded by mulch are just endless.**





There was a lot of bathing of the Margaret last night.  She was sweaty, so a lot of mulch dust adhered to her skin, and all the spring pollen in the air has given her a bit of a runny nose, and she refused to wear a hat or a hair bow, so she was pushing her hair out of her eyes, and sometimes that motion pushed snot into her hair and up her face, and the dust and the chunks of mulch adhered to that, and besides that she poured mulch over her head.  So it was a right old mess.

Usually when I bathe her she gets two batches of water – one while we wash her, and one to rinse off in because of her delicate, sensitive skin which doesn’t like having trace amounts of soap left on her, no not at all.  Last night, what with the mulch and the dirt and the hair and whatnot, she got four batches of water, and when I brushed her hair at the end (I’d combed it DURING THE BATH), more mulch came out.  She is nothing if not thorough in her mess-making.

And then this morning, she rubbed butter in her hair, so it looks greasy and like she hasn’t been bathed in weeks.  Arg.  This is actually why I keep this blog.  I can show it to people and convince them that I am not a negligent parent.  Because I have a record of when I bathed her.

*Trust me, by the time she’s done with it, it’s mud.

**Of course, she takes the “roll around in it and put it in my mouth” option every time, but there are other options.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Summer Evenings*

Are spent, by all decent people, in the backyard.



And sensible people spend their evenings lying on the ground, enjoying the cool breeze and the scent of lilacs and the lazily buzzing bees and the sound of children playing in the distance.

Margaret is a sensible person, mostly.

But her mother spends the time sitting next to the bouncy chair or blanket, guarding Ellie from over-aggressive hugs.  This is also why there are fewer pictures of Ellie lying on the ground than there were of Margaret.  It’s hard to control the exuberance of her love.  And reading her Of Mice and Men as a bedtime story hasn’t really gotten things across to her.  Humph.

*It OUGHT to be summer, the weather we’ve been having.  And don’t tell me that 80 degrees is spring weather.  Decent, sensible places would only have temperatures like that in July.  It’s not my fault St. Louis is deeply confused.

Does This Make Her Goldilocks?


This is the bear she calls her “small bear.”  Because she has a bigger bear.  Clearly, I need to feed her more oatmeal.

Just Like Mommy

This post is going to seriously embarrass Margaret someday, but I figure that I have spent no time, no time AT ALL detailing the contents of her diaper, and so I deserve a little bit of slightly embarrassing oversharing time.  And since we’re going to be potty training this week, and I am not going to chronicle it, I’m working off my lack of oversharing with this post.  Sorry, future Margaret.  I’m really sorry.  And I suppose that I won’t even have to show this to your prom date, because he will just be able to google it.  Not fair.  Not fair at all.  I’m so sorry.

But I’m going to do it anyway.

Margaret is completely fascinated by the mechanics of feeding Ellie.  And she thinks that everything on the torso is “tummy.”*  So she announces “Ellie eating from Mommy’s tummy” every time I feed Ellie.

And she thinks pumping is the weirdest thing she’s ever seen in her life.**  But she’s completely fascinated. 

Yesterday, I was in a hurry, and I left the top part of the pump on the table, where she could reach it.


She found it, and tried to figure it out.  She didn’t quite get there on the first try.


I like the slightly bored look, as if this is a chore she has to get finished so that she can get on with the rest of her life.  I wonder where she picked that look up?

*Before Ellie was born, I taught her “chest,” which she dutifully learned, and then came back with “Mommy has TWO chests,” which is true, but she seems to have forgotten that.

**And lets be honest: it looks pretty dang weird.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sisters Rock*

You remember how cute it was when Margaret brought flowers to Ellie again and again and again while we played in the backyard?  Well, Margaret has pretty much decimated the flower population back there – with the exception of the lilacs, which I will put a picture of below if only to make my mother purple with jealousy** – and so Margaret has had to turn to other gifts.


These other gifts, while something that Margaret loves, are perhaps slightly less baby-friendly.


Margaret has, in a word, begun to bring Ellie rocks.


Ellie does not find this offering worthy.

So Margaret started to bring them to me, mostly because I suggested that rocks aren’t really appropriate for babies.

So that was fun.  Still, it’s nice to know that I’m clearly raising a champion egg and spoon racer there.

*Sad and pathetic wordplay is where it’s at today.  Part of this is because I am bouncing Ellie’s bouncy chair with my toe while I write this, and it’s taking way more concentration than it ought to.  So I’m sorry.

**Most people go green with jealousy, but the lilacs are purple, so it’s clever, you see?

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Moment of Peaceful Concord

Every Friday, more or less, Margaret has a play date with the other M baby, and now the other M baby’s little sister, who is older than Ellie, but not by much. 

These playdates are full of noise and excitement, and a few occasional disagreements over the disposition of toys, or Margaret’s desire to hug people who don’t necessarily want to be hugged.*

But last Friday, there was a very sweet moment when they sat on the couch together and read Harold and the Purple Crayon. 

