Adventures in Chaos-Quelling: Sisyphus and the Swiffer

Actually the chaos of the move has subsided moderately. Moderately. We have officially listed our condo (ok, almost - there was some kind of transaction issue and it's supposed to be up sometime today now). A cousin's son may be willing to mow our jungle for us. Our external light is fixed thanks to the magic of people who know people on Facebook. Our bedroom has curtains. Andrew's car isn't exploding. And this weekend (and this weekend only), we're actually not off on some kind of crazy excursion or other. We may stay in town the entire weekend, even! Maybe catch up on taming the chaos of our designated "pile o'shiznet" in the office and basement. Naw. But it's a noble idea.

Oh and the baby plague has subsided moderately. Chaya is still coughing, but she's back to staying up for a half hour telling her bunny rather stirring bedtime stories, and otherwise being less utterly miserable at times.



And now to the big chaos: Life. No way that's getting handled anytime soon.

But we are trying to let things settle a bit more and I'm experimenting with keeping some semblance of order in our lovely domicile.

Cleaning Buy-in for Baby

So I feel like this is another area that just has no consistency of opinion. I know the following with some degree of wiki-certainty:

 (1) moms running around cleaning up after their children all the time apparently breeds children with entitlement and no idea how to handle themselves,

 (2) but kids who live in chaotic messes are overwhelmed and overstimulated and they benefit from having things put away,

(3) But wait aren't messy people typically more creatives?

 (4) Ok, but seriously, give kids chores (but don't call them "chores" - maybe contributions or I don't know cucumbers?) and don't bribe them  to do them. And even toddlers can help around the house

 (5) Also the perpetual chaos is totally stressful and terrifying and it's nice to have things occasionally corralled

(6) Ok, so kids can help around the house, but what if they don't think that a toddler cleaning song and asking them to help mommy or turning it into a game interests them? Don't you dare turn this into an unecessary battle or go all disciplinarian on that poor toddler. They are way too young to have impulse control or understand pretty much anything. Really, we should lower our expectations of kids this age. Stop being so rigid and evil!




So of course the only alternative is to get rid of all our possessions and just go on playdates with affluently cluttered babies.

Some kids like to follow instructions. Like at the Mommy and Me Class, Chaya's buddy Isla is giddy about skipping in a circle, or lifting her leg, or pointing to her nose, or finding the BLUE BALL (and only the blue ball) to give back to Miss Mo for putting away.

Chaya's happy to show off and insists on being quizzed about animal noises, where certain things are, and the like. She has no time for "helping" or playing games. And really never has. I'm the hands-off mom who lets her run rampant during class time. I can't help it. I keep muttering under my breath things like "who the fuck cares if it's a green ball?" Though when we have all the little games that involve doing various things while holding hands and moving in a circle, I carry Chaya along. And when we're playing with the big parachute, I do prevent her from climbing on top of it. But seriously, the grief, exhaustion and angst some moms experience trying to corral their childrens at what's supposed to be a fun dance class? I feel a little guilty to thwart the teacher's instructions, which makes me even more resistant.

Anyways, yes, so instructions and games. Chaya plays her own games.



But I have found some success in asking her if she'll help put things away into their designated boxes. She won't always, but I let her kind of hold and throw them in. And she gets the idea. When Amber (who leads the other toddler music class in Bellingham, and who is way more chill about kids "experiencing music" however they want as long as it's safe) asks Chaya to put her scarves back in the box, she does it happily).

And the biggest thing so far? Just having designated places. I'm working more on keeping the clutter away. Most of the time, if the majority of Chaya's toys are put in big drawers, Chaya will focus on the toys already out. The more she sees, the more she grabs. I'm sure that will change, but she's in between "throw everything out of every cupboard and crevice" phases. And in the meantime, I'm having times where we put things back. She can help, but maybe not super well. She's young yet.

She does like to run laps holding the broom! And sometimes seems to use her animals as dust rags on the ground. Vroom vroom cleaning!

 Dishwasher Dalliances

I've largely been a reluctant patron of the electronic dishwasher. When I was single, it never made much sense to load up an entire vat full of dishes that I didn't even have. I mostly kept one of every dish and handwashed judiciously. Even when it was the two of us, it didn't seem like we went through dishes fast enough to justify using it all that often. During Chaya's brief flirtation with bottle and formula feeding, we started using it daily. But that didn't last particularly long. 

The problem has always been (1) one rack of the dishwasher inevitably fills up while the other rack is totally empty, or (2) the things I need daily are plentiful enough to require a fairly involved hand-washing regime, yet  not plentiful enough to justify running the dishwasher rapidly enough to keep up with demand. 

Leading to a discretionary system of what exactly it means for the dishwasher to be approaching capacity... And there are two of us making that judgment call!

This leads to all sorts of jiu jitsu and miscommunications between well-meaning spouses. I hand wash and hand wash and hand wash... then Andrew runs the half-full dishwasher without any of the things I would put in the dishwasher if I had only known it was about to be run. Alternately, I load up the dishwasher and run it without his stuff, which he then leaves in the sink (I have this visceral reaction to dishes in an early morning sink - I think I cannot actually sleep if I even sense there may be dishes there). Alternately, I load up the dishwasher, excepting he'll run it when he adds his dishes ... and then find out when I need several of the dishes that I loaded that he didn't really think it was full enough to run. 

Anyways, it actually is also environmentally more efficient to run modern dishwashers versus handwashing. If you can make it work.

So I have given it a one-week trial run. I lean heavily on the Instant Pot for dinner. And several small microwave dishes. And I'm finding that if I'm motivated, I can fill up a dishwasher fairly well in a day. So we're going back to daily usage and I'm trying to limit my instinctive handwashing.

And, it's not a 100% winning, but it's interesting. A few revelations

Day One: We don't have the sort of dishwasher that holds down smaller items, so it's challenging to load many of Chaya's little cups so they don't flip over and pool water during washing
On the bright side, great for washing Chaya's plastic toys, toothbrushes, even my keys. Lots of things that should be washed more regularly but otherwise weren't.

Day Two:
Does not get cooked on egg off. At all. A quick soak in cold water and a little scrub is way more effective. How much do I want those glasses to be sparkling?

Day Three:

Apparently slow cooked lentil marsala vaguely fushionesque stewy type thing is not 100% effectively cleansed in the dishwasher. There are some instructions on how to place pots to improve cleaning. I'm not sure how well I've followed them

Day Four:

Theoretically, the dishwasher would work better if I cleaned the filter. And the dishwasher. And I probably "should."

