Echoes

Of the things I know now about autism, one of the big ones I wish I had known from the start is how echolalia functions in Margaret’s (yeah. Margaret. I’ll get to that) brain. Reading up on it fell off the priority list for a while as Margaret started to develop more spontaneous speech, but in the last few weeks I’ve been reading more about it.

“Echolalia: That’s What She Said” by Musings of an Aspie is the single best breakdown I’ve seen of it. Easy to understand, and from the beginning with her immediate echolalia down to non-immediate echolalia for self-regulation, I can trace the four-year arc of her speech development. It’s fascinating. I wish I had realized sooner what the echolalia meant, and how to use it as a tool.

Margaret has moved more into spontaneous speech, questions, and give-and-take in the last several months. Earlier, when I wrote that she was adjusting well to school, she was at the time. Between the new schedule of days, business trips, and house guests, Margaret began to show signs of emotional and sensorial disregulation–meaning, that between autism and SPD, and her routine changes, she was holding herself together with metaphorical tape and string. There was only enough in her for utilizing one or two senses at a time, and after throwing on the anxiety of routine disorder for good measure, I noticed a big drop in her spontaneous speech. More using delayed echolalia, more uses of the third-person, more echolalia as a means of regulation. This is interspersed with huge insights into her character, like when she found the vocabulary to tell us that she found “Maggie” to be an ugly name and she wants us to call her “Margaret” from now on, and tempered by some physical outward signs of extreme upset.

One of the regulatory times has been on the way to school. I was irritated with her the third day because she refused to bring her own lunch box in. I was wrong. I was so in the wrong. Why? Because with a new schedule, with new aides, with going to consecutive full days instead of broken-up halves and fulls, she was DONE. She couldn’t handle one. new. thing. And her lunch box? We bought brand-new this past summer, and she loved it at home, but was now incredibly upset by it. I couldn’t understand why she was refusing to take it and breaking down in tears. I got snappy. I didn’t handle it the way I should have. I didn’t listen to the behavior.

I wrote once that autism has forced me to break down who I was and rebuild myself as the parent I needed to be for Margaret. This doesn’t make me perfect, and the thing about echolalia? It keeps me honest. Most people would say to themselves after getting snappy with their kid “Oh, well, it really wasn’t so bad.” The justification, the “oh, but I’m a nice person, she knows that” that comes after. Not so. Margaret echoes my every inflection, my emphasis, my slightly spitty sibilants. She sounds more like me than I do.

So on to echolalia as self-regulation: on the way to school, we now do this script.

“I ASKED you to bring your OWN lunch box in. YOU need to be responsible for it.”

“That is what I said. Mommy didn’t realize you were anxious. I had no right to get that irritated with you. I am sorry.”

“Mommy was not kind. She was angry.”

“I was not kind. I made a bad choice, Margaret. I’m so sorry.”

“I ASKED you to bring your OWN lunch box in. YOU need to be responsible for it.”

And we repeat as much as she needs to hear that I’m sorry. Ten times per car ride, maybe? There is no lying to yourself when you have an anxious, echolalic child. You will relive your mistakes as many times as your child needs you to relive them. You will hear yourself how she heard you–how cold and mean you sound. And, hopefully, you’ll learn something in time to prevent it the next time around.

What took me way too long to get, and what I finally, finally realized tonight is that we *might* be able to use echolalia as the linguistic bomb squad. At bedtime on particularly difficult days I noticed she would start doing her favorite scripts (usually a piece of new and interesting information repeated over and over) as a means to calm herself and prepare her mind for bed. No different than counting sheep, really. So we were cuddling and chatting, and I asked her a question that was open-ended and difficult. Sure enough: rocking, agitation, upset. Immediately, I prompted her latest favorite script: “What kind of camel has one hump?”

“A camel with one hump is a dromedary. A camel with two humps is a bactrian. Camels eat grass and drink water. Camels store water and fat in their humps.” Repeat. Calm. Cuddling. Happy goodnights.

