Wednesday, December 29, 2010

family: ...I want you...

... (to listen to me) so bad, babe...

One of the great things about being a parent (besides watching yourself turn into YOUR parents) is having the opportunity to teach your kids. As in, trying to convince them to do/not do something you want them to do/not do. As in, good luck!

Our "teachable moments" tend to go like this:

K (wailing about something, most likely a wardrobe issue): I can't! I won't! I'll never....
me: K, what's wrong. If you tell me, I can help you. But you need to calm down.
K (stomping her foot): No! I don't want to see you!!
me (figuring I'll wait her out, I go to lie down with a book): Ok. Tell me when you want help and I can help you.
K (stomping her feet and slamming drawers): Aaaaarrrrgh!!!!! (really crying now)
me (turning page of book): K, do you want help?
K: No! Leave me alone!!
me (turning page of book): Ok.

So K, if you're reading this in, say, 20 years, what I was hoping was that you would just pause, take a moment to breath, and together we could have figured a way around the problem. Instead, you probably went to school in your underwear. (Not really!)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

definitions: crazy aches / gold fish go

We've been trying to do the "family games" thing a little bit. Not in any organized kind of way, but more in a can-I-manage-a-game-instead-of-sending-them-down-to-watch-a-Saddle-Club situational sort of approach. And occasionally one of us will actually pull it off (where "pull it off" = distract the girls from watching a video until it's too late to start).

Lately two of our favorites have been:

crazy aches - which has something to do with 8s and everything to do with being crazy. We generally turn all the cards upside down and flip them over one by one until someone gets a match.

gold fish go - deal out 6 cards to each player who lays them face up in front of themselves. Spread the rest of the cards face-down in a pool between the players. Player 1 asks another player if they have a match to one of their (player 1's) cards. Note: that player 1 can see the other cards, and any suggestion that we try it with cards hidden results in loud complaints about it being too hard that way. If, by some miracle, the asked player does not have a matching card, they say "gold fish go" and player 1 draws a card from the pool.

Monday, December 27, 2010

family: ... mister postman, look and see...

another in the "conversations had while too tired to talk" series:

The girls are playing horses and want me to play too. I'm initially the veterinarian, but suddenly am shifted to playing Max.

me: The vet can't come right now.
K: Why not?
L: Yeah, why not Daddy?
me (scrambling for a valid reason): Uh… because… because she's delivering a baby horse! (brilliant!)
K (big smile): Really?
L: Really?
me: Yup.
K: Daddy… I mean Max?
me: Yeah?
K: Where is she sending it?
me: What?
K: Where is she sending the baby horse?
me ("sending?"… delivering? ah): Um, it's… over at the ... other ranch.
K: Where?
me (motioning out the window): Over at the other ranch.
K: When is she going to be sending it over here?
me: In about 2 hours.

K: Daddy, is she sending it in a box?
me: What?
K: The baby horse. Is it delivered in a box?
L: Is it in a box Daddy?
me: Uh, no.
K: In what then?
me: Hmm… in a trailer?
K: Oh. Daddy?
me: Yeah.
K: What were we delivered in? A box?
me: No,no.
K: What then?
L: Yeah Daddy, what then?
me: In… tiny bassinets.
ps, happy birthday grampa biddle!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

family: ... joy...

... to your world.

Whether high-fructose corn syrup-induced,

or less processed,

we wish you the sort of joy and happiness that finds its way into our home these days.

ps, if you're reading this before 6am, go back to bed!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

photo thursday/family: ... santa claus is coming to town...

I can't resist this picture of my mom and Santa, taken when she was around... 5? years old.

JVZ and SC
(Honolulu, Territory of Hawai'i)

This was taken in front of the Advertiser building (where my grandmother worked as assistant to Lorrin Thurston the editor). K and L think the Santa's beard is "crazy!" and "doesn't look like a real beard" but I think they don't know what Santa looks like in Hawai'i. (That is some crazy hair he's got going!)

One of the things I love about this (other than Santa's sense of "style") is that Mom is clutching two dolls. Another is that she's at least trying to smile. We took K to see Santa when she was 1 1/2, and once we got to the front of the line, she didn't want to see him. Which means we ended up with a photo of K, Santa, and me. I look like I'm sitting on Santa's lap, but I was perched on the arm of his chair. I swear it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

family: ... you give her fever...

(It's the giving season, so L has given K her fever, and both the girls are giving us sleepless nights. But even in the midst of this, holiday miracles do occur.)

The scene: after a long night of 102+ fevers, changing barf-covered sheets, and generally being woken up every 30 minutes or so, the family is lounging on the living room couch, uncertain just how 7a came to be so early.

K (snuggled on her mama's lap): L, I want to tell you someping.
L (snuggled on my lap): I slepted in my bed all night long.
me: Yes you did.
M: Nice job L!
K: L, I want to tell you someping!
L: I did a good job in my own bed!
K: L! Mommy, I want to tell her someping!
M: Hey L, K wants to tell you something.
L: What?
K: Well, last night I spit up.
L: What?
K: I spit up.
M: Yes you did.
me: And you slept through it L.
L: I slepted through it?
me: Yes! That was good.And amazing.
K: Mommy, you know why I spit up?
M: Why K?
K: Because I was sick.
M: Yeah, that's probably right.
me: K, I don't mind getting up with you when you're sick, or need to go to the bathroom, but getting up every 30 minutes to go to the bathroom or get you your water is... hard. It wears me down. I can't get any rest. And I might get sick too.
K: But I needed to.
me: I know, but your water is right there, and most of those times you hardly went to the bathroom at all. You need to switch to a pullup.
K: No!
M: K, you're going to need to start getting your own water. It's right there on the bookshelf, and then you won't have to
wake up your daddy all the time.
K: But I can't!
M: Yes you can K. You're old enough to get yourself water. And L, you are too.
L (sitting up): No! I'm free!

(here's the magical part, though you could miss it if you blinked, or were napping - in spite of being 90% exhausted and 100% grumpy, I'm smiling now, and so is M, and when we make eye contact we can barely suppress laughs)

me: Yes, you're three.
M: Also.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

family: ... hey! hey! you! you! get off of my...

... bed!

It's another edition of celebrity double tuesday!

