Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rose #1 and her fingers

Rose #1 tonight told me that she wishes she knew what it was like to have 10 fingers. You see, Rose #1's left hand did not fully form in utero - she has a small palm, a thumb, and a fused fourth and fifth digit.

Now we have several stock responses, and even suggestions that aren't predicated by a question, for Rose #1 when she feels sad, or confused, about her "little fin." These are:

1: "You are perfect exactly the way you are." This is true to me, Rose #1's mom, but I pray that the repetition of the line helps Rose #1 to know it before I would have in her shoes. I remember knowing that I was OK in junior high, even high school, even though I wasn't petite, popular, etc. (I'm OK, You're OK - leftover 70's lingo.) Still didn't make me feel better, and I have all 10 fingers and 10 toes.

2. "It is OK to be sad that you are different. Everyone is different in some way." These go together, and they are also true. However, the more different you are, I surmise, the harder it is to come to terms with your difference. Maybe not - maybe it would just be harder for me. Maybe my daughter has unsuspected depths that will help her through the tough times, when kids laugh at her, and ask her questions, and she feels bad and different.

3. "It is OK to ask questions, but it is not OK to tease and be mean." This is a stock line that Rose #1 uses, has used, can use, as a defense when kids tease her about her hand.

But tonight I was stumped. I have never thought about how I should respond to the simple wish that Rose #1 expressed - to know what it is like to have 10 fingers. My response was inadequate, I am sure - I said something like, well, it would be different for you, since you are used to your little hand, and there's nothing you can't do - except maybe the monkey bars, and Dr. Van Heest said that is perfectly normal.

What should I have said? It is so hard to send your child into the world knowing that she will be seen as different, or wrong, or behind, or inadequate. I know that Rose #1 is smart as a whip, beautiful, friendly, fun, helpful and curious. Will other people take the time to know it?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Rose #1 Graduated From Kindergarten

Today, July 29, 2008, Rose #1 graduated from kindergarten. H and I, Guppy, Roses #2 and #3 and Tam and Aunt Boo went to the "Kindergarten Celebration." It was such a cute little program. The kindergarteners came into the gym and lined up on bleachers and sang three songs (Funwa Alafia, Sing a Little Song, and First Grade, First Grade - this latter sung to the tune of "New York, New York"). They also had a poem and a skit, in which Rose #1 had a line. Here she is on stage smiling big:
Here she is with the unflappable Mrs. Webster. Mrs. Webster prepared kindergarten diplomas for all the students, which was a nice touch:
Here is one of the songs with hand actions:
Here is the graduate herself, proudly displaying her diploma:
And finally, the three generation of women - let us not forget that without the elder two generations, Rose #1 would not be here:
I love you so much, Beanie Bean. First grade is big time! You are going to do so well.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Some things you should know about the Roses

Rose #3 is learning to talk a bit later than her sisters did. I am told this is common with the third child. Maybe since I KNOW that Rose #3 is my last baby I am taking the time to notice how her language develops. She definitely knows how to say Rose #2's real name, but she can't say Rose #1's name: as a new talker, Rose #1's name sounds like "Owie." So, Rose #3 calls Rose #1 by her nickname Bean. I can almost feel the way the "B" starts the word when Rose #3 makes it, and she ends with such a neat, clipped "n." I am glad that she can say "Bean." Rose #3 can put together three word sentences now - "One more time." One of my very favorite is "I do it. Me. I do it. Me." Again, again, again. She wants to brush her own teeth (permitted, but mommy does it again afterwards), close the sliding door of the minivan (absolutely not permitted), feed the fish (permitted with assistance).

Rose #2 is her very, very own little girl. She loves to help fold laundry and cook, although she does not like to do her own chores (go figure). She loves to stike a pose, flash a charming smile, flip her hair over her shoulders. She has very small little freckles around her eyes, which I think is very unusual for a child who is part Caucasian and part Asian. I don't care; she is beautiful and she is utterly herself. Oh, she is also a terror, at times. I don't remember too many tantrums this weekend, although I was gone this morning at work. But she is only recently cured of the Terrible Threes and the memories of tantrums are fresh.

