Well, it’s been a very intense *checks watch* two and a half months. Ayla’s school had already ended by the time I wrote my last update on August 4, and Ali’s ended two days later, then we went to Stigler for a while I think, then we came back and closed on the house on August 17, cleaned the carpets, and got a new washing machine. (The dryer was back-ordered for weeks, and we didn’t get that until October 9.) The kids were still out of school that week.
We moved our primary residence to the new house on August 21 but still had two weeks until our lease on our apartment expired. I used every spare moment while both kids were (finally back) in school over the next two weeks moving the rest of our stuff, cleaning, doing laundry, etc. It was just never-ending. Meanwhile I was learning the new schedule and protocols of the new school, where Ali goes 5 days a week and Ayla 3 days a week, and on days they both went to school, I felt like a crazed pack mule wrangling both their bags, both their nap rolls, and both kids through a long, crowded hallway, and digging out their cups and lunches and handing them over at their respective doorways.
Nowadays Ali will carry his own backpack and Ayla will walk, so it’s not so bad.
Meanwhile there were a million administrative things to do, changing addresses everywhere and turning utilities and internet on and off at each place. I also signed both kids up for extracurricular classes — Tippi Toes dance for both and a storytelling / theater class for Ali. But Ayla was eventually kicked out of the dance class for being too little (in fairness, it was supposed to be 3 and up, and although she did amazing, the bigger kids weren’t so careful around her), and Ali refused to do anything Ayla wasn’t doing.
We took the kids to the aquarium and the state fair, and Doug and his family came down to visit the house, and we got patio furniture, a cute little plastic picnic table for the kids, and a California King Avocado bed for the master bedroom (we still don’t have a bed frame), we played some soccer, I hung up infinite laundry on indoor racks (it never ended), we went to Pumpkin Town several times, I hired an editor to work on the first pages of my novel and the query letter, Holly and Ivy came down for dinner one evening, this week was “fall break” with no school on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday, and this weekend we’re helping my parents move out of their apartment that was close to ours. End of an era, and a bit sad, but our new house is lovely, and it’s amazing for the kids to have so much space to run and play inside and out. And for us to have so much space for dinner guest and/or overnight guests, finally!
But the housework… It never ends. There’s such a difference between 900 square feet you don’t really care about all that much and 3400 square feet that are yours for probably at least a decade. I’m actually trying to keep the toilets sparkling clean instead of just passable. I plan to scrub the tubs more than twice a year. There’s ridiculously more carpet to vacuum and hard floors to sweep (and eventually mop), and ants to fight off by keeping the breakfast nook floor (our dining room) scrupulously clean. A least it is a hard floor, though, so I’m counting my blessings there!
Aug 5: While I was gone, Ayla learned to say “Don’t do that!” apparently from us saying that sometimes when she drops / throws food.
It sounds like: “Don’ doe dah!” Breathy and high-pitched, like everything she says
Aug5: Ayla is absolutely frenetic when she swims. It so exhausting but so much fun watching her have so much fun. I put her in the floaty for a while, after like 30 seconds she signals “all done” and wants me to carry her all around in the pool. Then she wants me to put her up on the side so she can jump back in instantly. Like her butt makes contact with the side of the pool for less than one second. Over and over and over. (Such joy on her face, though!)
Then she keeps pointing down into the water and trying to claw herself away from me, so I dip her in the water so that her head is submerged, and she comes up gasping and coughing gamely, then I spin around in place for a while, holding her and letting her legs trail in the water, then I back up and count to three and release her so that she can “swim” toward me (with the help of momentum) for like one second, then I bring her up again, gasping and coughing gamely.
Then we go to the stairs and she stands on one and tries to sit on the next one but her mouth is underwater so I rescue her and she keeps climbing, then turns back around immediately and leaps into my arms again, then she wants to do it again, and again, and again, then I just get too tired and put her back in the floaty, then after 30 seconds she signals “all done,” so I carry her all around in the pool for a while, then…
Whew. Can’t wait to have a little kiddie pool in our new backyard next month so she can entertain herself!
Meanwhile I’m slowly learning to speak Ayla. If she is holding a spoon and points at the fridge, she wants yogurt. Now I know.
Aug5: OMG. They’re both eating my whole grain banana date spinach egg milk cinnamon pancakes.
*internal happy screaming/dancing*
Aug6: Ayla’s words so far, in approximate order:
Meoooow = cat
Baba (dad in Turkish)
No = nose
Hah = hat
Baw = ball
Ow = ouch
Oh oh (barking) = dog
Wa wa (quacking) = duck, or any large bird
*Maniacal laugh* (neighing) = horse
Joo = shoe
Don’ doe dah = Don’t do that (said when she drops or throws something she shouldn’t)
She has significantly more receptive language (can point to most body parts when we say them, etc), and she loves to “sing along” to songs. She’s learning lots of animal sounds, and her neigh is insanely sweet and funny. It sounds like a high-pitched, unhinged laugh.
Aug6: Someone on a parenting support group wrote:
“My husband has been home with us for a week (with our ten-week-old and 17-month-old) and he says he’s feeling emasculated. He’s an amazing dad and wonderful husband but he wants to feel accomplished at the end of the day.
I explained to him I feel this everyday, like I never get anything done and yet never get to sit down. It’s just how it is raising little ones. Any suggestions on how to get him to feel more comfortable with being home?”
“Our society has, for centuries, disrespected and denigrated “women’s work” (caretaking, child raising, cooking, cleaning, etc) as fundamentally lesser and undignified.
Even though society would COMPLETELY FALL APART if it didn’t get done.
It has also disrespected and denigrated women while simultaneously shaming women who didn’t take on those roles, and shaming men who did.
So, it’s a big nasty cake that has been baked, and no wonder if affects so many people — men and women alike.
I hate the undignified feeling of being “Cinderella” on my hands and knees cleaning up under the damned high chair again, you know? I could be working on a novel I’m writing, exercising, reading, going for a walk, traveling solo in the Middle East like I did in the freedom of my child-free 20s… Like, millions of things.
And yet, someone needs to clean under the damned high chair.
[Ahmed does his fair share in our household and then some. He is not at issue here.]
I don’t know how to completely reform society, but somehow it needs to happen.
