Baby Doll, Parker

“Baby,” she asked as quickly as her feet hit the ground this morning.  “Wha es baby?”  She looked and gestured towards her play cradle in the corner next to her crib for her doll.  Parker is the third generation to play with this cradle, my grandpa originally made it for my mom.

“I don’t know where you put her, where is baby?”  I replied to ensure she knew I understood her inquiry.  Her language is rapidly developing in the past month and it’s amazing to witness progress from one day to the next.  She is formulating her own statements and questions in a way she only used to be able to repeat after hearing.  And for each exclamation she is able to create it is met with equal or greater insistence for someone to verbalize acknowledgement of her new found vocabulary.

When properly rested she can communicate almost anything, both with her language and continued use of signing.

“Maybe baby is in mommy’s room,”  I encouraged her to go look.

The doll could not be found, though, she was happily distracted by a bottle of body spray her daddy left within reach while shrugging  “Wha es baby, I unno wha es baby?”  She easily gives up the bottle of spray as I sent her to the kitchen to search again.  My last memory of the baby doll was Wednesday evening when she got upset because the doll didn’t swallow the jello dessert she was trying to share with it and we had to wash it’s face.  Again a reminder of why I shouldn’t try to wash dishes while she is eating.

A minute later Parker returns with the doll, pleased with herself for the safe recovery.  She carts the baby off to her room and back to the cradle to tuck the doll in.  Shortly after I hear a small thump and whimpers from Parker.  In the corner of her room I can see she was attempting to climb into the cradle herself when the bottom fell out.  When I was two I got in the cradle with my baby dolls too, although, after three generations of play the wood and glue is just not holding up the same.  

I crouched down to gently remind Parker the cradle is only for the doll and not for Parker while I reassembled it back together.  When it was ready for use again I helped her put the doll back in place and tucked under the blanket.  At this point she tried to tell me “Pawker, Pawker, Pawker,”  pointing straight down into the crib.

Curious of what she was trying to tell me I guessed.  “Did you name your baby doll Parker?”  My guess was obviously wrong.

She gave me a very serious frown and bawled up her fist to use her thumb pointed towards herself.  As if to say Are you stupid, I’m Parker.  

 

Camp Of Frogs & Fish

Trying to eliminate unnecessary clutter, I began sorting through an old box of letters.  I believe I have unnecessarily saved every letter, folded school note, and card I apparently ever received, thus creating plenty of unnecessary clutter.  Going through old mail is like a time capsule of my life and while I can purge a lot of junk, some of these treasures I just can’t let go.  At least if I clutter some internet space with it, I might be able to let go of the paper.

This card I got from my brother while I was away at Girl Scout Camp.  It was a thrilling feeling to hear my name called to get mail, even if I was only away a few days.  And in his most careful cursive (probably the best handwriting I have seen from him – even 20 years later) he wrote a sincere brotherly note.
Girl Scout Camp was full of songs, hiking back and forth across camp grounds and giggling with new friends.

I remember feeling like tiny frogs blanketed the grass outside of our cabins.  If they had been crickets I might have run screaming between the cabin and the bathroom across the grassy knoll.  Since they were amphibian creatures, and babies at that, I carefully took every step to make sure they got to hop to safety before my monstrous 9-year-old foot reached the earth.  Not only was the frog population so high, I can’t forget about the sheer numbers of fish in the lake either.

For each day at the camp, our group would have a rotation at the lake for swimming.  On the first day it was required to swim from one dock to the other for the lifeguards to judge what level swimmer we were and how far we would be allowed to swim in the lake.  I was overly confident about my swimming abilities as I jumped in for my test.  Immediately I began feeling not alone in the water, one object brushing against my leg, then another and then my arm.  With every kick and paddle through the water I was feeling fish also trying to occupy that space.  My easy aquatic technique quickly turned to floundering to stay afloat, slowly making my way to the other dock disgusted by the lake and its fearless inhabitants.  Despite my uneasy approach they gave me permission to swim to a certain distance in the water to which I said “No thanks.”  And stayed on the beach.

Colorful Fun at The Color Run

The first week of July, Kansas City played host to The Color Run, the self proclaimed “Happiest Run on Earth.”  While I don’t usually equate running with happiness – everyone appeared to be enjoying this colorful 5K.

