Monday, August 30, 2010

All Aboard!

The engineer showing Sophie how to toot the horn.

On our next to last day in Kansas, we took a ride on the little train that runs at the park next to the zoo. It only runs about 8 hours a week and is operated by retired trainmen. Men who know a thing or two about trains, whose lives were spent on the full size versions of this delightful ride.

The train was a major part of life in my hometown. At one time, the railroad employed a good number of people there, but times have changed, so much is automated these days, and most operations have moved to Kansas City and other larger cities. But there are still the tracks that run through the middle of my small town. Every day, just as has been happening for over a hundred years, trains rumble through on their way to far off destinations. At each crossing they blow their horn, and at night, when everyone is quiet, you can hear the trains from just about any house in town.

The trains don't stop for passengers in my town anymore, but that charming little train at the zoo gives our children a chance to taste a little bit of that nostalgia. Tickets cost 50 cents for a couple trips around the winding tree-covered quarter mile track. Does anything cost 50 cents anymore? I would pay a hundred times that and still call it a bargain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Still Going

This picture has nothing to do with anything other than that she is so frakking cute with her pigtails.

We survived the flight, but only just. Sophie was most certainly NOT on her best behavior. There was chair kicking. There was screaming. There was the poopie diaper that required a change in the impossibly tight airplane bathroom.* There was food/toy/drink/iPhone throwing. There was NO sleeping. Basically, by the time we landed, I was done. D-U-N.

But arrive we did. We spent the first leg of our tour in Kansas City. It was there that the real reason for our trip resided. The passing of a beloved family member. I'm not really going to go into that much. It was my grandma. She was loved and will be most deeply missed.


But there have been some really lovely times with family mixed in here. I got to spend more time with my sister, Jonna, than I have in years and years. Our kids played together for hours. I simply couldn't stop smiling while I watched them. They do my heart good.

Of course, there has been some drama. Has there ever been a large family gathering, and in particular a funeral, where there wasn't a least a little? We all deal with our grief in different ways. Sometimes anger is the only emotion people feel comfortable expressing. But I was not the cause or the focus, for a change, so I came out unscathed.

Most amazingly, I have so far survived sleeping with my daughter every night. I thought I would hate it, but I'm surprised to admit that I'm actually kind of loving it. She is all over the place, but its so sweet to wake up to her arm or leg draped over me and to feel her sweet little warm body pressed up against me. This isn't something I want to do at home regularly, but it sure is nice for now.

We still have a couple of days and many miles before we will be home, but I have the very best of company and the weather is supposed to be good ...and you can't ask for much more than that.

*Seriously, Boeing, what the shit do I have to do to get a changing table in an airplane lav?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Leaving On A Jet Plane

We're leaving tomorrow for a long visit home to Kansas. It is an unexpected trip. And while the reason is not a happy one, I am looking forward to seeing all of my family, most of whom I haven't seen in a year or more. I can't wait for Sophie to spend time with her grandparents and cousins.

What I am not looking forward to is flying with Sophie alone.


Because of the short notice and because Neil just started a new job, he isn't able to come with us. So that means I'll be on my own.

Nobody to take care of the carseat and the luggage.

Nobody to watch her so I can go to the bathroom. (Praying my constitution doesn't require an, ahem,  extended visit.)

Nobody to help distract her so she doesn't spend two hours kicking the seat in front of her.

I traveled with her alone once before, but she wasn't even walking yet. So while it wasn't easy, at least I didn't have to worry about her running off. But this is a whole other ball game.

And there's supposed to be bad storms tomorrow night. Like flash flood, crazy rain kind of bad storm. So of course I've got visions of the Twilight Zone monster on the wing. Not to mention nausea inducing turbulence. That will probably send us hurtling to the earth in a thousand ton tin can. Clearly I'm thinking of only the best possible outcomes.

So around about 5:55pm tomorrow, can you all think buoyant thoughts? And sleeping toddler thoughts? I'll need all the positive energy flowing my way I can get.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


We took a field trip to Ikea today. We live about 5 minutes from one, and since its pretty much the funnest store in the world to run through at top speed, its awfully appropriate for using up some toddler energy on a rainy day. Plus they have a great kids section with lots of toys.

The real reason for our visit was in search of a couple of oversized pillows for Sophie to lounge/jump around on and a new rubber no-slip bath mat. But after approximately an hour in there, we walked out with neither. Not for lack of looking on my part. But never let it be said I squandered an opportunity to spend money.

I have always, since I was a young girl, dreamed of having netting or bedcurtains (think Victorian era) around my bed. But poor, deprived child* that I was, I never got them. And now, as all good mothers do, I am living vicariously through my daughter. (Lucky for her I never dreamed of being a beauty queen. Although she's much cuter than I ever dreamed of being, so her chances would probably be a lot better than mine might have been.)