So from now on, before anything else, if I see that she’s really upset I’m going to trigger her favorite scripts as quickly as possible. We do a lot of sensory work as a part of occupational therapy, which lets off a lot of steam and allows her to regulate really well. But maybe, just maybe, echolalia could be the next best tool in our box.

Into the unknown

I haven’t had too much to say since we’ve been enjoying the summer–at least, the summer, such as it is in Northern England. But briefly, I’d like to say a word about parental instinct.

For a host of reasons that I’ve been gathering, tracking, and as of today actively journaling over the last few weeks and trying inadequately to describe to far-away family members, we’re bringing Maggie to the pediatrician for a referral to whatever the UK’s version of Early Intervention is. Whatever…this…is, if it is anything at all, I am not sure. I’ve had nothing to go on but a few incidents and a nagging feeling in my gut that something was not…quite…right.

There’s something about the way Maggie processes the world that makes me wonder. Hating the feel of the hairbrush and toothbrush or the feeling of water coming out of the faucet. Becoming upset and repeating “Loud noises don’t hurt” over and over to reassure herself when she hears an unpleasant sound. Most heartbreaking of all is backing away from children her own age in a defensive posture, hands up, visibly nervous that they may engage further. It doesn’t happen that way every time; she’s been able to play with some friends’ kids. But most of the time it’s “hands up, back away.”

And most recently, today: a full-blown panic attack (body locked, hyperventilating, sobbing, begging to go to the car) at a baby ballet class that until now she’s made a few attempts to endure, if not happily. This is not the first meltdown in class or the first one that forced us to leave and find a dark corner to calm down; it was the first time we had to leave almost as soon as the class started. It was thirty minutes before I could calm her down enough to even attempt to figure out what might have triggered her reaction. She calmed down enough to agree to go into the adjoining kid’s gym play area, where she buried herself to the neck in the plastic ball pit and remained as motionless as a lawn ornament for twenty minutes before she requested to go home.

I’ve read the literature and I’m quite confident this is not autism. I’m also feeling good that it’s not full-blown sensory processing disorder; she likes to fingerpaint with her yogurt as much as the next toddler, adores the sea and sand, and would eat rebar if only we covered it in tomato sauce. Nobody is going to be more excited than I am to hear that this is nothing; just a phase (albeit a long, protracted, well-predating our move to England phase) or something easily dealt with. I’ve hesitated even saying anything when all I have are a few hunches and a couple incidents that make me say “Hmm…”

I hope I’m overreacting and that we are not about to leap over the edge into an unknown world. I really do. But our instincts say that we need to talk to someone. And so we are.

Two Bits

How are the so-called “Terrible Twos” going? Normally, I’d say. I actually don’t find them to be bad. As long as you remember that tantrums are the result of limited ability to express frustrations and an equally limited amount of life perspective, you can keep a smile on during the worst of them. However, Two has given us a few gems.

“You broke my squishy [play dough]!! My squishy noooooo!”

“Maggie, can you please bring your chair inside?” “No!” “No?! But you’re my helpful girl!” “…Okay.”

“I want Rusteeze for my bumper.” (Yes, I relied rather heavily on the TV during my first weeks of morning sickness; my penance is her obsession with the horrid Cars.)

[Pouring water on a patio paver stone] “I waterin’ the flowers!”

“Maggie, are you a cutie patootie?” “NO, I DON’T THINK SO.” “I think you’re adorable.” “NO, I DON’T THINK SO.”

[Upon discovering her hiding in her bed's storage drawer instead of napping] “Look! I Maggie in a box!”

And my favorite:

“Deanna, I need my potty!”

I am happy to roll with tantrums caused by the myriad frustrations of the small. But if I’m going to be fetching the receptacle for your waste you had best call me “Mommy.”

ETA: I can’t believe I forgot this one. “Maggie, would you like some more pasta?” “No, she replied.” “Maggie…are you narrating?!” “…WHAT?!” I guess perhaps she wasn’t.

