Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Water Follies

We bought Sean and Allie a pool over the weekend. After some debate over its precise placement and just how long it would be sitting in the backyard crushing several thousand blades of grass to death, we set the pool up on Sunday afternoon.

Sean loves it. He was a little nervous about the small sliding board at first, but after his first trip down, he and the sliding board were buddies. He slides down, lands gently on his back, soaking his hair in the process, and triumphantly emerges from the water. "I all wet! I go down again."

Proving that he has inherited Jeff's tidiness genes (in addition to the overall physical cloning that seems to have taken place), Sean has to stop what he's doing to examine and fret over the debris in the pool. "That's a piece of grass," he says, pointing at the offending blade. "That's a bug." Fortunately I can placate Sean about this by removing a little of the gunk from time to time.

Sean is having a little trouble with the "and Allie's" part of the "Sean and Allie's pool" concept. He was incensed over Allie's only engagement with the pool thus far---dunking her feet in: "No, no, no!!! My pool!" (I'm always amazed at the solipsism of toddlers.)

Although Jeff and I are little nervous about our upcoming trip to the shore, we can't wait to play with the kids at the beach*. Sean should really love the ocean (but not the sand so much).

*Can you tell we're from South Jersey? It's the shore when you're talking about the geographic location (as in, "We're going down the shore for the weekend", and the beach when you're talking about the place with the sand and the ocean (as in, "When do you want to go to the beach?"). An important linguistic distinction!

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Fear and loathing in the grocery store

(With apologies to Hunter S. Thompson)

I have a complicated hate-hate relationship with the grocery store.

On the surface there's the not-so-unusual gripe. I just don't like the whole process: making a list, selecting coupons, driving to the store, grabbing a grubby shopping cart with an inevitably faulty wheel system, shuttling said cart through the store, waiting in line, paying too much money, loading the car, driving home, unloading the car, putting the groceries away.

Maybe it's just laziness; I don't know. This part of the problem seems rational, at least.

But then, you see, the deeper neuroses kick in.

Even as I'm dreading the shopping trip and loathing the experience as I'm experiencing it, I am berating myself. How in the world could I possibly be upset about living in such a privileged world, one in which I can get in my car and drive to one building that contains more food than most people in Africa see in their lifetime, I can select any food I want and pay for it without too much concern about the cost. I mean, really. How could I complain about this? What's worse, even though I engage in this line of Self-Recrimination of My Inner Spoiled Brat every week, I still dislike grocery shopping!

To make matters worse, while I'm shopping I become hypercritical about the products I'm buying. I mentally tally up the nutritional/sociopolitical points of the shopping cart and hope that I end up in the plus column: Broccoli, +5 points; apples, +3 points (although a fresh fruit, they're Red Delicious and thus pigeonhole me as a culinary dullard); organic soy milk for Sean, +5; low-fat milk for Jeff and me, +1; Oreos, -10; and so on. The divide between the diet I know I should follow and the choices I actually make is a little on the wide side.

But we're not done yet! Oh, not, not till we examine the macro issue of the largesse of the United States consumer culture. I become depressed at the thought of so much food, so much bad, unhealthy food in particular, so much waste, so much excessive packaging that can't be recycled. And of course it's not all under just the one roof I happen to be under; when I think about the duplication of this same store and all its contents throughout the United States, I'm overwhelmed.

Yet not overwhelmed enough to make any meaningful changes in my shopping habits. I did take a tiny, tiny, tiny step in the right direction by buying some cloth shopping bags, but sometimes I fear that such a small effort serves only to assuage my guilt. And, so, the cycle of loathing continues.

(I should have prefaced this post with a warning: "Excessive whining ahead".)

Friday, July 02, 2004

Busy, busy, busy

No, not me (that's just a given). I'm talking about Allison. Good God in heaven is that girl a tornado.

With Sean we had relative inertia until 9 1/2 months, when he officially learned to crawl. In no particular hurry to become bipedal, he began walking at around 14 months.

Allison saw the bar, lowered it, and proceeded to crawl right over it. She's been crawling since about 7 months, and now, at 9 months (Happy Birthday, Allie!), she is pulling herself up onto every available vertical or elevated surface. The height of the surface doesn't matter, nor does the stability. She uses chairs, tables, sofas, walls, my legs, Sean's shoulders (you can imagine how well that goes over), the toy dumptruck (approximately 5 inches high and, as the name would suggest, a wheeled vehicle).

Did I mention the crawling speed? She darts with alarming velocity toward the most dangerous or undesirable object. Stairs seem to be a favorite right now. She can climb about 5 stairs faster than I can type this. And then, thrilled with her daring feat, she turns around, smiles at me, and shrieks with laughter.

Changing her diaper or outfit tends to be one of the most frustrating experiences in any given day. It simply does not fit into Allie's agenda to stay still, on her back, for several seconds straight. She immediately flips over and attempts to crawl away. I've pretty much abandoned the changing table in favor of the floor because the chances of her charging straight off the table are pretty good. I often have to chase after her to get the diaper own, then maneuver the dirty diaper out of her reach (if there's one thing Allie loves it's a diaper---and she's entirely unconcerned with the cleanliness status of the diaper). After more twisting, wailing (usually her but sometimes, I confess, me), and wrangling, we finally emerge with a clean diaper and new outfit. She's ready to move on to more adventures, and I'm ready for a nap.