Saturday, May 31, 2008

Crawling Up the Stairs

My daughter, Samantha, is a late bloomer.  She didn't walk until she was almost 18 months old, and she never crawled at all.  She "scooted" on her bottom to get around, but didn't even start doing that until she was over a year old.   At 19 months she began working on climbing stairs.  Most kids start by crawling up stairs, but she'd never moved around on all fours so I didn't know how it would work out. 


We lived in a one story house at the time she found her stair calling, but at least there were 4 steps outside going from the deck to the sidewalk.  We practiced a lot with me holding her hands as she stepped up or down as an adult would.  She loved it!  While playing on the sidewalk, she would come back to the stairs over and over again.  If I wasn't there to hold her hand, she would just sit on the bottom step.  After a few days of this, she began swinging her legs up so that she was completely up on the first step.  I told her that she could get up the rest of the steps in the same manner - just stand up and repeat it three more times.  I thought she'd probably do it that way eventually.


One day she was playing outside on the sidewalk by herself while I put groceries away inside, watching her through the window. (We were surrounded by farmland with no neighbors, traffic, or other dangers like that.) She had been out there about 3 minutes when I looked out to see her crawling up the steps on her hands and feet!  She was on the third step and just about to reach the top.  At first I was terrified but I restrained myself, watched her complete her mission, and then went out and gave her a big hug and congratulations.


I never showed her how to crawl up like that.  Nothing in her experience made me think it possible that she would even try it.  If I had been outside when she tried it I would have hovered, worried that she would fall.  But I don't think she would have tried at all if she knew I was watching. 


Quite often, the new things that Samantha does occur while I'm watching out of the corner of my eye.  Even when I show her how to do something, she usually doesn't give it her full concentration and effort until my back is turned.  And many times, she doesn't do things the way I showed her to at all.  Stepping back and not helping her too much is a great challenge for me, but I feel a deep joy in watching her find her own way.  She is already an independent, thinking being - and I think I like her.  I like her a lot.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Potty Training by Dog

It's interesting how various circumstances can come together and add up to one big mental billboard telling you to take action, now!  Mine says, "It's time for potty training!"


First of all, Samantha has discovered potty humor.  She finds the words, "burp," "fart," "pee," and "poo" just hilarious.  She doesn't find the events themselves so amusing, but say the words and you can have her rolling with laughter until she gets the hiccups.  She only says a few words yet, but "burp" ("bep") is one of them.  I swear, we didn't encourage this, but we do find it cute.


Next, she will finally, on occasion, agree that she needs to have her diaper changed because it is dirty, as opposed to agreeing so that she can play with my locket, stickers, the gold kitty cat, or Maria the Fish.


She loves to flush the toilet.


And lately, Sam has been very interested in watching the dog pee on bushes when we go for walks.  We hadn't "walked" the dog in months because we lived in a place where he could roam free on acres of property.  But we just moved to the DC area and we have a postage stamp yard, so he needs a daily walk.  Sam finds his potty behavior just fascinating, and she'll point and say "bah bah" which means, "what is that?"  I tell her that he's peeing, and we move on.  Of course, this is repeated about one thousand times during an average walk.


Today, after observing Toby do his business on the bush outside our front door, Sam walked up to the bush, turned her back on it, and squatted over it.  I asked her what she was doing but her eyes were glazed over.  Joking to Adam, I started to say, "It looks like..." but's not a joke, it's...yes, "SHE'S PEEING ON THE BUSH!"  I almost died with laughter.  Then I had to make quite an effort to convince her that my laughter was okay and what she did was okay.  I guess I did a good job because a few minutes later she did it again.


Where do you buy those little training potties, anyway?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

We've Moved

I haven't posted in a while because we just moved from Lexington, Virginia, to the DC area.  Moving is terrible.  I've been trying to find some good little things to write about, but haven't come up with much.  Also, all my free time is being spent on unpacking and red wine. 

See you soon for the first direct-to-blog Sam Update!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Things You Can Rely On

Real Simple magazine's January, 2008 issue was devoted to "218 best buys," which, since they do a "best products" section every issue, is the magazine equivalent of the TV sitcom "flashback" episode - it's just a rerun in disguise.  Still, I like the magazine and the editor's note framed the issue in a more interesting way:  a list of the most reliable products and services.  I can't resist indulging in my own list.


  • Hotel chain: Hampton Inn.  I love staying at a Hampton Inn - they get all the details right, from the super-comfy bed to the curved shower curtain rod.  They actually sell the products they use in their rooms and I plan to buy it all!

  • Fast food joint:  In-N-Out Burger.  I'm never disappointed by a Double-Double, but I'm often disappointed when there is no In-N-Out nearby.  (They're only in 4 states:  California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah.  Try one if you're in the neighborhood.)  Runner up:  McDonald's.  After all, Ray Kroc was the innovator of reliability in fast food.

  • Beauty products:  Noxzema and Curel.  Noxzema is the only product that keeps the acne at bay for me.  I've used it consistently for at least 15 years.  And every time I get bored with Curel and buy another brand of lotion I regret it. 

  • Clothing store:  Talbot's Petites is my go-to store for just about everything.  I find that about 1 in 5 pieces actually fit me at Talbot's, which is twice as good as most other stores.  And no matter what the latest ugly fashion craze is, I can find at least one thing I want to buy every time I enter the store.  I wish I could find a shoe store that works as well for me.

  • General/discount store:  Target.  The best thing about Target is their excellent discrimination in product selection.  I can depend on the fact that, if I bought it at Target, it's a good value for the money. 

  • Book:  The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand.  I've read it about a dozen times and every time I'm freshly amazed at the beauty of this novel.

  • Cookbook:  The Joy of Cooking.  I don't know how I'd get along without it.  The basic cooking methods for just about every kind of food are indispensable.  All the recipes work.

  • Food:  Kraft Original Macaroni and Cheese.  Remember, this is a list of the most reliable things, not necessarily the best things.  Have you ever made up a batch of this stuff and been disappointed?

  • Drink:  Coca-Cola.  This one is reliable, and the very best.   

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

"Is that your child?"


"You're an excellent mother."

"Why do you say that?"

"Because you picked her up so she could smell the flowers."

Made me feel good all day.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Future Looks Bright

If you want something to take care of, something that is totally dependent on you, stick with animals, not human beings.  I'm talking to all of you more experienced parents who say things like: 

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be eating food and won't need you to nurse her.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be crawling and getting into everything.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be walking and you'll have to chase her all over the place.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be potty trained and you'll have to convince her to use the bathroom before you go out.  It's so much easier to change a diaper.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be pestering you with "why" a thousand times a day.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be a teenager with a mind of her own.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be dating.

  • Enjoy her now - pretty soon she'll be off to college.

I do enjoy Sam now.  And since the day she was born I've enjoyed her more now than I did yesterday.  I am 100% confident that this will not change tomorrow.  Guiding my daughter towards independence is what I signed up for in the first place.