Thursday, July 23, 2015

Busy bags

Whenever we go to a family party, or really anywhere that isn't aimed at kids, we pack a "busy bag" for Genevieve. The busy bag has evolved over time, starting with books and Latches Board, and a couple of toys; now, it's a coloring book, cars, books, and sometimes a special toy. It's also usually in a Frozen tote bag.

We started packing the busy bag when she was about a year old, and in the last couple of years, it has become Genevieve's job to pack her own busy bag. As the family has grown, we have had to have conversations with Genevieve about packing the busy bag with sharing in mind- because, let's face it: playing with someone else's toys is way more fun than playing with your own.

Genevieve has - previously - been more than happy to pack a busy bag for herself. However, part of being three years old is pushing boundaries, establishing your independence, and for Genevieve, announcing that she is a Grownup. (Whatever that means. I'm still not entirely certain that *I* am a Grownup.)

This came up the other day, we were getting ready to go to a friend's party, and I told Genevieve that she needed to pack herself a busy bag.

"I'm a grownup," she informed me.
"Grownups have busy bags. What do I always have in my busy bag?" I asked her.
"Knitting," she answered, turning to pack her bag.

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One of many busy bags.

Someday she'll realize that not all Grownups knit, and that they don't all have busy bags, but until then, I'll continue to pack my busy bag. To teach by example.**

**That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

30 years, give or take

When Mom was pregnant with KidBrother Sam, we took a family trip to Solvang. While on that trip, Mom bought me a stuffed Applause pig (which I only remember because of the tag), whom I named Perfect, after the world's darkest children's book (which was also a favorite).

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Memorable, right?

Perfect was my favorite stuffed animal, who I slept with every night until Andrew and I got married. Despite being booted out of the bed, Perfect was relocated to a place of honor on top of my dresser.

We talk about "special toys" with Genevieve a lot, mostly so that she understands that when she's playing with other people's things, she needs to be extra careful with them. She, too, has Special Toys, but yesterday's Special Toy may not be today's Special Toy. (Ah, being three years old.)

At some point, Genevieve asked if she could snuggle with Perfect. This was fine with me. After a week of asking to snuggle with Perfect, Genevieve said, "I would like a pig just like Perfect to be MY special toy."

"I'll see what I can do," I said.

We don't buy toys for Genevieve all willy-nilly, but after she fell asleep I thought to myself, "I wonder if I *could* find another pig like this one."

So, off I went to Google and I searched "Applause stuffed pig" under image search, and lo and behold, there was a 1985 Applause pig- who looked JUST like perfect, brand new (tags, but obviously not "brand new", since it was from 1985), and for sale for a completely reasonable price on eBay.

So, like any person would do (at 3am, because you have strange pregnancy-related-middle-of-the-night-insomnia), I hit "Buy it Now!" and anxiously awaited the new pig's arrival.

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Perfect, left. Genevieve the Pig, right.
When I opened the terrifying packaging, I was very surprised to see the difference between the New Pig (later, named "Genevieve the Pig" (again, see "Three Years Old")), and my much older, very well-loved Perfect. (Aside: does anyone else get upset when stuffed animals are STUFFED into a plastic bag without air? I may never outgrow this particular bugaboo.)

A little threadbare. Short one tail, due to an unfortunate incident with my aunt's black lab (when I was 11 years old). A bit faded.

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After 30 years (or so), I suppose we all grow a little threadbare, with some damage (and battle scars) from our life experiences. But it doesn't make us any less special.

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If one is good, then two is better.

Obviously.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Beanzilla

So, if you haven't heard yet...

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Thing 1 presents Thing 2

Are we super excited? 

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"YES+" is even more than just "YES"

Of course, you want to see a baby picture. You're not made of stone.


How have I been? Pregnant.

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My bump, my bump, my lovely baby bump.

How has Genevieve been handling it? Very well so far, if you ask me. We're handling this the way we handle (mostly) everything- with books. So far, we've really liked Baby on the Way (by Dr. Sears), When You Were Inside Mommy, The Berenstain Bears' New Baby, and The Birds, the Bees, and the Berenstain Bears (though, this one is a bit dated- they still x-rayed pregnant women).

Mom and I have a difference of opinion on Pecan Pie Baby; Mom didn't like it, I think it's important to acknowledge feelings that perhaps aren't all sunshine and rainbows. Though, I omitted the "Ding Dang" from my reading, because I don't need Genevieve picking up any extra pejoratives.