Because of this, I have been eying the canopies at Ikea for a while now. But I held off because we have a camera monitor on the wall looking down into her bed. It's been there since she was born and has enabled us to see if she was awake or asleep and more recently, if she was still in bed. Neil and I have absolutely delighted in watching her sleep on it. So much so that I have been loathe to move or get rid of it.

So when I couldn't find those things I was ostensibly there for, I wandered into the children's furniture section and looked once again longingly at the canopies. But today, something clicked in me and I decided it was time. I grabbed the one that clashed the least with the colors of her room and headed for the exit.

When we got home, I set her to playing with her new Ikea train set and I went about hanging the new canopy over her bed. First I had to take down the camera. Until the moment I actually unplugged it, I didn't realize how much it would affect me. But affect me it did.

I am big on being aware when the last time something happens is. I guess I want to know so I can savor that last experience to its fullest. It chaffs me when a last time happened and I didn't realize it, as it did today. But once I brought the canopy home, I simply couldn't not put it up. I'm far too programmed for immediate gratification to have waited another day just to see her sleeping on the monitor one more time.

I couldn't get rid of it completely, though. I moved the camera across the room where I have a more overall view of her room (roughly where the shot below was taken). I figure I'll get rid of it altogether soon, but this is the transition location. I can still see that she is in bed, but I can't actually see her sleeping. I'm going to miss that more than I can say.

I'll get used to this. Just one more in the long line of changes as my little girl grows up.

Sweet dreams, my love.

Please disregard the ghettoness of the way the canopy is hanging in this shot, I haven't figured out exactly how to drape it yet. And also ignore the state of her room. This IS a 2 1/2 year old's room, tidy is an infrequent visitor here. But HEY lookit the wood floors! Love them.

* I was NOT poor or deprived.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Blogher Returns

I'm back from my long weekend in New York City for Blogher '10.

I'm still coming down from the high of spending time with some of my favorite people, ladies who the other 362 days of the year I only see on this little screen. For my part, there was no drama. No awkward interactions, no skirmishes, no embarrassing flubs. I didn't go overboard with the swag, nor did I hear of there being any swag hag issues. There were tons of private parties, and I went to a few, including a lovely luncheon in a chi-chi restaurant where I dropped a cheese biscuit down my shirt and my girls from LoveFeast Table pretended not to notice.

But it was the non-conference related moments that stand out: laying in bed talking with my blog wife Nap Warden. Dancing with my roomies: Elena and Shannon. Sucking down $5 happy hour martinis with the other three members of the Fourfecta: Nap Warden, Angry Julie and Scary Mommy. Walking through Central Park with Burghbaby and Nap Warden. Dragging Babe in Babeland to an out of the way bar to see an old friend WAY past our bedtime.

It was not the sessions, of which I attended ONE, or the huge organized parties, that were so loud and crowded it was impossible to hear someone standing even three feet away, that made Blogher '10 a success for me.

It was this and this and this:

(Abbey Road shot bottom left courtesy of the fabulous Burghbaby. That's me in the middle and Nap Warden behind me, pretending she doesn't know me.)

Blogging for me is only partly about writing. The biggest part is the connections. And bringing those connections off of the screen and into the "real" world is what makes it all worthwhile. It is this that brings us all to Blogher and it is this that keeps us coming back.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Toddlerhood is frustrating. Not that that's a news flash or anything, but some days it just hits me over the head. She is opinionated and stubborn and almost completely incapable of clearly communicating what she wants. There are phrases and words that I understand, but for the most part, it's like she's speaking Russian. Maybe I should take her to a medium and make sure we're not harboring the reincarnation of Catherine the Great. I know everyone is always famous or royal, but as imperious as this kid is, she must have been someone who was not used to hearing no.

When she speaks, and it is often and loudly, it is with such conviction and passion. She waves her hands around as she talks. But it's mostly gibberish. I try so hard to understand. I look around, try to find whatever it is. Sometimes if I can figure out the right context, I can decipher a word or two. And when I do, it's pretty much the most amazing thing ever. Because this little person that I am raising, the one that seems to be little more than a semi-tamed animal most of the time, is becoming a person. A talking, thinking, (somewhat) rational being.

In my current occupation, I don't get raises or bonuses or promotions. The only outward evidence of my success is the health and happiness of my child. There are days where I worry that I'm doing it all wrong. When I yell too much or we watch too much TV or don't even look at a vegetable, and I feel the weight of this task. I worry that I don't spend enough time reading to her, that her lack of speech is due to my failure to provide her the right educational activities. I feel overwhelmed and unprepared and unqualified.

But then she looks up at me, an enormous smile on her face, and says "tank yoo, mahnee" and I realize that we're alright.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Cuteness

Pay no attention to the pile of laundry as tall as a toddler. I do that on purpose so I can sort our clothes into blacks, whites, blues and reds. See. It's not about being lazy, it's about being meticulous about color separation.