I haven’t lived this long with my parents since I was 18 and we are rediscovering all sorts of each other’s quirks. My dad is the only person I know who loses his appetite if he learns that something is good for him. He is also the only person I know who wakes up if the place gets too quiet. We seem to have at least one heated, everyone-else-has-left-the-room political discussion a week. I officially hate most television and am always trying to either turn it off or down when my dad leaves the room, although I can’t complain about the baseball games and black and white movies my parents watch at night. Meanwhile, my mom does what she does best–mediate and put the rest of us at ease, and Clara has become more talkative, more active, and a little more dependent on me since getting used to all of our time together in Florida. She parades around the house, saying “apple juice” and “bite eat, bite eat” (apparently, I am always asking her if she wants a bite to eat.)
We started our second attempt at potty training today, the first attempt attending abruptly three months ago when she peed in her crib twice in a row. I am determined to get the girlie using the toilet before the baby comes. We had some luck today, and here’s what I can offer other potty-training hopefuls based on today’s one-hour success story:
Buy some M and M’s.
Stock the bathroom with books, toys, and pictures of Elmo sitting on a toilet.
Don’t ask the potty-trainee over and over again if she needs to pee; just plant her on the toilet every five minutes.
Stock her up on juice or water, give it seven minutes, and then plan to hang out for ten minutes together by the potty until it just happens to drip out of her. Exclaim with glee. Quickly pull out one M and M and say this is for going pee on your potty.
I tried to do this without M and M’s and compensated with high-pitched shouts of surprise and joy but soon, Clara just got annoyed with my zealotry and almost seemed to avoid such discomforting moments of excessive praise.
My uterus is taking over my body; I feel quite pregnant. I have a hard time finishing sentences, getting off the floor, going to sleep, and occasionally breathing, but we still go for a couple walks a day and manage to get dressed in the morning.
Florida has been everything I hoped it would be from the dependably beautiful days to the relaxed time with family. Last weekend, my parents had their first concert at “The Yard” (the backyard) since I’ve been home. Clara is such a little night owl. She stayed up until 11 dancing and submitting to my repeated showers of mosquito repellent. She loved milling about the backyard with all the people around and coming in every now and then to put a puzzle together. My brother and his two kids, Joanna and Alex, came in town for the weekend.
Clara has a major cousin crush on Alex. It’s bizarre. Alex has to be the quietest kid you’ll ever meet and Clara just thinks that’s awesome.
Below, Alex found a spot on the recliner and without any formal introduction, Clara climbed up to join him. They both gave me a couple quiet, sullen looks for my photographic upkeep.
Ever since she was a baby, my brother has also had a way with Clara. I think he’s just really good at baby games.
Samantha and I are having fun being pregnant together and use the word “homeopathic” as often as we can.
Here’s one of the pregnant duo:
Now, for some pictures of the concert. I think it has caught everyone by surprise how popular these house concerts have become. Two years in a row, my parents have won the “best house concert venue” of the year award from the national Parrothead establishment. Their friends report that people in California are dying to “go to a concert at The Yard.” And, truly, they provide a musician’s dream venue. All the proceeds go to the musician, so a single performer can walk away with over a thousand dollars for a 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. gig. They’re booked through January and turning down more musicians than they’re able to feature. It’s sort of not just something fun they do with a few friends anymore.
It makes me happy to see my childhood home make so many other people happy. I overheard one woman telling my mom how many people just loved her and my dad. Part of The Yard’s success is that it’s just such a great concept–everyone brings a dish, so the food is always free and pretty good. You pay your fee at the door and then drink your own beverages all night and sit in your own chairs. There’s plenty of room for people who want to enjoy the concert, people who want to mingle, and people who want to dance. My dad has used the chopped trunk of an old tree to provide platforms for all the “stump dancers”–a backyard and PG version of those women I imagine dancing in cages in all those modern bars.
Now that things have quieted down from the concert, Clara and I are back to a normal routine of playing, going to the park, and going for walks. She’s been a little more attached than normal, but today she played for almost twenty minutes on her own. This has been a good time for us before the baby comes.