Sep1: Ayla’s Twilight Sparkle bandage. Unfortunate incident with the hinge end of a bathroom door
The finger was flattened like taffy but somehow not broken. It re-inflated by the time we got to the doctor. I didn’t know kids were literally made of rubber.
Sep1: Ali was watching a Youtube video, and at the end the guy said, “Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t yet, and give us a thumbs up.”
Ali cheerfully and dutifully gave a literal thumbs up to the video with his actual hand.
Sep3: The sum total of my pumpkin harvest this year. I finally euthanized my last vine (and murdered 4 last big fat squash vine borer larvae). I killed off my squash a while ago. Just got tired of messing with it.
Sep3: Ayla this evening is a roaring, stomping unicorn who is going to eat someone.
Sep4: Ali found a new cousin! (My cousin’s daughter Alex.)
Sep4: Sweet smiles. Grandma’s only granddaughter (out of 8 grandkids)
Sep5: Fun trip to Grandma’s house with The Cheesemaster and Princess Goofball
Guess who got a new rainbow unicorn? (My old toy.)
Sep5: I found a song both kids like me to sing before bed: Colors of the Wind.
Ali once asked me if all parents sing the same song to their kids. I said, “No, people sing all kinds of songs. Some people don’t sing a song to their kids before bed at all.”
He said, surprised, “Well, they’re doing it wrong.”
Sep7: That feeling when you have all kinds of resolutions and things to do and think about now that the kids are finally back in school, and your HVAC unit goes out, it’s all hands on deck, and you’re literally sweating a multi-thousand-dollar problem that needs to be fixed like NOW
I wish I knew diddly squat about this subject (3 different companies have given 3 wildly different answers about various things), and I wish I had more time to learn.
At least this didn’t happen during the 103 degree heat wave!
Sep7: Ever since Ayla’s car seat turned front-facing, she has started commentating on the traffic lights.
“Uh oh, wed wight.”
“Iss geen, Mama! Go! Fasser!”
This leads to much consternation when I try to turn right on red, or I can’t turn left on green (not a green arrow) because it’s not safe. Or she sees the red light over the next lane while I have a green arrow. Poor kiddos learning all these arbitrary rules!
She has started trying to learn the proper L sound, but she only uses it when she really thinks about it, and she sticks her tongue all the way out to make the sound. She sounds kind of drunk when she does it.
She also calls her injured finger “my Broken Arrow”
Sep9: Ayla’s version of “because” is currently “Puhkuzz,” emphasis on first syllable. It’s vewy cute.
Sep9: We’ll be the proud owners of a new Trane HVAC system on Monday. Just gotta sweat a bit through Saturday (high of 90). Sunday and Monday have highs of only about 80. Whew!
Gonna go get my COVID booster and flu shot tonight, now that all that fun is behind us. #adulting2022
Sep10: We are earth, we are stars.
“You are comprised of 84 minerals, 23 Elements, and 8 gallons of water spread across 38 trillion cells.
You have been built up from nothing by the spare parts of the Earth you have consumed, according to a set of instructions hidden in a double helix and small enough to be carried by a sperm. You are recycled butterflies, plants, rocks, streams, firewood, wolf fur, and shark teeth, broken down to their smallest parts and rebuilt into our planet’s most complex living thing.
You are not living on Earth. You are Earth.”
~ Aubrey Marcus
Sep11: Pilot Ali ready to fly.
He asked me where I wanted to fly. I said, “Namibia.”
He said, “That’s really far away. This isn’t a RV plane.”
He asked for my phone number in case he needed to call me while we were in the air.
I started to give him my 10-digit real number.
He stopped me and said, “You need to get a different number. I can’t remember all that.”
“Oh, uh, OK. My number is 512.”
Sep11: Ali: “Where were you married?”
Ali: “Were Grandma and Grandpa born then?”
Me: “Yes. They were there.”
Ali: “And you just thought, Hmm, this will be a good Grandma and Grandpa for Ali?”
Sep11: LASIK update: It’s been almost 6 months since I got LASIK.
So far it’s been a great success. My eyes are a bit dry sometimes, but not enough for me to ever remember to put drops in them. There’s still a slight halo around the moon, but I don’t know if it’s my eyes or just Oklahoma haze. (The moon is much clearer in the Middle East.) Lights at night seem a little fuzzier than before maybe? But not distressingly so, and since I don’t remember exactly how it was before, it’s hard to say much about it.
Sometimes the moisture in my eyes is just right and things have an almost jewel-like clarity. (It’s always very clear, but this is like super HD.) Hopefully as the months go on and healing continues, the jewel-like times will be more frequent as the moisture balances out.
Sep11: Today I accidentally broke Ali’s little MagnaTile house when I was moving things to vacuum. He started crying, and Ayla came to him and patted his back and said, “Iss OK, Ali.”
Ali wasn’t really having it — he wasn’t ready to be consoled — but it was super sweet.
Later Ayla fell and scraped her shin. Ali went over to her, patted her back, and said, “It’s OK, Ayla.”
❤ ❤ ❤
Sep12: Solemn little Ayla. Who knew what a goofball dinosaur unicorn she would be?
And oh yeah, it’s 12 years since Ahmed and I met on a soccer pitch in NYC
Sep12: When Ayla talks about volcanoes (boltanos), she pronounces “Lava” as “Waba.” And it’s also the cutest thing ever. (She does a lot of cutest things ever. IMHO.)
