When I grow up, I’m going to be…

When I grow up, I’m going to be…

I continued to not meet my book deadline by celebrating Sophie’s birthday in September, and finally making zhua zhou cards. Zua Zhou is a form of first birthday celebration that supposedly originated in dynastic China but is celebrated in lots of countries in East Asia–it’s Doljanchi in Korea, Thôi Nôi in Vietnam, and Erabitori in Japan, for example. Anciently, the procedure was to present baby with a variety of symbolic objects connected to future occupations, and whichever item baby grabbed first would give an indication of their future life. The items presented depended on gender. Girls were given jewelry, flowers, or scissors and thread, while boys could choose from items like scrolls, pen and ink, and swords. I’m not sure who thought swords would be a good idea…While the tradition used to be perceived as a peek into a child’s future, today it’s basically an event that provides blog fodder and a reminder that my kids are something or other sixteenths Chinese. So for Sophie’s first birthday, we used the cards to predict her future in the most unscientific way possible.  Stella chose an onion and a calculator in 2015. Not to be outdone, Sophie surprised nobody by choosing…you’ll never guess.

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The meanings of most cards are probably obvious–books for scholarship/academic inclinations/the perpetual state of limbo euphemistically dubbed “All But Dissertation,” or ABD Land; an egg beater for reigning power in the sphere of domesticity; pen and ink for literary aptitude/writerly talent…etc. But some are less obvious, like peonies for reproductive power/beauty/richness/honor/high social class; noodles for long life; or a syringe for upstanding medical professions (not intravenous drug use, silly). I threw in the cleaver just for fun. Sophie didn’t pick that one.

 And Sophie picked…  the same thing every kid goes for: whatever is closest to her fingers. But that’s a boring story.

We’ll go with a tie between cupcake and gramophone.

Cupcakes for the ability to enjoy the pleasures of life. Sophie regularly demonstrates her appreciation for the pleasures in life. She loves food, sparkly things, and anything soft, furry, and fuzzy. When Sophie gets really really mad or wakes up cranky from her naps and is in a foul mood, food is usually our friend. Hold a cracker in front of her face and the crying stops instantly. She squeaks excitedly when in close proximity to dogs and carnival stuffed animals. At church, she practically fell out of my arms in an attempt to snatch a lady’s glittery, neon pink scripture case. The lady was really nice and gave me the scripture case, making me promise to give it to her when she was old enough. But that decision might have been inspired more by the puddle of drool Sophie left on the handle.

Let’s just say that cupcakes don’t symbolize a potential penchant for hedonism, but instead a possible career as food critic or patissiere. Yes, that sounds nice.

And a phonograph, for what I initially thought might be musical talent. When I made the cards I was just looking for a cool picture of a musical instrument. It was going to be a violin at first, but then I stumbled upon a phonograph and chose that instead. And then later, I realized I didn’t know what a phonograph was. So I asked Google. And Google says it’s one of the most revolutionary inventions of all time, Thomas Edison’s favorite patent. That is so COOL. If you’re bored or in the bathroom with nothing to read and want to know more about phonographs, here’s a fascinating article from Smithsonian. But if you have better things to do than read about phonographs, just know that Edison’s phonograph was responsible for some major evolutions in music. 1) hits and genres emerged when producers realized they could sell music and people would need quick and easy ways to identify what they wanted; 2) songs got shorter; instead of one hour live symphonies, songs were cut to 3 minutes to accommodate a phonograph’s recording capacity; 3) genre instrumentation changed because some instruments produced better sound quality on the phonograph than others; 4) performances had to be perfect--instead of an occasional vocal slip being acceptable on stage, the most “microscopic accidents” became monumental in a recording; 5) listening to music changed–you could listen alone at home instead of going out and listening live or playing music yourself, which were your only two listening options.

All this is to say that maybe Sophie will invent something. Or be a music historian. Or own a bakery franchise. Or maybe she’ll be a *Bowling for Soup groupie who goes on pastry tours. Either way, we’ll still love her.

*#27 on a list of 60 bands named after food








Stella walked into the kitchen and spouted off a barrage of imperative sentences:

S: “Mom, listen to the words I say. You have to follow the rules. Or, you go to timeout.”

Me: “Ok?”

And then she walked away. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

S: “Raise your hand if you want ice cream!”  ____________________________________________________________________________________________

S: “Mom, tell me the story of Moses.” (for the 13th time that day…)

Me: “Why do you like that story so much?”

S: “Because it’s weird and tragic.”

Me: “What does tragic mean?”

S: “Really, really sad.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

At church, Stella ran away from us and raced up the stairs to the second floor of classrooms.

Me: “Stella! Get back down here!”

S: “No! I’m going to sacrifice a lamb!”

Me: “Well, come do it down here.”

S: “Yeah, ok.” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

At church, there are three women named Amy: Amy Reall, Amy Jensen, and Amy Wise. Amy Reall is our best friend; we see her several times a week and her daughter sometimes babysits Stella. As we walked past Amy Wise in the hall, I said, “Stella, say hi to Amy. This is the other Amy.”

S to Amy: “Hi Amy.”

S to me: “Mom, I said hi to that Amy. Now I’m going to find the real Amy.”


I was one once

I was one once

Today I am one year old. WHAT?! Pretend I wrote this on my actual birthday and not two weeks late. Pulling all the dishtowels out of the kitchen drawers is a huge distraction. You should try it sometime.

