Monday, August 19, 2013

The Art of Logic

The ability to use logic and reason is what’s said to separate humans from animals.  And, I believe, the ability to logically reason is what separates adult humans from tiny humans.  At least, that’s what I’m starting to see.  Anna’s ability to reason and generally figure things out is growing.  She’s asked “why?” enough times that she should have all the answers.  A growing brain, a developing ability to reason, and answers to all the “whys” should have her ready to go, right?  Not so fast, Guapo. 

Logic and reason are not quite as scientific as you might think.  They're proving to be a true art form.  And, like any fine art, they take practice and experience before the skill is truly mastered.

Traci, the kids and I struck out on Sunday evening to run a quick errand between dinner and baths for the kiddos.  As I backed the minivan out of the garage, the low fuel warning light came on.  I opted to ignore it, not wanting to take the time for a stop at the gas station.  I wanted to run my errand, which truly was a short trip, and get home quickly so that baths and bedtime could happen.  Besides that, I had driven the minivan all weekend (even the 60 mile roundtrip to the zoo earlier that day) and hadn’t seen the low fuel light.  So, we should’ve been in the clear to drive the 3 miles over to Arlington Heights. 

We were, in fact, in the clear to drive the 3 miles over.  It was the coming back part where we ran into trouble.  We had turned onto the main road leading into our neighborhood.  Anna had likely just asked, “Did we turn right or did we turn left, Dad?”  (We talk about left and right a lot when we drive.  She knows her left hand is by the window.  This seems to directionally anchor her.  That one time that she sat on the other side of the car was really confusing.)  And then, the minivan started to sputter.  I felt it lose power, and decelerate on its own.  I pulled to the curb and told Traci that we had just run out of gas.  She thought I was joking.  Admittedly, I like a decent prank.  But, this wasn’t one of them.  Apparently Traci had noticed the fuel warning light on Friday and forgot to do anything about it. 

After we had the laughter under control (who runs out of gas less than half a mile from home?  For that matter, who runs out of gas period?), we all piled out of the van.  Anna asked, “Are we leaving the minivan here?  Where are we going?”  We loaded the girls in stroller & Owen in the Baby Bjorn (both still in the back from the zoo) and headed for home.   We passed neighbors who had likely seen us leave 15 minutes earlier in the minivan but we refused to make eye contact.  It was our own version of the walk of shame.

By now, gentle reader, you’re probably anticipating the climax and wondering how this relates to toddlers and the art of reason.  As it turns out, Anna has no concept of running out of gas.  That is beyond her experience base.  She knew we were leaving the minivan there.  She knew we were done with the errand.  And, once we walked the last half mile, she knew we were home.  Based on her experience and the facts as presented, she very matter-of-factly said, “next time we do an errand, we will walk down the street to get our van.”  Logically, it was just that simple.  The more pressing question on her mind was probably whether the walk back to the minivan would require a left turn or a right turn.  She was likely nervous because the stroller has no window.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Growin' like weeds

This blog is like a scary movie villain.  Just when you think it’s dead, it gets up again.  There’s no use in trying to write about all the happenings and milestones since our last post.  In short, Traci & I are the proud parents of 3 growing, beautiful kiddos – Anna, Ellen, & Owen.  Everyday these three tiny humans amaze me.  Though, they’re not really as tiny as they used to be.
Anna is going on 4 but, clearly thinks she’s going on 14.  Last weekend, we were out buying a few new outfits for fall.  We picked out several matchy-matchy outfits for our little girl at Carter’s.  They were all rainbows, hearts & ponies, of course, in standard Carter’s pink & purple.  Anna has grown very particular about her clothes (skirts must have the right “twirl factor” to be satisfactory) but seemed content with these new things.  On our way from the store to the car, we passed an Old Navy store where Anna saw a shirt in the window display that caught her eye.  Our almost four year old froze, stared at the shirt on the eyeless mannequin with the plastic pony tail, and said, “I want THAT shirt!  I mean, can I have that shirt please?”  The shirt that had captivated her so was a long t-shirt meant to be worn over leggings with a sequined necktie applique on the front and only came in girls sizes.  As in, the size doesn't have “T” behind the number.  Somehow, the size 5 fit.  And just like that, Anna became 3 going on 14.  A few days later she continued to prove that by referring to Traci as “Mom da bomb.”

Ellen is growing up too.  We’re told that she’s a classic middle child, causing mischief and being obstinate every chance she gets.  She too has developed quite strong opinions about her clothes.  Though, hers seem to be more based in comfort than fashion as she refuses to wear any shoes (including sandals) without socks.  Ellen’s opinions don’t stop at clothes.  She frequently gives others a very disapproving scowl.  Some have said that she has inherited this trait from me.  (I say, just don’t do things that are disapproving to me or Ellen.)  Ellen has also taken over Anna’s chore of corralling Eve the WonderDog into the basement before we leave home.  Most mornings, she stands with the basement door open, yelling, “Eeeee!  Go, Eee!  Go!”  Ellen swats at Eve, as Eve goes by, apparently thinking that the dog requires a bit of a push to make it down the basement stairs.  Another of Ellen’s (self-assigned) duties is to follow behind Anna as she rides her bicycle (with training wheels of course).  When Anna stops and can’t get started again, Ellen runs up behind her and pushes Anna off with all her might. 

