Hoo! Boo! And booyah, too!

A seven-year-old ninja told her she was a hoot. Success!

Stella fell in love with Halloween. She said “Trick or Treat” and “Thank you” and “Happy Halloween” at all the right times. She noted and appreciated everyone else’s costumes, even the less impressive ones. Like the dad whose costume was simply his regular jeans and flannel with an orange T-shirt featuring a simple jack-o-lantern face. “He’s dressed like a pumpkin.” Regarding the little girl dressed in an over-the-top gorgeous, homemade cupcake get-up? “She’s dressed like a cupcake.” Everyone was dressed like something, even if they weren’t, and Stella narrated every detail in an objective tone. She went trick-or-treating for about two hours. At stores and at houses and at the zoo. It was a very full and wonderful day. Honestly, I used to hate this holiday. I now adore it.

Everyone fell in love with Stella’s costume. Which I made, thanks to fabulous inspiration found in alphamom’s “Last Minute Kids’ Owl Costume” post from last year. I’m kind of embarrassed at my level of pride. When asked if I made her costume, I’d absolutely exclaim with glee, “YES! I DID!” What can I say? It’s the most creative thing I’ve done in years. Along with our jack-o-lantern crew, which represented an organized, thoughtful creative collaboration with Cody. Involving brainstorms, sketches and check-in meetings. We should totally start an agency specializing in pumpkin advertising. I’m going resist saying it would be such a hoot.

A new take on "boohoo"?

Anyway, instead of an owl mask, which Stella would not tolerate for more than five seconds, I came up with an owl hat. I found a secondhand fleece Gap hat at a consignment store, removed the pom pom, turned it inside out to get a plain brown canvas, and crudely hand-stitched some buttons and pieces of felt to the front so as to create the owl eyes and nose. As alphamom suggested, I used fabric glue to attach the feathers to the shirt, because I don’t own a sewing machine and haven’t used one since middle school. Again, the sense of accomplishment I got from this was out of control. But the best reward was seeing Stella running around, flapping her arms and hooting in delight.

Speaking of rewards, besides candy and owl-inspired antics, Stella’s vision therapy seems to be paying off. I just wrote a post about her recent breakthrough. So please check out my latest post on Little Four Eyes to learn all about quoits vectogram and the therapeutic value of owl feathers.

Hope your Halloween was wonderful, too.

Proud of my veggie rebel

One of the many reasons to shop at PCC (Natural Markets), besides tons of carefully selected fresh, local organic produce? Their Kid Fruit Program, described on their website as “Free fruit for kids! Kids ages 12 and under can choose a free serving of a fruit or vegetable to eat while their parents shop. Kids are occupied with eating a delicious snack and parents feel good about establishing healthy eating habits.” Brilliant, I know.

Earlier this week, Stella and I ventured to PCC for what has become a weekly ritual: Slightly-less-angst-ridden-than-before grocery shopping followed by a walk to the “chocolate store” (Theo Chocolate‘s showroom and factory, just down the block and around the corner from PCC in Fremont, where free chocolate samples are abundant and the atmosphere is welcoming) then a walk back to our car along a portion of the Burke Gilman Trail that abuts the canal. After some Hazelnut Crunch and Coconut Curry milk chocolate bites, we wander and wave to friendly boat captains, watch the boats’ wakes ripple out and tumble and splash against the rocks at our feet, and occasionally spot fish taking breaks in the nooks and crannies along the edge. Also, and this is less quaint, I have to physically restrain Stella from launching herself into the water and divert tantrums by pointing to birds.

During this last trip, we meandered through PCC’s produce section as usual, in terribly inefficient fashion because neither my list nor my head are remotely organized. Well, Stella’s mental/verbal tractor beam locked in on the carrots. So I handed one of the massive, bright, slightly dirty spears to her, expecting her to wave it around like a wand or imitate a bunny rabbit as she’s known to do. I figured I’d slice it up and saute it for her later. But no. She proceeded to vigorously munch on that carrot throughout our time in the store (which meant she also sat contentedly in the seat of the shopping cart–unheard of! Thank you, brilliant PCC!), and all the way to the chocolate factory. On our way out, a cashier remarked, referring to the Kid Fruit program, “How cool to see a kid pick a vegetable instead of a fruit!” Stella finished at least half of the entire large carrot, Bugs-Bunny style, and her chin took on an orange hue. I so wish I’d captured that moment on film–my little twenty-three-month-old walking down the street in her chic blue glasses, with tiny pig tails in her hair and a giant carrot in hand.

