Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Cave Explorer

Quite some time ago, when my daughter had just learned to walk, I picked up a set of Childcraft How & Why books at a garage sale. I had no expectations of my daughter being interested in them for several years, but my siblings and I had a set of children's encyclopedias when we were growing up, and I loved them, and was pleased to find such a good set for my own family's library. And so they have been sitting on my daughter's bookshelf ever since.

Recently my daughter became interested in the books. They have colorful pictures and good photographs, and she likes to make up her own little stories about pictures that she sees. She started asking to read these books at bedtime, instead of her usual rhyming books or Winnie-the-Pooh. So we flip through the pages, I point things out to her, she asks questions, we make up stories.

Lately she has had a very difficult time falling asleep at naptime. (Please, please don't let this be the beginning of the end of naptime! I need her naptime!) I'll walk into her room an hour or two after tucking her in, and she'll be wide awake. Sometimes I hear her scrambling to get back into bed as I approach the door, and she'll be sitting there looking perfectly innocent, or will even be feigning sleep (poorly; she tries to snore), but her light will be on, her books scattered across the floor, her humidifier turned on. She doesn't cover her tracks well. For the most part, I'm okay with her "reading" or playing quietly in her room. If naptime evolves into quiet time, that's all right.

Today, an hour and a half into naptime, she started knocking on her door (she can't open it herself; she knocks when she is awake), sobbing. I knew she had not fallen asleep yet, but she doesn't really cry much unless she is hurt or really tired, so I went in prepared for either a minor injury or some time in the rocking chair. Turned out to be the latter. I opened the door and my sobbing two-year-old ran into my arms, holding her encyclopedia, crying, "Mommy, I can't find the stalagmites and stalactites! I can't find them!" Huh. So we sat in the rocking chair, I looked up the "Cave Exploration" pages of her book, we read about stalagmites and stalactites, and I tucked her back into bed.

I hear new parents sometimes ask why no one told them about all the problems they would encounter as parents. I think the answer is simple. Each individual child's crises are unique. Nobody can predict them. Who knew I would ever be called upon to comfort a child who couldn't find her cave formations?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Recent Sayings

Two year olds say some pretty funny things. Here are some of my recent favorites:

[Daughter hands me a picture she has drawn.]
Me: Oh, thank you so much! I love it!
Daughter: Oh, you're welcome! I so need a jelly bean!

[To man walking behind us at grocery store]
Daughter: What's your name?
Man: My name is Paul. What's your name?
Daughter: [blinks. Points to her father] His name is Andy.

My husband pointed out that this is a pretty good strategy for a two year old. She still gets to learn the names of all those around her, but does not have to reveal her own name. Instead, she makes it known that her father is close.

[To cashier at same grocery store]
Daughter: What's your name?
Cashier: My name is Penny.
Daughter: Oh. You know the Henny Penny book?

[To college-aged medical assistant during my medical exam]
Daughter: [in authoritative tone] Doctor, you need to be quiet. My mommy is taking a nap.

[To her father at the dinner table]
Daughter: Mommy thinks I am a slimy worm.
[What I had actually said was that she was a wiggle worm]

[Actual words to the song: "No room in the inn, No room in the inn, but you will find room in my heart"]
Daughter: No fish in the inn, No fish in the inn, but you will find a fish in my heart!

Daughter: Daddy, do you want to play a guitar or a woodpecker?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thinking Again

The other day I was reading through some of my early blog posts. Seems that my two year blog anniversary has passed. Anyway. I was struck by how the posts have changed. Two years ago it seems that I was...well, thinking more. Or perhaps thinking about a wider variety of things. That may not be true; maybe it's just that I was writing about a wider variety of things. I'm not sure. Regardless, reading those old posts and thinking about the things that were on my mind two years ago made me yearn for deeper, richer thinking.

