Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big Day for Little Guy

I've already found, in my few years as a parent, that things can change remarkably quickly with little ones. Just when it seems that we've reached equilibrium and we feel that we can predict the normal patterns of the littles, one of them grows or changes in some way, and *poof* everything in our daily lives is different.

Today, as I was reading with the little Peanuts in their bedroom, I noticed that Master was intently staring at Miss's bed. He was cruising around it, surveying it, and - suddenly - he was on top of it. He sat there, looking quite pleased with himself, and then proceeded to dive off of it, face first. In that split second, I could envision the new primary activity of my life over the course of the next six months or so. Yes, dear reader, we have entered the "I can climb up on it, but I have no idea how to get off of it" stage. Master, as I would have expected, continued to climb upon and dive off of Miss's bed for the remainder of our time in the bedroom.

I remember well this fantastic stage with Miss. I recall that I developed lightening-quick reflexes during this time, as I made it from one end of the room to the other in a split second to catch her as she awkwardly dismounted from the couch. Or chair. Or toy chest. Or changing table. I am hoping that these finely tuned skills will serve me well as we enter this stage with Master.

Later in the day, I discovered two new teeth in the little guy's mouth, with a couple more on the verge of breaking through. And, to top it all off, the excitement of climbing onto the bed has obviously inspired Master to attempt new things in other areas. Tonight, he stood on his own for the first time. The obvious excitement all over his face was so adorable.

I'll keep those little dimples in mind when I become frustrated with all of the spills and thrills that the next months will bring.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


In a few short days we will be flying to California to see the family and participate in Uncle M's wedding. Very exciting. Miss can't wait to get back on a plane, and she really likes the idea of being a flower girl. I can only hope that feeling of enthusiasm lasts, and that she does not go on flower girl strike right about the time we ask her to walk down the aisle. I mentioned that possibility to Grandma Peanut a few days ago, and was greeted with this response:

"Well, we just won't think about that possibility."

I am trying to block the thought from my mind, but have yet to succeed.

I am also trying to motivate myself for one of my least favorite tasks . . . packing. I *loathe* packing. It ranks right in between stubbing my toe and ironing on my list of undesirable ways to spend my time. It must be done, however, and so I am determined to begin the process tonight. Right after I post cute pictures of the kids. Yeah . . . that'll take a few minutes, and then Mr. will call me on his way home from work, and then he'll be home, and then (of course) I'll have to spend some time talking with him about his day, and then we'll have to go to bed . . . . . . . . .

Here is Miss helping me "make dinner." Yes, removing the healthy frozen french fries from a bag does count as cooking around these here parts. Below is Master. Looking cute. Now off to that packing . . . oh, wait! Is that the phone ringing?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Get To Work?

We tend to avoid controversial topics here at The Peanut Gallery, but we had the misfortune of running across this book excerpt online, and we feel the need to make a brief comment.

To sum up the gist of the argument, Ms. Hirshman has authored a book in which she argues that women ought to return to the work force. She bemoans the fact that women *still* seem to be "homeward bound," in spite of all the best efforts of feminists like Betty Friedan and others. She is sick of all of the relativistic talk that casts the decision to stay at home or work as "choices" of equal merit , and says that working is just. plain. better.

Working provides a better, more fulfilling life, and it allows women to contribute to society in a meaningful way, according to Ms. Hirshman. In the linked excerpt, she tells the story of one woman who decided to stay home with her infant son, and decries the fact that this was
"condemning her to spend her talents on tasks that people with no degree at all can do."
I will refrain from stepping onto my soapbox and turning this into a long entry. Suffice it to say that I vehemently disagree with the above quote. No, it does not take a degree to care for one's children. But it is not something that any "people" can do. *No one* can raise my children the way I can, because *no one* (apart from my husband) can care for them as much as I do. And caring for them is the most exciting, interesting, and freeing work of which I have ever been a part. Ms. Hirshman would, no doubt, argue that this is a platitude that I have swallowed due to my cultural upbringing. All I can offer in response is my experience. I have lived both lives -- I have earned a degree, gone to graduate school, worked for a major corporation . . . and I have been a mother.

Being a mother wins. Hands down.