Though hold up!! Forget SHOULD. I've been practicing not just using "should" as "should" can be kind of a junk word laden with pointless guilt and morality. Instead I try to state the cause and effect. As in "If I clean the dishwasher, it will clean more effectively." Then I can weigh the options.

So. That. If I want to give the dishwasher a fair shot, it'd work better with a clean filter. But who said I'm a fair person. Dishwashers are for lazy people right?

Day Five:

The dishwasher has inspired me to branch out my cooking chops (and/or chips - tortilla chips all around!). Not always for a best. I do not think ovens and toddlers mix. Nor did my amaranth fritter recipe complement my baking pan and oven. I'm fairly certain I would have been better off pan frying them, but attempting to do anything that in-the-moment with a Chaya-beast going full gremlin about 20-15 minutes before dinner. The epic amount of presoaking before loading the pans into the dishwasher really undermined any pretense of time/energy saving But there was so much space in the bottom rack!! I had to!! And I will say that it actually did add a nice sparkle to those beleaguered baking pans.

Day Six:

Andrw asks "do you really want me to run the dishwasher tonight?" It doesn't look super full. I scramble to load things in that could use a wash. Chaya's little tray actually fits well in there. And our coffee mugs really could stand to be washed more often.

And we don't have any pets or potted plants, so many frenzied filling disasters averted on those grounds, anyways.

Takeaways:

I'm not sure if this is the way to go. But it's worth trying for a little while longer.

I got better at loading the upper racks so things don't flip. Some days it feels like a stretch to run it. Other days, we have excess loads. But running the dishwasher in the middle of the day is a pain and creates hassle.

I think the biggest impact is making Andrew's job easier, since I'm fairly motivated about loading the dishwasher. But there are worse things in the world.

It means unloading the dishwasher is one more thing to do in the morning, but I'm getting a bit of science behind doing that. And it makes routine cleaning of things that could stand to be washed more often a little easier. You can wash toothbrushes, sponges, toys (some toys). That's an awesome feature. 

A Moveable Momma Stressing Slightly

It's a beautiful time to be a me. I have a loving husband. A bright eyed brilliant little ball of energy constantly reaffirming my spiritual convictions in something-greater (and occasionally inspiring all manner of oaths, imprecations, and prayers depending on the day)




But it's also kind of stressful. That's not a bad thing, necessarily. Stress can be good, though it also has some corrosive effects. There's a balance, I'm sure. So I don't mention stress as a kvetch. Just a fact of life. I'm not the kind of person who can just "stress less" and cease sweating the "small stuff." Nobody can follow that commandment/well-meaning-non-advice. You can control your exposure to stressors and learn to manage your stress reactions. You can't change your sensitivity to cortisol with a few Abracadabras. And maybe you shouldn't. Being more sensitive to it, when properly managed can be an asset or at least connected to sensitivities that are an asset. And with that...




On this edition of What's Stressing Adella Out This Month?

1. MOVING Aftermath. Always a biggie. In so many ways, I pre-loaded all the heavy emotional elements of moving from Bellingham to Mount Vernon. I even pre-loaded the logistics for our actual move so much that it was actually a relatively painless process. But holy crap, life is overwhelming sometimes!

Things I haven't successfully accomplished include the following: setting up dental appointments for me/Chaya, setting up any other medical appointments for us, doing something about the jungle our yard has become (because I secretly would prefer to just do it myself, but I don't have the time or the lawn mower), finding somebody to fix our garage door, finding somebody to fix our felled external light, killing those stupid ants that crop up en masse randomly in some new area of the house, listing our condo for sale (we're getting there), unpacking several boxes, gotten rid of all the stuff I never wanted to bring with us in the first place, setting up several items of furniture that are seriously in need of baby proofing, installing curtains, figuring out a way to keep the place remotely clean and less chaotic...

I did incompetently attempt to (finally) install the long-needed babygate at the top of our stairs. It was a failure, but this failure resulted in Andrew stepping in to take charge. Just in time for Chaya to discover wheeled metal death machines (BIIIIIKE! Andrew is so thrilled).




Now if I just can do the same with the other furniture boxes loitering in our living room...

2. Keeping human and connected during moving related stuff. 

Andrew's car broke down. A small little straw on the camels back of everything else. It naturally brought out the endemic disharmonies in our methods of dealing with things. It perhaps also emphasized that we were both feeling overwhelmed and disconnected. Oh yeah, marriage and self care and all that crap is work too! I was kind of busy just keeping moderately sane in the toddlernado, while managing a few aspects of this housing transition.

It's fantastic that Andrew's home a little earlier. And that he gets to sleep in an eensie bit more. But sometimes it emphasizes how desperate I am for adult connection and help by the time he gets home. And how much he needs a little time to settle. He's so great with Chaya in the drowsiest of circumstances, but it can be several dropped bids for attention for me and a few really acerbic statemetns between Chaya demanding Mommy hold her! Sometimes there can be a few evenings in which we only elliptically talk to each other via "Chaya," which drives me mildly nuts. It takes us a while to re-find our own mutual rhythms many days after a high intensity toddler and a long drowsy drive.

And of course, I'm sensitive, so I pick up the stress of those around me.

3. Being the highly sensitive introverted mom of an amazing and breathtaking little toddler beast. Duh.



Chaya is so friggin' cool. She's also non-stop. You do not get a break from the vertiginous dazzle of a little mind in blossom.

Last week she was having a tough time falling asleep at nights. I chalked that part up to an explosion in her language. Which is crazy (and also cool). She'd just lie in bed yelling out words, and then she'd wake up occasionally in the middle of the night reciting animals and noises and little sequence of event stories about Dadda car work and garage.

She's working on some teeth (of course). And last weekend, she got sick with a nasty cough. Now sometimes she's so tired that she sleeps as she can, but it's restless sleep. Some days she's been pretty darned miserable.



Here's where the introverted mom thing gets complicated. I never understood at first how my friends with two kids could be out and about so much after their newborns were born.

Now I get it.



I get overstimulated and exhausted flitting from activity to activity, for sure. But it is nothing compared to being stuck at home with a bored and unhappy toddler!


And she's reaching an age where she really understands a sense of "other" and "friend." Every morning she requests to see Bastion (Sebastian), Isla, and Alex. And Claya (Claudia). It's amazing to watch them recognize each other. And to share and not-share, and otherwise play together now.


And she gets excited to hear about going to the car. Going to dance class. Going to music class. Going to the park. Seeing PAM (Gramma Pam).

