Friday, August 31, 2012

Four Eyes

I got glasses.

I was starting to get headaches at work from staring at the computer so long. So I headed to the eye doctor and ended up with a prescription for some lenses to be worn only when reading or looking at the computer.

While I was there, I went through the torture of having my eyes tested and dilated and examined.

There was a lovely moment when the doctor said that he was a little surprised to find a small cataract in my right eye since, being in my mid-thirties, that was pretty early in life to develop a cataract. "I'm in my mid-twenties," I corrected him.

I was met with wide eyes and an "Oh, right," and some additional exclamations about developing one so young. He was very reassuring and told me about the possibility of it not getting larger and how removable cataracts are and how, if one were to have a cataract, the best possible spot to get one is where mine is. I was only half paying attention as I blinked back the tears. I'm terribly afraid of losing my eyesight, as most people are I'm sure.

At the time it seemed like a pretty terrible thing to discover, but I'm not as upset now. At least cataracts are removable. At least it's small and against the far side of my eye. At least it's not affecting my vision currently. And I have my glasses now, which I love, and I'll wear my sunglasses and eat my orange vegetables and hope and pray for the best.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Frantic Food Phase

We’ve reached a phase in June’s development, and that phase is called Don’t Go in the Kitchen.

For one, there’s her near-constant desire for crackers. We can’t leave the pantry door open because she’ll just wander in there and point upward and ask, “Cackar? Cackar?” Unfortunately you must walk through the kitchen and past the pantry to get into the house from the garage, so every time we get home I have to distract her with Wild Talking!! and Opening Blinds!! and Look At The Keys!! to keep her from glancing into the pantry and asking for more.

Another problem is the Sparkletts water dispenser. Sure, the hot water spicket is child-proofed, but the cold water one is not. So June gets a good laugh out of releasing a gush of cold water into the trough/onto the floor/onto her person. So while I’m chopping raw chicken with a chef’s knife, Michael’s on “June Duty,” but he’s mopping up the latest puddle and I’m calling, “June now has the blender, with is now just a glass-and-blade contraption of terror!” while wondering if I have time to wash the E. coli off my hands before grabbing her.

Nothing can be done with food while you and June are both in the kitchen. If you grab something to eat, pack a snack to take on an outing or even prepare the food that she is about to eat in thirty seconds, June acts as if she’d never suffered through starvation more than in that moment. Patience, I’ve learned, is not something yet acquired at 18 months.

If she so much as wanders past the kitchen and spies the refrigerator, she asks for “Milch? Milch?” She’ll hasten over and try to open the fridge and get mad at its refusal to cooperate, all while pitifully whimpering about her milch. I swear, you’d think we never feed her by how much she’s always demanding more sustenance. I promise you that we do, in fact, feed our child.

I’m not sure what to do here.

She acts like she’s starved, but anyone can see that she’s not exactly Skeletor. (I just googled Skeletor and it turns out I've been using this reference incorrectly my whole life. Skeletor isn't exactly...skeletony. Still, June mostly doesn't look like Skeletor.)
 
 
We can’t just feed her on demand all day. We can’t just let her gorge herself until she’s sick, meals must be ended at some point. I’ve researched how much toddlers should be eating. We redirect until the cows come home. We have predictable meal and snack times, and we’ve even tried increasing the amounts we give her in case she’s going through a growth spurt.

Girl just likes to eat.

We’ve gotten comments. “Wow she…she’s really taking that quesadilla down, huh?” We’ve made comments ourselves. “June, you don’t have to put all of the pieces of banana in your mouth at the same time.” “Let’s chew before we get more zucchini.”

Any advice is welcome.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Climbing Tandem

I think the most impressive part of the Children's Museum of Phoenix is the huge room you see when you first walk in. It's a three-story climbing structure made out of industrial materials. Think a McDonald's Playhouse made from wood and I-beams and wire net, but it also has whimsical things like a giant bathtub and suspended fish made out of milk cartons and a dog house. In other words, awesomeness. 


There's this one area that we've always managed to avoid - not on purpose, we just didn't end up wandering over to that side of the structure. It has five or six levels of crawl space where the only way through is down through little holes in the ground. Feeling adventurous and like a kid myself, I told Michael that I was taking June down that way. He laughed and took my phone to snap some pictures.



Turns out the small crawl space is a very small crawl space. 



Which might be why there were no other adults to be found in the thing. Claustrophobes be warned: once you're in, there is no way out but onward and downward.


