Monday, February 28, 2011

... do you want to dance...

... or something similar?

Here's a post I wrote a bit ago but failed to actually publish. So, you're getting more content this week, but some of it may be past its expiration date. See if you can tell which is which!

Lately the girls have been "going to dance class" and doing ballet in the kitchen. This involves K running and twirling and L chasing after her, spinning occasionally but mostly just running with little feet that thump across the floor like small pile drivers pounding some resisting post. (She is particularly good at standing on her toes, something she has over her older sister!) They've been pretty good at playing together, and more importantly, at playing together in ways that don't require parental intervention, playing this way for up to 10 minutes at a time, at which point usually L begins crying loudly, histrionically, reacting to something that K may or may not have done. And then M or I will go and see what's happening.

Yesterday, when I just wanted to sit and read the paper, the girls wanted a "dance instructor." M was already reading the paper, so she somehow escaped notice though she was sitting not 3 feet away from me. (It's a relationship moral quandary that doesn't support too much consideration -- do I point out to the girls that their mother is also available to act as dance teacher, thereby winning me a few short minutes of paper-reading time but costing me untold relationshipal brownie points, or do I just suck it up and make another espresso and teach them everything I know about dancing. Which should take about 15 seconds.

I chose the latter. And after that espresso I suggested they do an "envelope." *

K: What's an envelope?
L: What a enbelope Dada?
M (glancing up with a wry smile): (unspoken, but clearly stated: what the hell is an envelope?1?)
me: Here, I'll show you.
(I swallow the last of the espresso and consider how many more I can have, given that it's Sunday and I'd like to fall asleep tonight sometime before Tuesday. I stand upright, arms spread, then wave them around and bend at the waist, folding over so that my arms are now pointing somewhere toward my feet (though I'm not flexible enough to actually *touch* my feet!). Then, as gracefully as I am able, I straighten up, hoping my back doesn't go out, and finish with a flourish of hand/arm waving that approximates something I might have once seen in a production of the Nutcracker. Maybe.)
M (risking her camouflaged perch on the window seat): Wow. That's quite an envelope!
K: Yeah.
L: That quite a enbelope Dada.
K: But how we do that?
me: Come here, I'll show you. Point your toe out, put your arms out like this... (I walk her through it and she more or less gets it, though given her lack of practice and my superior experience, she's nowhere near as graceful as I am.)

This buys me a minute or two until they're ready for the next "practice thing."

Ah, Sunday morning....

* Why "envelope?" Uh... because I saw one on the counter? It's really none of your business!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

... my analyst told me...

... that i was right out of my head....

What is wrong with this picture:
  • Yesterday, pm, rain chains frozen solid:

  • Last night, sub-freezing temps
  • This morning, snow still on the ground (and rain chains still frozen)

  • Later this morning, unable to unlock the club OC2 to take it to the race because the padlock is frozen solid, we eventually buy a small BIC lighter to warm it up (and it works!)
  • 2 hours later, rigging the boat, I can't get the front iako all the way into the hull because of something... what's in there? a chunk of ice we can't dislodge!
  • And then I'm walking around puddles with ice in them, carrying the boat into the Sound, to paddle in a 6mi race, water rising up and over the tops of my booties....
Nuts? Uh, yeah! But we had a good race and it was fun. And it was cold. The ice was still on the puddles in the parking lot when we left, and there was snow along the roads and ice even on a couple of tiny, small bays we drove by (that's salt water ice!). Yeah, nuts.

The thing is, I got to race with DougM and I really like paddling with him. The boat feels solid when I'm with him, and we manage to surf well. It was worth it. We came in third, behind a surf ski and another OC2, passing a third OC2 in the last mile due to Doug's surfing skills and our conditioning. I wore gloves and 3 shirts, plus an undershirt, plus my life jacket, plus 2 hats and booties, and I did not get too warm. The wind was coming from the south, and the race went south for 3 miles before turning back north. Which means we pushed into the wind/waves for the first half, then had them with us going home.