She has a best friend named Malachi who has as big a personality as she does (and huge blond curls), and I catch them sitting really close together and patting each other or holding hands at the end of the day.
The other day, after disengaging from Malachi, she patted other kids as she left, like she was giving them a little affectionate good-bye.
Today she was looking away when I came in, and Malachi nudged her and said, “Your mama’s here.” It was so cute. These little tiny kids that are so big!
Sep12: Whoah. We are no longer Sauna Force One. The new HVAC cooled us down so fast it took our breath away, and Ahmed’s office and the master bedroom are no longer the warmest rooms in the house. It actually cools the house evenly!
Sep13: Lots of glory in our mornings
Sep13: Morning glory with flowers in the background
Sep14: There’s a little kid joke where you make a cylinder with one hand and cover it with the other and tell someone:
“Open the lid…
Put your finger in [the middle of the cylinder]…
Wiggle it around…
Take it out…
Close the lid…
THANK YOU FOR CLEANING MY TOILET BOWL!”
Ali put his hands in the proper position and walked up to Ahmed and said, “Open the toilet… I mean, open the lid!” And he went on delightedly as if nothing went amiss
And now Ayla loves putting her hands together flat and coming up to you with the most mischievous grin and saying:
“Open my wid… Wiggle awound… TANK YOU FOR KEENING MY TOILET!”
Sep14: Ali named a bunch of people he loved, all family, and said he didn’t know anyone else he loved.
I said, “You know, love never runs out. You can love everyone in the whole world if you want to.”
He said matter-of-factly, “I know. It’s always there. Every time I sleep, I just get more and more and more love.”
Sep16: Purple tower = Ayla’s latest attempt at “paper towel”
She still keeps asking us to “Make me Siwight Farkle” [Twilight Sparkle], which means putting a bandage on her somewhere and drawing blue and pink and purple stripes and a cutie mark on it.
Sep16: Ali to our TV remote: “Search for Minecraft blimps on fire on Youtube.”
It’s just an example. He’s constantly asking for the impossible (or highly, highly improbable).
This boy’s tastes are so specific, he’s looking at a lifetime of either disappointment or prolific creativity
Sep16: I’ve always wanted a little tea and meditation corner
Sep17: Siblings from other mothers
Sep17: We’re playing zoo. Baby turtle wanted me to take a pic and send it to his grandma in Stigler.
Sep18: You have to appreciate those rare moments when kids are easy to please (for a few minutes). And I admit a blush of pride when she stopped after she had 10 stickers on the paper and correctly counted them.
Ali’s project (below) didn’t keep him busy quite as long…
Sep18: I was teaching Ali a little about clocks today as I changed the batteries. He pointed to each number and counted up to 12.
He said, “You know what my favorite number is?”
“Ten. You know why?”
“Because when you have ten dollars, you have a lot of dollars. It can buy, like ten sixteen things. Ten sixteen lawnmowers. Ten sixteen trailers. Ten sixteen of anything.”
Ali, at the starting line of a bike race in the house: “On your market set, go!”
Sep18: Cozy enough?
Sep18: Ali in the car just now: “Christmas is when you get candy canes, Halloween is when you get siiiiick.”
(Ali did not get sick on Halloween last year, even though I told him that this one day a year, he was allowed to keep eating candy until he got sick if he wanted. I did that a couple times as a kid, and I learned! But Ali stopped before that point, on his own. We’ll see how it goes this year.)
He also decided to give the cats full names. So now our older cat is Mateo Trees Fur and our younger cat is Isabela Sister Family.
Sep21: Ayla turned to Ali while they were having snacks at the table after school yesterday and said, “I miss[ed] you today, Ali.”
It was super sweet. He didn’t say it back. Which is fine. He loves school, and I love that.
(She also misses him at Tippi Toes class. Ali begged off for a while but said he misses it now and wants to start again after Christmas. For now, Ayla always begs me to join the class and dance with her.)
By coincidence, I park in the same spot in the neighborhood around the same time as Ali’s best friend’s dad, so we always bid each other good morning, or just share a smile of solidarity. They are a Lebanese family, and it’s so nice to hear Shami Arabic in the morning. (Shami = “from the Levant” — Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon.) Especially cute affectionate Shami Arabic from parent to child. All of Ali’s friends seem to be girls.
Meanwhile we always catch Ayla being affectionate with her best friend Malachi when we pick her up. Playing with his arm or hair or whatever. It’s so wonderful to see how happy and confident these kids are. Who knows what the next generation will bring to the world?
Sep21: Life is beautiful
Sep23: It’s fascinating to me the extent to which we are basically cavemen of the psyche. We don’t even have the equivalent of a heliocentric model of the solar system. Everything orbits around the wrong place — shoring up and protecting the ego (our small and insecure selves).
Sep27: Ali: “Righty tighty, lefty loosey.”
Ayla: “I’m not Lucy!”
(He was pointing right and left and happened to be pointing at Ayla when he said “loosey.”)
Sep28: Spider fairy
Sep28: Fun Night and fish day
Sep28: Baby got a haircut, a pumpkin, and a sucker
Sep29: You cannot look around at the Gathering Place without seeing a monarch butterfly!
Sep29: I didn’t get a picture (my phone died), but we stumbled upon another monarch butterfly tagger at the Gathering Place, and she caught one and showed us how she tagged it and then placed it on Ayla’s hand. It flew away immediately, and Ayla laughed and wanted to do it again. We probably saw 100 monarchs in total.