Back and forth we went, me crawling ahead and June coming up behind, waiting for me to lower myself to the next level and then her behind me.


By the time we reached the bottom, I was sweating and June wasn't particularly impressed. I did a dance and cheered and tried to give June a high five but she had already charged on to the vacuum wall. Oh well.


Sometimes I wonder if she minds having such a silly mom.


...


Nah.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Jumping June

Hello there!

I'd like to interrupt your week by showing you two of June's new skills.

First, her saying her own name:


And second, her jumping:


She jumps a lot when she dances. She jumps when she gets excited. She jumps randomly while we're walking through a store or through the mall. 

Sometimes I'm so surprised to learn she can do something new, as if it comes out of the blue. Other times I can see it coming, her trying to sound out a new word until she gets it just right. But all times I swell with pride and giggle and congratulate her and thank God for this little one. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bullhead and Laughlin

I went to Bullhead City for a few days this week for work. BHC is right on the Colorado River with Laughlin, Nevada right over a bridge. So while I'd work each day in Arizona, I'd got back to my hotel in Nevada each night.

Laughlin is a casino town. If Reno is Vegas' little sister, Laughlin is like the distant, less-advantaged cousin. It has a distinctly old Vegas feel to it. A lot of gold plate, loud carpet, low ceilings and lots and lots of smoking. 


And it's kind of funny/depressing, because Laughlin's side of the river is packed with large themed hotels but the Bullhead City side is pretty empty and downtrodden. 



I had a great time. The work was good and I really got to enjoy the town after hours. A coworker and I had dinner, walked around the riverside, sat at the casino bars and got comped drinks while we gambled on the machines. 

I missed Michael and June a lot, which made the 4.5 hour drive home seem even longer. I was able to enjoy it though, driving through a vast desert listening to Johnny Cash and stopping for lunch at a tiny local barbecue joint.


And the kisses once I got home...those were the best of all.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Outing on Par

When you live in Arizona and it's 115 degrees outside, you sometimes spend an hour or so just wasting time in a store simply because it's air conditioned. We like to get June out of the house, but since it's impossible to be outside, we sometimes find ourselves killing time at places like...the golf store. 

Michael got to practice his putting and June enjoyed retrieving his ball. 


Once she got ahold of a club, game over! She didn't want to let go and walked around with it for thirty minutes.


Her Dad and Papa John will have her out for a round of 9 holes any day!


She only traded in her full-size club when we found her one that was more her size. She really got a kick out of hitting the balls in the hole.


We certainly won't be getting awards for the most glamorous outings with June, but I once read that you should spend twice as much time with your children and half as much money. I think June only cared that we let her play and explore and didn't mind at all that we used her as a ball retriever.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In Our Shoes

June's newest thing is putting our shoes on. 
Whenever she comes across an abandoned pair of shoes, she slips her feet into them and tries to shuffle around the room.
 This makes it a little difficult when you need to put them on for work and you ask her nicely and she gives an enthusiastic "No," while shaking her head and shuffling away.
 No shoes are spared, from a pair of flip flops (she'll hook her foot under one of the straps) to my new pair of running sneaks.
 I used to crawl around behind her, afraid of her toppling over and hurting herself. But it turns out she's pretty sure-footed, even though the shoes are about half her body length.
It makes me laugh, especially when she'll fuss over getting them in the correct location for her to put her feet into, all while muttering "Shoo, shoo, shoo."

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Well-Lit Apocalypse

When I saw make-your-own survival candles on Pinterest, I thought, "Now there is some emergency preparedness that I can get on board with!" I imagine I'll try to get on top of canned goods and first aid soon, but this project was a little more fun than a trip to Costco. Instead of posting each step, I'll give the direct link since it covers the process thoroughly.

On the day I found the Pinterest link, I announced to Michael that we would thereon out save all glass jars and within a few months I had ten lined up in my pantry. I ordered all the other materials on Amazon and then got to work during June's nap time. 




My 5 lb bag of soy wax made 4.5 large candles. I'm not quite ready to survive the apocalypse but we're getting there.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Derby Girl Part Two

I wasn’t the only person at derby tryouts without tattoos, facial piercings and edgy haircuts/colors, but it was close.

Another straight-edge girl in a lacy tank top turned to face me and another woman as we all waited to get our rental skates from the counter. Sensing some privacy, Straight-Edge confided, “Some of these girls are pretty rough, huh?” What she didn’t see – and I did – was the full back tattoo of the girl with us to whom Straight-Edge had directed her comment. I tried to make “ABORT! ABORT!” eyes but it was too late. Back Tat said, “It’s certainly a lifestyle. One that I find charming.” I didn’t know whether to shrink away from the awkwardness or giggle in excitement that for once, the awkwardness wasn’t a direct result of something I had said.