This may be a stretch for some of you, especially if you didn't have a fixation of sorts on the Rolling Stones in the early 1970s, but the moment I saw this picture:

I thought of several of these:

Monday, December 20, 2010

family: ... I might be gone a long time...

from "Overheard conversations, a series"

K&L are playing with their toy horses. Hugo is one of the horses. So is Delilah. This explanation is probably unnecessary.

K: We might not see Hugo for a while. He's getting his bridle fixed.
L: Ok! We might not see Delilah for a couple whiles. Sheth going to be over they-a.

partners in crimes

Thursday, December 16, 2010

photo thursday: ...who guides this ship...

... dreaming through the seas...

Today you get a picture I took years ago and have always loved, but have never had a place to put. Which is the beauty of having a blog. It's like an on-line junk drawer/exhibition case, for stuff I want not only to keep but also to show off. Kind of.


Taken on the Washington Coast
(tri-x film image)

And in other news, we're heading into the last pre-Christmas lap and excitement is high, but I think we're going to make it.

K is half-day on Friday, after which she's on winter break. L is half-crazy all the time. M and I are often full-crazy and still figuring out this parenting thing, but I'm pretty sure we've nearly got it pinned down. Certainly by next week.

Everyone seems to be on better behavior, and I don't even think it has to do with the "he knows if you're awake" angle (which we don't tend to emphasize since I've always thought it an odd, semi-blackmail-y approach to behavior we'd like to encourage all year round).

I'm sure I just jinxed it, but it's been a nice change over November behavior.

Monday, December 13, 2010

family: ... wouldn't you like to ride...

... in my beautiful balloon...

note: edited 12/14 to add visuals.

Being another cautionary tale in movie selection/viewing:

The gods of children's films are lined up against me.

So far the girls and I have had a couple of bad experiences with movies, including The Three Pigs and Babe. Add to that our weekend experience with Up, a heartwarming animated movie from the same folks who bring you the "happiest place on earth." (Have I mentioned that I am apparently the only American with absolutely no interest in visiting either Disneyland or Disneyworld?)

Spoiler alert (although the girls and I are probably the only people who have not seen this movie, where "see" = having the images display in front of us but having the story shoot so far over our heads that we have no idea what's going on), anyway, I'm about to reveal key points of the story, up to but not including the actual end which we did not watch due to fear and sobbing in the assembled watchers.

So, this little animated feature starts with a logo of the magic castle which tells me everything is fine, this is from Mr. Disney who loves kids so much that he wanted everyone to be a kid forever. Or something. In any case, my guard was down. Or asleep. Or out to lunch.

Very quickly though, I realize we're in "deep water" (note: for actual water reference see the end of this movie review).

The movie starts with some black and white which tells me that the character in the movie is watching a movie himself, but tells the girls that our TV or the DVD is broken because it's not in color. Then, in short order, the boy meets a girl who shares his adventuring spirit but who breaks his arm (K: Where did he go? me: He fell off that board. K: But is he hurt? L: Where did he go? me: I guess so, it looks like that's an ambulance. L: No, it not an ambulanthe! Ith a car!! K: But is he going to the hospital? me: I don't know. L: It'th not a ambulanthe!) and then they're getting married and wanting babies and not being able to have babies and (K: What they doing? me: They're painting a nursery for a baby. K: They having a baby? L: What they doing? me: I think so, it looks like it. (oh crap!) No, they aren't. K: What? L: What Daddy? me: They wanted to have a baby, but it's not going to happen. K: What? L: What? me: They don't have a baby. K: Why not? L: What Daddy?!? me: No baby. K: But why? me: I don't know K. L: What? me: They wanted a baby but they aren't having one. K: Why? me: I don't know K. L: what?) then getting older and older and older until eventually the (now) old man's wife gets sick and dies and then he's alone in his house while all around him big buildings are being built and his peace is destroyed and... (K: Where is that girl? me: She got older. So did the boy. He's that old man now. L: What Daddy?! K: She got older? me: Yeah. K: But where is she? L: Yeah, where is she Daddy? me: she got sick, she...(crap!) she's not here any more. K: Is she died? me (quietly): Yes K, she died. L (loudly): Ith the died Daddy? me: Yes. Let's see what happens.

The man hits another man with his cane and is hauled away to court and sentenced to leave his home and be put into a nursing home. And the girls have no idea how we got from a broken black and white movie to here, but they're still sitting beside me.

And this is all the lead-up to the actual story! We haven't even started yet!!

Next thing we know, the house is floating over the city, held up by thousands of helium balloons, and there's a thunderstorm coming.

This is the point at which we first considered just turning it off. And in retrospect, I should have. The noise and lightning of the storm frightened both girls, and any "humor" associated with the chaos of the floating house in the storm was entirely lost.

From here we end up in the clouds. At least the house is in the clouds, and we are confused in our basement. Soon there is a pack of mean dogs, an oddly sweet bird (possibly a Big Bird association-by-size connection helps here?), the grumpy old man, and a hapless little boy explorer. All the girls focus on is the fact that the mean dogs grab the bird by the leg and hurt it badly. At this point we learn there are baby birds somewhere distant in the jungle, and that this bird ("Kevin" to the boy explorer) is a mama. And the girls start to really get worried.

How did the bird get hurt? Why? How can it get back to its babies? Why did the dogs bite it? Why won't that man help it? Whywhywhywhatwhatwhat? And I realize K is crying now, huddled in the corner of the couch.

Worse, she is embarrassed to be crying, and doesn't want either my comfort or my attention.

Uh, yeah, I was scared!

Note to those of you as clueless as I was: This is the second point at which I should have turned the damn thing off!

I reassure her that the bird will be ok, that it will get back to its babies, and that the dogs won't hurt it more. Note that I'm going on faith here, faith build entirely on my own childhood experience with Disney films, but now that I think about it, that's the same company that brought me the Headless Horseman among other sweet, family-oriented entertainment.

A dog that looks a little like our own beast shows up and acts somewhat nicely, sucking us all in, and then the bird is caught by the bad man (who controls all the mean dogs and has a big gun that shoots at the old man and the boy and the bird), and the boy and the old man need to rescue it. But the man is working on his own issues having to do with promises to his dead wife, and so ditches everyone. Or tries to.

Note: Any point from here on out would have been a great time to turn the TV off, but noooooooo.... I wanted to get to the happy place so K would be ok with all that I'd put her through to this point.