All participants came dressed with a white t-shirt which was drenched in a different color powder at each kilometer.  Over 30,000 runners of all ages, including tiny ones in strollers and wagons, joyfully made their way through the track around Arrowhead Stadium to one central ending point where the party really took place.  The finish line had a DJ pumping pop hits, engaging participants to dance and cheer for additional color packets for Color Throws.  During Color Throws the crowd launched color packets into the air for clouds of color and perfect photo opportunities.

Laughter and smiles were all around Kansas City following the funnest run on earth…  And to top it off proceeds were donated to The Ronald McDonald House.

If My Dogs Attended School, They’d Be In Special Ed.

I love our dogs, they are a part of our family.  And they are oh so special.  Macy is a mid-sized terrier, loyal, agile, anxious and stubborn x10.  Harper is nearly 90 pounds and although he just turned 3 he seems all puppy, also extremely loyal.  This week’s walk in the park is a prime example of the nut bag behavior I deal with for these lovable clowns.

In lue of getting a work out in at home, pilates with a toddler on the hip is impossible, I figured an escape to nature would serve the same purpose and be fun for all.  I loaded up baby and pups for a ride to our favorite dog park – Shawnee Mission Park.  The parking lot was rather empty on this Tuesday morning, which worked out fine for me I was able to open the back and let the dogs run straight to the gate without leashes.

The dog park area is large in comparison to other parks we have gone to, there is a long wide path down the middle flanked with grassy areas on either side and wooded areas beyond that.  Although there are paths down towards the wooded areas, we have always seemed to stay in the middle as it is the quickest way to the water.  My dogs love to be social with other dogs, although they lack social etiquette and don’t quite get it when other dogs are annoyed with their jovial nosiness.  My husband and I haven’t dedicated adequate time to training our dogs, although, we are pretty proud of them coming when we call (eventually).  On our last trip to the dog park another dog accidentally knocked Parker to the ground, the shock made her cry and our dogs immediately retreated from their playful fun to lay down in front of their baby to protect her.

The dogs and Parker were so happy to be out free to run, Parker calling out to her dogs and laughing when they would coming running back towards her.  She alternated between running after them and breaking to be carried.  Needless to say the toddler toddling was not moving fast enough for the dogs.  There were not many other park goers when we first arrived, the dogs greeted fellow pedestrians and pets who passed then happily continued down the path.  Long down the path reaches a wooded area and the trail forks, both sides leading circling to a beach area.  The dogs had been racing forward and back to us until we neared the fork, at this point Macy couldn’t contain her excitement and ran straight out of view towards the water.

Slightly annoyed at her irregular disappearance, I figured no need to worry we would catch up to her.  The beach time was the real purpose of going all the way to Shawnee Mission Park anyway, bringing the dogs out in the heat I knew they would need some time to cool off.  Harper stayed near us, whether to look after the baby or because he is a baby himself – he stayed close.  We took our time and descended the hill down the path I thought was the shortest towards the water.  My memory served me wrong, though the twists and turns eventually got us in sight of the beach to which my daughter exclaimed “Wa wa!”  And finally I was back in sight of my little white terrier sprinting along the shore after a boxer.  A couple more turns and we were at the beach with no sign of Macy.  I called and whistled, no Macy, no boxer and no people.

I knew my anxious mutt probably followed the other park goer and his pooch back up the opposite path when she realized she would be abandoned alone on the beach.  I pleaded with Harper, as if he could suddenly exhibit Lassie’s intelligence, “Go get Macy.”  to no response…  Lugging extra 30lbs on my hip, and a good for nothing beast at my side we began to climb the opposite path, where Macy had apparently gone to join another family.  By the time I reached the spot back where the fork rejoins at the top my cell phone was ringing and I knew someone was calling from the tag on my dog.

A girl with a rottweiler had Macy leashed and was waiting for me up the path, when she realized Macy didn’t belong to the people she was following she stopped to help.  THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the stranger who interviened.  She even said Macy was looking around nervously, of course I knew this was between the mindless bounding over the other dogs…  Want to play with me, where’s my mom, I’m so excited, I’m so scared.  

With our group finally reunited we headed back to the water and Macy dove right in.

Parker was dressed in a swimsuit, I assumed it would be wet and messy on the beach even though I didn’t intend on us actually getting deep in the water.  Therefore, I came without a swim suit and felt comfortable in light summer clothes until Harper made me think I might actually have to dive in for him.

