Sunday, July 31, 2011

This little piggy compounded with interest

Unlike Ava's cute, monogrammed piggy bank, we've been keeping Dylan's money gifts in an open ceramic jar he received at my shower. I think it had flowers in it originally.

I figured we'd upgrade at some point but we were persuaded to do it sooner rather than later about a month ago when Ava's 5 y.o. cousin came to visit and started to leave with a pocket full of cash she'd been generously gifted byAva out of Dylan's stash.
We sat Ava down for a little lesson in not giving away things that don't belong to her, then went in search of a real bank. I found this one at a local toy store.

It's a hard rubber number and from the moment I unboxed it, Dylan has been smitten: carrying it around, pretending to feed it bits of food off his plate, and giving it impromptu hugs. We've either got a Future Farmer of America on our hands or a future banker or accountant.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bigger but not better

One of these water guns cost $20. One cost .99. Guess which one failed to do more than spit ineffectively even after a tennis-elbow-inducing dozen or more pumps,  and which one has a strong, steady stream, whether wielded by an adult or the chubby fingers of one of the resident kiddos?

This soaker epitomizes the disappointing summer we've had. I'll be returning it in short order.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The mother of invention

One thing I miss about my pre-kids life is sleeping in on the weekend. I'm a night owl, but that used to mean that whatever time I went to bed, I'd wake up 9-10 hours later.

Ava and Dylan usually wake up between 6:45 and 7:15 a.m. and want me to fix them breakfast, if I'm not jetting out to work. So now that means that regardless of what time I went to bed, I wake up when they do. Which can mean rough mornings when I've alternated between my bed and both of theirs all night responding to cries, wet diapers, or bathroom runs.

A few month ago, before Ava could recognize her name, I started leaving a covered bowl of cereal and cup of milk in the fridge with a heart on it and telling Ava to find the heart, to buy myself a little more time in bed. I trust her to pour her own milk and clean up any minor spills.

This morning I added a new twist: a treasure hunt. I hoped that it would eliminate at least one reason for her first foray into our bed in the morning.

Right outside her room, she found the first post-it with her name and an arrow directing her to the next one just down the hall.
The final note was on the fridge itself with a poorly-rendered drawing of a bowl of cereal and cup of milk and a heart. It worked, but it's such a gorgeous day out that I couldn't stay in bed!

I'm trying to get active again, but I have so little time without the kids that it's tough to fit it in and I don't really like or have time to to drive to a gym. So I found a 10 minute workout online that I started doing in the living room.

But J. turned up his nose at it and gave me some sets he uses to train his basketball clients. They got my core working and stretched my legs, then we took breakfast out to the deck where the sun was shining and Mt. Rainier is out.
After a leisurely morning cleaning up, getting everyone dressed and having lunch on the deck, we hit a local park then were off to a birthday party at a local gymnastics academy.

As you can tell by the expressions, they had a blast. Then I got some quiet time after they went to sleep. And I haven't heard a peep from either of them in hours. Loving that gym more and more.

Even without sleeping in, it shaped up to be an awesome, sunny Seattle day.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Hope he cleans his dorm room this well

This little helper showed up 19 months ago?! Dylan, wait until you learn to mop!

Thankfully riding the rails and buses this Fourth of July

I spent the evening of the fourth of July listening to my neighbors set a chunk of their disposable income afire in the form of hours-long stashes of fireworks. Our house shook with what seem to my untrained - but not unscathed - ears to be military-grade explosive devices secured on the black market.  my mind turns inevitably to the topic of freedom. And earplugs. But mainly freedom.

We are celebrating the July 4, 1776 finalizing of the text of the Declaration of Independence, which created the United States. Even though people like me (Black, female, non-land-owning) were not technically covered by the benefits until the 14th amendment, I'm still grateful that people kept pushing to get it right.
I've written before about the woman I met in Portugal who renewed my patriotic ferver with her own reverence for American history. This year I took a moment to give thanks for the many freedoms I enjoy.
  • Freedom of marriage choice (no forced marriages). Although my parents may have taken issue with some of the guys I dated when I moved back home after college, they were always supportive of me and gave their full blessing when my husband asked them about marrying me.
  • Freedom of travel, (even without my father or husband, as some women in Saudi Arabia must do) which we did all weekend, traveling by safe, convenient, affordable public bus, then train to Portland, Oregon to meet up with J. 
  •  Bus ride to birthday party, followed by light rail ride to train.
    Train ride to Portland. Nook Color keeping the kids entertained on the three and a half hour ride after the snacks and scenery grew old.
  • Freedom of education. Yes, the public schools in our area are struggling and/or failing thousands of kids each year. But having been born in rural Louisiana to a young mom in a farming family and who was among the first black students (along with her siblings and cousin) to integrate her local high school, I know things could always be worse. Despite the barriers during the middle part of the last century, education was highly valued in our family.  I have two aunts who are teachers and most of my aunts and uncles attended or graduated from college. Education proved to be the ticket out of that small, limiting, rural town for them, and eventually me. 
So when I see pictures like the one above of Ava practicing her name in a fogged up bathroom mirror, I can't help but think of a time when she or I could have been killed for this simple, revolutionary act: learning.

  • Freedom to nurse my almost-too-big-to-nurse kid discretely in public without harrassment. Unlike the Chicago mom who was recently harrassed by a bus driver (!) for nursing her two week old INFANT on a city bus (Breastfeeding mom harassed on city bus), we took transit all over on this holiday weekend (bus to preschooler birthday party, bus to light rail, light rail to Amtrak to Portland, Oregon) and with the early start and long, busy day, there were several nursing pit stops for Dylan. Not once was I hassled or even given more than a passing glance. No doubt in part because I did it discreetly and most folks probably thought I was just holding a sleepy toddler in the crook of my arm with a burp cloth draped over my shoulder. Nothing to see here. Just move along.
Freedom to pamper myself and my girly with a mommy-daughter pedicure.
All of these were my simple reminders of how amazing this country usually is, especially in comparison to places that are not as freedom-loving. The day after the Fourth, I overheard a co-worker remark: "I've always wanted to go to the naturalization ceremony and I finally did this year. It was so affirming! 525 people from 81 countries taking the oath of citizenship."

"I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the armed forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God."
Affirming indeed, and a perfect counter to the anti-immigration rhetoric that abounds in politics, talk radio, and elsewhere. Sure there are still plenty of narrow-minded, short-sighted, divisive activities across this country, like Georgia's anti-immigration law and health disparities based on socio-economic status. But take it from those 525 people: we've got a pretty good thing going here. Let's keep working on getting right. Happy Fourth of July.