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Saturday, May 28, 2011

The ice pack cometh

I'm driving home and this is about 2 minutes after we've left Gretchen's House...

Sophie: Oh no! What's happening?
Me: Huh? What? What? What's happening? Are you okay, Sophie?
Sophie: Oh no! What's the problem?

At this point, I'm like, 1) Sophie can say "problem"?? Since when? Yay! 2) Wait, should I be stopping by the side of the road? Is she in pain?

Me: Sophie, are you okay?
Sophie: Lucy fall down! Lucy crying.


Me: Did Lucy fall down in school today?
Sophie: Yah. Sophie help.
Me: Did you help Lucy when she fell down?
Sophie: Yah. Ice pack. Lucy crying. Sophie ice pack.
Me: You brought Lucy an ice pack? That's so nice of you.
Sophie: No, ice pack mine. Sophie ice pack.
Me: But Lucy was crying. Did you help Lucy?
Sophie: Yah. Sophie kiss boo boo. That's all.
[after a 5 second pause] No Lucy, no ice pack. Sophie ice pack.

So there. Our daughter. The good friend. And the denier and hoarder of ice packs.

As noted by her teachers:
I love Sophie's love of ice packs. This morning, she slipped in the living room, landing very softly on her bottom. Right away, she stood up and said, "Ice pack! Ice pack!" :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Random Daily Daycare Report #12

Sophie had me cracking up today (what's new? :)) We were in the Railway living room and she and Izzie were hiding in tunnels. I didn't notice her hiding at first until I heard a little voice inside the tunnel saying "Where's Sophie? Where's Sophie?" Then when she came out, she was pretending to be a puppy :) Oh Sophie!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Of trucks and a mini-rant

Can I just say how much I adore the fact that our daughter loves trucks? With a passion. Which is why she was overjoyed at Touch-a-Truck Day last weekend (I know, it doesn't quite seem that way in the photos- right now, I think it's still more a conceptual affection...) Held in the back parking lot of the mall, there were all manner of trucks on site and seeing the sheer display of vehicles, I thought Sophie would pass out from awe. There were two fire-trucks (her favorite!), two school-buses, a tractor, a recycling truck, a (clean) garbage truck, two ambulances, a few police cars, a U of M Blue Bus (which Sophie is well familiar with and loved running up and down in), and a few others I blanking out on right now. But the point is that Sophie was surrounded by trucks and she was just beside herself with glee. She was even patient enough to wait 10 minutes in line (an eternity to a toddler) just so she could sit in the driver's seat of the fire-truck. Like I said, she doesn't look very enthused in the photos, but I think that was more from everyone looking at her (all the parents were just beaming at every kid sitting in there because it was such a thrill seeing how happy it made them) and how dwarfed she must have felt by the fire truck. Until today, all she can talk about is how "Sophie sitting fire truck!" :)

Also (warning: mini-rant ahead), I'd like to also say that on top of being a huge fan of trucks, Sophie also loves earthworms and dinosaurs. With a ferocity I don't think I possessed for anything before the age of twelve. And if that makes people uncomfortable (??!!) because they have some hackneyed notion that girls should only be playing with pink ponies and brushing the hair of dolls, then I feel sorry for their children. I feel sorry that their children will not get to enjoy all the world has to offer them or explore all things that pique their interest just because of their parents' narrow gender stereotypes. Sophie is a child. She is curious, adventurous, and endlessly excited about everything around her. Why anyone would try to curb these natural instincts at such a young age by dictating "gender-appropriate" activities flabbergasts and mildly outrages me. (Okay, mini-rant over now...)
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live

In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
And you and me are free to be you and me.
- "Free to Be... You and Me" (The New Seekers)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A taste sensation, a joy, a celebration in a bun

Sophie loves the Pigeon books by Mo Willlems, whether it's the classic Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! or The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!. Her latest obsession though, is Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!- since last week, it has had a permanent place in our bedtime rotation of books and there have been nights-- like tonight-- where I've had to read it multiple times in a row. There's something about the cheekiness of the banter that Sophie really enjoys, I think and she giggles every time The Duckling makes a wisecrack (or she could just be laughing at the affected voice I use when I read The Duckling's lines). But the funny thing is, I'm not sure how she's appreciating the basic premise of the story when she's actually never eaten a hotdog, or seen one, come to think about it.

Now, not that I'm in a hurry to usher Sophie into the particular world of processed meat in tube form (in the words of Anthony Bourdain), but when we were invited to a friend's son's first birthday party this weekend and were asked to bring something for the grill, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to make an "event" out of this whole hotdog business.