Shawnee Mission Park

Despite being half golden retriever sometimes I wonder if he really has any of that blood in him, he doesn’t retrieve and he is scared to swim.  Harper will run along the water and take advantage of the splashes to cool is black furry body, he doesn’t generally go deep enough to even let the water touch his chest.  On this morning he stood in the water facing the shore when some seaweed must have brushed up against his leg.  Panic set in for my giant and he scooted his body back further into the water.  At this point fear increased more because not only was he feeling something on his leg, now he was getting into deeper water.  I called sympathetic and encouraging calls for him to come to me.  I knew if he continued his backward motion I would have to forego my plan of not getting wet in order to save him.  Yet, back further he went until the water was over his back and he appeared petrified putting his head underwater as if to bite at the lake creature pulling him out.

Just before I could leap forward and make the 10 soaked steps it would have taken to reach him, Macy swam out in front of me and snapped Harper to attention.  It was as if in a split second she taught him how to doggy paddle and he could finally make a forward motion in the water again.  She lead him to the shore and as soon as he could reach he practically leapt over her to get to dry ground again.  Macy suddenly made up for her earlier run off and became the Lassie for the day to save Harper from drowning.  Yea, like I said – they are “special” dogs.

Harper refereed a game of Tug-A-War and stayed close to the shore after his terrifying ordeal.

Seven years ago…

Seven years ago I would have been preparing for my Euro-backpacking adventure with my roommates. We each committed to the trip years before and despite some conflicting life courses we were able to pull it off. We each loaded our packs and unloaded several times narrowing down to a handful of select outfits which we would wear on a steady rotation for the next four weeks. Our itinerary began with flying into London, then a flight to Amsterdam. Between there and our scheduled flights home was completely spontanious. Our adventures were influenced heavily by the advise of fellow travelers who made suggestions of “must-see” and “skip that – it’s overrated” locations. I’d like to think I am still spontaneous and I know the enthusiasm for travel is still present, however, the priorities on my pocketbook prevent me from living how I did seven years ago.

The following is an e-mail I sent home from some forgotten internet cafe in Amsterdam:

Hello All,

I have already lost track of time and have no idea what todays date or the day of the week is. I keep calculating the time in Kansas and I am blown away thinking about what I would be doing if I were at home right now, instead of drinking my 6th beer at the Heineken factory, I would have been getting ready for work (just an example from yesterday.)

We flew into London on Tuesday, even though it was a 7 1/2 hour flight it went by really quickly. We each had our own TV with about 12 channels to choose from, plus I slept alright for most of it. We found our way with only a few wrong turns to our hostel in Westchester called Wake Up London. Wednesday we toured London on a double decker bus. We saw all the sights there are to see just passing on the bus, and also took a ferry ride. That night we saw a musical at the Queens Theater, it was great but I was so exhausted that it was hard to enjoy it. David Schwimmer had a play going on in the theater right next door that we could have gone to and I think that I saw something about Val Kilmer in a pay there too.

For the past two and a half days we have been in Amsterdam, crazy city – I love it!! I could spend a year here just watching the people and studying the prostitutes – no joke!! We visited Anne Frank’s house yesterday morning and then took a tram down to the Heineken Brewery, I don’t think any other museum could live up to that. Along with your ticket in you get three free drinks and a free gift ticket. JoJo, Sheila and I met two Canadians, a young married couple from LA and a med student from Oklahoma. We used far beyond our three free tickets in drinks each! All of us went out to dinner and then the guy from Oklahoma met up with us to walk through the red light district last night.

There is a huge selection of prostitutes, it was kind of how I expected it to be, but I guess I had never thought about the “clients” in the business. It was bizzare watching men walk out of the small doorways and then the curtin would open back up again and the prostitute would be ready for her next sale. We found a coffee shop/bar across the canal from a busy red light spot. We started analyzing the business and timing how long people go in for. We had so many questions to ask about this business, and the longer we sat there the more questions we came up with.

I have so much else to tell you all, but my time is running out on the internet. We are leaving for Berlin tomorrow and I will try to make time to write again soon.

Love – Holly

The Master of Disaster

My husband affectionately coined the name Master of Disaster for my daughter.  She, as toddlers typically are, has an extremely healthy level of curiosity and a seemly endless amount of energy to explore.  We did the usual child-proofing measures of putting locks on drawers, the gate at the top of the stairs and plugs in sockets.  While she continued to grow in bravery and independence we quickly learned to clear clutter in her path and try to keep her confined when possible.  Since I have not discovered how to be a hovering mom AND accomplish household tasks this has led to the nickname Master of Disaster.