We averaged 6.6mph, with our average for the 2nd 3 miles 7mph each mile. Not too shabby. And interestingly, my heart rate average was 170+ over the course of the race (w/ a 178 max). My usual workout heart rate averages 160+. Not sure if this means I'm not really working, or if I was pushing extra hard today.

I did this race last year, and hulied. It was nice to do it again and with company. And to finish ahead of the pack. We even got home by 3.30p, in time for me to be the jump for the girls while they were horses, in time for us all to have dinner together, in time for M and me to watch a movie (The Fighter - good movie).

Here's our track.

I'm going to bed now.

... zebras are reactionary...

To celebrate the birthdays of 2 of our country's presidents, we did the 2nd most patriotic thing (2nd only to shopping for unnecessary material items): We went to the zoo. And rode the carousel. And had a breakdown (L). And then we came home. With zoo maps.

"I need my glasses because I need to
all the animals we saw."
(map reader, 2/21/11)

Happy birthday George, Abe. We rememberized you ....

Friday, February 25, 2011

... i like the way they walk...

... girls!

This afternoon I spent some quality time with seven or eight of my closest half-dressed female pals (and two of my closest fully-dressed female relatives). Yes, we played Barbie, except when we were playing horses. And sometimes we played both at the same time!

In surfing you'd call this a "quiver," different boards for different conditions and breaks. I'm not sure what the proper phrase is in barbie-ing:

Not all the Barbies in the house

I picked up the girls from Ms. Ronda's this afternoon because M had to work. And the main challenges in the afternoon are: getting them to eat a proper snack, and stalling to avoid Saddle Club for as long as possible. In other words, this was serious!

In-van conversation, 2 minutes from home:

K: I'm starving!
me: We're almost home and we can have a snack.
K: What can we have?
me: How about apples and cheese?
K: We always have that. You always say 'apples and cheese.' Why do you always say that?
me: Because it's good for you. And it's good.
K: I don't like apples and cheese!
L: Because ith... ith... ith not like a dessert!
me: Right L, it's nutritious and helps your body stay strong!
L: Yeah! Ith nutrithouth.
K: I don't like apples and cheese!
me: Ok, we'll find something else. Like yogurt.

Against all odds and contrary to indications, I manage to tempt K into eating some apple and a bit of cheese. L and I finish the rest of it.

And then comes the "Can we watch a Saddle Club?" request. I say they can, but then ask what the suitcase of Barbies is doing in the middle of the kitchen floor. (These are dolls passed in our direction by a neighbor girl who's 8yo and has moved on to other things, which means most are missing at least one shoe, and their dresses are a bit worse for the wear, but it also means that we've yet to actually purchase a Barbie. A small victory, I like to believe.) We open the suitcase and L wants me to put a dress on the strange mermaid Barbie and we're somehow suddenly acting out scenes from Go Dog Go (which we've read many times and which we saw at the Childrens Theater just last week).

me ("walking" the mermaid Barbie up to the Snow White Barbie): Hello.
L (nodding): ---
me: You're supposed to say "hello"
L (nodding): ---
me: Do you like my hat?
L (shaking her head): No.
me: Good bye
L: Good bye.

In addition to the mermaid (onto which I never did manage to get the dress), there's this:

who is scary-freaky in her mardi gras (?) costume.

And since I had L's cambra out and was taking arty photos, I took this one:

I'm not sure why K felt she needed to close her eyes, but she did. If you look carefully you can see Prancer off to the left side, just clip-clopping into the frame.

I'm proud to say that we managed to entirely avoid Saddle Club, at a cost of ~1 hour of Barbie-ing and horsing around. Yes, I'm that good!

... sunny....

... yesterday was dark and filled with... snow!

I'm posting these from last week, just to remind myself that it is sometimes decent around here in the winter, and also to note that even while it was so beautiful, I knewknewknew that it was going to get cold and nasty again.

And it has.

And I'm donedonedone with winter!