And then, there’s Owen.  He’s the tiniest of our three tiny humans.  Though, it’s all relative because he’s really not that tiny either.  I’m pretty sure that he’s been holding his head up on his own since before he was born.  And, at 8 weeks, he’s a robust 13 pounds and 25 inches long.  He has a smile & dimples to steal any heart (he probably could do time for grand larceny, if caught).  We’ve spent eight weeks getting to know him & still don’t know who he looks like.  Anna & Ellen have loved him, tolerated him, disliked him, and loved him some more in that time too.  I suspect most of what he feels towards the two of them is somewhere on the “tolerate” end of the spectrum.  A baby brother can only take so much kissing, touching, poking, being tugged, and being sat on.  Some nights he cries and cries until we just put him down, in his bed, ALONE.  I’m convinced that these cries are the baby equivalent of, “STOP TOUCHING ME!”  

So, as you see, they're all three "growing like weeds."  Every parent of teenagers or adult children will tell you that "time goes so fast and they grow so quickly."  I'm learning that they're right.  Tiny humans don't stay tiny forever.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The REAL new member of our family

When you read the title of that last post, you may have thought, "finally, we're going to hear something about Ellen!"  Maybe you even thought you'd seem some cute baby pictures of this now 9 month old child that hasn't been mentioned on the blog yet.  I know that's what I thought when I first read Will's last post!

Obviously we've been slacking a bit on the writing over the last year, but I know Ellen deserves some air time here.  We've definitely fallen into the pattern of "second time" parents -- taking a few less pictures and worrying a little less (well, at least Will is...I still do my fair share of analyzing and worrying).  There have been no spreadsheets tracking dirty diapers, sleep, or routines this time around.  Nursing was easier; sleepless nights were harder (having a toddler running around made it a little more difficult for those midday naps or sleeping in) -- and we're already far enough beyond those phases that I can reminisce about them fondly.

As I was sitting down to write this, I went back to read Anna's birth announcement here.  It's amazing how different the birth experiences were for our two girls.  Anna was born 11 days late after a scheduled induction; Ellen was born on her due date just minutes after we arrived at the hospital on a gurney in the ER...the craziness of that night/morning still makes me shake my head....

Looking back on it, I can see I was in labor all weekend.  I was having reasonably consistent contractions Saturday evening and night, but with our weekend activities, didn't really notice them too much on Sunday.  I went to the grocery store, made Halloween cookies with Anna, we carved our pumpkin....although it was the day before Ellen's Halloween due date, I figured I'd have these "minor" contractions for several more days, thinking she would definitely be born late again.

My contractions got stronger again Sunday night, but never met the "5-1-1" criteria to actually go to the hospital.  Ever the rule follower, and not wanting to go to the hospital only to be sent home, I stuck it out through the night.  Until just before 5am when they were finally so strong I was gripping Will's hand in pain and realized we needed to go to the hospital.  Will ran next door to get the neighbor, who we had just lined up the day before to watch Anna for this (lucky we even did that).  They spent sometime installing Anna's carseat in her car, I showed her what Anna would want/need for breakfast...I made one last pitstop until Will literally pulled me off the toilet and said we were going (lucky he did that also -- more signs of very active/late labor that didn't even occur to me in the moment).  Finally, our neighbor shoo'ed us out the door and I finally realized this was serious.

The memories of that car ride are surprisingly vivid for me...Will ran one red light.  He took one wrong exit off the highway, which then meant a left turn over a median.  And I remember very CALMLY asking him when he pulled out his iPhone to check a map what he was doing, did he know where he was going? (I thought for sure he was taking an alternate route I didn't know, but that wasn't really the case).  After quite a "detour", during which my water broke, and I insisted on the windows being down in the 35 degree weather, we finally arrived at the hospital.  I sat in the car while Will tried to wrangle a wheelchair and tried to pull me into it -- I say "pull" because at that point, Ellen's head was already born, and I couldn't really stand up.  A woman reporting for work ran over and thankfully took control of the situation -- calling for a gurney and help.  People finally realized what was happening and that I wasn't just an overly excited pregnant woman in early labor.  My second "push", and Ellen was born.  On the gurney, in the hallway of the ER.

I think Will took this picture before the nurses from L&D even got to us.

Ellen Rachel Hinshaw, approx 5:47am, October 31, 2011

The time listed on Ellen's birth certificate was the time the ER staff called L&D to alert them of the situation.

For two serious "planners", I think this was quite the wake up call.  I'm pretty sure Ellen is going to keep us on our toes

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A New Member of the Family

There seems to be a new addition to our family. I’m not sure exactly when she arrived; we noticed her about 3 weeks ago. I don’t know how long she’ll stay either. As long as she doesn’t cause any problems, she’s really a pretty easy house guest. Well, except when I don’t see her and accidently step on her. Her name is Ditta. I’m told she’s four years old. Her favorite restaurant is Chick-Fil-A but her favorite food is cheeseburgers. That piece doesn’t make sense to me, but these are the facts as reported by Anna. Ditta sleeps in the “other bed” in Anna’s room,” the one by the dresser.” If you’ve never been in Anna’s room, there is no “other bed by the dresser.” But, that’s really no important. Ditta can sleep there anyway. After all, Ditta IS imaginary.

