Sunday, October 31, 2010

family: ... I don't stand a ghost of a chance...

Happy Halloween...

from our goblins to yours....

Once again we managed to dodge the curse of plasticized princesses and other commercialized creations. There was candy and limited frights and no rain. In other words, it was a highly successful Halloween.

The giraffes and ladybugs are asleep now, sweating out the chocolate and high fructose corn syrup... pleasant dreams.

Friday, October 29, 2010

family: ...hello darkness my old friend....

It's been quiet around here, I know.

I haven't left town, and don't really have any excuse beyond the usual demands of life, family, work. And the fact that it's been hard to see the humor in parenting lately.

It's not that things have been miserable. They haven't. The short of it is that we're well, though busy, and have had some nice days with reasonably well behaved offspring.

Lookin' for Trouble?

That peacefulness ended last night when K had a true meltdown about how the pillows on her bed were sitting. And by "true meltdown" I mean the sort of screaming fit that can be heard across the street through 2 pairs of closed windows. And if I can't write a post full of humor and acknowledging the ridiculousness of life, why not write one describing behavior that will embarrass and appall K in a few years?

The bummer is that this happened before I managed to write a post about how things were better and that by giving K some direct, one-on-one attention we seemed to have found the key to disarming her. I still think it's a key element, but last night she was tired and when she gets tired, she gets hard to manage.

Going to bed, she wanted her pillows "higher," where higher = about 2 feet above the mattress on her bed. Meaning, somehow floating above the bed in a way that would render them entirely unusable. Which, without grabbing a hammer and pounding a very large nail directly through her pillows and into the wall, was a physical impossibility. That didn't seem to matter.

"I can't sleep in this bed like this!!!"

The pillows were arranged exactly as they had been for the last 5 months, which means that they're on-edge in a way that makes my neck hurt just looking at them. And she's been going to bed sitting upright against those pillows (and frequently at night, calling out to us in a semi-coherent panic when one falls over onto her head).

So, while not my ideal arrangement, the set up we had last night was identical to the set up on every other night in the last 12 weeks (at least).

"I need the pillows up here!!!" I considered getting a hammer and nail, but luckily decided this wasn't going to help us get through the immediate crisis. "I can't sleep in this bed!!"

L offered her crib. Which didn't seem to me like a good idea. But it was impressive. I'm not clear whether she was thinking "swap" or "co-sleeping." In either case, the offer was turned down with loud screaming.

Obviously this wasn't about the pillows. But I couldn't figure out what it was about. I did a reasonably good job at keeping calm and tried to find out what K wanted/needed. The only thing I could get out of her was that she needed the pillows up higher, at window level. And that wasn't a viable alternative.

I offered her the option of laying her sleeping bag down on the floor beside her bed. That wasn't acceptable. And unfortunately, at this point L, who had been down and snuggling into her covers, got up and started to climb out of her crib. She wanted in on the fun.

So, with both girls nowhere close to being asleep, and me no nearer bed myself, I told them they could lie on the couch. (M had done this the previous night and somehow it had worked out.) I had serious doubts, but didn't have any other alternatives, so marched them down and tucked them in on the couch and went to the kitchen where I started to clean.

L whispered loudly and I went back to the living room. She wanted a light on. I said no and went back to my dishes. L whispered loudly and I ignored her for a bit, then went into the living room. She wanted covers on her (covers she'd kicked off). I covered her up and said I wasn't going to come back out. Then I went back to the sink. L whispered loudly, and when I ignored her, started calling out. K was pushing her, K kicking her, K bothering her....

I went out and told them I wasn't going to come out again, tucked them in, and went back to the dishes. I washed with gritted teeth while out in the living room things quickly degraded. There were whispered discussions, accusations and recriminations, volume growing louder until L was crying and K was telling her she did not like her. I left them to it and finished up the dishes, then went to the living room.

L said she needed a nose wipe. I wiped her nose. She said K was pulling her hair. K said L was kicking her. I told them I was going up to bed. They both said they were ready to go too. I marched them upstairs, all the while K saying she was never going to speak to L again, and L shoving K who was walking ahead of us. They both crawled into bed and I tucked covers around them and retreated to my own room without another word.

A few minutes later I realized I didn't want to leave it like this, so I went back out and kissed K and told her I loved her. I think she was already asleep. I kissed L. She seemed out too. I went back into my room and brushed my teeth and crawled into bed.

