The Texture Of Things

Ice, Part Two

January 16th, 2007

As soon as my hands thaw out, I’ll put up some more pictures of the ice at my house. Although the sun is out again today, the air temperature is absolutely frigid (right around 20 degrees Fahrenheit for the high), so meltage is molasses-in-January slow. The part of the tree that fell is still down and no more has fallen. Yet. I went out to take pictures and ice was popping and throwing itself off of trees and houses and cars in random bursts, so who knows what’s coming down next or when.

Today’s ice story comes from the jeweler’s. I just picked up my wedding ring a couple of days ago after having it repaired. Again. I had dropped it. Again.

The first time I dropped it, Husband Guy and I had only been married a short time, maybe a year and change. We were living in our old house and our kitchen had vinyl flooring. This is an important detail because I want it noted that I once dropped one of my not-exactly-breakproof stoneware plates on that floor on its edge and it bounced. BOUNCED! It didn’t even chip. But not my ring! When I dropped that puppy, the sound of the diamond cracking rang through me. It sounded like a bone breaking.

Fortunately, someone had recommended we get a rider on our homeowners insurance for our wedding rings and we had, so the replacement of the diamond was covered. It isn’t my diamond anymore (you know, the one we carefully and lovingly picked out as totally gross about-to-be-married types), but it is beautiful and it’s a better color and clarity. So, sad but overall a win.

This most recent time, I dropped it on the ceramic tile floor of our main bathroom. It made the same cracking sound, but smaller. I gasped, HG gasped, we checked the main diamond in the ring and were greatly relieved to see it was fine. There are two small diamonds, one on each side of the main diamond, and it never occurred to me to check them. They are hammer-set and they’re, um, diamonds, so I figured they’re immune from impact damage.

Wrong!

A couple of hours later, while I was out shopping with the tot, I felt a rough edge on my ring. I looked down to discover one of the hammer-set diamonds missing. I was crushed. I very nearly said the F word in front of the tot. I searched everywhere, HG searched everywhere, to no avail. It’s a pretty small diamond, so I’m not surprised. It probably went missing in the store when I put my hand in my jeans pocket for something.

Ugh. But my ring is back, and the jeweler cleaned it and buffed the wear marks out of it and the bitch looks brand new. Like I just got married! Again! Only I didn’t have to plan a wedding and fight with my mother to do it this time! Huzzah!

The real reason I’m writing this story down is because I have a question lurking in my head, triggered by a conversation (the kind with lots of subtext) I had with my mother-in-law the night before I picked up the ring.

She and I were talking in my kitchen when the jeweler called to tell me the ring was ready. I gave her the rundown of this particular ring-dropping event, and she had a pained, confused look on her face. She eventually asked me the thing that was bothering her: why would I drop the ring?

Oh, I was putting it on. I had showered and the tot was brushing her teeth in the main bathroom. HG was with her. I scurried to join the gang in our holiest of shrines when I fumbled with my two rings and dropped the important one.

No, no, why was I putting it on?

Um, because I married him? And I like the ring ‘cuz it’s really really pretty? (Okay, I didn’t say this aloud, but it’s what I was thinking. I didn’t actually say anything.)

No, no, no, why did I take it off to begin with?

It took a while for the two of us to get on the same page, but basically, she believes that once you wear that ring, you never, ever, never, ever, never, ever take it off. Ever. And did I mention Never? Yeah, that too.

But I take mine off all the time. I’m not wearing it as I type (slows me down from making all my typos), I didn’t wear it for about the first year of the tot’s life (the thick band and sharp edges were incompatible with soft baby skin and body), and I don’t ever wear it when I bathe, wash my hands, do anything dirty, or clean house (hardly ever!).

Am I wrong here? Is this the reason the divorce rate is so high, because if it is, shit, I’ll go put the thing on NOW. Or is this moment brought to us today by a generational gap? I’d ask my mom, but she was never able to stay married. I’d ask HG, but he’d answer like a guy. Besides, he’s biased. He takes his ring off all the time, too.

For the record, I’m not going to change my habits, but I am seriously curious. What do other people do?

Crap. Gotta go. A man with a chainsaw is here to cut up my tree, and I’m totally taking pictures of that.