For example, this morning she sat in her booster chair eating her breakfast while I was in the kitchen.  I take advantage of the moments when she is strapped in and with food to occupy her so that I can clean the kitchen and complete tasks like emptying the dishwasher without an assistance climbing in.       She sat eating in a cheerful mood, talking throughout her meal in her indistinguishable baby garble.  My overly productive morning quickly turned to the realization that my back was turned to her too much when she indicated “All done,” and I saw how she had used most of her yogurt as lotion for her pants.  

Her favorite disaster creating media is water.  She could spend hours in the bathtub, sprinkler, or faucet just playing.  The unfortunate part is that we don’t have all the time int he world to be playing with those things and she sometimes tries to make do with the dog bowl.  I have found her with a measuring cup from the drawer scooping water from the bowl to the floor.  I have scolded her for using her play kitchen set spoons to stir the dog’s water bowl.  And I have noticed a pattern in her intentionally dipping her hands in the dog dish in order to get to play with the water in the faucet since the only rational step after putting hands in the water dish would be to wash hands.

By far the most comical, yet disgusting, Master of Disaster move I have seen yet with the dog’s water bowl happened as most of these incidences started.  I am busy trying to keep up with my household mess and trust she is innocently playing with her things until I realize she has been quiet and independent for too long.

“Parker” I call from the kitchen.  Within seconds she steps into the doorway from the dining room to the kitchen, facing me, hands to her side, silent with a pacifier plugged in and avoiding eye contact.  “Have you been in the water dish Parker?”  I ask.

She loosens from her frozen position and moves past me in the kitchen to the refrigerator magnets.  I can almost see the thought bubble in her head trying to distract me from questioning if she takes position with an approved activity.  I continue to look down at her and recognize her hand is wet, of course she has been entertained by the water bowl.  Crouching down on her level I show her that I noticed.  She finally looks up at me with her big brown I’m sorry don’t I look too sweet to punish eyes.  She resumes use of the pacifier in her mouth and I can tell from the wet escaping with every suck that it too has been submerged in the dog’s water dish.

The noisiest shoe ever loved.

I am sadly putting to rest my daughter’s outgrown squeaky shoes.  Ironically, I say sadly since when the shoes were purchased I wondered how quickly I would be working to remove the squeaky device.  They were bought in haste back in the fall when I unintentionally brought her out without shoes, well maybe that’s not entirely true… I think it was more related to not having shoes that matched her outfit – yes I am that kind of mom sometimes.

Where we shopped I imagined there would be a wide selection of children’s shoes and I was mistaken to find only one brand available. A local Kansas City baby’s shoe company, Pickle Shoes, had a booth set up at this shopping convention.  At first notice I found shoes immediately that I loved for my tot, colorful leather with Velcro, some with flowers or birds.  My excitement was diminished when I came to understand ALL of company’s shoes contained a noise making air bubble in the heals of the shoes, similar to a dog toy.  Therefore with each step a toddler takes a squeak follows.  “How annoying,” I thought as I started to put a pair back on the shelf.  The salesman, noticing my disappointment, showed me the plug on the side and reported the noise is optional.  My mom ended up buying two pairs that day, these were the most often worn, most frequently commented on and most favorite shoes in her collection to date.  The best part is, the plugs were never removed and the squeaks I assumed would be annoyance were much appreciated.

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With her squeaky shoes on she draws an even bigger audience of adoration in public and gives even the most gloomy passerby a reason to smile.  At home the shoes came in handy as she became more adventurous wanting to leave my line of sight.  With the shoes to indicate her location I didn’t worry as much and when the noise stopped I was aware she must be into something and I needed to go check it out.

What would it be like if everyone’s shoes made more than a click of a high heel or screech of a tennis shoe.  What if everyone’s shoes made noise to reflect their personality or the mood they were in that day.  Buzzing to indicate someone obnoxious is coming, whistling tunes for feeling fun, a siren for someone who is cranky and a warning to move out of the way.  Just a funny thought, what would you want the sound from your shoe to be?

The Anaconda III – Sailing in the Whitsundays

I spent a semester studying in Australia back in 2003.  I caution using the word “studying” because the semester was more about enjoying the opportunity to travel, have fun and adventure far from home while taking a few classes.  When I first inquired about the option to take a semester abroad I set up a meeting with the study abroad office to check out some universities in Europe that I could go to.  When I arrived for the appointment there was another student there at the same time for the same purpose except she was interested in Australia.  The adviser laid out a map of Australia to show her the options.  She pointed to Perth, Melbourne and Sydney talking about what type of students go to each school and how they spend their time.  She then pointed to Townsville on the Northeastern coast of Australia.  She explained that students go to James Cook University, they get to enjoy the Great Barrier Reef an hour off the coast and the rainforest an hour inland.  The adviser reported that most of her students that attend James Cook call back to make arrangements for staying an extra semester.  After she was done explaining the schools in Australia I told her there would be no need to look at the  schools in Europe, I wanted to go to Townsville.