Nobody came in to kiss me good night. (Disclaimer: M was at class. I sure she would have put me to bed nicely if she'd been there.)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

photo thursday: ... cry baby cry....

Sometimes a girl just has to take a stand. Often, actually. About issues that a parent may not think line-in-sand-drawing-worthy. But L is quick to state an objection. Luckily she is (usually) just as quick to bounce back and move on. Usually.

Before the bounce back

(I'm fairly sure I haven't used this one before, but ....)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

definitions: gentiful / goth

it's another double-definition tuesday!

gentiful - adjective - requiring great care when handling

K (holding out a plastic daisy ring she got at the school carnival on the final day of spirit week): Look Daddy! Isn't it pretty?
me (overjoyed to be done with spirit week for at least another 357 days): Beautiful!
L: Look at mine Dada!
me: Oh yeah. You have one too.
L: Mine is green and K's is purple but mine is green because it's green and K's is purple.
me: Right.
K: Do you want to hold it?
me: Sure.
K: Be careful. It's gentiful.

goth - interjection - an expression of surprise or enthusiasm

K (looking at the leaves blowing in the yard): Oh my god!
me: K, what did you just say?
K: Daddy, look at the leaves blowing!!
(do I just ignore it?): Yeah, they're blowing alright. It's windy out there. It's fall. What did you say?
K: It's fall out there.
L: Yeah, itth fall K!
K: I know, L.
me: K, you shouldn't say 'Oh my god.'
K: Why?
me: Because it might offend some people.
L: It might end some people, Dada?
me: I suppose that too.
K: I know. But it ok to say 'Oh my gosh."
me: Sure, yeah, it's ok.
L (pressing her nose against the window glass): Oh my goth!
me: Uh....
K: Daddy, can we watch a Saddle Club?
Yeah, can we watch a Thaddle club Dada?
me: Sure, yeah.
me (to M, after taking the girls downstairs to start the DVD): Oh. My. Goth!
(busy cleaning the kitchen): ???

Monday, October 25, 2010

family:... every other day, every other day...

...of the week is fine...

it's another edition of monochrome-monday!

(And a blustery, soggy Monday it is.)

No Parking

Today a pair of photos, taken a couple of weeks ago at a rowing regatta we attended, in which my sister and our nephew rowed. And did we get to see them row? Nope. Not by a long shot. My sister's boat had to be on the water at 6.45a for an... 8a? start? Our nephew's boat was later, but we didn't know how much later, and we were unable to get our family out the door in time.

There's something about a jeans skirt and tights...
(that make a little girl look grown up)

Still, the girls got to see some shells being rowed by women and by girls, which is always one of my goals - expose them to females being active. Who knows what they'll end up doing, but I don't want them to not do something because it didn't seem possible. Anything should be possible!

And speaking about possibilities and anything, on the bus this morning I read a section of a book called The Art of Non-Conformity (Chris Guillebeau) which made this point: most of us (in the U.S. at least) have options, and when we say that we "wish" we could do something (like travel the world, or take 6 months off on a beach) we ought to recognize that we could do these things but we've made choices and they aren't a high enough priority to us. We might have as a higher priority to own a house and/or to have a new car. Priorities which may be completely sensible, but they are choices, not necessities, and this book pointed out that most often, when we do something, we have made a choice rather than having been forced into it.

The nice thing about this is, it puts the onus on each of us to take responsibility for our situations and our decisions. That's also, unfortunately, the not-so-nice thing. It means that, if we feel like we're doing something we don't want to do, we only have ourselves to blame.

So the lesson today girls, on the soggy Monday, is that you're in the enviable position of being able to decide what to make of your lives and the impact you have on your world. And I hope I can be the sort of father that helps you understand you have choices, and that making those choices is one of the biggest responsibilities and most exciting aspects of living. But for now, I hope you both have wonderful days as the rain lashes the windows and pools in the yard.

Friday, October 22, 2010

family: ... I want candy!

it's another food-stuffs friday

- giving you something to chew on since oct. 2010 -

Earring and finger
(not the finger in question!)

Excerpt from a dinner conversation on Sunday:

M: Will you share your Halloween candy with me?
K: No!
L: Thure Mama.
M: Oh good. Thank you L. I'll take you to a few extra houses to make sure you get a full bag.
K: I want to go to some extra houses too!
M: Well, she said she would share with me.
K: Oh, all right.
M: Good. If you get a Butterfinger, will you share it with me?
me: You like Butterfingers?
L (excitedly holding out a suspiciously damp finger): I have a bugger finger! Here!!
me: (collapsing in laughter)
M: Eeeww. No L. A Butterfinger.
L: A bugger finger?
M: No. It's a candybar. Butterfinger.
L (starting to laugh with me, and still holding out her finger): But I have a bugger finger!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

photo thursday: ... reflections of...

