Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Maia the Actress

"Mom," Maia, my eight-year-old, bounced into the kitchen. "Kylie and I have decided what we want to be when we grow up."

"What's that, Maia?"

"We want to be actresses."

I think every eight-year-old girl goes through a period where she wants to be a famous actress, so I didn't pay too much attention. "Okay," I said.

But Maia didn't let it go. She had been thinking seriously about her chosen profession.

"Do you think I would be good at it?"

This question caught me off-guard. Maia and Kylie, her best friend, had been going to Michael Wallot's drama camps for several years now, so she had a taste of what acting was all about. All of a sudden, the warning bell in my head started ringing. This girl was serious!

As I searched for the right words, I fended off a barrage of conflicting thoughts and feelings. What should I tell her? That I had wanted to be an actress when I was younger, but I was steered away from it by my parents? That I still secretly wished I could be in plays every night? That the business is difficult, hard on a family, and fleeting? That too many young girls have lost their way in pursuit of acting fame? I wanted my daughter to have a passion in life and pursue it, but I also wanted it to be something attainable. I wanted her to stand out in a crowd but not base her identity or self-worth on public perception.

Choosing my next words carefully, I said, "Of course you'd be good at it. You would be good at anything. You could be an actress, or a doctor, or a lawyer, or a mom."

"Really?" she said.

This is when I got manipulative. "Of course you'd be a good actress, but you have to work at it really hard. A good actress doesn't just need to know how to act. You'll have to learn how to dance and sing, too. You'll have to take LOTS of dance lessons."

"Oh," she said. And that was the end of the conversation. She hated dance.

So did I do the right thing? Did I steer her away from her fate, or did I save her from a gilded path of discouragement and disappointment? I don't know--especially when I receive an email about the upcoming auditions for Joseph and Technicolor Dreamcoat and, reluctantly, hit the "delete" button.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mah Head

Jenny, our two-year-old, is one tough cookie. When other girls (i.e., Lizzy and Maia) fall down and cry, Jenny shakes it off and keeps on running.

You can often find Jenny wrestling with Jacob (our ten-year-old) and Lizzy (our three-year-old). When she wrestles Lizzy, she always wins. When she wrestles with Jake, she still always wins. You'll never hear a cry from Jenny unless there's blood.

The other day, Jenny was racing around the kitchen table--underfoot and making mischief, as usual. Suddenly, I heard a loud THUNK. Fearing the worst, I braced myself and waited for the ear-piercing scream. When I didn't hear a sound, I looked over at Jenny in time to see her put her hand to her head and say in her low raspy baby voice, "Mah Head." She paused for half a second, then continued her race around the table.

Jeff already has her pegged as a soccer player.

Monday, June 28, 2010


My nephew, Noah, is a funny kid. He is two years of complete mischief wrapped into the cutest package you've ever seen. Don't let the wispy baby hair, round blue eyes, and garbled words deceive you--this kid is smart!

A few months ago, my daughter Maia and I visited Sarah and her husband, Adam, in Chicago. Noah was about 18 months old at the time. They had just moved to Chicago and didn't know anyone, yet. The one visitor they had was the pizza delivery boy.

Sarah said that Noah knew the pizza man was coming every time the doorbell rang. I thought that was funny but pretty hard to believe. He was 18 months old, after all. How could Noah know the pizza man was coming just by the sound of a doorbell?

Later that day, we had ordered pizza and were sitting at the table waiting for it to arrive. As expected, the doorbell rang. "Pizza!" Noah called out, clear as a bell. And I just about fell off my chair.

Pavlov's dogs aren't the only ones that can be classically conditioned!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pregnancy Cravings

Jeff and I are contemplating having another baby. Like most women, pregnancy is not my favorite time of life, so I have to REALLY want another baby to go through nine months of . . . well, you know.

But I miss pinching fat baby thighs and watching adults pull faces trying to get a laugh from a newborn. I miss the new baby smell and the tiny little feet. I miss the complete ridiculous euphoria I feel when I get my baby to laugh for the first time. So I think it's time.

Naturally, when I think of pregnancy, I think of being sick. And after four kids, I've tried just about everything to keep the sickness at bay.

I've tried indulging in my cravings. With Jake, it was imitation crab for breakfast, until a bumpy ride down a dirt road after inhaling half a pound of crab meat cured me of that craving forever. With Maia, it was everything. Food, food, and more food. With Lizzy, it was pickled ginger. And with Jenny it was Diet Coke. Some people wonder why Jenny is so hyper. Not me.

I've tried just letting myself get sick. I remember a particular time at Bagel Shack, when I ate half my bagel sandwich, threw up in the bathroom, and came back to eat the other half (much to the horror of my companions).

I've also tried medicine. Zofran is my best friend.

To keep my anxiety at bay, I'm on the search for the perfect stomach soother. But until then, I'm keeping my Zofran close and my Diet Coke closer. And I'm crossing my fingers that soon I'll be able to pinch that baby fat and cuddle that bundle--and still sleep through the night.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Phone calls to God

The other day, Lizzy (age three) couldn't find her blanket. It's her absolute favorite item on the earth--she can't sleep without it and wants to know where it is at all times. I'm actually surprised that she misplaced it. But it was lost, and she was upset.

Thinking that this would be a great moment to teach her about prayer, I said, "Lizzy, Heavenly Father knows where your blankie is, and He can help you find your blankie."

This is where the conversation degenerated.

"Heavenly Father took my blankie?"

"No, sweetie, Heavenly Father didn't take your blankie. But he knows everything, so he can help you find it."

"Okay," she said. "I need to call him on the phone."

"Well," I said patiently, "You can't talk to Heavenly Father on the phone."

"So . . . " I could see the wheels turning in her head. "He's a pretend father?"

"No," I couldn't help but laugh. "He's a real father, but he's up in heaven so you can't see him."

"So I need to call him on the phone."

"Well, that's why we need to say a prayer. That's how we talk to Heavenly Father, just like on the phone. When you close your eyes and fold your arms, that's the same thing as talking on the phone to him. That's how you call him."

"Okay," she said, and we said a quick prayer together.

Ten minutes passed, and we still couldn't find the blanket. As I was searching the family room, I caught a glimpse of Lizzy. She had her play cell phone in hand and was talking to Heavenly Father about her lost blanket.

I found the blanket a few minutes later.

Even when you think your kids have the prayer thing down, you never know. Like the time when Maia said the following prayer: "Heavenly Father, Thank you for this day. Please bless that I can help save people . . . because I'm a spy."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dora Hypnosis

Today, Jeff and I were watching Dora the Explorer with Lizzy and Jenny. Jenny, age 2, is just learning how to talk.

Dora decided to start discussing shapes with the television viewers and asked her toddler fans to repeat the shapes after her. "Rectangle"; "Triangle"; "Penatgon!"

Jeff, being the good father that he is, tried to help the girls learn their shapes by repeating Dora. Jenny and Lizzy, being the good little girls that they are, repeated him.

"Say 'rectangle.'" Jeff singsonged.


"Say 'triangle.'"


With each word, the sounds became more and more monotonous until the girls were in a trance that rivals the best hypnotist.

"Say 'pentagon.'" Jeff said.

"Pent-a-gonnn" the girls droned.

At this point, I couldn't take it any longer and burst into giggles. I didn't know which was funnier--the girls repeating Jeff, or Jeff repeating Dora! Maybe there is something to subliminal messages!