The kids also found a dead painted lady butterfly, which has peacock-like markings on the underside of its wings.
Sep29: Ayla calls cantaloupe “cantawoop,” and I think we should all follow her lead.
Ali calls it Scooper Diving. He wants to do it in the pool. Now.
Ayla calls the elevator an “excavator.” She often feels a need to remind us, “I’m growing up.”
We know, Baby. We know.
Sep30: Parenthood is finding boogers on your shoulder and thinking, “Well, at least they’re out of my kid’s nose and in a place I’m not likely to touch before I put it in the laundry at the end of the day.”
Didn’t even occur to me to change shirts.
Sep30: Ali: “When is everyone gonna die and start over again?”
Me: “What? Who?”
Ali: “The world. Do people just die and then grow up again?”
Me: “I don’t know. Maybe? Some people think so. It’s called reincarnation.”
Ali: “I just think it happens over and over again.”
Oct1: Ali’s latest ask for a toy/gift: A grass baler that you can push behind a lawnmower that will gather the grass and poop out tiny grass bales.
These kids want the world, man. They want things no one has even thought to want before
Oct1: I took Ali along with me to get myself a haircut. He brought his Lego street sweeper to play with. Spent the whole time corralling hair with it.
He’s covered in hair and so is his toy. Oh well! Gotta keep ’em occupied somehow
Oct3: Ali: I want to play Christmas.
Ahmed: How do you play Christmas?
Ali: Just like real Christmas!
Oct3: This floor was perfectly clear three hours ago. I was gonna sweep when I had a minute #Sisyphus
Oct3: Ali made a mess or broke something, I don’t remember the exact scenario. I said, “Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal.”
He said with a mix of relief and confidence, “Yeah. It’s a little deal.”
Now Ayla has started saying it, too, when I say something is not a big deal
Oct4: Ali’s wee marigold sprouts from Bethany school turned into a whole flower bush entwined with my cherry tomatoes. (The other marigolds died long ago.)
(You can see the little wooden sign that says “Ali’s Marigold” in the center of the last photo)
Oct4: Ali’s favorite night time song these days:
Soft kitty, warm kitty,
little ball of fur.
Happy kitty, sleepy kitty,
purr purr purr!
He makes a loose lip horse sound when I say “Purr purr purr.” I have to quickly and discreetly move out of the splash zone.
Oct5: Ayla calls jack-o-lanterns “scary pumpkins”
Oct5: End of an era. Disaster of an old stumpy crepe cut down. Should grow back better than ever. But we also lost most of the morning glories climbing around in it. So it goes.
Oct5: “I just saw a RV boat with tons and tons and tons of apartments!”
~ Ali, on catching sight of a cruise ship on TV
Oct5: Parent teacher conferences were tonight, and my proudest moment was when the teacher said they put the kid who was having the hardest time at Ali’s table (“because Ali is so sweet”), hoping Ali would be kind to him, and they’ve become fast friends
He’s quite advanced in math. Average at letters. They asked if we talk to him or read to him a lot, because “He talks like a much older kid.”
That’s just Ali. Can’t take much credit. Youtube probably taught him as much as anything
Oct6: Little Miss Sassy with her Holly Golightly bangs having breakfast with Grandma.
Oct7: Ali reached all the way over his Baba to grab a silverware bundle at a Mexican restaurant tonight.
Ahmed said, “You know, instead of reaching over someone like that, you can just say, ‘Baba, can you please give me some silverware?'”
Ali said, “OK,” and reached all the way over his Baba to put the silverware back, then sat back down. “Baba, can you please give me some silverware?” he asked.
His Baba looked at me and we shared a smile. Then Ali got up again and reached over his Baba a third time to get the other two silverware bundles and lined them up in front of himself.
“Now you ask for them,” he said cheerfully.
Oct7: I love this little photo of Ayla kicking a ball around at preschool. And painting, playing, and Play-Doh
Oct8: Ayla had a 2.5-year-old check up on October 3, at 2 years 8 months. It was delayed for some reason I don’t remember.
She’s 37 inches tall (68th percentile), 29.8 pounds (56th percentile), with a head circumference of 49.7cm (82nd percentile). She was cooperative and talkative. Hated the flu shot, but I was honest that it was coming, and it would hurt a bit for a while, and I let her cry and sulk afterwards. It was only when we got to the car that she realized we’d forgotten to get her well-earned Dum Dum. She found her favorite flavor, bubble gum, and settled down in her car seat like a coal miner after a hard day’s work.
Oct9: Ayla said today, “I go to Tippi Toes. Will I go to Tippi Toes again after… Canifoniwa?”
Not a bad approximation of California for a two-year-old. It was from memory, too.
Oct10: When we got to the LA airport, Ali said matter-of-factly, but maybe a little sadly, “I don’t have any of my toys or videos here.”
I said, “Well, they have Youtube in California.”
“Hm,” he said. “Well, I won’t have any of my Youtube channels.”
“Buddy, Youtube was made in California.”
Oct10: It was supposed to be a lazy day to recover from a red-eye with two little kids, but we walked a mile along the beach to the Santa Monica Pier, Ali rode his first roller coaster, we drove through Topanga State Park and stopped at a gorgeous overlook, did some grocery and diaper shopping, and enjoyed a lovely sunset drive to our hotel in Thousand Oaks. (The kids alternately enjoyed themselves, tantrummed, and napped. As totally expected.)
Now we sleeeeeeeep.