It’s a privilege to be able to raise my babies, but it’s ridiculously hard and ridiculously undervalued.”
Aug6: Today was a sweet day. Ali’s last day of (summer) school. I asked him afterwards how he felt now that he would never go to his school again. He said, “Great.”
He’s been vaguely complaining about his school all summer. He’ll have a new one starting in a couple weeks. We’ll see if he just hates school in general or what, haha.
He had his first Boba tea after school (I was worried about him choking on the balls, but he’s a champ with them), and while we were waiting, Ayla sat on my lap and Ali tickled her and hugged her and they were so super sweet. Until Ali took it a little too far and Ayla started saying, “No, no, no!” Such is the way with older brothers, haha.
When we got home, Ayla pulled some dolls out of the closet and she played with one and Ali played with the other one. Ayla put hers to bed and put a blanket over it. She kept pointing at it and saying, “Baby,” and then putting her finger to her nose and saying, “Shh.”
Now we’re going to Big Splash for the first time for the kiddos. (I know it has a new name. I do not acknowledge it. I have so many good memories of Big Splash. I’m a reactionary in a progressive body, I guess!)
Aug6: Ali is just starting the “endless questions” phase, and his questions yesterday were, “Where does water come from?” and “Where does our brain come from?”
He may have asked the wrong person.
“Well, kid, 14.5 billion years ago…”
Usually his eye glaze over pretty quickly and he asks for a snack
Aug6: We had SO MUCH FUN celebrating the end of (summer) school at Big Splash. It’s such a great-sized water park — not big enough to be some massive crowded tourist attraction, but plenty big enough to be a whole lot of fun. Definitely getting season passes next year.
Ali, Mr. “Didn’t Like Water Play At School All Summer,” suddenly found his water mojo in the wave pool, laughing uncontrollably as the waves pummeled us.
Ayla waded straight into the huge kiddie pool area. She seemed to take great pleasure in “plopping down” on her butt only to kind of float down gently into a seated position. And she loved sitting down with her head above water. It’s just her size. Like a series of gigantic, clear puddles.
She liked the wave pool, too, though not as much as Ali did!
(At one point, while the waves were off, he was paddling his arms around in a kind of unusual way and said, “I’m a lawnmower boat!” That may just be his billion-dollar idea…)
He wanted to go on this giant kind of scary slide but was too short. Meanwhile he wouldn’t try any of the slides in the kiddie pool area. Go figure.
On the way there, his question kick continued. He’s obsessed with Billie Eilish’s song “You Should See Me in a Crown.” He calls it “One By.”
“Who is singing?” he asked, though he knew.
“Billie Eilish,” Ahmed said.
“Biddie Eiwish? Did she didn’t like the song and so she sent it to us?”
Ahmed laughed. “No, that’s not how that worked. She liked it, so she shared it with everyone.”
“Oh. Is she in California?”
“Actually, she is. How did you know? Who told you?”
“Does she have a phone?”
“Yes, she probably has a phone.”
“Is she a woman?”
“Is she can do some vacuum?”
“Is she a better vacuumer?”
“Better than who?”
“Better than you.”
“That would be really hard. I’m the best vacuumer in the world.”
And that was the end of that line of questioning.
Ali also calls ambulances “anabwences.” We stuffed ourselves silly on Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ after the swimming, and Ali insisted the Oklahoma Joe’s catering truck was “a anabwence.”
Then we saw a helicopter transporting a patient to St. Francis Hospital.
These are the days.
Aug7: A tale of two kiddies.
Ali’s Mother’s Day gift this year (Look at me, I’m so cute!)
Ayla’s Father’s Day gift (I will probably murder you in your sleep)
Aug7: Ayla when she was sick with RSV a couple weeks ago
Aug8: Ayla gets so emotionally invested in Cocomelon videos. Precious and hilarious.
Aug10: My mom set an alarm on her phone and told Ali, “Now remind me to take my pill every time the alarm goes off.”
She made the alarm go off to show him what it sounded like. Then she couldn’t figure out how to turn it off. She said, “What do I do now?”
Ali said, “Take your pill!”
Aug10: BUSTED. But fast on the getaway. And DGAF.
Mom wrote: She took my drink. She took his car. And we are powerless against her.
Aug11: So, Ali had a small bowl of butter for dinner tonight.
That is all.
Aug11: Today’s task: Choosing a washer and dryer for our new place.
Leaning heavily toward the LG machines because they have clear lids so that Ali the Engineer can watch the machinery go.
Planning on a top-loader. Trying to decide between an agitator or impeller (leaning toward impeller).
Domestic adventure, ho!
Aug11: Frito chili pie. Canned chili. Canned pinto beans. Garden tomatoes. Avocado tomatillo salsa. (Sour cream and cheese for the dairy eaters.) Sweet onions. Pickled jalapenos.
Sometimes a super simple meal can be just perfect.
(Of course, Ali ate like 3 chips and a bowl of butter. Whatever. Ayla ate like a bear about to hibernate, like she always does!)
Aug12: Ayla has started using at least 10 new words in the past few days:
ish = fish
ah gah = all gone
doe = door
I’ll write more when I think of them. It’s starting!
Aug12: Ayla was just standing there, looking to the right. A wasp landed on her left pinky, stung her, and flew off.
What a freaking jerk.
She cried for a few minutes, then went back to normal, other than she cries every time I wipe off her left hand. No apparent swelling.
Still. What a freaking jerk.
Aug12: As my brother said, using that corn dog to soak up the bowl of butter he ate yesterday. Calories are a victory at this point!
Aug12: Handsome boy with his laundry in the window…
Mom wrote: Grandma multi-tasking at her finest. Drying laundry, a waitin’ on a train. Sounds like a bad country song.
Aug12: There’s a runt pig being bottle fed at the gift shop in Stigler. Not as a publicity stunt. The pig just needed help.
I took Ayla down there to see him. He was such a wee little thing, not much bigger than my hand, perfectly formed from the snout to the curly tail. It slurped down the bottle and then the owner got it out, and it bucked and squealed a little when anyone petted it. Ayla plopped down and watched it mince around on its little high heel hooves and petted it so gently. And I think she said 3 new words just while we were there.
