Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The One About the Dinosaurs

Before Samantha was born, Steve and I lived in a crowded, culturally-diverse, hopping-night-life sort of neighborhood in DC for nearly 10 years.  It was definitely fun (and a privilege) to live in the City, so close to everything and walking-distance to shops, clubs, national monuments and public transportation, but not, in our opinion, the place to raise a child.  Living near DC but still in a suburban environment where children can play outside (mostly) safely was the preferable choice, so we moved to Virginia.  As it turned out, DC also has issues with providing services and appropriate public education for children with disabilities, so we lucked out by moving anyway, but that's a whole 'nother story, and not mine to tell.

For nearly five years I have looked forward to the day when I could bring my little girl to the monuments and museums, and have her enjoy, soak up and remember the culture she was exposed to.  Maybe I'm lazy, maybe I'm just a chicken, but travelling with a small child was always daunting to me.  Her early feeding issues may have been the main cause of my trepidation, with the dislike of hauling lots of stuff thrown into the mix.  I think I brought Samantha down to the National Mall and into a museum once, back when she was about 1 1/2.  Actually, it was the day of her first anniversary after open heart surgery.  It was a fine day and went well, but she was out cold by the time we got into the museum.  So technically, she had been to the dinosaurs before, right? 

A few weeks ago I decided to brave it and take her down to the Mall for the National Kite Festival (just about every event that goes on downtown is prefaced by "National").  We started off by getting some serious rock-star parking, right on the corner of 14th and Constitution - exactly where I wanted to be!  We packed a picnic of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and veggie straws, and ate them in the shadow of the Washington Monument ("Look, Mommy - a castle!"), surrounded by the whipping splashes of color trailed through the air by a hundred kites.  Samantha loves picnics, and still talks about that one fondly.  When we'd finished eating, I asked her if she wanted to go see the dinosaurs at the museum, and to be honest, I don't know who was more excited - Samantha, or me, at her excitement.

I'm going to make my Good Mommies Let Children Watch Television acceptance speech now (and no, I'm not saying anything negative about those awesome mommies out there that don't allow their children to watch tv, I'm only justifying my own poor parenting practices...) and would like to thank Caillou and Peppa Pig for teaching Samantha ahead of time about how fun it is to visit museums and see dinosaur bones.  Sammi's agile young mind was well-prepared for what she was seeing (advance-preparation always helps with her), and she was particularly entranced by the tyrannosaurus rex.  I love that she knows what a "t-rex" is ( introduce her to one of the best bands ever, graced with the same ferocious name...). 

Later that evening, while in the bath, she lined up her rubber ducky "class" for circle time and taught them about dinosaurs ("...dinosaurs have BIG teeth!  One, two, three, four, five - FIVE teeth!") and kites and peanut butter and jelly picnics.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Journey of an Egg, Part II

Easter morning brings the excitement of the Easter Bunny's overnight delivery.  Honestly, we would have put the basket on her bed to greet her as she woke up, but I had forgotten to get treats to fill it (I'm not a bad mommy, really!!).  Thanks to Daddy, who made a quick, early-morning run to Giant...

If I'd thought about it a bit beforehand (like I thought about getting Easter basket treats, right?), I would have put her in some slightly more glamorous or Spring-appropriate jammies...  At least the giant stuffed Peep matches.

There is truly nothing like a cream-filled chocolate egg to top off breakfast.  Especially when Mommy's allowed to have a nibble...

While Daddy distracted Samantha briefly in the kitchen, Mommy Bunny surreptitiously distributed the eggs to their hidden nesting places in the living room.


Proudly checking out the spoils.

Celebrating a job well done.

