Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Words Alli's Say

Ever since Alli was first learning to talk, she's had fun with made up words. I think it's from her Dad because he does it as well. For example, there are three made up friends that Alli talks about from time to time. The leader of these little guys is Chonchy, and Alli mentions him the most. The other two are Side-Joe and Leurkler. Ty went through a phase after watching the movie Sahara where he wanted to have a funny side-kick, and this may have influenced Alli on this issue. Otherwise, don't ask me where she comes up with this stuff. One day Ty was listening to Alli talk to herself- she does that as well, but I'm thinking that's normal.

Anyway, she said, "Dear Chonchy. I don't like you. Signed Leurkler." Poor Leurkler. He always get the short end of it. Whenever Alli asks another one of her endless questions, Ty will say "I don't know. Why don't you ask Leurkler."

In Richmond, while we were having lunch with my friend Keely, Alli said to her: "You're a silly ho-ho." Luckily for me, Keely isn't actually from Virginia (see my last post), so she wasn't offended but amused. Later Alli explained to me very patiently that Ho-ho is the name of the monkey on Ni Hao Kai Lan, a show about a little Chinese girl. Oh, it's all coming back to me now.

Lately Madie has been getting in on the fun as well. She doesn't say many words, but she has two all purpose sounds. The first is "dis" she repeats it over and over until you get what she wants. The other sound she makes is "burf," which means: "I"m really mad at you." When she says "burf" or "buf" in sequence she's downright ticked. It comes underscored with a whine, so it's not hard to understand.

The language of childhood is the mother of invention, and I hope they never lose the creativity they have right now.

Reasons why one year olds should be put under house arrest

We just got back from the most beautiful place on the planet. It's a little known secret: the state of Virginia is nature's wonderland. The weather, while hot enough to remind you that you're still in the south, is just breezy enough to keep you cool, and the trees and rivers and blue sky never end. If I get any say so, heaven will be like Virginia.

My parents, brother, and my little clan headed east last week for a last hurrah before Ryan goes on his mission to Australia, (mandarin speaking). I use the word "hurrah" because we stayed in historic Williamsburg and all the actors kept saying that. I'm not really sure what it is supposed to mean, but it's helping me get in the right frame of mind to write my story here.

Williamsburg is a "living history" experience where you can tour a lot of restored colonial buildings and talk to the people in costume about life during the Revolution. It's sort of like a theme park for seniors. There were a lot of seniors there, despite the fact that the street is a mile long and not easy on the feet. There were also a lot of other types there, but the seniors are the ones that stood out the most.

Senior Specimen number one had a room next door to ours. On the first morning, after going to bed at 8:30 for fear of waking Madie up in her port-o-crib, we were met in the hallway by this lovely 74 year old lady.

"Let's call a truce," she said, looking at us sternly. "I just had heart surgery, and I need my rest." Are we at war? we asked ourselves. We soon understood that a continual door slamming was the cause of her restless night, and she assumed that we let our children run loose in the hotel slamming doors until wee hours of the night. I assured her that this was not the case. We were in bed, like I said.

"Did you hear the baby cry?" I asked, since Madie woke us up at 4:00 am. to my utter horror.

"Oh, yes, I certainly did," she attested, although I really don't think she did. Baby crying is way more annoying than door slamming, so that would definitely make up my opening argument if I were the truce caller, which I wasn't. I was the berated mother.

She didn't bother us after that, although she did corner the maid with a barrage of other room numbers that needed severe discipline in the children department. Oh, we love those elderly tantrums. It's sort of endearing when you reach a certain age. Ty says I haven't reached it yet.

Senior Specimen number two was the gentleman at the spa. We had severe issues getting Madie to go to sleep, and the two hour time change didn't help. The best idea we had all week was to take the kids down to the hot tub right before bed to mellow them out. The pool area closed at 9:00, which was just perfect.

On our way out of the pool, the man says, "Isn't it past your bedtime, little lady?" to Alli, in that annoying judgmental way that still sounds upbeat to the untrained ear.

"Not in Utah it isn't," I told him without even breaking stride.

So things are different in Virginia. Even with the wonderful scenery and easy going weather, they tend to have a stricter standard of proper behavior. I guess there are benefits to living in Utah where children are accepted and not just tolerated. I asked one waitress for a baby sling and she looked at me like I was crazy. That was the same restaurant, by the way, where Ryan found the bumper sticker "Your body may be a temple, but mine is an amusement park." Funny.

I wouldn't even have cared about the slams to my motherly judgment if not for one small cup of ice.

On the plane to Richmond, Madie knocked over an empty airline cup and spilled ice and a little water on the woman's feet sitting behind us. After swearing under her breath for ten minutes of the flight, she finally said, "there's something dripping back here." I couldn't help it, and I think I giggled a little. It was kind of humorous.

We told her it was just water and we were sorry. End of story?

As I was waiting for my stroller at the plane door, the woman exited the plane and muttered: "I can't stand all these idiots who bring their kids on planes. Completely ridiculous." Well, welcome to Virginia to you too!

For these reasons, and other cantankerous Madie moments throughout the trip, I am declaring that one year olds should be put under house arrest. They are not yet fit for the public eye.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Teenage Woes

My daughter Alli is as friendly and outgoing as I'm reserved and careful in social settings. A month ago we went to a friend's house for a game night. There was a boy there--one that Alli and her friend Livi have known since they were born. For some reason, on this particular occasion, this boy was the object of much admiration, causing Alli and her friend to compete for his attention. Did I mention that my daughter is 4? Anywho, Alli didn't do well in the standoff, and Nathan, the man of the hour, let Livi hold his hand instead of Alli. I would feel for Alli, except that by the end of the night Alli and Livi were exchanging Valentines while Nathan languished. Neither one of them would give the poor boy the time of day. I'm sure he can glean some life lessons from the experience.
You would think that the incident ended there, due to the age of the participants and the obvious lack of 4 year old social capitol. They don't exactly have the capacity to understand complex relationship dynamics. Or do they?
A few weeks later, Alli and I were playing dolls in the playroom. She stopped playing and said to me, in all seriousness: "I will never forget the night when I was disgraced by Nathan." After collecting myself, I tried to reassure her that Nathan was just "silly" that night.
She wasn't buying it. "He doesn't like me," she said, like the world was about to stop mid-rotation.
"That's not true. The next time you play, I'm sure everything will be fine," I said, wondering if I was dreaming in teenage land and needed to wake myself up.
Then came the funniest sentence Alli has ever uttered. It was: "But if he sees Livi, he'll feel a special attraction to her, and he won't know that I'm special."
I told her that I thought she was special, and she said, "Thanks, mom, that makes me feel happy."
So there you have it. My four year old is an old soul.

My first blog

It feels a little strange to broadcast my life before the world at large, but everyone else is doing it, so why not me...I've always been one to follow the crowd. Actually, I like to think I'm authentic in every way, but let's be honest: we are all influenced by life. Plus, blogging is the new e-mail. Even I'm not that stubborn and have to concede that, yes, I need a blog in just the same way that I need cable and a gym membership-- to remain connected, not only in my daily life, but to those that mostly only exist to me now in cyberspace: college room-mates, extended family, and misc. old friends. To all of you, I say welcome to my world, up close and as personal as the internet can make it.