Aug13: Rice, butter, cow connective tissue… that’s a healthy breakfast, right?
I’m talkin’ ’bout a rice krispy treat.
Aug13: When I was 11 and had bangs and mom jeans.
Aug13: Ayla finally learned how to say “Yeah.”
From now on, it’s not just “No, no, no!” and a blank look for yes
Aug13: Happy happy (early) birthday to my amazing step-dad Bill Cox!
We love you lots. Sorry we’ll be so busy closing on our house on your actual birthday
Aug14: Pig pics! Ayla is a pig whisperer, it turns out. She just sat down quietly, and the pig was all over her. (No pics of that.) She was so gentle when she petted him, too
Aug15: Unprompted Ali poop in the potty [happy dancing gif]
Aug15: And just now, Ali asked for noodles, chicken, and broccoli for dinner. And he’s eating it! [wide-eyed emoji]
Aug15: Tonight Ali saw an airplane (ayer-pwane) go by and said, “Hey, I think I know why it’s called a airplane. Because it has to go in the AIR. So it’s a AIRplane.”
He also corrected himself: “We find it… We found it.”
That broccoli is making him smart [laugh emoji]
Aug17: Oh my goodness, our realtor found out I was allergic to dust mites and dusted the blinds in our new house for us.
Thanks, Keli Brooks Smith! It means a lot!
And by the way, we are officially homeowners now.
Or, well, technically our lender owns it, but details, details
Aug17: Our new digs. I’m especially excited about the back yard for the kids and the sweet office for my husband and me (not at the same time, unless the kids are in preschool).
There’s a play room and 3 bedrooms upstairs, and we’ll live up there for at least a few years. Which means the master bedroom downstairs is open for guests.
Come on out if you need a south Broken Arrow escape! (It’s pretty close to 101st and Garnett.)
We need lots of stuff, from patio furniture to fun indoor kid stuff to fun outdoor kid stuff to a ladder and lawnmower. If anyone is getting rid of these or knows of any good garage sales, send ’em our way!
Aug18: Grandpa’s early birthday cake. With some underwhelming pyrotechnics, LOL. Can you see the 70 on the cake marked out in candles?
Aug19: Running on fumes. Recovering from a viral (non-COVID) infection, dealing with the million administrative tasks of moving, packing and transporting our stuff little by little each day (with the big final-ish push on Saturday), living in a skeleton home with everything in disarray, living on McDonald’s (because who has time to shop or cook?), all while Ahmed is working full-time-plus and two little kids need a lot of attention (Mom and Bill are watching them part of the day, thankfully, otherwise this would simply be impossible), and I was just about to take a much-needed short nap when I remembered Ali has a dental check-up at 3.
Glad to be moving.
Both these things are true
Aug21: All the books are in the new home. That alone was a huge undertaking. And kid stuff accumulates like crazy. Blankets, quilts, clothes, kitchen implements, furniture, a million other random things. We have a small and reasonably tidy place, yet the sheer volume of stuff is exhausting.
The good news is, we won’t need to worry about it for another decade or so, by which point we can garage sale it all away.
Thankfully the weather is cooperating. It’ll be cloudy but not raining most of the day. And no one’s back has gone out, so that’s a win! (Knock wood)
Aug21: Ayla was pushing her little horse toy backwards across the floor.
“She’s mowing backwards,” Ali said. “She’s going to make it tall. She’s going to make the grass tall again!”
Aug21: The worst is over. There are just some random things left that we can take in a few car loads. Did NOT have the bandwidth to deal with these last things today. But the Unreasonably Heavy Mattress (DreamCloud is no joke) traveled downstairs on a raft of plastic and was not damaged. Neither were we. Hooray.
I’ve packed up a suitcase and we’ll all “camp out” in the master bedroom together while we slowly put the house together.
Soon we’ll have a dining room with hard floors and not effing carpet!
Aug21: And we are online at Casa Dogan and ready for sleep!
Aug22: Ayla decided sleeping was for chumps last night and neither she nor her parents were chumps. Then Ali woke up at the crack of dawn. Send help.
Aug22: My body is tired but my heart is happy
Aug22: We still have a little ways to go. We got to the new place late last night (after moving as much as we humanly could), and the kids slept poorly (i.e., everyone slept poorly). We barely had the energy today to go pick up the cat (we had to leave him at our place overnight) and his paraphernalia and a few other necessities from the old place, have lunch, unpack enough stuff to get to the couch, put the couch together, find all the stuff we need to send the kids to their first day of school tomorrow, find a little time to play with the kids so they don’t feel completely neglected, have dinner, go shopping, bathe everyone, do bed time routine, and put the kids to bed.
(We pretty much haven’t breathed in a week.)
So yeah, we still have roughly 7% of our stuff at the old place, even after five days of exhausting work, and two more weeks to get it all out. We can manage that. We can breathe through it.
What we couldn’t manage was doing what we did without help from Mom and Bill watching the kids while we worked. Mom had an especially rough time with two kids for nearly all of Saturday, and they wouldn’t nap and were acting hog wild after the rough and weird week. And I know all too well how exhausting that is.
THANK YOU for everything. I hope you understand how much we appreciate it!
Aug23: Last night we actually got to sleep like 7 hours, thank God. But the cat woke us up a couple times. I got up around 1:21am and saw crazy bright moonlight making a shadow under the back porch.
I walked out to look and saw a spectacular waning gibbous moon trailed by Jupiter and Saturn across the zenith.
I’ll call that a good sign.
Aug23: Both kids were rock stars at their first day at their new school. Maybe they tell all the parents their kids are stand-outs for being good-natured and having fun, but it’s always fun to hear. Ali was a “leader,” which apparently meant he was first in line or something? They seemed to act like it was a minor big deal, whatever it was.
Ayla clung to me and cried in the morning, and it was hard, but they said all day she was just happy to be doing whatever they were doing next.
They both ate great. (Turkey and cheese croissants, cheese-flavored cauliflower chips, grapes, hummus for Ali, a macaroon for Ayla.) Ayla put herself to sleep but only napped about 45 minutes. Ali didn’t nap but lay quietly.
Best of all — Ali said it was a good day. That’s a high bar for our little man. I’m so glad.