... the dirt on the window...

It's photo thursday, today featuring another shot from the occasional series, The View From 3 Feet:

On the Job
(on the deck)

This is a picture of most of my torso, grilling on the back deck.

Photo likely by K who is clearly in her "blue period," though it's possible that L took the picture on the sly, using K's cambra.

Even less likely, M snuck away from whatever it was she was supposed to be doing (making the entire rest of dinner while I focus on turning a few burgers or chicken breasts) to snap an impressionistic shot of her husband actually helping with the meal.* I'm guessing she cut off my head to preserve my anonymity. And for this, I thank her!

* This is an example of what M calls me being in "writer mode," during which I spin out of control imagining why people are doing the things they are doing.... I call it research.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

definitions: capon / unsew

it's double-definition tuesday!

Not quite awake
(From the series "The View from 3 feet"
photo by K)

capon - noun, a nut commonly grown in and associated with the United States south and featured in a southern pie.

M (picking out a bag of nuts at Costco): Here we go.
L: That nuts Mama?
M: Yup, they're pecans. Your grandmama would make us a wonderful pie out of them.
L (thinking for a bit): Mama, can I have a capon?
M: Not now. Not until we get to the car.

unsew - verb, to remove a thread or string from something (see also, unmail)

M: Why don't you play with the sewing game?
L: I can do the horse?
M: Yeah.
L: K said I can't do the horse one but I can do it because she's at school and I can do it because I can.
M: Right, she's at school. You can do it. (pulls out the heavy cardboard, horse-shaped sewing game piece with a colored string already threaded through the holes around the edges) Do you want me to take the string out?
L: No, I can do it! (works briefly at pulling the string out of the holes) I can't do it! (lower lip protruding) Mama, can you unsew it?
M: I'll do it L.
L: Thanks.

Monday, October 18, 2010

family: ... all you gotta do is tell me why why why...

... welcome to the working week! it's another edition of monochrome-monday!

Another "earring shoot" outtake

Like her sister, L seems to have suddenly grown up*. Before I'm ready.

Granted, she is still only just approaching her third birthday, but still, have a look at this picture! It seems highly unlikely that this girl is our baby, the one who still crawls into bed with us on one out of .... three(?) nights. She's out of diapers (mostly) now, and able to dress herself (mostly), and has many very strong opinions (always) and keeps M and me and her sister all laughing when we aren't pulling our hair out (M and me) or pulling her hair out (K).

She knows how to climb into her crib, but hasn't figured out that climbing out is way, way easier! (Don't tell her!) And she long ago figured out the value of humor, turning to laughs as often as tantrums in her attempts to get things. (Tantrums are gaining, but there are still many attempts to get us to smile with her ridiculousness.) So far, so good....

* - Well, kind of. She strikes me like a girl who's never going to really "grow up." And I mean that in the best possible way. Also, she's not really grown up. But she's not a baby any longer, and not even a toddler.

Friday, October 15, 2010

family: ... chicken lips and lizard hips and alligator eyes...

you guessed it, it's anther "food-stuffs friday" - giving you something to chew on since oct. 2010

One of the challenges of parenting has to do with food. M & I have to eat. The kids have to eat. But what we want to eat, and what they want to eat, and what they ought to eat, none of these things necessarily coincide. (For example, there are nights when what I'd like to do is dig out the potato chips and a beer and call it 2 out of 4 food groups. But that's not going to fly these days.)

We had an unexpectedly successful zucchini season this year. Hard to imagine, given the wet summer we had, and our garden's tendency toward powdery mildew. It was, a sadly unexpectedly successful zucchini season.

By now you're getting the idea that I'm not a big zucchini fan. I'm not against them, per se, but I find that they go "moogie" fairly quickly, and moogie and my mouth don't coexist well. It's the reason I don't do eggplant either. I don't mind the taste of either of them, but I can't take the gloppy texture. (Note: There is one recipe that I can stomach zucchini in - it's a chocolate bread recipe our niece Maggie gave us (I think), and I can't for the life of me find the zucchini in it anywhere. Which is to say, it's fabulous. Thanks Maggie!)

