30 October 2005

Calm Babies

We've heard a lot of compliments as to how calm/easygoing/happy our babies are. Not tht Ralph doesn't have his two-year-old tantrums, or Kaycie those bouts when she wakes up oh-so-hungry and can't wait another minute for mama to turn over and feed her. But overall, they ARE happy kids. A few of those complimenting the babies have also complimented us, saying that we the parents must be the reason those kids are happy. It's difficult for us to take credit for that. Not that we aren't generally happy people, but we're no happier than anyone else, as far as I can tell. And you really don't want to hear about OUR tempers.

But I noticed something last week. First, there was this meeting at our house of some of Ralph's E.I. ladies. Ralph, in the middle of us all, picked up something marginally dangerous. A pencil, maybe? Nothing SUPER dangerous, just something that could conceivably be something you didn't want your two year old to be walking around with unsupervised. One of the ladies (who has a son a little older than Ralph) burst out with some loud exclamation (it all happened so quickly - something like, "OH NO, NO, RALPHIE!"), leaped at him and grabbed it from his hand in the flash of an eye. EVERYONE jumped - especially poor Ralph! He fell screaming to the floor, scared half to death just for picking up a pencil! As I calmed him down, somewhat mystified by her panic, I told her what I do if I see him with something I don't want him to have...I ask him to give it to me. Which he then does. (Isn't there a better chance that he'll hurt himself with whatever it is if he startled and jumps or runs, than if he calmly passes it to his mama??) And I wondered about her overreaction.

But then, I had another mama over at my house with her son a day or two later. At some point, Ralph was trying to step past someone and tripped over the steps to the loft. He's been walking independently all of 6 months now - very late walker, by the charts - so though he now walks well, he does hit the floor sometimes. Especially when we've got extra stuff and extra people about. This is NOT a big house. So whenever I see him go down, or hear the thud of little knees hitting the carpet, I ask, "You okay, Ralpha?" He generally ignores my inquiry, since by then he's already up and on to the next thing. But this time, as soon as his knees hit the ground, my friend literally SHRIEKED, jumped up and raced to him, pulled him into her arms tightly and made a big fuss over him. It was really kind of sweet...but definitely not the reaction he's used to! Later on, she also did an exclamation-jump-and-grab when she noticed that the baby had a C battery in her hand (to her nearly nine month old mind, just the right size for a little teething relief...and often in her reach, now that big brother learned how to get into the fridge and take the batteries out of the drawer). Kaycie startled, but recovered quickly, very happy to have my friend's full attention after we'd been talking over her for a while.

I have no idea what the implications are for any of us in the long term. Some things work for some kids, everything becomes clear only in hindsight - you know, when those kids have kids of their own. So I'm not going to (and wouldn't care to anyway) try making judgments on any of it.

But I AM actually starting to think that those people who attribute calm babies to a particular style or personality of parenting may actually have something there. And just for me...I *like* having calm babies. I don't scare them, they don't scare me -- a system I can live with.

17 October 2005

That's Medieval!

A number of years ago, as a starving grad student, I attended my first SCA event. I had just joined about a month earlier, after a friend finally convinced me to go to a meeting. Lisa was the group's Chronicler, and as she handed out the newsletter at that meeting, someone made fun of it. She got mad, quit, turned to me, said, "YOU'RE an English major. YOU be Chronicler." And threw the rest of the issues in my lap. All of my commonsense reasons for refusing were completely ineffectual, and so I became an officer. And I still didn't know what SCA exactly DID.

Did I mention that my first SCA event was Pennsic War? Tent city of 10,000 people. I had about $20 bucks on me for the week, after I paid admission, and was told, "don't worry. People will feed you." And they did.

I only mention this because I'm starting to suspect parallels with my relatively new involvement in Mensa. I joined on the books a few months ago, volunteered as the NEw Jersey sub-group coordinator last month, and attended my first event this past weekend. With a name like "That's Medieval," how could I resist? I packed up all the garb I could find and headed to King of Prussia, PA, for the Delaware Valley Mensa Regional Gathering. I had more than $20 this time, as well as two babies, a dog and my lord. Uh, my husband.

