Sunday, May 22, 2005

Baby Translator

Okay okay, sorry I've been away for a while, lost in the abyss of daily life. Well I'm back, and today I'm going to mention a little something about baby translation. You see, Jessica is at that stage of life that every parent loves, that stage where she has words for about everything and very few of them are in the dictionary. For example, let's take "dwaffies". What are dwaffies, you ask? Well, it was time for the evening snack, and Jessica was frantically pointing at the fridge yelling, "Dwaffies! Dwaffies". At first I thought she wanted a waffle, but no, her word for waffle is "Farfel". Or is that her word for flower? I forget. Anyway, I then thought she wanted a cracker, but that would have been "quackel". Then it occurred to me. About five minutes before we have been discussing various fruits, and strawberries were mentioned. I said, "do you want Strawberries?" Her answer to that was an ecstatic, "Yes! Yes! Dwaffies!!" Followed by a heavy sigh that could only mean, "My god, these adults are so freaking STUPID."

Hilary has often told me that my ability to translate Jessica-speak is uncannily accurate, and far better than she can do. It's been more than one where Jessica would be running around yelling, "finglide, finglide!" Hilary would ask what it was she wants and, without skipping a beat I would tell her, "She wants to go outside on the swings and slide down the slide."

Some other important terms to know around our house:

Booma = banana
Boom = Balloon
Yellow = yellow
Yellow also = purple
Purple = Barney
See = Jessica (note that she picked that one up from "JeSSE")
Mike = Daddy. No, say "daddy."...."Mike"....."Fine, whatever".
Updown = down
Bof = Bath

By the way, at this moment in the other room I hear a baby screaming and a 4-year-old yelling, "I need that! I need that". Hilary then told her that she was being rude and not sharing, to which her response was, "But it's not rude to me!!"

Bliss. Nothing but bliss.

Love for sale

So, this weekend, we had a yard sale. For those of you on the east coast, that would be a tag sale. It was time to eliminate about 1800 cubic feet worth of crap from our house, in preparation for that next generation of Things That Stain, Things That Clutter, kiddie pools, and Disney Princess Fire Hazards. So after about three weeks of planning, attic emptying, closet purging and soul searching we were ready for the onslaught of (as my sister calls them) Freaks And Weirdos that are yard sale patrons. I figured we had it made, because at the bottom of the street the local church was having a "huge yard sale" on the same day, so through some strategic signage we would be able to grab those shoppers that just couldn't get enough of the chotckes at the church and needed another fix.

Well in the end, Natalie did far better financially than we did by selling lemonade. Who, honestly, could resist a little redheaded girl (Charlie Brown couldn't, that's for sure) following you around saying, "would you like some ice cold lemonade? It's only a quarter and I made it myself!" Well, it turns out Natalie made almost as much in tips as we did in the whole sale.

It seems that folks in the North Hills of Pittsburgh don't want our crap. They have enough of our own. In fact, I head a story on NPR (this is true) about the Do-It-Yourself Storage industry where someone cited a statistic that "Americans have consumed more stuff since 1960 then then entire world did in all of history before 1960." Okay, so how did they calculate that one? By the end of the day, perhaps 10% of our stuff was gone. And mind you, it was good crap too. I mean surely there must be someone who needs a completely unused floppy drive and a dozen highball glasses that say, "Greece Vacation" on them, no?


And no, we've never been to Greece.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

And God and The Fairy Passed Over....

So, we decided to take a trek to visit the family for the Passover holiday. This would be the holiday in which "God and the Fairy Passed Over the Jews' houses", according to Natalie. We hadn't been back home in a while, so the time had come for that long, long, very long drive across PA to CT. Conveniently, our friends Paul and Lee Ann were in Philadelphia visiting from Dallas with their new baby, so we made it a point of leaving Thursday to visit them and use Philly as a half-way overnight stopping point before continuing on to CT. Or so we thought.

Earlier in the week, Natalie had a fever that she couldn't seem to shake. So we played it by ear (or ear infection, as the case may be), planning on deciding at the last minute whether or not we would leave Thursday. Well, when Tuesday morning came and Natalie threw up all over the living room couch, we decided it was a safe bet we weren't going anywhere Thursday. So we pushed the trip off by a day so she could get better, which she did. No big deal. Or so we thought.

Friday arrived, and we left first thing in the morning. Twenty minutes into the drive, the PA turnpike came to a complete standstill for almost two hours. Truck accident. Got some cute pictures of the baby wandering around aimlessly on the highway. Probably will show up on some "bad parenting techniques" website someday. Conveniently, a nice couple in a Winnebago ahead of us offered to let Natalie use the bathroom. Inconviently, she took the couple up on her offer at much the same time that traffic finally began moving. So after thousands of people on the PA Turnpike waited for Natalie to pee, we were ready to continue. Good thing girls don't usually experience "freeze-up."

So on to Philly. Everything seemed completely normal for the rest of the day, until dinner when we noticed Jessica seemed to be on fire. She had caught "the fever," which later in the evening turned to a croupy cough. Good thing Paul's sister was nice enough to let us stay at their house, with three other little kids around to act as receptacles for the disease machine we seemed to have brought with us. We will be lucky if Paul's sister ever speaks to us again.

So that night the four of us all slept in one room. Natalie and I camped on the floor in sleeping bags, Jessica in a crib, and Hilary on a twin bed. The night was surprisingly not too bad, with Jessica sleeping through all of the night except those points where someone walked on the massively creaky hardwood floor outside the bedroom. Jessica didn't take kindly to that. The next morning, Jessica was still coughing but seemed to be on the mend. After an hour's debate of whether to return home or continue to CT, we decided to schlep on, where at least there were others who could potentially assist with the care of sick children.

Oddly enough fate was on our side somewhat, in that by delaying the trip by a day we managed to miss the deadly truck accident that shut the Jersey Turnpike down for 16 hours. Had we left on the day we originally planned, we'd have been in it. So despite heavy traffic, a half-hour wait in line at a NJ gas station, heavy downpours the entire way, and a slow line moving over the GW bridge, we were happy to make it to CT in one piece and in a normal fashion.
The rest of the trip had its ups and downs as well. Hilary got sick one night, the weather blew chunks, and being carriers of typhoid we weren't able to visit our friends and their kids too much. By Tuesday were we ready to head home. We expected to be on the highway by 9am. Or so we thought.

I spent the night before repacking the car and getting everything in order. That morning we strapped the kids in the car, asked which DVD they wanted to watch first, and....realized we couldn't find the DVD case. Where was the DVD case? we looked everywhere. We knew it had to be in the car, but it just seemed to have magically vanished. Luckily my sister came through with some backup movies to take, and about three hours into the drive it dawned on me I had probably folded the rear seat of the van down sandwiching the DVD case inside the seat. Sigh.

So here's a useful mathematical fact. To plan out a long distance drive, take the estimated driving time and add two hours per child in the car. In this case, the normally 8-hour drive took 12 hours. With a limited quantity of DVDs that end up getting repeated over and over again throughout the drive, that 12 hours ends up feeling like about 18. Next year, we wait until after spring cold season, and fly.

So now, it's about a week later. Whatever disease the kids had, Hilary and I are now suffering through. we spent the entire weekend coughing and hacking, sneezing and blowing, getting absolutely no sleep. I need a vacation.