Monday, May 30, 2011

recent Tiny Steps towards Growing Big

Discovering pockets and putting your hands in them when you walk.
Noticing and trying to catch rainbows.
Going down the slide alone: on your tummy when you remember, and face first when you are in a hurry.


Pulling yourself up onto the swing and pumping with your legs to get going.
Desiring to use the potty alone. And better? Learning to wipe alone.
Imitating your preschool teacher, who says Didcha? and For ya. and Bigga (bigger)!
Protecting your younger brother in the wagon.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dance!

Can you be anything but happy when you see people dance like this? It's right up there next to eating ice cream. About 10 minutes long. The mug shots at the very end are especially awesome.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Six Months

I've been blogging for 6 months now. My most popular post is one about my eyeglass frames turning white. I don't really understand how all this blogging-stats-stuff works. And I choose not to learn any more than I already know. Because knowing more is not my purpose with this blog.

But I do think that this fact is pretty funny, so I'm sharing, that's all.

[moment for reflection]

Really, its almost so absurd that I'm considering killing that particular post. Probably just writing this post  on that post will help its popularity grow. No, don't tell me. I don't want to be sucked into any more.

Ridiculous.

Friday, May 27, 2011

If it's not broke...

Last week, I managed to get a whole bunch of outdoor furniture at an estate sale. Cheap. The biggest prize in my loot was an outdoor teak table and six chairs. Teak is one of those tropical woods that last forever. If you seal it regularly, it will stay brown; leave it alone and it turns silvery-grey from UV light. Unlike a lot of other woods, teak cracks, warps and breaks far less. This set had already turned a beautiful shade of silvery grey. Even though the style was generally too fussy for my taste, it was a great price - I couldn’t buy a new poorly made set for less - so I bought it.


Now, why I didn’t just leave its beautiful silvery color alone, I’ll never really understand. I even posted a few months ago about how much I love weathered wood. What I didn't mention in that past post, and perhaps it's significant to clarify this: is that when wood weathers, the grey silver color sinks into the wood - it has a depth and a complexity to it that you simply can't fake well with paint or stain. Or at least, if you are me, and you pay attention to these types of details, it can't be faked.

But for some strange, strange reason, in the process of tightening up some wobbly legs, I sanded the chairs down a bit and applied some protective oil to the wood. This was a totally unnecessary thing to do. And now they look brown. I mean, they don’t look bad...but I feel this huge disappointment - and even anger - at myself.

Why, oh why, did I not just leave them alone?

I know that they will fade back to silvery grey and it will be just fine. And it’s just fine now. But I do wonder about my own sanity regarding the effect these “mistakes” sometimes have on me. I did this five days ago, and I'm still fuming about it.

Which leads me to question: should I be going back to work? I'm thinking about it a lot lately. There are a lot of things wonderful about being home with the piccolini. But I'm just feeling - well, I guess I'm feeling that I'd like monetary appreciation for my efforts, even if that means nickel tips for serving up coffee. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Windows 2.0

I think I've mentioned before that one of the things that I really love about our house is the windows. What makes the windows great is that they are so well adjusted to our smaller lot.  In this neighborhood, yards are small and the next door neighbor is close enough that you may make eye contact through the windows. So locating windows strategically, to preserve privacy and yet let in light, is important.

Red potted plants in the stairwell window.
Our floor plan puts a lot of windows in the stairwell. This is a brilliant place for windows because they bring in lots of light in a place where privacy is less important. Our last home, a rental, had a huge picture window in the living room. And while the light was nice - I always love big windows - in the evening, or on a particularly cloudy day, it did feel a little bit like we were in a fishbowl, unless we closed the blinds. With the blinds closed, the living room could feel like a cave. 

That's where - and when - I first encountered this window strategy. The strategy is to place large objects in front of the window(s). It doesn't really block anyone from seeing in, but it does distract. It works well in the stairwell, when we are only passing through, anyway.  And it looks cheerful from the outside as well. Our neighbors say that their guests always comments on our windows.
This photo would be better at dusk, but my hands are pretty full at that time of day.
Yes, I know that might be a good or a bad thing. I know that most people don't decorate their houses with primary red (except for the holidays, maybe). But I have to tell you, I am loving the red. It was quite difficult to find red pots. I finally gave up and took to spray paint. One thing you learn if you are observant about color is that our palette of colors when it comes to home decor in the States is REALLY limited.

If you want to be really avant-guard in your paint choices, get yourself a CMYK book (here's mine, purchased when it was a lot less expensive) that systematically, mathematically goes through all the basic print color options.  Then compare it to the paint samples at the store. You'll be shocked at how limited the paint samples/chips are. But don't worry, with the CMYK book in your hand, you can give the paint-mixer your special mixing orders and end up with paint colors that nobody else has. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Enamel Bowl, Part Two

One of my friends in Munich set about tracking down this bowl design before our trip to Germany in March.  She managed to find new ones for sale, like this one, as well as some older ones that PERFECTLY match the one I already had, making a nested set of 4 bowls!


