November 2007


I’m sitting here with Joelle as she picks out her favorite 10 miniature ornaments to hang for this year and I had a really cute thought.  Joaquin and Elise share something big.  Very big.  It’s their first Christmas.  Although Elise is almost one and Joaquin will be almost zero, they will have the same first Christmas.  Joelle had a big part of that, too.  She went with Nana to pick out Elise and Joaquin’s first Christmas ornaments.

As a random side note, maybe I should stick to telling cute stories about my children, because it seems that maybe my last blog was a little hard to tell what I was trying to say.  Maybe I really wasn’t trying to say anything at all, I was just relaying what seemed like a funny moment to me.  I would say that Chris and I definitely lean towards the liberal side of most things and we definitely do care about the middle class going away.  We also think we’d probably most likely be on the poor side if it were to happen, not that that is why we care about it going away.  Anyway, happy thoughts – Children and Christmas.  (Although I am trying to be more environmentally friendly with this Christmas.  I wrestled with sending out cards, but the Christmas spirit won over my green aspirations and we are sending out cards this year.  Maria, could you help me with a cool e-card like yours for next Christmas?)

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Last night, we had left overs with Nana and Poppy.  Nana said, “it’s just like Thanksgiving.”  I said, “…but we have Christmas decorations out, so it’s like Christmas.”  Anyway, Poppy told us all about an interesting lecture he heard about the diminishing middle class.  Between Joelle’s questions and chatter, I managed to get some of the information.  In the end, Poppy said, “so, there won’t be a middle class in ____ years (I didn’t catch how many years).  Everyone will be rich or poor.”  I responded, “oh no, will we be rich or poor?”  Poppy said, “probably rich.”  I smiled and Joelle said, “who hoo, we’ll be rich!”  Chris said, “yeah, it’ll be like those people we met from Colombia depicted life there – servants will be affordable.  You’ll come home to a big formal dinner every night.”  Nana said, “boy, we could’ve used servants over the past fews days.”

I’m not sure this is the response Poppy was looking for.  In retrospect, I think it’s hilarious that we all had responses like that because we all care very much about things like that.  For my part, I’m so upset and worried about the environment that I don’t have room to think about the shrinking middle class.  Does anybody have any good news?

I love that Joelle had us each go around at Thanksgiving to say what we were thankful for.  I like that tradition.  She actually had us do it at the beginning and the end of the meal.  I have too many things to list to be thankful for.  My scary surgery reminds me every day what I have and what I could have lost.  I guess we need to all concentrate on the good things in life to remind us what we have and what we have to fight for. 

After having kids, some things become so obvious to you. Today, I had the opportunity to see little Elise try to keep up with her big sister and her friend. Joelle and her playdate would skip down the hall and Elise would watch (imagine a tiny baby head following a tennis ball in a tennis match.) When they reached their destination, Elise would go after them in hot pursuit. Her tiny hands pounding the wood floor with much determination. When you hear the hands hitting the floor, you know she’s in a hurry for something good.

So, the thing that became so obvious to me? That’s exactly why Sarah and I always played at my house. Sarah had all these cool German toys, including a super market set with real food and candy. I didn’t exactly know why we always played at my house until I realized today that we were probably more content not having to battle it out with a sibling. (Yes, I do have a brother, but, um, he’s way older – he had no reason to mess with us… Although, he did mess with Sarah sometimes. Peaches?)

Joelle, for her part, didn’t mind Elise tagging along today. She still thinks it’s cute when Elise follows her around like a pet. So, I had to smile and enjoy the peace because I know the trouble will come between those two.

A day in the life of Joelle (November 16, Thanksgiving Feast at school and Ms. Martha’s birthday):

I bought a bouquet of red carnations and told Joelle she could pick a flower for Ms. Martha’s birthday. (All the children bring one stem and it creates quite a colorful and strange arrangement). We were harried that morning (imagine that!) and Joelle told me to just grab a flower. I did. She walked in a few minutes later and said, “I knew you were going to pick the red one!” I laughed and said, “Yeah, what else was I going to pick? The baby’s breath? That’s a filler.” She then said, “Then why did you want me to pick? All the red ones look exactly the same.” I had to concede that they did indeed look very similar. I’m just so used to giving her an option to do it her way whenever I can.

On the way home from school, I heard all about the feast. She seemed to eat a lot, so I said, “boy, I guess I didn’t need to send a lunch.” She said, “I ate all my carrots and I threw away all my trash.” I repeated back what she said in a slightly different way, “oh, you threw away everything?” Thinking I knew the truth and she was caught in a lie, she said, “I didn’t really eat all my carrots, mommie. I didn’t want you to be mad.”

