Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Our niece is staying with us for a week. Things to know about V: she is an only child, very precocious and dangerously smart. She talks A LOT. Her parents work, among other things, in real estate, which meant that for years, she had two parents home with her virtually all the time, and she had a very charmed life. Lately, her father has been ill, and her mother has gone back to working as a home health care nurse (in addition to managing a large number of properties), which means that V has had less attention. It has done her a world of good. Because her parents have been under extreme pressure and stress, I asked if V could come stay with us for the week. She showed up on Monday (her mom forgot to let us know when she'd be coming, so we were at the grocery store) and we plunged right in.

It has been surprisingly easy to care for an eight year old and a one year old- surprisingly easy interspersed with moments of terrifying impossibility. I fell off the earth mother wagon with a vengeance, allowing her to stay up until midnight last night for a Wii Marathon, and then shoving cocoa puffs and Hawaiian punch at her for breakfast (on the run, in the car) on the way to my mother's house to let her swim for an hour before picking up and Owen and bringing him home for a nap. Of course, she had a glazed doughnut at Mom's, and asked her for another even after I said no. Mom promptly sent her home with half a box full. In an attempt to regain authority and prevent the ineveitable melt down once the sugar high wears off, I ran V a bath and gave her some water to flush out her system. She will easily stay in the bathtub for over an hour (as I learned Wednesday morning) which is FANTASTIC. I asked what she wanted for lunch today, and got the same answer I always get: watermelon. With further prompting, macaroni and cheese was added to the menu. (V has never been a fan of my cooking, so I decided to give in and just serve her kid food all week- macaroni and cheese, Stouffer's lasagna, Capri Sun juice boxes. I am about to die from lack of real food). When I asked if she would like broccoli and dip to go with her lunch, she gave me a distaining look (as only an 8-year-old can give) and said "Of course. Who wouldn't?" Well, duh.


One of my favorite conversations from this week:

To my father, who fool-heartedly asked her a GIGANTIC open ended question at the beginning of dinner:

Dad: So what have you been doing since school let out?

V: Well, I have been to horse camp. What do we do at horse camp, you might be wondering? Well, don't worry, I am going to tell you everything you might want to know. (This caused my mother and I to exchange a look of sheer panic, as we knew she meant what she said.)

A lengthy discussion of horse camp ensued, including a recap of the field trips they took- one to a puppy mill!?!?!?!?! I thought puppy mill was a derogatory term, but apparently not.

















Monday, June 16, 2008

Kimberlina sent me this link
which got me started on things that have been successful for Owen this past year.

1. a package of clothespins (not the clippy kind, but the kind that are one piece and advertised to make dolls with)- this $2 will go a LONG way. Pair them with clean milk cartons (or containers with openings of various sizes) for hours of enjoyment. Well, in 20 minute increments. Just don't let kiddo chew and walk at the same time. I got mine at JoAnns.

2. Large mouth nalgene bottle- the key here is the twist off cap that is attached and not a choking hazard. I keep one in my purse with a few of the above mentioned clothes pins.

3. Laundry basket. Include a ball for extra fun.

4. Clean laundry- esp. kitchen dish towels and burp clothes. Owen "helps" fold (ie picks up pieces and runs away) but he likes to manipulate cloth. He has enjoyed playing in laundry since he was about 3 months old.

5. An unopened box of pasta.

6. Almost all plastic containers that I previously recycled have become Owen's. Try sticking toys inside clear containers (tupperware, etc.) and put the lid on. (WARNING: this can frustrate kids, but keeps Owen occupied).

7. A dishpan of water and a cup or container. (Oooh.. funnels...) Do this outside. Don't let your kid drown, and be prepared for full on bath. Owen always tries to climb in.

8. A ceiling fan for really little babies. Some people tape streamers on and turn the fan on low.

9. A book of finger games. Marthe can attest to the seemingly impossibly large number of times the "itsy bitsy spider" song can be sung in one day.

10. Old magazines or phone books or anything that can be destroyed.

ALSO: PSA to parents of toddlers:

You will be tempted to stick bags/tubes of Gerber Graduates Finger Foods in your purse. Don't. They don't stay closed, and you end up with sweet potato puff powder in your lipstick and yogurt melts in your cell phone.

Really, I am so full of unsolicited advice I could burst. Instead, I end up spewing it all over virtual strangers. And acquaintances.

Along with unsolicited advice, I am also full of questions. Please feel free to answer. Really.

My current dilemma involves sand, and how to stop Owen from eating it. Any advice is appreciated.