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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lessons From a Father.

I know there are loads of things Alexandra will pick up from Todd rather than from me. Making primitive fire. Patience. Basic Math. Todd has his strong suits and I have mine, and luckily there are quite a few that we do not share, which helps to expand the spectrum of expertise with which we can help to broaden Alex's mind.

And then there's this.

I know it's blurry, because this crazy exchange between father and daughter was fleeting, and was of course underway while I started clearing dishes from the table on one Sunday. Todd was teaching Alexandra how to...

I don't know? Fend off another species of animal from a fresh kill on the serengeti? Sharpen one's fangs on a lambchop bone? Just, I don't know, being a carnivorous badass?

Whatever it was, she learned it well.  I cannot WAIT for her future boyfriends to read the archives of this blog.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Randoms, I guess.

I have so many smallish things I'd love to talk about so I guess I'll just file them together in a mishmash of a randoms post.

1. Pinterest has been treating me well lately. On Sunday I made two recipes, balsamic pork and the accompanying green beans with olives, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts that is linked to in that pork recipe. Both were smash hits and also very easy, and I know they will be regular features in my fall recipe portfolio.

Portfolio! Miss Piggy! Lady Holiday!!!

Aside from those, you'll recall my latest food post, the Israeli couscous with chicken and peas. So good! And before that, I made an absolutely delicious chicken yakisoba and a great garlic dijon salmon too. So, yeah. Pinterest has been delighting me lately.

So has Epicurious!

Epicurious is a great app I have on my iPhone, and I've so far gotten two great recipes from it, a grilled butterflied leg of lamb recipe that Todd absolutely knocked it out of the park, and just last night I made chicken with a sauce originally tied to Chilean sea bass. Supremed lemon wedges, kalamatas, rinsed capers, oregano and olive oil on top of pan seared chicken tenders. It was delightful!

P.S. I now know how to supreme a lemon.


Okay, so I can't talk much about it because Todd and I literally JUST started it two nights ago, and are only into the fourth episode. But holy shit! I know we're late to this party considering there are only two episodes left, and I'm scared of the internet after that because I will likely get spoiled on so many things, but I'm glad we finally bit the bullet, took the plunge, got off the dime, etc.

And I'm so impressed by the acting. Bryan Cranston is a genius, and Aaron Paul deserves the role that he got extended. Apparently his character was supposed to get killed off in the first season, but the powers that be loved Paul's job so much that they made him a permanent character. That is a testament to his acting skills.

I have this weird urge to spoil myself on basically EVERYTHING I get into. I did it with the books The Pillars of the Earth and World Without End, and a slew of other books too. I do it with all the shows I watch, scouring the internet for tidbits and rumors, or reading the wiki pages of TV series that are no longer playing so I can read ahead and keep myself in the story without having to wait until Alex goes to bed that night to get back into that world. I become obsessed with and starved for new worlds that are created for me and other readers/viewers to enjoy.

But not now. Oh, no. I'm not spoiling myself for this show. And that is very, very weird.

3. Exercise, man. So it is very, very true that it takes just 12 weeks of inactivity to lose all progress in a particular sportt or exercise. I all but quit biking during the summer. After a bike ride in 108 degree heat that had me nearly vomiting after just seven miles (with three left to go), I locked up my dad's bike for the season.

At that time, I had whittled my time down to 48 minutes for a 10.25 mile ride. Once I think I even got it down to 46. Well, for the past two, maybe three weeks I've been biking again and my God man, my time is so sucky. Consistently at 52 minutes and yesterday was even worse, clocking it at 57 minutes. WHAT THE HELL MAN. I was prepared for some set backs but to lose nine minutes on my time? Gross.

I'm glad summer is coming to an end, even though we'll hit 100 at least once more this week (who knows what next week has in store), because I'm ready for more moving around outside. Even the dog walks stopped, thanks to the heat and my plantar fasciitis. Oh, those HIIT workouts? Can't do them if they include any sort of explosive jumping movements. They murdered my feet worse than a weekly run did. So when I do my strength workouts, all movements have to have my feet planted firmly on the floor, save for walking lunges (which I still have to do slowly, carefully).

These past two weeks have seen a return of both bike rides and dog walks, for which I'm grateful. It feels good getting back into my regular routines again. I think it will be good for Alex, too.

4. Alex's potty woes have for the most part abated, I'm delighted to say. Wow. That trip to San Diego really and truly threw one hell of a wrench into things. Her sleep is still a liiiittle wacky (still requiring lights to fall asleep), but she's back in underpants and I'm back to being happy. Just like incorporating dog walks back into our routine, I see things are settling for her, that she's getting back into the swing of things. It's taken over three weeks, but it's happening.

I know everyone is different when it comes to parenting styles but this little glitch in the system proves to me how children thrive on routine, rules and parameters for everyday stuff. That's not to say it isn't good to shake it up every now and then to strengthen them and prepare them for a life that is more chaos than control, but it did show me that a happy kid is one who knows, for the most part, what's coming down the pike for them in their little worlds.

And it shows me that taking a vacation three weeks after potty training is insane.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Swell and the Suck. The Rise and the Fall. The Pee on the Floor.

Ever since California, life has seemed all upside down. The crazy drive, the nonstop touristy schedules, the fact that the second week after we'd returned, I was still thinking we'd just come back that Sunday. Add to those things the fact that Alexandra, who had completely nailed the potty training thing, regressed so far back she's back in pull ups now.

And what is up with that? That simple, drunken, wolfish-grin fact of life that, if a kid is in underpants, she'll pee all over the place, but if she's in pull ups, all that pee and poop go right into the potty? Who wrote that law of nature? Because I'd like to go pour visine in his rum and coke.