Mean dog chases ensue, captured bird images are shown, evil man dominates the screen. I imagine that things are taking a turn for the better when the grumpy old man makes a choice to help the bird, but this too is lost on the girls, and when K sobs that she doesn't want to watch it, that we should turn it off, and L agrees, I leap up and hit the OFF button.

What we looked like (pretty much)

K is rather traumatized, and even Saddle Club doesn't help, so we retire to the upstairs to read books about happy dragons and lambs and birthday parties.

Interestingly, possibly because even less registered on her, L didn't seem to have as strong/bad a reaction. She seemed to be picking up on K's reaction rather than having one of her own. Which is all irrelevant given that I had 2 crying girls on my hands, one truly sobbing and the other snuggling close to me for comfort and saying she is "cared."

So, I can't tell you exactly how the thing ends, but I'm guessing the grumpy old man helps the bird get back to her nest/babies, and the boy explorer gets back to his home in the city, and possibly the grumpy old man lives or maybe he doesn't since after this adventure he won't really have anything to live for, but I'm just as happy to have to speculate on this since we did get some nice reading in.

It's back to Curious George and Thomas the Tank Engine and Mary Poppins for us. And Saddle Club of course.

What struck me most, besides the pain of seeing K so traumatized but refusing my attentions, was the fact that she seemed to be embarrassed about her feelings. I worry at how well she'll be able to express herself when she's feeling something strongly? I wish she would just let it out and not be so conscious of her actions. Which may be an odd thing to hear me say, after all the complaining I've done about tantrums. But I have this (just developing) theory that the tantrums are as much about not knowing how to express oneself as they are about expressing some specific emotion like anger or frustration. Sadly, I suspect K has inherited some of this dislike of emotion from me. There's something about the sins of the father....

On a slightly different note:

The sun did not shine, it was too wet to play, so we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day...

I did mention the rain in my Saturday night post. Well it kept us inside all day Sunday and not only did it remind me somewhat of the rain the night before L was born, but it apparently reminded our basement of that night as well because it caused a small river through it. Which means we sat watching this "family" movie beside a tiny class v rapid. And all I can say is "thank you M!" for suggesting the removable foam tiles that we later removed and so far I don't think we need to replace the bamboo floor for the 4th time, but I also want to say that we never once saw water in the basement before we remodeled it.

Oh yeah, and to paraphrase the great Johnny Cash*:

Disney Productions, you've been a livin' heck to us!

*(see San Quentin for the glorious original version)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

family: ... looks like another fall...

(written in bed, with approximately 20 million gallons of rainwater pouring down on the roof, trying to find its way in)

You gotta problem with something?

Today was a 2-Saddle Club/2-Thomas the Tank Engine/1-Curious George kind of day, and while I'm not proud of those numbers, I claim some small leeway because 1) the girls are both alive, 2) they're both asleep, 3) in their own big-girl beds, and 4) I lived through a 6yo birthday party in Kirkland at "Pump it Up," an indoor inflatable bounce party location. Already you know that's my idea of fun, but add to it a 45 minute drive in pouring rain, and it becomes the reason for the day.

If you've been reading along, and I don't blame anyone who hasn't, what with my hiatus and subsequent sporaticity, but if you have been, you know that this weekend M is out of town, and I'm "in charge" of the girls not 3 days after L has moved into her "big girl bed." So you know I was looking forward to getting out of the house and to this birthday party.

I practically had to drag K across the parking lot (and through ankle-deep puddles) once we got there, with her saying "why did you bring me?" and "I'm too shy!" Damned if I was going to turn back at that point!

(I'll be honest though, I can completely relate to her attitude. It's pretty much spot on how I feel when faced with similar situations. So what could I do except mutter understanding but unintelligible mutterings and pull her along. Which I did.)

Once inside the building she needs to go to the bathroom. This is the girl who can go the entire day without one potty break while at school. And she just went before we left home. Maybe it's the sound of rushing water from all the runoff? Anyway, we manage that, then head down to "arena A" where the party is in full swing. And by "full swing" I mean there are small kids (boys and girls) racing around among the huge inflatable bounce houses, obstacle courses and slides. K buries her head in the back of my knees.

A friend of hers screams excitedly at her and comes running. K buries herself deeper into the backs of my legs. Her friend wants to go crawling over the obstacles with her. K wants to crawl back home.

Ultimately, it takes me going into the obstacle course, helping her up the soft climbing wall, pulling her over the bump, for her to do it. And then we have to do it again. And then the next thing I know she's joined the gang, all screaming and climbing and bouncing and sliding, with K screaming louder than anyone else. Whew! Mission accomplished?

We both managed to survive the 1.5 hour party (we're 30 minutes late), with 2 potty breaks, some pizza and cake, and then it's back into traffic and the storm to drive home and get L.

But here's one of the things that reminds me of what K can be. As I'm driving out of the parking lot, she's digging in her little pirate bag of booty, pulling out a pirate bracelet and a pirate necklace and pirate coin purse (?!?) and then a pirate tattoo. And I'm thinking but not saying, that L will be mighty jealous when she sees all this. And K pulls out a second tattoo and out of the blue says "Now L can have one too." And I say "Really K?" and she looks at me like I'm nuts and says "Yeah." And I fall all over myself to say how sweet this is, that she's going to share with her sister.

This is the same girl who, last night, was kicking in the tub so violently because the washcloth I got her was "too stretched out" that I swooped down and lifted her out... by her ankles! The same girl who told me she hated me and that she was never going to talk to me again.

Somehow this tattoo sharing thing balanced out the other stuff pretty well. It even almost made the birthday party worth it. And the girls were (fairly) well behaved this afternoon and evening, letting the "can I have dessert?" begging go after only a few whiny complaints.

So, if we don't wash away overnight, and assuming we get a decent amount of sleep, I think we're looking pretty good to all still be here when M gets back tomorrow afternoon. It's a lot of "ifs" but that's what I live on these days. And I probably just jinxed it anway.

Sleep well everyone. Please!

Friday, December 10, 2010

family: ... i wash my face...

from another overheard conversation:

L: Mama, what are tethe called?
M: Um… they're 'sanitary napkins.'
L: Yeah (nodding), tethe are napkinth. I need tethe to wipe my face. (starts to tuck two into her purth)
M: Ah ….
me (thinking): don't make eye contact… don't make eye contact….