I'm knitting a bit for Beanzilla (name, courtesy of the brilliant CaffeineJunkie, who dubbed Genevieve "SharkBean" lo those many years ago. Unlike with my last pregnancy, I have knitting mojo- but it's all sweater mojo.

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The Baby Vertebrae is knit out of yarn I fell in love with at Stitches West; it's "Nothing Says 'Screw You' like a Rainbow" from White Birch Fiber Arts (I know, terrible name) in sport weight. It knit up in about six seconds flat, and once it's blocked, I'll post a better photo.


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Envelope, by Ysolda Teague, is brilliant, but alas, I am not. My brains are not what they were, sadly. I can't blame Ysolda; even if she was holding my hand while I knit, she couldn't save me from not being able to count. Sad, but true. (But wouldn't it be lovely? A knitting date with Ysolda? I think so.)

Once you get it, the sweater is awesome. The yarn is Berry Colorful Yarnings "Breakfast at Tiffany's", sent to us to review on the podcast. Since I have less than zero sock mojo, I thought this would make a lovely, gender-neutral sweater. So far, I love the colors, and it's holding up extremely well to being ripped out, reknit, ripped out, and reknit.


Yes, we're going to find out the sex. No, we haven't found out yet. Yes, I'll tell you.

Until then, Beanzilla demands tribute.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Genevieve the Octopus

Readers, meet Genevieve the Octopus.

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Distinctive, isn't she?

The last time we went to the aquarium, Genevieve (the human child) pointed at a stuffed octopus the size of a body pillow and declared that she wanted to buy it.

Since we bed-share (or "co-sleep"), a stuffed octopus the size of a sofa was completely out of the question. It's a snuggly arrangement.

We went to the gift shop downstairs, and I showed Genevieve three or four appropriately sized octopuses she could choose from.

Predictably, she chose the purple, sparkly octopus. (I had lobbied for the more realistic looking one.) That is how Genevieve the Octopus joined our family.

A few weeks later, SuperAndrew, Genevieve, and I went to get our flu shots together, with Genevieve the Octopus in tow.

(At Kaiser, parents/guardians can get their vaccinations at the same time and place as their kids. It's fantastic. As fantastic as getting a shot can be, I suppose.)

After a shot, we always get French fries and milkshakes on our way home. It's something to look forward to after, and is often the incentive for getting the shot done and over with. [Mom used to take us for ice cream after shots, but Genevieve turns into a Gremlin when she has sugar. Sharing a milkshake is really as far as we can go right now.]

We went to a different Kaiser than normal because it was on our way that particular day, and the injection nurse was phenomenal- but that didn't stop Genevieve from screaming down the walls and terrifying the kids in the waiting room before anything had actually even happened.

While Maria the Nurse was extremely skilled (I didn't feel anything when I got my shot), Genevieve made use of her excellent lungs and loud voice screaming encouraging things like, "TAKE ME AWAY FROM HERE!" and "MOMMY, SAVE ME!" I can only imagine what the poor kid in the waiting room thought was happening in there.

Once it was finally done, we did the walk of shame from the injection room, through the pediatrics lobby, and out to our van, carrying a screaming, howling, crying Genevieve.

It took us nearly an hour to calm her down enough to get in the car seat and go home. All of our nerves were frayed, and - if it hadn't been noon - it would have been wine o'clock when we got home.

When we (finally) got home, Mom suggested taking Genevieve along the next time she needed to get bloodwork done. [Mom is on cardiac meds, and has to get coumadin levels checked fairly regularly. She is a human pincushion.] That way, Genevieve could watch Gramzie get a shot and be okay without having to get a shot herself.

[With the dogs, this is called a "happy vet visit"- where they go in, get weighed, get a cookie and belly rubs, and go home. We did these with our dogs, once a week for a few months, and it made a HUGE difference with vet anxiety. I highly recommend it.]

In the meantime, Genevieve the Octopus had mysteriously gone missing.

"Clean up your toys and she'll turn up," I told Genevieve, repeating what my mother told me at least seven million times. (It bears mentioning that she was always right.)

About a month passed, and it was time for Gramzie to get her bloodwork. We went to the Kaiser that was on our way (the one we rarely go to), and told Genevieve the deal that day: no shot, no milkshake. (She was due for a vaccine; we weren't just getting her jabbed for the fun of it.)