So it's a challenge, when K or L reject something, to insist that they eat it anyway. I tend to identify with their reactions. Sometimes it's just funny. K doesn't like basil. But she loves pesto. Try to explain to her that pesto is just basil with some olive oil... logic doesn't gain me any traction. There's no explanation that is adequate. Other times, it's not quite as funny. L wants cottage cheese, but decides once I've served it that she doesn't like it, she wants apple sauce. You can guess where this is going. I get her apple sauce, but not, apparently, enough. I know this not because she quickly finishes what's in the bowl and asks for me, but because she tells me that it's not enough.

me: Here you go.
L (pushing the bowl away with pouting lower lip): That not enough!
me: It's not enough.
L (falling face down on the window seat): No!!
me: And you're going to eat it?
L (sitting up, enthusiastic): Yeah Daddy! Yeah!!
me (after adding more to the bowl): Here.
L (slipping off the seat): Acthually, I don't want any. K, you want to ride horthes?
K (slipping to the ground from her place): Yeah!
me: !!!!!!

I'd always thought the stereotype of parents finishing up their kids food was overdone. But I find myself eating that cottage cheese, the bowl of apple sauce, the grilled cheese sandwich.... (which reminds me, I really need to get out and exercise this weekend!)

I realize that some parents would insist the kids eat what they've asked for. I'm not so good at doing that. For one thing, I have never much liked the "clean your plate" approach. I'd rather the kids eat when they're hungry, and not feel they have to finish all the food (like I do when I'm picking up the plates - see the previous paragraph!). We also tend to give the girls more choices in food than some parents would.

us: Do you want pasta tonight? Or soup?
K: Not any of them.
us: Uh... that's the choice. Pasta or soup.
K: Oh, all right!
us: 'All right' which one?
K: Pasta I guess!!
L: I want thoup!!!

K has recently decided she doesn't like mushrooms. And this is after having eaten them happily for some time. But here's the thing: I can remember not liking them either! (I can remember when I decided I did like them, and it had to do with butter and sauteing and white wine drinking and it's all not quite appropriate for K just yet.) So, recalling how mushrooms smelled/tasted/felt to my kid-self, there's no way I can force K to eat them. Which is why I find myself willing to pick them out of her soup. Or pasta.

(K, if you're reading this at 6, EAT YOUR MUSHROOMS! If you're reading it at 16, please eat those mushrooms. If you're reading this at 26, I completely understand. Go have a beer and some chips instead.)

One of the only real lines we've drawn, is that if the girls don't eat at dinner, they don't get to eat later, even if they claim to be "starving" in bed. It's been difficult a time or two, when K or L is crying, not wanting to sleep, claiming to be hungry. I can't imagine what it would be like to not be able to provide for my kids, and I can understand why parents who are in very difficult circumstances would skip meals so that their kids can eat. But the thing is, our girls are not starving. They might be a little hungry, but no so's it will damage them. More often, they just don't want to go to bed, and are trying on different approaches to see if any one of them sticks to the wall (to mix in a pasta cooking metaphor). And they have learned that if they choose not to eat at dinner, there'll be nothing for them until the next morning.

One of the best parenting tips we were given came from the mother of a friend, a woman who is trained as a nutritionist. She said that if kids get one good meal every 3 days, they're doing fine. Having that bit of knowledge right from the start helped us not worry when K or L didn't seem to eat much for a day or two. And for the most part, it's held true. They'll come around for a big meal, tossing back 3 pieces of fish, or 4 complete waffles, after not eating much for a while.

I've seen new parents who are freaking out because their child doesn't seem to be interested in eating on a given day. Luckily M and I were on the same page, and we just didn't get too concerned about it. They always seemed to come around the next day or the day after that.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

photo thursday: ... it's getting better...

Given the somewhat frazzled nature of yesterday's post, I figured I'd provide some balance with this one. In today's photo of the girls with their friend Ainslie, everyone looks blessedly happy for a change....

August, 2010

One of the aspects of this picture I love is L's expression. She looks like she's posing for an album cover. In fact, they all could be posing for a cover. Too bad K&L can't sing....

And for those of you who might be curious, "jersey day" went relatively smoothly, largely because K decided not to care about wearing a "jersey" and instead opted for a dress and leggings. (Add "leggings" to the list of clothing items about which I knew nothing before having girls.) I helped her get dressed, and carefully shielded the dirt stains on one legging knee with my hand. It's the sort of thing that, noticed, could result in a required outfit change.