It was very sweet.


I do, however, have some issues with the whole plot structure of the book.  I don’t think that it teaches children crayon-related responsibility, and since that is what I find most important.  I mean, imagination is great, but it doesn’t get the crayon stains out of my new couches, does it?

*Also, since Margaret’s arms come at the other child’s neck level, these abortive hugs are a little strangly, so that’s a problem.

Constant Vigilance

We went to the park a lot this weekend, as the weather was pleasant without being offensive.*

Leo and I took turns to chase Margaret around, and Ellie hung out in her carseat and stared at dangly things.  And then fell asleep, because dangly things are only so interesting – it’s not like they’re food, after all.

But she clutched them, because you don’t want to let them roam free when you’re going to be napping.  Heaven knows what they’d do.


*This is a narrow window in St. Louis, and it appeared last week that we’d missed it, and the weather had gone from unpleasantly cold to unpleasantly hot without any dithering in between.  But that was a false alarm, and things are nicer now.

Reasons Why My Mother-In-Law Is Better Than Yours*

There are many.  One is, of course, that she feeds us dinner nearly every Sunday night, which is very, very nice, and means that no one at my house needs to think about it.

Another is that she looks after my children while I go and pound knowledge into the heads of various children.**

And to add to that, some mornings when she is going to have both children, she gets Margaret early, and takes her to do some activity, like story time or swimming or the zoo.

This is helpful as I get ready to go teach, but particularly so when I really want to post something to my blog, which is hard with both kids awake.


See?  Isn’t this disgustingly adorable?  Didn’t it need to be shared with the world?

*For various reasons, I am not addressing Bruce, Chris, Char, or Melissa here.  And if either Charlotte or Candy read this blog, and you think my mother is your mother-in-law, then not you either.  And if Robe, Donald or Andy read this, and have decided to adopt nineteenth-century conventions of address in reference to my mother, not you either.  No judgment has been entered in these competitions.  Which aren’t competitions at all.  Just to be clear.

Is that every contingency covered?  I think so.  Except I’ve changed my mind about Bruce.  I do want to argue that my mother-in-law is better than his.  I don’t know what that means, exactly, but I’m going with it just to be ornery and confusing.

**And there’s a sign of encroaching age: 18-year-olds are children.  I blame Alynn and Ryan. Ugh.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Conversation





And a little terrifying.


But still interesting.


But all this talking has just made me tired

. 023

Good night.

Comparative Chub

People keep saying that Margaret and Ellie are different degrees of chubby, and that Margaret was bigger.  I submit to you these pictures: which baby is which?


chubby M


And no fair, those of you guessing by hair color.  That’s cheating.  Look at the cheeks!

Hard Night Out

This is what a baby looks like when she’s drying out from a milk-fueled bender.


This is what a baby looks like when she’s sleeping peacefully, relaxed after a nice snack.


So let that be a lesson to you all – if you want to avoid looking drunk, close your eyes all the way, and invest in a pacifier that coordinates with your blanket.  And get your hand all the way to your mouth, instead of just dangling it out there.

Tummy Time for Two

Margaret hasn’t entirely bought into the whole “big girl” story we’ve been trying to sell her.  In fact, though she’s willing to accept the benefits of big girlness, she really doesn’t accept the limitations.

For example, she doesn’t see why Ellie should have this interesting baby gym thing, when she herself would quite like to lie on her back and bat at things that swing.

When jealousy first reared its ugly head, we showed her her old tummy time mat, and asked if she wanted to show Ellie how it was done.

She did, and since then, when Ellie goes down on the mat, Margaret wants to go too.






See?  Margaret is very helpful, though sometimes Ellie is not keeping up. 

But don’t think that this cooperation means that Margaret is giving up on her dream of occupying Ellie’s gym.


She showed those owls who was boss.

Also, sometimes Ellie tries to avoid detection by dressing to blend in with her gym.


Unfortunately, I sent her out with the wrong pacifier, and it was a dead giveaway. 

Play ‘Tickers

Margaret loves stickers.



In a way that I can’t even begin to understand.

And she loves sticking them onto things, and talking about them.

So here’s a video of her playing ‘tickers.  Me?  I just like the way she says flowerpot.

Also, the reason it takes forever for her to get more flowerpots is that I was trying to hold Ellie, film, and peel stickers off the backing.  I think it’s amazing she got any flowerpots at all.

Boob Tube

(Really, it’s a great title.  It works on several levels.  I promise).

When Margaret went into the doctor’s office for her two-year-old checkup, her pediatrician was amazed that she didn’t watch any television, because although the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two watch no television, apparently this is a guideline that is rarely followed.