Rose #1 is about to graduate from kindergarten (she goes to a year-round school). I can feel the start of the pull of her peers - she talks about things her friends do and want and have, and these are important. When we left the swimming pool this afternoon she said goodbye to a friend we knew from soccer - "Peace Out." (What!!??) Little flashes of meanness surface in Rose #1, as well - she is jealous and gets angry quickly. But she is completely a firstborn, and she reminds me a lot of me. Tonight I had to speak to her about being really quite mean to Rose #2, and her face crumpled and went all red. I can't stand it when the Roses are mean to each other - I read somewhere once, I would credit it if I could remember where, but that your siblings are one of the most important relationships you will ever have because they are people you know the longest. We are all we have - I try to remind my girls of this often. By the way, I was trying to think of a very dire consequence for being mean to her sister - being grounded from Monday Night Dinner was the only thing I could come up with! (Monday Night Dinner is our weekly dinner with my siblings/nieces/nephews and my parents at their house.) The prospect of being grounded from MND caused Rose #1 to shape up.

Sometimes it is important to stop and think about the small things that make my girls what they are, and that explain why (as if this could ever be explained) I love them so much.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Roses Went on Cafesjian's Carousel

The authentic 1914 carousel is right across the street from mini golf, so we headed over there after playing 9 holes. Cafesjian's Carousel is an old fashioned carousel with the original horses (restored of course). The Roses and Guppy rode and I took a few pictures. Here is Rose #1 anxiously awaiting her ride: Here is Rose #2 on her horse. She and Guppy and Rose #3 were right next to each other:
Here is the only decent action shot I managed to get of Rose #1 during the ride. Really, the carousel ride is quite long and the music is very loud. I got kind of dizzy just watching the girls go round and round. I was glad that Guppy was riding and I was photographing:
And here is Guppy and Roses #2 and #3. They love their Guppy very much. Rose #3 relishes the way the word Guppy sounds when it comes out of her mouth, I can tell.

It has been a beautiful summer so far. The weather has not been very hot - in fact, we don't have our air conditioners in on the first floor or in our bedroom - and I hate being hot and humid. I am grateful for good weather and fun outings on a Saturday morning.

The Roses Went Mini Golfing

So, at 10:00 a.m. sharp (actually 10:02 a.m. - Rose #1 commented that we were late), we picked up Guppy, and went to Como Park for mini golf. The Roses have never been mini golfing. Here are Guppy and the Roses walking from the very crowded parking lot to the mini golf course:Rose #2 really liked mini golfing. She had a red ball and a red handle on her club. She also hit at par on one or two of the holes!!
Rose #3 is TOO YOUNG for mini golfing. She sat down in the loop-di-loop thing on hole 5 and would not get out. It is very hard to get your ball through with Ms. Stinkpants impeding the way:
Here is the official mini golf portrait of Rose #2:
And the official mini golf portrait of Rose #3, who was very serious about winning (I did in fact beat everyone at mini golf, but who's counting...):

We also went to the carousel at Como Park...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Roses Went to the Saints

Well, sort of. Tonight we went to a work event at the Saints game. Really, we went to the picnic beforehand and figured that since it was about 7:45 p.m. before people went into the game, we should probably duck out. Here is Rose #1 tossing her hair in the breeze at our picnic site:

Rose #2 really likes to strike a pose. I wish I caught a picture of her with one hand in the potato chip bowl and another hand in the Dorito bowl. She was in heaven. Plus she got to have two whole hot dogs and no one was bugging her to eat her veggies (there were no veggies!).

Rose #3 just charms the pants off everyone wherever she goes. She was playing a game of twirling around a tent post and falling into the rather dry dirt, which got her all grungy and gritty. But she still made lots of friends. At the end of the evening (well, the end of the evening for us!) I told her to wave "bye bye" and to say thank you, which she did in a most charming way. If you look carefully in the photo below you can see the aforementioned potato chip bowl and Dorito bowl:

I have been starting to venture into the Mommy blog world on the internet. I was reading the accounts of several women who had been to BlogHer, which is an annual convention of women who blog. One of these women said that it was really important to send our words out into the world. Even though almost no one reads this blog, I feel the same way about preserving the day-to-day things my kids say and do. It is so important to chronicle their stages and their development so I can know them better and love them for the way that each single cell of their little bodies is developing. Even if hardly anyone else is reading, I am. I am always thinking of them. I remember when I first knew H and his mother was telling me that everything she and H's father do is for their sons. At the time, I thought she was just being martyr-ish or somehow overdramatic. Now, I know.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ready For Bed!