Odds and Ends

I’m pointedly ignoring Maggie singing a song in her bedroom (about a…tomato? Okay then!) and NOT napping because 1pm-3pm is the Time of Quiet at this particular monkey house. Since I am a Bear of Above Average Brains I assume that her full transition to a big girl bed is also impeding her progress to the land of Nod. When we first moved into our new house, she slept on a spare crib mattress–for a crib we never owned, I might add–that we brought from Hawaii on the off chance Maggie would have to sleep on the floor. This bit of sense proved…well, sensible. However, a mattress placed directly on the floor is entirely too close to all the toys and books we unpacked and the temptation proved to be too much for Maggie-bear. I don’t mind if she plays with a toy or two IN bed because if she’s tired she won’t climb down from an elevated position and will eventually fall asleep; however, simply being able to ROLL out of bed and directly into a pile of toys was a thrill of decadence usually saved for the back rooms and Vegas. I canceled this out by putting her in MY bed, but because the new couch was being delivered in the same IKEA order as her new bed I did not have anywhere to comfortably sprawl during MY quiet time. And I need it. I need my quiet time. Gestatiion, Round 2 is pummeling my expanding self all around the ring and I need two hours to doze on a soft surface and occasionally refresh myself with a hit of tea. Thankfully the balance of life has been restored, Maggie is loving life in her big girl bed (and her free reign to access her toys), and my daily sessions of Tea and (Self-) Sympathy have resumed.

*****

Parenting Pro Tip: It doesn’t matter how many IKEA flat packs and pictogram instructions you’ve navigated since entering the Land of Adulthood. When you see a 20-page pictogram instruction booklet and roughly 80 different parts to assemble together, DON’T START BUILDING YOUR CHILD’S BED HALF AN HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME. Or you know what, do. Maggie was so tired by the end of the process, two and a half hours later, that she crawled into her freshly made–and I do mean FRESHLY MADE–bed, pulled a quilt over her head and dropped off to sleep without a sound.

*****

We have put the iPad away and not used it for over a week. We don’t plan to get it out again until our trip to Dublin next month and Lisbon/Sintra in August. It feels nice to temporarily fire the electronic book-toy-game-babysitter.

*****

A return to cloth diapers: yes, we are still using them. No, Maggie has not fallen in line with the theory that cloth diapered children learn about the potty faster because of the moisture. No, I don’t know why, but my theory is that sitting over an open hole (even in the form of a toddler potty) disturbs her (and I know for damn sure that the noise of a flushing toilet–and a vacuum cleaner, and a food processor, and loud cars, and really anything that makes loud noises in any form) sends her into hysterics. Anyway. Since we are coming into our second year, some of the diapers are a little worse for wear and could either be fixed (by me, whenever I get around to rousing myself to find the needles and thread for new Velcro and elastics) or replaced. I left the decision to Tom, who voted replace. If I had it to do all over again, I’d buy all the same products–the Bum Genius one-size pocket diapers, the newborn prefolds, the nighttime fitteds with Thirsties covers–but I would not buy them with hook-and-loop closures. All the replacements we’ve ordered have snap closures, and I will never go back. The fit isn’t that much better with Velcro tabs, and they seem to hold up in the laundry exceptionally better. So there you go.

*****

It is May 16 and I am wearing long sleeves, long pants, and wool socks. WTF, England? I feel only slightly better knowing my American bretheren in New England are similarly frozen this spring, but golly. Maybe next time we do a tour in a warm locale we should do an in-betweeny climate before moving to an area that shares a latitude with Labrador, Canada. That leather couch we just bought is CHILLY when you plunk down on it first thing in the morning.

*****

I wanted a Storchenwiege wrap since I started researching babywearing when my sister was pregnant with my nephew in 2007-2008. Since this is likely my last ride on the Baby Go Round, I bought one (in Inka, for the curious). I have no regrets. Nor do I regret dropping an iPod’s worth of cash on new flannel sheets from L.L. Bean. Consider my nest snugly and almost completely (with the exception of one or two other baby items I’d like to buy, and oh, yeah, a new CAR SEAT JESUS THOSE ARE PRICEY) feathered.

*****

Ahhh…Maggie is asleep, doll in each hand. Bliss.

