Monday, February 28, 2011

Perfect Ten

I. Love. Lily Ruth's. Feet.

I have been obsessed with them since way before the first time I saw them. Back when I could feel them curl their tiny toes up under my lowest rib. Back when she would tuck her right foot under her left knee then kick her left heel down the right side of my uterus over and over and over.

My obsession only grew once I got my first glimpse of those tootsies

I have tickled, kissed, 'chewed on' and adored those toes. Not to mention the pictures...

Oh MY! And that's just a very few of the toes pictures that we have accumulated!

Through the first 18 months of her life or so, I refused to put her in hard (rigid) soled shoes. I wanted her to learn to walk by feeling the earth under her feet. I wanted her gait to be rooted in the world. I wanted her to continue to use her feet to do things. You know - like a monkey ;-)

When I finally caved and bought her a pair of 'big girl shoes', I was afraid that she was going to change somehow. That she would be different without her connection to the ground. It was a needless worry. My little doll still spends most of her time shoeless. She also still works those tiny toes into every situation.

When we read a book, they creep onto the page. When we nurse, they inch up to my chest and my face. When I'm on the computer... well, you can see for yourself:

Oh, my Angel Girl. I adore you. Do I tell you that enough?

Zoo Day!

We have a pretty good zoo here. When it was built, it was the height of zoo awesomeness. Over time, that was discovered to be closer to a combination of visual awesomeness and animal cruelty. That was remedied. Now it's a combination of cool retro-look exhibit pens and new or updated interactive/larger exhibits. It even has a neat kid area with a learning center.

Lily Ruth is starting to get into the zoo. We went last month, and she started to really notice all of the animals:

- that's her taking in the flamingos while finishing off my coffee :-/

We went again today and she was even more excited about 'onkeys', 'eh-fants' and (of course) 'ISH!!!' She would have happily spent her whole day in Africa Live watching the 'ish' do their thing:

We're having a pretty good time. We seem to have passed through that awful phase where we spent all of our time getting on each other's nerves. We've even spent the last several days making each other laugh really hard.

These are the times that make you feel like you might actually be able to do this parenting 'thing'. These are the times that cause you to let your guard down and say things like 'we should just have another one'. That's when the whole thing will go kablooey. Don't get cocky.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Round and Round

The Duchess of No (or Princess Tinklebottom as she is also known) went to a birthday party today.

We have a strange, old, fairly dilapidated children's amusement park here in town. It was old and crumbly even when I was a kid. I vividly remember ruining my favorite t-shirt there during one of my younger brothers' birthday parties due to poorly maintained 'rides'. It's still around and still running. Someone new has purchased it in the past year or so. Some things have a new coat of paint. Some of the truly dangerous rides have been dismantled. Mostly it's the same. Which is why I have a hard time understanding why people that I know continue to have parties there. Today's party was the second event that we've attended there in the past 4 months. We go because we love our friends, but I am afraid to let my baby on most of the rides.

Last time, she stuck to the merry-go-round. It was immediately her favorite thing, yet she was terrified. Here she is white-knuckling it back in November:

She looks miserable, but she refused to get off until the party was over, and we were asked to leave...

Today, she spotted the carousel as we entered, and babbled about it until we made our way over to it. We begged her to ride a horse, but she adamantly refused. It was cozy, carved booth or nothing for her today. We rode for AGES. Mama rode with Lily. Daddy rode with Lily. We all rode the dang merry go round together. Over and over and over. She squealed with delight every time. She protested mightily each time we insisted on a break. Not to say that she didn't enjoy other aspects of the party. She adored the food. She inhaled the beverages. She went ga-ga over the cake. But her heart belongs to the carousel.

Here she is staring longingly at it during another party activity:

She gets the single-minded determination from both of us. It is not surprising, but it is in turns hilarious and exasperating. Today it was funny, and sweet. She just wants what she wants. She makes no apologies for that :-P

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Negatory, Good Buddy.