Thursday, December 9, 2010

photo thursday: ... come on and safari with me...

it's photo thursday,

wherein I get to post any damn random picture I want and then maybe try to tie it into themes from earlier in the week. Luckily, I've been horrible about posting lately, so there's nothing to tie into, and that means I can post this picture, one of my favorite of Hookipa, near Mom's house.

November surf (2004)

I took this as my older sister and I were driving up to the house of some friends in Haiku. We stopped at the overlook and I snapped a few photos. The artfully grainy look is unintentional, a result of my having run out of film and needing to borrow a couple of rolls from Mom. Mom had a couple of rolls, but they were at least 3 years expired, so every one of the pictures had unexpected effects. Which I sort of like. Neat trick, that thing about saving film until it's waaaaaay too old to use. And then using it. Thanks Mom!

This was during a trip I took for Thanksgiving, 2004. I met my sister and her family on Maui and we all stayed at Mom's house. It was a lot of fun for all of us*, and I think back to that trip regularly, with happiness.

Since then we've had K, and then L, and then somehow life has come rushing in on us like an incoming tide, and we manage to get up and make breakfast and get dressed and do whatever it is we need to do during the day, only to then make dinner and get undressed and crawl into bed. And then put L back into her big-girl bed. And put her back again. And again....

(* M was in NYC with her own mother, doing things like watching the Macy's Parade live, something that would likely never appear on my "life list," but I'm happy for them.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

family: ... go to sleep little babe...

Last night was a watershed night for us. And it had nothing to do with the fact that President Obama had earlier in the week caved into the Republican demands for extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich (and the middle class). No, it was more important than that. It was...

The first night L slept in her "big girl bed."

Another way to phrase this is, this was the first night in which L was not caged/restrained. Imagine getting used to sleeping with a pet... an animal that goes (relatively) peacefully into its cage every night but really wants to come join you in bed. And then imagine deciding for some reason to let it sleep without that cage. And imagine how much it's going to want to climb into bed with you. It was kind of like that.

Except L isn't really an animal, much, so she probably doesn't have to worry about being picked up by the Humane Society.

In the last week, M has somehow managed to find and buy a used bed in good shape on Craigslist. She also managed to find a decent mattress, and she and L picked out sheets and a comforter. The idea being that we get L involved and then she's invested in actually *using* the bed. That's the idea.

Conveniently, M had class last night, which meant that I was in charge of actually getting L to stay in her bed. (Also convenient, M is out of town this weekend, so just about the time L is over the initial excitement about having a big girl bed, I'll be cowering alone in my room, waiting for the sky to fall down, or at least for L to come wandering into the room.)

Both K and L were excited about the bed, and I managed to get them into their respective beds after K crawled in with L while I took off a comforter on K's bed. Then it was time for bed. I tucked them both in, started singing the standard bedtime tunes (Baa Baa Black Sheep, and Jingle Bells) when L insists she needs to go to the bathroom.

Ok, fair enough. I walk her in, help her out of her diaper, and she pees. I'll give her that. She did have to pee. We go back out, tuck her in, I start singing again, and L needs to go to the bathroom again. I tell her no, she doesn't, but she insists. We repeat the previous routine, without the peeing, and I point out that she didn't need to go. She says "But I needed too, Daddy!" like stating something that is a bald-faced lie and contradicts the facts is normal. (Come to think of it, what with Fox News and the general state of our politics, I guess it *is* normal. Sadly, this is the world our girls are growing up in....)

Back into bed. To her credit, K has remained in her bed, but is enjoying the circus. L starts singing "daily dog walk!" while kicking off her new sheets/comforter. Uh, you picked those out, remember? You're supposed to be invested in using them! Her sister provides a gratifying laugh track.

I finally manage to get through the songs, kiss K goodnight, try to kiss L goodnight, and leave. She calls out that she needs to go to the bathroom. I say she doesn't and go downstairs.

There are 4 minutes of blissful silence. Then:

L (shouting): Daddy!
me (softly): Ha!As if!!
L (shouting more loudly): Daddy!!
me (leaving the dishes in the sink and walking to the bottom of the stairs): L, do you want me to come up? Because if I do, I'm going to move you to your crib.
L: But Daddy! I need to go to the bathroom!!
me: No you don't.
L: But I do!
me: Good night L.
L (new tactic): Daddy!
me: What?
L: I need more water!
me: Seriously?
L: I do, Daddy. I do!
me (starting up the stairs): grumblegrumblegrumble....
K (still in her own bed): She needs water and can't reach the sink.
me: I know.

I take her cup into the bathroom and fill it and return it to her. She sucks water down, drinking more than she ever would if she wasn't stalling. Finally she's finished and we park the cup on the bookshelf.

me: Good night L. You need to lie down and go to sleep. You're keeping your sister up and you both need a good night's sleep.

I go back downstairs and start reading email, figuring it's quieter than washing dishes. Things remain quiet and I move to the sink again, and at some point realize that L is sobbing upstairs. I go back upstairs and she's lying on her bed, crying loudly, tears soaking into those new IKEA sheets. (Disclaimer - the girl can turn on the waterworks at the drop of a hat.)

me (grateful that K is solidly asleep now): What's up L?
L: I'm scared.
me: Scared? Why are you scared? There's nothing to be scared about.
L: I want to go downstairs. To go to the bathroom downstairs.
me: You don't need to go to the bathroom L.
L: But I do, I do Daddy! I want to go downstairs.
me: No L. You need to go to sleep in your big girl bed.
L (headfake) : I want to go down to the couch.
me: Uh...
L: Please Daddy? I'm scared.

In the end, I caved (we call me the "cave man" in private, keep it under your hat) and carried her downstairs with the clear understanding that if she got up off the couch she would be going back upstairs and into her crib. And she fell asleep there while I washed dishes, and M carried her up to her big girl bed when she got back from class, and we all slept relatively peacefully, all night long, in our respective beds. And it was good.

Looking forward to flying solo this weekend? You betcha!