So, this is really fun, but I definitely now am out a lot more than my childless sweet spot. I'm lucky that Chaya is vergingly introverted herself and needs some breaks. There are some kiddos who would actively kill me. But I still am out driving and shuttling and socializing a bunch for me. It's fulfilling, but it gives me scant time to regroup. Chaya needs extra attention when we get home, then I want to spend some time connecting with my husband and THEN I only have a certain window of downtime before bedtime if I want to be remotely rested.

4. Stress itself! 

Stress is not my thing. I'm not a wilting violet. I can rise to an occasion and did get thoroughly high off of performing and competition. I don't know why, but I guess that's all to do with context.

 I also get through really heavy emotional and life-crisis stuff with a shocking amount of sanguinity considering how much of a dither a late dinner might froth me into. But that's survival. I have a good survival instinct. Probably why I am so sensitive to stress in the first place.

Stress, the day to day stuff, has a strong physical impact on me. Not just mine. I pick it up from anyone around me. It kills my sleep upsets stomach and makes me worn and jittery. And it's wearing. I used to be such an adventurer. Andrew once asked how I could have done some of the wild globetrotting and party living that filled my youth, given what he knows of me now. The answer? I had crippling insomnia. Leaned on way too many combinations of emotional crutches and unhealthy relationships. Ate or didn't eat to medicate the anxiety. And had many handfuls of embarrassing emotional examples of "lashing out" or being my rather worst self.

Nowadays, I don't get to be grossly unhealthy, because my little toddler beast needs a present and grounded role model. So I take better care of myself. I try to practice (and boy does it take a lot of practice) mindfulness and self-compassion and all that lot. But it can certainly all pile up sometimes. I don't starve myself. I don't have time to overexercise. And I'm too cautious to imbibe anything that might either mess up my precious sleep or transfer through breastmilk.



So for now I just make do with breathing, managing stress as it comes, more days of upset stomach and unpleasant cortisol afterburn, with a side of more frequent insomnia.

I am learning that being a parent is hard (that was not the part I was learning), and that it is no more or less hard as the children grow. Just differently hard and easy in turn. Each overwhelmingly rewarding and fully gutting. I'm reminded that other things are also hard. Being human is hard. Not necessarily more or less. But always different.

Toddlers take patience, self-care, and attention. They require a lot of thoughtfulness and a preternatural degree of consistency and clarity rising from the morass of whims and unspoken expectations.

I find it interesting to navigate the philosophical balance of overparenting and underparenting in this world crammed with judgment and opinion. I know whatever a parent is doing, half of social media thinks it's absurd and wrong. I do know that. But I imagine there's somewhere in between that kind of works and sounds sane. There's a level of attention and interference that must be every parent's sweet spot.



Chaya's an only child, and sometimes I think she'd benefit from sharing the spotlight with another kiddo. Does she need my constant attention? Not really. It's not even all that good for her. She needs her alone time. On the other hand, is it really great parenting to drift off and onto my computer while she's stuffing her monkey in her chair. Am I missing out on the magic or teaching her self-sufficiency? Should I be ignoring her sometimes, but only in order to do things like meditate on a lotus leaf while writing symphonies about her curly tendrils? Lord knows.

Should she be learning to share and coexist empathetically more? Or should she be learning boundaries and comfort with her own assertions of ownership over her body? A mix, of course. Should I be trying harder to encourage her to put away toys and other little chores that will give her buy-in for cleaning up after herself later?

And then there's the "enrichment" element. I am pretty hands-off in some regards. If we go to a "class" (mommy and me) I tend to just let her do her thing. Other moms are encouraging their kids to "find the blue ball" per the teacher's request. I only sort of drag her along in the dance circle because it seems to distress the teacher when she doesn't. If the teacher doesn't care, I pretty much would let her stand in the middle watching me dance along to the Popcorn Song like a deranged Disney Club reject.

And really, reflecting on my parenting philosophy is kind of the least stressful type thing. Mellow, even, sometimes.

And yes I'm taking time for myself (another chore!) and Andrew and I have managed a little date time. But we're kind of in a crunch period with life not stopping for regrouping anytime soon. We will persist, but there will be breathing and a few more sleepless nights when I call Andrew to bed early so I can at least snuggle in comfortably while the brain cavorts.

And hey, side effect is he occasionally gets a little more sleep from coming to bed early, right?



At any rate, I'll get back to the updates and news of crazy excitements and holidays and playdates. There's so much to update, but for the next few minutes, I'm going to breathe, practice feeling the energy and calm ebbing and flowing through my body and maybe drink some tea while Daddy is keeping the beast occupied.

Mounting the Vernal Vernon




When I was in fifth grade, I made the mistake of proclaiming that George Washington was "a famous person born in Washington State" during a class exercise. Humiliation abounds, I know. I knew at that age that Washington State was not founded until long, long after the Revolutionary War. I knew this. But I also knew that he was born in Mt. Vernon.

And I knew that my cousins lived in Mt. Vernon.

Washington.

So... brain connections occurred and relevant information informing me that there might be more than one Mt. Vernon were omitted.

And that is what I often think of first and foremost when I think MOUNT VERNON!!! The shame and humiliation of such erroneous assertions for a shy young nerd.

I suspect many more memories will supplant this over time. But I'll always be bitter about "the other Mt Vernons" out there.

However, I have officially embraced the true Mount Vernon as my own. After one huge surge of rushing, panicking, and oh so much unwanted crap still following us "home" (while sliming itself all over ex-home as well), we've made the move. And we're about as unpacked as anyone with a toddler ever could claim to be. Sure there's junk everywhere. Sure, we have no idea where anything really is. But, again: toddler. She's just well enough acquainted with home that she's figured out how to use our sink to spray water across the kitchen, and to identify all the particularly dangerous ledges worth scaling. Life is back to ordinary chaos.



The day itself was smoother and rougher than anticipated. I had grand plans that were mostly intended to stem some of the stress. Andrew took Chaya out in the morning while my mom and I rushed around the house putting things into predesignated boxes (with color colded tape). We took down all the most vital stuff and packed them into our cars. We started the wash. We started the dishwasher. And we... ran out of time. Andrew came back. Chaya wanted mommy. Or Gramma Pam. Or everyone. A little more got done, but much was left out. And the washer/dishwasher didn't finish in time. I passed out some requests to Andrew as he scurried about with the movers identifying what should or should not come (much of which I vociferously corrected or altered, having had the philosophy that less was more, and whatever wasn't identified overtly should simply stay put). The ladies got out of the way and set up what we could in the new house.