Aug23: Ali was so sweet with Ayla tonight, asking if he could give her a hug before bed (she enthusiastically hugged back) and then asking if he could sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to her (her favorite song).
She settled right down to sleep after that (and my usual nightly song to the tune of Edelweiss)
Aug24: No longer using a soup pot as a wastebasket #progress
Aug24: “Hey, Ali, don’t wipe your nose on the TV.”
Yep. I said that.
Aug24: Ali: “What’s California mean?”
Ahmed: “Your Aunt Val lives there.”
Ali: “With MacQueen?” [Lightning McQueen]
Ali: “Does she say, ‘Hi, MacQueen’?”
Ahmed: “You’ve gotta ask her next time you see her.”
What say you, Val Monticue?
Aug24: Poor Ali had his first bloody nose today. Tripped and fell on the driveway. When we asked what hurt worst, he said it was his hand. His hand was not injured at all but got blood on it from his nose.
He also skinned his knee and got a big band-aid.
Oh, and we got a lawnmower! It’s mechanical, so a whole new world for Ali to explore. And for Ahmed to wrestle with.
So many doings in these days.
Aug25: We went to the hardware store yesterday and passed by a giant dog with dalmatian markings, big as a St. Bernard but thin like a greyhound. [Harlequin Great Dane]
Ali didn’t even glance over. So I stopped and said, “Hey, you just breezed past that dog,” and pointed at it.
He said, “Uh huh. OOOH. There’s a carpet cleaner!”
Sure enough, there was a carpet shampooer just to the left of the giant weird dog
Aug25: Ayla doesn’t have school today, but when I was dropping off, one of the teacher’s aides talked rapturously about how Ayla was just singing and singing, and how much she must love music.
Yep! Our “music room” is still overrun with bins and boxes at the moment, but it’ll be a proper music room one of these days. Can’t wait!
Aug25: Ali is now obsessed with “belly button videos.” Just random videos that have to do with belly buttons.
Can we please go back to vacuums? (It all started with a video of a vacuum hose stuck to someone’s belly button. We can’t find it again. I think he’s hoping to stumble across it?)
Memory from Aug 27, 2016: All of us get to be ourselves, and that is pretty amazing!
I try not to be jealous
Of birds because
They fly in a way
I never will.
I try to look at
And be glad that
Someone gets to do it.
I see Olympic gymnasts
And prima ballerinas
And know it is a life
I will never know.
But I also know
That I am me
And that is something
No one else can ever be.
Aug27: I’m watching Ayla learn to eat jello with a spoon (a very different skill from eating yogurt with a spoon), and most of it is dropping onto the (hard) floor, and I don’t even care
ETA: I think she’s got it! She’s started not turning the spoon upside-down on the way to her mouth. And also just using her hand when she really wanted an embedded mandarin orange Right Now.
And now she’s back to yogurt, and I saw her flip the food upside-down in front of her to see how it didn’t fall out. And she took a few bites with the yogurt spoon right-side-up.
Aug27: We still don’t have a dryer at our new house, so I went to our old apartment to do two big loads of laundry today (way too much for a drying rack to handle), only for that dryer to break down. Then on the way out, a handle broke off a plastic box I was carrying to bring stuff home, and a bowl broke and sliced my finger. I had to clean that up and was late to picking up the kids.
Then I got home, and both kids were buck wild and just wanted their Baba, who was in a long meeting in an office with a glass door and no lock (yet). So that was super fun.
But then finally we went to get Chinese food (the kids ate a ton, like they had been starving for days) and play at LaFortune Park. A little festival was going on, and after the kids did the slides and swings for a while, we went back and watched the music. Ali said, “I see a guitar!” and later, “I didn’t know they had a singing place here!” Both kids watched, fascinated. (Two electric guitars, one acoustic, a bass guitar, and drums.)
The house is still about half chaos. Our entire kitchen hasn’t been moved yet. (I know, I know — believe me, we are moving at the highest speed we can manage, and it is slow AF with two kids.) The kids are learning new routines, people, and places at their new school, and so am I.
I still have to deep clean the old place. I have another week to do it.
And Ayla tripped down the stairs yesterday, and in the process of lunging to try to catch her (I failed, and she rolled down a few soft steps, none the worse for it, though I about had a heart attack), I did something to my right middle toe that has it swollen, discolored, and very painful today.
We still need to get a garden hose.
I keep trying to remember to grab the bread knife, and failing.
We are tired. In another two weeks the chaos should be in some better order. But the pace is so slow when you have two littles and so many other things to do besides.
I can’t wait to have all this sorted and just be able to live. (Today was a night “off” of shopping and arranging and everything else, to *just* have fun with the kids.)
ETA: Oh yeah, and Mateo disappeared. He was missing over 24 hours until Ahmed found him in his office closet. (Ayla’s favorite pastime right now is closing doors.) Mateo didn’t make a sound the whole time. And he still spends much of his time in that closet. But he’s finally eating and venturing out more.
Aug28: I love how Ali calls Ayla “silly girl” sometimes, and he pronounces it “siwwy gowoh.”
Aug29: Tonight we were heading to the garage to get in the car and go to the park, and Ali said to Ayla, “Why don’t we hold hands?” They held hands all the way to the garage, and Ali said, “Aren’t we cute?”
Um, yeah. Yeah, you are.
Ayla, for some reason, started doing her happy stomp dance, and Ali and I did, too, and she started laughing and dancing at our silly behavior.
At the park, Ali decided I ate too much of his imaginary ice cream and I needed surgery to remove the excess ice cream. I lay down on a slide, and he cut my stomach open with scissors and used pliers to get the ice cream out. My first ice-cream-ectomy.
Then he taped me back up.
When I was up and around again, he ran to me saying, “Here’s your Dum Dum!” Because of course you get a Dum Dum when you go to the doctor. I pretended to take it and put it in my mouth.
Ayla came running up, opening and closing her little hand, begging for a suck of my imaginary sucker.
Ali said, “Oh! I can get you a Dum Dum, too, Ayla.”
Ayla waited patiently for him to come back from his slide clinic and give her a Dum Dum, too.
Of course, he gave her imaginary candy — aka nothing. She was confused and not at all amused. Her face clearly said, “What the hell, bro?”