About three weeks ago, Anna started mumbling to someone. When we asked who she was talking to, Anna replied, “Ditta!” “Who,” we asked. “DITTA!” “Ditta?” “Yes. DITTA!!” Since our initial encounter with Ditta, we’ve seen Anna feed Ditta. We’ve seen Anna read to Ditta. We’ve seen Anna tuck Ditta in for a nap. We’ve been asked not to sit in certain chairs at certain times because Ditta wants to sit there. We even saw Anna use a chip clip to trim Ditta’s toe nails. (Granted, I had just trimmed Anna & Ellen’s toe nails.) Anna moved slowly along the bench on the deck, opening & closing a chip clip, chanting “clippy-clippy-clippy.” “What are you doing, Anna?” “Trimming Ditta’s toenails,” she answered ever so matter-of-factly. “OH,” I said.

Ditta comes and goes. I didn’t hear about Ditta for a couple of days & thought maybe she’d gone. (Where do imaginary friends go anyway when they’re not around?) But then, I found Anna sitting on the stairs by the front door. She said that she was waiting for Ditta to pick her up. She said they were going to the grocery store & she asked if I needed anything. Makes sense. If Ditta’s going to be hanging around, the least she can do is pick up a few groceries.

Monday, April 2, 2012


So many of Anna's adventures involve food. It's likely mine & Traci's influence - so many of our own "adventures" are about food too - generally trying new things - the masterpiece recipe that flops or the great, new 15 minute meal discovery for weeknights.

Where food and Anna are concerned, we've left the chicken nuggets and fish sticks to school. Yeah, we shovel the ocassional nugget or peanutbutter sandwich in front of her. But, for the most part she eats what we eat. It's not exotic, but I would guess that it's atleast closer to exotic than average. Last night we had baked sweet onions stuffed with a ground lamb & spinach mixture. I thought they were a flop but Anna loved them. The irony is that Anna professes to not like onion. "I don't like onion" is the standard response for buying an onion in the store, chopping an onion, or finding even the tiniest minced onion in a dish. "I don't like onion." "I know, Anna. You don't like onion." It's a common, dinnertime conversation. I was fully prepared for her to hate last night's dish and loaded her plate with mashed potatoes to fill her up.

Earlier in the evening we had been reading the spanish translation of an Eric Carle board book. So, when Anna pointed at the baked onion and said "What is that is?" I thought quickly and said, "It's cebolla. It tastes sweet. Try it." Anna said, "ce-boy-da? It's sweet?" She popped it in her mouth & shouted, "I like it!" Traci & I exchanged a glance, thinking that we had pulled a fast one. We all continued to eat, talking idly about this and that, trying to get Anna to slow down on the cebolla and try some meat. About three quarters of the way through her delicious new discovery, she stopped. By now, we had forgotten about having pulled a fast one. Anna dropped her fork, looked up dramatically, and shouted, "Onion! It's onion! This is onion!" We all three laughed. Ellen joined in, laughing at us laughing, and Anna quietly said, "I like onion."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Luv Coins!

Six months since the last blog post. So much has happened. Waiting on baby number two (affectionately referred to as "Deuce"), bought a house, moved to the 'burbs, & watched as Anna grows into a full-fledged kid. Last week I made a list. She knows 210 words. She's learning manners; she says "tank you", "pease", & "scuse me". She also is quick to tell her old Dad when he should be saying "tank you", "pease" & "scuse me" too. She's learned to dress herself and likes to "change clothes" in the evening when she gets home. Anna loves to hang out in the kitchen, pulling out pots & spoons while Traci & I are cooking. I think she's going to find her specialty to be Italian foods. Whenver she pulls out a pot & spoon, she'll bang the spoon around, declaring, "I cook noodles!"

Anna loves noodles. But, her current favorites are blueberries, olives & today Anna announced, "I love coins". ("Coins" is what it phonetically sounds like when Anna says "corns".) Yesterday, we brought home 5 dozen ears of corn for the freezer. Anna helped to shuck, saying "it's too heavy" when she couldn't pull off a husk. She pulled husks, cleaned off silk, & sneaked nibbles of raw corn when she thought no one was looking. At the end of the day we took the last three cobs from the pot, buttered them up & headed out to the deck to taste the best part of late summer in the Midwest. A few bites in, Anna looked up with the biggest smile & proclaimed, "I love coins!"

Friday, February 11, 2011

All Smiles

This week Anna learned to smile on command. We're not quite sure how she learned - we didn't teach her. But she did. So now, all day long, we're having fun pointing to her & saying, "Hey Anna! Smile!" Tonight, she pointed at me & said," 'mile". Of course, I did. How could I have not.

Hey Anna! SMILE! (That's mom's hat on Anna. It's a favorite make-shift toy.)