My delightful daughter has become the Maven of NO. It was bound to happen sometime. I had just hoped that it would happen closer to her second birthday... *le sigh*

Every query is met with either a 'NO!' or one of the two words that she has come up with that allow her to reply in the negative, yet are ambiguous enough to possibly mean yes - 'naaaahhhhh-es' and 'yeaaaaaa-oh'. She draws them both out in an exaggerated manner. I have no idea where she comes by this flair for the dramatic ;-) Obviously, both are combinations of yes and no. I just want to know when she got smart enough to figure out how to do stuff like that!!!

Here are two of the only times she is able to refrain from saying no. Example 1) Asleep:

or 2) Hitting things:

After a week of frustration, I finally figured out that I cannot ask her yes or no questions right now and I have to just tell her what we are doing instead of giving her choices. This has been rough since I have been working so hard to give her options whenever possible in order to giver her some power over her day (yada, yada, yada...).

Oh well. Every phase is a new opportunity to learn more about her, me and this crazy world we share... and this too shall pass - sometime within the next 20 years or so... *passes out from exhaustion*

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Friend

We made a new friend today. His name is 'Keh-Kho'...

Obviously, he's 'aweshum', and a gecko. He alternately postured like he's doing there on my hand and threw himself around like a WWE wrestler attempting to get away from us. Lily Ruth allowed him on her hand for approximately 1.75 seconds before freaking out and flinging him off. Then she chased him around excitedly shrieking 'Keh-Kho, Keh-Kho, Keh-Kho!'

We played with Keh-Kho for about 5 minutes, then I announced that it was time to take him outside. This was even more fun than having him inside! We let him go in the herb planter. He promptly wiggled into the aloe vera:

We watched delightedly as he explored the herb selection and found a warm place to hang out. He stayed with us until we got the big pitcher and watered the (practically dead from thirst) herbs. Then he floated to the edge on a dead leaf and climbed out. With one last backward disgusted glance at us, he ambled off into the great wild.

Adios, Keh-Kho. We hardly knew ye...

Monday, February 21, 2011

She's Done it AGAIN!

Lily Ruth grew. Again. Without permission. I spend one lousy weekend out of town, and she takes that time to change, grow and develop. Stinker.

I would swear that she is completely different than when I left her sleeping on Saturday morning. Then she was just my baby girl. Now she is a little person. One who has announced that her name is 'Uth'  (It will tickle my grandmother - Ruth - immensely that she has chosen to call herself Ruth rather than Lily or even Lily Ruth).

She gets her own drinks at Starbucks...

She has her own routine for our 'coffee, juice' outings that involves beverages, snacks and 'STICKERS!'

Such a big girl!


Today when I announced that her lunch was ready, she pulled her highchair into position, and put her cup on the tray. I came into the room to get her ready, and she had already done everything except climb in! Now she's gorging herself on deli-cut chicken, cheese and blueberries. Life is good for 'Uth', her cat 'Bingy' and her dog 'KEEE!'.

Stay tuned - I'm pretty sure that she's going to apply for college sometime this week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Flippers and Fins and Gills, Oh My!

Last weekend, Little Miss and I took a trip to the coast with my Mama. Just a quick jaunt. We were celebrating Christmas with my brother since we were scattered to the four winds for the actual holiday. Since Uncle Lucas ('Ca-cas' - yep, that's what she chose to go with! :-O) had to work until 6, we went to the Aquarium.

Lily Ruth LOVES fish ('Ish'), and even has a crib soother that looks like a fish tank and makes water noises. She go to sleep with it every night. She even occasionally asks to have it out in her playhouse. We started talking about our impending visit to see 'ish' several days in advance, but she remained unconvinced about the concept of a place where she could see a lot of fish all together. In all fairness, our zoo has a crummy excuse for an aquarium, and we haven't made it out to Sea World yet, so she knew nothing of the wonders that awaited her.

When we pulled into the parking lot, Mama and I debated about bringing in the monkey-backpack-leash. I know that a lot of people think that those are just awful, but honestly, she loves that thing and since I had not brought a stroller or a sling, it was carry her or leash her... or just leave her loose and hope for the best... She decided the issue by squealing 'monkey!' and demanding to wear it as soon as she saw it. She even makes me hold the leash end while she has it on - she's definitely a kid after my own rule-following heart.

We started out with the dolphins ('dau-fin!'). They were having a closed training session (no sitting in the stands), so we ventured into the underwater viewing area. Honestly, I could have stayed there aaallllllllll day...