At twilight the fireflies came out at Haikey Creek Park (our local park, super close), and I said to Ali, “Hey, look at the lightning bugs!”
He watched for a while, then said with some trepidation, “Are there thunder bugs?”
On the way back, there was a really bad skunk smell. So now Ali is watching Youtube videos learning all about skunks.
Good grief, if I had had Youtube as a kid! What a magical thing!
Aug29: Mungees on the ranch.
Aug30: When Ali was this age, he said “Gah gai!” for “All done!”
Ayla says, “Don’t die!”
Aug30: It has been a dream of mine for a long time to have enough room for the kids to have their own little wooden table for eating.
Meanwhile, Ali’s dream of having his Very Own Real Vacuum came true today! ($23, and its filter just throws fine dust in the air, but it really does an excellent job picking up small things like grass and fuzz, and Ali’s excitement is worth it!)
Aug31: Yesterday on the way to school, Ali said, “I’m going to be sad a little bit when you leave me there.”
Sure enough, he sobbed and clung to me when I left him there. But his teachers said he had a great day.
The next day on the way to school, he said, “I’m not going to be sad when you leave me there today. I’m just gonna be happy.”
And he was. He walked right into class without a look back.
That’s some emotional awareness right there.
Meanwhile Ayla marches into preschool every day like it’s her dream job and she’s the boss.
Sep1: Because of Wheels on the Bus, Ali calls windshield wipers “Shwishwishwish.”
“Mama, turn on the Shwishwishwish.”
Sep4: We came close to taking Ali to the ER last night with retractions / difficulty breathing related to some kind of virus (not COVID, he tested negative for that).
Meanwhile I’ve been hearing stories of ERs turning away car accident victims (including children) because they are overrun with non-vaccinated COVID cases and ivermectin poisoning cases. I was honestly terrified to take Ali there. (Ali is, of course not vaccinated. He’s too young.) And I was terrified not to take him there.
Thankfully albuterol and oral steroids set him right enough to sleep peacefully on his side and wake up energized.
But Jesus, what could have happened…
This is one reason I have absolutely no problem with mandating vaccines. (Can we also mandate not taking livestock medicine? Can we just mandate against stupidity? Gaaah.)
Sep4: Once after I yelled at Ali and apologized and said I was just feeling stressed and it wasn’t his fault, he said kindly, “You should do meditation. That’s what Grandma does when she’s stressed.”
You’re absolutely right, buddy. I perpetually intend to meditate, and it keeps getting swallowed by the days. But this week I’ll do it! Starting Monday. Tomorrow I recover from 3 weeks of moving house…
Sep4: Ali held aloft his fortune cookie and said to his Baba, “Do you remember? You break it and then you take out the tag.”
Thanks for the refresher, Bud.
Sep4: Labor Day weekend, everyone in the family is sick, but at least no one’s in the hospital, and the kids are happily sick (especially Steroid Boy).
I worked 6 hours today cleaning the old apartment and somehow packing yet another whole carload of crap (a large framed picture, the curtains, cleaning supplies and tools, a giant floor lamp, the internet stuff, and on and on), all while sick, then I turned in the key and the three-week moving saga is officially over.
Other than figuring out and arranging the new place, which is in some kind of order but still needs at least another week of work.
Sep4: Ayla’s vocab is exploding. Her favorite word now is, “Bite!” As in “I want one!”
Sep5: Cute pics two years ago, in the apartment we just left. Lots of good memories. Here’s to more memories in the new place!
Sep5: My world is rocked. I thought “Who Wants to Live Forever” was a heartbreakingly beautiful ballad about the AIDS crisis by Freddie Mercury that got co-opted by the show/movie Highlander.
Turns out it was written by Brian May, inspired by and for the movie Highlander.
Sep5: Ayla has finally gotten to the point where not every meal is a complete mess-splosion apocalypse.
Just in time for us to finally have hard floors. Oh well!
Sep6: We found a water bottle with straw that we liked so much for Ali, we got one for Ayla, too, for school. Unfortunately, her little 18-month-old hands couldn’t push the button to open it or push hard enough to close it.
So we kept her school sippy cup and just gave her the straw cup, already open, at home.
She worked for hours with single-minded focus, and by the end of it, she could open it with two thumbs and close it with both hands.
That’s how she is. She will focus on a skill for hours until she nails it. No prompting by us required.
ETA: It’s more accurate to say she kept coming back to it hour after hour, not that she literally sat there for hours with just the cup. But she can definitely spend a lot of minutes with one thing like that! And then keep coming back until she figures it out.
Sep7: “Say hello to my little friend.”
Sep8: We finally have a functional enough kitchen that I could cook a real dinner last night (ginger/garlic/soy marinated salmon, mashed potatoes with feta, and spinach fritters — Ali just ate feta cheese), though we never found the pot lid or the potato masher.
We have beds assembled and everyone moved into their correct rooms (instead of all camping out in the master bedroom) and even some curtains on the windows. Ayla is out of her SlumberPod tent and in the open air of her new room and doing great.
Just about six more bins to go and the bins are empty at last, but everything is still in weird provisional places. It’s like 3D chess trying to figure out what goes where. A highly iterative process.
We have a (mechanical) lawnmower, weed eater, and leaf blower, and we’re figuring out the sprinkler system.
About 3 more weeks until our dryer gets here. Daily washing and rack drying until then (and plenty of crunchy clothes and handkerchiefs).
Such a process, but it’s going!
Sep9: I’ve been crazy busy / productive and also sick all week. Going to sleep early but still feeling exhausted all day.
I gave myself an hour to read a book before picking Ali up today after rushing around the house all day in an ADHD frenzy trying to get things cleaned, arranged, etc. I can’t get one thing done without running across 3 other things that need to get done first. Repeat ad nauseam.
Exactly when I was going to take a refreshing shower and finally relax for a rare, sweet hour, Ahmed got a call (after I didn’t hear my phone).
Ali’s school is so full of kids who are sick (including some confirmed COVID cases), he was sent home with a 100.1 fever (not even technically a fever) and a cough (same cough from the cold he had last week) and had to get another COVID test. It was negative, but he HATES them. It gets worse every time he gets the damn swab up his nose. This time he was hysterical for more than 15 minutes, trying to hit and head-butt me and crying and yelling while we waited for the results.