We had "lunch" (a couple of luna bars and a banana) and went to the Skagit Children's Museum. I had thought we may stay there for most of the day, but turned out (1) Andrew didn't feel comfortable unloading the dishwasher, (2) Andrew hadn't understood my request to get the sheets and blankets out of the washer, (3) Andrew thought we had the wireless router. So instead, Chaya actually ended up getting a nap as we returned to Bellingham for another emergency round of box packing and car-loading. There was a ton remaining. Even after we did our part, Andrew spent the better part of the next day going through and packing up more stuff I had never really dealt with. Almost entirely junk, but needed sorting.

And we've been here just over a week. Chaya actually slept pretty well the first couple of days. The last couple have been a little less awesome, but this is likely due to any number of the usual suspects (and the lingering paranoia that she's finally caught the stomach bug that every single child who has a playdate with her succumbs to roughly 12-24 hours after hanging out with her).




 I know where the Fred Meyer's is. I know where the playgrounds are. I have some ability to cobble together an outdoor walk when the weather permits. Just call me a native.



Fred Meyer's is an easy one. But now that we're hereabouts - and far away from the Canadian shopping paradise that is Meridian in Bellingham - it's time to embrace the Costco. And we are now members. Gulp. Not as easy.

There are two kinds of white NPR-guzzling-coffee-dazed-upper-middle-class-tree-hugging-liberal bubblelites: Those who shop at Trader Joe's, and those who shop at Costco. Ok, a lot of us do both. But there's a primary shopping style that will agree with one and not the other. Canadians flock to our Costco's and TJ's with the same strategy in mind. They load up the giant SUV and buy all the things. But for me, Trader Joe's had a more urban approach: go often, buy small and frequent snacks, frozen goodies, and pre-prepared vegetables. Rinse Repeat. TJs is somewhat a microlevel grocery store, while Costco is the shopping equivalent of either (pick your analogy based on your generational status) (1) Downing an enticingly demanding little tea-cake in Wonderland and finding yourself Lilliputian in a Brobdignangian world, or (2) entering that world in Super Mario where everything is really big. The parking lots. The shopping carts. The fans on the ceilings! HUGE!

I'm somewhat off my game in there. I have limited carrying capacity with the gremlin toddler and the teeny car. I am a shy-shopper as it is. It's hard for me to commit to much of anything, so the bulk-options are intimidating. I can buy in bulk via amazon, because that's all virtual transactions. And then it's at the house and I must commit. Like mail ordering a husband I suppose (Andrew was originally from Latvia on a 2 for 1 sale - we don't talk about Piotr much). I'm down with the friendly sample-stations (shades of Trader Joe's). I'm scared of the aisles. I rue the absence of an express lane. I never have my Costco card handy. And I end up buying about three items with the promise to "compare the price per ounce" with the other places I shop in bulk.

But we did have fun wandering around the mini-city. Chaya was especially stoked to yell BRRRRRR whenever we went into the giant walk-in coolers where produce and dairy was stored.

But Costco aside, it's a pretty sweet deal.



Chaya is having a ball with all the novelty. She now understands and relishes the concepts/words for hot-cold-warm. And can make simple commands like FAN OFF. And since a few days before we moved, she has relished saying HOUSE whenever we are away from the house, and CAR whenever we are in the house. She identifies a range of red through blue as "PUUUURPULL" and can sometimes say Gurreee (green) and Bluuuu. And her mealtimes get ever more complex as she has increasingly creative and verbal concepts of the next culinary creation.



She just started saying BAST in reference to her Vernonite buddy, Sebastian. It's pretty cool.

Now to haggle and struggle over those last bits of furniture and someday deal with the boxes that probably maybe have that bleach I packed. Just in case that darned stomach bug officially hits.

Howdy from the MV and screw you to that darned Cherry Tree

Nice Ideas that Maybe Don't Toddle-Waddle Out



Because Parenting is all about preconceived hopes and plans going by the wayside. I never really expected to keep any of these, but it's always nice to see the plans of parents get a nice noogie from reality. Thanks for all the advice, world. I've read the articles. I agree your suggestions sound lovely. But yeah. No.





1. I just won't expose her to screen time when she's this young.

Screens are everywhere. Big brother is in my microwave and there's a chirpy google assistant in my watch. Let's be honest. The window is a boring screen. We have one or two devices per room. Every play area. Most friend's houses. Good luck with that.





2.  I'll set a good example by being mindful of my own usage. Parenting is all about attention. I will give my child my attention and not be distracted by my own compulsive device-ing

Such a good idea. Probably really important. I'm sure I'm wiring my child for all kinds of attachment disorders and crippling her ability to socially interact, but I need my phone.

I wish I could give my undivided attention to my child at all times. Except of course when she needs to have her own time. But as much as there is something to be said for the marvel and the wonder of a child... as much as it is something to revel in, well I'm just not stoned enough to spend ten minutes utterly rapt with the light switch turning on and off or poking at my foot. Sometimes, my mind drifts. So let's be honest about attention. I don't need that phone around to be off in my own head or otherwise a thousand miles away, and sometimes that happens while my child is about to make a bid for attention.



And then there's the phone itself. The lifeline:  Friend!!! Playdate HUMAN CONTACT!!! Logistics! Life management!

 What the smeg just came out of my child's ear? Oh god, please almighty google tell me that's supposed to bend like that. 

2. Ok, so screen time. Let's not be a hypocrite here. I'm using screens. They can be a useful learning tool, but I will always watch her and interact with her when we watch together.


Except it's the one time I ever have in which I can sit her down and actually concentrated on anything else. And I've seen the cute baby giraffe chasing a butterfly fifty billion times. I like it. But I really need to make lunch. And I could actually use both hands to do it while she's pointing and saying ZZZZZZ at the zebra that comes out mid-video. And I sing along with the songs...

3. No food battles, but I'm not gonna be a short order cook either. And of course, we won't encourage mindless eating by missing meals and letting her run around with food all the time.



Meals are science experiments. She throws on the floor. She mixes. Then... she munches haphazardly through things she's repeatedly repudiated. Her appetites and interests are sporadic and unpredictable. And if she happened to have gotten herself too distracted to eat at meal or snack times, she still will get hangry.

Snacks. She is much less picky sitting in her chair and watching that giraffe video. Lots of healthy food snuck in that way.

