Thursday, February 24, 2011

Elmo Loves Diaper Changes

Amari does not.

In fact, the mere question, "Do you need a diaper change?" now invokes a dramatic drop to her knees accompanied by an operatic wail that might loosely translate to, "Oh, the humanity." She doesn't put up a fight, which is nice - some of my friends need tasers and four-point restraints quell their child's resistance - but the insta-tears and the theatrics have inspired Carrie and I to try anything and everything to make it a more pleasant experience.

Music has always been an effective distraction, specifically a very colorful caterpillar who sings songs of different genres according to the colored segment you push. Red is reggae, blue is opera, orange/country, and so on. Along with us singing goofy songs about what we're doing at the time - hits like "I Found My Thrill on Pooberry Hill" and "Damn That's a Lot of Pee" - the caterpillar has had the most staying power.

A few days ago, during a visit with her friend Mackenzie, I noticed Amari take a particular interest in a life-like baby doll - something we don't have at home. She was fascinated by it, stroking its hair and giving it pats on the back, something she likes to do with just about everyone. It's kind of her thing and it's very endearing. By the end of our visit she was hugging and kissing the baby, probably longing for a smaller friend who didn't pull her hair and take her things.

In the past, I've tried to get Amari involved in the diaper-changing process, opening the drawer and asking her to pick out her own diaper. She would get very excited, run over to the drawer, and pick out several diapers, close the drawer, open it again, pick out another diaper or two, and so on. Nonetheless, when I'd close the drawer more definitively and try to pick her up, the mellow-drama ensued.

Yesterday, I decided to see if getting Amari to change someone else's diaper might help so I recruited the always lovable Elmo. I pulled out a diaper, asked Amari if Elmo needed his diaper changed, and let her go to work. For fifteen minutes, she stood by the diaper-changing area, carefully pulling the blanket flat, trying hard to open the diaper correctly, then placing Elmo on top of it while attempting to wrap it around him. She never succeeded, but she was fully enthralled, and when she was done to her satisfaction, she began covering him with a small blanket and tucking him in for a nap. When it came time to change her diaper, although there was still some fuss initially, having Elmo lying beside her draped in wool and synthetic polymers, somehow made things a little easier.

Tonight, as bedtime approached, Amari snatched up her new bestie, Elmo, whose diaper had long since slipped off of his scrawny, hairy legs, and walked towards our staircase. Carrie scooped them up and I followed moments later to tell them a bedtime story and let them share an mmm-ba (bottle). When I came downstairs, Amari was curled up in Mapa's arms with Elmo faithfully sitting against the wall just above her head.

I can't find my camera right now, but I'll try to remember to add pictures of Elmo manana. In the meantime, here are a few pics of Amari from the past week or so.

Oh yeah, I forgot - first outing in full rain gear.
Amari was not completely sold on this, but maybe 
when she grows into her raincoat. 

My latest $1 thrift store buy. It doesn't run, but
with a rope and Granny's handy-dandy tractor...
Video footage coming soon.

Moonshadow's being followed by an Amari

G'night all.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Shout Outs and Beat Downs in Title Town

I have no business being awake right now. I got a whopping three and a half hours sleep last night, and I've been up for over eighteen hours. This is a direct consequence and a major drawback of having a teen and a toddler at the same time. Last night was up until midnight-thirty helping Siobhan with her first AP English essay, and this morning Amari decided to wake up at the ungodly  hour of 3:45 when a power outage sent Carrie into a mini-panic about how she was going to wake up without an alarm clock. The power came on fifteen minutes later, but by then none of us needed an alarm.

Before I get into anything in particular, I'd like to give a few "shout outs" (I think that's what they're called) to friends and followers and fellow writers, parents, and creators.

1. A very hearty round of cyber applause to my dear friend Susan Williams who is one of the best mom's I know and the former Thursday co-parent to Amari B. Her boys, Aiden and Liam, taught Amari to crawl and inspired her to smile every time she saw them. Susan and Lucas recently moved to Santa Rosa where Lucas works as a mechanic and Susan has somehow managed to find time amidst full-time parenting to create her own business: Cloud 9 Bath and Body. Prior to launching her website and blog, Susan used us and other friends as her appreciated and fresh-scented guinea pigs. I smell really good every day thanks to her. Check her out at:

You won't regret it.

2. My new/old friend Chandeen, who recently started her own interior decorating, crafts, gardening, and peanut butter and honey blog. Our families have known each other for years and our paths crossed almost fourteen years ago when I went out to India for a few months to get away from myself. Chandeen is a gifted (and prolific) writer and super creative. As the Beastie Boys might say, "She's crafty." Have a read - you won't be disappointed. And your house might really appreciate you.

3. Renee Cashmere's Breeder Cow. I know I've said this before, but it's worth another mention since I'm appreciating those who inspire me. She a fellow parent, a former Pirate (Sir Francis Drake HS), and one my early high school crushes. Little did I know she had writing skills to go with her arsenal of being really nice and cute. She's a wonderful writer if your into that perfect balance of humor, emotion, and honesty thing. :)

4. Okay. Last one. This one goes out to Debbie Wassen, secretary at the schools  I was working at until last September. I've known Debbie for years, since my subbing days in the early 2000's. I spent months with her in Independent Study one year, and I felt like I made a good friend in the community. When Amari arrived and I began writing this blog, Debbie was always the first one to let me know she'd read it. She would giggle about something I'd experienced and tell me stories about her daughter and her grandchildren. Debbie - thank you for reading and encouraging and just being the wonderful person you are.

Okay - on to this whole parenting deal. Eventually life just becomes a series of stories that we recount and recap in hopes of preserving their memory right? In this spirit, I will share two experiences I had last week.