I am so sick of this.
The school asked me to take both of my kids out tomorrow anyway because they’re so skittish. I don’t blame them. But damn. So much for my plans tomorrow to either really take a run at the house and get a ton more stuff done, or catch up on sleep, or God forbid actually relax and do something I enjoy for a little while. Stay off my feet and let the strained muscle in my lower leg (from the move) finally heal. Nope.
I guess we’ll go to the Aquarium until nap time. Not the worst place to limp around.
Sep10: I can’t believe I did that. We hadn’t watched the movie Tangled in about a year. Ali was 2.5 last time he watched it, and of course he didn’t really get it then. He’s starting to get it now.
At the end, when [SPOILER ALERT] Eugene cuts the hair and Gothel turns old and then falls out of the tower, I said without thinking, “Welp, she’s dead.”
Ali said, aghast, “She’s died? Why is she died?”
He doesn’t understand that she’s “the bad guy” and she “deserved it,” because if she didn’t die, Rapunzel would be enslaved forever. (Yeesh.) She was just a woman he followed through the movie, singing songs and stuff. Something horrible happened to her. He was horrified.
When Rapunzel started crying about Eugene dying, Ali lost it completely. He wailed, “Turn it off!” We thought if he watched Eugene come back to life, he’d feel better again. But the damage was already done.
Bless his sweet heart.
Sep11: That time this bench kept trying to eat my son…
Sep11: We had been together about two years at this point. Not quite married yet. (We still have those hampers.)
Sep12: I think the play room came together nicely. Next project: Books books books!
Sep12: Two years ago today, we came out as a soon-to-be family of 4. Poor baby Ali. Had no idea what was about to hit him.
But now he wants to hug and kiss her every night before bed (probably as a bed time stalling tactic, but I’ll take it).
Sep13: Ali loved My Neighbor Totoro. He calls it The Big Teddy Bear Movie. He cheered at the growing tree part. Thanks, Tim!
Sep13: Tonight Ali was sad at bed time because he missed his grandparents and missed his old school and missed his old house. I empathized that missing people is hard and change is hard.
He said, “Yeah. But you can’t move backwards. You can only move forwards.”
Sep14: Getting back on the wagon after about 3 years of mostly convenience foods. It’s actually pretty easy to be vegan and grain-free for the first two meals of the day to pack in other stuff — smoothie with berries, soy milk, spinach, and pea protein powder for breakfast, lentil soup and salad with balsamic and olive oil for lunch. (I’m leaving dinner alone for now, since I don’t want to eat separate from everyone else.)
And yesterday I did 30 minutes of yin yoga, today 10 minutes of cardio. (Starting slow, don’t need injuries.)
Fall soccer starts on Friday. Always motivating.
Sep14: I tried to get Ali to watch Ponyo, but he just wanted to watch Totoro again (and repeat all the things he and I said the first time we watched it).
When the girls find a post that’s a bit rotted and about to fall down, he said, “Their house is a little bit broken!” Just like last time.
I said, “Yep.”
He said, “Just like our house was a little bit broken.”
Eh, true. A door knob fell off. Some wood needs replacing. I had to tighten the screws on the hand rail of the stairs. Some light bulbs have burned out. Etc.
I said, “Yep.”
He said happily, “EVERYTHING’s a little bit broken!”
He’s on a philosophical streak, I tell ya.
Sep14: Ali and Ayla went to their first dance class today. Ayla technically wasn’t old enough (it’s supposed to be 3 and up), but the instructor encouraged us to try a class and see.
She was just as good as can be, following directions almost perfectly, waiting her turn, etc. She was better than some of the 3-year-olds. Including Ali. When the instructor asked Ali what his name was, he stared at her in stony silence.
Ayla pointed at him and piped up, “Ali!” (It was super cute. She just learned to say his name.)
He spent several minutes with his back turned to the whole thing. Then he sat on my lap and watched. Then when some plush turtle toys came out, he asked if he could get one just to play with while the others danced with them, and the instructor said sure. So he did.
Then when the ribbon wands came out, he did the same and played with one, mostly swishing me in the face with it. Toward the end he watched with more interest.
The instruction was way too advanced for the age and no one really did much of anything she modeled. It was too fast, for one thing, and she also never explained how to point the toes or plie or anything. She just did quick dances and expected them to dance along. Maybe they’ll pick it up in a matter of weeks? Ayla kind of bopped along the whole time and actually did try to point her toes once, but everything went by too fast.
Afterwards the instructor asked if Ali would dance with the class next time, and he said cheerfully, “Yeah!” He said it in the car, too when I asked the question again.
So we’ll see. He sure likes to get the full picture of something before he’ll dive in. I think that will serve him well once he’s a teenager!
Sep15: Ayla right now loves pointing at Ali and saying, “Ali! Ali. Ali!”
Then she may point to herself and say, “Ali?”
I said just now, “You’re Ayla?”
She pointed at her eye. “Eye… la?”
Yep, you got it.
Meanwhile, Ali has been experimenting with word sounds. He’ll say, “Hey! Shoe wooks wike bwue.” (Shoe looks like blue.)
Or, “Hey! Car looks like carpet!”
Also, for the record, one of Ayla’s first words has been “mawmower” (lawnmower).
Sep16: Ali’s teacher today was kind enough to speak with me while Ali was in a kiddie drama class and let me know he was doing great and making friends, and he was one she could count on to ask for help when the other kids were being wild.
I get to see him sad in the morning as I drop him off, and tired and restraint-collapsed when I pick him up. So that was lovely to hear.
Sep17: Fall soccer season started and we won the second half of the game (after shaking the cobwebs off during the first half, lol). All in all, the math did not work in our favor, but it was fun, and I got to see a sunset and moonrise and hang out with Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn.
Sep18: Here’s the problem with learning an entirely new area of expertise, like cooking: You run into phrases like “turn the dough out” and have no idea what they’re talking about. So you google it, and it means “tip the thing over and dump the dough out.”
Why didn’t you just say that?
I’ve been learning to cook for years. Now that I have a stand mixer (and soon a food processor), new worlds are opening up, haha. Homemade quiche butter crust, here I come. No more frozen margarine crusts from Wally World.
