Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Happy (Adjusted) Birthday!

Today is Margot's adjusted birthday. March 21 was my due date, so this is the day Margot was 'supposed' to be born. As a preemie, Margot's infancy was marked by her 'real' age and her 'adjusted' age (because, obviously, a six-month-old born at 28 weeks couldn't be expected to do the same things as a six-month-old born at 40 weeks.)

Margot is no longer measured against her 'adjusted' birthday because she's more than all caught up. But I think I'll always celebrate this additional day (at least in my head).

This afternoon, Margot went to Gymboree where she ran and screamed joyously with Caroline until the gym closed and they kicked us all out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Stranger

I used to do cool things. Really cool National Geographic special-type things. I rode a bamboo raft down the Mekong River in Thailand. I took the Reunification Express from Ho Chi Minh City to DaNang (don't let the word 'express' fool you - there was nothing fast or comfortable about that trip). I swam in the South China Sea. I rode motorcycles all over Vietnam. I ate grubs in a village in Northern Thailand. I trekked in the Himalayas in Nepal. I've ridden chicken buses all over SE Asia and Central America. I hung out with a Buddhist monk in Laos and learned that he had a CD player (how zen). I've heard the Hong Kong Symphony Orchestra in Hong Kong. Due to a quick-thinking driver, I narrowly avoided a mugging/possible kidnapping in El Salvador AFTER my plane made an emergency landing there when it was struck by lightening only hours before. I visited Zambia by myself and interviewed adolescents affected by AIDS on the Congolese border. I worked on maternal-child health issues in Guatemala and Honduras, visiting villages high up in lush green mountains. I went to the running of the bulls in Pamplona. I've worn a bikini on Copacabana beach. I ate conch in Belize and climbed Mayan ruins there too. And that's just the beginning.

What did I do today?

Today I was pulled from the car by a toddler who thought she 'might' have to poop. ("Try again later," she decided after I unbuckeled her and ran her up three flights of stairs). About ten different times today Margot asked to sit on the potty - during breakfast, lunch, while I was working, before I went to the gym, after we got home from the gym...Each time she was very urgent about it and I'd dash up the stairs with her in my arms. Each trip produced nothing (except a little extra exercise and some aggravation for me). Is this what my life has come to? Hardly the makings of a National Geographic special.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Master of the Obvious

Margot and I took Portia to the vet this afternoon for her annual checkup and vaccinations. I scheduled the appointment post-nap (Margot's, not Portia's) and assumed that with a small bag of Teddy Grahams the appointment would go as flawlessly as our trip to Colorado did.

Boy, was I wrong. You win some, you lose some.

From the moment we entered the doctor's office, Margot squirmed and whined. I kept her strapped into her stroller but she kept up a steady stream of "Out Mama, want out mama, out mama, want out mama." The vet was not sympathetic. The front desk clerks tried occupying her with various toys and samples from behind the desk but only generated a moment's interest.

For the 45 minutes we were at the vet's office, Margot that THAT kid and I was THAT parent. You know exactly what I'm talking about.

Anyway, the clincher came after 20 minutes of heavy whining. With the vet's heavy French accent trying to upsell me on vaccinations for a lazy schnauzer in one ear, and Margot crying for me in the other, I desperately grabbed some of the vet's vaccination brochures and shoved them at Margot. (I remembered how fascinated she was with the airline safety card last week and hoped for the best since these had pictures of dogs and cats.)

Margot looked at the brochures for about 10 seconds - just long enough to open them up - and then tossed them to the floor. "Can't read these, Mama," she said, disgusted. (See, I told you she understood the safety instructions on the airplane! Apparently that brochure was readable but these were not.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Long Awaited Rocky Mountain Recap

The nice thing about living on a school-year schedule is the built-in vacations. With Spring Break upon us, Brodie, Margot and I boarded a Northwest Airlines flight on March 1 to Colorado. Thus began a week-long binge on junk food for Min, starting with the chocolate Teddy Grahams I offered her on the airplane to coerce her cooperation.

Either those Teddy Grahams worked really well or we didn’t need them at all. The Min flew like a champ. This wasn’t her first flight, but it was her first as a mobile toddler (during last winter’s trip to British Colombia she only crawled). Strapped comfortably into her carseat next to the window, Margot ecstatically exclaimed, “Margot flying! Mommy flying! Daddy flying!” as the ground disappeared beneath us. After 30 minutes of reading the flight safety card in the seat back, she slept soundly.