Three tables, w/ skyline

sunrise, w/ cross swells

Thursday, February 24, 2011

... it runs in the family...

... genius I mean...

Genius, captured

And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's another view, tightly cropped:

first time, unassisted
3y2mo, 2/18/11

We were sitting at the kitchen table, probably trying to read the paper while ignoring the loud "conversations" zinging around the space between our heads, when I looked up and realized that L had written her name, by herself, for the first time. We've been "dotting" out the letters recently (that's how they start in Montessori school, and she's watched K learn to write that way), but this was unassisted. And something of a shock.

Proud? Nah, just another flash of brilliance in our brightly lit lives.

I do wish I'd managed to grab the piece of paper before she covered it, but then again, that's just a parent trying to control what he cannot possibly control.

Note: You can find a memory refresher for a similarly bright flash here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

photo wednesday - ... and if i look back...

...i'll remember... just a little bit of rain...

This is a picture I took in our living room, using L's birthday "cambra." She's opened up her birthday umbrella.

Just a little bit of rain
(L, 3yo, 12/2010)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

family: ... the clouds didn't look like cotton...

.. they didn't even look like clouds...

Having 2 children is wonderful, when it's not horrifyingly exhausting/challenging/overwhelming. Watching the girls play together can be a hoot and a lot of fun. At least when they aren't fighting.

And to be fair, they most often play together well, whether with horses, booster seats, dollies or... did I mention horses?

An (apparent) digression:

A book I've been reading talks about commonly held myths of child-raising, one being that children with siblings have better social skills. The assumption aparently being that because they have constant interaction, built-in companionship, they learn social skills earlier and better than only children ("onlies").

According to this book, research is starting to disprove the assumption and to suggest that in fact the opposite is true, that only children have better people/social skills than those of sibling children. One suggested reason is that the way siblings interact tends to not be particularly socially acceptable. when you're interacting with your brother/sister, you don't have to be especially nice because they're going to be your brother/sister tomorrow too. But when you interact with a friend, you have no guarantee that they're going to want to continue being your friend unless you treat them nicely.

The good news is that not all siblings are doomed to poor social skills, nor to disfunctional relationships. Research suggests that siblings who play together, or who can learn to play together, have a much better chance of remaining close throughout their lives than those who mostly don't care about one another. So some efforts have been made to teach siblings how to play together, to problem solve together, to compromise together.

A return to the story:

With all of this muddled in my head, I was faced with this yesterday morning:

  1. K brought her bag of valentines to the table. She wanted to show them to me.
  2. L was excited about this too and wanted to help show me the valentines (and to pick up candy from the bag and ask to eat it).
  3. K said that no! she didn't want L to help her.
  4. I told L that because it was K's bag, she needed to let K show me the valentines if that's what K wanted.
  5. L ran crying from the room, going upstairs where she slammed a door and lay sobbing on the floor of our bedroom (the kitchen is immediately below the bedroom and the ceiling resonates like the spruce top of an old guitar).
  6. K and I let her cry upstairs while K showed me her V-day booty. At some point she pulled out a tiny fly tattoo (let me guess - a boy gave you that?) and said L could have it.
  7. I thought that was nice and told her so. I could still hear L crying upstairs and after a couple of seconds I asked K if she would go upstairs and tell L about the tattoo.
  8. K hesitated a moment, just long enough for me to think she was going to say "no," but then she said "Ok" and headed upstairs.
  9. I could hear them talking, though I couldn't hear what they were saying. But the crying stopped, and when K came back down, L came with her.
  10. It was all over except for the post-cry cleanup.

This was really something to experience, which those of you who've been in the jet stream of one of L's meltdowns might be able to imagine.

L has been a mess lately, falling apart at the slightest problem. Like being asked not to pull things out of a wallet. Or being told she wasn't going to get dessert if she didn't eat her dinner. It's gotten to the point where I tend to ignore her, at least for a while, and try to let her cry herself out. But that's not an ideal approach for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that we have a sobbing, door-slamming child in our midst until she gets over whatever it is she's upset about.