Sep19: At Walmart, Ayla kept randomly shouting, “Bubble boo ixx… waayaanee.” (W, X, Y and Z)
Obsessed with the ABC song like her brother before her.
Sep21: If my kids were named after what I craved during my pregnancies, Ali would be Boba Tea and Ayla would be Sugar.
Sep21: The kids get stickers at the end of every dance class, and Ali kept saying, “I want the one with the germ. I want the germ one.”
The instructor had no idea what he was talking and let him pick.
It was this one.
Sure enough. It looks just like a coronavirus. (It’s a glowing heart.)
Meanwhile he kept talking last night about my “walking dad.”
It took me a while to realize he meant Bill — my step-dad
Both kids are still loving the dance class. Ali got plenty of twirling practice at Grandma’s place when the cuckoo clock went off. I reminded him of this, and he said, “Yeah! Then Grandma knocked it off the wall. Now it’s at the cuckoo clock store.”
Sep21: Haven’t posted a pic of Ayla in a while. Here ya go.
She’s “bow ba bow”ing along with Blue.
And she needs a hair cut! (So far she won’t tolerate top knots, head bands, or clips.)
Sep23: Fun day at the zoo with Grandpa! Ali got a plush rhino and Ayla picked out a red panda. We saw rhinos, giraffes, elephants, chimps, giant tortoises, flamingos, and more. And we rode a train and a carousel. I think a membership is in our future.
Sep25: Ayla’s mom holding the poles and a bucket.
Can someone digitize the photo of me feeding a dead squirrel to a bird dog?
Sep26: Our doorway. Waving good-bye to Grandma and Grandpa.
Sep28: So nice to have a backyard… and grandparents to share it with!
Sep28: Let the record show, one of Ayla’s first polysyllabic words / phrases is “Doe toe doe” (Totoro).
Right after “Don’ doe dah!” (don’t do that), “Doe ‘way!” (go away), and “Mawmower” (lawnmower).
Sep29: My helpful, sweet, curious, sensitive, beautiful, silly son.
Thanks for making me a mama.
Thanks for being a great big brother.
Thanks for being you
Sep30: Ali got up earlier than everyone else today, and when he greeted me, wide-eyed, at the bottom of the stairs, he said:
“I… I… I just ate… one baniwa wiper… two baniwa wipers… three baniwa wipers… four baniwa wipers… five baniwa wipers. Just five. Wet me show you. I need to show you there are some left.”
I don’t know if he ate just 5 vanilla wafers. But it was an adorable confession.
Sep30: Suddenly Ali can spell his name. I guess he learned it at school. (We don’t push these things, just play around with things, including numbers and letters, at home.) Grandpa held up a wooden A, and Ali said, “A L I!”
I asked Grandma and Grandpa and Ahmed if they had taught him, and they all said no.
Then Ali got a mischievous look on his face and said, “A L I… P P I!”
Anyone who’s watched Blippi knows why he added those last three letters
(Blippi always emphatically spells his name at the end of his Youtube videos so parents can look him up and subscribe.)
Oct1: Fearless Ayla (with her shiner from falling on our rock patio) ran right in the middle of the animals.
Meanwhile, Ali enjoyed the animals from Grandma’s arms!
Oct1: Last weeks with the lello vacuum at Grandma’s little Tulsa house
Mom wrote: The difference in little boy Ali, who made me vacuum every day, and big boy Ali? THE KID CAN VACUUM!
Oct1: Just a girl, her mama, and her Tiger Pig.
Oct1: I figured out tonight that I can order Ali around — and he’ll obey, happily — if I use a silly grumpy Wookiee voice. (He doesn’t know what a Wookiee is. Star Wars would make him cry right now. He doesn’t like fighting. I don’t actually sound like a Wookiee. More like Cookie Monster.)
Then after a while he asked why I was so angry and asked if I needed a hug.
Wookiee heart melted.
Oct1: Our dryer will finally come in 8 more days. Since the wait was so long, they upgraded us to a dryer that can do steaming, or something. Probably wasted on us, but I’ll take it.
Ready for laundry to not be twice the work! It’ll be so exciting to be able to wash my kids’ nap rolls any time I want and not have to wait overnight for them to dry. It’ll be nice to be able to do bigger (and fewer) loads because I won’t have to worry about having enough room on the drying racks.
No more stiff clothes and towels or worrying about mildew.
I wish I could live without a dryer. I much prefer life with it.
Oct2: First big bunch of visitors to the new house. We have patio furniture. Places to sit. Iced tea and cider. Brown butter apple pie with streusel today (Ali’s idea). Come on by!
Oct3: We were watching a cartoon with nursery songs.
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily…
Ali: “WIPES HIS BUTT?”
Oct3: That feeling when you *know* there’s some missing chili, and you finally find it down the back of your daughter’s shirt.
Oct4: Ali wants to be a strawberry ghost for Halloween. Apparently, it is strawberry flavored. I don’t have any sheets I want to sacrifice. No pink sheets at all. Any ideas?
Googling “strawberry ghost costume” produced no useful results.
Oct4: First parent-teacher conferences with the kids. In short: No notes.
Ayla is “so bright” (if a little serious and suspicious at times) and you can see the gears turning in her head when she’s trying to figure something out. Super chill. Very attuned and attentive. Not yet super empathetic (Ali at this age was more sensitive to others), but good at holding boundaries (taking back toys and saying, “Mine!”). Loves going to the window when she hears sirens. Loves singing, dancing, and imitating what the teachers are doing. Understands and follows directions well.
Ali’s teachers said, “I’ll gladly take a classroom full of Alis.” When he’s class leader, he gets excited to go to the window and check the weather. Follows directions, attentive and engaged, sweet and has friends. Rock star with scissors. (They gave him paper to cut up to show his skills, and he had it in shreds before they turned back around. They basically had to gather some “confetti” and staple it to the evaluation paper to show me.) They said he seems very happy there.
(The only shocking thing is that I asked how much he talked about lawnmowers and vacuum cleaners, and they looked at each other like they had no idea what I was talking about.)
I am a very, very lucky mom.
