"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

"Take chances! Make mistakes! Get messy!" --Ms. Frizzle

Friday, December 30, 2011

Feeding Time

Here's a video of me feeding Lavender.

Okay, okay, so she's not actually a baby sulcata tortoise, but I think she and the tortoise would have a lot to talk about. I'm certainly not concerned that Lavender seems to be an inexpert eater-- she's six months old, and nursing round the clock, so eating solid food at this point is purely recreational. But oh, she wants to. She sits in her high chair at mealtimes, smacking her lips imploringly at her chewing, swallowing family members. It's hard not to sympathize.

About a week ago I went on a baby food-making bender, and our freezer is now stocked with enough mashed apple and sweet potato to feed a veritable infant army. We've barely made a dent in our ample supply, because so very little of the food actually makes it into Lavender's stomach. The first hurdle is getting her to open her mouth, which inexplicably clamps shut right about the time I have finished heating a tiny bowl of mushy vittles and am sitting down to feed her. My knee-jerk reaction is to make all sorts of Jim Carey-esque faces, although I'm aware of a small voice in the back of my mind telling me that this has never once caused her to open her mouth. Eventually of her own accord Lavender opens up and I swoop in with the spoon, at which point I encounter the second hurdle: her tiny, ninja-quick hands. Suddenly she has the dexterity of a concert pianist and is hell-bent on inserting that spoon directly into her nose. If I can manage to reclaim the spoon before all of the food has been spilled, then I can proceed to hurdle number three: getting the food to stay in Lavender's mouth. The second the spoon touches her tongue her face contorts in surprise and displeasure; imagine the tragedy mask of ancient Grecian theater. Any puree that made it in comes dribbling right back out again. I proceed to feed her the exact same bite of food about fourteen times, at which point it is indistinguishable from her own saliva and she happily swallows it. Aaaaaaaand scene.

I had forgotten what it was like to feed a baby. My foolish brain edited out the goofy faces, the awkward hand-spoon-mouth angles, the giant, giant messes. My recollection of feeding Geneva is mostly of us scarfing down cream of wheat together out of pretty Christmas dishes. I think I idealized those early meals because, frankly, it got so much more challenging. Next came the Dropping Food on the Floor Phase, the Oh My God, Are You Choking? Phase, the Eating Everything Including Sand Phase, the I Don't Know Which is Worse, Using Your Fork or Not Using Your Fork Phase, the Requesting Every Imaginable Condiment Phase, and Geneva's current Phase: May I Be Excuuuuuuuuuuused? So I know I have my work cut out for me. Lavender may even invent new phases I haven't yet experienced. Then in two years when she's contriving all sorts of excuses to leave the table, I can look back with fondness on the days when, although she stunk at it, she loved sitting at the table and sharing a meal with me one painstaking bite at a time.

Oh look, cream of wheat in Christmas dishes! I'm nothing if not predictable.

I'm including this one only because it fits in with the title of the blog post. Nana was taking a well-earned Christmas Nap when Geneva decided to line up the various components of a plastic sandwich on her sleeping form. Some cruel person (me) decided to photograph rather than intervene.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dear Santa,

I love you! I would like to visit with you. I want presents like a drum and a penguin or maybe a stroller. Here's my idea: give me a toy to play with and you can give my old toys to girls and boys. I have a cake for you. I like to snuggle you and play with you. Maybe I can give one of my old cameras to other kids. Thank you for sitting on your lap and visiting with me. My tree is kind of cute. I decorated it. What were the girls singing at the house for? They sound pretty. I want to tell you more stuff, like how we celebrate. What are we celebrating for, Santa? I think we are celebrating Jesus' dance party. Jesus told people how to be treated by other people: kindly.

Goodbye, Santa. You can write back to me.
Love, Geneva

P.S. I'm Flynn Rider.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fear Itself

Geneva is not afraid of much. When I read her Grimm fairytales (wherein someone usually gets cut up or otherwise horribly mutilated) she listens calmly and often corrects me if I try to edit out the gorier parts. She identifies with predators and always wants the Big Bad Wolf to win. Lately she has taken to declaring that she is a barracuda, at which point the rest of the world is expected to react with the appropriate amount of fear and awe. Even illustrations that legitimately give me the heebie-jeebies are nothing more than interesting for Geneva the Brave. Here are just a couple of examples:

So imagine my surprise when, as she was flipping through one of her books, she suddenly jumped up and ran from the room with tears in her eyes, shouting "I'm afraid!" What horror could she have possibly discovered? What ghastly image was I about to encounter as I approached the book lying open on Geneva's bedroom floor? Here's what I saw. Brace yourselves.

So apparently even Geneva's bravery knows some limits after all. She has nothing to fear but fear itself... and, you know, startled rabbits.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Geneva Speaks Out About Manatees, etc.

