Baby in a box

You can't tell but she's really upset she lost her peanut butter sandwich over this.

Baby in a box

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7 Things

Katie tagged me, so I am telling you 7 things about myself you might not know or realize. However, just as you'll never uncover a photograph of me doing bad things because my mama might see it, this list is mama-friendly (hi mama!):

1. I may be the only parent who finds other kids as cute as her kids. I honestly believe that I have two good-lookin' children. They have traditionally good looks, but they also have some pretty awesome personalities. To me, Bella is most beautiful when she's dancing in circles listening to one of those aweful kids' songs she loves and Javier is most handsome when he's animatedly telling me a story about something in his day or sharing his logic with me (example). But, I will run into other children in the world who seem just as adorable. However, according to my husband and my mom - those children may be okay to look at ... but they don't hold a candle to our kids. My mom says this about Bella more often than any other kid. Maybe most people don't compare boys' looks as much as they do girls'? Anyway - sometimes I feel that I should be biased, but I feel very objective about it.

2. I like to make fun of my children (and probably yours, too). My family has an infamously morbid humor. Anyone who gets along well with us probably shares that humor. That means I can laugh and joke about things other people find sacrosanct. For example, my son has the biggest teeth known to 7 year olds. I mean - they are like two surfboards hanging from his gums. Sometimes after he eats, there'll still be food stuck to the upper half of them - which is why I force him to brush ... a lot. Of course, I do not make fun of my kid (or yours) if there's any chance I could be overheard. But, dude, it's pretty funny stuff.

3. I am often other people's scapegoat. I am known for being upfront and honest. I know many people who live in carefully constructed bubbles. When their bubbles encounter friction, those people often bring up my name. I may have only a distant connection to the problem (such as I know the same people as the bubble-dweller), but nine times out of ten, it'll be me who takes the fall. My friend Amy perfected this strategy back in college when she was online dating this guy in Canada. She'd have me say or send things, then when the guy got upset, she'd say "Hey, it was Kelly!" Not many of the newer people in my life are guilty of this fall-back, but many of the people who've been around for a while are. My favorite component of this strategy is that many times the guilty parties are so clueless that they may actually believe that I am Voldemort.

4. I watch a lot of tv, but I spend way more time reading online junk. Okay, not everything I read is "junk," per se, but I spend a inordinate amount of time reading user-generated content. And, I often consider that content just as authoritative as traditional media. For instance, my feeds are full of this and this. But, they are also full of personal blogs, mom blogs and local blogs. Notice: blogs, blogs, and some more blogs. As a work-from-home mom, I think my blogs help me feel connected, as though I am dropping by the "watercooler" in many different offices. Yay for blogs!

5. I was almost a biologist. Can you imagine? As an undergrad, I double majored in English and Gender Studies. In fact, I chose my college based on its fantastic English department. However, in my freshman year, I had to take one of those 100-person Biology seminar classes .... and it was awesome. I enjoyed learning more about the human body and the subject clicked in my brain in a way that science never had before. If I could've focused more on biology, I might have considered changing my major, but instead I loaded up on science courses that fit my Gender Studies curriculum. That means I've taken lots of sociology, psychology and physiology courses, which were also fascinating. I am confident that I wasn't cut out to be a scientist, but I do know several English majors who started out at as Biology majors, and many science/math people who started out as English majors ... so perhaps there's a connect somewhere?

6. I have always wanted to leave in a commune. I don't know that commune is exactly the word, but I'd love to have a safe space for women and children where we make our own food and clothes, provide job skills and training, and focus on creating strong, healthy women ... who would then raise strong, healthy children. I'd love to be in a position to work with a non-profit that would tie into that dream, but unfortunately with the cost of child care and all my student loans, etc., I must continue churning out content for The Man.

7. I used to have a crush on Jesse Helms. Yes, you read that correctly. Jesse "The Devil" Helms. I can only explain this by saying that my papa was a staunch Republican, and I spent a lot of time with him and his girlfriend at the time... and they spent a lot of time watching and talking about Jesse. I thought he was an angel and wanted to give him a big hug. I shared that with my mother, who promptly threw up a little in her mouth and warned that my great-grandparents were rolling over in their graves. In my defense, I was probably 10 at the time and didn't realize that Jesse would consider my very birth an abomination. As I got older and actually paid attention to ol' Jesse, I came to my senses. :)

I hear a baby crying ... time to start our day!

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A lesson on how to vote

I wouldn't presume to tell you how to vote in the Presidential election. However, my son has some insight on how to vote in the contest the 2nd grade is running on November 4...

J: Mama. (That's its own sentence, you know.) What am I going to vote for: lion, dolphin, or giraffe?

M: I don't know, why are you voting for one of them?

J: I don't really remember but I have to vote for a lion, dolphin, or giraffe.