Oct10: We already blew through LA, but I’m in search of good dim sum along the California coast. Recommendations welcome!
Oct10: Beach walk to Santa Monica Pier. Followed by an unglamorous but lovely dinner with improvised utensils.
Oct11: In Solvang, a little Danish-village-inspired tourist trap. Dang the food is pricy. But it’s cute.
Tomorrow: Pismo Beach and possibly San Luis Obispo. Recommendations welcome, as always!
Oct12: Visited Ventura and Nojuqui waterfall yesterday. So many chittering hummingbirds up by Serra Cross overlook. Ayla insisted on doing yoga next to a drop-off. (Only a few feet, but we still had to watch her like a hawk.) The waterfall was more like a trickle but still beautiful up in the woods.
The kids are being sleep terrorists, and Ali is super oppositional with all the changes and sleep deprivation. We are managing to have a pretty good time anyway.
The kids love watching videos and playing around in the hotel rooms as much as anything, and egging each other on in the car when they’re supposed to be napping.
It’s sweet how they’ve kind of ganged up against us, but also… yeah
Oct12: This is our view in Pismo Beach. Ali was just glad to find a patch of grass to mow
Oct13: Walking on Pismo Beach. Also, Ali found a tiny rubber fox at a boba tea place, and Ayla claimed it and has been playing with it non-stop ever since. They named it Runny because it likes to run and run and run. You may be able to see a rabbit in the background.
Oct14: Day 4, Thursday, San Luis Obispo Children’s museum and Morro Bay Beach. You never know what’s going to be a highlight. The beach was cold and windy, but an older couple gave the kids their last peanuts to feed to the world’s chunkiest squirrels, and it was a laugh riot. Then the kids found a miraculous box of beach toys behind a big rock. Treasure. They had so much fun and then put them back for the next kids.
Oct14: Ragged Point Thursday and Big Sur Friday. Our views have been foggy and decapitated but still pretty.
Oct15: Things have finally settled down a bit on this trip. The kids wake up around 7:30 and watch cartoons while we snooze and/or get ready. We have breakfast then head out and do some kind of morning thing — playground, hike, beach, children’s museum or attraction. We usually drive from one place to the next in the afternoon. The kids refuse to nap (or if one is tired, the other is bonkers) and are chronically underslept. We just have to understand they’re going to have moments of acting like sociopaths at some points during the day. (Eating in restaurants is super dicey. Sometimes videos are involved.)
Eat when we’re hungry — either a snack for lunch and then a bigger dinner, or a big afternoon dinner and maybe a snack before bed.
Some afternoon activity — a butterfly grove, a series of overlooks, a beach with corgi squirrels, walking around gorgeous hotel grounds, overlooks, and gardens at Ragged Point, watching hummingbirds feast on a flower bush.
Make it to the hotel later than expected (always), get the kids bathed, watch videos, play, and get to bed by around 8:30.
Wake up and do it all again.
The kids whine sometimes and say they just want to go home, or they just want to watch videos. All part of it. They’ll be talking about this trip for years.
Oct15: Ali ordered me to take this pic and send it to Grandma. Apparently he wants this sculpture for Christmas
Oct15: Monterey Bay Aquarium and Asilomar beach, day 6
(They were playing some kind of chasing game that always started with them squaring off with their hands on their hips. And giggling.)
Oct16: Day 7. Portola Redwoods. Little kids, big trees, banana slugs. Visiting a dear friend in El Granada now with gorgeous stairs and a beautiful view
Oct17: Ali and Ayla on vacation
Oct17: Day 8. Finally found a blue sky sunny day. Hit up the pumpkin patch and a lovely beach where a seal popped his head up every now and then. We also walked through a cypress grove
Oct18: Urgent care or just steri strip? Daredevil Ayla strikes again
Oct18: Day 9 was a humdinger. Started off saying good-bye to my dear friends Patricia and Ron, whom the kids bonded with so fast they barely looked at us the whole time we were there. Ayla fell in love with “Miss Tricia” as she called her, and Ali adored Ron (and his central vacuum system). Those kids wore my friends out, but a good time was had by all!
Then I girded my loins for a day on foot with two kids in the big city all on my own. I could have taken the car, but instead I took Ali on his first real passenger train ride — the Caltrain from South San Francisco to 4th St San Francisco. He loved all of it.
We took the light rail from there to the Exploratorium. But at the first light rail station, the kids started a chasing game the moment I looked at my phone to double check we were at the right place. They stayed close to the center (away from the tracks) and safe, and it was apparently a sneak-attack hug game. It took like one second for Ali to step behind a frosted glass divider thing and into a huge oozing puddle of barbecue sauce. WTF, right? It was like someone took the thickest BBQ sauce they could find, dumped it in a pile, and ran off with the bottle. I welcome theories as to how on earth this came about.
It took another half second for Ayla to scoot her little feet into the BBQ puddle and hug Ali. I frantically pulled them out and spent the rest of our public transit time trying not to let their feet touch their other feet, their legs, any chairs, or each other, with mixed success. (I had wipes, but there were no trash cans anywhere or any place to put used BBQ mess wipes in my backpack.) When we finally got to the Exploratorium, I spent about 25 minute cleaning up the kids and their socks and shoes, which had congealed BBQ sauce crammed into every crevice.