Dry

Today I tackled a project that’s been building and creeping ever since we moved in almost three years ago: my closet.  Cold weather clothes, office professional clothes, clothes that are now two sizes too big…everything had been lumped and piled together.  Going through some of it was easy: above a certain size, it automatically went into the donation pile.

Then I got to a box of well-used, well-worn, enormous clothes that for practical reasons I absolutely cannot part with: the maternity clothes.

I had a relatively nice maternity wardrobe, mostly because I took advantage of summer clearance sales and bargain prices to stock up for a Hawaiian pregnancy.  It’s casual, and if my next pregnancy is during the winter I’m definitely going to have to get a few cold-weather pieces (even layered, a dozen tanks and tees can only provide so much warmth).  I carefully folded everything with a stretchy midsection and put it in a separate box that I labeled “baby-mama clothes.”

And after a brief hesitation, I gathered the six nursing tank tops and a few nursing shirts and put them in the box too.

We had a good run, Maggie and I.  The CDC tells me that nationwide, only 14% of moms are still breastfeeding exclusively at six months. (Link opens PDF file, FYI.)  I wouldn’t even venture to guess how many breastfeed at all at 21 months.  We haven’t quite finished yet; Maggie nurses first thing in the morning and most days, that’s all she wants.  It’s been many weeks since she’s asked to nurse at night before bed.  While traveling in new environments and on airplanes she nurses two or three times for comfort and security.  Same goes if she’s feeling sick.  On these occasions, I’m happy to provide.  But in the normal course of our at-home routine, it’s just once in the morning and I usually offer before she asks.

I’ve always taken the attitude that Maggie knows when she needs to nurse better than I do.  It’s always been given freely and on demand. The demands were always fairly adorable, too, since Maggie has a little trouble with her Rs: “Nuss?” But the demand isn’t there anymore. She’s stopped asking, or if she asks around snack or mealtimes and I remind her she has solid food around, her little legs start pumping to run for her chair at the table before I have a chance to put her down.  The mornings aren’t very extensive, either–maybe five minutes, tops, before she starts her morning list of questions: “Pancakes? Yogurt? Stwawbewwies? Oh-KAY! Playground? Weeda book? Oh-KAY!”

Who wants to nurse when you can eat $4 organic whole-fat yogurt?  I cringe at the smell and the price tag, but Maggie eats it like it’s being outlawed tomorrow. With such tasty treats (In the afternoons: “A speshiul tweat? Speshiul tweat? Cookie?” “No. Fruit.” “…Speshiul cookie tweat?” “Fruit.”) about, who has time to cuddle with Mama?

We had a hard go of it with biting when her top teeth came in; it was harder still when we went to DC last March and she had to face her first major illness in a new place.  Every 45 minutes we nursed through that fever, her mouth like a burning coal and her little forehead wet with my exhausted tears.  But we stuck it out.  I won’t miss those times a bit, but as part of the whole I will never regret it.  It was all worth it.  From beginning to end, it was hard…but worth it.

She’s not done yet, my former milk fiend.  I suspect we’ll make it to and probably a bit past the two-year mark.  But I feel in my heart that this particular journey is almost over–a river that will terminate in a dry desert bed before we move on to the next steps.  Those shirts will come out of the box again for another baby, of that I have no doubt.  But not for Maggie; not ever again.  It’s a good thing, done on her terms and no one else’s, and in time I’ll appreciate “having my body back” (whatever that means when you have a toddler using you as a jungle gym).

But tonight I’m going to give myself permission to be a little sad before I put a final tape seal on that box.

Won’t You Come In?

Scanning my RSS feed as I do when I get a free moment to catch up on my blogs, I read an old favorite, A Little Pregnant. When she described how her son, just entering kindergarten, had a “home visit” from the kindergarten teacher prior to the start of school my mental Foley kit played the record needle scratch–whaaaaat?  Is that done now?  My “WTF” radar immediately went up and I thought about commenting with my own rant until I read the comments.