Genevieve decided that she wanted a milkshake, and she was ready to get her shot. Just our luck, Nurse Maria was there again, and unfortunately, Genevieve started howling like a siren as soon as her sleeve was pushed up. As I held her there, feeling like Mother of the Year, I looked to my left, and-

"GENEVIEVE THE OCTOPUS!" I exclaimed, as if I had come across a lost loved one by accident. (I had, I suppose.)

Genevieve stopped screaming (just long enough for Nurse Maria to get the shot in) to look and see what I was talking about.

"Genevieve, LOOK!" I said, "We found her! You must have dropped her the last time we were here, and she's been waiting for us to come and get her!"

After a series of questions confirming our ownership of Genevieve the Octopus (because, after all, we couldn't run off all willy-nilly with someone else's purple, sparkly octopus), Genevieve and Genevieve the Octopus were reunited at last.

I'm glad I didn't insist on the more traditional octopus; anybody could have left behind a regular octopus on accident. Thank goodness for her sparkly tentacles.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Of Elsa-s and Olivia-s

This year, Halloween was FULL of parenting triumphs. (Late, I know, but worth the telling.)

First, a little backstory:

A couple of months before Halloween, Genevieve, Mom, and I took a trip to the fabric store, and bought a pattern and fabric for an Elsa Dress. Maybe for Halloween, maybe for regular play, maybe both. No biggie.

Genevieve and I talked about Halloween, and I made a few costume suggestions.

"You could be Elsa," I suggested, "Or Olivia the pig-"
"I want to be Olivia," she answered.
"Are you sure?" I asked, "Because Mommy needs time to make your costume."
"I want to be Olivia."

Ah, to be so young and so sure. In any case, as it happened, we got a copy of Gramma Nancy's Animal Hats to review on the podcast. How timely! (CAVEAT, we gave it a very mixed review. Listen here.)

One of the great things about Olivia is that she has a fantastic wardrobe- so we had a lot of material to choose from. So, Genevieve and I looked through the books, and we came up with this for her Olivia the Pig costume:

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What you are seeing are: striped pajamas (which I got on SALE! Also, double bonus of just taking off the outer clothes before putting her in bed that night), a red corduroy jumper from Nantucket Brand, and of course, the pig hat that I knitted for her. [Also, rain boots because it rained right up until it was time to go trick-or-treating.]

A month before Halloween, I checked in... Genevieve still wanted to be Olivia.
Two weeks before Halloween, I checked in... Genevieve still wanted to be Olivia.
A week before Halloween, I checked in... Genevieve still wanted to be Olivia.

And then, I made a tactical parenting mistake.

I went on Facebook (on my phone) while Genevieve was snuggling and slowly waking up from her nap. (This can take up to an hour sometimes.) There, Genevieve saw my friend Julie's daughter in the MOST AMAZING Elsa dress. Why so amazing? Because Julie sewed it herself, and it was bomb-diggety. Julie has skills and skillz.

The following exchange will likely not surprise you.

Genevieve: I don't want to be Olivia. I want to be Elsa.
Me: We are going trick-or-treating with the neighbors in ONE HOUR.
Genevieve: I don't want to go.
Me: Hmmm. Well, we don't have an Elsa costume, and we *do* have an Olivia costume.
Genevieve: I don't want to be Olivia. I want to be Elsa.

Now, I could have freaked out, and cried. I could have yelled. I could have canceled Halloween.

Instead, I summoned Andrew to the bedroom, and had him change Genevieve while I took some deep breaths and collected myself in the living room.

I had an epiphany. A straight-up, lightbulb-over-the-head moment. I went back in the bedroom.

"You know," I said to Genevieve, "Olivia is pretty great. *I* bet that Elsa would want to go as Olivia for Halloween. So, how about you go as Elsa, dressed as Olivia?"

Sold.

SuperAndrew looked at me with wide eyes, and we shared a moment of non-verbal communication done only with eyes and eyebrows that translates to something like this:

I can't believe that worked. (Andrew)
Be cool, or she'll catch on. (Me)

I couldn't believe it worked. THIS was my magic water moment. Less than twenty minutes later one previously-distraught child was now ecstatic. WIN.

