Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Know That Committing These Words to Bits and Bytes Is Tempting Fate. . .

But we may be on more sure footing with the whole potty training thing. I admit that I have been more than a little envious at the progress my former compadres in potty recalcitrance -- Phantom Scribbler and Danigirl -- have written about. Once again I despaired that Sean would just never get it. Or care, to put a finer point on it.

In the past few days, after a rather disastrous weekend highlighted by too-numerous-to count clothing changes, Sean has had almost no accidents of a wet nature. He's been a lot more amenable to using the potty throughout the day, and he's kept dry even in Pullups. We haven't progressed to the point at which he's telling me he needs to go (I'm still asking him every 20 minutes or so), but compared to where we were a week ago, I'm thrilled. And those accidents of a, umm, more solid nature? I've decided to just take those in stride -- heck, we have an entire week and a half to iron that out before preschool starts!

Monday, August 29, 2005

So Cute It Breaks My Heart*

This morning, a repairman made a house call for our sick dishwasher. (Oh, it's been like Little House on the Prairie here, what with all the manual dishwashing. But persevere in times of hardship we must.)

After observing the repairman for a few minutes, Sean disappeared. He re-emerged wearing his plastic orange hard hat and clutching his toolbox. As the repairman fixed the dishwasher door, Sean busily set about fixing a set of cabinet doors. "It's an important job, Mommy," he told me.


As you might have surmised, Allie is an independent thinker (as I write this Allie is wearing pink pajamas (hers), one white sneaker (hers), one blue sandal (Sean's) and one bright green baseball cap (Sean's)). I try to work around power struggles as much as I can because I just don't have the stamina that she does.

One thing Allie must absolutely, positively do herself ("No, ALLIE do'd it!!!") is brush her teeth. And since her tooth brushing consists of putting the toothbrush in her mouth and not much else, we have come to an agreement that she will start the process and I will finish it. But I do encourage her to learn proper tooth brushing technique.

When I say, "Allie, move the toothbrush up and down," she wiggles and shimmies her entire body, pretty much everything except the hand holding the toothbrush itself.

*Jeff and I disagree about the emotion such unfettered cuteness brings -- I say that it just about breaks my heart, and he says that it makes his heart full. Hmmm, who's the glass-is-half-empty part of this couple?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Trips to the library are fairly rushed affairs these days. I have about 5 minutes to peruse the shelves in the children's section before Sean and Allie (well, mostly Allie) run completely off the rails.

And since I don't ever have the foresight to think about potential books before we arrive, my decision-making process is based on skimpy criteria (remind me to read Malcolm Gladwell's Blink some day) such as 1) how sharp and playful/beautiful is the art on the cover and inside the book? 2) how much text is on each page? 3) how shabby is the book? If each page has already been mended with taped or marked with preschool graffiti, I don't borrow it; I also eschew pop-up/interactive books because my kids tend to treat these with the brute force that guarantees ripping.

Often, I rely on the books that the librarians have set on top of the shelves. I've found a lot of really cool books that way, especially those written by non-American authors. Still, my approach is entirely hit-or-miss. Some books are an instant hit and must be renewed, then returned, then reborrowed (and at that point possibly even purchased). Some books that I thought were inventive and clever never warrant more than one reading.

So, what I'd love to have is a toddler- and preschooler-tested list of books that I can consult before we go to the library. (You see where this is going, right?) Here's where you, my brilliant and kiddie-lit-savvy readers, come in. What books have your young children (or other children in your life) loved? I'm interested in picture books with a moderate amount of text on each page -- even if Allie can't sit still for books like that, Sean definitely can.

And just so this isn't completely one-sided, here are a few books that my kids read over and over and over again (if I have time, I'll add links later):

The Water Hole
Miss Spider's Tea Party
Kiss Goodnight
What? Cried Granny
You Are My I Love You
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie
Click Clack Moo
Duck in a Truck
Cat in the Hat
Green Eggs and Ham
Fox in Socks

All righty then, what about you?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Super Mom Is Here!