As always, her commenters were enormously insightful; this is definitely not a black and white issue.  One said after explaining how this seems akin to a social worker visit at the hospital post-birth (“Do you have help, do you have a safe place to go?”) and being able to see the child at home is so helpful.  You can’t draw much from a 15-20 minute visit, but you can definitely get a feeling if something just isn’t right.  As she then put it, “We are not the droids they’re looking for.”  And many of the actual teachers who read mentioned that at their home visit, it’s all about meeting the kid on their turf and lessening the child’s fears and worries about this adult with whom they would be spending their days.  That is all completely valid, useful, and important.  Moreover, that kind of concern is a kindness, and “above all else, [a la Kurt Vonnegut in God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater] you have to be kind” is the main value we want to instill.

But still…ick.  Ick.  Double ick.

It comes back to the same reaction I felt when I heard that Hawaii was going to furlough teachers on Friday, cutting the school week to 3.5 days (many towns have half-days on Wednesdays for…something. Teacher enrichment? Planning? I have no idea). So you can imagine what kind of strain that put on families who had to now figure out alternate childcare in a state that’s already at the economic breaking point. That has since been resolved but my first thought was “This is our tax system. These are our schools. The citizens of Hawaii should not have to work their lives around to fit the system; the education system exists to serve the public.”

Now, I’m pretty liberal. I like the idea of my taxes going to fix things, provide public services, what have you. But this edges into a watchdog kind of mentality that I’m not totally comfortable with. I get that I’m “not the droid” but I’ve worked with children before. You don’t have to see their home to know when things are fucked up at Ye Olde Homesteade; it comes out in a thousand little but completely visible ways.

I have no problem meeting the teacher, but the post didn’t mention whether it was optional or not to go somewhere else–maybe for coffee or a smoothie at the kid’s favorite shop, or a favorite park, or a mutual agreed upon meeting spot. I’d be totally fine meeting at the playground or our local Jamba Juice. Because if it *has* to be at home, that’s where I really feel uncomfortable. Teachers are human; they judge and have biases just like me. Just like anyone. I’m not about to give a perfect stranger a tour of our bedrooms and I’m not going to plant things that aren’t usually in the living room for appearances, so when a person walks into our house they’re going to see an LCD TV, about 200 DVDs, a few books high out of reach, my wine rack, and a real shabby couch. Unless Maggie brings them out, the teacher isn’t going to see her art notebooks (which she has already so enthusiastically filled with scribbles), the handmade toys, and the stocked bilingual library. Worse…what if she isn’t an “Arrested Development” fan?! What if she–rightly, I might add–summed us up as post-grad hipsterish snark addicts with a fondness for unpretentious cabernets and she likes “Friends” reruns and doesn’t drink? How would that affect her relationship with Maggie? It might not, but it may, and even in a way that the teacher doesn’t realize is happening.

And the final point I’d like to make is that even if these visits are required by the school district, the parents that have things to hide are going to stall, ignore, screen calls, or just flat out refuse to let the teacher in. So if I refuse on general principle, like feeling icky about the visits in general, that lumps us in with a category that is labeled difficult at best and with something awful to hide at worst.

So, yeah…if Maggie attends school (the debate over long-term finances and homeschooling is happening in fits and starts over here, but it is happening–at least, Tom hasn’t flat-out refused me yet ;-D), I want her to meet her teacher and feel comfortable. I want it to be a cooperative relationship, honest and happy and open, the kind that makes me enthusiastic about classroom volunteering and happy to tuck a nice big Target gift card into her Christmas card.

But I hate the idea of the school district telling me I am required to invite someone into my home, and I hate if I refuse on the basis that they don’t get to tell me what to do, I’m going be labeled difficult or shady. It seems as though my right to say no would automatically taint Maggie’s relationship with her teacher before it even starts, and that just isn’t right.

Countdown

In four days, we will be in Seattle.  A week from today, Vancouver.  And a week from Monday, back in Hawaii after a grueling-but-awesome five and a half month runaround.