Beat Down on Franklin Road

As you may know, Hunter Calvert is both Amari's closest friend and her greatest adversary. Every morning after I drop Carrie and Siobhan at the high school, I meet up with Jim to get some socialization - both for the kids and for us. Visits are unpredictable - often contingent upon sleep levels, teething pain, or just plain surly, boyish behavior. Hunter has escalated from taking to hitting to hair pulling, mixing in the occasional aggressive surprise hugs to remain endearing to his peers.

Initially, Amari only reacted with tears, and Jim with increasing embarrassment. With time, however, Amari learned to defend herself, hitting Hunter when he would take things and sometimes even giving him a preemptive whapp in anticipation of his thievery. Sometimes the whapp's would be doled out to Hunter's face, leaving him stunned but rarely responsive. Funny how when she does it I call it boundary setting and I'm totally okay with it. I think Jim is, too, grateful that Amari has become a Karma Warrior.

 I also call her whining emotional expression.

Last Tuesday at our house was one of the rougher mornings we've had. Both kids were in moods and neither was playing nice. At one point, a hungry Amari grabbed a jar of baby food off the table to bring to her dad. A simultaneously hungry Hunter attempted to intercept her delivery by taking the jar away from her. No sooner had his hand reached towards hers than Amari stopped, turned directly towards him, and popped him square on the forehead with the full jar of food. Hunter gave his usual stunned look, only this time the pain receptors fired a little harder, tears followed quickly, and the visit ended rather abruptly. Jim admitted later, that he was relieved it was finally Amari's that put an end to a play date.

I still call it boundary setting.

Next story.

Title Town, USA

That's right, the San Francisco Giants World Series trophy is making its way across northern California, and on Wednesday it passed through our humble town for approximately two hours. Earlier in the week, I'd developed some intention of going, thinking it would be nice to have a picture of Amari with the trophy, but come six o'clock on the evening of a challenging day, I changed my mind. Apparently, over a thousand people visited the trophy, some waiting outside the building it was being viewed in for over eight hours. Festivities included singing and chanting and other stuff that sounded pretty much like a tailgate party with a trophy.

Since Amari won't remember whether she was at that event, I decided to create my own memory of how I took her all the way to the airport to get a photo with the trophy and Giants closer, Fear the Beard Wilson.

Go Giants...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Slack Tide and Placentears

I learned a new term the other day and then I made up another one. At this point in my life, that's a banner week in the Fishman household.

Slack tide is a term sailors use to describe the relatively still water at the turn of low tide. It is a brief respite from the push and pull of nature's most powerful force, from the ocean's cyclical breath that makes us feel as though we're constantly moving, even when we're just standing still. There may not be a similar term in the parenting world, but there's certainly a similar feeling. I'm not talking about the sanity that comes during epic three-hour naps or independent play, but rather those times where the world may as well be standing still because nothing outside of this moment with my child matters in the least.

The moments sneak up on me - like a song on the radio that leaves me in tears yet I can't remember what you'd been thinking about. I'm talking about the days when our house is spotless or in complete shambles, when my "To Do" list is empty or impossibly long, and when my nerves are frayed or fine tuned by a recent night's sleep(lessness). I'm talking about those unpredictable, heart-wrenchingly blissful little episodes that can't be reproduced with words, pictures, movies, or even drugs. In those moments, I feel calm, at peace, and sometimes I even feel impervious to the next tide that's about to pull me away.

The funny thing about the slack tide, is that often times I don't even notice it until it's slipping away. Thursday morning, when the tide began to rise again, I realized just how good things were - which brings me to my made up term...

Asian Placentears

The winter storms have made their way south or north or wherever they were headed when they passed through, and we've been blessed with dry weather and semi-sunshine for the past week and a half. We live on three acres with fruit trees, berries, several raised beds, and lots of animals. Translation: there's always something that needs  to be done. The cool thing now that Amari can walk, is she can trapse around with Granny C and me as we prune trees, weed, mow the property, and most recently, plant trees. Even cooler than that is her willingness to follow directions and help out - mostly by putting weeds into a bucket, dumping them out, and starting over. She will also pick up sticks and rocks and perform taste tests in case we need to identify anything toxic in the yard.

When Amari was born and our midwife, Carla, asked us if we wanted to keep the placenta, Carrie and I weren't really sold on that idea. We didn't know what the hell we'd do with it and were both kind of grossed out by the notion of a placenta in our freezer, so we stalled with a simultaneous and lengthy, "Ummmmm..."
I guess Carla was concerned we might have seller's remorse be she interrupted our "...mmmmmmmm," by offering the suggestion/directive, "Most people like to keep it."
"Okay. Yeah," we consented with mock-enthusiasm, as her assistant finished double-bagging it. Since that moment, a thick freezer bag has sat on the door-shelf of our freezer, a deep-red, amorphous blob of blood, nutrients, and feces. We still didn't know what the hell we were going to do with it and we were still pretty grossed out, but much like the other half of the corn tortillas we bought last February, we eventually forgot it was there.

Early on we'd discussed planting the placenta with a fruit tree, but last spring passed in a blur of do-do and diapers, dog paddling in an attempt not to drown. This Tuesday, however, the placenta emerged from its cold, coffin-shelf in all of it's double-bagged, frost-bitten, blood-sicled glory. Granny C had purchased us an Asian Pear tree in exchange for me digging two extra holes for her apricot and plum trees. Not a good trade, if you're wondering, but a really good workout. Two hours later, Carrie, Granny C, and I stood around the hole as I scissored the bags open, dumped the placenta into the hole, and buried it beneath the roots of our new fruit tree. According the directions, it may even bear fruit this season. Who doens't love a delicious, cruncy, Asian placentear?

On a side-note, when I asked Carrie to come out for the ceremonial burial, she said, "Why? Do you want me to re-create the moment?"

Slack Tide