Tuesday, January 25, 2011

family: ... time is short...

... and the days are sweet... *

in lieu of definitions, I'm forced to stoop to another celebrity double tuesday:

Chocolate, with attitude!

Attitude, with 1980s-style coat!

(and if you don't see the resemblance, you need to go out and buy a vinyl copy of Empire Burlesque to get the full picture!)

(* - from "Dark Eyes" by Bob Dylan)

Monday, January 24, 2011

family: ... it's no secret...

in which you learn that L's parents pee in the grass (sort of)....

warning: potty talk within!

Prelude - the accident:
Last week L had a fairly... significant "accident" while at her daycare. When I arrived to pick her up, she was wearing replacement underwear, pants, and was shoe/sockless. Apparently everyone was outside and she peed, in such quantity that it drenched not only her skirt and tights, but also her shoes. So, I was carrying both L and a plastic bag of her soggy belongings to the van when we left.

Main event - bathroom freaking:
K has developed a concern regarding bathroom activities recently, where "recently" = about a month or so but I can't remember exactly due to sleep deprivation.

This concern exhibits itself in a variety of ways, including insisting on wearing a diaper to bed in spite of being entirely potty-trained, and waking up multiple times throughout the night to pee (thus, the sleep deprivation I mentioned). At the height of its craziness, she got up 5-6 times a night, sometimes within 15 minutes of the last time. By morning I was a mess. I didn't want to make a big deal about it, figuring that the bigger a deal I made, the bigger an issue it would become. But finally I sat down with her one day and said that I couldn't keep getting up so often at night, that it was making me sleep-deprived and that I was getting crabby as a result.

Did she understand? I'm never sure how much of an effort at reason and logic it's worth making with a 4yo. But, she said she understood, and in the weeks since, she's reduced her wakeups to between 0 and 2 per night. Still not my ideal, but muchMUCH better than 5-6 times per night. Usually we get up once. Often not at all, and occasionally it's 2x.

It wasn't only during the night, either. During the day she'd frequently head back to the bathroom 4 or 5 times in an hour. At least then, she was in underwear and on her own as far as taking care of business.

We even took her in to the doctor to make sure there was nothing going on like an infection. She checked out clean and healthy.

The other area her concern impacts is going places. She can't (or won't) articulate what it is that worries her about it, but there are times when she flat-out refuses to go somewhere (a playdate, to dinner, to someone else's house...). The best I can figure out is that it's related to her concern about going to the bathroom.

We nearly had to bail on a dinner date with a friend last week because after K went to the bathroom one last time before climbing into the van, she seemed to register that we would be at a restaurant and that the facilities situation was a huge unknown. And the only thing she could say about why she didn't want to go was "Because!"(admittedly, she was near-hysterical, so I wasn't going to get much out of her anyway)

A side note, to remember for future similar situations: the way I got her to change her mind was to walk away, go outside, lock the front door (it doesn't latch unless locked), and go talk to M who was waiting in the van with L. My thinking was, one of us could go to dinner with L and the other would stay home. In the meantime, K apparently thought I was just leaving her abandoned at home. She came screaming downstairs and stood pounding on the single pane living room window and M and I hurried back and unlocked the door at which point she was yelling "I want to go! I want to go!!" Problem solved. I suppose. Not quite the way I'd envisioned, but solved.

And here's the other thing about this sort of meltdown - then she was over it. We buckled her in and backed out of the driveway and hit the West Seattle Bridge and in spite of tear-streaked cheeks, K was ready to ask things like "Dada? Why that car have blue lights?" and "L, am I the best sissy you ever had?" In the restaurant there was no expressed concern, she drank gallons of lemonade, and needed to go to the bathroom just once.

But damn it, it's hard, when I'm still brooding about the chaotic exit we just had, to switch to info-daddy mode: "Those are special headlights K." "Of course you're the best sister she's ever had. You're the only sister she's ever had!"

Best question from her on the way to the restaurant: "Why we so late?"

M and I just looked at each other and muttered something about getting out of the house later than planned.

Postlude - just like you!:

Luckily, L doesn't seem to have the same hangups (yet?). She had no concerns about the accident she'd had at Miss Ronda's.

me (once the family was gathered over dinner): I started a load of laundry. Help me remember to pull it out before I go to bed.
M: Oh?
me: Yeah, we brought some wet clothes home from Miss Ronda's.
L (full of excitement): Yeah! I was standing in the grass and on the dirt and I had an accident!
M: You had an accident at Miss Ronda's?
L: Yeah! (smiling and nodding now) It was pretty big accident!
me: Yup, even her shoes are in the wash.
M: Wow.
L (proudly): Yeah. I peed outside in the grass. Just like you and Daddy.
M and me: !!!

A short note of explanation: We didn't pee in the grass. At least not the time to which she was referring.