"I'm Bubah Jordan. I'm a fancy old stinker."

"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! ...That was a noise."

"That fart was mine! It came from my butt!" (Note: it did not.)

G: Sing "I've Got a Dream," Mama! (for the thousandth time)
M: How about instead you tell me what your dream is, sweetie?
G: I dream that you would sing that song. Okay?

(Tearfully) "No, Io, this is not your bed. No, no, no! ...Hey, come back and cuddle me!"

G:  I'm doing a zax-a-frax. Bends over and puts her head on the ground.
M:  Do you mean a somersault?
G:  No, a zax-a-frax. When you do a zax-a-frax you put your leg up in the air too.

"Let's listen to The Who. Bwam, bwam bwam (imagine a child imitating an electric guitar). I'm rockin' out!"

G:  I need to see Joan.
M:  Oh, that's sweet, Geneva! I'm sure she misses you too.
G:  I need to show her where I pooped behind the tree.

"I want to read the book about the beaver. The big beaver. The big beaver with the poky whiskers on its chin. The big beaver with the poky beard. The big weird beaver. The-- manatee."

Friday, October 14, 2011


I'm covered in goosebumps as I type this in our chilly basement, which is one indicator of many that camping season, at least for the Zoglmans, is over. I didn't anticipate getting to do a lot of camping this year, what with the pregnancy/birth/newborn thing we've been doing, but we did manage to squeeze in two very distinct trips: a three-night backpacking trip on the Olympic Peninsula, and a two-night car camping trip at Lake Kachess.

The beach trip was a rather ill-fated endeavor. Besides making a 350 mile car trip with a potty training two-year-old, we ended up hiking down to the beach at dusk in torrential rain and howling wind. I realized about a quarter of a mile into our hike that the camera batteries had died and threw a medium-sized fit, complete with tears. After hiking further on we discovered that the creek which can usually be crossed on stepping stones was knee-high and freezing. Amazingly, Geneva carried her own backpack the entire way (just ask her-- she still brags about it) and Lavender stayed dry under my coat in her wrap, but by the time we got to the beach we were all about ready to fall apart. Avery and I pitched the tent, then the girls and I crawled inside to keep it from blowing away while Avery staked it out using rocks and rope.

We were all fantastic troopers during this adventure, honestly. Unfortunately I think we used up all of our patience and endurance during that first night, because we were never able to really relax and unwind afterward. Geneva was aggravated by our rules about not bringing huge amounts of sand in the tent, and toddler aggravation does not play out well in a tent environment. I was stressed out trying to keep Geneva out of trouble, Avery was tired from taking care of basically everything else while I wrangled the girls, and Lavender-- actually, she didn't seem at all perturbed. But you get the idea. There were lovely moments, of course: watching little towheaded Geneva prance down the beach, following a sparkling trail of fish scales... laughing hysterically at the antics of Mooch, the local chipmunk... nursing baby Lavender and watching the tide roll in... skinny dipping in the creek on a sunny afternoon... It was wonderful. Occasionally.

The trip wasn't a disaster, but we felt out-of-balance the whole time, like things were constantly on the verge of going to hell in a handbasket. I spent a lot of time trying to convince Geneva that what we were doing was fun-- in fact, I reminded myself of Calvin's dad, assuring his son that every discomfort and inconvenience was "building character." Geneva kept asking to go home, and we were pretty much out of dry clothes, so we left a day early. I think Avery felt a little sad and disappointed; I know I did. Our beach trip is almost always the highlight of my summer. It is quite literally my Happy Place. This year was just one of those life lessons in acceptance-- you know, a reminder that not every trip can be the best trip ever. It also convinced us that next time instead of backpacking we really ought to try...

...car camping! About a month later we threw together some last-minute plans to camp at Lake Kachess for a couple of nights with Kristen and Tommy. I packed for the entire trip on a Friday afternoon while Avery was at work, and by some miracle I didn't forget anything vitally important. It was already dark when we arrived at the campground, but we found a site, pitched the tent under a nearly-full moon, and woke up to gorgeous sunshine that stuck around for the entire trip. As is usually the case with car camping we brought way more food than was strictly necessary, so we spent the weekend snacking and sitting around (in chairs! with backs!) watching Tommy and Geneva play in the dirt. It wasn't really all that rustic or primitive, it certainly wasn't isolated from other humans, and it wasn't hard work, which are all things that I have come to expect and enjoy about camping. But you know what it was? Relaxing. Low-key. Fun!