I pointed out that it was way too much trouble to show her any television, because we don’t really have one, but that she did watch videos of herself on my phone.  But secretly I felt that I had won a Gold Medal in the Parenting Olympics, and that there was now probably an annotation on Margaret’s chart about how she had good but smug parents.  Or at least parent.*

And then there was the Kindle Fire fiasco of 2011-2012.**

One of the nice things about the Kindle Fire is that it has a lot of video available free.  And one of the things that it has is a children’s show called “Yo Gabba Gabba”  that is less annoying that most. 

So there’s that.

Another development since Margaret’s appointment is that we have had this other baby thing that keeps wanting things like food.  And since she derives sustenance from me, feeding her tends to keep me stuck to the couch for the duration of her meal.  And since Leo has to go to work in order to fuel my unnecessary electronics habit, he isn’t around during the day.

And although Margaret adapted well to Ellie’s arrival, she did quickly become aware that a good way to get EXTREMELY NEGATIVE attention from me was to do something stupid like try to climb the back of a chair while I was feeding Ellie.

Something had to be done, and the televisual offerings appeared to me like a great, beautiful, probably grail-shaped beacon in the distance.

So now I feed Ellie before Leo leaves in the morning, but the mid-morning feeding involves Margaret watching a 20 minute show while Ellie munches, and then I do one of Ellie’s remaining Leo-absent feedings while Margaret naps, and then she watches another show during the other one. 


She sits next to me on  the couch, and doesn’t do anything that could kill her or require stitches.


I’m still trying to work out, though, why she looks like she’s doing some sort of Zen meditation.

*There really should be that annotation on this blog, so lets just consider that noted.  Also, I am leaving Leo out of the smug part of that comment, not the good part.  just so we’re clear.

**This is a baby blog, so I’m not going to go into it here, but the long and short of it is that I got Leo a Kindle Fire for Christmas, preordering it in October because they were going on about how it was going to sell out, and then he saw Ron’s and sort of decided that he didn’t want one, but was being wishy-washy about it.  He made his decision, and I got  him a laptop instead (apparently he wanted fancy things like “keyboards” and “ability to produce word documents,” to which I say “Pfffft” and make rude gestures, but not where my mother can see them, so let’s pretend that that last bit doesn’t exist).  But there was Christmas, and then Leo not being home for weekends leading up to the baby’s birth, and I was ignoring things (like the blog) in order to cook massive batches of spaghetti sauce and organize and clean things, and I sort of forgot to return said Kindle Fire until after the time limit on returns had expired, and so we have a Kindle Fire.  Which, I might add, Leo uses every night, so it turns out that he DID want it, but apparently wanted a computer as well.  And who among us, if given the choice between a Kindle Fire and a laptop or a Kindle Fire, wouldn’t choose the both option?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I think that Margaret’s a little unclear on how the whole gardening thing works.*

I mean, given the number of pictures of flowers that she’s picked for Ellie, it’s clear that she’s a menace to things that grow out of the ground and dare to be pretty.  But I was trying to explain to her yesterday how flowers grow, and she went and picked a flowering branch off the hedge, and tried to plant it in the ground.




I haven’t checked today, but I bet it didn’t take.***

She does, however, get picking up sticks and putting them in big paper bags, because that’s what Granddad does.


Of course, then she decided to skip planting the flowers, and just get rid of them right away.


Efficiency.  That’s my kid. 

*And honestly, if that’s the case, she comes by it honestly, because I kill plants – accidentally – with astonishing regularity.  When Leo’s parents go out of town and leave us in charge of their pets/garden/house, I’m pretty sure they say goodbye to the garden before they go, because counting on me watering the things the right amount of time is sketchy at best.**

**Though I haven’t killed anything in a while, so perhaps being responsible for human beings is helping me remember that things need nourishment. 

*** Isn’t it going to be embarrassing for me if it does?  Also, though this is the third footnote, the second one may technically come later, because it’s a footnote on a footnote.  Does anyone know the rules to this?  And how am I going to succeed as a copy editor**** if I don’t know?

****A lifelong dream, by the way.  It’s like ironing: something is wrong, and one can fix it quickly

1-Point Inspection

As I mentioned before, and then again, Margaret has been getting very interested in driving. 

And, as a good parent, I don’t want her taking a car out on the road until she has a rudimentary grasp of maintenance. 

We discussed this yesterday, and immediately afterwards, she gave the car a thorough going-over.*



And concluded that the car had a front, driver’s side tire.  (Really, she came back to me and said “wheel go round and round,” so she may actually think that we have a bus).

I asked her what she thought we should do about that, and this was her response. 


Maybe I should show her where we keep the jack.

Of course, maybe I shouldn’t, because I’d have to take the double stroller out of the trunk, and that thing is HEAVY.

*All right, so that’s clearly a lie.  But she did look at the car and report to me that it had wheels that went round and round, and when I asked her what we should do, she went and got the big stick.  So SOME of my reporting of events is true.  And if you don’t like me exaggerating for comic effect, clearly you should have stopped reading my blog years ago, because I’m pretty sure I was lying about what was going on early in Margaret’s life.  Just saying.