Today, however, is "inside out day" and though that might strike many of you as a relatively simple challenge, it apparently isn't. To quote M last night as we lay exhausted in bed, "K may just be someone who can't wear her clothes inside out." Which, now that I think about it, fairly accurately describes me as well. I'm not big on inside out clothing either.

At least not intentionally.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

family: ... smells like...

... Montessori spirit week....

A quick quiz:

Q: What's the quickest way to suck every last bit of the spirit out of an otherwise happy family?
A: Have a Montessori "Spirit Week" that involves separate days of creative dressing, including:
Mon - pajama day / Tues - tie dye or tie day / Weds - jersey day / Thurs - inside out day / Fri - school pride day.

Seems simple enough, right?

truth in blogging disclaimer - taken 9/8/10
(but the spirit is true to the story)

See, pajama day was fine. K has enough pajamas that we could make sure some of her favorites were washed in time for Monday morning.

But yesterday morning we hit a wall. No tie-dye in the house.

Option 2: wear one of the ties that Daddy doesn't even wear.

Turns out this isn't a viable option. For whatever reason. It's not clear why, but K refused. Not even the "cool" all-silk tie a climbing friend brought me from India, a tie that made M swallow a guffaw when I brought it out.

M miraculously managed to dig up a top she had, one tie-dyed a tasteful blue and white (nothing purchased at a Dead show) and proposed that K wear it as a dress, with one of her shirts under it. It was actually quite a creative solution. Nothing doing.

The short and dirty recap is that K didn't go to school yesterday. And K generally likes school. I believe this is the first time she out-and-out refused to go.

So she was absent due to... a clothing virus? A lack of spirit? Do we just say "our daughter couldn't find anything she felt was appropriate for your damn spirit week!" and leave it at that?

The turn of events worries me though, and on so many levels. 1) at 4 1/2 she already can't find anything to wear?!? 2) she's not willing to go creative (we suggested wearing a tie as a belt, wearing M's t-shirt as a dress, wearing a tie as a tie.... nope, no, uh uh! 3) what the heck is she going to be like at 14?!?

We tag-teamed it yesterday, just so neither of us put a foot through a wall or tossed a book out the window. We had to. And it was rough. For K. For M. For me. I have no idea what I would have done if I'd been on my own. Cried, probably. Maybe that's what I should have done while K was crying.

K was in full melt-down mode, and she was a mess. And so were we. We're supposed to be the bosses, right?

And the problem was, we didn't know what to do. Do we force our 4yo to go to school, even if she's wailing at the top of her lungs, even if she's still in her diaper and pajamas ("Uh, pajama day was Monday Mr. K's Daddy"), even if I kinda get why she's resisting going so damn hard?

The thing is, I suspect it was the right move, to just let her stay home.

For one thing, I never liked that kind of stuff when I was a kid either. I never felt like I was going to have the right things to wear or look the right way. I worried about fitting in. Sound familiar? Yup, my daughter is my daughter! So what can I say? "K, I get it. I hated spirit week too." Probably not entirely constructive. And then there was the fact that she was so worked up, and resisting so strongly, that had we made her go, I think it would have caused longer term issues.

But a decision like that requires that a parent remain flexible in the face of extreme screaming and tears, flexible enough so that the decision feels like a valid alternative, rather than simply a caving in. I think maybe we both (M and me) felt like we'd caved a little, but with a few hours of distance, and after talking to M on the phone and hearing that things were going well at home, I decided it was the choice that made sense.

Today is Jersey day, meaning sports jerseys of some kind. Meaning another day predicated on a clothing genre of which we have none. But M has already cleared it with K* and she's going to wear a Mariners t-shirt that is a hand-me-down from her cousins. Maybe. We'll see how she feels about it once she wakes up.... wish us luck!

* "already cleared it with K" - this may be a partial key for us. K doesn't handle course reversals quickly. She's always been best when her expectations are set ahead of time. This means saying early in the afternoon that a day is hair night and letting her know that I'll need cooperation when we wash. It means letting her know that in 15 minutes we're going to kiss Belle on the plastic snout and go inside to have a snack. And maybe it means a bit more preparation ahead of time, finding and running through options.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

definitions: gutter / melon ball

it's another edition of double-definition tuesday!