Hirshman claims that:

The family with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks is a necessary part of life and has obvious emotional and immediate rewards, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government.

Ironically, I have found just the opposite to be true. A career can have it's "immediate rewards", but the investment of myself into my children has been where I have found true "human flourishing." I have flourished, and so have they.

Very little of Hirshman's argument in this excerpt adequately deals with the fate of children who are separated at an unnaturally early age from their parents, so that women can "get to work."

One of my many, oh-so-fulfilling jobs of the past was that of substitute teacher at various elementary schools. I remember well some of the young children who would break into sobs at the end of the day because they didn't want to go to after-school daycare. They had already been at school since 7 AM. They *missed* their parents. They wanted to be home. With mom. Wouldn't any child in their shoes want the same thing? Are we to say to this child, "Sorry, Johnny, but Mommy must fulfill her duty to society at large and therefore cannot focus her attention solely on you and your siblings. Time to toughen up! Time to get with the program and enjoy your institutionalized life!"

How about allowing for the fact that I can contribute to society in the best possible way by raising my children and, with them, involving myself in the larger community in a variety of profitable ways?

OK, I am now firmly situated atop the soapbox I vowed not to ascend. I will decend by simply saying that we are feeling nostalgic this week about the approaching birthday of Master. A year gone by already. A wasted year, in which I should have been using my talents elsewhere? I think not.

Not a wasted year from his perspective. And, perhaps even more so, not a wasted year from mine.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Como Park Zoo

In honor of Mr.'s day off, we made a spontaneous trip to the Como Park Zoo today. Como Lake with it's adjacent park, zoo, and conservatory, is located in Saint Paul. We've admired the neighborhood, park, and lake since we arrived in the Twin Cities, but hadn't had the opportunity to visit the zoo until today. We were quite impressed with the variety of animals and the large, beautiful habitats. Miss had a wonderful time seeing the animals, and imitating them. This is our first trip to a zoo in over a year, and she has definitely grown in her enthusiasm for and fascination with the animals. She was also slightly frightened by some of them, because the great exhibits allowed for such close-up viewing. We were just one sheet of plexiglas away from a *GIANT* gorilla, and a *HUGE* male lion. Miss did not feel that the plexiglas was sufficient protection, and decided to keep her distance.

One of the highlights of our visit was a ride on a beautiful, restored carousel that was originally built for the Minnesota State Fair in 1919. It had beautiful, hand-carved wooden horses, and a big Wurlitzer organ on board.

Best of all, the entire day was free! The zoo is always free, and the carousel was having a "free day." The Peanut household loves anything free, and we are very excited that Como Park will be approximately 15 minutes from our new house. We envision many trips to visit the monkeys, giraffes, seals and polar bears in our future.

Miss expresses her excitement over seeing the bison.

Master and Mr. wait patiently for their turn on the carousel.
Miss and Mommy bask in the glow of the carousel ride.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Pt. 2

We hope your Father's Day was a good one. Ours involved church, Indian food, a new record player, the U.S. Open, and a stroll by Lake Minnetonka -- complete with ice cream cones.

Here are some pictures of our happy day:

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Happy Father's Day

To The Peanut Gallery's favorite fathers:and
and, of course,

Mr. Peanut and I were both blessed to grow up with fathers who loved us, encouraged us, provided for us, and led us spiritually.

Someday, my children will say the same about their Daddy. Who can ask for more than someone who:

  • Will go down the slides on the playground with you,
  • Will change your diapers and bathe you,
  • Will watch Veggie Tales with you (and laugh harder than you do),
  • Will dance around the living room with you to the vocal stylings of Johnny Cash,
  • Will read with you every day,
  • Will *always* share his Jamba Juice with you,
  • And, will work so hard to provide you with all that you need?
Daddy (or, as Master would say, Da-Da-Da-Da-DAAAAAA) is very much loved around here. I am thankful for the perspective that he always seems to give me about what is most important in this adventure of parenting. Whenever I am overly concerned about something inconsequential, he helps me to re-focus and recall the essence of our mission in raising our children. From Mr. I have learned the importance of taking a step back and asking the question, "Why are we doing this, anyway?"