Ice, Part One

January 15th, 2007

There is nothing like driving down the local streets after an ice storm to get me paying attention to my surroundings. I love what winter weather does to places, people, plants, animals. I love witnessing the power of weather, particularly in winter. Rainstorms in the spring and summer are great while they last, but they don’t usually leave much lasting change. Snow and ice do.

And ice, oh man, ice is mighty.


bright red shrub, the name of which i do not know, located in the front yard

It is brilliant and dangerous. It is heavy and brittle. It will take you where it wants to go – down, like my tree, for instance.


black walnut, not looking so good

HG and I were awake when it happened at seven this morning. I was still in bed. I heard a POP! crackle crackle crackle, cracklecracklecracklecracklecrackle! I couldn’t discern what it was and since it was sort of quiet and was not followed by a ka-THUMP or crying, I didn’t get up. After HG came to the bedroom to tell me what it was, he said it sounded like firecrackers to him, and playing it back in my head, I agree completely.


when the ice cracks, it sounds like breaking glass

The important things to note are that no one was hurt, the power lines were not hit or damaged, the house was not hit. In fact, the very tippy, tippy top of the branches landed about a car length from the closest part of the house. Decent.

That’s not to say we’re out of the woods yet (har). HG pointed out this morning that because the temperatures weren’t supposed to rise above freezing today, the stress of holding up the ice all day would likely take its toll, and he was right. Trees that were standing this morning when I left for a playdate had given up pieces of themselves by the time I returned 3.5 hours later. Our tree could offer up another third of itself by tomorrow, as well, especially since it’s snowing now.

On my way home earlier, I drove with my window down listening to the creaking of the giant ice-covered trees that line the main road through my town. It is quite a game of nerves to drive under these ancient trees, wondering if they will cast their limbs down on my van while I pass beneath, hoping and feeling oddly grateful for the power lines that were holding them up. And then passing a firetruck, called to a scene where the power lines gave way under the heavy ice.

Well, Howdy Do!

January 15th, 2007

A tree fell down in my backyard this morning. How’s your day going?

I’m Not Surprised About This

January 12th, 2007


What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?


You will be smothered under a rug. You’re a little anti-social, and may want to start gaining new social skills by making prank phone calls.
Take this quiz!


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Delurking Week? Seriously?

January 10th, 2007

I heard over at Summer’s blog that it’s National Delurking Week. So, yeah. How about that?

Shortages

January 10th, 2007

It seems like there is a shortage of decent people these days. Other bloggers are writing lately about how we (generally, as a society) are losing our civility. The author at In the Trenches recently wrote that it would be very decent if people said “Thanks” to the person who holds the door for them. I agree. I say “Thanks” and I listen for it when I hold a door for someone else. It’s a little thing, but it’s the right thing to do.

But I realized today that making the small gestures, like saying “Thanks,” does not actually make me a decent person. Helping someone who has fallen face first on the poured concrete floor of my local Costco would have.

I say “would have” because I did not actually help the woman who fell. She was an elderly woman who apparently slid out of her wheelchair (my view of it was obscured by the person in front of me in line), tipped, and fell on her forehead, busting it open. There we were, dozens of people in line to pay for our oversized packages of food and office supplies, and only two people darted forward to help the woman and her companion assess the damage.

I was not among them.

I can sit here and rationalize why, and I probably am, but it basically comes down to this: I’m not a leader. I’m not the type who leaps up, organizes others, and tackles a situation. I’m more of a gatherer of information type. I don’t think well on the spot, if it’s not a familiar situation, because I am inclined to gather all of the information possible, then apply it.

So the result is that by the time I looked around to see if a Costco employee was getting proper medical help, two other people were with the woman and her wheelchair driver*, and it looked to me they were doing the right thing. They were not moving her (nor were they allowing her to move). They were checking to see that she could breathe (and she could). They were identifying where the blood was coming from (her forehead). What was left for me to do?

I knew that my leaving my cart and standing over the woman doing nothing would, well, do nothing useful. So I opted out. I did take the job that presented itself to me, which was guarding the carts of the two women who were helping out. One cart was in front of me and the other behind me. Part of this job was defending these women’s places in line from a guy farther behind us who wanted to skip over us all because there was a possibility that one of these women would not be done tending to the woman before her turn to check out came. You know, because it was this asshole’s self-appointed job that the Costco checkout lanes not stop moving in the face of an injured human being.

