Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Much Has Happened...Sort Of

It seems like a lot has happened in the last two weeks, but really then when I think about it, not so much. It seems as though at the end of March/beginning of April each year, we all give winter a big farewell by getting sick as dogs. Lucy and I both got the flu. Elaine got something that hung on for weeks. We were all supposed to go to dinner at the Aniol's house. (Lucy adores them.) About five minutes before we were supposed to leave (and as I had just gotten home from work), I took Elaine upstairs to change her. She felt a little warm. Then when I lifted up her shirt, I saw she was covered in little red spots. I yelled, "And...you didn't notice that the baby has chicken pox?" You can imagine how well that went down.

Turns out, it was hives. And a sinus infection that dragged on for weeks. We took her twice to the pediatrician--once to the on-call Saturday doctor and once to our new ped., Dr. Sroka. When Dr. Sroka was examining her, she turned and threw her arms around my neck and tried to climb up me like a frantic monkey. A howler monkey that is, because she roared deafingly into my ear as well. He did the best he could with her, and Lucy told him kindly, "Well, actually, I think she just likes Dr. Perryman better."

Then came birthday parties. My dad turned 75, and my mom threw him a grand party--filling the house with their good old Wheaton friends. Everyone laughed and talked and stuffed themselves, and he was in his element. We left that party and drove to Peoria to Aunt Kimmie's 40th. That was fun too, except that both girls were partied out and Elaine decided to stay up all night and cough and cry. And by all night? I truly mean all night. We took turns with her until around 5:30 a.m., when my sainted mother-in-law, who we are planning to put forward for canonization any time now, said she would take her so that we could rest. I planned to lay down on the bed for just maybe 30 minutes but actually woke with the sun streaming in the windows and Darren shaking me saying, "Al, Al. It's 8:30." We drove home, bleary-eyed, leaving the girls in their pajamas, and that was our auspicious start to Holy Week.

I'm not sure what else I did then, it's a blur. But on Thursday we had our first Seder dinner. It was modified of course, but really nice. Elaine went to bed early on, and then we could enjoy it more (sorry, Smoochie, you'll understand when you're reading this, I promise.) Lucy found the hidden afikomen, opened the door for Elijah, and asked Darren, "Father, why is this night different from other nights?"

Easter Sunday stood out as actually being colder than Christmas. The girls had gotten Easter haircuts (Elaine looks like a boy! It's the cutest thing ever) and put on their Easter dresses and bonnets (with winter coats over). We had a nice day with brunch at our house with friends from church afterward. Finally at about 4:30, after completing what felt like a 4-day cycle of cleaning / entertaining / cleaning / entertaining oh and then some more cleanup, I pulled on some pajamas, got a cup of tea, and sat down in the rocking chair, only to have Lucy come up with a glass of ice water, stumble, dump it all over me, and then start crying. (The other day when she did one of her ultra-early wake-ups, I said grumpily, "Dad and I are going on vacation soon. We're just going to sleep our heads off and never stop." She put her face close to mine and said tearily, "Don't tease! We want to go on baykayshun with you!" It's cute while I'm writing it, but man. I could totally write a scary Twilight Zone episode out of it.) Sometimes I don't feel cut out for motherhood.

But all in all...we're well. Sickness is lingering but slowly giving up. We got to do a lot of nice, meaningful things for Easter as well as see family and friends. And maybe someday we'll get that vacation.

The Games We Play

TV has somehow lost its enchantment around here. That's good. I promise, it's good. In my whole personal evolution of letting-go-of-the-dream-of-a-spotless-house-because-these-are-the-Tupperware-years (it's a process, people, it's a process), I'm having fun playing games with the girls instead. We pull everything out and spread it on the floor and make a huge mess and it's been great. I'm not even talking about board games, which sound like a wonderful idea, but after what seems like hours, when actually, sweet fancy Moses, it's only been about 4.5 minutes of playing Candyland and I'm ready to tear off my own fingernails--these are fun, imaginative games. Like Parade. Parade is this. Lucy takes both of my hairbrushes and a cardboard box. She's both the bandleader and the drummer (just like Daddy). We line all the dolls and stuffed animals up on either side of her--they're the spectators along the parade route (we throw imaginery candy to them). Elaine has several roles (because she'll only do something for a second or two). Sometimes she grabs a blanket and is the flag-waver (she's actually trying to play peek-a-boo and keeps waiting for us to say "Peek!" and laugh repeatedly). She's also the fire engine driver, which means she takes the little red rocking chair and pushes it around the room (she's actually good for that for at least 10 minutes). She's also the lead (and only) equestrian as she pushes and/or rides Dobbin, the rocking horse. I'm the parade singer. Whatever the band leader tells me to sing, be it several hundred verses of Old MacDonald or I'm Gonna Sing Sing Sing I'm Gonna Shout Shout Shout I'm Gonna Sing I'm Gonna Shout and Praise the Lord, I do it.

We also play Wedding. This is a strictly no-boys affair, which sort of makes it all moot, but we go with it. Lucy yells, "Dad, be sure not to come in here. It's No Boys Allowed. You can just watch your baseball game." (I know he's disappointed.) The girls dress in their Cinderella dresses, Easter hats, and Lucy wears my high heels (she's got about as good of balance as I do in them). Then we take their pink plastic phones and call up all the wedding participants--Janet, Harriet, Mrs. Blomberg, to name a few--and give them their wedding responsibilities. Then I put on the wedding music and we march together. I've already made it clear to them that the only acceptable wedding march is Purcell's Trumpet Tune, seeing as that's what Manga had, I had, and Tia had. They seem to accept that.

Another game I invented (I'm kicking myself now) is Restaurant. The girls sit at the island and order food from "Myrtle." (Myrtle talks through her nose, which they find hilarious and I just want to stop and be Mom again.) I come around with a pad of paper and a pen behind my ear and take their orders. They order macaroni and cheese, mandarin oranges, and goldfish crackers. (I guess there's sort of a color theme there, and I'm optimistically thinking we're covering most of the food groups in that meal. I read in someone's blog about their children snacking on tofu and miso soup and some sort of cracked grain/sprout crackers I've never even heard of, and I had to stop reading in despair. I think we're having a good day when we keep the jellybean quotient to a minimum.)

Elaine has her own games too. Her absolute favorite is when I'm changing her, to scramble away naked, climb up on the pillows on the guestroom bed so she can see out the window, and play with the blinds (I'm sure that's safe!) Her other favorite is to take her grocery cart (it used to also double as a car you can ride on, but I left it outside over the winter, and now it won't collapse but stays permanently in grocery cart position. Nice work, Mama.) and cruise around and around--through the kitchen, dining room, living room, little room, and back into the kitchen. Every so often I hear her bump into something and she says, "Whoa!" then keeps on moving. The dearest part is that most runs through the kitchen, she'll stop by me, hug my leg, then resume her rounds.

So, as I said, we're not missing TV that much these days.