My current approach is that she doesn't have to eat at the table, but we'll have meals at the table together. If she throws something on the floor intentionally, then I'll assume she doesn't want it and take it away. Though, often that's not really the case. I won't make a whole new meal, but I will keep pre-approved foods available for her request at all times: frozen peas and corn, green beans, cereal, yogurt, pre-cooked egg, fruits, pre-chopped zucchini/celery/carrots, cheese cubes, snap pea crisps, soy nuts, pouches, and frozen berries.

When she's older, she can have her own shelf of snacks available. And she can eat when she wants to. Until then, she can have certain snacks while running loose. Mostly though if she requests, she'll sit down. And she can continue to hang out at the table for a while with me at meal times, followed by washing her dishes.

I'm sure that will last... until that stops working. Then ... well... that's another bridge for another day.

Because sometimes the tantrum just isn't worth the effort.

4. Our culture is way too obsessed with hygiene and it's a problem. The hand sanitizer and lysol just breeds super bugs. Regular hygiene is superior. Besides it's building immune systems to allow exposure.

Try washing your hands "properly" with an angry snot monster who's moaning because she's accidentally pulled the top off of her play potty while attempting to climb in it to reach some scissors you'd rather she not have?



 Or after wrestling the baby alligator that your child becomes upon first poop hitting diaper.

 Try making it to the sink in a way that doesn't involve several tons of water on the ground and toddler-hair full of unused soap. If you succeed, I give kudos to you and your Stepford Toddler.



Mine, however? Seriously how did she get snot behind her knee, and is that poop above her ear, and what the heck is that on the... no I do not want to know and... oh I'm sure whatever she just ate off the floor was food. Who can say. Why not lick the public trashcan? It's probably cleaner than our floor and definitely her hands at this point.

Try cleaning a house that's been slimed with the snot of a toddler who doesn't quite blow her nose. Realize you are now using any soft material in sight to mop up the nose-faucet before she continues lapping it up with her tongue. Realize, also, that you have been sick just as often as she has, which is largely a majority of her life.



Enjoy hearing the blow by blow (sniffle sniffle) of the progressing misery of that child who threw up just a few hours after running around your house and sliming everything. And feeling overwhelming sympathy, but also maybe this desire to curl up in a ball and scream "SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP" while running through the house lysolling every single inch of heavily touched home? Just as you were recovering from that cold that you got just after the last stomach bug just after that bad cold that you got just after...

In theory, it's great to get all that immunity in one big three year long dose of agony, but actually... um... after alternating some kind of horrible cough and stomach bug on and off since she became mobile enough to put things in her mouth, you hear about how fun hand foot and mouth disease is on top of a influenza and rotavirus and you think maybe those sanitizing cart wipes start to look more appealing.

5. I'm not going to force norms on her by obsessively gendering things or imposing preconceived notions of mammas and daddas or boys and girls. 

Ok, I'm not forcing. Sure, she has a lot of cute girly clothes now, but who can resist?



 I don't really gender my words much out of general vagueness and uncertainty. Most animals and toys are "its". Children are "kiddos" and people are, well, "people." When talking about bigger and smaller animals in books, I don't usually assume the bigger animal is the "mamma" or "dadda." Although occasionally there are books in which that's explicit.

 And ultimately Chaya doesn't probably understand the real idea of gender and sex distinctions, but she is human. And humans categorize. She's currently divided the world of strangers into mammas, daddas, and babies. She'll seriously spend an entire outing dividing people into these groups and shouting out which group any individual pertains to while pointing.

I'm not entirely sure what these categories mean to her. Babies appear to be anyone under about 14 years of age. Mammas are typically women or girls, but not always.

Andrew Jackson is a Mamma

 I do think there's typically slightly longer hair involved. She's a little more selective about which people are daddas, but they are almost entirely male. Mammas are a wide range of ethnicities and definitely include some men.

Of course mamma and dadda also refer to things owned by me or Andrew. And she clearly distinguishes between her mamma and other "MAHMAS', but it is fascinating to see her sorting people this way. And wondering what qualities she is attaching to these terms. And how that will evolve into more fixed or fluid concepts of parental roles and differing genders.



And of course I can't control what exposure she has to preconceived notions. Everyone treats her "like a girl" and who doesn't talk about "boys!" even at this age. There are naturally some typical differences rooted in biology and these just get more and more entrenched starting at this age. But, well, I look forward to folding and buying her all that Princess stuff. Honestly, I'm ok with Princesses. I was a princess. Just so long as she's a princess who still feels comfortable with any desire to roll in mud (or not!) and to make noise (or not) and to take risks without fear of failure.

And well, now that we're nineteen months in, I'm sure many other great ideas will evolve and develop and maybe modulate.

I have no preconceived notions about potty training (other than not pushing it). I have some grand aspirations for discipline of course. I look forward to hitting the brick wall of reality on those as well.

In the meantime, it's still a pretty fun ride.

March to Mt Vernon and the Big Deep Breath - A Toddler Tale

And the eventful March marches on!

As of Thursday March 9th, Andrew and I are double property owners. One condo, one home. Two towns. We rock it. And our realtor - who did quite a bit of scrambling in the last minute over the usual odds and ends getting odd at the end - is stuck with us. He might have intrigued us with the idea of renting out our condo, but we finally decided we'd rather just sell and have done.

It was a dramatic signing, but only insofar as the weather and commute went - crashes and back ups both ways. Otherwise all went smoothly. Chaya even had a fantastic playdate with her new (again) almost-neighbor, Sebastian.


So let the next steps commence!! AGH!

Panicking. Yes, that would be the next step. No, really. I responded by setting up a moving date for March 30th. Andrew responded by skipping town. I don't blame him. You should see the chaos that needs to be quelled in order to transfer anything from one place to the next.

No, really, this is a family vacation and a memorial service that was planned far in advance of our closing date. In fact, we would technically be closing next Thursday if not for some very helpful professionals.

So currently I'm in semi-holding pattern; holding up the fort as single mommy and person who probably should be doing the little pre-moving chores that are easy in theory and impossible with a toddler! Bring on the coffee. And the head cold, apparently. Because I'd almost entirely recovered from that Hundred Year's Cough we got earlier in 2017.

For Lent, this year, I'm giving up (1) my Bellingham, (2) my hair (chopped it all off after much mulling and baby attacks), and probably my sanity!



But at least I'll look cute in that padded room.

And the Chaya beast continues to roar!

Almost nineteen months. We should have a new photo of her in her satellite chair. But she doesn't hold still long enough to get it. I've tried. It nearly killed us all. Perhaps a new chair for a new year and a half?