Co-conspirators, ready for bed
(an evening in November)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

definitions: overalls / vegetarian

after a pause to catch our breath, it's another double-definition tuesday:

overalls - noun: an ellipse, egg-shaped

K: Daddy, want to see my drawings from school?
me: Sure.
K (spreading out multiple pages of swirling lines): Here. And here. And here....
me: Wow. I like this one, it looks like a football.
K: What?
L: I want to thee it!
me (helping L up onto the window seat): This one, it looks like a football to me.
K: What?
me: A football. You know, like a long, stretched out circle.
L: You mean like a overalls?
me: ???
K: What?
me: 'Overalls?'
L (nodding enthusiastically): Yeah. Overalls!
me (dawn breaking): You mean ovals?
L (still nodding with abandon): Yeah Dada. Yeah.
me (muttering): Overalls....

vegetarian - noun: an animal doctor

K (playing with her horses in the kitchen): Mommy, I need you to be the ve... ve... vegetarian.
M: You mean the veterinarian?
K: You need to be the doctor.
a bit later, I walk into the kitchen.
M (sitting at the table with the newspaper): We're the vegetarians.
me: ???
M: The doctors for the horses. Have you seen the scratches on Comanche's legs? They're from raccoons.
me: Oh, oh, yeah, I know. Ginger has the same things on her legs. I told K that we need to put salve on them and wrap them and that she can't be ridden for 2 days.
K (pleased to have companions in her game): Yeah.
M: Oh, wow. I'm a lot stricter. I said a week.
me: A week? You must be, like, one of those vegan vegetarians.
K: ???
M: Yeah. (goes back to the paper)

Monday, December 6, 2010

family: ... 'cause when i look into your eyes....

Warning, this is probably scarier than anything you saw on Halloween:

You're getting creepy....

Up to now, we've mostly managed to dodge the whole princess thing, at least to this point. But K and L now have some hand-me-down Barbies and I'm worried. At least one of the dolls is Cinderella. Or so I'm told. I don't know Cinderella from Snow White, but K seems to, and she assures me that this one is Cinderella.

The girls seem to like the Barbies, playing with them fairly often. They're not head-over-heels about them though, and that gives me a small glimmer of hope.

Disclaimer: I had GI Joes when I was a kid. Probably while in the 10-12 year old range. And these were the most awesome, original GI Joes. I had an astronaut Joe, and at least one of the older, soldier ones, the ones that were driven off market by the Viet Nam war. I wanted a frogman Joe, and a Jeep, but don't believe I got either. In any case, I thought they were cool. So I admit it, when I was a kid I did the "action figure" thing myself.

And my sisters had Barbies at the same time. Including Skipper (kind of a younger sister Barbie) and the Malibu Barbie (the one with a tan), not to mention the newly created bendable-legs Barbie (or whatever she was called). And beyond the fact that these Barbies were no where near as cool as GI Joe (he had a space capsule! and a rubber life raft!!) I don't remember much caring one way or another about them.

Now, though, as a dad, these dolls freak me out. They're very strange creations. They're adult women, for one thing, and not the kind of thing I'd look for as a plaything for my under 5yo daughters. For another thing, they're all about the belongings, the dresses, the accessories, the shoes and belts and....

But even worse are their bodies. I look at these things and, in addition to being creeped out, I wonder what message my daughters are getting, beyond the fact that they need to have large, pert, nipple-less breasts and long, narrow legs. Honestly, these things are like a cross between a weird porn toy and a regular kid's plaything. And I feel a bit awkward and embarrassed every time I'm asked to pull a dress on or off one of them. They don't seem to mind, don't even seem to notice, but I'm aware of this fake woman thing I'm holding in my hand. I have no problem with changing a diaper on a baby dolly, but to put a tennis outfit onto Barbie... ugh!

One odd update I've noticed - the Barbies these days seem to be wearing built-in underwear. I don't remember this from my childhood (not that I was checking either), but all of these have some kind of subtly embossed underpants on, a nod to someone's modesty. And I"m grateful for small favors like this.

I'm hoping this phase passes and that we move onto something else, like boy teen singers....

Friday, December 3, 2010

family: ... three little... years...

three years!

It's hard to believe this:

has become this...

and after these three years there's not much I want to say except thank you for joining your mom and sister and me on this wild and crazy ride!

not karate!

Monday, November 29, 2010

family: ... she's got a ticket to ride...

... and she don't care!

L, in my "cowboy hat"
(daddy, ith thith your cowboy hat? / not exactly L / But ith it Dada? / sure, yeah, it is)

Overheard from the kitchen:

L: Mama, where are you going?
M: I'm going shopping.
L: You going shopping?
M: Yes.
L: To the store?
M: Yes. Shopping at the store.
L: Mama, can I go to the store with you?
M: I'll take one of you.
K: I want to go!
L: I want to go!!
M: I'm not going to take both of you. I'll take one of you. Last time we went to the store you two ran all over the store.
L: We won't!
K: We won't.
L: I promith Mama! We won't run all over the store!!
M: Why do I have trouble believing you?
L: We won't. I promith! … We'll gallop!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

family: ... i could take the credit...

... but it's thanks to you.

We're thankful. And hope you are too.

Sisterhood of the earrings

It's cold here, with some snow left over from Monday's "snopocalypse" and we're thankful for our warm home, food, dry beds, and safety. We wish the same for everyone, though we know it's not the case.

Monday, 3.45p
(doesn't look like much, yet, does it?)

4.10p, from the Water Taxi

At 4.40p the water taxi turned back to Seattle after failing at multiple attempts to dock in West Seattle. There was too much wind and too much swell. And I walked home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

family: ...found my cleanest dirty shirt ...

This is a cautionary tale. Pride and falls and all of that.

Monday Morning
(the aftermath)

K is something of a clothes... horse, if by "clothes horse" one means that she's picky about her clothes to the point of driving us freakin' nuts at times. When she's got her options, we can face her at the dresser and say "pick out an outfit for tomorrow." When something comes up, we're screwed.

Example: She won't wear a shirt if it has a stain, even one she caused (maybe especially one she caused?). If there's a hole in a pair of pants, they're rejected.

At least if she notices. I've managed, a time or two, to slip one past her. There's a spot on the back of a sleeve, or a tiny tear and I get the article of clothing on before she sees the offending flaw, and we're good. For the moment. She'll sometimes notice later in the day that, "Hey, what this hole doing here?!?" and then the pants are doomed to the rejected-so-L-gets-them pile. And the thing about K is that she'll remember. She has that kind of memory. Meaning the opposite kind of memory than I do. I can't remember from moment to moment which shirt belongs to which girl, but she'll pull a long-sleeved shirt out of her drawer that hasn't been seen in weeks and say "This not supposed to be here! This has a stain!!"