P.S. The kids got flu shots today. I was honest with Ali about where we were going, and he fought me on the way to the car. But we talked in the car about what it feels like, what it does, how he’d get a Dum Dum and ice cream afterwards, etc, and he didn’t fight anymore. He was amazing.
Ayla recently had her 18 month check-up, and she was wise to the gig pretty fast. “No no no no no!” wagging her finger and shaking her head. Poor baby.
But once she got her watermelon Dum Dum, all was right in the world.
Oct5: Bless her little heart. Ayla was kicked out of her dance class, not because of anything she did (she was doing amazing), but because it was technically 3 and up, and some of the 3-year-olds were a little rough and rowdy, and they worried she wouldn’t be 100% safe, being so little.
Today I happened to pick Ayla up first and bring her into the huge room where Ali’s class spends the last of the day and the Tippi Toes dance class happens in the back.
Ayla started squirming and saying, “Toes toes toes!” I wasn’t sure what she was getting at, so I put her down. She marched straight over to the dance class, and the instructor said, “Oh, do you want a hug?”
Both our hearts fell.
“Or are you going to break my heart by sitting in your old spot?”
Ayla broke our hearts by sitting down on her old spot, as if to say, “It’s been a while, but I’m finally back. All right, it’s dance time! Let’s go, guys! Yay!”
Having to pick her up and carry her out of there, crying and protesting in disbelief, was so, so sad.
But it’s wonderful to know how much she loved it! Hopefully she can start next year
It’s not your fault, little girl. They want you and you did so good. You just need to keep growing a little more.
Oct6: I made duck tonight with a sauteed grape pan sauce, thinking Ali would just eat bread like usual. To my surprise, he tried it, and to my greater surprise, he loved it! He said, “It’s kinda like mushrooms.” (As far as I know, he doesn’t like mushrooms. But I guess “kinda like mushrooms” is fine.) He put away half the duck I had prepared.
Ayla, uncharacteristically refused to even try anything and just ate bread and cheese.
(I also made a roasted delicata squash and brussel sprouts salad with slivered almonds and parmesan cheese. Neither kid touched it, although Ali did valiantly try it. Oh well. More for us.)
Oct6: I caught Ayla today using a stethoscope to listen to her stuffed elephant’s heart. She looked up at me and said, “Dottor!” (Doctor)
Ali’s Halloween costume came in the mail, and it came with a tiny cloth pumpkin bucket. Ali asked me to put some candy in it, but I didn’t have any. I said, “On October 31, you’re going to need a much bigger bucket than that. You’re going to get so much candy it’s going to blow your mind.”
His Baba put a breakfast bar in the bucket, and Ali said a little later, “I want to eat this bar.”
Ahmed said, “Eat it.”
Ali said, rolling his eyes, “I can’t eat the package.”
I’m sure he meant to say, “Baba, can you please open the package for me?” Haha, three-year-olds.
Oct6: Oh what a joy to sit on our back porch sipping tea while the kiddos play.
Ayla has her water table, Ali has his leaf blower.
Oct7: Nothing is funnier than when Ayla poops in the bath and then shrieks and desperately tries to get away from it, as if a dread sea monster has suddenly appeared.
Oct7: Last small load of crispy, wrinkled clothes with sad sagging collars before our dryer finally arrives on Saturday.
It’s going to be amazing getting a large load done in 3 hours instead of small loads done in 12 (most of it drying time). It’ll cut the job by more than half.
And don’t tell anyone, but I haven’t done sheets in weeks because I have nowhere to hang them to dry.
Oct8: Happy ❤
Oct8: If there were any justice in the world, I’d be going to bed right now and sleep ’til morning. Can’t believe I have 90 minutes of soccer to play
ETA: It was a good game. The score was uneven, much like last game, but the actual team mismatch wasn’t so crazy. It could have gone either way if our team had been a little less under-manned (and tired/lazy) and had a little more luck.
Whatever. It’s a “rebuilding year.” Just glad the game was fun this time
Oct8: Friends are starting to go into menopause, and I feel like we need some kind of cincuenta-añera to mark it, instead of just kind of mostly ignoring it. With crazy Met Gala outfits or something.
I’m not there yet, but I’m a little jealous, to be honest, since I’m done having kids and would like to be done worrying about it. Excited for this next phase of life!
I’m grateful I got to be young when I was young. I’m grateful I get to be middle-aged now, with so much more perspective, so much more selective about what I care about. (Worried about / preoccupied by so many fewer small or ultimately unimportant things.)
I’ll be grateful for every year I get.
Oct9: Any piano players on my list?
Do you ever learn the first half of a Sonata and then not want to put in equal effort to learn the second half since so much of it is just recapitulating the first half (which was better than the second half), and the effort doesn’t seem worth it?
Like, after a while sometimes it feels like the composer is just filling time, you know? Like he was paid by the note or by the minute or something. Even if the first part of it was totally banging.
Anyway. I have learned several half-sonatas.
Can’t wait to get a piano for the new house! Maybe I’ll learn some second halves eventually. But I’ll probably just pick another one and learn the first half again.
Oct9: Tonight Ahmed said to Ali, “You see that big star next to the moon?”
Ali said, “Well, it’s not a star. It’s a pwanet, actually.”
(Ahmed knew that. But he didn’t know Ali knew it.)
Happy half-birthday, baby boy. 3.5 today. Magical boy, magical age.
It’s been almost one year since we first put him in “school” 2 days a week. I’m so glad he has thrived with his friends and play!
Oct10: Ali thinks the older sister on Totoro is the older brother, and he calls the little sister Ayla.
Oct15: Ayla has some serious Glen Campbell hair going on and won’t let me put ties, bands, or clips in it, and Ahmed won’t let me cut it. Oh well. C’est la vie, my shaggy mulletted child!
Oct15: My parents are moving out of their apartment (next to our former apartment) tomorrow. So many fun memories made there when we didn’t have nearly enough space for everyone at our place.
The new house is bigger than both apartments combined. We had good times. Looking forward to many more!
Mom wrote: This is the entrance to our second floor apartment. A slight turn to the left and the pathway over to Pamela and Ahmed’s third floor apartment. All of this will be history tomorrow. Ali says he will vacuum the whole place before we leave.