Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"Thank You" seemed the wrong thing to say

I had a 'well woman' check-up this week in which I was seen by both a nursing student (performing the exam first) and then the supervising physician (re-performing all points of the exam). Having twice the provider care took--not surprisingly--twice as long but it was nice to have so much time to discuss my health versus the 20 minute Hello-You're-Not-Dying-Goodbye I've had with some doctors in the past.

And without a nursing student present I would likely never have participated in the following exchange:

Nursing Student:  (excitedly) "I found your cervix! This is the fastest I've ever found one! It's right where it should be!"

Supervising Physician:   (approvingly) "It's a good one. Exactly like the pictures in the textbooks."

Me:   (flattered) "Um... Glad to hear it!"

That's me:  ol' reliable cervix, right where it should be. Sometimes being textbook is a good thing.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

to bed to bed to rest your head

No doubt I will, sooner or later, write a post about my frustrations with Uli's bedtime routine. However, before I write that post--possibly in an attempt to distracting myself from writing it tonight--I will list the things I enjoy about bedtime with Uli. Trying to focus on the positive, you know.

Really, there are many very special and happy things about bedtime:

I love the joy she finds in running around unclothed after her bath. She seriously loves being naked and, well, it's adorable.

I love that she enjoys picking out pajamas and is willing to let me dress her. If she's quicker than I (and, let's face it, she often is) she'll snag extra pieces of clothing from her drawers and cuddle them;  I find the mussing of the folded clothes somewhat annoying, but seeing her wrap a pair of pants around herself and nuzzle them against her cheek is amusing.

I love that she wants me to read to her. 3, 4, 5 books a night. Poetry books. Picture books. I love that she sits in my lap and leans back against me, twirling her hair while I read. It's peaceful.

I love that when we're finished reading I can say, "Lie down, honey. I'll turn off the light and come nurse you," and she'll lay down her little head and wait for me to crawl into bed with her.

I love her calm tone when she says, "Mama, Mama" and pats my face when she takes a break from nursing. It's a gentle I love you that is perfect in its simplicity.

I love her warm little body snuggled next to mine.

I love the way her legs go from flying every which way to a slow up and down and finally rest quietly as she slips into slumber.

I love her deep sigh she falls asleep at last and rolls away from me onto her other side.

Whatever other frustrations I have about our nighttime routine, these precious moments are true gifts. I cannot imagine my nights without my daughter and her joyful running, happy reading, gentle words, and deep sleepy sighs.

Uli, December 2008

'Night, 'night, baby doll.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Uli and the Pussy Cats

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting advice!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing letters to ask our readers for help with a current parenting issue. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I could use some advice.

Until recently the only attention my daughter paid our cats was to wag a finger in their direction and say "No, no!" very sternly when they attempted to snack on her food. Maybe she took the occasional cat nap. That was about it.

Ah, the good old days. A cuddle with James.

Over the last several months, however, she's become more and more aggressive toward the poor kitties. She jumps on, squeezes, kicks, and squashes them. She rolls on them. She pounds them on their little heads. She tugs their ears. She bugs them. A lot. All the time. Constantly.

It's not her only contact with them; she knows the word "gentle" and when prompted she'll momentarily let the cat out of the headlock in which she's placed it to softly stroke its back and excitedly coo, "KEY-ee!"  But we're tiring of seeing her step on and kick the "key-ees" when they've been sitting on the floor or lying on a chair minding their own hairballs. Last week we caught her jabbing a sleeping cat with her fork!

Lucy may have squished her a little bit, but it was no jab with a fork!

Our cats are not defenseless; they all have their claws and they [rightly] take swipes at her when they've had enough. I almost wish they'd defend themselves more often so I didn't feel I have to constantly rescue them, but even with their patient natures Uli's been scratched and bitten several times. She cries buckets of tears when they defend themselves; we pick her up, hug her, and tell her she mustn't hurt the kitties. We tell her she must be gentle with them and pet them softly. But it's as though acting calmly around them is a foreign concept to her. She goes directly from wailing about a scratch to attempting to ride a cat like a horse.

If we rouse the cats and shoo them away from her she follows them. If we shoo her away from the cats she smiles a sassy smile and runs right back to them. She'll continue to smirk at us and approach the cats regardless of how many times we move her away from them, even if we raise our voices to show how upset and frustrated we are by her behaviour. (I feel like an utter failure each time we raise our voices. I don't want to be the parents that yell at their toddler. And I don't even know why we keep doing it since it's obviously not working!).

I feel like if we don't get a grip on this cat business we're just asking for other issues later, not to mention more self loathing over the yelling situation. Or am I taking this all too seriously and just need to keep doing what we're doing until she gets a bit older and (somehow, miraculously?) acts more responsibly toward them?

An increasingly rare tender moment with Mischa

Dear readers, if you can please shed (hah!) some light on our Toddler Versus Cats situation, I'd greatly appreciate it.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be updated by the end of the day April 13 with all the carnival links.)

      Sunday, April 11, 2010

      Keep Up!