That, unfortunately, is the best photo I took yesterday before Noah barricaded himself and began to sample the fruit. Notice the bite taken out of the apple below? But I'm not complaining: one more reason these are my favorite bowls ever: they encourage Noah to eat something healthy.


Thank you, Diana!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Outrageous Injustices Inflicted upon Four Year Olds in the Wyse Household

1. Papa refuses to buy a (broken plastic kids) vacuum cleaner at the flea market.

2. Papa will not take 4yo with him to work (IN THE BIKE TRAILER... PLEASE!)

3. Mama does not give 4yo granola bars for a snack at 11:45 am.

4. Mama seals the deck without the help of the 4yo. 4yo is forced to watch from the window, even when he procures a handful of paint brushes from his (otherwise unused) craft box.

5. Neighborhood pal remains at school for another 2.5 hours after 4yo has decided he wants a playdate RIGHT NOW.

6. Mama reheats the (requested) pasta on the (requested) green plate for lunch, instead of MAKING IT NEW ON THE STOVE. 4yo will not eat OLD pasta.

Ripping some newspaper to deal with the outrage. Do other kids deal with stress like this?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Low Energy

Today I had an amazingly Low Energy Day. I spent most of the day talking myself out of lying flat on the floor and staring at the ceiling. If it hadn't been for the unpleasant thought of suddenly becoming Noah and Mattias' indoor jungle gym, I probably would have done it. Instead, I settled into a slump in my desk chair. Normal families have sofas for such lounging about, but we don't have a sofa for lounging; we have a sofa for the Art of Proper Conversation, so the desk chair it was.

I've been waking up early in the morning - way too early in the morning - writing essays on the State of Builder Designed Housing in the United States and Failures of New Urbanist Neighborhoods and Encroachments of the DIY Culture on Design Professionals and People Who are Not Architects but Call Themselves Architects Anyway. Really, you only need to hear the titles.  There's not much more there. These essays are kind of like my version of dramatic play. Obviously, I'm spending too much time with preschoolers. But I only mention it because some true Writers with blogs will be happy to know that I have complete and utter empathy for the attack of your field by the hobby-ist.  We architects have attacks, too. And also from many directions, thus my early morning rants. Rants to myself, really; because I, at the moment, am hardly in a position to crusade for anything.

Well, whatever. I think this particular line of discussion is about to become some sort of babbling, so let me stop or save it for another (more focused) time and place. Instead:

What I really wanted to say is that I think all of my tiredness has accumulated and taken the form of an actual ache in my left arm. Fritz tries to tell me it's from carrying around Mattias. Mattias is getting heavy. He doesn't really walk very far alone, He's not happy being contained in the stroller. So, I am carrying him a lot. But this ache feels like more than a carrying-around-Mattias-ache.

This morning, Noah began pulling tissues out of the box. It was second time that this particular tissue box had been pulled apart this week. The first time it was Mattias. And the first time, I never quite got around to stuffing the tissues back in the box, because, I don't know, something happened and I got distracted and the tissues weren't really in the way, or not in the way in an In-my-face-kind-of-way.  And around here, things that aren't In-my-face generally get a low priority.

Fritz used to comment on stuff like that. He'd say something like, "What happened to these tissues?" And I might be all witty and reply something back about how Noah thought we needed a new carpet in the bedroom.  Or more likely, I would just look at him and throw my hands in the air, like, "Well?  What do you expect?" and then mutter something about how I can't keep up. It's probably some sort of testament to our ever-maturing relationship and perspective on parenting that after Mattias emptied the box, Fritz said nothing.  He just stuffed the tissues back in the box so that Noah could pull them out again two days later.

So, anyway, Noah knows better than to pull tissues out of the box. Which means that I needed to tell him "no" and make him clean up the mess he was making. And it just felt so... redundant and negative and exhausting to tell him to stop taking the tissues out of the box.  And I thought about how he was going to ask me "Why?" for the twentieth time this morning. And "Why?" although I'm sure he's been told WHY we don't take tissues out of the box DOZENS of times.  Did I REALLY have to do this again? And if he didn't stop then I'd send him to his room... and he'd make a scene of stomping to his room and crying loudly and fake-ly. And it just felt like so much effort to make him stop. I said I was low energy, remember?

Just thinking about saying, "No" or "Stop" was making my arm ache even more. And while I was pondering all this, Noah started ripping the tissue box itself into little pieces, a sure sign that he was trying to get my attention. My attention to the situation at hand began to drift from Noah to myself and I started wondering why I can never seem to give him as much attention as he wants. I mean, what is wrong with me?

(With hindsight, I can see that something is going to need to change here; that we need to shake things up because it's not healthy for either Noah or I when the whole scene becomes a routine like this. And it's pretty counter productive to be pondering yourself when your kid obviously wants your attention.)

Nonetheless, what kind of ache is this in my arm and what is it trying to tell me?  I thought: Fritz will tell me to stop carrying around Mattias. And maybe I should clean up those tissues and the ripped up tissue box. Or get Noah to do it. Right now, it's almost the same thing.

Rather than face the tissues or Noah, I left the room.  Carrying Mattias.

