Tuesday, July 31, 2007

So adorable when sleeping

After an extra foamy bubble bath for Willa, I asked Jim to lie with her in our bed and give her milk in a sippy cup. The sippy will replace the nursing in our bedtime routine for her. I was cleaning the kitchen for a while and went to check on them after a half hour of quiet. I figured I'd see Willa sleeping next to Jim who would be reading Harry Potter.

When I turned the corner I saw Willa crawling all over a sleeping Jim.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Wake up call then on the road

8 am Sunday: I was snoozing in bed while Jim was with Willa. Now that I'm done with Harry Potter (great ending), Jim's picked it up, so Willa easily wandered away from him. Into our bedroom she went with a big cup of water. Cold water. At least it felt cold when it hit my back while she stood there giggling and holding an empty cup above her head.

We were all up hours earlier with Willa's daily wake up call. It usually comes near 6 am, and Jim usually gets her and brings her to bed with us to nurse. She'll be 16 months old next week. Weaning? I'm ready. She is not. I know nearly 16 months of breastfeeding is a great gift to give to my child. But I'm feeling very guilty to say out loud and type here that I'm really tired of it. I have had enough. So at 6 am she was wailing on my lap, pushing the sippy cup away and tugging at the bottom of my t-shirt and I wanted to cry too. I don't know how to get off of this ride. There are lactation consultants to guide new moms through the start of the process, but no one to call up to ask how to end it peacefully, mutually, and with love. I need breastfeeding hospice.
(This photo here thanks to Cousin Jenny's reminder to post the photos of me. I feel weird plastering my own face on my own blog. On the other hand, when Willa's 14 and requesting me to drop her off at a friends and then speed away so she doesn't have to be mortified by being seen in public with her mom, we may both need proof that there was a time she wanted to hug me.)

What else we did this weekend:

Enjoyed the first harvest from our vegetable garden. Here is the giant zucchini. If it were a shoe, it would be a men's 15 or so. It was diced and shredded and made into roaster veggies for burritos and what we're calling zucchini fritters. Very tasty.

The plant in this photo is called a Crown of Thorns. It was a cutting from a larger one we already have. If I ever have a contest on this blog, this could be a prize. Anyone interested?

We also ate our first home grown tomato. And then I died and went to heaven and thanked God for garden tomatoes and he sent me back to take care of the rest of the crop.

On Saturday we were in Kalamazoo for an all day Special Olympics softball tournament. Major league baseball has a lot to learn from these athletes when it comes to love of the game.

We took an old fashioned Sunday ride and wound up in Holland for lunch and Saugatuck for wandering.

Friday, July 27, 2007

We're like Eva and ZsaZsa


Lisa feels underrepresented here (see comment from last post). I have searched and found reference to her in 9 different entries. But no photos. She's right. So, without further ado, here's my sister:

My little sister is 2 years younger than me. She's 6 feet tall. Freak.

She had to miss her own daughter's (MaKenna) 2nd birthday to come and meet her neice for the first time. Have I told you Willa's birthday is the 6th, and MaKenna's is the 7th of April?

We both look damn good in a sombrero.
Also, she used to sneak sticks of butter from the fridge and eat them with our neighbor Casey behind the shed.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Random threads of Willaness

Someone has learned that she can jump in her crib while holding onto the top rail. We used to encourage her to move her arms and splash a bit in the bathtub, but now her enthusiasm gets the floor soaked. She says thank you whenever we hand something to her. Or she hands something to us. She has eaten only peaches at lunch time 2 days in a row. When we scan through our photos on Snapfish, she rocks back, points and yells, "DA" at herself. She points out Jim and Arlo in photos. In a large group photo, she picked out my dad. She loves to lift her shirt and tickle her own belly. Jim and I leave the house at the same time. We go our opposite ways on the highway. At the light just before, we are usually stopped next to each other. I put Willa's window down, Jim puts his down. Willa is as excited and surprised to see him every morning as she was when we first started doing this a month ago. "Da-da!" Her legs flail and her voice goes up a few octaves.

On the other hand

The McDonalds - and every other place - in Allendale closed on Sundays while I was in college.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Home sweet BlondRepublicanChristianPyramidschemehomeproducts Home

14 years ago I made the decision to leave the family nest in Warren, MI to head to Grand Valley State University. After lugging my belongings up the 3 flights of steps in Kistler Hall my parents hugged me tight and turned around to drive the 3 hours home. This was my first day as a West Michigander.