Those pesky injured human beings.

For the record, Costco employees did come to the rescue. It just took a while for them to find the first aid kit, so they busied themselves cleaning up the blood with paper towels and baby butt wipes, donated by a woman in another line who had just purchased them.

In the end, I felt like I didn’t do enough, but I’m willing to be content that at least I didn’t get in the way of helping the woman who fell and that I wasn’t a jerk while the whole thing went down. There are many opportunities and many ways to be decent to other people. What I want to remember about today is that if I can be helpful, I should be; if I can’t be helpful, I should do what I can to avoid interfering or making the situation worse. That is the decent thing to do.

*I couldn’t help but wonder why there was no seatbelt on the wheelchair. When they got her back in her chair, I noticed that the little platforms her feet were supposed to rest on were folded up, leaving the woman’s feet dangling just above the floor. How exactly was she supposed to keep herself in the chair? No wonder she fell out.

Playing Catch Up – Updated

January 7th, 2007

The tot hit an important milestone today. She has begun dumping things out. This morning at the restaurant, she dumped her bag of Cheerios (known 90% of the time as Ohs). She played with them and ate some. She explored the physics of the Ohs by putting her hand on the whole pile, moving bunches around, sliding them on the table.

Then, at lunch, she not only ate several of these waxy-frosted, beady-ball sprinkled cookies when she never ever, never ever would even touch them before,

frosted cookies

but she also asked for and dumped out her cheesy crackers and played in the crumbs.

cheesy cracker crumbs

Now that I think about it, on Thursday she crumbled a graham cracker and left the crumbs on her snack table.

What’s noteworthy about this development, besides the fact that a 2.5 year old is just now acquiring a 7 month old’s inquisitiveness, is that her anxiety during the sessions is absent. She is not troubled at all by the potential mess, which is about 1,000 miles from where we began.

It’s messy, to be sure, but it’s necessary. This kind of play falls into the category of “the physics of food.” Essentially, it is playing with a food in your hands in order to learn about how it will be in your mouth. When you bang a raw carrot on the table, you learn that it will be hard and require a hard bite and a big chew. It will not be mushy and it will not be brittle. When you plop your hand into your bowl of applesauce, you learn that it will feel a bit gritty and very wet, possibly cool and easy to move around in your mouth.

Younger tots come into learning about the physics of food more inconspicuously because they are naturally inquisitive and they gradually seek out interactions with the foods around them. The tot did not because 1) I didn’t give her enough opportunities to be messy and handle many of the foods I was feeding her, which only served to complicate things like the fact that 2) the tot did not want to handle anything other than her dry spoons. Spilled foods, on her or on any surface other than “the right one” (i.e., the bowl or plate), were deeply traumatizing. They were crises. The saying “Don’t cry over spilt milk” was probably invented for kids like my daughter.

But in the last couple of days, she’s making huge strides. She ate a ton of food today*, including foods she’s never eaten before: the nasty frosted cookies, M&Ms**, and some rather wet baby carrots (a food she has licked before, but tonight she gnawed on them). It’s improvement, and I’ll take it.

*I’m not typically worried about the amount of food she eats, as long as she’s not acting hungry. If she’s acting hungry yet struggling with food, there’s a problem. This scenario is improving, however, as she learns to recognize her own hunger cues and ask for food or drink – big self-help behaviors that have eluded her all this time. Today, I don’t think she quit asking for food once. The next two days it will be critical I remember the diaper bag everywhere we go because, um, seriously. There’s gonna be a blow-out, probably at Kohl’s.

**There is an interesting little story here, I think, that I’d like recorded here. Thank you, HG, for posting it in the comments. Smooch!

Phone Number as Body Art

January 4th, 2007

All the way back in November, we took the tot to her first Detroit Lions game. HG and I were a bit worried about what would happen if we both got separated from her in a sold-out stadium, so I rummaged around in my brain for an idea and came up with a light bulb. We could make it work.

I remembered a post on Parent Hacks about writing your phone number on your child’s body in marker before going to a crowded place. Yay! Hooray! Our child will have identifying material on her body that is neither a tattoo nor a cat collar!

But would she let me write on her body? My child, the one who doesn’t like fluid splashed on her or spilled on her or rained on her or touching her or… You know the one. I pondered this and decided that I would act like any other parent on the planet: I would simply assume it would work and I would play to her weaknesses.