Later today, when the ache was duller, I directed Noah back to the tissues. The tissues were not only pulled out of the box, but ripped into tiny pieces, just like the tissue box had been. Noah must have completed that little touch after Mattias and I left the room. Tissues pieces were all over the room. But Noah bounced around the room, picking them up and throwing them away. I directed and he was content with that. It was almost too easy. Perhaps throwing them away was wasteful, but it seemed to inspire Noah that he didn't have to put them back in the (ripped apart) box. I'm pretty sure my grandmother, who lived through the Great Depression, would never waste tissues like that.

And this delayed punishment consequence probably wastes the effectiveness of punishments consequences.

Also, Fritz came home and asked, "Where are all the tissues?  There was a whole box here."

Note: if anyone commented, and the comments disappeared - I'm sorry, no: blame Blogger - which did some wonky updating overnight on Thursday and seemingly, lost comments.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tousled

I love to play with Noah's hair at this length.  Fritz loves to get Noah's hair cut at this length.


Not really sure what Noah loves. But he goes pretty readily with Fritz to the barbershop. Sigh.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hands Up!

So, why do you think Mattias puts his hands above his head when he's walking?

I know, he's just learning to walk - but is that normal?

I can't remember if Noah did that or not.




It is cute.

But is there some evolutionary reason?  Like it's safer for a baby to fall on his butt than on his hands?

What about you and me? We'd probably break the fall with our hands and injure something like our wrists or arms...especially after multiple falls a day.

Maybe it's better for us adults to break our falls with our hands because we have a higher center of gravity.

No, I don't think that makes any sense.

Maybe Mattias' dipaer is too cushy. Maybe Mattias learned to rely on the diaper padding to break his fall. Maybe diapers should be thinner so babies don't learn to rely on them to break their falls.

Does this kind of take the fun out of watching your baby learn to walk?

Maybe. Why do you think I do this to myself?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Spoons

BabyCenter tells me that we should be working on using a spoon.


Which explains why we put indoor-outdoor carpet under the table last weekend. Fritz wants to know if we can use the power washer on the carpet. I think as long as we take the carpet outside first, it should be fine.

Monday, May 2, 2011

No Plans, Just Strategy

Once upon a time, I had the idea that life as a SAHM meant that one could do a lot of projects. But I never really thought I would be a SAHM, so I didn't put a lot of critical thought into this belief. My mother was one for years, and to the child version of me, it seemed like she accomplished tons, so why not? I thought.

It is, perhaps, one of the ways I've found this SAHM-hood to fall far, far short of my expectations.  Because it feels like I GET NOTHING DONE around here. The bigger kicker, for me, is the realization that the more I try and plan to get something accomplished the MORE FRUSTRATED I feel at the end of the day. So, I try to make fewer plans. I think:

Well, if we get to the store sometime in the next three days, it will be okay. I'll just wait until Mattias is really protesting a nap, and then I'll stick him in the car - he can sleep - and we'll run errands.


Now that I've written that - oh my gosh! - the image that comes to mind is everyone eating cake because we ran out of bread while Mattias sleeps peacefully in his crib. I mean, really, can anyone feel frustration when babies are sleeping and cake is being eaten? I've painted a lousy picture.

Still. Harnessing time for productivity is so elusive with piccolini. Productivity IS sticking Mattias in the car to run errands when he's protesting a nap. That is the plan - and maybe 'plan' is the wrong word - that is the 'strategy.' Improvise and React. Strategize, but please, don't plan. Plans are long and complicated. The life of a plan is dependent upon the correct orchestration of too many parts. Strategies, however, are flexible and respond quickly. Strategies are more like conditional statements: if A then B; they protect against the domino effect of multiple things gone wrong.

Remember how I said my mother accomplished a ton as an SAHM? Well, when she was here, at our house last weekend, taking care of the piccolini (so that everyone else could focus on the deck), I bought a Make Your Own Mozzarella Kit.

"Here, Mom.  I bought this for you. A little project to do with the piccolini. The man in the grocery store says it's really easy and fun. As long as you use fresh whole milk and bottled water. And you stir long enough and don't let the milk boil. One gallon of milk makes a whole pound of mozzarella."

I'm pretty sure that my mom found mozzarella making with the piccolini neither fun nor easy. I'm pretty sure I ended up holding Mattias and distracting Noah so that she could stir a gallon of milk on the stove. I'm pretty sure the curds never quite got solid enough - and the kneeding never happened. I'm pretty sure I threw away more than a pound of sloppy curds from the fridge last night.

So much for the plan. She gave me a strategy as she washed her curd-covered hands in the sink: make the mozarella at night, while the piccolini are sleeping to see what I'm getting into first. And probably I'll pack the whole kit away for when they are older. No extra holding, no extra distracting, no throwing away sloppy curds.

It's okay that the pound of mozzarella never happened. Really. And, Mom? Thank you, for teaching me about strategy. Strategy which is proving to be a lot more successful as a productivity technique.

We're just going to keep eating cake while Mattias sleeps peacefully in his crib.  Ha ha.