Not me, silly. I am more like "Barely Competent Mom." No, I'm referring to Melanie Lynne Hauser's brand-spanking-new debut novel, Confessions of Super Mom. If you haven't been reading her blog, go visit -- she's funny and insightful, a champion of independent book stores, and, now, a published novelist. How cool is that? In fact, I think I will even ditch Phillip Roth, of whose most recent book I am currently stalled at page 5, for Melanie!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What I Did on My Trip to New England

Part 2: Blogger Meetup

I knew I was dealing with a gracious lady when my requests to change 1) the day and, later, 2) the time of our get-together were accommodated cheerfully. And the sudden, unexplained closure of our destination? Not a problem, either, for Phantom had already thought of a backup plan by the time Jeff and I passed her car near the void-of-visitors parking lot.

Like I said, I had been a little nervous beforehand -- this was the first time I'd ever met another blogger, and the get-together was with Phantom, for heaven's sake. But Phantom is so easy to talk to and, well, just plain nice that I was able to send my feelings of inadequacy packing.

Oh, and her kids! LG was a bit shy at first, but I could tell that with just a little encouragement he could be the life of the party. He was cute and charming and funny, especially with the tall tales that Phantom recounted in her post. His account of his Day out with Thomas the Frickin Tank Engine was so enticing that Sean announced that he, too, had ridden on Thomas. Which, of course, he has NOT.

Baby Blue has the most adorable smile. She was calm and serene the entire time -- I couldn't help but be impressed, for I have no experience with babies possessing such a demeanor! In contrast, Allie sat still for about 3 minutes to eat her ice cream and then spent the rest of the time giving her father a heart attack as she explored the bank of the creek behind us and the parking lot in front of us. (At this point I should publicly thank Jeff for running interference with the kids so that I could talk to Phantom for more than 30 seconds at a time.)

Toward the end of our visit, Allie treated us to her personalized version of "Elmo's World," entitled "Allie's World." (And in the car later that day, she sang "La la la la la, la la la la, [LG's real name]'s world!" This, my friends, is quite a compliment. Not everyone merits an "Elmo's World" rip-off.)

At the risk of sounding fawning, it was just so cool to meet Phantom in person. I hope we'll be able to do it again.

(Well, this post was kind of anti-climactic, huh? If you want to go read Phantom's version again for its superior narrative structure and entertaining writing style, I won't be the least bit offended!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What I Did on My Trip to New England

Part 1: We Are Family

I think the kids are getting used to long car trips. Either that, or the hypnosis induced by the portable DVD player is deepening with each successive trip. Regardless, the car rides both there and back were notably benign.

We hadn't been to my sister's in an embarrassingly long time (largely because I'd been reluctant to travel so far away with the kids), and I didn't realize until we were there how much I had missed being in her home. And with Sean and Allie with us, the experience was better than ever.

Beth's kids are 10 and 8, the perfect older companions for our little ones. They have a ton of energy and are endlessly creative. And patient, too -- even when the kids got a little pesky, E and J didn't lose their patience (unlike, say, Sean and Allie's mom). I find it so touching to see Sean and Allie play with their cousins -- my other nephews are 24, 22, and 16, and although they see the kids often, the age difference will always keep them a little distant.

We kept our agenda low-key -- we went to a farm one day and on a bona fide hike another. I'm proud of how well Sean and Allie did on our little hike: not too much whining, a tolerable amount of needing to be carried, and only a hint of unstable footing as we navigated our way up a steep slope. I tell you, I am so starved for natural settings that afterward I felt like I had just emerged from an extended stay on Walden Pond.

Have I mentioned how cool my sister is? I have spent much of my life wishing I could be as strong, capable, funny, and smart as she is. And, more recently, as caring and patient and loving a parent. After seeing her handle some tricky situations with her kids, I'm becoming more aware that parenting is just going to get more complicated as our children grow up. Will someone as wimpy as I am be up to the task? (Not to mention someone as self-centered -- see how I somehow managed to steer a paragraph about my sister straight into my usual narcissistic territory? Sheesh.)

Anyway. Since this visit went so well, perhaps we won't wait another year to try it again.

I'll leave you with this cute little story: Beth and the kids have a pet guinea pig. After being afraid of it initially, Allie soon became its biggest fan. She'd sidle up to its cage, crouch down, point, and smile. Then, when she got a little braver, she'd announce "Go see guinea pig! Allie dance!" and wiggle her entire body in an exuberant dance performance for one very special rodent. The guinea pig would just munch on some lettuce leaves and seem altogether unmoved. Hmmph. Philistine.