When I decided to go to school a little west of Grand Rapids, I didn't know the stereotypes of the region. I decided on GVSU because it had a good teaching program, I liked all of the trees on campus, and it was away without being too far away (though there were some homesick weekends where Warren felt as far away as Warsaw).

Over the next few months, I noticed that the girls in my dorm were fairly diverse looking. "Diverse" meant a lot to this girl from the suburb that white flight built (this week 40th anniversary of the Detroit riots). On campus, though, I noticed that the larger population, which included the commuter students, was much more blond and blue eyed. And Christian.
Most of my childhood friends had Polish or Italian roots. I grew up with a lot of ____ski's and a lot of the old men sat in lawn chairs while watching their little old Italian wives do the yard work while wearing black dresses. I had a friend who was Lutheran and it blew my mind when she told me that she didn't believe in the Pope. "Mom, will Kelley go to hell?"

Western Michigan (central W. MI anyhow) is the home of Vander_____'s Dutch folk, the Christian Reformed Church, and Amway. Also, the Republican party of the state.

Needless to say, I fit right in. What's that? Oh, it's the sarcasm bell.

Amy in Motown made a comment 2 posts back that started me thinking about this city. Go ahead and read it. I'll wait....

I actually left GR after 4 years of college to do a year in the Americorps National Civilian Community Corps. I was based out of Charleston, SC, but we moved all around the SE US. Then I returned to Grand Rapids to finish my degree.

I left again to go work for Habitat for Humanity at their headquarters in Americus, GA. From there went to live in DC and then Baltimore.

And then suddenly I didn't have a place to call home. I was living a Bob Dylan song and it didn't feel comfortable to have "no direction home", to be "a complete unknown."

I was 29; Warren was too far in my past to feel like it was familiarly "right." I felt the trees and the Grand River of Western Michigan pulling me back. I returned without a job. In the interview I mentioned to my future boss that I was hoping to set down roots. I met Jim the month I started the job. Jim grew up in Grand Rapids and, ironically came from a Polish Catholic family.

Maybe it's who I have decided to surround myself with, but I don't feel oppressed by the Dutch Conservative ReChrislicans (trademark right declared here - I just made that one up) that western Michigan is know for. These generalizations may come from another era or perhaps from a smaller town down the road where tulips and thrift are king. I'm not sure...
I recently learned that Grand Rapids isn't who we think it is. There are more Catholics than Christian Reformers here. Despite being much less "colorful" than other large(ish) cities, Grand Rapids is only 67% white. And while wealthy Republicans have the resources to be louder here (ahem, Mr. DeVos), the city itself leans left. Want to see this from someone other than me? Okay, go here.
I could pretend that we're like Laura and the Ingalls family: pioneers on the frontier bringing liberalism to the "savages" (just kidding conservative pals, just kidding). But that's not the case: I have friends who are Dutch and/or Republican and/or think that the Bible Belt of the state needs tightening, but we have mutual unstated agreements that live and let live makes it work. I also know a lot of folks in the area who think along the same lines as I do.
Here are some scenes from the city Al Green, yes that Al Green, and I call home:

Olds Manor, one of my favorite buildings. Most recently a retirement home, now vacant with severe building safety issues.

This guy watches over a busy intersection. I've cropped out the For Lease sign directly under him. At photo taking time, I thought that was a clever political statement.

Willa and I on the steps of Fountain Street Church. Everything stereotypes of W. Mi is not.

Here they tore down a parking ramp, revealing some old ads on an old building. Magic Johnson considered building a movie theater here, but didn't. If I weren't taking the photo standing in a park, I'd suggest making keeping the land underdeveloped for more green space.
Physically Grand Rapids is growing, as evidenced by the construction cranes that dot the skyline. Culturally too, the city is a work in progress. "Outsiders" and daring insiders stretch and change the community norms. Within the last few years I've been able to find good pita bread here (Detroiters, you have no idea...), I can speak of my love of John Edwards without fear of excommunication, and have had more awkward discussions with Mormons than Christian Reformers on our front steps.
We'll see how long our roots remain in Grand Rapids soil, but for now? We're enjoying walking along the river, and through the trees and neighborhoods of West Michigan.
Bonus fun fact of the day: Native Grand Rapidians are statistically taller than the rest of the country.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tour de Sinkis

Saturday was my dad's birthday. Jim, Willa, the dogs and I went to my parents house to celebrate. This is the wacky fun that ensued.