L: Letth touth notheth!
(K: Ok)

- noun, the soft underbelly of a cow


K (pointing at the belly of a cow): That's called a gutter.
me (uncharacteristically correcting her): Actually it's an 'udder.'
K (looking slightly embarrassed): Oh, yeah. Utter.
L (looking over K's shoulder): That means it's a cow.
me: That's right. Cows have udders. But so do goats and other animals.
L: Other animals?
K: That's a cow.
L: Yeah, that a cow!
me: Right. That's a cow.
K: Horses don't have that.
me: No, horses don't have udders.
L: They have ginas.
me (feeling the floor start to tilt): Uh... well, girl horses have vaginas. And girl cows have vaginas. But not boy horses.
L: They have utterth?
me: No. Girl cows have.... Udders are... (what to call them? 'mammaries' seems too clinical, 'breasts' not quite accurate) ... that's how mama cows feed their babies.
L: They nipples?
me: Uh, yeah, kind of. They're nipples.
K: Boys have nipples too. You have nipples.
me: I do. Boys have nipples and girls have nipples. Women have breasts and girl cows have udders. (yikes!)
L: Boys have pee-nuths.
me: That's right. How about we go watch Saddle Club?

melon ball - noun, a round object shot out of deck guns on old time ships

L (grabbing the pirate ship as soon as K leaves the house to go to school): Dada, I can play with this when K's not home!
me: Yes, you can.
L (looking sad): She thaid I can't play with it, but I can.
me: You can. Even when she's home you can.
L (busy with the ship): Dada, I need the melon ball!
me: Melon ball?
L: Yeah.
me: Uh... where is it?
L: Ith downthairs.
me: The 'melon ball' is?
L: Yeah.
me: What are you going to do with it?
L (helping a pirate climb up the main mast): It goeth in hee-yar (pointing to the cannon).
me: Oh, the cannon ball?
L: Yeah, the cannon ball.
me: I'll go get it.... if you ask in a nice way.
L: Pleath Dada? All 'board!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

family: ... Stand in the place where you...

... pee?

note: This is a potty post. You have been warned. Further, I'm sure this is an issue not original to us, or even that interesting to anyone other than us, but given the sparseness of my posting lately, I figured it's better than nothing....

A few days ago, L needed to go to the bathroom. She's mostly in underwear now (Dora*, if you want the details), and has been doing fantastically, even to the point of napping in them with only one accident so far.

"I am L, hear me roar!"
(and I can do anything I want!)

So here's how things went:

L: Dada, I need to go pee!
me: Ok, do you want help?
L: No. I can do it.
me (settling back down): I know you can. Let me know if you want help.
L (goes to the bathroom): Dada!
me: Yeah?
L: I need help!!
me (getting up): Ok. What is it?
L (standing at the toilet, grinning up at me): I want to do it like this.
me: Like... you mean standing?
L (nodding): Yeah. I can do it Dada.
me: Uh... no, that's not going to work for you L.
L: But it is! It is Dada!!
me (hoping to balance my amusement with my concern): But it isn't L. It isn't.
L: Yes. I promith Dada. I can do it!
me: Girls don't do that. They're not built the same way as boys.
L (insisting now, starting to get that tone in her voice that tells me she's damn well going to do anything she wants to do): But I can do it!! I can!!!
me (torn now between simply picking her up and plopping her on the seat, and thinking 'what the hell, just let her try it. either she'll make a mess that we'll clean up and she'll learn, or who knows, maybe she'll actually somehow pull it off?'): L, you need to sit down.
L (giving slightly, enough to allow me to pick her up, turn her around, and sit her down): But I can Dada! I can!!
me (wondering now...): Maybe L. It's good to think you can....

So there you have it, another potential teachable moment, down the drain (so to speak). Almost immediately after we were done, I began wishing I'd just let her go ahead and try. The worst outcome wouldn't have been all that bad, and it would have been one less experience of being told she couldn't do something. I'd much rather she think she can, and discover whether or not she was right, than get used to being told what she can and can't do.

Daddy fail. But damn it, the next time she proposes standing up to pee, I'm behind her, 100%. Behind and about 5 feet back.

* About Dora: we haven't seen any of the TV shows for Dora, but I can state with certainty that the tie-in Dora "books" are some of the worst-written things in the "teach kids some non-English words" universe. The writing is ... well, childish and simplistic. And condescending. To imagine that this junk would appeal to kids! Compared to something like Winnie the Pooh (which, admittedly, was not trying to teach any non-English words), it makes me want to cry every time the girls pick one of the books for me to read. And they do, regularly. Which means that 1) they like them more than I do, and 2) I'd probably fail as a children's author because, what do I know about what appeals to kids!?!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

photo thursday: .... all i have is a photograph...

enthusiasm, it's not just for dinner any more!