Mind you, this  is the girl who, after a day of fun at a birthday party a couple of months ago, during which she only ate crackers, cookies, and cake, came home and demanded broccoli. I quickly steamed some and she devoured an entire bowl of the green stuff. This is also the girl who, upon spying a fresh white bag or box from Trophy Cupcakes in the grip of a passerby, recognizes the logo and goes absolutely bonkers, breathlessly demanding “birthday cupcakes!” Her “intake” fluctuates, like most toddlers, but this girl loves to eat.

Stella’s feeding issues are so far behind us, I can barely see them in my proverbial rear-view mirror. But, when I saw her eating that carrot, I was lifted up. I remembered and I realized. We are such a long way from hypoallergenic formula through an NG tube. So close to two years old. Beyond lucky.

Stella hits the gym

Stella enjoyed her first Gymboree class ever today. By letting her go until 15 months without being enrolled in a “structured program”, I let her become a delinquent, apparently. Well I’m making amends! Not really. Stella’s just incredibly active and we were getting bored. I thought it would be perfect for her.

She just turned 15 months old yesterday. But mainly because she’s been walking for so long and is so good at balancing and climbing and other physical feats, I took her to a class for 16- to 22-month-olds, rather than the one for 10- to 16-month-olds. The woman at the front desk told me they were pretty flexible with the age ranges of the classes, which made me feel more confident about it. We arrived a couple minutes late and I was flustered and wondering if we should even be there, but the staff really put me at ease.

Stella watched solemnly from my lap for much of the time. Two teachers went above and beyond to assure me that it’s totally normal for kids that age who are new to the program to simply watch the others at first. Stella definitely stood back. She seemed awed, fascinated and, while not at all upset, a little nervous. She did explore a bit. She walked up some plank that you are supposed to crawl up. She jumped off a platform, went to town on a giant rocking horse contraption, slid down the slide, kept throwing two balls overhand at the same time with one in each hand (with impressive form, a small thing but I so appreciated it), and approached a couple of kids in a friendly manner.

I was reminded again today, in looking at the slightly older toddlers, how lean Stella is. She’s just as tall as they are, but appears small because she’s so thin. Perhaps that’s why she already seems like such an athlete. After all, her triceps are more defined than mine! (Okay, that’s not saying much.) While her eating has received way too much attention, I’m starting to believe that her build has less to do with intake and more to do with her insane activity level. I was reminded today that her leanness serves her well. Stella climbed up on a teeter-totter, with seats on both ends and bars across the middle. She climbed up onto it, unfazed by its rocking motion, and sat right the middle with her skinny legs stuck through the slats, arms outstretched and holding the side of the teeter-totter behind her, moving side to side. The teacher said she’d never seen anyone use it that way before. What a trailblazer!

At the very end of the class, as Jimbo the puppet said his goodbyes to everyone, Stella got up from my lap, ran away on her tippy toes and pointed at Jimbo. She was finally comfortable, and it was time to go. Of course. I had to peel her off of the rocking horse.

This could be the beginning of a lot of gym time for Stella, and I am prepared to be alternately dazzled and supportive.

All is not lost.

How can a mere misplaced item spark such rage?

This morning, I could not find:

  • My boots. The ones I wear all the time. Eventually found them in the front closet with the rest of our shoes. I’m pretty sure Cody put them away just to mess with me.
  • Stella’s right shoe. It was nowhere near the left one. Later discovered in a far, dark corner of the living room between our hutch and the wall. Of course.
  • The ERGO carrier. Turns out it was in the same place as always.Where it belongs. In the kitchen by the back door. Hadn’t used it in a couple weeks, and it hadn’t moved in that time.
  • My mind. Still looking.

