Reflections on Little House on the Prairie

Housework: Ma Ingalls did a LOT of work. Just reading about all the work she did makes me feel exhausted. And it’s like, who cares if their dresses were clean and pressed? Nobody is there to see them. Me, I think I’m exerting huge effort to put on a pair of wrinkled cargo pants to make my way to Target (see below re: Target), and there’s Ma wringing things out in the creek by hand, and then IRONING it afterward?! I mean, I applaud her determination to look nice, but it’s sort of akin to…I don’t know. I have no comparison to make here – it’s too crazy for me.

Racism and Prejudice: As impressed (and bewildered) as I was with Ma’s cleaning and cooking, I didn’t like her attitude toward the Indians. Yes, she was a product of her times, but not everyone was so jerk-faced about them. What I most appreciated was Laura’s innocent questions such as, “Isn’t this the Indians’ land? Aren’t they sad to have to move?” but those questions were silenced (see below re: never speaking at the table). Pa didn’t seem nearly as judgmental as Ma did, and I’m wondering if it came down to fear. Ma was really really afraid of the Indians, and Pa had a more balanced view?

The Family Dinner: The part about how kids aren’t supposed to speak at the table, unless they are spoken to? Made me nine shades of nostalgic for something I’ve never experienced, because most dinners I can’t get a word in edgewise to Homes. Ma and Pa could shut Laura up with three words: “Laura, that’s all.” And she’d stop. How did they do it?

Material Goods: Mary and Laura were SO THRILLED at getting their own tin cups…and that’s the sort of thing I’d pick up at Target without even a thought. Not to mention the occasional random art supplies like construction paper or notebooks or markers or stickers…. Imagine how thrilled they’d be!

Crazy Talk: What would’ve happened to them if Pa died? I mean, that’s a huge risk they’re undertaking, going off into the unsettled prairie, and as capable as Ma wields her spider-cooker thingie, I don’t think she’s quite up for chopping down and hauling lumber, and building cabin-sized things (like cabins). I guess I’m not enough of an adventurer to be a pioneer, but it’s hard to sympathize with them when they’re endangering not only themselves but their very young daughters by venturing into the great yonder. There are snakes and wolves and things, and all kinds of other dangers!

Do It All Over Again: And then, after all that work making that sweet little cabin with the Ridiculously Symbolic and Special china doll on the mantel, they had to abandon the cabin and venture off again to start over. All that work. I need a nap now.

One More Thing: No, I don’t know what is up with all the gopher drawingss. I can’t seem to stop.

Baby Songs

We’re beyond “routine” with the bedtime routine in this house. It’s become a superstition. So much so that when Z was a toddler, I had to read the same book, sing the same three songs (“O Holy Night,” “Scarborough Fair,” and “All the Pretty Little Horses”) in the same order, and give her the same stuffed friend for every single nap and bedtime. Followed by the ever popular, ever annoying Drink Of Water.

Whatever works, right?

While I usually end Maverick’s routine with the time-honored classic “All the Pretty Little Horses,” I’m trying to mix it up a little more. Mostly because he’s still taking two or three naps a day, plus bedtime, and I can only handle so much of the same three songs.

So here’s what I’ve got in my bedtime arsenal:

  • All the Pretty Little Horses
  • Loch Lomond
  • O Holy Night (a little too long for Maverick, & I gotta sing it loud when I sing it otherwise I can’t pretend I’m auditioning for church choir solos. I’ll save this one for later)
  • In Ancient Egypt (a made-up song – here’s the “sheet” music & lyrics)
  • Sleep, Baby, Sleep (I made up my own melody for this, but I think there are others)
  • Peace Like a River (don’t I wish)
  • Ring Around the Moon
  • Scarborough Fair
  • a mutant version of I Love the Mountains (either I wasn’t taught the right way, or I heard it incorrectly – I’m guessing the latter because that happens all the time)
  • You Are My Sunshine (Z doesn’t like this one, thinks it’s too sad because of the part where “I held my head and cried”)
  • Three Little Birds

Any suggestions? What did your parents sing to you? What do you sing to your kids or nieces or nephews or the little boogers in your life?

The Eye of Sauron

I feel like such a cheater, making Lord of the Rings references when I haven’t even read the books. But I’ve totally watched the movies – the extended versions, even! – multiple times. So that sort of counts, right? (Even though I fast-forward through the Frodo scenes?) (Sorry, but he’s such a whiner he makes Z look good.)

My pal Kristen…wait, my fabulous pal Kristen gave us her video baby monitor. The first night we used it I hated the thing, because Maverick kept spinning around and we’d have to go in there and flip him over, and I was trying to watch a movie, damnit. But now he doesn’t spin quite as much, because he’s in his funny sleep sack thing. Whoops, he’s on his tummy now….

I straightened that out.

Also, I investigated the advice online (stick them on their backs to start, then shrug your shoulders because if they’re going to turn, you can’t stop them…without Velcro or no-longer-recommended stay-put devices). I also Googled “life monitors for sleeping babies,” not sure if they actually exist. They do. They’re expensive. Besides which, I’d probably buy one, and then I’d be trusting it to work instead of doing my job as a parent and checking on my kid.

The Eye of Sauron looks like this. I’m not joking.

So one time I was watching him flail and fuss through the Eye of Sauron, and all of a sudden he levitated. “Whoa!” I said to my friend BDawg. “Maverick just levitated! Now he’s disappeared!”