The trainers/coaches/managers/authority figures were really something to behold. Sure, they were tattoo’ed, pierced and dyed-black like the rest, but they were also smokin’ hot. Super fit, lithe, totally confident, sassy and absolute pros on their skates. Some barked out orders like drill sergeants. I made the mistake of asking one of them if I was allowed to use the stack of borrowed knee pads she was standing near. “We’ll tell you when you can get pads,” she drawled. I tried to say “Thanks” in a tone of voice that conveyed my coolness and aloofness but also sincerity and willingness to take direction. I’m sure it came out in a squeak. They referred to each other with parts of their derby names, "Go with Nasty..." "Lawless has the paperwork..."

The first group of women – of which I was a part – got padded up and ordered onto the rink.

I have been on actual roller skates exactly twice in the past fifteen years, both of those times being deliberate practices for trying out. Considering this, I think I did really well. I had been intimidated by the number of women who showed up with their own suitcases carrying their own derby skates and pads, but as soon as I got onto the rink, my confidence was back up.

We skated slow, we skated fast. We practiced stops, we practiced stopping from a sprint. And I have to say, I felt really great. Looking back, I think I was at least in the top ten skaters there. Other girls were falling right and left but I was zipping around them with total control. My glutes and thighs were burning after 5 minutes but so help me, I was not going to raise my arms above my head like some kind of noob.

And then it was over.

I took off my skates and watched the second group of women while we waited. I was told to stick around to hear who had moved on. I figured there had to be an interview round because of how much "personality" was emphasized.

They called us around and said, "Everyone that didn't make it has already left."

While the other girls around me cheered and clapped, my first feeling was disappointment. About 35 girls tried out and 30 made it. To my left was a waif-like girl in tight jeans who made shaky steps in her skates. To my right was a larger girl who had barely stayed upright the whole time. Straight-Edge made it, as did Back Tat. I don't mean to sound mean, but I had wanted to earn it, you know? If I made the team, I wanted it to be because I was selected as worthy. Not just some consolation participation award. I have a feeling that the five that got cut actually cut themselves.

We then heard about thirty minutes worth of information about the league. We had made it to the Fresh Meat phase, not an actual derby team. Fresh Meat was the 4 month-long boot camp of training at the end of which you were (or were not) drafted to one of the five actual teams. Practices were twice a week including a 12-4pm practice every Sunday. Those practices included lessons in strategy and nutrition and physical conditioning. One weekend a month you had to devote entirely to the league - 8am Saturday to 5pm Sunday - to help move the track from the practice facility to the match location, work the matches (bouts), disassemble the track in the mornings and then practice. This is an addition to the fundraisers and extra curricular activities the league held. One line I remember hearing was, "This is not a hobby, it's a lifestyle."

Then there was the financial commitment. Sixty dollars a month for dues, plus $400-$500 in equipment, including skates, pads and a custom mouth guard. ("Show up with Wal-Mart equipment and we'll send you back home.") A part of me wondered if they kept all these poor skaters around just to get the money out of them, and that didn't feel good.

The financial thing I could have dealt with. I knew upfront about the fees. It was the time commitment I couldn't handle. When I told this story to my boss on Monday, she asked what I had expected. I expected practices twice a week, probably starting at 7pm. Bouts once or twice a month, and I'd probably have to show up an hour before go time. What I wasn't prepared to give up was every single Sunday and an entire weekend a month. That's my June time, my precious June time that I don't get enough of already.

At the end of the info session, the other girls cheered and gave each other high-fives. Some rushed up to the veterans and started their elbow-rubbing already. I packed up my bag and said bye to some of the girls from my group. I already knew I wasn't going to join.

It was fun. It was certainly an experience and I'm glad I did it. Now, I guess I'm in the market for a new hobby idea.

Ultimate Fighting, perhaps?



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Derby Girl Part One

I tried out for roller derby on Sunday night.

Before I go into the details about how it went, what I did and saw and of course the outcome, I’d like to explain why I tried out in the first place. Because that’s the response I seemed to get the most: “But WHY?” and also “Won’t you…lose some teeth?”

I tried out for roller derby because I wanted to. Roller derby would fill a spot that seems a bit empty at the moment. Let me explain.