We'd told the girls a story about how even adults sometimes need to pee when they're out and about. In this particular (true) story, we were caught in a snowstorm, pre-kids, and the West Seattle bridge was shut down. We'd been in traffic for a loooooooong time and were going nowhere and it was dark and blizzardy and probably after 7pm and eventually we just pulled off into a deserted parking lot south of the Home Depot on First.

The motivation for sharing this with them was to help calm fears about needing to go when there's no bathroom around. As a parent, you're always reassuring your children that, "Yes, even adults feel that way" and "Even adults sometimes make mistakes" and "Even adults sometimes need to pee when there's no where to go."

I'm not sure the story made an impression on K.
I'm certain it made some impression on L, though I'm not certain exactly what.

And as for Miss Ronda, who knows....

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

definitions (special "holiday" edition): ... activity scene / egg milk

once again, it's double-definition tuesday!

activity scene - noun, an interactive display/game of pieces designed to be animals (no horse though!), shepards, kings, young fathers and mothers, and a baby. (Note: Also a religious artifact in some cultures and households.)

me (walking into the house after work): Hello the house!
K (running in from the kitchen): Daddy! Come see what we got!!
L (running in after her sister): Yeah Daddy!!! Come thee what we got!!!!
me: Ok, let me take off my shoes....
L: Ith got a camel but no horse but thome theep and people!
K: It's a "activity scene."
L: Yeah, ith a activity thene!
me: An activity scene?
K&L: Yeah. Come and look!

egg milk - noun, a yellowish drink consisting primarily of corn syrup with a small amount of milk and food coloring(?) added. Better varieties probably also include vitamin D fortification. Appears in supermarkets beginning in November, for roughly 2 months, before disappearing again for 10 months.

L (running into the kitchen on tiptoe and coming to a stop to point at the glass in my hand): Daddy! What that?!?
me: It's eggnog.
L (smiling her sweetest smile): Can I twy it?
me (good thing I haven't added the whiskey yet!): Sure.
L (after sipping from the glass): I don't like it.
me (ah!): No?
L (shaking her head now): I don't like egg milk!
me (time for whiskey!): That's ok. You don't need to like it.
K (coming into the kitchen): What?
L: I don't like egg milk.
K: What?
me: She doesn't like this (holding out the glass).
K: Me either!
me: Where is that whiskey?

Monday, January 17, 2011

family: ... i wish they all could be...

... west seattle girls!

On the Beach
(alki beach, 1/16/11)

Yesterday, on the spur of the moment, I decided the girls should come down to the beach with me. It was early afternoon and overcast and somewhat windy, but the air temperature was not bad (low 50s? high 40s?) and they'd been inside all day and all the previous day as well.

M has been talking about how we need to make more of an effort to get the family outside. Which is a challenge when you're talking about adults. Add kids, and things get infinitely more complicated. Still, we both believe it's important and worth the complication.

So I pitched the idea and L was immediately excited about it. K was not so much. There are concerns about availability of bathrooms, and no matter what I told her, she didn't want to go. I'm not sure if she witnessed a particularly traumatic "accident" at school, but this is a sore spot for her. She's not had any particular problem while we've been with her, but she's got her concerns.

To cut to the chase, I told her that if she didn't go, she wouldn't be able to watch "Misty," a movie that I believe M's mother gave the girls for Christmas. Misty is, of course, a pony, which is a small horse, which is the best possible subject for a movie you can ever think of. So the prospect of L going to the beach then coming home and snuggling in to watch Misty while K had to do something horrid like read books or play with her dolly, was too much. She caved. (As an aside, I can't even remember back to a time when I might have felt using that sort of temptation/leverage was a bad thing. But I know I probably did think this. No longer. Anything to get the girls out of the house and into some fresh air in January!) Which was great.

Because we had a blast.

The sun came out, the waves splashed at the shoreline, rocks were thrown (and gathered into my pockets for show-and-tell), and seaweed examined.

Looking for that one special rock
(L, with her coat off - she took it off as soon
as we hit the sand.)

and a shared laugh

Which is to say, it was a near-miracle.

The last time I tried this, M was down in California and I was solo with the girls, and we pulled it off but just barely K didn't want to get near any seaweed and she thought it tragic if I threw a rock or stick in the water. ("Uh, K, what do you think the rocks and sticks are for?" "No! Daddy, no!!") There was freaking out about sand in boots, on hands, on pants.... and we retreated after about 30 minutes.

I expected we'd be good for 30 minutes this time too, but it was warmer and I had to coax the girls back toward the van.

They really took to the beach and had a blast throwing rocks and picking up odd looking seaweed and getting close to the water and running and pointing at seagulls and watching ferries and pushing their hair out of their faces. M says it's because the last time they were at the beach, they were with their older boy cousins, and as we all know, rocks and sticks and seaweed and boys make for some good fun. Whatever the reason, it was a ton of fun for all of us, on top of being therapeutic.

To top off the excitement, there were even some good puddles to splash in on the way back to the van.