I started thinking about the books I've read recently. They haven't been trashy books by any means, but for the most part they have been practical living sorts of books - books on parenting and marriage and the like. Books with good ideas, but not wholly original ideas, as the authors would lead the reader to believe. For the most part they are rather poorly written and wordy. A well written pamphlet could relay the same information as the 300-page book. They use eight metaphors to explain a concept that is already straightforward and easy to understand. They are tiresome.

I browsed my bookshelves in search of a promising book that I have not yet read. I came across C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce. You really can't beat C.S. Lewis when it comes to originality, good writing, and clear thinking. I had not realized that The Great Divorce is a story. I had thought it to be one of Lewis' apologetics books. I'm sorry to say that it had been sitting on my shelf for years, unread, and then reading it took just an afternoon.

Then I read a few blog posts that whet my appetite for better reading and thinking even more. Bob wrote an interesting post on books, and the post continues into the realm of thinking in general in the comments. Then I found that all of Hansoniana's January posts deal with this issue as well.

I'm sitting here watching a very squirmy little girl on the floor. She has her feet on the floor, her head and hands on the floor, and her rear in the air. "Look, Mommy, I made a tunnel!" My days with this little girl are full. For her, there is nothing mentally tepid about our life. We read a lot of books. We learn about shapes and numbers and motion. We practice pulling up to put pants on and pulling down to take them off. This morning we talked about the difference between a shadow and a reflection as we found our shadows on the ground and our reflections in the puddles. We add new words to our vocabulary (well, to her vocabulary) daily. My husband and I are constantly amazed by how much she is learning, and how quickly. I'm sure all parents feel the same way. But I need to remind myself that an intellectually stimulating day for my two year old can still easily leave my own mind unexercised. That doesn't mean I have nothing on my mind; rather, it usually means I have way too many things on my mind, leaving no time or room to think about any one thing very deeply.

Just something I've been thinking about.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Poached Eggs

This morning I made my favorite breakfast for myself. Poached eggs on toast. It may not sound all that appetizing, but I love it.

My daughter is funny about eggs. She loved them when she was spoon fed and we found egg yolks to be a convenient and good source of protein for her. She even ate them when she first started picking up finger foods and feeding herself. (No whites until she was a year old, don't worry.) And then, without warning, she hated eggs. Couldn't stand them. We boiled, poached, scrambled, fried. We put them in fried rice and ramen noodles. We tried calling them things other than eggs. She would have none of it. Eggs were the only thing that Andy and I could put on our own plates without our daughter asking for a bite. This went on for nearly a year and a half.

Then a few weeks ago she started eating eggs again. Completely out of the blue. You would never know that the child had ever disliked them. We are thrilled.

So this morning, long after my daughter had finished her own breakfast, I made myself some poached eggs on toast. Two eggs, two slices of toast. I ate the first one and then called my mother-in-law. (Why did I call my MIL in the middle of breakfast? I guess I'm just used to eating in shifts.) While I was on the phone, my lovely egg-eating daughter climbed up to the table and ate the entire second piece of toast and egg. The whole thing. It took her about three minutes. I could hardly believe it. She asked for more, but she got some fruit instead.

My days of eating eggs without being asked for a bite are over. Now there are no sacred foods in our house. But at least she's eating eggs again.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Still Here

I think I have another post entitled "Still Here". How unoriginal of me.

Yes, I am still here. I just really haven't felt much like blogging lately. Things are good, life is full but not too busy. Spring is coming - have you noticed? Tiny flowers are making their way through the soil (and I wish them good luck in our yard - unless a plant is covered in thorns, the squirrels will eat it), tiny songbirds are everywhere, and the neighbors have started mowing their yards again. Our neighbors like to mow at night. Nearly every night from early spring until mid-autumn, someone around us uses a lawn mower after dark. We cannot figure out why. My husband mows during daylight hours, which we considered quite normal until we moved into this neighborhood.

Well, I am still not in a blogging frame of mind, so this is all the post I'll write today. Just wanted to pop in and say hello.