(Coming tomorrow -- Part 2: Blogger Meetup)

Since all the cool kids are doing it (APL, Phantom, and Psycho Kitty):

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The summer of road trips has, I believe, come to a close.

We just returned from our last scheduled family visit for the time being -- whew! This one was just terrific. I have a ton of unpacking (and, alas, work; file that one under "Deadlines, Agrees to Unrealistic" in my file cabinet of character flaws) to do, so I will write a longer post tomorrow. For now, though, the important points:

1. Fabulous time with my sister and her kids! I miss them terribly already.

2. I got to meet Phantom Scribbler and her two sweetheart children! It was like meeting some kind of blogging deity, and I was all sorts of nervous about coming across as the village idiot. Of course, I needn't have worried -- she is so friendly and funny and down to earth (you know, pretty much just like she is on her blog). And LG and Baby Blue? Even cuter than they are in their online personae, which is saying something. Phantom's already posted an account of our visit (I'm still blushing from reading it!), and I'll reciprocate in kind, tomorrow. Now, back to unpacking and deadlines . . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

All about the Links Today

Original content seems to be beyond my capabilities today (we're leaving to visit my sister tomorrow, and I haven't yet packed a thing), so I'll just point you toward some interesting posts I noticed today.

In yet another example of why I want to be Andrea when I grow up, she has a great idea fulminating -- check it out.

Julie and Elizabeth have written some insightful posts on evil and what makes it tick -- Nature vs. nurture? Insanity vs. sanity? I know it's morbid and probably prurient, but I'd like to read both of the books that they discuss.

That's it for me. I don't think I'll have time to post again before I leave, so I'll see you next week!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Question Meme

Danigirl tagged me for this meme a while ago. This was harder than I had thought it would be!

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life? (Note: That I will admit to on my blog)

A. Admitting during an interview for a full college scholarship that my low math SAT score (in comparison to my really high verbal score) was due to the fact that I "am not very good at math." Nope, didn't get that scholarship.
B. Letting perfectly good friendships atrophy for no better reason than distance and laziness.
C. Not getting better lactation help while nursing Sean. I still feel that if only I had tried harder, breastfeeding would not have been such a disaster.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?

The Chair and CEO of our family corporation -- Sean and Allison.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up five people to dine with, who would you pick?

Several people have been so clever and snarky with their answers to this question -- since I can't come up with anything nearly as funny, I'll play it straight: Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, John Lennon, Douglas Adams, Virginia Wolfe. I'd want to be both awed and entertained.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?

For me, two serious wishes and one fluffy wish.
A. True equality for all women, in all countries, of all faiths.
B. Safe, secure, loving childhoods for all children.
C. A completely cool, funky, uniquely decorated house.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.

A. A town center. My town exemplifies poor suburban planning: lots of nice neighborhoods, but no cohesiveness; a healthy tax base, but far too many tacky strip malls.
B. Related to A -- Other than the grammar school and park, there are few walkable destinations in my neighborhood. I'd love to be able to walk to a book store or restaurant. (I get so envious when Isabella writes about her Montreal neighborhood.)

Things to avoid:
A. The mall. Once the premier shopping destination in our area, it’s now bordering on stale and tired.
B. The two main highways crisscrossing the town. Most people develop a negative impression of my town on the basis of these highways, with their proliferation of big-box stores, ugly strip malls, and gas stations.

6. Name one event that has changed your life.

Meeting my husband. Until that point, I never believed that someone would ever love me and make me feel beautiful both inside and out.

7. Tag 3 people.

I'm not sure who has done this and who hasn't, so I'll tag anyone who wants it!

Friday, August 12, 2005

So, What's with the Weird Kid?