The museum was fun but not age-appropriate. The only way for Ayla to access any of the exhibits was for her to stand on the rickety wooden stools they had all over the place. After a while, at one exhibit, she reached too far, lost her footing, and smacked her mouth on the table as she went down. First aid medics were called, and they put on a steri strip that Ayla immediately drooled off. We went and got a snacky lunch, and everyone seemed to feel better, although Ayla’s lip opened up again every time she smiled.
Somehow the non-age-appropriate kid’s museum kept us entertained all day. And the gift shop had an Art-o-Mat, some of which feature art work by my mom! Not in this case, but I bought her a piece by another artist.
Ahmed picked us up a bit after 5 and we went to an Ethiopian restaurant at my request. The one I picked seemed to be a pizza joint when we arrived. And, well, it was. A pizza joint that also had Ethiopian food. And chicken nuggets and fries for the kids. And an NBA game on TV. It was perfect, actually. And excellent food.
We. Are. Worn. Plumb. Out.
Oct19: A couple of wins from this trip: the kids have really bonded, largely from ganging up on us. And today we tried to feed the kids at a pizza joint, and both said no thanks, they wanted sushi
Oct20: Day 10 — We rode the Caltrain from South SF to Palo Alto to visit some dear friends and got Boba tea and lunch on California Avenue along the way. (It’s the second time we’ve gotten boba tea while in California, and neither was as good as our Tulsa boba tea.) It was just me with the kids because Ahmed was working in his (super cool, Google-like) office again. Ayla started the day already over-tired. (We try to go to bed early every night, and we fail every night — the kids are just too excited and want to play and play in the hotel rooms.)
Ali took the first two portraits on the train (one of me, one of Ayla). My friends were savvy in the way of small kids and directed us to a local park and playground, where we caught up while the kids played and played. I forgot to take pics.
We then went back to my friends’ place to try to let Ayla nap while Ali played on his tablet, but Ayla stubbornly refused to play along and just got more and more alternately manic and zombie-like. Sigh.
Ali had been disappointed in how slow our local Caltrain was, so we caught an express Caltrain back up to SF to meet Ahmed (who had a fun work event until 6). Ali called the express train the “compressed train” and the local the “locomotive.” At the SF station, we watched the trains leave and the kids chased each other around until Ahmed could get there.
(Ali’s been asking insightful engineering questions lately, like how turning the wheels of an airplane makes it turn in the sky, and how bridges stay up. That’s fun.)
We tried to go to a Mediterranean restaurant for dinner but couldn’t find parking. Just went to the hotel and walked across the street to a pizza joint, but the kids weren’t interested. I said half-jokingly, “There’s sushi next door,” and the kids said, “Yeah, let’s get sushi.” So we dined on deep-fried California rolls, octopus balls, chicken gyoza, and Japanese-style chicken nuggets. The kids ate really well.
Then they wanted to play train games ad infinitum in the hotel. They have really bonded on this trip, banding together against us evil narcs who force them to leave fun places when they close and won’t let them destroy public property, run wild and free on train platforms and busy city streets, or shriek and yell and scream as much as they want on trains or in restaurants or hotels. How dare we. (Oh my god, give me a THOUSAND jobs before the job of constantly disappointing small sleep-deprived maniacs trying to run loose in these dangerous wonderlands.) And then we try to get them to SLEEP at night when a hotel room is RIGHT THERE begging to be played in all night long. What abject killjoys we are!
I am so relieved it’s the last day of just me with the kids during the day. (There were lots of meltdowns today. I’m usually OK with them, they aren’t emergencies, you use tried and true methods or, if necessary, improvise, and they pass. But all day long, sometimes in enclosed spaces, wore me down a bit. I had to deploy the ear plugs several times to help me regulate.) Should be downhill from here.
Oh, and Ali found a stuffed unicorn at the last hotel that looks like Rainbow Dash and suggested we get it for Ayla. So sweet we couldn’t refuse, and she hasn’t parted from it since. Ayla recently learned the word avenue and decided today to name her unicorn Avenue.
(Nap? No, Mama. Not today. Not ever.)
(A “short walk” with kids is never a short walk. Any insect or flowering bush could mean a ten-minute delay.)
(Post-bath stomp dance. Of course.)
(“I wanna see [the picture of] Ayla [that you just took].”)
Oct20: Day 11, San Francisco. Didn’t have a whole lot of time, but hit some highlights!
Oct23: Day 12-13. Friends, friends, friends! Friday morning we went to the Baylands Nature Reserve in the morning (it was a complete disaster — the kids were insanely wild) then met up for dim sum with two dear friends: Karen, my roommate at the Oklahoma School of Science and Math, and Amy, my roommate when I worked in China for a summer. They both went to MIT and had friends in common. Such a small world!
Then I met up with my Stanford roommate Liz and after catching up over a meal, we went to El Palo Alto Park, home of the original Tall (redwood) Tree that Palo Alto was named after. Liz played hide and seek with the kids, who were thrilled every time a Caltrain rolled by.
Next we had dinner with my friends at Magic, an intentional community near Stanford, including a neuroscientist who’s working on truly fascinating stuff. I told them it was fun to use my brain for something other than wiping yogurt off the floor.
Next morning was the informal reunion of my freshman dorm at the Coffee House. It was so awesome to see everyone. I don’t have pics on hand, but we got lots! Then I had a chance (finally) to wander the campus a bit, alone with my thoughts. I love walking around there.
Then we got Izzy’s bagels and headed toward Bakersfield. Long drive through a drought-stricken Central Valley. Fairly post-apocalyptic. The kids crashed.