MaKenna pulling the birthday boy out of the play house :

Uncle Ken gives Willa the assist:

Willa gets a bath from her Grandma P.:

Somewhere on our camera there's a picture of Bill and Jackie in their new house. We'll find it (I hope) and share. They've got a big house with a good vibe, and a great backyard (and right now a lot of brass light fixtures). I can't wait to see how they make it their home.

When we got home on Sunday we walked downtown again:

Willa saw a helicopter and was a little excited:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sinki shares her political side

I thought maybe our Vice President would have been served papers on Saturday when he had Presidential powers. Mr. Cheney who has eluded death from several heart attacks also feels he can escape the executive order to report how classified information is kept classified. Want to read more? Go here. It seems as though the few hours that he was in charge went smoothly.

While searching for the previous link, I found that Cheney will undergo surgery to "replace his entire unit." Which must be difficult to plan, as he really is just a unit.

I don't think it's funny to make fun of people's health concerns. I don't hold President Bush in high esteem, but felt bad the the whole world knew he had a colonoscopy Saturday. Katie Couric chose to share her experience on NBC; George Bush had to because it's in his job description. Dick Cheney though... well, I just don't see him as a person. The only time I felt a wave of humanity coming from him was during his very well broadcast tragic accident of shooting his friend in the face (Internet, that's not funny either). Then, for just a teeny second, he was a man. The next day, he went right back to being a unit.

Also, while we're on the topic of national leadership: John Edwards? I want to make him a grilled cheese and tell him I love what he's doing for our country.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Her hide out

3.5 weeks since the doctor suggest 1 pound a week. Lost so far? 4.5 pounds. I am an overachiever.

In other news... Willa has a tent in her room right now. When my brothers, sister, and I were younger we made tents and forts with afghans stretched over high chair backs and anchored by encyclopedias. More often than not we did not disassemble our creation before mom and dad came home. This meant trouble. Not only does mom like a clean house, those encyclopedias were new and those things aren't cheap (thank you Internet for letting me live in peace knowing I'll never have to lecture Willa about encyclopedias or worrying that a missing "J" would mean an hole in knowledge). So, those kind of tents will be orchestrated in a few years - oh gosh! she'll probably use the laptop instead of an encyclopedia.

Right now, there's a Willa sized tent in her room. It's got an owl's face and wings and feet on it and has some stars too. Inside is the wall covering that my mom made for her (mom, she loves to lie on it and rest her head on the cushioned monkey) and some books and toys. And whatever else a 15 month old drags into her lair. We're pretty sure she likes it:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

360 Degrees from Perfection

Monday evening we had lovely weather. I was lying in the hammock in the backyard feeling worn out from the day. The hammock cradled me, and I was still, except for nudges from Arlo rubbing his back against the bottom of the hammock - he's such a cheap thrill kind of dog. Jim was in a lawn chair near my head. Willa was on his lap. They were in deep conversation, peppered with giggles.

In the middle of a yawn, I craned my neck to look at them. The beauty made me gasp and I spent a minute trying to memorize the scene. This is what I saw, framed by my purple hammock cocoon:

The sky was a perfect summer blue with puffy white clouds. Against that was the lively green of our gigantic maple tree's leaves. And then Jim's red and white checked shirt. Dark red that jumped up and down when he laughed. And then Willa's bare feet and small toes, dancing on the air. All those layers of colors, and life, and sweetness.

I am not foolish enough to think we ought to capture perfection. There are often too many dishes in the sink, too many projects piling up, too many books on the "to read" list. We sometimes have to throw away produce that we had every intention of eating. I will always have at least one zit somewhere and Jim will probably continue to leave his shoes... everywhere. Perfection is a quest that makes you forget the scenery along the way, I think. That minute we were exactly 360 degrees from perfection - which, for you folks who aren't geometry nuts, puts us right back at perfection.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

2 post Tuesday - daycare report

"Willa was sitting next to a friend. The friend put their fingers near Willa's mouth. Willa bit her friend's fingers."

She's never been the biter, but in this case I can see her reasoning. Sometimes you just have to tell your friend to back off, you know?

True or False Quiz

Willa was excited about some street musicians we passed on our walk around downtown.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

To Willa's Jr. Fan Club President

Dear MaKenna,

The Children's Garden just isn't the same without you.

Love you, Willa

(Yes, internet, cheap ploy to get my sister to visit us, I know. Trust me, this is better than a long and more subtle musing. I'll let you know if this works.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Beauty Shop

Willa handed me the cup that holds her hair do-dads. We sat on the floor while she handed me one clip at a time. When all 12 were in her hair, she pulled them out. And then handed them to me again to start over.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cutely Contrary

This is the week when she started saying "no." There is a whole variety of "no" and none of them are unpleasant... yet.