I wish I could stop there, because it’s so X-Men, having a baby who levitates before vanishing. But what really happened was Homes went in and picked him up to comfort him. I, of course, had been content to watch him suffer, like the mean lazy independence-promoting mommy that I am. Besides, it makes me hurt to see him hurt, so our mutual hurting was, in some twisted way, acceptable to me.

Besides, I was talking on the phone with BDawg and we didn’t have much time because her three-month-old was busy creating the kind of diaper blowout that makes legends.

Not to get competitive or anything, but my kid was levitating. Ish.

Yeah, he totally looks like he’s flipping me off.

Party Pooper

No, this isn’t about how Maverick’s diaper blew out all over my lap during the church baby shower. That’s probably a better story to go with the title.

Instead, this is a story about Z.

And a birthday party.

Imagine being almost-four-years-old. And you’re minding your own business (jumping on the couch or writing your name backwards on the chalkboard easel) when your mommy comes up to you and says, “Would you like to put on a fancy dress? We’re going to a birthday party!”

You give a happy squeal. This birthday party came out of nowhere! (In truth, your mommy wasn’t telling you about it because she has a little tiny baby and even at the last minute she wasn’t entirely sure she was going to get things enough together to go.) So you get Mommy’s help and put on an adorable dress. You make a card for the birthday girl, even getting out some special stickers to decorate it.

The whole family piles into the car. “This party isn’t at the old house our friends lived in,” Mommy says. “They moved, so we’re going to a new house in a nearby city. Don’t worry though, it’ll only take about half an hour.”

Before you know it, your baby brother is asleep, and so are you.

You sleep and sleep and sleep.

When you wake up, though, you aren’t at your friend’s birthday party.

No. You’re on your own street. Where you live.

Daddy says, “We have bad news.”

You lift your sleepy head from the side of your carseat.

Mommy says, “We couldn’t find the party.”

You start crying. Mommy starts crying.

They looked and looked and looked, they say. They followed the directions, but the directions didn’t work. They called your friend’s mommy, but she was busy with the other guests, and didn’t hear her phone. They explored. They drove around for a long, long time and could not find the party.

You cry and cry.

“Let’s get a cake,” Mommy and Daddy say. “And we’ll celebrate on our own.” Mommy also promises to call your friend’s mommy and arrange a playdate.

You and Daddy go to buy a cake. You con him into the biggest, the fanciest, the most expensive cake there is. And you even get your name on it.

I know it’s not the same as going to the birthday party, but, historically, especially within your immediate family (i.e. your mommy), cake can help heal wounds.

Sleeps Like a Baby

A very quick post.

1) How is it that when I stick Maverick in his crib and I lie down in my bed, every tiny little snort and gurgle keeps me awake?

2) And how is it that I just put him down for a nap to the lullaby of jackhammers in the street outside our house?

3) Why do I make Z tiptoe around the house when he’s asleep?

4) Will I ever exercise again?

5) Will I ever sit down and work on a novel again?

6) Will my house ever be if not clean, then moderately less filthy again?

IDK for 1-3. YES for 4 and 5. HAHAHAHAHA NO for 6.

Postpartum Barbie

My little Maverick is one month old.

I can’t help but compare him to Z when she was an infant. And it isn’t fair to either of them. But briefly:

THIS IS A WHOLE LOT EASIER.

It’s harder in many ways. Juggling two little people instead of one. Trying to get Maverick to sleep when Z’s running around the house. Making Mom-and-Z time so Z doesn’t feel left out.

But this baby actually sleeps on his own, and when he cries he doesn’t sound pissed off like Z did.

Summer will be a whole other animal – Z won’t be in school and I’ll have them both. Together. All. Day. Long. But I have a couple more weeks of just me and my little dude during the day, and I plan to enjoy them.

Fortune Cookie, 3:40 a.m.

As many people in my online writing circles already know, I gave birth to Maverick (that’s his code name, not his real name) early Thursday morning. My water broke a little after midnight, and four hours later I had a new baby! (Like it’s that easy. And didn’t involve lots of shouting and disillusionment and internal requests for a cesarean section and/or lots of drugs. But I didn’t say those out loud. Mostly I said, “Get it OUT!” and “I’m never doing this again!”) (God bless patient nurses.) (Who are probably investing in ear plugs, if they haven’t already lost their hearing.)

Z is doing great with Maverick, she just LOVES him, wants to pet and kiss him all the time. And poke his little eyes – I don’t know what that’s about. (Actually, I have a few guesses. It’s hard sharing Mommy and Daddy.)

For some reason, his cry doesn’t bother me as much as Z’s did. Maybe because it’s a different pitch (he sounds like a baby pterodactyl, or, as Homes said, a Swainson’s Hawk). Or because his scrunchy little face looks so funny when he does it. I feel kinda bad, because sometimes I laugh when he cries.

He’s still learning the difference between nocturnal beings (creatures that are awake at night, i.e. NOT US) and diurnal beings (creatures that are awake in the day and sleep at night, i.e. US), so I’ve been awake a lot at night. Once, on a trip through the kitchen for ibuprofin, I spotted a bag of fortune cookies. And thought. 3:40 a.m. Not a bad time for a fortune cookie. I wish I could say the fortune was something illuminating and dreamy and perfect for my situation, but I think it was actually about riches coming my way next month.

And that’s okay. Because not everything is illuminating, or dreamy, or perfect. Sometimes things scream, and don’t sleep when (or where) they’re supposed to. We love them anyway.