Actually that's not true, she's peed in her pull ups maybe three times since she's been in them for a week. BUT STILL. It was getting to the point where she'd have at least one HUGE accident every day. Every goddamn day. And it all started in San Diego, and I really have to blame Todd's uncle's dog, Ivan.

Alexandra was absolutely head over heels for him, and all she wanted to do was play with him outside in the grass. Yeah, grass. I think that had to be a small factor too, getting to romp around with a dog, you know, not on gravel. Her calloused little feet were probably weeping in joy and disbelief. Anyways, sure enough, after twenty minutes of play, out she calls: "I'm peeing!" or just a stated "I peed."

The first time it happened, I went outside while Todd was packing up a cooler for the beach, and there's a big puddle on the sidewalk and she had already moved on to another part of the yard, playing with Ivan and Patton.

"Alex," I said slowly, staring at the puddle, the mockery of all our accomplishments, "Did you go pee out here?" Todd whips around and stares at the puddle and just goes, "Oh, wow." And I guess my favorite part? Was that Alex looked at it too and was just sort of like, oh well, yeah, I guess, whatever. "Yes," she says. And continues to chase Ivan.

So, you know, look. I get it, and I got it then. There was a LOT going on in San Diego. I mean, there was a lot going on on the nearly seven hour drive there. I had wisely put her in a pull up then, but alas, not an overnight pull up, so after a few hours of holding it and holding it and holding it, she finally burst into tears, wailing "I'M PEEING, I'M PEEING." and I tried to reassure her it was okay, until we got to that rest stop, and she was totally soaked through.

There were unusual circumstances, there was that damn awesome dog to play with. I get it. When we all came home though, I stupidly figured life would slip back into routine. Sleeping well, peeing in the toilet, all those awesome things that parents cling to like a person clings to flotsam while drifting out in storm-swelled ocean.

Yeah. None of THAT happened. For whatever reason, that vacation triggered a few things in Alex, namely with sleep and toilet training. I've already gone into detail with the pee thing, but there's also the sleep thing. If you'll recall, we have awesome rolling shutters, or if you want to get real accurate, zombie shutters. They're fantastic. We're talking pitch black environment, when they're shuttered up, day or night. It's miraculous. And Alex has enjoyed them ever since she was six months old.

Well, not anymore. She wants two lights on now, she never wants to go to bed anymore when it's time even though she has always loved her crib, her big girl bed, her bed buddies, the storytime and snuggles, all of it.

Now, if you visit that rolling shutter link, or if you recall the story, I will whip myself into a frenzy convinced that zombies are totes shuffle-stepping down my street, hungry for me and my family's brains. I CAN CONVINCE MYSELF, folks. So please understand when I say that my first thought, indeed my first panicked comment to Todd after that first night of struggling against the darkness and the bedtime, was "Oh my God, she's being haunted by a poltergeist."

Once you've stopped laughing, I'll have you know that quickly the situation cleared itself up, at least as far as we can tell. In San Diego, Alex slept in uncle Steve's office, and while we tried blocking out all the light that could still seep in through the shutters by hanging a sheet over the window, which Steve graciously accepted for eight days, it was still a very light hazy gray every morning. Starting at like, 5am, and I think she got used to it.

After the first night of fighting bedtime, Todd was reading our Dr. Ferber book, and the good doc reminded us both that right around this time, one or two things happen:

One, she becomes very aware that we are letting the good times roll once she's tucked in bed. She hears us in the kitchen and thinks "they're eating ice cream!" or she hears us watching TV and is all "they're watching Curious George!" and I'm like no, Alex, we're eating baked chicken and watching survivor shows. I see enough of that goddamn little monkey during the day.

Two, and this I think is more the thing, is that she's more cognizent of the darker things in the world. She knows now that there are things to be scared of. That the world is scary. Our backyard is full of dead lizards and birds, thanks to the cat, and that's only one source of the macabre that any three year old could stumble across. Scary commercials, a mean kid at the park, people yelling at each other in a store, falling down and seeing blood come out of your knee.

All those things can cause fear and insecurity. Mommy crying over spilled pee on the floor? Sure! I could have totally been an inspiration for a nightmare. I mean, hell. When she's in high school, I'm going to be the inspiration for 75% of them.

It's just funny, because it was so smooth for so long. I was used to constant changes the first 18 months, the growth spurts and developmental milestones. These two took me absolutely by surprise, and wore me out in a way I'd not experienced in many, many moons. We figured it out for now, sure. Todd put a very low-wattage bulb in her little ladybug lamp, and we got a teapot night light to add a second layer of protection against whatever tiny little toddler demons run around that darling headspace of hers. Back to pull ups and stickers and candies. We got this (for now).

But still, having such a relatively easy kid for so long was almost like a setback. I'd just about lost my adaptability, and finally this past weekened we had a night off (it had been so long), thanks to my mom and stepdad and dad who took the reins Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. I didn't realize how exhausted I was until they left and I just collapsed on the couch and watched three episodes of 30 Rock while Todd was out for the afternoon. Like, I couldn't handle anything of a higher caliber.

And my God. Just... sitting on my couch, no pee spills to clean with a trembling chin, no having to wrangle a wiggly thing into her chair for dinner, none of the bathing routine, the brushing hair, teeth, getting water, fighting-the-bedtime-thing... It was nice. We didn't need a dinner out or a movie out to feel recharged and like ourselves again. And when my girl came back on Sunday, I was ready to tackle life again.

I'm also more aware of how life with children is extremely mercurial, and how foolish I was to rest on my laurels of tackling the first couple of years. There is no game changer in life. Life is the game changer and once more, I am serenely and happily at her mercy. Just... no more pee on the rugs, okay?