It was beautiful in there. The only light comes from the tank.

After hanging out there for a while, we moved on to sea turtles. When we walked up to the tank, two of them swam over and stared at Lily Ruth for several minutes. She squealed with delight and wriggled between the fence and the glass for a better look. I would swear that the three of them were flirting ;-)

Then it was time to pet rays. Oh my! I had never touched a ray before. It. was. awesome. I wanted to pet each and every one of them, but they had other plans - like lunch - and Lily wasn't about to let one of those strange looking things near her fingers, so we strolled inside... and hit the mother-lode.

There was a room of jelly fish and cool light effects that made Lily want to stand near the wall and dance. Then there was a room of small fish. That's when Lily went into overload. She would ask me to hold her up to the glass, then she would 'walk' across the ledge around the tank and babble about fish excitedly (and loudly). Then we moved on to a room of BIG fish. We sat in a glass alcove and watched the groupers and sharks go by. Two of the groupers kept coming back (against the current) and actually brushed the glass in front of us like they were trying to get closer. This time, they weren't flirting with Lily Ruth though - they were flirting with me. We hung out there for a while...

There were lots more really neat things after that. Sea horses and birds and crabs... it's a really great place. Those things were viewed at a jog since my darling one was bottoming out fast. When she started to tug on my shirt and mutter 'urse', we decided to finish out our visit by retuning to the underwater viewing area. We watched the dolphin show from in there while Lily Ruth nursed. Then we stayed while she ran and danced to the piped in music. It was great. In fact, it was a great day :-)

Ahhhhhhhh, Love

Hi! I know that I've been a bit absent lately - oh, I just checked, and it's only been a week. Whew. I have lots of things to tell you. Lily Ruth made her first trip to the Texas State Aquarium. I made awesome split pea soup and I'm slow cooking a pot roast as we speak but fish and food will have to wait because it's VALENTINE'S DAY!

I'm one of those annoying people who claims in public to hate Valentine's Day yet secretly loves it. I started telling people that I hated it when I was in my early twenties. I worked in restaurants, so holidays weren't any fun, they were just days when you had to work extra hard for less money since most of the folks who go out on those days are folks who rarely go out. *Broad generalization coming up* Those folks (bless their hearts) are usually pretty demanding, and are (oddly enough) pretty crappy tippers. It's enough to make a jaded toughie out of a young waitress.

Since Daddy Don & I have been dating and/or have been married since those days, he still thinks that I don't care about Valentine's Day. I'm just going to have to tell him that I've changed my mind ;-)

This year, Lily Ruth and I have been busy. We've had an awesome day. We got out this morning and handed out stickers (mostly ones that had been in her mouth) at Starbucks. We also put lots of stickers onto pages from her notebook that I made into Valentines once we got home...

Then we went and surprised Daddy at his office (this is a terrible picture, but you can still tell how excited she was!):

We took him a present - 'Family Game Night 3' for the wii! Mama and Daddy LOVE to play 'The Game of Life' on the wii :-P

Then we came home, and while Miss Lily Ruth napped, Mama made rice crispy treats. Now, keep in mind, I'm such a terrible baker that I may have even ruined these. They're hella sticky. Hopefully they will be perfect when cooled :-/

Fingers crossed... oh, I also put crushed peppermint and dark chocolate into heart-shaped molds...

All things considered, the treats came out very well. I even figured out how to make twist ties look semi-cute!

Wow. That's a lot of stuff for one day! No wonder she's still asleep! Oh my goodness, my pot roast smells soooooooooooooooooooo good!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Is That YOUR Nose or Mine?

We've been working on keeping Lily Ruth in her own bed all night. It's going... pretty well... I guess... She goes to bed with a minimum of protest, but she is still waking up several times in the night and starting in with the 'Mama, Mama, Mama, Mommy, Mom-me-me, *sob*, Mama' then 'Daddy, Daddy, Daggie, Daggie, *sigh*, *sob*' repeat, repeat, repeat. It's enough to break your heart and ruin your R.E.M. sleep. So far, we've stayed pretty strong, and she has spent the majority of her nights in her bed. The two times that I have broken down and given in to the pleading, I've been so sorry. She retains the title of 'Worst Bedmate in the House'.