Yesterday morning I was motivated partly by the desire to get L quiet, but also partly by the idea that this was a chance to see what would happen if the girls worked together. I'd been thinking about this notion of siblings playing together and problem-sovling together, and I wanted to see what would happen. And it worked! Man, how it worked! It was amazing how L responded to K. (And I know from experience that she wouldn't have calmed down if I'd gone up there!)
Sisters, Washington coast

Obviously there are all sorts of things that could have short-circuited the success of this:
  • K doesn't find something in her bag she wants to share
  • K isn't willing to go upstairs to talk to her sister
  • L doesn't respond, or doesn't want the tattoo
But none of that happened, and I was struck by the fact that, other than making the suggestion to K, I didn't have to do anything besides stand back and watch them. And that's awesome. But even more awesome is the idea that maybe more of this approach could help streghten their bond for the future.

Monday, February 14, 2011

family: ... of all the many things you were countin' on

...there ain't none better than the girl who's... surprising you!

A valentine's day present, overheard this morning (through the gauzy confusion of a dream about attending a wedding in which M was participating and during which I'd already apparently made several faux pas:

L: coughing (unclear whether she's asleep or awake)
K: L! Stop that!
- momentary silence -
L: coughing
K: L! Stop it!
L: mumble mumble mumble
K: (mumble mumble mumble)
L (squeal!): Yeah!!
- more talking I can't understand -
me: (glance at clock - 6.20a - a full night's sleep!)
M: mmph.
me (getting up out of bed and going into the girls room): Good morning. Happy valentine's day.
K: Daddy?
me (sitting down on L's bed): Yeah?
K: Well, I told L if she didn't get any more valentines then the ones we made with mama, I would give her some of mine.
L: Yeah! If I don't get any more valentimes than those ones, she's going to give me some of hers!!
me (you just made my valentine!): K, that is so sweet.
L: Yeah. It'th thweet.
K: Are you glad you have a sister?
me: Me? Am I glad I have a sister?
L: What?!
K: L, are you glad you have a sister? That I'm your sister?
L: Yeah!
K: Daddy?
me: Yeah, K?
K: Are you glad you have a sister?
me: I am. I'm glad I have 2 sisters. Having sisters and brothers are good. You can play together and help each other and be together.
K: Yeah.
L: Yeah!
K: Can we go downstairs now?

How cool is that? I think at K's school that they have to give everyone in the class a valentine, so there's some level of certainty about it. But L isn't in school, and she's not going to have nearly the opportunity to get valentines as her older sister, so being promised some is a big deal. A really big deal. And hearing this made my morning.

Sisters, Alki Beach, January 2011
(Old photo, but still worth reposting)

Happy valentimes everyone!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

family: ... children, go to sleep now ...

... you know it's getting late...*

I was going to entertain you all (?) with tales of the day, but I'm too tired to do it justice.

L had 4 or 5 separate meltdowns, one of which marked the end of our visit with the Issaquah cousins, broke a wine glass (not while drinking wine!), pushed over a water glass, slammed several doors and spilled several gallons of tears, and is now sleeping hard in her own big girl bed.

Curiously, NOT crying!

It remains to be seen if she manages to do better in it tonight than she did last night, when she woke at 10.30p and then several times after that, before I finally caved at 3.30a and in the interest of sleepsleepgivemesleepanywayanyhowdoesntmattersleeeeeeeppppp! just moved her into my bed, thus undermining months of strict policy. And then she wanted to go downstairs this morning at 5.45a.

She's exhausted, barely made it through the bedtime songs, and is possibly coming down with a cold.

All in all, another Saturday at the crazy house.

The cycles kids go through are fascinating, when they aren't infuriating. Sometimes they're both. We've been through a couple really bad spells with K, and now it seems like it's L's turn. K didn't have much attitude at 2 or 3, but at 4, when she started full day school, things went south for a bit. L seems to be hitting the wall earlier. And L can turn on the waterworks. She's a crier. She can spill tears at something as small as a piece of paper that's bent the wrong way. Real tears. Running rivulets down her round cheeks.'