So here's what I learned: I love backpacking because it simplifies life, if only for a few days. The only things you have are the things you carry with you. For the most part, the only people you really talk to are the people you chose to hike with. You spend your time in solitude and silence that can't be found in places that are more easily accessible. It is hard work. It hurts. It clears your head. But... backpacking with children is anything but simple. Kids can't set aside the routine comforts of life as they know it and find that experience invigorating. Mostly they find it unnerving. And while adults consciously or unconsciously change their habits while camping, kids just keep playing however they usually do without considering that in their new surroundings there are new limits-- limited food, limited water, limited clothing, and potentially dangerous terrain. Now, none of this rules out backpacking with young kids. Obviously we've done it before, and will probably be foolhardy enough to do it again. Backpacking with kids is possible, but it is not simple.

My goal for the next few years is to find a new way to experience simplicity, one that means I can spend days at a time in the great outdoors without driving my children crazy, or vice versa. If I had to guess, I'd say it will involve a cooler... and chairs. With backs.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's Science!

For the last month we have been a three-kid house, at least between the hours of 7:00 and 4:00. Maya Rose has joined our crew of two, and despite being hopelessly outnumbered I am having a wonderful time in a house that suddenly seems to be swarming with children. One of the great things about having both Geneva and Maya all day every day is that it has pushed me to be more intentional with the activities I plan for the girls. Maybe "pushed" is overstating things; the teacher in me only needed a tiny nudge, and before I knew it I was outlining objectives and making lists of essential reading materials and generally being the world's nerdiest mom. In all honesty I'm not sure it's any more beneficial for Maya and Geneva to have "field trips" than it is for them to just run around and play, but writing curricula and planning lesson plans has kept me sane, so it's certainly not a loss.

So what do preschoolers learn about in the Zoglman house? Right now we're studying water, and although we're only about halfway through the unit I am going to go out on a limb and call it a success. Sometimes activities suddenly veer off in a direction I never anticipated, sometimes they come to a screeching halt, and sometimes we get ridiculously wet, but we always-- always-- have fun. Each day has me looking forward to the next, and I'm already giddy with anticipation at the thought of other subjects we could study and explore. Food! Plants and gardening! Music and sound! Weather! Bugs! Outer space! The possibilities are endless.

Well gosh, when I started this post I felt like I had tons of pictures of the girls doing watery, sciencey stuff! As it turns out, I have... some. The rest of these are just glimpses of life with the girl squad.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Narrator

This is a transcript of Geneva's running monologue this afternoon as we played in the yard. We had been painting the sidewalk with a bowl of water and several brushes. The "sword" Geneva refers to is a bamboo pole that had recently been removed from the front planting bed.

I'm walking down the street a-painting my head and-- that's a really big sword to... sword with. What's that? That's a sword to sword through there. What do you need? Flour and sugar and baking soda. Flour, baking soda and eggs. Ow! I bonked myself on this. I'll put that in the mailbox. I'm the mailman. I usually put mail in the mailbox. I put it in there and closed the door. What happened? The man and the bad lady... (ran out of earshot)... soar through the air with all his might. I get something out of the mailbox. It's waiting for me. And I put something in the mailbox and I said no. I closed the mailbox. It's hiding. What are you writing? I'm going to storytime. Water, I tooked it. Oh my goodness! Oh man! Dunked my head in the bowl. The stick will go "sword" in the water. Something's on the ground. It's a sword, through the air! Va-va-va-va-va! I want to hit Maya on the head. I need to put the bowl away. In the mailbox. I want a popsicle. How about a pop-- how about a popsicle?

Geneva came to stand next to me on the porch steps and I read her back what she had just said. She laughed.

Let's read it again!

Points of clarification:
Geneva really was painting her head with a wet paintbrush, which she later bonked herself with and then put in the mailbox.
I don't know what recipe she was reciting, but I think it was for cake.
"The man and the bad lady" is a Tangled reference.
She did not hit Maya on the head.
We did have popsicles.
She is always like this.
I was writing as fast as I could.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Haute Couture

Shortly after Lavender was born I started letting Geneva pick her own clothes from time to time. Okay, maybe "letting" is the wrong word; it implies a certain amount of intention on my part, when what actually happens is that I turn my back on Geneva while I'm dressing Lavender and she rummages through the drawers in the meantime. Sometimes she starts out naked and other times she modifies an existing outfit, with results ranging from charming to amusing to... inexplicable. At some point along the way it occurred to me to keep a photographic record of Geneva's fashion choices, mostly so that I can mortify her in front of future Prom dates. Until then, sharing them with the world wide web will have to do.

Some of these you may have already seen, and most of them really aren't the best pictures. I hope the subject matter will make up for it.

Snow hat, pajama shirt and snow boots.

Bicycle helmet and diaper.

Paper crown and sunglasses, though I can't say they're doing her much good there...

Sunglasses again, this time with a shirt and Mommy's necklace. 

Tank top, too-big capris, polka-dot tights.

 Backwards raincoat and... that's it!