      Let me review the timeline:

      Learns to nurse
      Crawls her one-legged crawl
      Is terrified of birds
      "Mama" "Daddy" 
      Runs/Skips (not actually skipping and actually slower than walking. Prancing?)
      Loves birds ("Buh!")
      Sings The Itsy Bitsy Spider complete with the motions ("Issy Spy!")
      Off to Kindergarten
      Cures cancer
      World peace
      Is the light of my life until the day I die

      I'll fill in some of the other details for you eventually, but that's pretty much what you should expect. This girl is amazing. Nothing she can't do.

      Contemplating her feats
      Or maybe just contemplating her feet
      (It can be difficult to tell)

      Wednesday, April 7, 2010

      Whatcha Readin' Wednesday: The Brothers Lionheart

      This past month, as I was wading through a most unhappy novel (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo),* I found occasional light-hearted relief from that book's heavy themes with its occasional references to beloved children's author Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi fame). Lindren had nothing at all to do with the plot of the novel (thank goodness!), but I found the mere mention of her name uplifting. Once I finished with the novel and needed something jolly and quick to read, I scooped up my childhood copy of Pippi Longstocking and devoured its happiness immediately. A quick jump on the library website revealed that Lindgren is a prolific author and there are several translations of her books in our local system. I checked-out one at random.

      I was looking forward to a break from the fear, torture and death that Dragon Tattoo was all about. Coming off of Pippi I figured that all of Lindgren's books would mean happy, bubbly, nonsensical fun. Ummm... turns out The Brother's Lionheart, which is the book I ordered from the library, is NOT that book.

      I find it very strange that the cover art for the edition I borrowed from our library, with its rugged and ominous landscape and dreadful monsters, is practically no where to be found online. (I did eventually find one photo: you can see it here on Amazon). Instead,  the only book cover I could easily find is this one below.

      The two are quite different! The first reflects (accurately) that the story is an adventure (or, a "saga" as the translation puts it), but the more popular cover would make a reader assume it's a peaceful storybook.Which it is not.

      Without giving too much away (you can go to  Wikipedia to read spoilers) I can tell you that accidental deaths of children, a child born with a crippling and degenerative disease, transfiguration of the soul/reincarnation, and suicide are all essential parts of this novel. Wow!

      I think it's safe to say that the book's themes are far heavier than are most written for young readers and when you think about when Lindgren published this novel (the 70's) I'm amazed by both her faith in children (faith that they were ready for such a tale) and by the audacity of her publishers (they must have received some flack for this). After finishing The Brothers I imagined that no children had ever really "gotten" this read, but after I poked around on I found many reviews from readers claiming this was their favorite book when they were little. So, okay. Maybe at 33 I've already forgotten what it was like to be a young reader, excited to be trusted with adult themes. Maybe I forget how ready children can be for big ideas. I don't know.

      I will not be rushing out to add this book to our home library, but if Uli picks it up in ten years, at least I'll be more prepared for the questions she might ask. It's intense, but interesting. And if the Goodreads folk are speaking the truth, it maybe be an essential read for the pre-teen. (I don't get that, but I'm no longer a pre-teen so there's probably a lot I don't remember about that age.)

      *(Note: if you liked Brad Pitt's film Seven you'll enjoy the book. If you felt haunted and or mentally scarred by that movie avoid Dragon Tattoo at all costs; both stories evoke similar feelings in the reader/viewer.)

      Monday, April 5, 2010

      Springing into action

      The sunshine is actually warming rather than just bright, the grass is not only visible but green, and you can stand in the wind without your nose hairs freezing. It's officially Spring!

      I know, it's already been Spring for several weeks, but there's something about the post-Passover/Easter spring that is even more significantly spring than the equinox. Before Easter it's exciting to see the days lengthen, the snow begin to melt. But after Easter the snow is really truly gone, and the nights are warm enough allow pleasant strolls. It's really truly time to get outside. Dig the soil. Plant some plants. Take the dogs for walks.

      It's also time for spring cleaning, which is refreshing in its own way but in my case still feels overwhelming. There is SO MUCH STUFF in our house that to consider sorting through it all, categorizing it (Keep, Freecycle/Donate or Recycle/Toss), and then organizing everything that's left just makes me want to crumble. I'll happily smack some floor rugs but don't make me sort through the piles on the buffet (or the night table or the kitchen island or the bathroom counter or the basement. Especially not the basement)!

      Sometimes I wish that instead of spring cleaning it was common to practice a Spring Swap. I imagine large numbers of people deciding to pack up only their dearest possessions, leaving the rest of their stuff where it is and then swapping houses and jobs with each other. Just to give one another a different experience, a new view. It could be through the summer or for an entire year, but after the designated time you could either swap back and return to your house and the stuff you left behind or you could try out another new place, another arrangement.

      If we were to actually do it this year, I picture my family and I moving to a Mongolian yurt (ger). 2010 just feels like a yurt year.

      Not practical, perhaps (the swap, that is), but I am seriously thinking about a yurt. I'm reading up on them so I'll be ready, just in case.

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