Two anecdotes from today -- I can't decide whether they are amusingly quirky or flat-out disturbing:

Anecdote the First

Sean has this rather annoying habit of singing songs whose lyrics consist entirely of nonsense words. Sample refrain: "Atchee doe! Bo Bo Bo Kee Atchee doe!" I am his mother and love him to pieces, but after 15 straight minutes of this I want to rip my hair out. So, we were at an indoor playground that featured a play piano (I know, it's sad that I'm resorting to this in August, when we should be playing outside, but it was 95 degrees outside today and we were BORED). With an audience of strangers for the first time, Sean pounded away on the keys, belting out his Random Syllable repertoire. All the other parents were stealing glances at him and smiling. I hope in a kind way, but I'm not sure.

Now, I have Issues (that's a capital I in case you didn't notice) about being on the outlying rings of social circles, particularly the make-fun-of and/or exclude ring. I don't want my children to experience what I did as a child, so I'm quite sensitive to any behavior that might peg them as "weird."

Does this odd singing thing count? Or am I just projecting my own neuroses?

Anecdote the Second

Sean was sitting on my bed, playing with a truck and making a strange noise. He asked, "Mommy, where is the mouse?" (Note: We don't have mice that I know of.)

"I don't know, Sean. What mouse?"

"The one in my mouth!"

"What's the mouse doing in your mouth?"

"Eating my tongue!" (Hysterical laughter.)

And with that icky image, I bid you good night.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Childhood Meme

Heather at Was That My Outloud Voice tagged me for a meme ages ago. I'm finally getting around to it. Sorry for the delay, Heather!

Boiler plate text: But first the rules to this meme game: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog's name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross pollination effect.

1. Marti
2. Melody
3. -A-
4. Heather
5. Suzanne

Next: select new friends to add to the pollen count. (No one is obligated to participate -- [Edited to add: Really. Feel free to ignore if you don't like memes. And if you've done this one and I've just overlooked it, sign me up for How to Increase Your Powers of Observation classes.]).

1. Gina
2. Amy
3. Rebecca
4. Julie
5. Marie

Let the game begin.

What 5 things do you miss about your childhood?

1. The sense of freedom I felt ambling about my neighborhood, with or without playmates. I went on grand adventures with my dog (whom I used to force into serving as pet dog to my Gulliver, with Fisher Price Little People-come-Lilliputians tucked under her collar), explored every nook and cranny of the alleys that served as the backyards on my street, climbed trees with reckless abandon, and never felt scared or uneasy.

2. Sleepovers at my grandparents. Nothing made me feel more special or spoiled than spending the night with my mother's parents, and that's saying something given the fact that I am the youngest child in my family and was doted on plenty by my parents. They lived across the street from us, so I could walk there, little suitcase in hand. We’d play round after round of dominoes and checkers, and, when I was older, Boggle and Scrabble. My grandmother would serve me Butter Pecan cookies, or ask me to join in their nightly snack of cheese and crackers. She'd have a washcloth and towel waiting for me on the bathroom sink, and she'd turn down the bed covers for me. In the morning, my cereal bowl would be waiting for me on the kitchen table, with a Kellogg's individual-serving box right beside it.

3. Lazy days at the pool. I spent a large part of my summer at our township pool, and even though I never learned how to swim correctly (I still have trouble putting my face in the water when I swim), I loved the sense of playfulness and weightlessness that water brings. I haven't seen that pool in years, but I've heard that the sand that had surrounded the pool itself (presumably in an attempt to make the pool seem more like a lake?) has been replaced with standard grass. Progress? You decide.

4. Bicycle trips to the library. I'm not sure the age at which I began riding my bike to the library, but it signaled a new-found sense of independence for me. I went every week; the basket on the front of my bike was filled with books to be returned and books I'd just borrowed. (Oh, yes, I was the biggest. geek. ever.) Looking back at, I can't imagine letting Sean or Allie ride their bikes as far as I did on those trips to the library (several miles, including crossing over a major highway), especially with no helmet, but as everyone says when doing this meme, times were different.

5. My dad. Of course.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Thomas Is from Mars, Hello Kitty Is from Venus

It's occurred to me that there's a bit of a dearth of girl toys in our house.

Allie has a few baby dolls and a doll stroller, but beyond that the toy population consists of typical boy or gender-neutral toys: trains, cars, blocks, puzzles, more trains, more cars.