After Roses #2 and #3 got done with their bath, which they enjoyed immensely due to a present Guppy gave them today (a bath basketball game, which only inspired a few minor skirmishes in the water as to who got which ball etc.), Rose #2 dressed herself in the cutest jammies. I had to snap a picture:

Rose #3 had to get into the game, saying "Me Too! Me Too!" Her jammie is a third-generation hand-me-down, but it is still cute. It has Dora on it, and Rose #3 calls Dora "Doe Doe."
Rose #1 has graduated from baths to showers, and she took her shower earlier in the day. Here she is enjoying the end of a Harry Potter movie with her daddy.

I want to send a shout out to Uncle Andy and Aunt Tonya for watching our kids yesterday after work. Even though date night did not turn out exactly as we had hoped, we did get to go out to dinner at the Tea House. We decided it was a good idea to ask for recommendations from our server, and he promised food that was only a "bit" spicy. Six or seven chili peppers later, we had our dinner. Which was really quite good. H and I enjoyed our time together, and we are very grateful for the babysitting swap.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Pain of Separation

During the week I hardly ever see my kids. Like. Hardly. Ever. I am gone in the mornings before 5:30 (usually, sometimes it has been later lately because I have been up late working at night) but always long before anyone gets up. I get home at 5:30 in the evening, if I am lucky, or later if I am not.

How can I bear the time apart? I hardly know my youngest daughter, even though I gave her life and nursed her for 11 months (yes, I would have kept nursing her longer, until age 2, or 3, or even 4 if she wanted...but she had other ideas!). I never see her. When I do see her- all the Roses really - it is all about business - get dinner on the table, get cleaned up, sweep the floor, throw a load of laundry in the washer - and then it is bedtime. If we are lucky we get a few minutes together reading stories.

And what will happen when the kids get busier? Rose #1 is staring first grade in the face at a school that is going to challenge her. I want to be there for her homework. Rose #2 is starting 4-year-old kindergarten! I wish I could go to her classroom to read and help. I am missing so much, and I can't stand it.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Alas, A Bike Carrier Gone Awry

Well, we tried. H found a front rider-thingy for Rose #3 to ride bikes with me. He found it on Craiglist and I dutifully (and carefully, with cell phone in hand, etc.) went to pick it up after work tonight. And guess what - Rose #3 is too chunky! It is supposed to be good for babies up to 40 lbs. and although she is well below that, she is too big. Sigh. When I was biking with her in the seat my knees were bowing out in a most unfortunate manner. And, her little 2-year-old scalp was right under my nose. For an idea of what I mean, see this website.

We are always trying to find ways to get out on our bikes with the Roses. Maybe we should accept the fact that they are just too darned young!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Rose #2 Hates Tball

Well, it was bound to happen. Rose #2 did not want to go to tball today. "T ball is stupid. It is boring. And, it is just for practice." Well, yes. Tball, when you are 4, is just for practice. Practice being on a team, practice hitting and running, etc. Practice, practice, practice.

What is the right parenting message when your 4-year-old wants to quit t-ball? Between every inning she is getting a drink, eating chips, visiting us, etc. Tonight the end came when she concluded that her shoes were inoperable (the velcro was really separated from the strap, but they did still work). She lay down in the (somewhat crispy) grass and howled. H scooped her up and brought her home after telling her it was important to stick with things, play for your team, etc. and giving her a choice. She was too far gone to make the choice, and so she had to go home.

On one hand, maybe it should be OK for a 4-year-old to decide that t-ball is not for her. On the other hand, should we stick to our guns? Once you start something, you have to stick it out (it is not like I am forcing her to get an M.D. and she can't stand the sight of blood, or something similarly draconian - it is just 6 weeks of t-ball after all)? What is the right answer?

Of course, of course, I know, I know, there are no right answers. Just sending this muse out into the void.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Live United!