I love that I’m a wife, I love that I’m a mother and most of the time I love that I have a professional career. But beyond those things, I don’t really have any hobbies or interests. I read quite a bit. I write blogs. And that’s…about it. I want to have something to do that is only mine, something that sparks passion in me that adds to my sense of self independent of anyone else.

Under that heading, you could argue that I could take up crochet or jogging or a foreign language. I could reinvest myself in scrapbooking or Zumba.

But as girly as I may seem at times, as much as I enjoy wearing a skirt and some eyeliner, I also have a love of crushing skulls. I miss that release of physical aggression on the soccer field. I miss going up against another human being, your strength and training versus hers in a physical combat short of actual combat. While the strikers and midfielders tended to have more finesse, I liked playing defense because I liked being the Wall, the brute strength to stop the onslaught of the other team. I loved the feeling of colliding with another player and when it was done, I was still standing with the ball at my feet and she was sprawled on the grass. I would love to have another outlet where I can feel strong and fit, where I can belong to a team of girls who train together and fight together and win together and lose together.

So why not just go play soccer again? Other than the feeling of “but I’ve already done that,” there is one more thing. As some of you may know, I have a certain predisposition for the dramatics. And that’s something that Derby also fulfills.

In Derby, you take on an alter ego. You go by your stage name entirely – even at practices. You dress up in costumes serving as uniforms. A certain amount of the fun of the sport is playing up the persona – being cute and sexy but also unexpectedly brutal. It's a sport but it's also a show, and I love the idea.

Recreation
Passion
Camaraderie
Exercise
Aggression
Drama
Performance
Competition

That’s the Why. Up next is the How.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Remember This

June,

You are such a little one now. I am trying to appreciate you as much as I possibly can while you are still my baby. Every day you get older, learn more, and I feel you becoming less and less my baby and more my little girl.

You will not, can not know how scary it is for me to walk around with my heart outside my body. That's what you are: my heart.

I will miss your babiness when it's gone. I'll miss how you lift up your shirt to show me your bare belly, and then pat its roundness and laugh. I'll miss how you pronounce words, socks being 'schocks' and banana being 'blalalala.' I'll miss how you run through the house, but you aren't perfectly coordinated yet, so your little chubby arms flail or pull up tight against your core.

I now have to distract you every time we walk through the door into the kitchen from the garage. As soon as we step foot in there you demand 'cacka' (cracker) or 'milch' (milk).

You cry almost every time a meal is over because you just want to keep eating.

When I ask for a kiss, you don't often give me big open-mouthed slobbers anymore. Instead you lean in with a coy tight-lipped smile and press your face against mine. I ask for kisses all the time because I love them so much.

Every time I take off your shoes at the end of the day, I rub the little indentations on your feet left by your socks because I know how good it feels to finally get your shoes off. You, who normally won't sit still unless a book is in front of you, sit calmly on my lap and smile while I rub your feet. I think you like it.

You get so excited when Dada comes home. When you hear the garage door open, you stand still and whisper "Dada." When he opens the door, you run to him while giggling. You run back and forth between us getting hugs each time.

In the bath you like making whirlpools with us, and will ask for it. "Wirpoo? Wirpoo?"

Every diaper change is a wrestling match. You are constantly trying to twist and squirm away. You sit up, grab things, crawl away and grab for your dirty diaper.

You seem to know a ton of animals, but instead of repeating their names you tell us the noise they each make. You see a cow and say "Moo," you see a sheep and say "Baa!" You make a raspberry sound when we say "elephant" because I make that trumpet sound for you. Blowing the air out between my pursed lips makes me feel like I'm going to pop a blood vessel in my eyeball, but I do it over and over again because it makes you laugh.

Will I one day forget these little pieces of you? Will these distinct memories be obscured by time? I'm sure they will, but I hope that just by writing them down I might better recall. Recall your baby lips, your chubby knees, your round tummy, your wispy hair. How you like to wiggle when you dance. How you like to dance and ask for "more?" when a song is over.

I love you, my heart.

Love,

Mama

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Student of the Month

June was selected as the student of the month in her classroom! I am proud to an extent that is inappropriate for an award whose requirements are: be in classroom.

Her teachers obligingly put up with my antics and declarations of this being a truly great moment in family history and didn't even roll their eyes when I took a picture of her announcement.



So much for playing it cool. I guess the next step in parental gushing is June receiving a "Participation Award" ribbon and me reacting as if it were the Nobel Prize.