Flying home today from LA. So excited to be home! But all in all a great trip. Not super easy by any means, but we made it through with good memories and without killing anyone!
(Notice the socks on her hands. She says she does it to “be a snake.”)
Oct23: Back in Tulsa. Pleasant flight. No children or unicorns lost
Oct23: Ayla still says “I wuz you” for “I love you.”
So if she says, “I was dat ‘pider,” it doesn’t necessarily mean she was a spider in a former life
Her totally random phrase that she says totally randomly these days is: “My birthday is going to be a cow.”
OK, kid. Um… OK.
Oct23: So, I think Ali wants to be a vacuum cleaner for Halloween. (It changes occasionally, but usually goes back to vacuum cleaner.) If you have any good DIY tips (or ideas) for that, please share!
Oct25: Someone wanted to try out being a butterfly unicorn pumpkin early
Oct25: OK. Turns out Ali wants to go as a REAL vacuum so he can suck candy up.
Man, this kid comes up with twenty impossible things before breakfast…
Oct25: Ali’s getting used to school again. The cats are getting used to us again. Meanwhile Ayla jumped right back in, “her Malachi” (of the giant blond curls and big personality) waiting at the door and reaching around the teacher and petting her hair as she greeted the teacher. They have the most adorable mutual affection.
Oct27: Children of the Corn. And pumpkins. And the dance. And my dead zinnias make pretty good Halloween decorations
Oct28: What is it with McDonald’s? What is their magic sauce? Some weeks my kids will refuse perfectly good food all week, then when we go to McDonald’s, they’ll eat like we’ve been starving them.
Oct28: When there was turbulence on the plane, Ayla would laugh and say, “This plane is silly!”
Ali was forever telling us on this trip, “Look at that plane! It’s liftoffing!”
Oct29: Shark shop vac in progress. (Say that five times fast.) Why couldn’t he just be a cat? Haha
Oct29: The principal of Ali’s school usually directs traffic at the crosswalk after school. He wasn’t there the other day, and Ali said, “Hey, where’s the prince?”
Oct29: Everything is magical
Oct30: Ali’s latest train contraption, staffed by two kitties and a red panda
Oct30: When my kids kept coming up to me and saying, “You are trash, Mama,” it took me a minute to realize they were playing a dumpster / garbage truck game.
Oct30: The kids had a great time making play doh and painting pumpkins with Tulsa Area Forest School
Oct31: “I has Siwight Sparkle hair”
Oct31: “I love it!”
Oct31: Halloween 2022. Ali was a trooper dragging that costume around for more than an hour and Ayla was a trooper dragging her two-year-old self around with barely a word. They were motivated, I guess!
ETA: Oh, by the way, Ali also drew a cat face on himself “so everyone can see that it’s a cat running the vacuum.”
Oct31: There was one house that gave out toys instead of candy in our neighborhood, and my two kids were VERY confused. They just kept hanging around waiting for the candy to appear. It simply did not register that they were trick-or-treating at this house on Halloween and not getting candy out of it
(I’m all for diverse Halloween treats. It was just fun watching my kids’ brains break the first time they encountered it.)
Oct31: Ali was so funny. At about half the houses, he said something like, “See if you can guess what my costume is.” Most got it immediately. Ali didn’t let others give up easily. It was amazing watching how easygoing and confident he was with all these strangers.
Ayla was more serious. She was on a mission. Cover the ground. Find the houses with lights on. Fill the bucket. Tirelessly, even as bed time approached, darkness fell, and little legs had been going for more than an hour.
But she wasn’t shy to gleefully shout, “I’m a unicorn!” at anyone who would listen.
One mom fail: I thought it would be a good idea to go to the scariest, most ostentatiously decorated house first when it was brightest out. Ali made it through the gauntlet of shaking spider bushes and jump scares. Ayla didn’t make it past a bloody skull jump scare. And she spent the rest of the night occasionally bringing up how “The first house was scary.”
Sorry, hon. I didn’t realize quite how scary it would be.
We technically didn’t limit their candy intake, but because it was past bath time by the time they got in, then quickly past bed time, they only got 5 or 6 pieces of candy each. Tomorrow will be “Eat ’til you’re sick if you want” day, I guess. (It’s how I learned how truly disgusting too much candy could make me feel.)
Nov1: Something about Palestine/Israel came on NPR, and Ali asked about it. I told him it was really complicated, but basically some people got kicked out of where they lived and then came and kicked someone else out from where they lived, and now they won’t let those people come back.
I said, “Like, imagine if someone came and stole your house and kicked you out. They’d probably think you were mad at them, so they probably wouldn’t invite you back in, right? They’d be too afraid that you’d do to them what they did to you.”
“I would just wait until the night and then throw them out.”
“Well, but imagine if they’ve been there for years and years, and they have kids and grandkids who live in the house. You’d think their kids and grandkids, plus the kids and grandkids of the people who were kicked out, could all share it. But the people there now don’t want to share it. They’re too scared. And a lot of them feel like if they do get kicked back out, they won’t have anywhere else to go.”
Ali said, “Huh. Well, let me tell you something. They should really go to those people [they kicked out] and say I’m sorry.”
I chuckled sadly. It’s really the least they can do. Alas.
Nov2: This little sprite right here
Nov7: Fist bump!
Nov7: Bless her heart. Ayla kept talking about “Ali’s cousins,” and I said, “Honey girl, they’re your cousins, too!”