Today we had a great day - we went to Uncle Andy's big event, Live United. It was an event to raise awareness and invigorate the United Way's presence in the community. And, it was really fun! I admit it, I wanted to get a Live United t-shirt. So, we (being me, Rose #1 and 2, Anna, Nadia, Heidi, Jay, Beatrice and Gus) went right at 1:00 when the event started! We brought some food for the food shelf, and met up with Guppy, Poppy, Tonya, Sam, Maddie, Grandma Rose, Grandpa Tom, Jacob, Cole and Jenny. And we saw lots of other people that I used to work with at United Way of St. Paul. The weather was gorgeous! They had lots of fun activities for kids (I'm sure Uncle Andy had a hand in that). Rose #1 had her face painted - she got Spiderman. (See below.) We had a great time and I am so proud of Uncle Andy. He did a great job. We left around 2:30 so the girls did not get completely exhausted.Speaking of exhausted, Rose #3 was not able to make it to Live United due to her nap commitments. Apparently she had a 3 hour nap! I guess she was a little sleep deprived. At the end of the evening she was feeling pretty saucy:
Rose #2 took it all in stride. As soon as we got to the event she was able to procure herself both a huge Jolly Rancher popsicle and a bag of Cheetos. Life was GOOOOOD!

Here is the gang after a great fun day and then an evening of playing with the neighbor kids:

If there was a Rose #4, this would be it. Nadia and the Roses are good buddies.
Here are Rose #1 and Nadia saying good bye:
I am so grateful to live in this fine city, near my family, and grateful too to have good, good friends. Whoever thought up the slogan Live United was really smart. United with friends and family, united with people we live near and among, united to help other people get the very basic things they need to stay alive and to thrive.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Visit to the Farmers' Market

Today H and Rose #1 were gone at a soccer tournament, so after cleaning the bathroom (yuck) and the kitchen Roses #2 and 3 and I called up Guppy and went to the farmers' market! I had to bribe Rose #2 with the promise of a donut. She is in a very cantankerous stage (that has in all honesty really been going on since she was about 3). She has a hard time with transitions and especially has a hard time leaving the house. In the face of a donut and the prospect of wearing her beautiful white Old Navy sleeveless dress, however, she perked right up.

We got a pretty close parking space and walked over to the market. Both Roses had bags full of cheezits which were quickly forgotten as soon as we got the donuts! The farmer's market is always quite crowded and Guppy always sees someone she knows (today was no exception - a gentleman from our church greeted her between the honey stand and one of the fresh veggie stands).

I wasn't looking for anything in particular, although I ended up with lots of yummy veggies - tomatoes, green beans, broccoli and of course basil. Guppy got beets for her canning group at church. Guppy also got the Roses little handmade stuffed animals from one of the vendors' tables. They are magical little animals; Rose #2 picked out a snake for herself, and it is very sparkly with two small beady eyes. She loves the snake so much, she made a small bed for it (complete with a tiny pillow) at the foot of her bed tonight.

We had tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil leaves for dinner tonight. I love basil. I love tomatoes. Yum. The only thing that would have made the farmers market better would have been if we could have biked there. In a few years, maybe...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Babysitting Swap

After talking about it for a long time, we are now actually doing it: swapping babysitting with Uncle Andy and Aunt Tonya so we can each get one night out a month and we don't have to pay big babysitting $$$. Roses #1 - 3 love their cousins so it is actually easy for us to babysit - we just stay out of their way!

It is very hot here so we set up the sprinkler in the front yard. Rose #3 promptly fell in the dirt and had to go inside to wash her hands. Here she is looking pretty dishevelled:Maddie Kay is very photogenic. Her mama likes to take a lot of pictures, so she is used to it! We loved her frilly pink bathing suit:
Rose #1 and Sam played "double dare run through the sprinkler," which involved jumping over the sprinkler and sticking out their tongues. (I really wish I did not take a picture of those stupid garbage cans.)