I consider it a small victory if I happen to notice something that she doesn't, and as a result the morning dressing goes relatively smoothly. I have an exciting life.

The worst-case morning scenario is to have her dressed and ready, and 2 minutes from stepping out the door to carpool with our neighbor, and then have her discover a problem. Because there is never a simple answer.

An unexpected complication generally means that the world comes crashing down around us, and there are at least four stages we'll need to work through before we can address the issue itself: wailing, meltdown, refusal of offered options, slow reduction of tears. Note: I wonder where she gets this inability to adjust to the unexpected?!?

This is all a long and probably boring lead up to my description of our "Monday Morning Coming Down" experience while M was away.

I'd already had K home all day Friday, even though I had work to do. M wouldn't be home until late Monday evening, so I was on tap for the morning handoff. And it had to happen. I couldn't take another day of working from home with company. I didn't have either the patience or the flexibility for it. I had to deliver some documentation for work.

My plan: Get both K and L to pick out their outfits on Sunday night. Seems relatively obvious, and M had probably figured this out two years ago. But I was feeling especially cocky when I suggested it and the girls hopped right into my trap. They found and laid out their outfits.

K has a tendency to literally lay her outfit out. I should have taken a picture, especially given what ultimately happened the next morning, but her procedure was:

  1. pick underwear and carefully spread them out on the floor.
  2. pick tights and spread these out over the underwear, as if she were dressing a paper doll
  3. pick a dress and spread this out over the rest, so only the legs of the tights are showing
  4. consider and reject the idea of including a sweater

L, on the other hand grabbed some things from her drawers and handed them to me. I put them in a ball on the top of my dresser.

We were set! I was getting this solo daddy thing wired (where "wired" = I haven't yet killed them either accidentally or on purpose)!! Look at me!!! NO HANDS!!!!

Fast-forward to the morning. L has joined me some time in the night. Not that she'd joined me without me knowing, because she's still in a crib and though she knows how to climb into it, she still hasn't yet figured out that it's 10 times easier to climb out. (Shhhh!! Don't say anything!!!) So apparently at some point in the middle of the night she woke up, called out to me, and I got out of bed and got her and brought her back into my bed, which, with M gone, is just barely large enough for me to share with L.

Anyway, as I was saying, L is tucked in against my left side, snoring softly, when the door opens shortly after 6am (note: due to the time change, I was on easy street. The girls were able to sleep in (so their bodies believed) and yet still be up early enough to not make the morning a rush)... the door opens, and K joins us, slipping in on my right.

So there we lie, the three of us, and K tosses and turns and makes noises with her mouth so that eventually she wakes up L, who sits up and asks loudly, "Where is K?"

I point to my right side. L looks over for several seconds, then lies back down with a thump. We remain this way for 4 to 9 seconds before K is ready to get up. L would like to stay in bed and snuggle, waking slowly, but she isn't going to be left behind, so we all get up and move downstairs for the main event of the morning, breakfast.

I'll skip right over that and more on to the pièce de résistance, the Getting the Girls Off to School/Daycare. The bit I'd been so worried about until I thought of the clothes-before-bed approach.

I herd them upstairs to get dressed. They do so, pulling on their assorted, previously decided upon outfits. And that is as good as it gets. In fact, I should pause here to bask in the glow a moment, because it doesn't last.

K sneezes. I grab a Kleenex and wipe her nose, but it's already too late. She's already midway into a fit because she's somehow managed to wipe her sleeve against her face after the sneeze. The dress has sneeze on it and she can't wear it.

Did I mention that we have about 5 minutes before the neighbor will be looking for us?

I tell K I'll wipe the sleeve. Nope, not good enough. I look at the sleeve and don't see a thing. I tell her it's not dirty, but that doesn't buy me anything. She is frantic, pulling the dress off and wailing that she doesn't have anything to wear, and L decides, in the spirit of collaboration, that her outfit isn't going to work for her either. For. No. Good. Reason.

K is at the point of the meltdown arc in which she isn't going to be able to find anything to wear. Ever. This means refusing outright, any offered option.

L is pouting too, mostly in support of her sister. "Now I never going to go to Miss Ronda's! Ever again!!"

Somehow I find something. Leggings that go with her Cupcake top, a set I've washed on Sunday because, with a rather mystical foresight, I figured "you never know!"

puts up with me getting her into this stuff, even while she is winding down the tantrum. L is still complaining, but I have another 30 minutes before I need to drive her to daycare, so I ignore her. I get K outside as the neighbor comes around the hedge, and I kiss her goodbye.

A few minutes later I've found L something to wear, and in less than an hour I'm sitting at my laptop, updating the documents I need to finish for work.

Later, I washed the dress.

I'll confess that I was tempted to just put it back on its hanger and just let K wear it as-is. But what would that have accomplished?

Would I want to say "K, I told you so! There wasn't any sneeze on that sleeve and you just wore it to school! Ha ha!!" Uh, no, I wouldn't. And knowing her, she would have asked me anyway, before putting it on: "Did you wash this Daddy?" and as I make it a practice to never lie to her, I would have had to say "No, but it doesn't need it...."

Instead, when I brought her home that afternoon I told her I'd washed the dress and it was ready for her to wear the next morning. And she said "thank you." And that almost made it worth it.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

photo thursday: ... the water is wide...

a view from my tuesday commute:

It was a dark and stormy night...
(but at least it wasn't raining)

Is it just me, or does everyone see a picture of a lit-up sailing vessel on dark water and think of the Titanic? The contrast of the warmly lit windows and the dark clouds and darker water always reminds me of the classic painting of the Titanic as it sat disabled in the night.

But maybe it's just me....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

definitions: pallay / baskinet

it's another double-definition tuesday!

pallay - noun - a highly formalized classical dance, and anything related to this dance


L: Dada, peas help me with my pallay!
me: Your pallay?
L (holding out her hand-me-down black ballet slippers): Yeah Dada. Peas?

baskinet - noun - a container designed for holding a small, sleeping baby.