I swear to you, Internet, I am going to sleep through the rest of August. We’re not even going to go to the other side of the island. And if I find a grocery delivery on-island, we’re not going to even leave the house. My brain is so deep-fried tired that I can’t bring myself to sit down and get into the routine, and as such my writing has gone stagnant for the moment. To not have a regular creative outlet is horrible for me and for Maggie too; I have a billion product ideas for Examiner, god knows I have a LOT I could be pitching to family travel websites, and in the background percolating in my head are a bunch of ideas for trying to figure out a way for us to homeschool Maggie and the as-yet-unconceived 2.0. But the words aren’t quite gelling together right now.

[Side note on having another child. Me: “I think I’m ready for another, Maggie’s old enough, we have a name we agree on, it’s time.” Tom: “Well, see if you can wait until we’re in the same state.” …Twit.]

I’ve been reading so much on the Montessori and Waldorf and unschooling educational models and equal amounts on the general failure of a lot of public schools and now I am obsessed with creating a curriculum for our kids at home. This is INSANE, people. I’m already going a little crazy at home, but so far my experience is that I’m better at being a mom than I have ever been at anything else. Which…yeah. I’m not even saying I’m such a great parent, but I feel best about myself when I think I’m doing right by my kid. So why not see if we can find a way to run with it?

This is also a good way to distract myself from not thinking about how busy our fall is going to be. We’re signing up for Stroller Strides again once I get my house back together, toddler Spanish on Saturdays and possibly family music lessons on Sundays, baby yoga on Mondays and then babywearing and LLL once a month. I am determined to bust out of my antisocial grumpy shell and give Maggie some socialization (and me too).  I will also secretly be trolling for trustworthy types to babysit my kid so Tom and I can go see a movie and eat food that we don’t have to cut into teeny pieces to share. For my own sanity, I’m looking at starting Bikram once a week to get out of the house sans Maggie.  I’m going to a wedding in Vermont this fall (by MYSELF, holy shit) and we are taking a big trip in late October/early November.  Oh, and sometime between December and March…we’re moving and leaving Hawaii forever. And we don’t know when we’ll move, to where or for how long.

So you can see why I am spending my free time scanning Etsy for pretty Waldorf toys and, you know, not writing or thinking about a damn thing.

2010 has been a total kick in the junk for tons of our friends and comparatively, I can’t complain. We’ve only been mildly inconvenienced at best. But it has been an endurance marathon and I nearly burst into tears last Sunday flying from Manchester, NH back to Tampa when I realized I’d have to get Maggie to Seattle by myself, with a stopover in Denver and at a lousy time of the day for her schedule. It’s just.one.more.time. I can do it. But I’ve been counting down the days until I don’t have to do this alone anymore. Real single parents: a hug, a tip of my hat, and a standing offer of free babysitting to you. This is the hardest grind I’ve ever gone through and I only have one child and a vast network of family support.

Most importantly: four more days until Maggie can see her Daddy and I can see my favorite person in the world. It’s going to be awesome.

Sum-sum-summertime

Even though between Hawaii and Florida my life is essentially one endless summer, I still have a New Englander’s appreciation for the heat of late June.  Starting with a little homemade strawberry lemonade…

Add a little watermelon after an afternoon in the pool…

And since today was today was the summer solstice, taking a walk to find wild daisies to go with the basil and lavender from the herb plantings in the backyard…

And crowning my little lady the Bubble Queen of the Summer Solstice.

Happy first day of summer!  I hope it’s deliciously warm where you are.

Beachin’

We’ve been in Pinellas County for almost three months now, and my darling girl does love the water.  Here, Maggie models the latest in UPF 50 swimwear for the whitest-white-girl-that-ever-did-white set.  Wrist-to-ankles with zinc woven into the fabric, and worth every penny since sunscreen that won’t kill you or give you other cancers costs a mint and thus it makes sense to cover 90% of her body.

Today we went to Madeira Beach for about an hour, a departure from our usual Sunset Beach on Treasure Island.  Maggie has no respect whatsoever for the water–the soaked curls in the photo are a result of her crawling off toward the water’s edge while I was unfolding a chair and nearly getting swept off to Cuba before I caught up to her.  File under “Mothers, Negligent.”