I ran across this quote (appropriately enough, from a Minnesota baseball player), and it immediately reminded me of Mr.:

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." "We're not raising grass," Dad would reply. "We're raising boys." ~Harmon Killebrew

Mr., Papa, and Grandad, thanks for all you bring to all of the Peanuts' lives.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


What does she want me to wear now?

I'm fine without it.

OK, Mom, anything for you.

Thanks, son. We have to protect that fair little head of yours. Even if Daddy says the hat makes you look like Ron Howard.

You can be my little Opie.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


Do you remember memorizing poems in elementary school? At our Christian school, we were required to memorize and perform one poem per year for the annual "Speech Meet." We were judged on our presentation, and the winners from each grade level were sent to a regional competition. I found it very easy to memorize the poems, but was always too embarrassed and shy to "ham it up" in front of my classmates and the judges. Thus, I was never chosen for the regional event.

In the fifth grade, however, I finally got wise to the system and decided to memorize a Bible passage instead of a fun, rhyming poem. No one else wanted to memorize the Bible, and the scripture recitals were judged in a separate category. So, I was advanced due to lack of competition, and had my big chance at the regional meet. I was truly excited about it, though a bit disappointed to find out that the big event was held about one mile from my house at the uninspiring Norwalk Nazarene Church. I was also disappointed to receive an "Excellent" ribbon, instead of "Superior." I found this somewhat unfair, because I had tackled my insecurities by adding a few feeble hand gestures to my presentation. Ah . . . the memories.

I can still recall some of the poems I learned, along with some of the ones my classmates learned (because we had to listen to each other practicing them so often).

Enough reminiscing. I do have a point.

Miss has started to memorize poems that we read together. She loves to recite them, and makes us laugh with her dramatic interpretations. We read them from an earlier edition of this book which was always on my parents' shelf when I was growing up. I have now absconded with it, and plan on using it often with the littles.

Of those Miss has learned, this is (by far) her favorite:

The Worm
Ralph Bergengren

When the earth is turned in spring
The worms are fat as anything.

And birds come flying all around
To eat the worms right off the ground.

They like worms just as much as I
Like bread and milk and apple pie.

And once, when I was very young,
I put a worm right on my tongue.

I didn't like the taste a bit,
And so I didn't swallow it.

But oh, it makes my Mother squirm
Because she thinks I ate that worm!

Summer Grass

After a walk around our apartment complex today, we stopped to lounge in the grass. Miss only lounged for a few seconds, and then was off to kick and chase her ball up and down the grassy hills. Watching her, and sitting there in the grass, reminded me of summers as a child. The itchy feeling on my legs after spending too much time sitting, rolling, and playing on the grass. The warmth of the summer sun on the face, and the burn of the hot sidewalk on bare feet. Coming home, sweaty and dirty from playing kickball with the neighborhood kids, to have dinner and go to bed while it was still light outside.

As I see Miss Peanut changing from baby to toddler to little girl, there are more and more memories of childhood to which I am awakened. On a day like today, it is exciting to think of all that lies ahead for her.

The Grass
By Emily Dickinson

The grass so little has to do,-
A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain,

And stir all day to pretty tunes
The breezes fetch along,
And hold the sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything;

And thread the dews all night, like pearls,
And make itself so fine,-
A duchess were too common
For such a noticing.

And even when it dies, to pass
In odours so divine,
As lowly spices gone to sleep,
Or amulets of pine.

And then to dwell in sovereign barns,
And dream the days away,-
The grass so little has to do,
I wish I were the hay!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Inspection Day

Today we had our new home inspected by a nice guy named Bob. He was very helpful, and full of tips and information on home ownership. He pronounced our new home sound, and only found a couple of things that the seller needs to fix before we close in late July. Mr. and I enjoyed seeing the house again, and were relieved to find that we liked it even more on further examination than we did a week ago. Miss and Master also got their first looks inside the house. Master seemed quite content to crawl around and perform his own inspection of the hardwood floors. Miss was enamored (as was to be expected) with the *two* staircases. She brought her doll, "Baby", with her today, and thoroughly enjoyed hurling her down the stairs and then retrieving her . . . only to hurl her down the stairs again. Master got a few belly laughs out of watching this exercise.