"Thick as thieves." These cousins love each other so much:

Here is Rose #1 running through the sprinkler, with her cousin watching approvingly:

After the sprinkler got old (after only about 10 minutes! I thought it would be good for 30 minutes at least!!) we had Davanni's pizza, thanks to H for picking it up. And in a nod to good nutrition we also had grapes. We are rather low on groceries - we had no milk!! Everyone was happy with water. Ice water.
We are looking forward to a good weekend. We are going to Live United on Sunday. It is Uncle Andy's event and we want to support him, plus it is for a great cause.
I don't want to forget what we did yesterday - we went to visit Jill in the hospital! She is on strict bedrest with her twin baby girls and against the odds, she is doing well and the babies are doing well. The girls were so excited to see her; I felt badly that we had not gone to visit before now. Jill is very special to our family. We wish Jill, Tony and their babies nothing but happiness and health.
I am so grateful that my kids have their cousins in their lives, and that they love each other. I hope that they are always friends.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Not the Heat, It's The Humidity, Or Perhaps It's Both

Yesterday (Sunday) was very, very hot and humid here in the great city of St. Paul, so we did what any self-respecting family with three young kids would do: we went swimming! The Highland pool was, not surprisingly, very busy. But, we had a great time. There is a zero depth entry pool that Roses #1 and #2 can navigate without needing to hold on to me. Rose #3 needs constant hands-on supervision at all times, because she believes she can swim. Seriously. We went over to the bigger pool for awhile and I was trying to get into the water before she jumped, but to no avail. She just stepped right off the side of the pool and went completely under water. She had her speedo floaty jacket on, but it is not a lifejacket - it is just enough to keep a kid afloat if she already knows how to keep her head above water. This is not Rose #3. By the end of the jumping game, she at least was announcing "Come!" before she jumped. This is, I believe, shorthand for "Here I Come!"

Today was not as hot, although it's easy for me to say that since I was inside an air conditioned building all day! Our house, built in 1916, does not have central air conditioning. We have a window unit in the girls' room, and one in the T.V. room, but so far not on our first floor or in our bedroom. This is partially a blessing: last night all three Roses slept in their own beds all night long!!

Rose #3's vocabulary has been growing by leaps and bounds. Today she learned how to say "Daddy Bike," since H biked to Monday Night Dinner (weekly dinner at my mom's house). The whole way home in the car, Rose #3 said, "NNN, Daddy, Bike!" which roughly translates as "Where is Daddy, Oh Yes, He is On His Bike!!" I can't remember the explosion of Rose #1 and Rose #2's vocabularies. I am trying to enjoy and remember Rose #3's vocabulary development.

Rose #2 has a busy week. I put her into Multi Sport Camp at the rec center (motivated in large part both by the very reasonable cost - $75 for the week - and the fact that it is kitty corner across the street!). So far all I could glean was that she is on the blue team. She gets a t-shirt, a ball, snacks, and 3 hours of fun each day.

Rose #1 is counting down the days until the end of kindergarten. It is sort of a hardship, going to a year round school, when you come to understand that all of your friends have the summer off from school. She will have the month of August off, then she starts her new school in September. We will have to sit down with her new teacher and talk about her hand; Rose #1 has a "little fin" (her left hand did not fully form in utero). It does not hold her back from doing anything she wants (except so far she has not been able to master the monkey bars, but I know it is just a matter of time until she does) but when she encounters new kids, they can gang up on her, and she needs good coping skills. A big part of this is partnering with her teacher to make sure that a no bullying policy is instituted right away.

I have been slacking off on pictures lately. I resolve to do better.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thanks Ahma and Ahgong!

Ahma and Ahgong took the girls to see the koi this morning, and out for lunch. That meant that H and I were free this morning! We had a great time. We took the van in for an oil change, and then went out for brunch. H had the Cajun breakfast at Louisiana Cafe and I had two eggs, hashbrowns and toast. It was very nice to be out for brunch just the two of us, with no kids. On the way out we saw two sets of twins coming in with their parents. We had a way more relaxing brunch than those folks.

After brunch we went to REI to buy new sandals. They were extravagant for me, but H reminded me that the last time we bought new sandals was about 6 years ago. So I guess if you boil that down to a per-wear price, it is manageable. Plus they look so cool!

After a period when we are just doing our best to stay afloat as parents, as employees, as neighbors, etc. I am always so happy to find, again, that I really do love my husband very much. It is hard to connect during the day-to-day, and I don't always make the effort that I should to say a kind word, talk about our days, etc. When we have a rare few hours to just be together, I always resolve to do better. I resolve again to put being a wife in the list above.