But after all the struggle, the sobbing and then yelling, the slamming of doors and stomping of feet, she still pointed to me when I asked what she was grateful for tonight. (K on the other hand, runs through her list "fambly, mommydaddyLmyself" like some kid in church doing the Lord's Prayer) And as I put the girls to bed I said, "You both know that I love you, no matter how frustrated I get?" And L said "And no matter what we do, you love us Daddy?" And I nodded and said, "I don't always like what you do, but I always love you."

It wasn't such a bad way to end a day that had it's share of struggles.

L, Washington coast

* from Spring Wind, by Greg Brown.

This song contains one of my favorite versus in all modern music, and today when the girls and I moved into the living room to have a fire and play "Daddy, you the jump and we're the horsies" which involves me lying on the rug while they throw themselves over me, I put the ipod on shuffle and this was the first song that came up.

The particular verse I like so much:

Children go to sleep now-- you know it's gettin' late.
I know you don't like to miss nothin' and school ain't that great.
Oh, I'll dance with you when you're happy,
and hold you when you're sad,
and hope you know how glad I am,
just to be you're Dad.

Not a bad sentiment to end the day with either.

And K&L, I am glad and grateful to be your dad.
Sleep tight. And long, damn it!

Friday, February 11, 2011

family: ... night time is the right time...

... to stall like your life depends on it!

A dispatch from the land of solo daddying

Last night L slept poorly, and as a result M and I both slept poorly as well. L was up multiple times, needing attention, and first M and then I spent some time cuddling with her in her bed. I think I was there from about 2a - 4.30a. It's not a horrible way to live, but a "big girl bed" doesn't quite cut it for a "big daddy."

In any case, my plan was to have the girls in bed by 6.45p. But of course plans can easily head down that road paved with good intentions... There was the distractions of the booster seats. And dinner to be had. And bath (with hair to be done). And did I mention booster seats? And teeth to brush, a Belle story* to tell, and a book to read**. I had them in bed around 7.20p.

And then L needed to pee. (And to her credit, she did pee, quite well.) Then K called me because L was looking out the window and "waking me up." I told K to ignore L and asked L what she was doing?

L: Well, I was... (ducking under the blackout curtain as if to illustrate, in case I didn't fully understand)... looking to see the night!
me: Well, it's time to go to sleep.
L: But Daddy! I can't sleep!!
me: Then lie quietly.
L (bouncing around on her bed): No.
me: Ok, I'm going downstairs. Good night.
L (lying down now): No, tuck me in.
me (tucking her in): Sleep tight. I'm not going to come up again.
Note to future parents - never say never.
me: Sleep tight K.
a minute or two later, I'm downstairs.
L (yelling): Daddy?
me (waiting 5 minutes worth of yelling, then climbing the stairs again): What?
L (sitting up in bed): Well, I... I .... I just needed.... (clearly searching her brain for some reason that might possibly be valid).... I needed to go pee-pee.
me: You just did.
L: Well, I need to go!
me (staring down at her in the dimness): O. K.
I follow her into the bathroom and help her on the potty, then refasten her diaper and follow her back into the bedroom.
me: I'm not going to come up here again!
L: Well... I can't sleep.
me: Then you lie quietly for 15 minutes.
L: But I can't!!
me: Yes you can! Good night. I love you.

(repeat twice more before she finally falls asleep)

I'm in bed now, wondering what I'm doing up instead of grabbing a few minutes of sleep in case she happens to have another night. K on the other hand is sleeping solidly lately. Much like Lulu.

* Belle stories have become a regular event around here and deserve a post of their own. Hold tightly to that thought. Maybe I'll remember to actually do a post.

** I've finally discovered a "book" that annoys me more than the Dora the Explora books - Care Bear books. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from reading Care Bears Trick or Treak this evening. Which, by the way, has no trick or treating in it. Just one indication of the quality of the things.

family: ... ground control to ...