I swore I'd never be that parent who photographs her child on the potty, but well... I think it's ok in this case. The doctor said it was worth having one around since she is interested in pee and poop (hilarious as they are). And I couldn't resist the mini-me toilet.


And her stuffed animals are getting a good training anyways.



We're through with the molars for now. Mostly. Sleep has mellowed. Mostly. There is still illness and tummy discomforts and unknown nights and blown naps. And I'm expecting some push-back with Daddy's prolonged absence. But until moving, it will hopefully be less of a deal. And maybe we'll luck out on the move and not have too many tough nights and naps.

And with that little hiatus, we turn to the more internal and interactive.

Boy is she ever! Super verbal, although not combining words much. I've lost count of how many words she knows, but my favorites remain GURAAAW (giraffe), TUUUPEEEEETA (pepita), and SHUUUUBEEEE (shoe).

And we're working on boundaries. Working.

I'm continuing to reaffirm that "discipline" is as much about disciplining oneself as it is one's child. And that the word discipline still lacks a certain nuance. Coaching? Navigating? Facilitating? Juggling big emotions with respect for self and others? Kumbaya my Snugglepuppy Inner Child?

And that lets me off the hook as quickly as it puts me on it. I get to and ought to slip up. I have always been realistic about my ability to model great even-keeled sanguinity. I'm not that person. Some people are naturally good and kindhearted. I'm sure they have their struggles, but it still mostly comes easily to them to be kind and peaceful. I have that in me. I have a deep well of good and positive patience and love. But as deep as the good, so runs the negative. I'm also pretty sharp. Pretty impatient. I'm pretty sensitive to external stimuli and the world around me. And that can run me down. I can get eroded to some pretty dark places. I have to choose to nurture the best in me as often and as much as I can. And I think that's a meaningful choice that I honor. It gives me strength and compassion that the easily good (if there are such people) lack and a didactic advantage for those who are similarly complex.

For Chaya, I'm not the perfect mommy. And I'm learning that this is actually an asset. This isn't a perfect world and she will not be the perfect person who finds perfect relationships. It's the repair work done when things go wrong that are the most meaningful. Like a couple reconciling after a fight, when I have a lapse and work through it, that is more valuable for me than never lapsins. And that this is good. And it makes me - gulp - a far more accessible potential role model.

I get to figure out the balance of self and selfless. Demonstrate healthy boundaries. Demonstrate self-care. And demonstrate the ever exciting self-awareness and mindfulness and all that nonsense. It the midst of the toddlernado. All the while trying to suss out if the howling is physical discomfort, tiredness, hunger, or emotional distress at not getting the very right thing at the very right time. And how to address any one of those.

I've come to look at my own moments as "teaching moments" far more than hers are. When I'm impatient with her, I try now to stop and not just apologize, but tell her how I am feeling. I tell her it's my "grumpy time" and I shouldn't take that out on her. That I need to breathe for a minute. I suggest we breathe together. When she's driving me nuts and is super impatient, I ask her to help mommy breathe. She thinks deep breaths are funny most of the time, so that helps. When she does it during the day, I thank her for reminding me.



One interesting thing I really notice is that I have a few "witching hours." Fascinating to see how my patience stretches and snaps throughout the day in waves. Usually around 8 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. I've a much shorter fuse. I'm sure part of that is involved with whatever interactions I'm having with Chaya's ebbs and flows. The morning certainly hits that time where her first wake up devolves into whatever food flinging and moaning of more concludes breakfast. The 4ish time is long enough after the nap that we've both lost our naptime reset, but not quite onto giddy baby and visits from Grandma Pam (or the return of Daddy). It's definitely good to know this in advance, since I can then try to schedule our times apart for these hours. The distraction helps us both I think.

Though all that self-compassion is exhausting. And I've gotta say that sometimes when I've dropped Chaya off and am in the car, I gleefully indulge in a big fit of curmudgeonly cussing just to scratch that itch!

And with that, I continue sniffling on through naptime with a little walk on the treadmill. The first of many indoor "walk it off" sessions to balance what should continue to be a very eventful second half of the second year of little Miss Gremlin's life.


Chatty Chaya and the Impending Upending!

Miss Chaya continues on her toddlerjectory with aplomb. And it's heading straight down south to Mt. Vernon.



Really soon.

Gulp.

That's right, we are theoretically (not confirmed yet, gulp!) set to close on March 9th. Andrew is, of course, celebrating by immediately going on a family ski vacation that was scheduled long before we made this offer. And then we do want to take some time to strategize the move before just leaping into it. I imagine that is all good in theory but will culminate in yet another round of panicked "throw everything into a box and dump it in the basement" finality. Moving always ends up that way.



It is going to be very strange, living in a new house in a new town. Far more for Chaya than for me in many ways. Her entire world is oriented according to this house. If she sees a picture of her Gramma Pam or Grandpa Ian, she says "door" and points towards our front door (from any room of the house). If she sees a duck, she says "quaaaa quaaaa" and points up to the ceiling of the nursery where a mobile of ducks hangs. When she says car, she points to the area of the garage.  When she wakes up from a nap, she waits by the door, but then points back to the green toddler ok-to-wake clock. If I say "baby," she finds a poster of babies that has been pasted on top of our downstairs changing station. And she understands her routine so well. The places we go, the walks we take, the sights we see out of the window. The people who come by and when they come by.

 Of course we've traveled with her before, so this isn't totally uncharted territory. Though, also of course, that was when she was younger. And she slept like CRAP during the travel, so that doesn't give me the hugest hope about my future sleep, but hey with a toddler there's always something. .

I'm glad we're moving while she's this young. I think for a while it would just become more and more emotionally difficult. For now, her world will be a little shaken, but there should be enough familiarity to put her back at ease in time.

In the meantime, Miss Baby plunges ever further down the path of rip-roaring personhood. She's checking off almost all those little boxes on our pediatrician's milestone checklist. And then some. She's got major toddlertude. Serious confidence. Serious relish of the learning and mastery that she experiences every day. And - to show she's truly becoming a little kid and not a baby - she finds PEE and POOP very funny.


And she's talking. It's amazing. It's miraculous. It's possibly the source of more frustration than when she couldn't communicate at all. I am baffled at people who suggest teaching their children signing is the cure for those late infancy crying spells and impatience. Chaya knows just enough words to confuse the heck out of both of us. Just enough to  frustrate her expectations repeatedly. And just enough to yell things like MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE over and over and over again.

I love it, though. It is fascinating to watch how the human brain processes language and sorts categories.