And so before we left for the store on Saturday, we read the book a couple of times and I told Sophie that we would be going to the store to buy real hotdogs for dinner. I'm not sure if she completely comprehended what I said, but she seemed suitably eager and excited. On the car ride to the store, I reminded her that we would soon be just like Pigeon and The Duckling, holding a hotdog in our hands and enjoying how "yummy, yummy, yummy" it would be, and she responded by going "Yay!" and "Hooray!" whenever I mentioned the word hotdog. Okay, so far, so good... We get to Whole Foods and I let her choose the sausage (all-beef) and the buns (honey wheat) and we even contemplated fixings like relish, ketchup, and mustard. But I figured 1) what's a grilling birthday party without condiments?; and 2) for Sophie's first hotdog, we should stick with the plain and pure.

So we get to the party and by this time, Sophie's *really* excited. She's playing with all the different toys strewn everywhere for the little ones, there are balloons galore, she got to enjoy a juice box all by herself, and most importantly, Mama here had promised her a tasty morsel of hotdog just like Pigeon and The Duckling shared! We watched together as as the guy manning the grill heated the sausage up just enough without getting it too charred and warmed the bun up a little too, just to make it just right. I mean, when I put the thing together, it was about the most perfect plain hotdog you can imagine- the edges of the sausage just peeking out the ends of the bun, the bun warm to the touch but not too toasty, and the sausage glistening from the grill but with none of the jarring grill marks. Folks, it was the Platonic hotdog, the kind of hotdog you'd put on the cover of a Coney Island menu, a hotdog that looked about as close to Mo Willlems' illustration of the hotdog in his book as you can envision. I couldn't have done better if I tried.

I showed the hotdog to Sophie with so much fanfare, you'd think I was presenting her to the Queen of England. We found a nice spot on the deck, I sat her across from me, and I reminded her again that we were about to eat a hotdog. She even said to me, "Pigeon! Hotdog yummy!" At that moment, I was so exceedingly proud of myself- I made something Sophie had read real for her! I fused her literary world with her real one! I scaffolded her learning with practical examples! I involved her in the various steps of putting together a hotdog! Everything was totally developmentally appropriate! Who's the awesome Mom? I am! I am! I split the hotdog into two, took a long deliberate bite-- "Aaaaaaaaaah"-- just like in the book, declared it a truly exceptional specimen of a hotdog (it was a little salty for my taste but I wasn't about to spoil the moment), gave Sophie her half, and watched expectantly at her mind about to be blown.

She bit into the sausage, made a face, spat out what was in her mouth, and ran away...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Richard Simmons would be proud

Why is it that our daughter can dutifully-- and happily-- follow the instructions of her favorite PBS characters, but when we ask her to do something-- like clean up her toys-- she pretends she doesn't understand us?

Monday, May 09, 2011


We are available for all your surprise party events at a reasonable hourly rate. Reliability and timing of the talent cannot be guaranteed. Payment in pretzel sticks expected at point of arrival, set-up, and departure. Please note: services are non-refundable.

Mothers' Day means...

Sleeping in till 8.30 because Sophie, who obviously knew it was both a weekend and Mothers’ Day, decided to sleep in herself, giving me almost an extra two hours of shut-eye.

Spending the morning playing hide-and-seek where Sophie's idea of hiding is to crouch in the same corner of her room every time. And she's still always thrilled that I manage to find her (a lot of pretend not-seeing and feigned oblivion is involved...)

Involving Sophie in Sunday morning laundry. It was the load with her clothes which made it doubly fun (on top of being allowed in the basement which she almost never gets to go down into). She successful helped to unload the dryer, although there was a slight delay when she grabbed the crib sheet and blanket she uses in school and tried to take a nap on the basement floor. I would have gotten her to help me separate the colors and whites for our load but she got distracted by a box of her old toys and so that was the last I saw of Helpful Sophie for the day.

Trying on hats at Target. Because that’s what mothers and daughters do on Mothers’ Day. I dare say, we look fabulous- Sophie does anyway.

Trying on hats at Target

Doing our own little Mothers’ Day brunch at Panera where Sophie had chicken noodle soup and I had a cobb salad. She happily fed herself so that I could enjoy my salad without fussing over her. So thoughtful, this one…

Watching Sophie fall asleep smiling because she asked, “Mama kiss Sophie?” and I planted two fat ones on her cheek and nose.

Zipping through a chapter of Tina Fey’s Bossypants while Sophie napped. The woman is funny as hell and clearly a wonderful human being. Her ‘Prayer for a Daughter” is itself worth the price of the book. Note to self: must remind Sophie that her parents always painstakingly cut her grapes in half.