While Mr. was examining pipes and electrical outlets with the inspector, I also walked around the neighborhood with the littles. We made a visit to the local playground, and it was very exciting to think that we will be settling in to that area very soon.

The House

Backyard View

Master and Mr. enjoy the new living room.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


In the midst of the excitement of buying our first house, I've noticed that there are many other "firsts" happening in the Peanut household.

Master continues to experience "firsts" nearly every day. He is in the midst of that stage of exploration in which everything is fascinating. He loves to play with empty boxes, fuzz from the carpet, anything he can find in the kitchen cupboards, and any of our shoes. He stares at all of these things with such intensity, and then laughs with such enthusiasm when he finds something that he enjoys. Miss has some maracas in a toy instrument box, and Master loves to shake them, while bouncing up and down and laughing. What a joy it is to watch him explore the world around him, to learn how things work, and to grow a little bit every day.

On an Exploration
First Tennis Shoes

Miss has also experienced a "first" in the past week, though it wasn't a pleasant one. While Mr. and I were gallivanting across Chicago, the Grandparents Peanut took her to play on the indoor playground at our local mall. She was having a good time, as usual, and was trying to make friends with the other kids, as usual, when she encountered her very first teasing. Apparently, some older girls repeatedly told her that she was a baby.

Miss was quite offended by this and kept trying to tell them, "No, I'm not a baby! I'm a little girl!"

The girls, however, insisted on calling her a baby, and Miss became quite upset. She sat with Grandma and told her all about the episode, and then asked to leave the playground. As soon as we returned from Chicago, Miss told me about what happened, and has continued to tell me about it each day. It is so sad to see her feeling so shocked and hurt by these girls. She is still so little, and so trusting. Up until now, she has completely believed that other kids will be friendly to her if she is nice to them. She walks up to *every* child she sees and says, "Hi! What's your name?"

But, after one episode of teasing, I now hear her saying, "Well, I like other kids *sometimes.*"

Teasing is inevitable, and I'm sure that she'll be guilty of it herself, someday. But it feels like something innocent is ending in her life, as she encounters this "first."

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Today was a day of recovery in the Peanut household. We are all a bit tired, and nerves are a bit frayed. The littles are still quite sick, and are alternating between coughing, crying, and whining most of the time. Master is closer to recovery than his sister, but they are both still somewhat pathetic. Mr. and I are relatively calm, considering the amount of money that we are planning to spend on our new abode. We know that we can afford the payments, but it is still a big *gulp* responsibility that we are taking on.

So, today, we just went about our normal business. No running to the realtor's office to sign papers. No calling the mortgage man to discuss interest rates. Mr. went to work, and I had a normal day with the kiddos. We read books, drove to the carwash, took naps, and watched White Christmas this afternoon. Yes, that was the special request of little Miss, who loves to sing "Sisters" and "Gee, I Wish I Was Back in the Army." If you haven't seen this cinematic masterpiece, run, don't walk, to your computer and order it up on Netflix. It makes for some stellar viewing on a hot June day.

We also spent a lot of time today missing our dear Grandparents Peanut. Here are some pictures from good times on the playground when they were here:

Master further developing his cruising skills.

Miss has some crazy hair after coming down the slide.

Papa and Master had such fun together.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Good Day, A Good-Bye Day

The Very Good News:

We have purchased a house! The deal is done, the papers are signed. We close in late July . . . and then we will be official home owners. It is a cute house -- white with black shutters and a door that is begging me to paint it red. There is a giant old tree in the front yard and a giant old tree in the back yard. The street is shady and leafy and lined with nice little homes. I think that it will make a good settling-in place for us. Mr. will attend an inspection on Monday, and we are anticipating that all will be well. I will instruct him to take numerous pictures so that we can post them here.

The Sad / Bad News:

Our visit with Grandma and Papa Peanut came to an end today. In all of our crazy activities this week, it was difficult to truly appreciate our time together as much as we usually do. Their presence, though, made all of this activity possible and so much easier for all of us. On the bright side, they had a wonderful time just being with the little Peanuts and playing with them. One day, Miss was allowed *three* trips to the playground, and one trip to the local mall play area. She was ecstatic. It was also nice to have them with us as we unexpectedly went through the home buying process this week. They encouraged us and were excited for us, even when the whole business was giving me a splitting headache. Their presence helped. A lot.