For instance, I'm mama and Andrew is dadda. This is very distinct because she lilts them with a certain tonal element. However, she doesn't have enough words to identify certain objects, so she also uses "dadda" and "mamma" to identify those objects that she associates with us. Andrew's chair, Andrew's cup, Andrew's pillow, Andrew's hat... they are all Dadda. Even words she does know, she find there is more specificity in calling them Dadda.



This sort of shortcut of using speech she can use for words she doesn't have yet is also clear in her more general categories. She recognizes the difference between a shoes, a boot, a sock and a slipper and will find the right one if you ask her to. But she calls them all Shuuubeeeee. Any four-legged animal that isn't otherwise identifiable is a DAH, but she makes clear distinctions between them. I think an elephant is usually a dog, although she favors them. Sometimes they are GURAAAAAH (giraffes), although that is usually reserved for either (1) animals with that sort of dappled pattern  on their skin and (2) a general statement that she would like to sit in her Inglesina chair and watch YouTube videos of baby animals or the infectious Spanish language songs I've been inflicting on both of us.

NAH is clearly banana, but sometimes if she doesn't have another word for a berry or orange, she'll call them nah as well.




Oh toddler speech and the tricky matter of homophones. Pee, for instance, could mean one of several things. It could mean "pee" (as in urine). It could be pea, as in the vegetable. It could mean the letter "P" which she recognizes in her Curious George Alphabet Book. Or any number of round green things she also calls pea (edamame, lima beans). It could mean the snap pea crisps that she likes to snack on. Or any vegetable where she just can't think of the word for it. It could mean Rice KrisPEES (which are either Krisipies or Corn Flakes). Or maybe I misheard her trying to say zucKEEnee. Or misheard B(uuun)nEEE.

So... if Chaya starts yelling PEE, it may mean any number of things including (1) Chaya has wet her diaper and does or does not want to do something about it (2) Chaya wants mommy to go to the bathroom so Chaya can watch her use the BAAAH while she dances around chanting PEEE and TUIIIII and TOOOOOOOWWWWW (toilet and towel, which is her word for paper towel, toilet paper, and all other towels), (3) Chaya sees a floppy eared animal that she thinks is a rabbit and/or wants her bunny, (4) Chaya wants any variety of snacks that are not the slightest bit interchangeable

Though I will note that she now will respond to questions about whether she has peed in her diaper, by pointing at her diaper. And when she's ready, I can ask if she would like to change her diaper and sometimes she will lead me to the changing area and consent to a diaper change.

I know what you're thinking... while we're doing that whole moving thing, let's also throw on potty training yeah??? That won't cause any disturbances at all!!

No really. Not rushing that. But she has her toy toilet now. She's tried to climb into it several times and enjoys the flushing noise it makes when you flush the toilet. I keep staring at it thinking "oh god how do you clean something like this" and being glad we still have plenty of diapers left.

And boxes specially labeled as such for the movers when it's relevant. Because boy is her room going to be set up long before any of our stuff. For real. I have a checklist. It will be meaningless by moving time, but it's my version of a security blanket.

And in the interim, we'll muddle about thinking about THE FUTURE with new eyes and new ears and all the sense of opportunities a toddle-waddle faces every single day. Good to be in it together.



...


The Teething Toddle-Waddle Chronicles - LiveBlog at 1.5 years

Life with an eighteen month old.

For context, our entire household has been dallying with any variety of common viruses and the like for the last several millennia. Currently it's a cough that just won't go away. Before that, it was a stomach bug. Before that, some kind of cold.

In the meantime, Chaya has popped her first four molars, something a month or two in the making, but which seems to have really escalated in the last few days.

Also, she's a year and a half years old. So this is a warm up for the terrific twos.

And now, my approximation of a day in the life

12:30 a.m. -2 Wake up to miserable howling. Go into the nursery. Attempt all measures of soothing. Fail utterly to succeed

2:00 a.m. Send hubby downstairs and bring Chaya into bed.

2-4ish baby lays on your chest trying to get comfortable. Eventually crashes on your totally numb hand.

4-5:30 baby sleeps, occasionally rotating in a little toddler circle around the bed.

5:35 toddler stirs. Sits up says "eye" several times. Then "dog" and "nummy"

5:40 breakfast with daddy. Lots of vacant staring but toddler is in a sterling mood.

6:00 - Use bathroom upstairs and change into clothes while toddler runs around yelling PEEEE PEEEE

ok, time goes fuzzy around now...

6:15ish Liberate toddler of sleep sack

Unzip toddler's sleeper while she reads a book. Toddler runs around a bit. Howls when you take diaper off. Finds her naked reflection hilarious. Runs around more.

Follow naked toddler around the house with a wet wipe and fresh diaper.

Toddler yells DOOR to be let into first bedroom. Then baaabaaa as she identifies one stuffed sheep. Then MORE BAAA as she looks for the other sheep.

Wipe toddler’s folds  while she plays with one sheep

Follow toddler back into the stairway. While she is holding onto the rails, rush diaper up and around toddler trunk. Affix diaper slowly over several more minutes



7:00ish:

Toddler throws sheep down the stairs. Participate in long game of sheep fetch and toss. Toddler shrieks with glee for about fifteen minutes. Then runs in a circle, trips and begins howling.

Bring toddler back to the kitchen area and make eggs with one hand. Baby chants eeeeggg. Then naaaaaa (banana) and several rounds of mooooooore while you heat her oats

Set table. Dish out oatmeal. Chaya begins to whimper as she nears the table. She yells "ball" indicating she wants to sit on mommy's exercise ball. Bloody murder when mommy moves her to a chair instead.

Running to kitchen offer Chaya dates. No. Raspberries. No. Banana. Chaya yells more and stands on hey chair on resistance.

Give Chaya a spatula. She allows you to put get in chair. She throws the dates one by one to floor. Then begins sobbing again as you lay the tray out. Offer wooden spoon.

Chaya attempts to eat oatmeal with wooden spoon. Throws on ground angrily but accepts a real spoon and starts eating. Only after demanding Kuaaah, an uncooked squash, with which she plays for several minutes... before throwing it on the ground.



Chaya says egg. Throws some on the floor.

After eating most of her oatmeal, Chaya says "more!"

Bring over a tiny cup of almond milk and cups of rode krispies and cornflakes. Science experiments persist through a few more Tiny cups and spoons.

Once everything has been thrown on the floor and half an egg consumed, Chaya yells "out!" and then "stool."

8:00ish:

Time to play at the sink. Mommy rushes to clean and get some of the morning things accomplished while Chaya plays with two water bottles, all the cups and bowls, the sink strainer and a sponge.

