In Hot Water

Last night we were in the living room, and Helen asked me if she could get some grapes from the fridge.  I said sure.  This required moving a chair from the kitchen table to the counter, so she could reach a bowl in the cabinet.
After she came back into the living room with a bowl full of grapes, I heard the dishwasher kick on.  I think there were, oh, about 4 dishes in there, since I had just unloaded & reloaded it.  It's got a front panel with flat buttons that you push to select your cycle, similar to a microwave.  Then it turns on.  No dial to set or anything.  It's very convenient for a child to turn it on, and it is one of my biggest pet peeves to hear it start in the early evening, since it wastes a lot of hot water right before bath time.  I am OCD about not wasting hot water before a planned bath or shower.  It is my cross to bear, and no one else's, but I have set times in my head when it would be convenient to turn on the dishwasher, and any slight deviation is just ruining a good hot shower.  Even with our upgrade last year from a 40 to a 50-gallon tank, I am still bothered by an hour's worth of hot water (and no dishwasher soap), especially when it's churning around 4 dishes.  
And given the ease with which a child can operate this dishwasher, you can imagine that I have to deal with my OCD on a regular basis.  I have come to realize she tests me, but it's free therapy.  One day, it might cure me of this obsession with having plenty of hot water.
Jennie:  Helen, did you turn on the dishwasher?
Helen:  No.
Jennie:  Well, Alice is out here with me, and Daddy is out here with me, and none of us turned it on.
Helen:  I didn't do it.
Jennie:  The dishwasher is on, Helen, and you were the only one in the kitchen.  Who turned it on?
Helen:  It just came on, all by itself!  (holds up hands in air, like "whodda thunk it?")
Brian:  (hides his face from Helen so she can't see him laughing)
I'm pretty sure when she moved the chair up to the counter, it hit the panel.  I'm not sure what setting she used - last night's self-imposed therapy involved grinning and bearing it instead of racing in there to turn it off - but it took over 2 hours for the cycle to end.  Those 4 dishes got the cleaning of a lifetime, but too bad!  No dishwasher soap = second cycle for you, with a bigger crowd next time.  And soap. 
I know my other OCD friends would approve.


Alice is around here, too, I promise.

I realize I've been writing a lot about Helen lately, and not so much about Alice.  I promise you, that girl is the biggest ray of sunshine.  She wakes up with a smile on her face, and sometimes she even falls asleep that way.  She spends her breakfast time giving me the biggest grins, and she is so proud of herself running around the house and climbing stairs and chasing her sister, that she smiles the whole way.  She gets so many compliments whenever we go out - "Oh, what a beautiful baby!" complete strangers will say.  The clerks at the grocery store love her.  She is one sweet little girl.
Sometimes she fusses about being picked up or having a toy taken away.  That's her job, as a 13-month old, to let me know in no uncertain terms how she feels about things.  And when she doesn't have the words, it's very easy for her to wail. 
That's right.  Alice doesn't have many words right now.  Basically, she can still say "tickle" and sometimes she says "Da-da," after a ton of prompting, and "Ma-ma" after a ton more prompting, and a couple of times earlier this month she told me "Hi."  A new word about 2 weeks ago was "Kitty."  She says that on a more regular basis than anything else these days, but only after a lot of prompting.  So she's a repeater. 
I am not sure why she is so much farther behind Helen's development on her speech, but I'm not complaining about it right now.  I have one 4-year old who talks enough for the entire family, so a quiet toddler is just fine.  I know the pediatrician has an expectation of how many words she should have in her repetoire, and I know Alice is behind that curve right now.  Again, it doesn't worry me.  They both walked at about the same time, and she's a happy kid, eating well and growing like a weed.  I also know that younger kids might not follow the same path as the older ones.  They concentrate on walking or talking, and Helen has clearly focused her energies in one area for a very long time.  It's evident from all the bruises on her shin from bumping into everything - walking is just not a priority to her.  She talks and sings all the time, just to hear herself make noise.  At dinner, while we're eating and Brian & I are talking about our day, Helen will say, "Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?  Mommy?" until I finally ask back, exasperated, "HELEN, I AM TALKING TO YOUR FATHER AND YOU ARE BEING RUDE TO INTERRUPT US.  WHAT DO YOU NEED?"  She will respond, after a slight pause, "I love you." 
Clearly this was not what she originally planned to say.  She wanted my attention for something, and getting it in an angrier fashion than she expected, she switched tactics.  Surely, her little kid brain told her, I can't possible argue with a daughter's LOVE?  Grrrr.
I may not ever teach Alice to talk.


The one with the Ariel story.

