Sunday, April 11, 2010

I've often theorized that raising small children is akin to having a dog. More than theorized, actually, since we have one of each, and the similarities are uncanny (except that we've actually managed to housebreak the dog, and have been far less successful with the toddler). Before anyone gets all up in arms, allow me to draw the parallels:

A domesticated dog is generally pretty helpless, depending on you to feed, bathe, provide water, etc. This does not of course include the times your animal tears apart your kitchen and eats your gift baskets right before Christmas (not that I'm bitter). I get flashbacks of this nearly every morning as I watch SB rifle through our pantry, emptying its contents on the floor in an effort to find an upgrade on the breakfast I'm about to present to her.

My dog understands a lot of what I say, but chooses to ignore most of it. Ditto for Otter.

Foster does best with simple, one-word commands like "sit", "come", and "stop." So does SB.

Foz gets rewarded with dog cookies. SB gets rewarded with human cookies. Though I suspect she'd eat the dog ones too.

Each morning we play the cracker game. As you will see, both participants play very similar roles: I hand each of them a cracker, Foster devouring his immediately, while Otter runs around waving hers, waiting for Foz to chase her, protesting loudly when he does (or worse, steals her cracker) until she finally hands her cracker to him. At which point she promptly demands another cracker so that we can start all over again.

If you're still not convinced, allow me to describe a scene from this afternoon. We were all playing in the back yard, with Otter gleefully chasing her ball around while Bree and his dad played a game of PIG (HORSE's shorter cousin) using wadded up balls of paper and a wastepaper basket. Of course, Otter was obsessed with anything they were doing and kept moving the basket around (which I think messed with the rules). In order to distract her, we started taking the balls out of the basket, throwing them to her and watching as she chased after them and threw them back into the basket.

"You realize we're teaching the girl to fetch, right?" I asked Bree. "And I think with far greater success than when we tried this with the dog." He nodded and threw the balls again - a little further this time.

Your Wish Is My Command

Today was my morning to sleep in. And Bree graciously let me snooze until almost 8 am. At which point my 19-month-old ran into the bedroom, stopped right in front of my bed and yelled, "Get up!"

It was so cute, and so scary.


SB is now officially a climber. Completing the training that she began back in the womb, when she threatened to tear through my chest cavity by climbing up Alien-style, she can now mount the bed and our dining room chairs. She does this all with lightening speed, occasionally upping the ante by carrying multiple stuffed animals and her water bottle (held tightly in her teeth) on the ascent.

Now, every time it gets too quiet, we race to find her, usually standing on the bed and, once in a while, sitting on the dining room table.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Buh-bye Jagoouah

Recently, we completed a rite of passage of nearly ever family with kids. We have become official, card-carrying members of the Los Angeles Zoo.

It all happened on Easter Sunday. Having little first-hand experience with Easter, I imagined it as a day of churching and picnic-ing with the family, looking for eggs, and stuffing yourself with candy until you were sick. Certainly not a day of going to the zoo. And after confirming they were open, we packed up 3/4 of our family and headed off.

I first suspected my miscalculation as we entered the parking lot only to see a serpentine line of cars inching their way past florescent vest-clad parking attendants. Bree, who is not a fan of crowds, and had been very much on the fence about this trip to begin with glared and seethed noticeably in his seat. But, you don't just drive a 19-month-old out for half an hour only to turn around and go home so we were stuck.

Parking didn't end up being nearly as dramatic as it had first appeared and with renewed hope, we loped down to the main entrance. Only to be confronted with a line of approximately 150 people, none of whom had gotten the "go to church and picnic on Easter" memo. Oh, and the register was only taking cash - whether out of deference for the Resurrection, or simply because the credit card swipey thing was down, I'll never know.

But again, being a crafty chick, who was not about to give Bree the satisfaction of going home empty-handed, I looked to and quickly found the beacon of hope - the Membership Signup desk. There was no line there. And a fully operational credit card machine. Any thoughts about giving the zoo a test run before committing to a year of visits went out the window. If Otter was terrified by a face-to-face confrontation with a wild animal, so be it. So, swiping my card, free plush gorilla in hand, Bree, Otter and I entered the zoo.


She loved it! The kangaroos (though possibly dead, by Bree's and my estimation) seemed to fascinate. The tigers and meercats, pretty solid. But the crown went to the jaguar, who, agitated for some reason, was pacing his enclosure with a barely concealed desire to rip anyone close enough limb to limb. This animal, large enough to swallow Otter without really having to chew, instantly stole her heart, and she sat transfixed as he did his paces. In an effort to avoid a melt-down, we engaged Otter with saying goodbye to the jaguar as we turned to go.

Later that night, as I tucked her into bed, a bleary looking girl looked up at me, completely over-stimulated by her day. "Buh-bye jagoouah," she said. "Buh-bye."