M: Okay, so which one are you thinking about?

J: Well, I don't like predators and giraffes are too tall. I can't even reach its head! I don't want to kill it though.

M: I'm glad you don't want to kill it. So, the lion's out and the giraffe is too tall. So, you're voting for the dolphin.

J: Yep, the dolphin. I think that's good because everybody likes dolphins, they're cute, girls like them. Yeah, I'm going to vote for dolphins.

And that, my friends, is what you call a decision-making process. Did he talk smack about the lion for being a predator? Nope. Did he ridicule the giraffe's long neck? Nope. He voted for the dolphin because not only does he like dolphins, but he knows that others like them, too. He's a diplomat.

Now we just have to figure out what in the world he's voting on. He did tell me that people need to stop hunting birds because there aren't as many birds in the world now as there used to be - so maybe they're doing a unit on natural habitats or something.....?

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Out of the mouths of babes

My son, like Malia Obama, has zero patience with political commercials and has gotten increasingly more frustrated with back-to-back negative ads on television. Normally he watches Disney, Noggin or Nick, but we watch Ugly Betty together and he watches wrestling with his dad.

So yesterday we were watching The Haunted Mansion and there was a political ad. Javi turned to me and said, "Can you forward it?" - meaning, can you skip ahead in the DVR. I had to admit that we were watching the movie live and he swung his head to me and said "Mama! I can't believe you didn't tape this! I'm sooooo TIRED of politics!"

He then asked for a sucker to help alleviate the pain of having to watch a political ad in the middle of his tv time. I had to give in - and I've learned my lesson! DVR to the rescue.

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Love it

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Thriller Time!

This is just a sampling of how Bella spent the minutes between 4:30 pm and 5:45 pm yesterday.

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At the No Scare Fair

We took Javi and Bella to the "No Scare Fair" yesterday, which is an annual Halloween event held by the Stephens Center. You pay $3 per person for entry and then go down "Trick or Treat Lane" (where they hand out awesomely huge candy bars in some places and clearance rack chips in others - it's a pot luck). After trick-or-treating, the kids can color a face mask, visit a fortune teller, dance to the kid-appropriate music, and listen to a story teller. There were also several performances by Magetsi 4-H club and The Dancer's Workshop.

Javi was over it by the time we finished trick-or-treating and would've been perfectly content with going on home. Bella, on the other hand, wanted nothing to do with trick-or-treating.

However, she ran right up on to the stage during "Thriller" and had to be forcibly removed so that the story teller (aka Mayor Cornelia Olive) could read The Big, Spooky House. Javi convinced Bella to sit down during the story by supplying her with an endless stream of Scooby-Doo gummies.

After the story teller, Magetsi 4-H club performed three traditional Mexican dances and The Dancer's Workshop performed two jazz numbers. Bella spent that time trying to sneak onto the stage. We distracted her by introducing her to a Minnie & Mickey Mouse sibling duo. She loved them both and ran around with them until she could go back on stage.

The other Minnie is only 20 months old (two months older than Bella), but she looked like a 3 year old to us. Her legs were bigger than both of Bella's put together! Little Mickey was 15 months and about the same size as Bella. Just goes to show you - kids come in all shapes and sizes!

Today after a healthy breakfast and snack, we allowed Bella to get a taste of what she's been trying to eat since we got home yesterday: a red Charms blowpop. Do I need to tell you that my entire house is covered in red, sticky smears? I took the sucker away from her after she had it in her eyebrows, hair, behind her ears, all over her face and on her clothes.

She threw a tiny tantrum, but was a-ok after I told her it was time to jump in the bath. That's the solid-gold, works-every-time tantrum-ender for us.

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It's not ice

If you're around my daughter and hear the distinct sound of someone crunching on ice, don't worry -- it's not ice. It's Bella GRINDING HER TEETH. Yes, it deserves all caps. Actually, ice crunching sounds much better the grinding -- which more accurately sounds like someone chewing a mouthful of rocks. Hard, dirty, tooth-destroying rocks.

All I can do to get her to stop is to tap her cheeks and say NO M'AM in a very firm voice. Each and every time I have to stop myself from thumping her cheeks. Each and every time.

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The best video EVER

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What else would you do on a table?

Bella woke up this morning in rare form. When I asked her if she was ready for breakfast, she slowly leaned in really close to my mouth and just held herself there. I kissed her and she threw herself backwards while clapping. I'm not quite sure what the joke was, but I'm certain it was on me.