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*Literally* jumping with joy

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The other huge win is that I pre-gamed her trick-or-treat bucket. I bought a big bag of lunchbox pretzels and put a few in her Elmo bucket. She trick-or-treated, I let her eat the pretzels, and MAGICALLY when she went to bed, all the forbidden candy turned into pretzels. You would have thought Genevieve won the lottery she was *so* happy. PRETZELS FOR ALL!

And now, the obligatory aging sequence. Brace yourselves.

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Halloween 2012

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Halloween 2013

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Halloween 2014
Fun fact: Our pumpkin looked like grumpy cat a week later, and Mom got a picture. (I'm just so proud that Mom knows about grumpy cat.)

Monday, January 5, 2015

A little knitting

Mom has been knitting tube socks for Genevieve since she was just a SharkBean.  It's a very simple tube sock.

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You don’t actually have to buy the pattern, we give it away (verbally) in Episode 258, towards the beginning of the episode.

But.

We've gotten loads of requests to write it up, and write it up I have. Every cent we make on this pattern (priced at $1) will go directly into Genevieve’s adventure account. She would thank you for that, but she’s busy (still) freezing Arendelle at the moment.

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Enjoy!


** A fun variation- the hat-top toe from Lara Neel's (FREE) Fork in the Road socks. (Pictured above)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Under the Mistletoe

This year, Genevieve was crazy excited about Christmas. I don't know how it started, but a week before thanksgiving, she started asking about Christmas- specifically, the tree.

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"Our" tiny tree- borrowed from Mom's house

"First we go to Thanksgiving at Auntie Laura's house, THEN we set up the tree," I explained (over and over again, like one does with kids her age), "Christmas doesn't start until AFTER Thanksgiving."

SuperAndrew manfully set up the half-tree (phenomenal if you have dogs, small children, or both in our case) the weekend following Thanksgiving, and per German tradition, it was decorated on Christmas Eve. (Certainly not because we waited until the last minute. German tradition is the story and we are sticking to it.)

[In case you're looking to buy one, Mom says that she bought it at Michael's ONE MILLION years ago. This one is the closest one I've seen online.]

Genevieve directed the application of the decorations, which consisted of sheep, Star Trek ships, and of course, Frozen Ornaments (courtesy of Auntie Laura, who loves Genevieve all the way to the moon and back).

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Anna, Genevieve's favorite


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Elsa, normally played by Andrew
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Olaf, who loves warm hugs

Of course, we have a few fake Mistletoe Balls (because real mistletoe is VERY TOXIC), which are normally placed strategically around the house for maximum surprise kiss-age, which SuperAndrew keeps with the ornaments.

Genevieve, being a toddler, insisted on hanging ALL THREE of them on the Christmas tree. In hopes of moving the mistletoe to a more... high traffic area (rather than under the tree), I explained that when someone is standing under the mistletoe, you have to give them a kiss.

[OBLIGATORY PARENTING BIT: Yes, we are teaching her about consent. Yes, we are teaching her that she doesn't have to hug or kiss anyone she doesn't want to.]

Every ten or fifteen minutes following that conversation, a little voice would call out, "I'm under the mistletoooooooe!", and it was a RACE to get to be the one who kissed Genevieve first.

(The best part of this is that- since the tree is still up, we will still periodically hear the call of "I'm under the mistletoooooooe!" It is So. Great.)

It was one of those evenings where having a toddler in the house made the holiday MUCH more fun.
And definitely more kissy.

... And then, it was Christmas morning. Genevieve got eight million small gifts (we don't do Santa here**, just presents from people who love her).

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"Cover me in the snow!"

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Gopher grin!

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The cold never bothered her anyway
When all the holiday dust had settled, and we were all snuggly in our fuzzy pajamas, I asked Genevieve what her favorite part of Christmas was.

Instead of listing off a favorite new toy, or that we let her eat a sugar-loaded breakfast (normally, COMPLETELY verboten in our house), she floored me in that way that only a toddler can.

"Spending time with people I love," she said.

My heart grew three sizes. File this one under "things we are doing right".


** Speaking of consent and parenting things, we approached the Santa Situation by reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas! first, and getting across the message of Christmas that way. I'm not comfortable telling Genevieve that it's okay for a stranger to come into our house. KidBrotherSam and I weren't raised with Santa; we celebrated family and presents. Also, chocolate advent calendars. Your holiday mileage may vary.