Minor inconvenience? To most. For me, it resulted in clenched-fist fury! I could not see straight, which only made the hunt more difficult. I was so angry, because we’d already been awake for two and a half hours without doing anything semi-productive or quasi-enjoyable (productivity is  not how I measure a morning, trust me) aside from picking at breakfast. Where do those hours go? I remember reading Stella a few stories, which slowed down my post-breakfast clean-up efforts. Then I sort of just hung out with her on the couch in the office for a while, helping her do somersaults–she recently figured out how to climb up on the furniture and treats couches as gyms. At some point, I wet my hair and dried it about halfway so I didn’t look quite so nuts and disheveled. We brushed out teeth together. I rinsed off my face, which is close enough to washing it–I’m out of cleanser and moisturizer and resorted to using olive oil last night. From the permanent pile of clothes on top of my dresser, I unearthed yesterday’s jeans and deemed them clean enough to wear. I cobbled together an outfit for Stella that passed my minimum cuteness standards. I packed a makeshift diaper bag with the bare essentials. And that’s precisely when steam began pouring out of my ears as I tried to pinpoint the location of our footwear and ergonomically superior baby backpack. Of course, as I searched high and low for these items (ie looked in the same potential hiding spots over and over again expecting them to suddenly appear), Stella grabbed books, brought them to me, tugged on my pant leg, and cried. The entire time.

At one point during the morning’s madness, I actually stopped and listened to what I was saying to myself. I’m pretty sure I called myself an idiot about a dozen times, not to mention a frighteningly disorganized failure and lazy mom whose shoe-losing ways are no doubt eroding Stella’s potential and endangering her even foot development. And to make matters worse, I’m pretty sure that the stack of thank-you cards on the bookshelf, with names written on them but no addresses, looked at me and nodded in total agreement with these negative thoughts. Not only is my mental dialogue insane and uncool, it’s melodramatic.

I have phases where I get so down on myself so fast. Examples abound, but Facebook comes to mind. I want to quit Facebook, but can’t. I’ve noticed that the oh-so-sunny and wonderful virtual representations others create of themselves using pictures of their gorgeous new homes and perfectly happy children and new cars and other symbols of “success” lead me to feel crappy.  Don’t get me wrong, if we owned a lovely home, I’d be showing it off for sure, because due to the hard work and pride naturally involved. But status updates like, “Feeling so grateful for my life. Everything is wonderful!” kind of make me want to vomit, especially when posted every other day. I hope that these are genuine expressions by well-intentioned people, but come on! No, Facebook is not all bad. I do enjoy some fun banter with Facebook friends which helps me feel less isolated, but sometimes, I log off feeling “less than.” It sucks. I’m reminded of a brilliant quote along the lines of, “Don’t compare your inside to someone’s outside.” I try to keep that in mind, but it doesn’t help. I’m holding myself up to some high standards, and I’m not sure they’re even possible to meet.

Well, after a couple of emails to my husband, who has nothing better to do at work than help me find things that are right in front of me, I found all the “missing” stuff. Almost three hours after waking up, Stella and I headed downtown on a birthday mission for Cody. He turns 38 today. Happy Birthday, sweets! (I’ll report on the birthday festivities once they are complete, this weekend.) While he and Stella attend Waterbabies, I’ll be cooking a German feast for him, with ingredients sourced from Pike Place Market, to be followed by his favorite dessert in the world: Dahlia’s coconut cream pie. We won’t eat until just after 8:30, when Stella goes to bed. You know, so as to spend more than five minutes with a meal.

Our morning completely turned around once we were out and about. Funny how that happens. Stella clearly loves Pike Place Market, and being downtown with all the people, sights and sounds, and I love that about her. We had a fabulous time. The ladies at the bakery were fittingly sweet. We snacked on Dahlia’s sour cream vanilla bean coffee cake and sampled organic plum and pear. We stopped to listen to a piano man, and Stella particularly enjoyed (judging from all her bouncing) the old timey tunes by The Tallboys. One of the gospel singers that are stationed near the original Starbucks cheerfully called Stella “a bottle o’ joy” and pretty much made my day with his enthusiasm. Stella took a stroll down the less-busy Post Alley, where she tried on some boots and an old woman in a tall leopard-print hat stopped to chat with her. We watched and waited as someone spent about $500 on ingredients for an Oktoberfest dinner at Bavarian Meats Delicatessen. I was inspired but all I had left on my list was swiss cheese for spaetzle. On our way out of the Market, I grabbed some plums and pluots and Stella and I shared a smoothie in which every single ingredient was grown at a local farm. They use their own cider as a base and Stella and I agreed that it really worked.

Then I saw it:  the parking ticket. We were ten minutes late. But to my surprise, fire did not shoot out of my eyes. I simply didn’t care. We lingered at the car, continuing to enjoy our smoothie. It dawned on me in that moment to appreciate how content Stella had been throughout our long-ish adventure. It was worth an extra $25.

This calls for a new Facebook status: “Wow, what a fabulous morning. Life is good and I’m truly blessed!” Gag me with the truth.