When we got home, she went out to play while I ran to the bathroom to pee. I found Elise at the glass door standing, laughing at her big sister through the glass. Joelle said (through the glass), “Mommie, I’m going to put on my jammies all by myself tonight.” I said, “what’s up? what’d you do?” She said, “I peed outside.” I said, “why.” She said, “I couldn’t make it inside and I sort of peed all over my panties and pants. I didn’t want you to be mad.” There’s a theme here, what is it…. hm, I’ll figure it out shortly…

When daddy came home from work, I suggested that Joelle show daddy all the things from her Thanksgiving feast at school. She said, “Oh daddy, it’s a ton of pop up good fun.” It was pretty darn cute. She tried on her pilgrim suit for daddy first, “Pilgrim Joelle.” She was an indian in the feast though… “Daisy Petal.” Chris and I asked Joelle if the kids had come up with the names. She said, “well, the teachers gave us some suggestions.” We then asked what some of the other names were: “talking rock (this made us laugh), sky woman and fighting rainbow.” Chris and I wondered if there were subliminal messages about the kids’ personalities in these names.

The only tragedy we had all day was the tv going off when Poppy shut off the electricity. She didn’t even get angry when we took too long at Target and couldn’t get ice cream or that the cashier at Target forgot to give us her Barbie. I loved seeing my baby girl happy. I’m the luckiest person in the world to get to share all these moments with Jojo.

Elise and I went to Whole Foods yesterday for our shopping adventure. Yes, shopping is an adventure for a 9 month old and her accompanying mommie. I don’t know if it’s the environment going to pot (no more honey bees or polar bears!?) or the intrusive finger in Elise’s mouth at our last HEB trip, but we decided to try Whole Foods today.

First lesson learned, I feel healthier and a better person just walking in there. Although the produce isn’t all organic, (non-organic is labeled ‘conventional’), it’s all so fresh and beautifully displayed. I wanted to buy it all! Also, I brought my own bags (first time ever!) and realized you get a bag discount for doing so. How cool is that? I thought everyone just brought bags to Whole Foods because they were just the sort of people to do that.

Second lesson learned, ginger snap goo is a great way to keep hands off the baby. They had lots of samples out, I think to get everyone in the festive holiday spirit.  Always intent on keeping Elise occupied and happy during shopping trips – I gave her a ginger snap. I’m always focused on my list and grabbing food because I generally don’t have long before the gig is up and Elise wants out. I walk by a guy grinding coffee and he says, “boy, I want to buy whatever it is she’s enjoying so much.” I look down at my sweet baby and hysterically laugh. I have no idea what kind of mom the guy thought I was, but it struck me as ridiculously funny that Elise was covered in ginger snap goo. Her hair, her dress, her face and somehow even her bloomers (I found that out when we got home.) The lady at the cashier (also a mom I found out later) also laughed and asked if I had a camera.

I’m trying to embrace this messy phase. I fear that I clamped down on Joelle during this phase (neat freak that I am) and that it’s one reason she still struggles with enjoying a variety of foods. I guess it’s a good sign that I laughed today. I remembered the freaking bags for the groceries but had no wipes – messy, messy everywhere and not a wipe in sight.

I may regret trying to teach my daughter this trick, but I’ve been trying to teach Joelle that sometimes when you ask for things sweetly, you’re more likely to get what you want.  In any event, she usually gets what she wants anyway, so it’d be nice to have a little less attitude and rudeness.

So, I said to her, “maybe you should ask for things sweetly, like sugar.  When you ask for things in a mean way, like salt, we’re less likely to want to do it.”  Daddy, Joelle and I take turns choosing restaurants for our Saturday night out.  Daddy’s up next, but Joelle has been really wanting to try a new cafe down the road.  I coached her on how to cajole Daddy to choose Wellby’s for his next dinner out.  We’ll see if she remembers (I’ve coached daddy to concede defeat if she does ask nicely.)

If she doesn’t heed my advice, at least she listened.  She said, “mom, I like salt.  So, I think we should say it’s salt when we’re being nice and pepper when we’re being mean.”  If you hear me say, “Remember to ask saltly,” you’ll know what I’m saying. 

I think we’ve got a smart one on our hands.  I mentioned in a recent post that Elise has started talking.  One word I forgot to mention that she used with me,”B.”  I know that you’re thinking, “‘B’ isn’t a word.”  Babies do learn words early.  Even if they can’t always communicate back to us, certain words trigger reactions.  Chris and I learned early that Elise knew the word, “bottle.”  So, we took to saying, “hey, will you make the B for me?”  You know, so she wouldn’t hear, “bottle,” and start crying like the world had ended.  Well, there are officially no safe code words in our family anymore.  Joelle knows how to spell and Elise learned our code word.  She was hysterical for her bottle the other day and turned to me and said (with attitude), “B.”  “B.”  “B.”  (Her look spoke much more.)

Tonight, during bath, she sucked the water out of her wash cloth.  No surprises there.  Joelle loved doing this, too.  What did come as a surprise to Chris, and later me, was that she knew to dunk the wash cloth into the water to get it wet once it was sucked dry. 

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