Enjoying the afternoon at Gallup Park- pushing Sophie on the swing, helping her fill her bucket with sand to build "snowman" (Sophie's all encompassing term for any structure built with substance found on the ground), guiding her down the big-girl slide by herself, and beaming with pride as she held her own in the sandbox. She was generous in sharing her sand toys but assertive, persistent, and polite in asking for them back.

Missing Jude because even though it’s Mothers’ Day, it’s just not quite complete when Dada is at a conference 3 time-zones away in a different country.


Saying a huge Happy Mothers’ Day! to my wonderful mom, without whom I wouldn’t be half the mother I am to Sophie today :)

With mom

Friday, May 06, 2011

Working girl

I started at my new job last month. It’s been three weeks and it’s been going really great. The work is stimulating and challenging in all the good ways-- lots of awesome data to dig into and incredible projects to work on—and the people have been amazingly nice. I even get my own office (with TWO windows no less!) so that’s been sweet. I can almost unreservedly say that I look forward to going to work.

It occurred to me a while ago that I’ve never had a regular 9 to 5 job. Between being a teacher and then a grad student, my days, nights, and weekends constantly bled into each other, whether it’s grading, prepping, reading, analyzing, or writing. But now, because of the secure data I work with that’s stored on the office server, I literally have no choice but to leave work behind when I walk out at 5.30, which has been really nice. So these days, I get to spend nights after Sophie goes to bed catching up on chores, prepping meals (more on that later), guilt-free (relatively) TV, and right now, helping Jude proof-read his dissertation draft chapters.

But there’s the trade-off of course, mostly the flexibility of time. It’s not like I can take a break from grading and go get a haircut, or schedule a dental appointment in the middle of the day, or have a leisurely breakfast with Jude. From the moment we get up in the morning, it’s a pretty mad rush to get everyone ready so that we can drop Sophie off at daycare, and then Jude at school, and then be at my desk before 9.00.

It also means I've had to give my my Thursdays with Sophie. I know it's just one day, and I still have the mornings (no matter how brief), evenings, and weekends with her. But Thursdays have been our special day together for so long that I was a little wistful that first Thursday away from her. Jude takes her these days and I think it's been nice for her to have her Dada all to herself for a whole day. I'm not sure how cognizant Sophie is that her daily routine has shifted somewhat. We used to be able to take our time getting ready in the morning even if it means dropping her off at daycare late-- reading an extra book, rolling around in bed a little longer, singing one more silly song-- or picking her up early because it's a nice day out and then spend the afternoon at the park. These days, we're out of the house by 8 and she doesn't get picked up till 5.30. Thankfully, she loves being at daycare-- loves her friends and her teachers-- and is doing so much good growing that I don't feel as much guilt as I thought I would for keeping her there so many hours a day.

And then there's the working parent conundrum of meals and chores. Between Jude and I, I think we do pretty well in terms of keeping the house clean and neat. Sometimes it takes a while for the laundry to get folded (and let's not even talk about ironing), but hey, as long as it's clean.... Cooking has been a little trickier. Gone are the days of experimentation where I can spend a couple of hours in the kitchen sauteeing, simmering, or stewing. These days, it's whatever I can whip up in 20 minutes like a quick pasta or a steamed/roasted one-dish meal that I prepped the night before. I also try to make large pots of soups over the weekends (miso, chicken and veggies, minestrone, etc) and the leftovers keep really well. Which is also why our freezer has been my new best friend... Of course, we've been eating out or ordering in quite a bit more lately but that's mainly for Jude and I- because of her allergies, Sophie still almost exclusively gets homemade food, even if it means her sometimes getting four different permutations of rice porridge in a week (not that she's complaining...)

It's been an interesting 3 weeks juggling parenthood with a full-time job, and I have newfound respect for people who've been doing this successfully for years. I want to think it's forcing me to be more conscious and protective about how I spend my time- at work, with Jude, with Sophie, even with myself. It does feel a little overwhelming at times, but also strangely rewarding when things fall in place exactly like you want them to (Everyone out of the house before 8! With matching clothes and socks/shoes! No phone calls from daycare! No work crises! Dinner meets daily carbohydrate, protein, and fibre requirements! DVR works so I can watch Modern Family after Sophie goes to bed!).

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Sophie asks a question

I'm putting Sophie down for her nap this afternoon- she snuggles into my arms, looks up at me, and asks, "Mama, you happy?"

Yes Sophie, Mama is happy. Sophie makes Mama very happy.