So this past weekend Brian went out of town to visit our Navy friend W., and I was at home by myself with 2 kids.  I think there was a 30-minute span one afternoon when they were asleep at the same time, and it was sheer bliss to take a bath in the total silence.  I've kind of forgotten what that's like.
We had Movie Night on Friday, and Helen looked forward to it all day.  We made popcorn after Alice went to bed, and watched a sequel of The Little Mermaid, which is more like one of those Star Wars "prequel" things in that all of the action in this straight-to-video number takes place prior to the giant movie release from my high school years.  "Ariel's Beginnings" I think it was called.
Side note:  Some of you non-parental types who have seen the first Little Mermaid movie may dimly recall that Ariel was one of 7 daughters of King Tritan.  Nowhere was her mother to be found in that first movie.  We learned in the prequel that at a very young age, Ariel's mother was smashed against the rocks by a pirate ship that happened upon the mer-people's day of fun along the shoreline.  Yes, I had to watch this with my daughter.  Holy crap, Disney.  A little bit of warning, huh? 
Side note, sequel: "After Further Thought":  My parents took me at age 4 to see my first movie in the theaters, which turned out to be a Disney double feature: Bambi and The Rescuers.  I'm pretty sure between those two gems of (1) onscreen parental murder and (2) adoption gone awry, complete with alligators, my parents had some 'splainin to do, too.
Anyway, the music is awful in this Ariel movie.  There's not much to recommend it, especially when compared to the original release, and I wouldn't watch it again if I was paid.  Helen on the other hand, has already scheduled another viewing for this evening.  Argh.
I also rented a musical by the name of "Annie."  Oh, don't roll your eyes at me!  Watching this movie again for the first time since, well - dang, I think it's probably been 20 years - was truly fun.  I had forgotten how funny Carol Burnett was, and how young Albert Finney looks!  For comparison, watch "Erin Brokovich" and really stare at Ed Masry.  Yeah, that's him.  His eyebrows have positively taken on a life of their own.  

Annie was a lot cuter to me this time around.  Must be more of a threat when you're a kid; you probably take the whole concept of orphanhood more personally.  
So when we talked to Brian on the phone Saturday night, I made sure Helen asked if he was her Daddy Warbucks.  Apparently, the answer was no.  I will have to remember that, and see if I can return these movies on time.  Oh, and buy more lottery tickets.


Helen is in LOOOOOOVE.

I have changed names to protect the innocent, but there is a little boy in Helen's class that we'll call Peter. Helen played with Peter quite a lot when she first arrived at daycare, and talked about him at home, but then she gradually moved on to playing with girls. To be honest, I was sort of relieved about that, because Helen was one of very few girls at her old daycare. Apparently there was a baby boy boom in that neighborhood for about 6 months, and Helen was the only girl for miles. So for the first 3 years, she naturally played with all the boys. When she moved to the new daycare last year, old habits took over and she joined up with the boys, but this new room was about half girls, and I think eventually that "playing kitchen and babies gene" kicked into overdrive, and she came home talking princesses and ponies and unicorns and told me all about her new best girl friends. This fall I haven't seen hide nor hair of that little boy, so I assumed he might have moved on to kindergarten.

So it sort of surprised me on Friday to hear her in the backseat on the way to the video store telling me that she loved Peter SOOOOO much (cue weepy teen angst voice, really) and wanted to play with him ALL the time. Turns out he's still there; he comes to school later and gets picked up earlier so I hadn't seen him. When I asked her why she loved him, she said it was because he was nice, and sometimes he played with her, and sometimes he did not. Plays hard-to-get, that kid.

Seriously? People, she's FOUR. I think I was about 13 when I went full-on boy crazy. I certainly never told my parents that I loved anyone SOOOO much. Not that I remember, at least. And the last time I actually told Brian that I loved him SOOOO much was when he steam-cleaned the living room carpet.

So yeah, I'm not really sure where all of this comes from. All I can say is, it's a good thing she sleeps on the 2nd floor, and that our stairs are really creaky. Just sayin'.


Finally, a new post.

I keep meaning to write blog entries and never get around to it. It's getting ridiculous. I need to just do it.

Helen is turning into a complete and total adult, 4 going on 14. She tells me what to do all the time. Based on this observed behavior, I think she will grow up to be a teacher. Really and truly, I have some basis for comparison - my mother was a teacher, and my little sister grew up to be a teacher. They *still* tell me what to do all the time. It's one of those deeply ingrained habits that I now realize comes from, oh, birth.

When I ask Helen what she wants to be when she grows up, she says she wants to be a doctor for kids who get shots. Lately, Helen has been very worried about getting shots. Her little sister is currently in a pediatric study for the H1N1 virus, and Helen was panicking at the thought of having to get the shot herself. Unfortunately, they already had filled their quota of 4-year olds (although, knowing kids at this age, they said "we'll take one 4-year old, thank you"), so Helen lucked out. And then one of her friends goes and ruins everything, telling her at daycare one day that when fall gets here, she has to get a shot. Coincidentally, the teacher has been counting down the days in class time each morning to the first day of fall.  Poor Helen.  Yes, I was planning to do the seasonal flu shot, so I confirm for her that will probably happen next month. So Helen will periodically burst into tears and tell her teacher that she doesn't want fall to come, because she definitely doesn't want a shot.  Her father & I have basically told her that it doesn't hurt but for a second, and it means that she won't end up in the hospital at Christmas time, and have to get a BUNCH more shots. But kids don't really understand the whole ounce of prevention thing. They're really into the whole evading any pain at all.

She also tells me that she wants to be a doctor for kids with bumps on their skin. She recently developed these spots under her arm and on her thighs, and after doing a ton of Googling, I figured out it's this. She said she doesn't want kids to get those bumps. Considering Wikipedia says they could last up to a year, it's an admirable trait, I think. Plus, dermatology? Cha-CHING.

Then she tacks on, "and I want to be a princess, a mermaid, a ballerina and an astronaut."

Okay, I'm not sure who's paying for all that schooling cuz med school alone is like WHOA. So, we're buying lottery tickets this weekend. Wish us luck.