L: Dada?
me: Yeah L?
L: Where is my baby?
me: Uh... I don't know. Where did you have it?
L: Up stay-ers.
me: Is it still up there?
L: Yeah. It is Dada.
me: Why don't you go get it?
L: No, I can't.
me: You can't?
L (shaking her head): No, she's sleeping in her baskinet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

family: ... one way or another ...

The horrors of Halloween continue to haunt us a full week after the event. Trick or treating itself went fairly well. The weather was good, the neighbors friendly. The girls were happy with their bags of candy.

The trouble started the following night, when each girl got to pick one candy to have as dessert. L quickly picked something... maybe chocolate, I'm not sure. It's been driven from my memory by... K's decision making.

She took (literally) 20+ minutes to choose a candy from her bag. She agonized, considered, lined options up and touched each one. M got fed up and took L off to bathe and into jammies. I remained by my firstborn's side, determined to see this challenge through with her.

She wanted to know how many M&Ms were in the packet. How many Skittles. How much candy was in the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. I laid the various candies out, ordered by relative amount (net weight). I offered opinions, made suggestions, started to get short tempered. I considered banning chocolate from the house until K's wedding day, and knew I would have to explain to her husband-to-be that she had this character flaw... the wedding would be called off, the guests sent home, the flower arrangements given to neighbors....

She finally decided (Skittles) but it was agony, and she wasn't happy about the decision until she had that sweet fruity goodness in her mouth.

By this time, L was upstairs being read to. I had to run a second bath for K, and we didn't linger in it either.

All of which is a preamble to this:

On Friday night, the first night M was away the weekend before the last one, the night immediately following the day during which I had to work from home with K next to me because she refused to go to school, I let the girls have dessert.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice... well, I'm sure y'all have the same saying in wherever the hell it is you're from! The point being, I said "yes" to candy, knowing full-freakin'-well that this meant a good chance of 20-50 minutes of indecision on K's part.

Somehow I dodged a bullet and took just a small b-b.

L chose something right away, but then saw K fretting over the options and decided to fret as well. She's nothing if not amenable to participating.

Luckily, they both had Skittles in their bags, and K got to talking about how good Skittles are, and L thought maybe she would think Skittles are good too, so in the end (about 5 minutes of discussion), they made a collective decision:

The Comfort of Company
(K and L both opt for Skittles)

Not only is there the choosing, but there's the continual counting of pieces during the eating. At least that's the case for K. L tends to eat candy the way her grandfather ate popcorn, using the grab and stuff technique. (Apparently. I never did see M's dad eat popcorn, but she tells me L is the spitting image of him doing so.)

Counting the remaining pieces
Align Center(it's worth noting that K has always
been good at math. Small comfort...)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

family: ... asked her for water...

Some water challenge:

"Cleaning" the table

One of the parenting skills I lack is the ability to gracefully shift gears and adjust on the fly. I don't seem to be much for spontaneity.

On Saturday the girls were at loose ends. I could have stuck them in front of the TV to watch some videos (and I did a bit later), but I hate to do that. I hate to do it from a philosophical point of view (I think the passive watching is not good for them) and from a practical point of view (if they watch now, what will I have in my bag of tricks for later?!?).

I happened to get a sponge out to wipe the table and K wanted to use it. Then L wanted to use it, so I managed to find a second one (whew! bullet dodged!!). And then they wanted the sponges "wetted" so I did that. And they wanted more water, and more water, and more and more and more.... It wasn't what I was anticipating nor what I would have ideally chosen (which would have been what, exactly? I don't know. Maybe sitting quietly with 2 books, reading to each other while their tinkling laughter filled the house with sisterly love?). But it was (relatively) benign and relatively clean. I kept refilling the sponges, even as the water started to drip onto the floor. I mopped up a little bit, but let them go at it.

Calling it water torture is a bit of an exaggeration (and lord knows I don't like to exaggerate when I write!), but it was "challenging" to my missing spontaneity genes.

Shortly after this picture was taken, L suddenly needed to pee and didn't quite make the toilet. Another mopping up took place. Along with a change of clothing. I think that's about the time we switched to the videos.

What doesn't show in this picture: it's freakin' pouring outside so maybe I should have just put them out on the back deck, and the girls are sitting on fabric cushions so it's a good thing the floor slopes in toward the center of the room.

Monday, November 8, 2010

family: ... facts are useless in emergencies ...

Right now we're collectively skewed...

cross-eyed and...
L, by me

... exhausted...
K, by L

... not to mention easily annoyed...
Me, by L

But just one more afternoon, one more evening, one more bath and bedtime and we're no longer a single parent household, no longer quite so out of sync and off kilter.

And if there's a "take away" from this weekend, it's this: Unplanned pregnancies are to be avoided.

Which is not to imply that either of the girls were unplanned or unwanted. But I've got to say, if it can be this... challenging... with kids who are entirely wanted, I can't imagine what it would be like with a child I was ambivalent about or worse.

Which leads me to this: I believe that anyone who opposes Planned Parenthood and sexual education and contraceptive instruction for teenagers should work on getting their head out of .... the clouds.

No, I don't want the girls to be having sex at 16. Probably not even at 18. Or 20. Or 28. 30. 45... Though I know I'd be crazy to imagine they wouldn't have considered it by 12 or so. I'd strongly prefer they don't have sex until they're ready for it, and when they choose to do so, I sure as hell want them to be using contraception. And protection.

That is all I've got tonight. Good night to all the ships at sea.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

family: ... add it up, add it up....

Shit I'd Be Writing if I Were Still Blogging

- written Saturday night
- posted Sunday night

Is it half-past Sunday yet?
(photo by L)

It's 8.59p on Saturday night, which means it's actually 10p but I've already set the clocks for the "fall back" of tomorrow morning. Which means for the second night in a row it's managed to jump from 7.30p (when I got the girls down to bed) to 10p without my understanding how, and it'll be 5a when they get up tomorrow (assuming that L isn't already in my bed, like she was last night starting at about 2a).

I'm solo-parenting this weekend, which extends from 8.30a yesterday through 11p Monday, so I'm more or less fucked. But enough of that.

The weekend scorecard to date:
  • 3 - Number of "Belle stories" K has forfeited for poor behavior: last night, tonight, and tomorrow night, all for spitting.

