Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Crabgrass Queen

The radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun.
- Henry Ward Beecher

In most of the country, spring is here. In Colorado, we've had hail and snow this week, but I'm guessing spring has to be coming soon, even though the weather reports keep describing the "winter storm" that we're experiencing in April. Anyway, I love the warm weather and flowers and green leaves that spring brings. It also brings a lot of people out working on their lawns and, while Lucy and I have enjoyed working on the flower beds (full of now frozen seeds) in the past couple of weeks, the whole lawn care thing stresses me out a bit. I don't like pouring chemicals on our lawn and, as a result, our lawn usually looks pretty crappy. And then I feel bad that it looks crappy. It's a conundrum.

This is why I loved Robert Wright's article on lawn care this week. (Click here to read The Dandelion King.) It sums up my feelings exactly. Apparently some other Boulderites feel the same way. (Click here to read The Dandelion Spraying article) I like the idea of a natural lawn movement. (Long live dandelions! Long live crabgrass!) It's not about not caring for your lawn. Actually, Toby and I have declared tomorrow to be "lawn care day" (which, admittedly, is an annual event). It's about deciding that a chemically-altered unnaturally green lawn shouldn't be considered beautiful anymore. So how about this year we leave screwing the world to the golfers (actually Tiger, I'm not talking about you), and embrace the scrubby, wholesome, natural lawns that nature intended.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Princess And The Peas

Lucy recently figured out a way to use Noni's princess obsession to her advantage.

Me: Girls, what do you want for lunch?
Noni: Mac and cheese.
Lucy: Pizza.
Me: I'll make one or the other.
Noni: Mac and cheese!
Lucy: Pizza!
Noni: Mac and cheese!
Lucy: Noni, princesses only like to eat pizza.
Noni: Okay, pizza.

I thought this was actually a pretty good strategy. If it worked, I'd just about be able to hang up my parenting hat. I could potentially convince her that princesses always say please, go to bed right away without complaint, love sitting in car seats... the possibilities are endless. So I gave it a try myself at dinner.

Noni: I don't want my peas.
Me: Noni, princesses love peas. Love them. They eat them all the time.
Noni: No they don't.

Sigh. I was worth a try.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Uniform

When Lucy was three-years-old, she went through a ballet leotard phase. She refused to wear anything but leotards. At first, we thought it would be just a short-lived phase. But as the weeks and then months went buy, we realized the leotards were there to stay and we tossed the grimy gray-pink leotard she'd been wearing everyday and bought her a variety of leotards - the standard pale pink, light blue, long-sleeved purple velvet, pink camouflage patterned. She became quite well known throughout town, especially when winter came and she walked around town in snow boots and a leotard. Several times that year, I'd introduce myself to someone and she'd say, "Oh, I know you. You're the mom with the little girl in the leotard."

Now Lucy is six-years-old and, unless she's in ballet class, she tends to prefer shorts and t-shirts to leotards. Her little sister, however, has just entered her own phase.

As you probably know from reading this blog, Noni is obsessed with princesses. We just returned from a trip to the park, where she proudly brought her Sleeping Beauty book from the library to show her friends. She has also recently taken to their attire.

Princess dresses aren't as easy to get around in as leotards. And when you are a two-year-old princess in Boulder, you have to be able to hike, ski, swing, trike, and even garden in your princess dress. So far, Noni seems to have managed, though we've had a few hair raising moments when her feet got caught under the dress on the ladder at the playground.

We'll see how long it lasts. A one dress obsession has its advantages. Less laundry. No drama in the morning about what to wear.

When I pause to consider why I have two daughters who have insisted on wearing the same thing over and over again for long periods of time, I shouldn't be surprised. Our family seems to gravitate toward wearing a uniform. I pretty much wore the same fleece, t-shirt, jeans and Uggs every day all winter. And when we lived in Los Angeles, Toby's officemates noticed that he wore the same thing so often that they decided to dress up as him on Halloween. He had no idea they would be doing that. And yet, he showed up at work that day in his predictable attire:

It would've been so much funnier if his uniform had been a leotard or princess dress.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beware: Entering The No Nap Zone

As I write this, Noni is jumping up and down and crying and screaming. It's loud. She is upset about the state of her blanket on the floor. You might think that a better mom would get off the computer and help, but believe me, I tried. Does she want it wrapped around her? "NOT LIKE THAT!" Or on the floor with a pillow? "NOT LIKE THAT!" Or draped on the couch for a fort? "NOT LIKE THAT!" You see, it's really not about the blanket. It's about her afternoon nap. Which she has stopped taking.

That's right, we're in the dreaded No Nap Adjustment Zone these days.

Anyone with a child over four years old knows the story. First, you have a little baby who naps all the time. Then she switches to two naps a day. Then it's down to one. And now? It's not that she won't nap at all. It's just that no matter how much reading or snuggling or driving the car around the block we do, she won't nap until at least 4 o'clock. And if she naps then, she's up until 10 o'clock. Which is at least two hours past the time when all children should be tucked in bed and all parents should be enjoying a glass of wine, reading a book, participating in adult conversation or at least zoning out in front of the television. And so, the nap has been axed and the monstrous afternoons have begun.

The monstrous afternoons were tough enough when Evie went through them, but with the third child, the task of keeping her awake from 4:00 - 7:00 PM has added challenges. Like the fact that at 4:00 PM we are usually in the car, driving to soccer practice or piano lessons. Our afternoon car rides now entail playing the princess CD at full blast (If you can DREEEEAAAM...) and singing at the top of our lungs to keep Noni awake. Thank you Disney Princesses because, while headache-inducing, it seems to be working so far.

I imagine in a couple of months, Noni will have adjusted and, aside from Toby's Saturday afternoon naps, we will be a nap-free family. I already miss snuggling up with her in bed and reading to her until she sighs, snuggles closer and falls asleep. But the monstrous afternoons? I'm pretty sure I'll be just fine leaving those behind.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Evie's Smile

When I complain that I haven't had a very productive day, my mom will respond to me, "Well, the girls grew up a little bit today." And it's true. My job right now is to raise them and every day they get a little bit older... and hopefully I help them to grow a little bit wiser too. In the frenzy of laundry and meals and soccer practices and homework, weeks and sometimes even months can go by where I don't notice that time has passed and the girls are growing up. Then something happens with one of them -- a first word, a lost tooth, a swim across the pool, a new haircut -- and it hits me that the snuggly, toothless and clueless baby that I brought home from the hospital is long gone.

I had a moment like that with Evie today. I picked her up from school early and dropped her off at the orthodontist's. An hour and a half later, Lucy, Noni and I picked up an Evie with a whole new smile. She was still wearing pigtails. Also? She still jumps up and down when she's excited about something and she still believes in the Easter Bunny. And yet...

This is still Evie to me.

Only now, she looks like this!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Best Book Series For New Readers

Recently, Lucy has caught the reading bug. I love that stage when kids transition from struggling with each word to actually reading. All of a sudden it becomes fun. She no longer wants me to read to her at night -- instead she wants to read to me.

She has been learning in school all year, but I have to attribute her sudden interest in reading to a great series that we recently discovered. My mom picked her up the first two at Barnes & Noble a couple weeks ago and we have since bought two more packs of books. The author, an elementary school teacher and mother, understands both the importance of making reading fun. The humorous illustrations and story lines have Lucy hooked. If you have an emerging reader, I strongly suggest this series!