One of the positive things that has come of putting an end to the bed sharing is the way that she greets whoever goes in to 'rescue' her in the morning. No matter how loudly she was whining, as soon as her door opens, she pops up and says 'Hi! Hi Daddy (or Mommy)!' in the cutest voice that you have ever heard. If I'm still attempting to sleep as she joins us, she puts her tiny face right next to mine and just repeats 'Hi! Hi Mommy! Hi! Hi Mommy!' like a mynah bird until I respond. Then she curls up into my body and requests nursing.

Once she's done nursing, she plugs her thumb into her mouth and scoots up onto my pillow. Then we begin our daily power struggle for control of my body. Her favorite self-soothing technique involves twirling my hair (using an arm that has slithered under my chin) while breathing directly onto my eyelids. She also still likes to play with my nose using the fingers of the same hand that has the thumb plugged into her mouth. This means that we are nose-to-nose, eyelash-to-eyelash, and breath-to-breath. These moments are so sweet. I love the fact that she feels so comfortable with me. I just wish that attempts to remove myself from these embraces into a position that is more comfortable for both of us were not met with shrieks of protest and violent tugs to my hair.

She gets that from me. The ability to go from happy to absolutely furious in .001 of a second. It happens so fast that sometimes I'm not even sure what set me (or her) off. It's erie to see one of my least attractive qualities in another person. It's hard to watch her lose control and not have any idea how to get it back. It's even harder when we both lose it at the same time and neither of us is willing to back down. We glare at each other and clench our fists and she shrieks while I seethe.

At these moments, I can almost always see what it would take to end the standoff. Admission that I was wrong, a compromise, surrender of a position that I'm defending for no reason other than stubborn willfulness. Whatever it is, I just can't seem to make it happen for a good 30 to 60 seconds. In that time, I wait for the other person to give in to me, even if I'm wrong. I just can't give up immediately. I see that same look in her eyes. That feeling of 'dammit, I'm MAD, and you need to do something about it'. I know exactly how she feels.

I hate that I do this. I hate that I've passed it on to her. How do we change it?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Day? (edited)

It is bitterly cold here today. I say this in all seriousness knowing full well that in other parts of the country, these temperatures might be considered balmy for winter. I care not for those places. Right now I care only about my own comfort / discomfort, and believe you me, I am cold. I am cold because it's 25 but it feels like it's 13. This does not happen often here. What happens even less often is the 60% chance for snow this afternoon. I am not amused. Lily Ruth and I have built a fire (even though it's only 11 a.m.), and I already started dinner in the crockpot.

It's a day for hunkering down and staying close to home. Lucky for us, we're footloose and fancy free today. No real plans, no obligations and I've already laid in provisions. We have books galore. I'm fairly certain that we have enough art and/or craft supplies to keep us distracted. I'm also allowing continuous Elmo, Signing Time and Yo Gabba Gabba viewing.

Also, I may soon win a Mother of the Year Award for my maverick (that's right, I'm taking 'maverick' back) parenting style. In a fit of (in my humble opinion) genius, I filled Lily Ruth's mesh feeder with whipped cream from a can...

In my defense, it's that all natural stuff from Cabot Farms. In praise of Lily Ruth, she took about 3 licks then gave it back to me. I am now convinced that she is not my birth child because I will eat whipped cream (natural or full of chemicals - doesn't matter to me) until I am sick... which is why I almost never have it in the house... stupid winter nesting impulse buy...

Today might be pretty perfect if only Daddy wasn't all the way across the country instead of here with us :-(
I also wish that I could convince Lily Ruth to put on some socks :-/ I'll just have to settle for sitting on her tiny toes each time she alights for more than 10 seconds :-)

*** Edit: The fire went out :-( I would rebuild it, but Bing came over and PEED on the box of firewood!!!!! That jerk. He usually goes outside to potty, but His Highness decided that it was too cold. I guess he also decided that he's too good for the cat box. Jerk.

I convinced Lily Ruth to take a warm bath AND put on clothes - including socks! She's tired today. I'm guessing that waking up multiple times in the night to whine for Mama to come and get her is starting to wear her out...

Oh, and there is no snow... yet... but it is still in the forecast.