We are so glad that it will only be two weeks before we see Grandma and Papa again, along with all of our families in Southern Cal.

This little armadillo is a favorite of Miss Peanut's from Grandma and Papa's house. He comes to visit when they come, and he goes back home with them. Goodbye, Mr. "Harmadillo," we hope to see you soon.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The past few days have been exciting ones for Mr. and myself. We had a wonderful time in Chicago. We ate pizza with good friends, we drove by our old apartment building in Evanston (now converted into condos), and we watched Mr.'s coworkers party down . . . all on our first day in the city. The next morning, we slept until 9:30 (a treat in which I have not indulged in over a year). It was glorious. Then, we ate cinnamon apple pancakes and eggs with chorizo and cheddar at one of our favorite Chicago breakfast spots. The meal was almost as glorious as our extra sleep. It was a whirlwind trip, but getting away together proved to be very restful and re-energizing.

As it turns out, we will need to rely on that re-energized feeling to get through the next couple of days. The little Peanuts are still sick with bad colds, and they are a bit fussy and high-maintenance right now. They did well while we were gone, but I think that the Grandparents Peanut may go home feeling a bit exhausted by their babysitting asignments. Not only did they have to watch the ill littles while we were in Chicago, but they had to watch them *again* this morning, as we went out with our realtor to look for homes.

And, they will have to watch them *again* tomorrow, as we go to make an offer on one of the homes we saw today! Yep . . . after our first day of looking, we found a home that we really loved, and are going to tender an offer. We weren't planning on acting so quickly, but the seller is going to make a "rent to own" deal with another person if he doesn't sell it right away. So (*gasp*), here we go! The house is adorable (in my opinion), and it has all of the features we were hoping to find. It is in a swell little Minneapolis neighborhood, and it looks like it would be a great place for us to settle in. I am excited about it, but am also trying not to get my hopes up, since it very well may not end up being ours.

Prayers for our wisdom and sanity would be appreciated, as we make this rather big decision.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Off To Chicago

In about 8 hours we will be heading for Chicago. 8 hours? Sheesh, I'd better get to bed. I'll boil this down.

We are excited, but we are disappointed that our excitment is limited because the little peanuts are sick with bad colds and fevers. It is hard to leave them when their cheeks are flushed and their little heads are burning up. We thank God for grandparents, tylenol, yogurt smoothies, and Mary Poppins, all of which make the littles feel better.

Friday, June 02, 2006


This visit from the Grandparents Peanut has been a wonderful one thus far. We have talked, sipped Caribou Coffee, shopped, cooked, and (most importantly) played. As my parents play with my children, it is always interesting to hear their observations about how the kids have changed since they last saw them. On this visit, they've remarked on Master's new ability to make it from one end of the apartment to the other in about five seconds flat. They've noticed that Miss is working on some *temper issues* right now. (Papa peanut has been busy chuckling, guffawing, snickering, and commenting on the similarities between Miss and myself at the age of three . . . especially in the *temper issues* area.)

But perhaps the most noticeable development in Miss Peanut right now has to do with her ever-expanding world of imagination. She has always had a vivid imagination, and has loved to talk with her stuffed animals since she could first utter words. She first started talking to an imaginary friend about six months ago. Now, however, Miss has several different friends that she talks to and plays with on a regular basis. Her favorite imaginary friend right now is none other than Mr. Lunt, a gourd who has gained fame as a member of the Veggie Tales cast. She often insists that I push Mr. Lunt in the swing at the playground, that I give him food at the dinner table, that I open the car door for him, that I put his seat belt on, that I bathe him, and that I kiss him goodnight. I am also asked to perform similar tasks, at other times, for various other Veggie Tales characters, and for other friends named Jeffery, Kelly, Michael, and Maura.

Perhaps our Miss has a real gift in her ability to imagine, and maybe she'll use that in an amazing way someday. Or, maybe she's hearing voices in her head and we should be concerned. I think I'll just go with the first option.