This is partly for philosophical reasons -- I've tended to toe the party line when it comes to typical girl toys, and I always avoid the Aisles of Egregious Pink when I'm in the toy section of a store. I'm not a purist by any means; hence the dolls and doll stroller. But still. It's been easy so far since Allie is so young and has never expressed a preference for a particular type of toy. She loves playing with trains as much as she loves pushing her stroller around.

So far, so good. But her 2-year birthday party is just around the corner (well, October), and the Barbie question will have to be faced. I've expressed my anti-Barbie sentiments to our families, always in a light-hearted manner and in a sincere attempt to avoid offending anyone. (The Barbie and Disney fans among us are quite fervent!) Mostly, I think they tend to regard such stances as just plain wacky -- overreactions about an issue that really doesn't matter all that much.

Does it? If Allie turns out to love Barbies and princess stuff, I don't seen any point in trying to squelch that. But it makes me angry to think that Sean can choose among Fix It, Drive It, Build It toys while Allie might be consigned to toys in the Dress Up, Be a Princess, Make Jewelry category. Problem-solving versus fluff. Action versus passivity. Thomas the Tank Engine versus Hello Kitty.

On the flip side, I haven't yet had to deal with the toy gun dilemma. I guess one of the pluses of Sean's not knowing too many other boys is that he hasn't been exposed to the world of weaponized play.

I'm curious -- how do you feel about stereotypical girl and boy toys?

Saturday, August 06, 2005

So, What Did You Do Today?

Back in the day, when I was working (read: outside the home), I would spend a portion of each evening reviewing my accomplishments of the day. I somehow found it soothing to tally up all the things I did.

So I'd be bathing the kids, thinking "Okay, today was pretty good. I read page proofs for five articles, wrote blurbs for the table of contents, checked the edited manuscript of an editor in training, attended two semi-productive meetings, smoothed the ruffled feathers of an irate author, and wrote about 30 e-mails." (Well, often it wasn't that streamlined a thought process -- I tidied it up for presentation purposes).

See, all eminently quantifiable, and quite satisfying for an inveterate list-maker like myself.

'Tain't so simple these days.

Now, I can look back at any given day and just grasp at the air in an attempt to cobble together a similar list of accomplishments. Other than the set-in-stone tasks (for example, "prepare, administer, and clean up after three full meals and two snacks, plus backup meals when original menu is spurned"), what is it that I do all day? Certainly not a lot of housework. The dust and clutter attest to that. Provide enriching activities for the kids? I try, but I could do a lot better. Referee toy disputes? Yes, but that particular task is the epitome of fruitlessness. My kids are young enough (and I'm lazy enough a parent) that I can't yet add "ferrying kids to and fro" to my list of daily accomplishments.

It's a struggle, sometimes, for me to see value in what I do -- the standard stay-at-home-mom's lament, I guess. And in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. Thanks, though, for indulging me as I whine about it for a bit.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Random Cuteness

Outside the library, as we near the building, Sean always wants to walk up a short flight of stairs while I push Allie, in the stroller, up a very, very slightly inclined path. He informs me of the game plan each time:

"Mommy, I will take the steps. You go up the mountain."

Guess I can add mountain climbing to the list of considerable feats I've accomplished in Sean's eyes!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Now playing in the Mimiloumobile: Sarah Vowell's Assassination Vacation.

I'm really enjoying this book -- Vowell writes about three presidential assassinations (Lincoln's, Garfield's, and McKinley's), and about her various road trips to historical sites related to them. She even goes as far as Fort Jefferson off the coast of Key West to see where Samuel Mudd was imprisoned. The book is both thoroughly engaging and insightful (I'd say "quirky," too, but that's too much of a cliché when it comes to Vowell). Plus there's a treasure trove of historical trivia with which to dazzle your friends. Like this: Did you know that Lincoln's son was present at all three of the aforementioned assassinations?

I loved this sentence:

The interior of the Ford's Theatre in which Lincoln was shot collapsed in 1893, but then, in 1968, the National Park Service dedicated this restoration, duplicating the setting of one of the most repugnant moments in American history just so morbid looky-loos like me could sign up for April 14, 1865, as if it were some kind of assassination fantasy camp.

Although I could never articulate that sentiment like she did, I've often though the same thing when visiting tourist sites that were once the scene of tragedy, like the Anne Frank house and the Tower of London and slave quarters in Charleston.