There's the sweet, very quiet, "nooo" when I ask put her in her highchair. She says it like we're kidding around, like I've just asked her if she'd like to wear pudding on her head.

There's the shaking the head, and silent no. The "I've had my fill of dinner, thanks mom" no.

Last night we saw an award winning no. Jim got home and pretended to chase Willa from the backyard to the front. Willa took off, giggling, and turned to make sure he was right behind her. She stopped and grinned - wagging her index finger at him, and shaking her head slowly. Then she took off.

This week "no" is charming. It's cuteness has been duly documented so we can look back on the good ole days. We know that the screaming in the middle of the grocery store "NNNOOOO!" is around a corner not too far away.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I like most people. Phew.

I am not a misanthrope.

I thought for a little while that maybe I was. Turns out no, I do like people, in general. I do not like people, specifically, who:
- try to cut off a dad pushing a stroller, resulting in Willa's feet nearly being chewed up in the bike spokes of the idiot who really, really needed to be in front of us.
- stand next to a baby stroller to light up and smoke
These people - a 17 year old boy and a 60+ year old man - have never been mothers and were unaware of the wrath that they were stirring.

I realized last night that I don't enjoy crowds like I used to. This may be part of my fireworks problem. I just don't feel like Willa's well being is the #1 concern of everyone in the crowd. Insensitive jerks.

We went to Blues on the Mall downtown last night. We parked a ways away for our nightly walk. When we got to the mall at about 7:30, the crowd was nothing like the docile bikers and blues hipsters I remember seeing at this concert series in the past. There was a lot of product in very high and multi-colored hair. There was break dancing. There were a bunch of guys in suits who just got out of their Awful Tie Club Meeting. There was a surprisingly huge crowd and a few bad apples had me feeling like I'd rather keep walking than growl at people who were poking this mama bear with a stick.

So Jim and I ushered Willa through the streets while taking photos of our city. Willa waved at every single person we saw. She danced to the music in each passing car. She leaned her head back and then further back to see the top of the buildings we passed. A half hour later we returned to the concert area, and it was transformed back to the crowd I remembered it would be. We listened to a few songs and escaped before the motorcycle brigade headed out of the heart of the city.

I also do not like people who ride obnoxiously loud motorcycles, but I figure Blues on the Mall is kind of "their turf" so I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let the bossing around begin

Shop vac - hee hee - yes, still today.
Yesterday evening Willa was kind of grouchy (1 nap at daycare, grrr...) and wandering around the house aimlessly. I said, "Willa, go get a book and we'll read." And she went to her room. And came back with a book. And handed it to me.
Our daughter is a rational human being capable of following directions. Except at 5 am when she is a toddler in pain because molar #4 refuses to break the gum line already.
Tonight I'm going to try, "Willa, take the garbage out."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

ER in the comfort of our own home

"We could hook a straw up to the Shop Vac." This is a phrase I never thought I would hear my husband say. But desperate times call for powerful suction.

Last night I stepped away from Willa and her dinner to get something to wipe the cottage cheese off of her face. And arms. And hair. Willa's success rate with spoon self-feeding is growing by the day, but it's a sloppy growth.

When I sat back down in front of her, she was sniffing and putting her finger up her nose, more than usual. I looked down at her tray and had a sinking feeling. Sure enough, there was a pea in her right nostril. I tried to pluck it out, but she sniffed again and it went further up.

Jim was at the grocery store, so I called him asking him to come home asap. I'd need him to hold her head while I tried to nab the pea with tweezers. Then I called urgent care to see if they could remove it if we couldn't. No, the nurse said, she'd have to go to the ER (grumble grumble 4 hours in an ER waiting room grumble $150 bill grumble, for a pea?!).

Jim got home, we laid Willa on our bed with the reading light illuminating the legume in question. We were unsuccessful with tweezers. Turns out a squirmy crying toddler makes my steady hand less steady with metal so close to her brain. This is when he suggested the Shop Vac (I'm still giggling today). I went the more energy efficient route and suggested we just put the straw in a mouth and suck. This is what worked in one attempt.