I guess she just keeps hearing Ali talking about his cousins and didn’t realize she had the same claim…
Nov8: Tried to take a video of Ayla being a shark while swinging. Didn’t really work. Then Ali wanted me to record him swinging as well.
Nov10: All during the California road trip, Ayla had little figurines and plush toys to play with in her car seat, and she would make them talk, usually the child one saying “No!” to something, and the adult one saying, “Munna munna munna munna,” like the adults in the Peanut cartoons saying, “Wa wa wa wa wa.”
One of them frequently said, “Listen to me!” (I don’t know which one), and sometimes the adult one said, “No, I’m busy.”
It was funny and humbling.
Nov10: Ali asked some simple question, like why do tomato plants grow tomatoes while corn plants grow corn.
I started trying to explain DNA to him, and the more I tried to explain, the more I was like, “Whoah, holy hell, how have I forgotten the felt sense of how freaking unbelievable life is? All life, even a single cell is just… God damn. It can’t even really be possible, can it? It’s so unimaginably complex, so intricate, so colossal and so tiny at the same time. Yet here I am, thinking this thought, my hands doing the bidding of electrical signals from a brain magicked into being by chains of nucleotides (and cellular machinery billions of years in the making) that somehow know how to make a mind-blowing array of proteins and also know how to put the trillions of parts together to make a reasonably coherent whole, and then keep it in homeostasis for decades…”
So talking to a 4-year-old can be kind of like getting high, is what I’m saying.
Nov11: It’s incredible how much breathing space opens in the day when kids can finally:
- Ask for what they want instead of screaming until you guess
- Eat without making a huge mess every single meal, sometimes necessitating a wardrobe change or even a bath and wiping down half a dozen surfaces
- Put their own clothes on
- Get themselves in their car seats
- Buckle themselves in
- Get out of the car without you having to lift them out
- Find their own videos on Youtube instead of bugging me every 3 minutes to find a new one or skip an ad (and no, I don’t apologize for allowing Youtube to occupy my kids sometimes and give me a breather to do something fun like laundry)
Skills I’m looking forward to in the future:
- Eating healthy home-cooked food reliably
- Getting through the day without naps or (too many) meltdowns
- Both taking care of their own toileting needs
- Hiking more than a mile or so
- Sleepovers with friends
- Card games!
Nov11: Ali tonight:
“Hey, you know the animal called a chicken? They make the real chicken that we eat.”
“How do chickens make chicken?”
Ahmed tried to explain how chickens hatch out of eggs.
Ali said, “No, how do they make real chicken food? Chicken food for humans?”
He accepted my explanation that chicken meat is chicken muscle, and we have to kill chickens to eat them, like lions kill antelopes, with apparently equanimity. Then asked how they cut the meat off the bones. I told him I’d show him an example next time I got a rotisserie chicken.
“If somebody has a Broken Arrow, they have to go to the doctor?”
(She called her injured finger her Broken Arrow for ages. We didn’t correct her. Now apparently it means injury.)
Nov12: Ali: “Santa must make a looooooot of money to buy all these presents and give away all these presents.”
Nov12: Why is Ali coughing non-stop at night for weeks? We’ve tried allergy pills, honey and lemon, honey and milk, etc. Doctors usually just say to try what we’ve already tried.
I wish I knew what caused it and how to fix it. It really destroys his sleep
Nov13: Ayla: “Ali has a peanut and Baba has a peanut and Mama has a boba and Ayla has a boba.”
(If you can decipher that, you get a PhD in toddler communication.)
Nov15: You can meditate and read and write in your journal and do yoga all day, trying to find your center, and it’s amazing how fast taking two little kids to Walmart after school will frazzle you right back up in no time flat. A not-nearly-exhaustive sampling:
Ayla cried for several minutes on the way begging for a “drayde”? I still don’t know what she wanted. She settled for a gummy bear.
It was cold and drizzly, and I suggested we go quickly into the store instead of dragging our feet. I meant “together,” but Ali took it as an invitation to go running into the parking lot by himself. I had to yell to get him to stop.
When looking at greeting cards, Ali grabbed every card that caught his eye and then couldn’t remember where he got them. When I asked him to stop taking cards out, he started rubbing his fingers hard over the surface of every card instead. (I put a stop to that, too.)
Ayla asked for a unicorn card for herself, and it was cheap, so I gave it to her. She bent it in half and then decided she’d rather have a tiger unicorn card instead.
Ali was always dancing around in the aisles, which was fine, but he would frequently pause his forward motion and continue dancing right in front of someone trying to get by, and I’d have to pull him out of the way, breaking his reverie and spoiling his fun.
Ali always wants the world and a half, and finding creative ways to disappoint him over and over and over again really taxes my heart and brain.
Ayla begged for an $8 Spiderman ornament, and we do need ornaments for the tree we’re eventually going to get. When I gave it to her, she ripped it out of the package. Two minutes later she handed it to me, saying, “I don’t want this one.” (Fool me once…)
When Ali was picking out an ornament (since Ayla got one), we both bent down to look at them, and after a while Ali stood up quickly and hit my cheekbone so hard with his dense little skull that my eyesight blacked out for a second. It’s not so easy to go cheerfully about your day after you’ve been punched in the face with a rock, however unintentional.
I know I shouldn’t even attempt it, but about once a month I forget and think, “Eh, I just have a couple things to pick up. How bad could it be?”
Nov15: My kids have the same curse I do: They hit their stride for the day right at bed time.
Nov20: Is anyone offended that in Tolkien movies, Elves always speak in a proper English accent, Dwarves speak in a Scottish accent, and Hobbits are basically Irish?