Rush back to stool several times to stop baby from tumbling off

Toddler hands you a cup and demands "Nummy"

Nurse briefly as toddler thrashes and giggles and bites.

Ask toddler if she'd like to go to the store. She giggles and says STOH!

Tell her we need shoes and socks. Toddler finds sandals. Tempt her into socks. She runs several laps in her socks. Ask if she wants shoes or boots. She brings over shoes and then screams when you try to put them on her. Decide boots can go on in the car. Divert to finding coat. Chaya is now running around with the two sheep yelling baaabaaa. Sneak coat on. Ask about store. Chaya says store and car. Assume this implies assent.

Loop own coast over head, grab a bag of snacks, slip on shoes

9:00ish

Chaya yells "car" happily. Once in carseat Chaya yells "more, "unhappy with the ziplock bag you've offered her. Offer toys. Chaya throws them. Baby sobs so much that you turn around and come back in.

Chaya demands "giraffes". Sit get in her seat and put on YouTube video of high diving giraffes. Sneaky cut baby talons.

Continue looping the video while unloading dishwasher. Chaya demands various things from dishwasher. Drops them on floor. Leafs through a book. Freaks of the credits on the video roll.

Baby demands out. Nurse. Bite. Laugh. Repeat

Hold baby. Baby demands "more".

Offer raspberries. She demands "dog." Pull up puppy YouTube video and back in her seat.




She demands more. Give her a rye cracker and some cashews. She empties cashews onto floor and eats a raspberry. Demands pouch

Start making a refillable one, but demand is strong and strident. Give her a store bought Plum pouch. She has some then drops it down into her her seat and starts chewing on the bottom end.

Realize after you've taken her out of seat that she's upended the rest all over herself.

9:30ish

Upstairs to change. Several additional hijinks and rampant naked baby moments later, diaper is clean and new clothes worn. Chaya rampages through the rooms with dirty shirt on her head. She starts pulling books off shelf. Finds a pair of underwear from the hamper and entertains herself wearing it as a necklace while running laps around the bed.



Look at phone to see seven or eight new messages. Before seeing what they are, hear baby howling. Trip of some sort? The world will never know for sure, but she is irate!

10:15ish

Walk around kitchen holding howling toddler. Eventually sit down. Sure arches her back and cries a bit. Tried to walk behind and push you off. Then back to nursing.

10:20ish - baby is asleep.



Restlessly sleeping and blowing all chance of a nap later. Mommy goes all in and tries to hold really still on the hopes it'll last a while

Mommy's nose starts gushing snot.

Chaya cries. Goes back to nursing. Sleeping and nursing.

Mommy desperately tries not to sneeze out cough. Both feel urgent.

Chaya snorts and wheezes but continues nursing an arm around neck.

Curse the gorgeous sunny day streaming bright light into both faces.

Wish you could reach your drink. Or the pillow. Cautiously wipe noise.

11:19 well that's awkward. Still nursing, Chaya stands up into a downward dog nursing position. In a few more minutes, her eyes pop open and the nap is done.

As Chaya gets up and grabs her sheep, chug coffee, cough finally and blow nose. Chaya demands BAH (bathroom, not sheep) and tugs mommy upstairs.

Chaya huts door to bathroom yelling Nummy Nummy. Tugs at her clothes and mine. Apparently we are taking a bath (redacted for privacy)

12:15ish

Repeat the diaper and clothing rodeo. Put on Chaya's third pair of pants for the day after much wrestling and giggling on the bed.

12:45ish:

Take a walk.

1:30ish:

Give up on any semblance of normalcy or desire for healthy parenting. Serve “lunch” at the counter relying on the all mighty YouTube. Terrifying cartoons superimposed over nature footage pop up. Chaya eats more raspberries. A little bit of sandwich. A couple of triscuits. Not the ones with applesauce or almond butter.

Chaya demands to nurse then gets distracted by the cartoon, then wants the stool. Then wants to see the babies. Then nurse.

Chaya nurses for a few minutes, bites, laughs and tries to grab mommy's coffee. After another crack at going the store, Chaya brings over boots, puts on a hoodie and grabs an empty gum container to play with on the journey

2:00ish

Pick up Chaya and start out. Trip on a cushion, fall to knees, then topple and roll, landing on a shoulder with baby's head just shy of the floor. Baby considers her response, and then decides she doesn't care beyond a slight whimper.

Make it to the store briefly but find nothing you wanted. Give baby a sample of snap pea crisps and call it good. Pray toddler will fall asleep on the drive home. She yawns but decides to sing instead.

Follow toddler around the house trying to get her coat and shoes off. Eventually get to the basement door which is closed. Chaya begins to howl. Bring her to her room

3:00ish

Deep breath. Time to try a nap. Read, energies, song and sleep. But crying as soon as she hits the crib. Hold her again and let her nurse. She crashes. Sort of. Wonder if teething is involved given how uncomfortable this is. Hunch forward awkwardly and again try to mop up snot.

3:45ish:

Turn on the green ok-to-wake light awkwardly so that Chaya keeps that association. Chaya runs around, throws some books down the stairs, runs through the couch on the guest bedroom. Explores the basement.




4:30ish Gramma Pam blessedly comes to visit. Mommy rushes like mad to start dinner, clean up "lunch" and takes a couple of breaths. Chaya starts to feel her fatigue and demands to be held again.

5:45ish Dinner time. Daddy's on the the way home, but won't be here just yet. Chaya repeats a few science experiments, tosses her cup of rice against the wall with some MLB force, eats about 3 eggs, half a rice cracker, and a few peas. Then systematically discards the peas in a halo around her chair. Spends several more minutes pulling the straw in and out of her water cup.

6:15ish Chaya has thrown it all, started howling and yelling STOOL. Release her to the stool and hope Dadda will be home soon.

6:20ish Just as Chaya starts laughing like a hyena and tossing cups of water on the floor, Daddy's home! Mommy brings Chaya to Dadda, Chaya reaches for him, then - as per usual - pushes away from him indignantly. Then looks over her shoulder at him and starts laughing hysterically at her clever rouse.

6:30ish - 6:40ish Chaya is yelling NUMMY through her bedtime stories, She leaps from daddy's arms onto a nipple. Pops off exuberantly and yells DAH. Then crashes almost immediately upon moving.

...

And mommy forgets the rest, but I think it involves thanking god that tonight Chaya didn't bounce up and start crying after putting her down. And preparing for another long night that blessedly didn't come.