L, enjoying some "Gorilla Munch"
(taken earlier this year, back when there was a little bit of sunshine)
(which means it was probably during that single week in August... or was it July?*)

* bitter? no, i don't know what you're talking about.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

definitions: overfulled / grisbee

overfulled - intransitive verb, to become full to overflowing


M: Good morning!
K: Mmmhph.
L: Mama!
M: How was your sleep?
K: What?
M: How was your sleep last night?
K: What?
M: How are you?
K: Good.
L: What?
K: It supposed to be nice today?
M: I don't know. It's not very nice right now, is it?
K (looking out the kitchen window): No....
L: Mama! Look!!
M: What L?
L: The water table!!! It overfulled!
M (looking out at the full-to-overflowing water table on the back deck): Wow. It sure is.
L: K! K! Look at the water table!! It overfulled by the rain!!!
K: No!

grisbee - noun: plastic disc sometimes used for throwing, but more often used for hiding


M: Could you call the girls? And send Matthew and Natalie home?
me (going out to the back yard): Hey guys, it's dinner time. Natalie, Matthew, you need to head home now.
K: We're still playing Daddy.
me: Dinner's ready. You can play some more another day.
(eventually the girls come inside and we get them ready for dinner)
What were you playing out there?
L (obviously not remembering): Um...
K: Hiding and finding.
Yeah, hiding and finding.
Really? Hiding what?
K: The grisbee.
me: Grisbee?
K: That what it's called.
Yeah, that what ith called!!
me: frisbee?
No! Grisbee!
M (exchanging a look with me): The 'grisbee?'
M: Yeah Mama.
Yeah Mama. Yeah!

Monday, October 4, 2010

family: ...ev'ry time i see your face...

it's monochrome-monday (newly instituted):

Looking a bit older than reality
("earring photos" outtake)

It's hard for me to believe, looking at this picture, that K is just 4 1/2yo, and that she's capable of the tantrums we've been seeing over the last few weeks. It's been rough, and I'm not quite sure why, though it appears that she is coming down with another cold (2nd of the school year). I hope that's the case. Otherwise, we're at a loss as to what's happening. ("Uh, hello Daddy, I am just 4 1/2 years old!" "Oh yeah....")

For the record, it's worth it, even with the storm clouds. Just not quite so much fun during the downpours as during the sunny weather!

Friday, October 1, 2010

family: ... eat for two...

it's food-stuffs friday -

"giving you something to chew on since oct. 2010"

One of the benefits of being able to occasionally work from home (thanks to a flexible boss and workplace) is being able to make lunch in my own kitchen, rather than bolting down something I've tossed together in a rush as I run out the door to catch my bus.

So, yesterday, working from home, I ate:

1) a bagel&ham sandwich made from:
  • ham K rejected as unacceptable (and about which M concurred)
  • the last remaining leftover bagel in the freezer, a single half of a blueberry bagel (the only option other than bread loaf ends -- at least until M came home and pointed out that we had a shelf above the freezer drawer and there was an entire loaf of bread)
  • cheddar cheese (because we had nothing else)
  • mustard, lots of mustard

2) the leftover oatmeal from that morning, doused with yogurt


In other words, my lunch was not much better than the crap I normally toss together as I'm running for the bus, except that it consisted of stuff I wouldn't have bothered to haul in to work.

Then there was dinner. I'm not a cook. In fact, if left alone for more than an afternoon, I'll quickly revert to my bachelor days and happily eat cereal 3x a day. Indefinitely. But everything is different when you have kids. You're supposed to feel them in a manner that allows them to grow and blossom. So I grilled chicken and made rice. Oh yeah, there's supposed to be veggies too... I washed some baby carrots and picked the last, sad tomatoes from our damp garden.

Pertinent dinner facts:
  • L wanted me to sit beside her.
  • So did K.
  • M was at class.
  • It was two-on-one.
  • I was doomed.