I hadn't been able to resist the call for presenters, and ended up presenting the program I had volunteered to do (Silly Shakespeare for kids) as well as one on a subject I love that I had declined to do (The Medieval Bestiary). I'm not even sure I ever agreed to do that one. Those Mensans are tricky people.

We stayed to ourselves some of the time, socialized some of the time, and ate a lot! I won the King's Own Baking Contest on the second night with my Treasure House cookies. (Yes, that was the night I was the only entry.) My family won a costume contest, too, even though I had only entered Ralph and Kaycie, for their heraldic display - we won for 'best family group' and 'most vocal.' Vocal was little lord Ralph, who was very tired and not at all interested in being carried up and down the aisle to show off the adorable tunic I'd pasted together the night before with felt scraps from Squires and Scribes banners of years past.

Oh, and did I mention that I ended up halfway to proctor certification, which I had never even considered, after chancing to hear a comment about nametags and innocently asking how many potential Mensans would be taking the qualifying test that afternoon?

It was a good time, though. Lots of Dunkin' Donuts, garb, baked goods, smart friendly people, bottles of water, and things to do. A media swap, where I got to ditch a few books we no longer wanted, and pick up a few new things to look at. Organizers smart enough to choose a hotel (the Sheraton) that not only allowed dogs, but gave them their own goodie bags upon check in, water bowls, and even dog beds on request (though we did not).

Looking forward to seeing what the theme will be next year!

01 October 2005

SCCC Fall Festival

The kids and I were on our own Saturday, while Dad was working in New York. I decided to head where we'd have gone if we'd had him with us: to the Sussex County Community College's Fall Festival.

I don't know what I expected beyond knowing that home sales companies like Pampered Chef were going to have booths. Besides commercial booths, they had a healthy living booth that gave us a free bottle of water and free apples (good thing, since I had $1.11 on me and it turned out to be a much warmer day than I'd expected!), a petting zoo with everything from a pot-bellied pig to a tiny kangaroo, and games for the children.

Not just any games, though. They had games that even Ralph could play! There were two we spent most of our time playing. The first involved a pair of salad tongs, and a set of small plastic balls with a bucket to match. Lanes had been set up on the grass, and the red, yellow or blue balls were spread out along the lane. The game involved using the salad tongs to fetch a ball, run the ball back to the bucket, then race out again to get another ball with the tongs. Ralph gave those tongs a good try, netting a couple of balls with it (two-handed) before tossing it down and running willy-nilly down the lane grabbing at the balls! He brought them back by the armload, dumping them in the appropriate bucket (he used both red and yellow lanes) or handing them off to Kaycie...who had a ball (so to speak) playing with them herself. She even explored one of the buckets when Ralph brought it over to her. Ralph earned a ribbon for playing!

We then found a booth with hula-hoops. We'd just learned how to play with these at Mommy and Me at the dance studio in Sparta, so Ralph knew just what to do! First, he held hoops up for himself and stepped through them, feet over the bottom, then head ducked under the top of the hoop. Then, we spread them out on the ground and he took turns walking the 'obstacle course' and jumping it. Jumping, for Ralph, means bending his knees deeply, then looking up at me until I come over and lift him up and onward! He understands the concept, but doesn't *quite* have the mechanics of it down. I can't imagine it will be long, now. He kicked a ball at the festival, first time I'd ever seen him do it, and now he gets his kicks in every day. When he got tired of stepping and jumping, he brought a selection of hoops over to Kaycie for her to enjoy. He then got to pick his own ribbon for playing with the hula hoops.

We visited the petting zoo area, where a gentleman with a fanny pack full of food for the animals doled it out to the children handful by handful. Ralph fed a donkey and a sheep, and tried to feed the thoroughly uninterested calf. He then ran over to watch the hopping kangaroo and glance at the pot-bellied pig, who probably weighed twice what he did.