Puddle jumping
(on the way back to the van)

And it was good.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

definitions (special winter wonderland edition): throw fight

It's double-definition Tuesday (but I'm one definition short, so I'm tossing in a personalized photo to make up the difference):

throw fight - noun: a game played in the snow, preferably with icy snow (apparently).

L: If it keepth on thnowing we can have a throw fight!
M: You mean a "snow fight?"
L: No, a throw fight. You throw ice at eyeballs and stuff, you know?!?

It snowed this morning, briefly, long enough to raise L's hopes, long enough to make for an enjoyably cold and wintery water taxi commute:

Seacrest Park, or "NO... NO... NO..."
morning, 1/10/11

Seattle in the distance, with the last of the snowshowers blowing north across the city.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

family: ... i went to the fortune teller...

M's horoscope for today:

"Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): Today is a 6 -- A problem is solved with logic, and you learn from any mistakes. Get assistance from a loved one. It's a good day for romance. Light some candles."

And man, did they nail it!

M, enjoying romantic candle light early this morning

If, that is, "A problem is solved with logic" = you accept that the power is out so the heat is out so you wear your heavy coat and hat at the breakfast table, and "Get assistance from a loved one" = have your husband figure out how to light the gas stove using a candle so that you can have some tea since the espresso maker isn't going to work!, and "It's a good day for romance. Light some candles." = drink that tea and read the paper by candle light.

The way it works is: the smoke alarms started chirping at about 5a, which woke the dog, who woke the parents and L, and then we were all awake and cold and dark and try to explain what "the power is out" means to a 3 year old who decides she's ready for breakfast.

ps, I'm not sure why the day is a "6" if it started around 5....

Friday, January 7, 2011

family: ... i'm learning in due time...

One of the joys(?) of parenting is that I get regular opportunities to relearn "truths" that I thought I'd already learned/dealt with/put behind me.

Simple things like, if I need to get out of the house early, K will wake up even earlier. And, the best way to get her worked up is to get worked up myself.

Well, duh, right? Right. Except that I forget stuff. And then I get reminded.

So this morning I needed to get out of the house early so I could get to work early and make up some time. My plan: get up at 5.15a, which is plenty of time if it's just me and the beast, time to eat, shower, dress, and catch the 6.50 water taxi to downtown.

So, K got up at 5a.

I helped her in the bathroom and then put her back to bed. And lay back down in my own bed, stewing because I knew she was awake now and if she heard nothing, would probably fall asleep again for an hour or so but if she heard me, would get up too. I waited until 5.30, then tried to slip downstairs quietly. With the dog. Did I mention that her toenails are long and click on the bare floorboards? And that we have to tiptoe through the girls' room?

5 minutes later, K was up and heading to the kitchen. Which meant M, knowing I was trying to get out of the house, was up too.

I met K at the dog gate and said "It's still night time. I need to get to work early. Do you want to get into bed with Momma?" In her normal voice she said, "Yeah, but I can't sleep." "Shhhhh!" I whispered, figuring the best way to really complicate things now would be to wake up L as well.

Like blood to a shark, K smelled my stress and started to talk more loudly, saying she didn't want to go back to bed, saying she didn't care, saying.... all sorts of things.

My whispered "ssssssshhhhhhhhhh!" came more and more often, and things were heading for a breakdown.

To make this slightly less boring, I'll just say that M ran interference, L woke up, I stressed my way through breakfast and shower and still managed to make the water taxi.

Thanks M.
And sorry K, for not just taking the 5 minutes to snuggle, instead of trying to shut you down.

How long before I need to relearn this? A week? A month? I'll put it back onto the list of "stuff that'll come back around."

p.s. Wish M luck. After dealing with all of this, she'll be driving a group of children from K's class to see a puppet show. And L is going too. According to M, who did this same field trip last year and vowed never to do so again, the puppet theater is crowded and cramped and claustrophobic. Once in and seated, it's nearly impossible to get out. The girls are under strict instructions to behave, the payoff being cupcakes at Cupcake Royale.

p.p.s. Maybe this too gets added to the "learn and learn again" list?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

family: ... I remember you...

Remembrance Day is every day:

me: I was looking at your watercolor again today at work.
K: What?
me: I was looking at the painting you did for me, the watercolor.
K: What?
me: At work today, I was looking at the painting you painted for me. The watercolor painting I have at my office. I like it. It makes me think of you.
K: "Does it remember me to... to... your office?"
me: Yes, it makes me remember you, and that makes me happy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

family: ... i had an empty frame...

It's Double-Portrait Tuesday (newly instituted)!

Self-portrait w/ L, bathroom mirror
(evening, 1/4/11)

Monday, January 3, 2011

family: ... good day, sunshine...

My evening commute:

Seattle skyline, evening
(from the Water Taxi 1/3/11)

It nearly made up for the fact that I spent all of yesterday curled in a ball in bed, sweating through some 24 hour virus. Nearly.

Why, hello there, 2011! I almost didn't notice you smirking in the corner as I lay there moaning....