Or is it more like:
“Eh, fair play to ye.”
“Aye, pre”ay mooch.”
(Not my place to have feelings about it one way or another. Just curious.)
Nov21: With cousins and grandparents to play with, I’m officially chopped liver for the duration of the Thanksgiving holiday. And I’m OK with it!
Nov22: Legos are a huge hit around here. Ali built the Titanic. Ayla built a unicorn.
He also says “peach other” instead of “each other.” Totally straight-faced. Not as a joke. I can’t bear to “correct” him. His way is cuter.
Mom captioned this photo: Last night Ali spent a LOT of time building a lego Titanic. He turned around and said to Bill, “I’m building the Titanic but it keeps coming apart. IT’S A DISASTER!”
Nov24: Anyone know what this is? It stung the heck out of Ali unprovoked in south Alabama
Nov24: Fun doings in Mississippi and Alabama
Nov24: They didn’t grow up on a farm…
My mom wrote:
When we came up from the beach the kids were cold and sandy so I ran a tub of warm water and plopped them in to warm up. I’m always clowning around with them, so I started singing She’ll Be Coming Around The Mountain. They were delighted and so of course I went on with She’ll Be Driving Six White Horses, and they loved it and Ayla said, Is there more?
Without giving it a thought, I belted out WE WILL KILL THE OLD RED ROOSTER… The look on their faces was pure HORROR!
Ayla said OH NO!
Ali said.. YOU HAD TO KILL HIM?
And he was OLD!
I’m telling you I never know what they’ll say!
Nov24: In the whole day, Ali ate 4 rolls and 1 popsicle. Ayla ate some crackers. Oh well.
Nov27: Home after a 12+ hour rainy drive from Orange Beach, AL. Loads of fun with the extended family! (Nothing better than grandparents and cousins.)
A funny exchange today:
Ahmed: I’m just getting appetizers
Ali: What’s apple tizers?
Ayla: No, apple CIDER.
Ali [ignoring Ayla]: Is apple tizer a grown up drink?
Ayla’s favorite joke lately, which is really just a call-and-response re-enactment of a conversation we had the other day:
Ayla: What do unicorns make?
Me: Rainbows and sparkles.
Ayla: What do horses make?
Me: Horse poop.
Ayla: laughs maniacally sometimes adds: And horse pee pee!
Nov27: Oops. I missed all the Black Friday emails / deals. I was jumping my tail off at the trampoline park with my kids and their cousins
Definitely got my “run” in for the day! Super sore today, but my back held up, yay
Nov27: Just a friendly book recommendation, if you haven’t read it yet: The Untethered Soul. Michael Singer is not infallible guru or anything, but he packages timeless wisdom in a way that really clicked for me.
It took so many thing I’ve been learning, feeling like I was hacking my way through a dense jungle, and tied them together into a kind of Grand Unified Theory. It’s amazing how many things fit neatly into this basic framework.
It also offered a nice clearing in the woods ahead. It changed my life pretty quickly.
I’m sure it’ll hit everyone differently, but it hit me harder than any book in a long time. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you do read it (or have read it).
Nov27: It’s funny how, with your first kid, every new phase is like, “OMG, is this normal? Is going be this way forever???”
With the second kid, it’s like, “Oh yeah, this phase again.”
looks at watch
Nov27: Still sore from the trampoline park. Turns out I’m… 42 years old? Oh well! So much fun
Nov28: Welp. Ayla gave herself bangs this morning. Don’t blame her. She doesn’t like hair ties or hair in her eyes. It’s actually really cute. I’ll get it cleaned up at a hair salon after school and post a pic.
Nov28: What a frustrating day. One thing after another.
The kicker: Ayla’s hair looked much cuter after she cut it, before I took her to a salon to “clean it up a bit.” I should have let her keep her little style
Nov29: I had a really bad day yesterday. I couldn’t hide it or swallow it, not even for the kids. They got some of the brunt of it.
At bed time, Ali apologized for any part he played in my hard day, and I just melted and told him thank you, but he was always more important than whatever happened in a given day, and I would always love him no matter what, and tomorrow would be a better day.
He said, “I think tomorrow after school we should go to Sonic and then drink our cherry Cokes and watch a movie and pet the cats.”
I am such a lucky mama. Kids show us that, given a chance, people are fundamentally good.
Nov29: Ali: “Have you ever seen a Easter bunny chop down a tree with a teeny tiny egg?”
Me: “Uh… no.”
Me [chuckling]: “Why would I?”
Ali: “If you’re ever watching a movie and you see it, come tell me how funny it was. Because that would be so funny.”
Nov29: I’m doing a gentler Couch to 5k type program (None to Run), and I did Week 2 on an Alabama beach (and at a trampoline park, informally).
I feel like a super hero running on concrete now. It’s so freaking easy, LOL.
Nov30: Recent Ali-isms:
“Before liftoff the plane gets a check just like going to the doctor.”
After getting cherry Cokes at Sonic today, I asked him not to tell Ayla we got them, because I didn’t plan on getting her one.
He said, “Well, I was planning on sharing yours with her.”
Fair enough. A better idea, actually.
Later I told him again that I wasn’t mad at him on Monday, I was just having a hard time. I said, “I should have just asked for a hug.”
He said, “Yeah. Or you could have gone to your room and just took a minute to calm your body down. Take a reset.”
May my kids always be more emotionally mature than I am!