By the way, whoever drew the safety instruction card did a pretty good job of making it very basic – even Margot could figure out the plot. “Fire very, very hot,” said Min looking at one of the photos. “Don’t touch it.” Then “Slide! Slide! Slide off airplane!” at the pictures of people evacuating on slides. So even a two-year-old can understand what to do, although I find it unlikely that she can open one of the exit doors.

We arrived in Denver after a short layover in Detroit and piled into our rental car. A few short hours later we arrived in Vail and met with a group of 10 college friends – this was the Min’s time to shine. After a little shyness, she started hamming it up with smiles and conversation. It’s hard to be the only couple in a group of friends with a child, but everyone accommodates Margot and she eats up the attention. It makes things easy on Brodie on me that everyone wants to play with her; bringing her along on group trips is hardly work at all. Of course, our evenings are usually spent at home but let’s face it: we’re not really kids anymore and we’re just as happy now to drink some beer around a fireplace as we were ten years ago standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a bar where drinks were six bucks each.

Brodie and others disappeared early most days to snowboard, but Min and I shopped around Vail Village. One day we even drove out to Leadville and visited the Mining Museum; Min really enjoyed it, as did I. There was one coal mining exhibit that frightened her (think of her first petting zoo visit or the Dickens Christmas exhibit), but there was also a quartz mine exhibit that enchanted her with all the sparkling rock. The drive out to Leadville was incredible – wonderful tight switchbacks with soaring mountain views and “Avalanche Warning” signs everywhere. My Kia Sedonia and I had a great time, while Margot listened to a little Laurie Berkner in the backseat.

In the afternoons, Margot and I would join the boarders and skiers in our group at Garfinkles, a bar at the foot of the Lionshead gondola. (One thing I love about the U.S. is that babies are allowed in bars – when we visited British Columbia last year, Margot was not even allowed to sit at a table if beer was served in the establishment.) We all sat outside in the fading sunlight and Margot and I drank hot chocolates while everyone else could enjoy their Blue Moons or Guinnesses. (Is that the plural of Guinness?)

Margot and Brodie had a great time sledding and building snow blobs, too.

After five days in Vail, Brodie, Margot, and I headed back to Vail and then an hour further East into the plains, where we visited Brodie’s uncle’s ranch.

Fueled by a Caillou episode in which he visits a ranch, Margot was fearless and very, very excited. For days, she’d been talking about seeing the “forses” and maybe even riding one. (Note: I like to think that Margot purposefully calls them ‘forses’ because in her head she is spelling it ‘forces,’ as in horses spawned the idea of horsepower, but it’s probably just one of those cute toddler word mix-ups.)

The wide-open space and big sky freed something within Margot. Or maybe it was the warm temperatures – it reached 60-something degrees while we stayed at the ranch. At any rate, Min became instantly brave and ran and ran by herself, a huge crooked-tooth grin on her face, without looking back to see if anyone was watching. Luckily it’s not yet rattlesnake season and we could let her enjoy the space.

Alas, we’re now home in Philadelphia where the weather promises of spring but the weather forecasters promise more winter. Margot can’t run and run here because of the broken glass on the sidewalks and the fact that Philadelphians act Parisian in their handling of dog poop. But Margot was happy to come home nonetheless: when she entered her room for the first time and saw her Curious George monkeys in her crib she immediately exclaimed, “My favorite friends!” and jumped in to give them big bear (monkey) hugs.

Home is where the heart is, I guess.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hey big spender

I know I have a lot of catching up to do on this blog, but here's a quick anecdote to tide you over until I can post some photos:

Margot loves fresh blueberries. She also loves all things blueberry-flavored (yogurt, waffles, etc.) Once, under a sitter's watch, she ate every last blueberry in one of those large-size containers that you find in the produce aisle during the summer (and she smelled faintly of blueberries for an entire week as a result).

These days I haven't been buying blueberries though. For one thing, they aren't sweet this time of year. For another, they are expensive in the off-season ($5.00 for a little pint of tiny pebble-sized berries.) I told Margot they were too expensive and we'd wait until early summer when the berries are sweet again and the price drops.

"Too 'spensive," Margot laments when we walk the produce section of the supermarket. "Booberries too 'spensive."

"Yes," I confirm each time.

A short while ago, while I was checking email, Margot swung by pushing her toy stroller with a baby doll inside. "Going grocery store shopping, Mama," she said. "Bye-bye."

"Oh?" I asked, absentmindedly. "What will you buy?"

"Booberries and cereal," she replied. "Booberries NOT too 'spensive."