2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [11]I have six teeth and I like to use them to bite my mom, and whatever you happen to be eating. However, I’ve shown surprising restraint when handling books. I don’t eat the corners, or chew them into pieces the way Someone Else I Know used to. Instead, I sit quietly, turning the pages like a normal person, while pretending to read. When I’m not fake reading, I’m pulling the books off the shelves. It should be an Olympic event. I would win every time.

I walk, when I want to. BUT walking is overrated. Crawling is easier and faster. Besides, all I have to do is scoot over to the closest adult, raise my arms, say—“Excuse me, you’re not holding anything and it’s already been two minutes since you put me down in the other room and I just really need to be up there to see what you’re doing and if it involves food that I can eat and can I have some right now please?”—but instead all that comes out is, “edah!” and they pick me up anyway. Mobility problems solved.

I like to get ready with Mom in the morning. We go into the bathroom and she puts on contact lenses while I open Stella’s jewelry drawer and put on all her necklaces.

I love breakfast. I eat it 2 or 3 times a day. First oatmeal. Then pancakes or eggs or toast or muffins or bites from Dad’s cereal bowl or whatever Mom has just made for herself. She sits down to eat and I mosey over and open my mouth. A few bites later, I’ve polished off her whole bagel. It’s a good life.

Laundry and zippers might be my favorite things. I love laundry. Dad folds shirts and pants into neat piles, and when he turns around, I unfold everything and put the underwear on my head. I can’t resist. Those little sock bundles rolled into colorful balls are just asking to be carried off and hidden somewhere in the house. And zippers? Stella has a box of purses that she forgets about—but only until I want to play with them. I can sit for five whole minutes zipping and unzipping zippers whenever I want. My favorite is the unicorn fanny pack because it has two zippers. And because Stella stuffs it with random paraphernalia—Legos, spoons, rocks, plastic food, real food, acorns, pairs of mismatched socks, the Tylenol syringe she smuggled from the bathroom cabinet when she was supposed to be using the potty… You never know what I’ll find in that fanny pack.

Overall, I’m a good peanut. But even I have my limits. Even so, there are only a few things I won’t stand for: brushing teeth, taking pictures, eating beets, sitting in the grass, birthday candles, being handed to a stranger (unless stranger has food), getting my diaper changed, being mistaken for a chair when Stella needs to sit on something, hairclips, being handed to Dad when Mom is standing right next to him empty handed (unless Dad has food), sitting down in church, putting toys away, wearing dresses…

I weigh 20 pounds. No thank you, I do not need to go on a diet.

Mom and Dad are wondering how I’ve managed to survive Stella’s weekly accidental attempts to step on me or smoosh me into the carpet, but I’m still here.

And now, for the cake pictures. I tried to tell Mom that multiple photoshoots were unnecessary. But nobody listens to me, I’m just a baby.

2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [4]2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [5]2017-09-25 Sophie cake park [3]



Scene: Stella like checking in regularly with Mom and Dad when she thinks something might be wrong. She’s started to ask, “Are you happy?”

Stella: “Dad are you happy?”

Dad: “Yes, I’m happy. I just don’t like it much when you don’t listen to me.”

Stella: “Dad, I’m listening to you.:

Dad: “Thank you punkin’.”


Scene: Stella has been having a bit of a rough time at school. Some of the other kids have punched her or said mean things. She has great teachers that have handled it well. Earlier in the week Stella told Dad that she didn’t want to go to school. After she went, things were better. This weekend there was the following exchange during bath time.

Stella: “Sometimes I really don’t like it when my friends hit me…and don’t protect me.”

Dad: “I know babe. I’m sorry. Come here.” [Proceeds to give lots of hugs and kisses.]




Scene: Dad sits down to assemble Stella’s new carseat. This is attempt # 26, due to one interruption after another. Stella is just a little bit too excited, and grabby, and jumpy, climbing on Dad and the seat, shouting gibberish in his ears while he tries to decipher the user’s manual (printed in size 7 font) etc…

Dad: “Please! Don’t talk to me right now. Go over there and play quietly until I’m done. I really need to finish this!”

Stella: [Pauses. Shuffles away. Looks up sadly]. “But I just want to talk to you because I love you, Daddy.”

Dad: [Feels bad and gives her hugs. And candy.] ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella: “I have ideas, Mommy!”

Mom: “I’m sure you do. What ideas do you have?”

Stella: [silence] ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Stella: [runs into the room and announces, with a flourish] “Mommy, I just parted the Red Sea like Moses!”

Mom: “Ok. Did you tell your dad?” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Scene: summarizing from the Book of Mormon, about Nephi and his family sailing on the ship to the promised land. Laman and Lemuel are rebelling again and tie up Nephi, promising that they’re going to get rid of him for good this time.

Mom: “And Laman and Lemuel tied up Nephi and said they were going to get rid of him. They wanted to throw him in the sea…”

Stella: “So the sharks and crabs could eat him?” ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Scene: 7:45 am. Dad is getting ready for work. He goes into the bathroom and closes the door.

Stella: “DAAAAAD! You can’t just leave me out here!”  ____________________________________________________________________________________________

Scene: walking to school with Mom one morning

Stella: “Don’t forget to miss me!”



Scene: Stella and Jesse were sharing some frozen yogurt from Yogurtland:

Stella: DAAAADDD! You can’t just take my stuff! [Sharing to Stella still means other people give their stuff to her.]

Mom: Stella. Say thanks to dad for the date.

Stella: [As she tries to drink her water.] Thanks dad. [In a muffled, gurgly sound.]


Scene: Talking with Stella about where food comes from.

Mom: Where do bananas come from?

Stella: Trees!

Mom: Where do grapes come from?

Stella:…Nome, Alaska!