    Yesterday we almost made it. She only "spitted" at me immediately after bath, which was less than 20 minutes before the story would have been told.

    Today she spat at me twice, once this afternoon while I was talking to Mom for the first time in over a month (I had to cut short the call), and once later in the afternoon. In both cases she seemed unrepentant.

  • 3 - Number of L's clothing changes due to accidents. The first time was this morning, seconds after she announced to me that she had to pee, but hours after we'd changed her from her sleeping diaper into underwear.

    Somehow both K and L manage to go almost the entire morning before either needed to pee, and then seconds after L went into the bathroom, she called out "Dada, I'm peeing!" I thought she meant on the toilet, but she meant standing in the middle of the room with her pants 1/2 way down, watching the yellow tide spread around her feet. I got there in time to throw the bathmat down and staunch the flood. Then it was a new set of clothes, and on to other things. The second change came partway through her nap, when I heard something odd on the monitor. I found L standing in her crib saying "Dada, my pants are wet!" This was the second time in 3 days that there's been a nap accident. Luckily this time all I had to wash were her pants, sheet and mattress pad. The third time almost doesn't count. She was sitting on the toilet and peeing, but sitting too close to the edge, so she peed into her pants. These things happen. Happily, she seems not at all bothered by them, and all in all, her transition to underwear has been remarkably smooth.

  • 1 - Number of Black Beauty showings K has lost the privilege of seeing.

    I'd been planning on doing a Netflix download for her, a treat we could all snuggle together and watch on my laptop in bed, but she lost that when she continued to spit after losing a Belle story for tomorrow night. Or was it when she hauled off and clocked L with a horse? Or when she smeared the window with cream cheese by pushing her messing mouth up to the glass? Or…? Honestly, I've lost count and lost track of all the times and ways that she acted up this afternoon.

  • 1 - Number of days of school K has skipped.
  • 1 - Number of those days I was supposed to work at home.
  • 1.5 - Number of hours during that day I managed to get any work done.*
    *these courtesy of the Curious George dvd I popped in and left running.

    The plan yesterday (was it really only yesterday? uh...shit!?!) was to drop K at school, then M at the airport at 8.30, then back to West Seattle to drop L at daycare. I'd have the day until 3p to work at home. But we didn't get out of the house until almost 8.25a due to K's stalling, and when we left it was with her in a diaper, so school wasn't an option, even if she hadn't been refusing. Dropping L off turned ugly too, once she realized that her sister was skipping school.

  • 0 - number of desserts they got to eat tonight. Not for any specific reason, but rather because I felt things were already so iffy in so many different ways, that I wasn't willing to add any chocolate to the mix.

    On the other hand, they both ate skittles last night, after an agonizing period of indecision. L would have dived in and picked some kind of candy, but she saw K waffling and then they got into a discussion of what was good and what they had in their respective candy bags and eventually they both went with the Skittles, much to my relief. (K took literally 20+ minutes to decide on Skittles the night after Halloween (which, if you're not counting, would be Nov. 1. I just wasn't up for another delay like that.)

  • 1-15 - the approximate range of inches of rain that have fallen since this morning. It's soggy out there, and we didn't leave the house, which was a bad thing in so many different ways and for so many different reasons. I'm tempted to bundle them both up into raincoats and make them go out in it tomorrow.

  • 1 - number of double-timeouts K has had. Shortly after losing Belle and Black Beauty this afternoon, I think this one was for kicking a hard plastic high heel shoe (not one of my purchases!) at L, missing, and having the shoe spin up and into the kitchen sink, where it clattered among the many dishes I hadn't had a chance to wash. Her usual M.O. is to yell "Is it over?" loudly and repeatedly throughout the course of her timeout. I told her I was going to set the timer and when it went off her timeout would be done. Until then I did. Not. Want. To. Hear. A. Word.

    And I didn't.

  • 1 - number of CostCo trips in planning. Not my idea of fun, but it's become a necessity because we are apparently out of Kleenex and Maple Syrup, both necessities during a weekend like this one.

  • 0 - number of Cup Cake Royale cupcakes the girls have had. M suggested treating them one day, and it seemed like a good idea. Until K didn't go to school yesterday.

  • 2 - number of days before M gets home. She'll arrive very late Monday, so I've got both tomorrow and Monday evening to deal with. Not to mention the afternoons. And mornings.
And on the plus side:
  • 1 - number of dogs snoring next to my bed.

  • 2 - number of girls sleeping as the rain lashes the roof.

  • 3 - number of times the girls (K especially) insisted on watching the online video of Zenyatta come from way waaaaay behind to almost win the Breeders Cup.

    I think the girls kept hoping that if we watched again she might actually win it. Seems reasonable to me.

Addendum, Sunday evening:

Today went remarkably well, especially compared to yesterday. Though most things, compared to yesterday, would appear positive. K and I managed to make it through the day without any lost privileges. She and L and I snuggled and watched Black Beauty (more on this later, but can you say 3 men killed on-screen?). The sun came out. And we were blessed with a short visit from my sister and our nephew. Everyone is asleep now. And it's freaking not raining!!!

Good night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

family/paddling/blog: ... the bedroom walls were closing in...

Holiday. Not a bad idea. I need one.

I know, because lately I've found it difficult to find much humor in the things I'm writing about. And that (finding the humor) is a big reason for doing this.

So, I've decided to take a break, beginning immediately.

I'm not sure when I'll be back here. It may be in a week, but it might be in a year. I do intend to return, but at the moment things just aren't lined up well for me to continue writing in the ways I most enjoy writing. And there are more important things to focus on than this. Like:

L, K and Ainsley

Thanks for reading....

Monday, November 1, 2010

family: ... have you got everything?

it's another monochrome monday:

My Commute
(Or, "What I'd look like if I wore nice pants and had a classy overcoat and wasn't sitting in the back of the boat taking pictures of people who aren't me.")

And now, in honor of the non-monochromatic weather we had this weekend, including yesterday (and in defiance of this morning's weather), a bit of Friday commute color:

Afternoon Cityscape
(Or, "What my commute did look like on Friday afternoon." )

A gift of Friday multi-chrome in late October in Seattle! And one more, because this morning the puddles are 2 inches deep out there....

Westward ho!
(photography rule: never point your camera into the sun)
(general rule: never never obey rules blindly)

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.)