Then after her deliciously healthy breakfast of banana bread and chocolate milk (jealous, aren't you?), she ran over to the stereo to play her jams (video in the post below). I hopped on my remote work desktop to fix some color separations (boring, I know) and when I looked up, this is what I saw:

I knew trouble was afoot. I made my way into the kitchen and found my child doing what everyone wishes they could do on the kitchen table where we sit as a family for dinner every night, where Javi finishes the homework that will build the foundation for his genious and eventual multi-million dollar paycheck (to support Mama in the lifestyle to which she wishes she was accustomed), and where many a wholesome craft project was completed:

You were thinking go "night night," right? Cause that's what she was saying to me when the camera clicked. She was playing night night on the table - so get your minds out of the gutter!

Today is destined to be one of those days you chuckle about at night.

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Blast from the recent past

I forgot to post this a while back. How cute is this baby? She still sticks her finger in her nose if you mention the word "nose" in her presence.

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John McCain On Taxing Rich People

Funny how progressive taxes are only considered "socialist" when when liberals suggest them. I like how 2008 McCain is running against 2000 McCain. What a difference 8 years and a Republican presidential nomination makes. This is the McCain I could vote for. Luckily for Obama, this McCain isn't running.

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Bella's Favorite Song These Days

They won't let me embed the video, but here's Bella's favorite song.

You should see her dance around the room. Needless to say, Bert & Ernie and Elmo have all been replaced.

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Another Blast From The Past

Thinking about how Bella has grown in just the past 18 months, I realized that I haven't posted the photo Javi dug out of my memory box from his 2nd birthday party.

That was the party where I paid $50 for a tray of homemade tamales - which Terry Vought (the bio grandfather) loaded up in big paper bag before he left. The gift Terry brought Javi? A bag of oranges and pecans. UGH! A better memory from that party:

Can you tell who Bella really favors? Javi loved that Elmo balloon in the background. I think we kept it until Santa "stole" his room on Christmas Eve 2005. Also, notice the seat he's in ... it should look familiar considering we kept it and now Bella uses it!

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We had a photo session with Saphire Photography last week. Despite Javi's stubborn refusal to attempt a natural smile - or even to be good natured about the session - the pictures turned out beautifully.

Bella spent most of her time near or in the fountain. She had to have her feet in it, but luckily she didn't attempt to jump in. Maybe next summer we'll do it again and let the kids get in the fountain. I think those would be cute photos!

Anyway, there was one picture that jumped out at me as a blast from the past. Here's Bella at 3 weeks old and at 18 months old. It makes me smile to see the baby caterpillar right beside the beautiful butterfly.

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Tub Time

So, Ms. Monkey has spent the past 7 months or so taking baths in the kitchen sink. We started her out in a baby tub, but as soon as she could sit up, she would reach for things on the counter top or try to stand up and step out of the tub. We moved her to the kitchen sink - which happens to be very deep and perfectly fit her cushy little body.

Fast forward to earlier this week. DH was bathing her and he lets her stand up so she can see herself in the window about the sink. On her way up, she grabbed the faucet and her weight lifted up the handle, sending out a steady stream of water. This was Bella's EUREKA moment. Every bath in the sink since then has resulted in fighting Bella to keep the water turned off. Then while you're keeping the water turned off, she's reaching for something else ... and once slipped and ALMOST banged her head on the side of the sink.

Yesterday, DH picked up a Dora-themed bath mat and a ducky spout guard. I scrubbed the bath tub until it was squeaky clean ... outfitted it in the 18-month-old-appropriate gear ... and ran the water. We told Bella it was bath time and she headed for the sink as usual. Then DH led her by the hand into the bathroom and her eyes lit up. The Dora mat! The ducky! Absolute joy!

Suffice it to say, I had to drain the water, remove the ducky and take up the Dora mat before I could convince Bella to get out of the tub. Since then, I have had to keep the bathroom door shut for a new reason. I used to keep it closed to keep her out of the toilet ... now it's because if I don't she'll try to get in the tub. She is a bathtub-baby!

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Vote 2008

I can't publish this as as a video, so you have to click this link. But it's soooooo worth it.

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"A Flying Pig" by Javier Stone Miller

"Once a pon a time there was a flying pig. What do flying pigs do? They just fly. Do they talk? No! They don't talk. Why do they fly? I do not know that question. Are flying pigs cool? Yes, they are. Do they play games? NO they do not. They are cool!"

He'll be famous one day and you'll be able to say you read his first story.

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Fair Days

We took the kids to the Lee Regional Fair last night. After sliding in a bit of Jaycee business (aka sticking Pumpkin Festival fliers under people's windshield wipers), we watched the big kids (Ethan, Javi, and Ricky) ride the same handful of rides over and over again.

Bella was tired and hungry so she didn't enjoy all the standing around as much as she might have. She perked up after sharing a cheeseburger with me and licking the ketchup off my french fries. Then she was her normal giggly self when we got to the livestock exhibits. I think the cows petrified her, though, because they were doing some really aggressive moo-ing. She oinked at the pigs ... especially the litter of babies that were sleeping on a pile of hay.