I'll spare you The Journey of an Egg, Part III, as the journey from egg to egg salad for lunchtime sandwiches is not nearly as exciting, and is actually kind of sad.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Journey of an Egg, Part I

While drying my hair this morning, crafting this post carefully in my head (the blow dryer is the perfect combination of white noise and mindless activity to spark a touch of creativity), I went from religion...back to just a teeny tiny combination of both

As a non-denominational family, we enjoy the secular aspects of many of the Christian holidays, times for family and creating traditions, especially when children are involved, without placing any emphasis on the day's origin.  I preface this post with this because I think it's important to distinguish the difference between our actions and the true holiday itself, and hypocrisy leaves a bitter taste on my tongue.  At the risk of offending people, I liken those individuals who claim to be a particular religion but don't believe the basic tenets to celebrating St. Patrick's Day and wearing green when you haven't got an Irish bone in your body - drives me nuts...  I don't claim to be any religion, but find beauty and joy in some aspects of each one, appreciating parts of all.  Oops, here I go, starting on the religion stuff...backing down quickly now...

That being said (clearly, I hope), I recall fondly the Easter mornings of my childhood, from the basket filled with green plastic "grass," a chocolate bunny poking his delicious ears through the top, to the hunt for carefully dyed eggs, hidden cleverly throughout the house by my mother (the spider plant in the dining room was always a sure-thing).  A stuffed toy bunny was always part of the annual ritual as well, and I managed to gather quite a herd residing on my bed over the years.

I've been looking forward to dyeing Easter eggs with Samantha for some time now, but haven't yet felt she was ready to handle the responsibility (Read:  adhere to my mess-free, anal-retentive, control-freak tendencies).  This year she was all set, and quite excited to give it a go. 

I love letting her think she's in control.  She loves it, too.  

But I think my strict demands that she not violently shake the cups and spill the lovely color all over the counter turned her off and her excitement quickly waned. Peppa Pig and Max & Ruby were calling once again from the living room, leaving me to finish the job alone.

Perfect in their imperfections.  Simple.  There will be many more years to get creative.

My call of, "Come see the finished eggs!" brought her running back to ooh and ah.  

And I managed to con her back to work. 

Sadly, there is an unfortunate result when a certain someone doesn't listen.  While wrinkles with age are said to add character, an extra crack (or a dozen) does no such thing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Food, Glorious Food...

I'm generally not in the habit of blogging about work, but this is an exception.  Last week was our third sort-of-annual customer event, and our biggest to-date.  Nearly 500 registrants, a large line-up of guest speakers, and several ballrooms of a local high-end hotel to house them.  Marketing asked me to take some photos that they could use for future collateral, our website and some real-time Facebooking during the event, and while we all knew that I have absolutely no experience doing something like that, I agreed.  I was actually quite excited at the challenge!  Granted, all of the photos of the presenters were taken from a rather daunting (read:  safe) distance and at one or two distinctly similar angles (do I hear somebody clucking??), but they did capture enough, in addition to the candid shots taken of people during the breaks, to fit the bill. 

Lunch was a dream, not only to eat, but to photograph as well.  Beautiful colors, fresh, natural sunlight, and some nice, still subjects.  Just like I like them.  :-) 

Feast your eyes on these...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pizza Pizza!!

Daddy needed some help in the kitchen.  I needed some help to tie my apron.

Hmmm...he said we were making pizza.  Perhaps not a culinary masterpiece when it comes from a can, but pizza is pizza!!

First we spread the sauce...

(Oh, definitely more sauce!)

Then we sprinkle the cheese...

(Oh, definitely more cheese!)

Daddy sneaks in a little nibble...

And so do I!

I'm not squishing it, I'm making sure it's nice and secure.

Ooooh, look what we made!


I love pizza.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Calamitous Constancy of Caillou

I knew it would happen eventually.

It didn’t even start with the mysteriously hairless Caillou himself, but with his little sister, Rosie. With Rosie, I could look beyond and say she was ageless, a constant without any real designation, no definitive pinpoint to obsess over…

I’m just a kid who’s four
Each day I grow some more
I like exploring
I’m Caillou…

A kid who’s four.

Caillou is four.

Always. Forever unchanging.

Developmentally correct.

Samantha is just over a month away from being officially older than Caillou.