There’s no good segue here: I can’t talk about the oil spill without crying.  I’ve been coming to this area to visit family since I was the same age that Maggie is in this photograph and there is nothing about this situation that doesn’t break my heart.  Parts of the Gulf Coast are going to be ruined for the remainder of my lifetime, possibly the rest of Maggie’s too.  It’s coming this way, I hear; the Panhandle has already been hit.  She’s too young to remember this trip; she may never know how this beach was before the oil.  Unemployment here is already terrible and if tourism takes the expected hit, it will only get worse.  My sister and brother-in-law had hoped to move here within the next few years, but he’s in tourism and truly, there’s nothing for him here if the oil ruins local tourism.  I’ve done what I can, donating enormous bottles of Dawn to cleanup organizations and encouraging others to do the same, but the sick, dropped-stomach helpless feeling persists.

But in the meantime, before the landscape changes, we’re enjoying the hell out of the area.  I’ve declared the remainder of this week and next “St. Pete Appreciation Week” and we’re going to do.it.up.  At least, we’re going to do it up as only as semi-single mother and her demanding almost-toddler can–in moderate doses with lots of sunscreen, hydration breaks, and frequent stops to air-conditioned places.  The Dali Museum, the Sunken Gardens, the fruit winery that makes a carrot Merlot that once sent Tom away gasping and clutching his tradtionalist metaphorical pearls in disgusted disbelief.  (Maggie can be my driver.)  I signed Maggie up for private at-home swim lessons in my parents’ pool so we can get the most out of our water time here and back at home.  We’re going to go all over her daddy’s former stomping grounds (he’s a Floridian born and bred, of course) and see what he saw when he was small.

If she can’t remember how it used to be, maybe Tom and I can remember enough for her.

Odds ‘n Ends

Things on my mind at the moment:

1. I hate folding diapers, but I love cute diaper covers. I just picked up these in Alice Brights and Warm Stripes and mostly I’m just thrilled that I can put more prefolds into the rotation because those are much easier to fold than the pocket diapers. When we get back to Hawaii in August, I’m not folding another load of clean diapers for four or five months. I may just push up toilet learning in the meantime.

2. In order to get my hands on some fresh poke (poh-kay, Hawaiian sushi) I would commit highly illegal acts.

3. Maggie crawled into the kitchen while I was making her applesauce today. I said “Hi sweetie!” She responded “Hi Mama!” This is far cuter than the other night, where I fell asleep nursing her in bed and she grabbed my arm in the dead of night and said “Hi Mama!” then. Same sentiment, exponentially different level of startle. She also says “Oh boy!” and claps her hands now. It is thoroughly adorable. Makes up for all the biting. (Dear God, teeth, when are you coming in?!)

4. I’m supposed to be booking tickets for our New Zealand trip soon, but I am having a hard time motivating myself to get info on our frequent flyer miles. I did book for Seattle and Vancouver in August and plan to go straight on back to Hawaii from there, so right now I have a one-way ticket for August 3. Depending on the difficulty of the flight with the baby, I may just set up a home in a van by the water rather than do one more flight by ourselves. Theoretically we’ll be meeting Tom back in Hawaii, so that will be awesome.

5. The fabulous mind behind www.everywhereist.com has agreed to post an entry of mine in her guest blogger series. It will run June 7. Thanks, Everywhereist!!

6. My nephew is visiting next week! I hope he sings “Bad Romance” to me again.

ETA: Almost forgot to mention: The World’s Laziest Baby stood on her own, unsupported, for the first time yesterday. Unfortunately it was in the pool and she was shoulder-deep in water, so she felt like she was being suspended and had better balance. She absolutely refuses to try to stand without help out of the water, so I think walking is still several weeks if not months off. Our official line to well-meaning playground parents is “If she isn’t walking by her 18 month well-baby visit, we’ll worry, but not until then.” I do wish I had bet money with everyone who said at Easter that she’d be walking within weeks; I told them there was no way and I could have cleaned up.