Note to self: move a straw or two to the first aid kit. Move peas to the back of the freezer.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Warning: mention of boobs

On Saturday we made it through our to do list.
Farmers market? Check. Left with wax beans, dilly beans (grandma p. could get $4 a jar... where's that recipe again?), 2 red peppers, and some cucumbers.
Backyard work? Check - well, half check. We watered and I pulled a few weeds, but we didn't get much done.
Visit with Jim's family? Check - a pruny pool fingers dripping with popcicle juice check.
Smiles and laughs? Yup - Willa's highlight of our trip to Grand Haven was rocking out to the dueling pianos at Kirby grill and her own green balloon to bat around while we pushed her stroller down the boardwalk.

On Saturday Jim, Willa, and I were changing into suimsuits. I took my bra off (that's a fun sentence to post on the internet). Willa pointed and smiled. Then she started coming near me making fish at the water's surface face and noises. I hope we're both ready to wean before she can say, "hey mom, kinda thristy over here."

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Family adventure

The sinkis go to the river.

Training for sled dog stroller races

Her highness is pleased when the little people dance.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

To do: Saturday

Go to Farmer's Market, visit grandma and grandpa T., work on backyard, make Willa smile and laugh. A lot.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Her obsession

I'm experiencing the first wave of, "why the heck did I teach her that word?!?" this week.

Willa received from Aunt Dar and Uncle John a Christmas gift in the form of a motorized bubble blower in the shape of Ariel the little mermaid. We've played with it a few times, but she never really paid much attention to it because it was too soon. This week? If she were eleven years old, the word "bubble" would be scribbled all over her math folder and I'd have to have the "we don't write on our bodies with ink pens" talk with her. She is in love (B, please tell your mom!).

Ariel and her bubbles live in Willa's room atop her wardrobe. Every time I'm in the room with her, Willa points to it and says, "BUB-BULLLL." It's cute, I know. And it's awesome to watch her watching my mouth when a word catches her fancy and she tries to repeat it. I love her proud grin when the word comes out and she knows I understand. I think I heard the word bubble 327 times in 3 hours yesterday.

We've had to hide all other bubble containers this week. There was one on the front porch in plain view. When I started feeling like it was the troll - demanding to be played with before allowing house entry - we hid that one too. I think it's considered an addiction when the object of desire keeps you from every day life.

This weekend we will work on expanding her vocabulary. It will be like a verbal salad bar for her, and us.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The cultural differences between the Grand Rapids and Detroit fireworks

"WOW," said Willa. "Wow. WOW! wow."

We spread our blanket between the Grand River and the Waterworks building, very near the playground Willa had conquered last weekend. The fireworks were visible, but not so loud that she needed the professional grade ear muff protectors we brought along (nice to have a husband in the sound business). Most of the "wows" were dedicated to the fireworks.

The others were whispered while she watched the big kids crawling, leaping, sliding - all frantic - on "her" jungle gym. It looked like a beehive: swarming and humming with crazy energy. Jim helped Willa get to the slide without the sugar & firework buzzed kids trampling the newest, smallest member of the colony. I held my breath, waiting for her to be squashed.

The fireworks were... well, fireworks. Big, and bright and noisy. Probably less flashy this year, due to budget constraints. The crowd had a haze of bug spray and borderline meanness.

I love the Detroit fireworks, because I've always felt a spirit of "this is our City (with a capital C) and, even if most of us travel from the 'burbs and then try to get the heck out to not get stuck on I-75, we're all in it together." Last night in Grand Rapids, there was more of a "I'm kind of drunk and if you get in my way I'll swear at you." vibe. This is a city with an overall kinder, gentler culture, yet I didn't feel it last night.

Huh, after writing that I'm thinking that the crowd last night was a lot like the big, bright and noisy fireworks. Except without the bright. In Detroit - and perhaps I'm idealizing here because the even is so entwined with my childhood - I always felt like the crowd adopted the intended nobility of the fireworks.

You thoughts?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Status report

I've lost 4 pounds since my doctor's visit. I'm chalking 1 of those up to eating better and fun walks and bike rides. The other 3 pounds were lost in moments of indignity and extreme discomfort (see yesterday's post).

I am back at work. Despite feeling only about 70%, I'm concerned about taking another sick day. I ate some mac-n-cheese (you know it's good when there's an -n- involved) and so far, so good.

Willa is at home with Jim. She's done vomitting, but has some mighty foul diapers still. Except for that and being a little more cuddly than usual, she seems fine.

Jim reports a rolling stomach, some bad cramps, and seems exhausted, but might escape fairly unharmed. He is, again, the hero of this bout of sickness, providing rented videos and icy pops.

Monday, July 02, 2007

sharing is caring

stomach flu.
all 3 of us.

the horrors, the horrors...