The next semester I was living life to the fullest and signing up for every adventure imaginable.  I kept a journal for parts of the trip, writing about random nights, tricks to learning the Aussie lingo, stories about bus rides, hearing songs and logs of rugby games attended.  One of my favorite entries is about sailing in the Whitsundays, a trip that I went on with a group of friends over Easter weekend:

Sailing in the Whitsundays, The Anaconda III

Tom, Amy, Crystal, Sarah and I took a 3 day sailing trip in the Whitsunday Islands over our Easter break.  In those 3 days we had quite a few adventures.

One day we stopped at a small island so people could snorkel and lay out.  Crystal, Sarah and I decide to walk around the island.  We get 3/4 of the way around and come to giant boulders that we can’t walk over.  Our options are either to swim around and risk being stung by jelly fish, try to get through the middle of the island which is dense bushes and trees, or try to scale over the rocks.  We attempt the rock climbing.  Even though Sarah and I are in flip-flops we managed climbing over these boulders.  Then we got to a point that we couldn’t cross.  It was too far to jump and we couldn’t get through the woods.  Meanwhile one of the deck hands from out sailboat is watching us from a dingy. (The dingy is the small boat that brings people from the big boat to shore.)

After he realizes that we have nowhere to go and we are freaking out, he manuevers the dingy right up to the rock wall.  One by one he helps us climb down 15 feet.  The 3 of us were laughing hysterically the whole time about what idiots we were that we had to be rescued.

I asked the deck hand if he had ever had to rescue anyone before and all he said was “Not quite like this.”

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One night on the boat a whole bunch of people were being entertained by the activity in the back of the boat.  The boat’s cook brought her 13-year-old son on board sometimes if he was off of school.  He was on the back of the boat throwing bread in the water to attract fish…  And then the fish would attract squid.  The kid would throw a lure in the water when he saw a squid and try to catch it.  

When a squid gets scared or attacked its defense mechanism is to spew this black ink stuff.  When the kid felt the squid on his lure he jerked it out of the water and the squid shot it’s ink in the direction it was being jerked.  Imagine the reaction of a dozen young college aged guys and girls when squid ink and guts is flung up at them and over their heads.  That ink made it back 20 feet on the deck of the boat.  Nasty – that is all that could be said.  All of us screamed like it was a horror movie.  

The funny part is that all the same people gathered five minutes later and watched the kid catch another one and the ink shot up again another 20 feet.  I was lucky but some of the people, including Sarah and Crystal for squid ink on their clothes.  

—-

Our last day in the Whitsundays Sarah and I wanted to go diving.  We figured that we could handle going out on our own without a dive master.  So we get all of our equipment and plan that she will lead and I will follow.  We go down and are swimming along at about 6 meters.  The visibility was really bad, you couldn’t see past about 8 feet around you, so you don’t really know what is in the water with you until it is right in front of you.  

After swimming for about 3 minutes Sarah turns around and points to me and then points in a direction signaling for me to take the lead.  But I hate being the leader, I hate having to turn to check if my buddy is still near me, I can’t navigate well underwater and I hate not knowing what’s ahead.  When I follow I feel much more comfortable.  So, I pointed to Sarah and pointed in the direction so that she would lead.

She pointed at me again and I pointed at her.  We pointed back and forth for a minute before agreeing to surface to talk.

After I explained that I cannot lead, Sarah decided that even though she wasn’t very comfortable she would try leading again.  We went back down and I got really scared.  I love diving, it’s like an underwater dreamland but when you can’t see very well it’s like a nightmare.  So I made Sarah end our dive early.  We got back to the surface and laughed about what big wimps we were.  

The same deck hand that rescued us from the rocks came to our rescue again and took us back to the boat.  We weren’t charged for our 7 minute dive.

I am constantly reminded of memories from Australia, people I met and experiences I had during that trip.  For the record, I did return home after one semester – only because I had one semester left before graduation.  My biggest recommendation to high school graduates planning to attend college is to make plans to spend a semester overseas – it is worth the effort and expense.  Studying abroad is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the world than you could ever learn in a classroom – which is really part of the point of going to college right?