(I'm also finding myself oddly desiring to enunciate my words in the ultra-crisp way Vowell does, but perhaps without the squeakiness. But then I think of the effort involved in such diction and decide instead to continue my usual rushed speaking patterns.)


Perhaps my concerns about the accuracy of Running with Scissors have some merit after all. Or not. Hmmm.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Running with Scissors

Just finished Augusten Burroughs' memoir, Running with Scissors. It makes David Sedaris's wacky family seem like the Cleavers.

The conditions under which the author grew up are mind-boggling: After he spent a childhood witnessing toxic, violent fights between his parents, his mentally ill mother relinquished him to the care of her addled psychiatrist. That home is not just roach-infested and filthy but packed to the rafters with dysfunctional family members and some of the psychiatrist's patients.

The dysfunction takes both benign and rather horrific shapes. On the amusing side, when the author and the psychiatrist's daughter decide the kitchen ceiling is too low, they decide to remove the ceiling altogether. No one cares. After a yard sale, the family notices that the unsold furniture makes a delightful open-air home and live outside for a summer.

The scary stuff: Beginning at 14, the author engages in a sanctioned, abusive relationship with a 32-year-old man. The psychiatrist's 13-year-old daughter has an affair with a 40-some-year-old, who then becomes here legal guardian and then abuses her. Another daughter, at 14, leaves the family home, again with her father's approval, to travel around with a bunch of hippies. Yet another daughter tortures and kills the family cat because she is convinced he is terminally ill. And in one of the most disturbing events, the psychiatrist, merely to provide the author with an excuse not to attend school, helps him fake a suicide attempt (via bourbon and Valium).

Despite the content, the author's tone throughout -- wry, sardonic, sarcastic -- makes the book downright entertaining. I wonder, though, about the embellishment factor. I don't necessarily doubt the veracity of the events, but the extensive dialogue throughout the book gives me pause. Surely that must have been not just re-created but revamped, revised, and otherwise altered for maximum readability and dramatic effect. I suppose that happens with most memoirs, though. People don't go through their childhoods with tape recorders, yet memoirists do tend to include a lot of dialogue.

The author's written a follow-up, called Dry, that follows his life after he leaves the psychiatrist's "care." I'll be reading that book soon.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Our vacation started off with a bang -- Jeff's sister got engaged on the beach Monday night. We are all pretty much thrilled for her. For some reason, her age (she's only 21) doesn't bother me. I really like her fiancé, for starters, and I can't imagine her finding anyone more compatible or caring. The engagement will be a long one; J is still in college, and they are committed to waiting until she's graduated to get married.

And I get to be a bridesmaid again! The oldest one by far, by the looks of it. I told J that by the time the wedding rolls around I'll be the Botox Bridesmaid.

I have been wondering about the appropriateness of the word "vacation" as a descriptive noun for our trip. I am still in the camp that believes "vacations" are relaxing, fun breaks from everyday life. But a trip to the beach with two toddlers is essentially the same as staying at home, except 10 times harder. We did have fun, but Jeff and I were both exhausted by week's end.

This year, Sean hated the ocean. Unlike last year, when we could barely tear him away from the waves, this time he warily approached the water, stuck one foot in, then darted back toward our umbrella enclave, proclaiming, "I'm scared!" He settled down quickly, and had a grand time digging and encrusting himself with sand.

This "scared" business is new. I don't know if it's just a stage or a new facet to his personality emerging, but Sean sometimes backs away from things more readily now. And more often than not, the reason is that he is scared or the activity is scary. I'm not sure how to approach this -- right now, I acknowledge the initial emotion and don't force the issue; after a while, I try encouraging him again, but if he still resists, I respect that and leave him be. This works for now, but at what point does this approach become enabling?

Anyway. Allie loved the ocean, and keeping up with her proved a formidable challenge. The surf was so powerful that we couldn't let down our vigilance for even a second. Talk about scary.

She didn't have quite the patience Sean did for playing in the sand, but between the two of them, enough sand clung to their bodies and hid in various crevices to provide building material for a life-size sand castle. One word: Yuck. Also, Eww.

I'll leave you with this cute image of Allie napping in Jeff's arms on the beach. It seems she tired even herself out.