I’ve heard tell that toddlers like to write on themselves, and I could imagine that the tot would like the control I would be handing her if I stripped her down, handed her a marker, and gave her permission to do what I normally stop her from doing. So, armed with a Sharpie, I sat down with the tot and a giant pile of washable Crayola markers. We drew all over with the Crayolas and periodically I would reach in with the Sharpie and write a number or two on her tummy.

I thought I would have to be all stealthy, but the truth is that after a couple of times, she was fine with it. I finished the numbers and a note on her hand, reading “See Tummy,” wrapped up the marker play, and scooted her off to the bathroom, where we washed all of the marker off, except the important info.

bodyartnumbers.JPG

It was the greatest victory of all time! Okay, maybe just that week. But still, my hat’s off to Parent Hacks. They are awesome. But so am I. My self-confident, multi-marker approach rendered the activity so mundane that we didn’t need to play markers in order to write on her again for the next game we took her to (Christmas Eve). Woo hoo!

Advances in Texture Tolerance

January 4th, 2007

Today, the tot took up the three apple slices from a lunchtime bowl and played with them. At first, she seemed unsure of what to do with these cool, damp things in her mitts. She began pushing them slowly around like race cars and then she started making voices for them that eventually led her to play “Daddy, Mommy, Baby.”

She does that a lot – play Daddy, Mommy, Baby, I mean. Touching food, not so much. Usually I engage with her in the play by acknowledging the toys, like her consecutively-sized rubber ducks, by the family names and actively seeking out conversations with them in their roles. For instance, “Baby Duck, do you like to swim?” Not today, though. Our Food Friend often personifies whatever thing we’re playing with at the moment (today, bendy straws), but it felt weird to me to talk to apples that way. So, when the tot would hold up a slice and use a falsetto voice to ask me “Uh, Mommy? Who am I?” I tended to reply with, “You are a teeny tiny [or other descriptor] apple slice.” What I noticed is that it didn’t stop her from role playing with the slices. She still drove them around on the table and lent them voices.

What is remarkable is her sustained, voluntary physical contact with the wet food. When we started solids, she was interested in the bowls and spoons, but she was distressed if there was a lot of pureed food in the bowl. If it spilled, she would freeze up and look to me for a solution, and I fed this reaction by quickly wiping it away rather than soothing her emotions while letting her body experience the sensation of spilled food. When it came to solids, I was so terrified of choking hazards that I’m sure my demeanor conveyed distress and worry rather than the sentiment I should have communicated: food is fun, food is yummy, food is an adventure, eating together is a learning place, eating together is a joyful thing.

Still, it was not all me. I look back to pictures I took of the tot a couple of weeks after her first birthday, when I was putting together thank you cards, and I am reminded of her early reaction to peeled apple. I gave her one to play with while I used her foot to stamp footprints on the thank you cards. (I chose footprints because I knew there was no way she’d let me do handprints, if for no other reason than she was 1.)

tot_apple2.BMP

She did not like to hold the apple, she did not want to pick it up, she wanted it somewhere else. I do recall that she was so wrapped up in what I was doing that she was not stressed out about the apple on her tray, but if she had to move it out of the way, she would use her fingernails and the back of her fingers. The foot thing, well, it worked and she only squirmed for the first dozen or so cards.

footprint.JPG

Lately, I feel as though the majority of her actions are her attempt to call my bluff, to get a kind of attention that ultimately only perpetuates anxiety behaviors. The apple family this morning was born because I didn’t react one way or the other about her picking up the apples and running them along the table – not even a positive reaction. Just a matter of fact, “Oh, you found the apples.” When that’s all she got, she explored further. She played the way she needed to a long, long time ago.

And a Happy New Beer!

January 2nd, 2007

Between the Holiday Gauntlet (doing my and my mother’s Christmas shopping, attending 3 gift-exchanging gatherings, preparing for and taking one trip to Chicago, surviving New Years), being sick, getting ready for the new semester, and working with HG on basement purging/organizing, the blog has taken a backseat. It’s okay. I’m logging tons of stupid junk to write about, including texture therapy updates and my theory on why the tot is deciding to stop her practice of napping now, when I really need to get something done. My post on the WHOYCBE gift is also coming together. The pictures are done, but the text isn’t yet finished.

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