I knew this day would come.

After watching little Caillou on his explorations and observations of the world around him for the last 4 years, after seeing him learn to tie his shoes/make art projects/play ice hockey/ride a bike, after hoping against hope that Samantha would catch up, I feel like this Mommy should bid Caillou a lovely French Canadian adieu and send him packing to a cartoon hell reserved for all those other unsuspecting parents who really don’t want to know how old the damn kid is.

But Samantha still loves him. And I will probably still allow him to usher in the hour of sleep for my little girl every night.

Because it doesn't matter to her.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Yet Another Birthday Party Story

This time there are no tears of sadness, no venting, no frustration.  Just one happy mommy, eyes dampened from happiness and contentment, secure in the knowledge that her baby is growing up and has friends.  Yes, she's only 4, but what I witnessed on Saturday warmed my heart, and I think may have touched the hearts of some of the other mommies in attendance who shared the vision of my beautiful girl embraced by her schoolmates, guided and encouraged as one of their own.

The party was at one of the local "bouncy places."  I truly don't know what to call them - do you?  And what do you call the "bouncy things?"  I call them bouncy castles for lack of another term readily available.


One of Sammi's "typical" classmates turned 5.  I've heard her name mentioned fairly frequently among her list of friends she likes to play with at school, and was happy to have received an invitation to her party.  Bouncy places have become much more fun as Samantha has gotten older, now that she's able to climb the ladders to the big slides (no easy feat, as most of you know!).  While I used to cringe in fear as the older, stronger kids would push past her to get to the top more quickly, she has proven herself capable of holding on tightly, going with the flow, and offering up her own push from time to time when someone crowds her space too aggressively.  The last party at a bouncy place that we went to was in January.  Samantha did pretty well, but asked me to join her in each of the static-y, jiggly apparatuses.  I learned how amazing a workout jumping up and down in a giant air-filled pillow can be, and vowed to try to find a living-room sized version of my own one day.

Saturday was different.  I had a sneaking feeling it might be...  The moment we arrived and had taken off our shoes (mine removed in anticipation of being summoned her at her Royal Majesty's whim), her friends surrounded her in greeting, grabbing her hand and leading her off to play with them. 

She never looked back.

For once, for the very first time, Mommy was able to sit and chat with the other parents.  While I still kept a watchful eye, I only saw my child having the time of her life, as children should at birthday parties.  Her friends stayed close, and every now and then I'd see them running across the room, hand in hand, to another activity, Sammi laughing all the way.  The other girls occasionally helped her a bit too much, but really, I did appreciate it, and Samantha, my little independent, almost-not-a-preschooler-anymore (yep, my little baby's been officially registered for Kindergarten now!!!) stopped them when she wanted to do something herself.

I was thinking back to my statement in a previous post about how Samantha has cried at nearly every birthday party in the last year and a half.  And it's true.  And I've been trying to dissect each experience to see if I can figure out what the triggers are.  And I think I may have sussed it out, finally.  First of all, there's the familiarity piece.  Does Sammi know all/most of the children there, and feel comfortable with the environment?  She sure did on Saturday...  Then there's the singing of Happy Birthday to You.  That bottom lip always seems to go then, and I suspect it may be due to the close proximity of the voices surrounding her, all singing in unison (sort-of).  Eh, who can blame her?  I watched her carefully when they started on Saturday, and sure enough, there went the lip, stuck out and quivering.  But I grabbed her and distracted her enough to head it off at the pass, holding those tears at bay.  And lastly, I have finally figured out the issue with the cake...  So many of these organized birthday parties at places other than people's homes have people that bring the cake over for the obligatory moment when the songcanbesung/candlescanbelit, but then after so much anticipation, so much drooling over the promise of brightly-colored frosting and cake, it's lifted up off the table and flown away to some unseen location to be cut.  Then the pieces are brought back on plates, divvied out among children, some to be served sooner than others by pure luck of the draw.  Poor Sammi, that's got to be such a trauma!  I should have known.  We always cut her birthday cake right in front of her so the first delicious piece can be dropped onto her plate in seconds.