L: Thit hea Dada (indicating the window seat between her and K).
me: But if I have to get out...
L: It ok Dada. I can move.
me: What if I sit here (knowing I'd be up and down and indicating the stool at the open end of the table).
L: No, thit hea!
me (giving in): Ok. You need to let me in.
L: (slides out and lets me climb into the tight space, then climbs back in behind me)
K: Daddy, I need more chicken.
me (sigh): What's a nice way to ask?
K: Please.
me: L, you need to let me out.
L: (slides out and lets me climb past to freedom)
me: K, you want more rice too?
K: No!
me: "No thank you Daddy."
L: I want something to drink Dada.
me (getting more chicken for K): What do you want L?
K: Apple juice. And orange juice.
me (turning to stare at her, hoping she'll catch on that I'm waiting because she hasn't said the magic word):...?
K (catching on): Please!
L: I want apple juith too. And orange juith. Mixthed.
me (pouring K's juice): Mixed? In the same glass?
L (nodding): Yeah!
me (putting two glasses in front of K): Really? Mixed together?
L ( nodding emphatically): Yeah!!
me (pouring apple and orange juice into a single glass): Ok, here.
L (pointing to the Red Hook Ale tasting glass we have, the one in which I've served K her apple juice according to Child Protective Services requirements): I want a glath like that!
me: We only have one of those.
L (starting to get worked up): I want a glath like that one!!
me: L, we only have that one. We don't have another.
L (fully worked up now): I. WANT. A. GLATH. LIKE. THAT. ONE!!!
me: K, would you mind giving that glass to your sister?
K (mouth full of chicken): (shakes her head)
me (starting to take glass): Thank you!
K (yelling, mouth still full): No! I want it!
me: Oh, I misunderstood. L, we don't have another one of those glasses.
L (breaks down completely, flailing on the window seat, kicking and throwing her pacifier and ultimately banging her head against the window handle): Waaaaaaa!
me: Oh, L, you hit your head!
L: I banged-ed it! (through tears) It hurting!
me (kissing her head): Is that better?
L (shaking her head and crying): No, thea!
me (kissing again): Ok?
L (face wet with tears): Yeah.
K: She can have that glass.
me: Really? Thank you K. L, what do you say to your sister?
L: Thankth K.
me (going to the counter to move K's apple juice to a new glass and pour L's mixed juice into the critical glass): Ok, here.
L: No! I want apple juith in it!
me: There is apple juice in it. It's mixed up.
L: No!! Apple juith. In thea!!!
me (sinking onto the stool): L, you said you wanted mixed up juice and that's what is in there. It's apple juice and orange juice.
L (tears again): No!!! No!!!! I want apple juith and orange juith in thea.
me (standing back up): Ok. Here! (grabbing the glass, dumping its contents into the sink, then returning to the table with glass and both pitchers of juice) Here, I'm pouring apple juice and orange juice into the glass. (hands glass to L).
L (tears increase): No!!!!!! No!!!!!!!! Not like that!!!!!!!!!
me (total confusion): What. Do. You. Want?!?
L (through tears): I want apple juith. And orange juith.
me: In separate glasses?
L (nods, face wet, daddy's finally getting it... maybe)
me (getting another 2 glasses from the cabinet and putting them down on the table and pouring a glass each of juice): There.
L (reaching for a glass): Thankth.
me (sinking to the stool): Are we all set?
K: Yeah.
L (nods): Dada, why you over thea?
me: Because it seemed easier.
L: Sit next to me.
me: Really?
L (nodding): Yeah.
me: You have to get out then.
L (slips out, lets me in, climbs in after):
K: Daddy, can I have more chicken?
me: Seriously?
K: Yeah. I'm doing a really good job on dinner. Can I have some gummy fruit snacks?
me: We're not even going to talk about those until after everyone is finished eating! L, you need to let me out again.
L (slips out, lets me out, climbs back in):
me (after getting K more chicken and climbing back in between K and L): Ok.
K: Actually, I need to go to the bathroom! (runs to the bathroom)
me: Really? (gets nod) You need help?
K (leaves the table and is in the bathroom for a bit) : No. (yelling now) Actually, I need to poop.
me (yelling toward her from my trapped seat): Ok. Tell me when you're done.
K: Ok!
L: Dada, can I have more rith?
me: Ok. You have to let me out.
L: You can go that way (pointing to the other side of the table, which would involve a long crawl on my part).
me: No, this way.
L: Ok. (slips out to let me get past)

I don't think I got to eat for another 10 minutes after this, and had to climb in and out at least 3 more times. At some point I sat down and said "Girls, I love to be with you, but I'm really really frustrated right now. I want to eat something and I want you both to eat too." They looked confused that anyone could feel frustrated while having a meal that could very likely end with fruit gummy snacks.

Somehow we managed to get through the meal and move on to bath and books and bed, but I'm not sure how. The pumpkin beer helped.

But that lunch began to look mighty appealing after all...