However, her absolute favorite exhibit was the baby chicks. She banged on their cage, waved hi to them, blew kisses and fell apart when it was time to leave. Her "granny" (sitter) has a pet chicken who Bella shares her food with. The chicken follows her around on the playground and stations herself near Bella's feet whenever there's food around. When Bella got there this morning, she took one look at the chicken-dog and yelled "Hi Bayyyyyydddeee," which I translate to mean "Hi Baby."

I'm not surprised by her love of baby chickens. Who can't love an adorable ball of fluff? I remember one Easter when I was a little, the Easter Bunny brought my sisters and I a baby chick. The Easter Bunny also brought us a bunny. The chick trumped the bunny, though. I was ready to love it for my whole life. I really can't remember what happened to the chick but I don't think we had it for very long. I think we accidentally released the bunny into the back yard, never to be seen again.

I think Bella would pass out if she actually had the chance to touch a baby chick. And I imagine she has a new love for the chicken-dog at Granny's. But, even her love of chick didn't surpass her Absolute Favorite Thing about last night: the carousel. She was hesitant when Daddy put her on the horse for the first time, but her fear quickly turned to elation. She threw the biggest tantrum when she didn't get to ride again ... but suffice it to say we'll be finding another carousel for her to ride in the near future.

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Letter to Bella, month seventeen

Dear Bella,

Hi sweet pea! I say "hi" because that's your favorite word these days. You say hi to your room when you wake up, hi to the skeleton taped onto Javi's door before we head down the stairs, hi to the living room, hi to your toys. And, if you don't know something's name, you simply say "Hi this!"

But then you spot the kitchen and immediately sign for more while whining "moh!" because the kitchen is where you get your delicious warm hot chocolate first thing every morning. Once you get that cup? You have no interest in anything else. You drain it and then you throw it down in disgust and sign for "moh"! I have to give you something else or you'll bang your head on the gate and whine "moh!" until you either pass out from a concussion or break through the gate - and neither option bode very well for me.

Your signing has become second nature. You sign for more when you want something, whether you've had some yet or not. You rub your belly to say please, you sign "in" when we toss your toys back into the box, and you sign "up" when you want me to cart you somewhere. Luckily your vocabulary is growing by leaps and bounds - but even if it weren't, you're a little sass who knows exactly how to tell people what you want and when you want it.

Speaking of language - you are a talker! You tell everyone "see ya later" after you tell them "bye" (even if they're just going to the bathroom), you say "cracker," "juice," "more," "in," "whatcha doin," "ready to go," "yes," and "no." No happens to be my favorite, because when you get on a streak, you'll say no to everything. "Bella, want a million dollars?" NO! "Bella, want a chocolate fountain with marshmallows for dipping?" NO! "Bella, want McPalin for president?" NO! (Okay, I couldn't help myself...)

You've branched out in the world this past month as you neared the 18th month mark. You wave bye (see ya later!) to me when I drop you at the baby sitter's, you sit like a big girl in your wagon while I chauffeur you around the neighborhood, you hold my hand while we walk to or from the car, and you can spot my or your dad's cars from anywhere in the parking lot.

I think I realized you're no longer a baby when we took you to Ham's for kids' night. Mickey Mouse was there to entertain the children and instead of freaking out, you giggled at him and screamed whenever he tried to leave you to visit another child. Of course, you sort of froze when Mickey put his big gloved hand on your back - but you didn't react as I thought you would. When Javi was your age, we would've avoided oversized freakish characters like the plague. Your brother wouldn't even pose with Santa until he was six years old!

Another sign that you're turning into a little girl instead of a baby: We had a tea party! You emptied out my picnic basket and brought me plates, spoons, and cups. We then sat around the ottoman and pretended to enjoy something delicious. Each time the spoon or cup hit our mouths, we had to say "UMMMMM!" (just like that) and every few minutes, we had to swap plates - most likely so that we could taste each other's scrumptious treats.

I imagine there will be many more tea parties in our future. Javier tried to fight the party, but he wound up down on the floor with us eating that pretend food with as much gusto as we did. You're going to drag us (sometimes kicking and screaming) into the world of little girls. Tea parties are the gateway to princess parties, mother-daughter mani/pedis, ruffley dresses and fairy wings.

But I welcome that balance. I'm so tired of wrestling figurines, UFC matches, martial arts movies and zombies that I'll support you in whatever path you choose - even if it's a traditionally feminine one. So bring it on - I'll be ready with pastel pink nail polish and embellished hair barrettes, patent leather shoes and puffy dresses, glittery lip gloss and matching outfits ...

You, my dear monkey-muffin, are my absolute favorite little girl in the entire world. I will move mountains to see you smile. I will rock you quietly to calm your tears. Whatever you need, whenever you need it, I'll be there for you. Always and forever. You have my heart in your hands.

Love, Mama

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