And on Saturday it wasn't

And she was about to cry.  And I had been watching and waiting and anticipating once again, ready to explain to her the mysteries of the missing cake and the virtue of patience.  And she did well.  I could see her internal struggle, trying to listen to my logical explanation, trying to be patient.

Sooooo, there were lessons all around to be learned here.  The power of friendships, the fortune of a great PT, the knowledge that issues can be overcome with understanding.  I have no doubt there will be issues at some point again, but at least we got to go to one very happy birthday party.

sound asleep in my chair after the party

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MIA (with some SUV, PT & NASA)

I'm going to be MIA for the next few days, probably not back to a real blog post (or real blog reading!) until next week sometime.  Nothing bad, just busy at work (including a 7am start-time on Thursday morning), and I hate to post something that hasn't had at least a little bit of time and effort put into it...  Notice how the last two posts were just photos?  I'd love to say they were created out of pure laziness, but in all honesty, editing pics takes time.  So add that to a bunch of words, arbitrary or otherwise, and you get a much bigger project altogether. 

Blogging is usually something that's done while I'm eating breakfast in the morning, in that precious 1/2 hour of blissful silence and alone-time, just me, my oatmeal, and my computer, quite a content bunch.  And usually, I'm late to work (just a teeeeeny bit!) as a result (uh, pretend I didn't just say that, Mom and Steve...).  But yesterday morning, just as I sat down to write (and eat), I got a call from Steve that he and Samantha had been in a car accident and after ensuring that they were both okay, I rushed out of the door to go and comfort my terrified daughter.  Most of you have already read my status from yesterday morning on Facebook, so I won't go into too many details here, but in a nutshell, they were parked, Steve was taking Sammi out of the car, and another car backed into them.  Steve, bumped in the shoulder and bruised by the reversing SUV, was only seconds away from setting Samantha down in the exact same spot, so we're thanking our lucky stars.  The car wasn't so lucky, and we're currently in a loaner until the repairs can be made. 

On the plus side, I got to take Samantha to her PT appointment yesterday, which was a real treat for me!  I loved watching all the hard work she puts into it, and how proud she is with each accomplishment.  I can never get enough of that.  Seeing her jump more than a foot by keeping both feet together and bending her knees was so amazing to me!  It's not like we don't see it at home, but in the home environment the action isn't as pure and purposeful as it is in the PT gym.  Or at least we hadn't viewed it as such.  I will be paying more attention now, and will employ some of the techniques used in her session to encourage the ever-advancing progress. 

Oh, and on a totally random topic, mentioned only because I'm so excited about it, as I was leaving work yesterday evening I caught a headline on Yahoo News that said that the Shuttle Discovery is going to be flown in to DC to live the remainder of it's life on the ground as an exhibit at Air & Space!  This is particularly exciting to us because we live on the Dulles Airport flight path, close to the runway.  I don't know if that's the path they would take to bring it in, and heck, I don't even know when they're planning this monumentous flight, but how freaking cool would that be to watch it coming in from the perfect vantage point on our deck???  Years and years ago, I remember my father telling me that while in DC on business he saw the shuttle piggy-backing on a 747 as it flew over the Beltway.  I always thought about how amazing that moment must have been, and how jealous I was not to have witnessed it myself.  I had to console myself by watching the Concorde flying low over the Thames on several warm summer evenings while I lived in London.  What a beautiful, graceful, noisy sight that was...

I wonder if we can build up the shuttle landing for Samantha, to make it something memorable for her?  Better start talking it up now...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Simon Says...

...touch your head...

...touch your nose...

...touch your feet...

...stick out your tongue...

...grab your hair... cute... (oh wait, that wasn't what Mommy said...)

...turn around...

...look through the fence... (really?) thoroughly annoyed with mommy... (I'm SO done with this game.  Let's go home!)