... major cuties.

Mission: Basement, 2011

Looks like two astronauts training for their next mission, doesn't it? But it's not.

What you're looking at is phase one of another Daddy-only weekend. Which means... that nearly anything goes! And luckily, the gods of were with me this afternoon - K's new booster seat was delivered.*

So she and her sister (who's still too young to officially be in a booster seat, but unless I invite a policeman into the house, I think I'm pretty safe) are watching Saddle Club in their booster seats. It's only a matter of time before they think to call the seats "saddles."

Time for a beer!

*this would be the booster seat she had a meltdown about in the parking lot of Montessori School yesterday because it wasn't in the car. But that was M's pickup, so I don't have the juicy details.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

family: ... one and one ...

... and 9 is 11!.

I'm lucky. Lucky with my family and friends. Lucky with the girls. And especially lucky that I managed somehow to end up with M.

An example: twice each week, M cuts me loose to go paddling while she deals with dinner, baths and bedtime for the girls. It's not easy to do that, but she knows that paddling is my workout, so getting the time in means a lot to me. It's also mentally important in that being out on the water nearly always helps my mood, whatever the mood I began with.

In return, I cover for her two mornings a week so she can get up at 5.15a and go to an insane spinning class at the gym, a class after which I'd likely lay down and die. But she doesn't. She comes home looking buff and awesome in a sweaty, just having nearly puked sort of way. And by "cover for her" I mostly mean I continue to lay in bed, often with L who wakes up early. And if both girls are up before M gets home, I do my best to manage breakfast.

This morning, while I was herding K around the kitchen, trying to nudge her toward breakfast without being too obvious or too forceful because I've learned she's something like a wild (arabian?) horse in that if she realizes I want her to do something, she'll naturally want to do if not the opposite at least something not quite what I want, she wanted to know one more time "Where's Mama?"

It occurred to me that this was a perfect "teachable" moment! I could explain how when two people love each other very much, they sometimes end up with kids... make an effort to give each other time and space to do things that are important to them. I was going to explain how this is what a relationship is supposed to be. I can imagine that you can imagine how it went....

me: She's spinning, getting exercise.
K: Why does she have to do that?
me: Because it keeps her healthy. And feeling good. And looking great!
K: But... well, what am I going to have for breakfast?
me: How about cereal?
K: O.K.
me: You know, that's what people who care about each other do. They make it possible for each other to have some time to do things they want to do.
K: What?
me (can't really blame her, that wasn't very clear even to me!): You remember I was paddling last night?
K: Yeah. I thought you would stay home and tell a Belle story.
me: I'll tell a story tonight. Well, your mama made is possible for me to go paddling last night.
K: Why?
me: Because I wanted to. It makes me feel good. And now we're making it possible for her to go spinning in the morning. It's what we do for each other.
K: Daddy?
me: Yeah?
K: You remember the two part Saddle Club, the parts where... where... well, there's Diavlo and Lisa's father is going to buy him for her and then... well, do you remember that one?
me: It's got the gypsy in it?
K: Raffiel. That's his name.
me: Right, Raffiel.
K: Well, Lisa's father buys Diavlo for her.
me: Diablo? Raffiel's horse?
K: Yeah.
me: Yeah...?
K: Have you seen both those?
me: I don't think so, not the second part.
K: Oh.
me (what happened to my teachable moment?): What are you going to eat for breakfast?

(slightly later, K is sitting with a bowl of Strawberry Os)

me: You know what today is?
K: What?
me: It's the anniversary of the first time your mom and I went on a date.
K: What's "went on a date?"
me: That means we went out together, so see how we liked being with each other. It's... the first step to getting married.
K: You went out to find out if you were going to get married?
me: Uh... no, we weren't thinking about that right away. We just wanted to see what it would be like to be with each other.
K: Daddy?
me: Yeah K?
K: Can I have some more Os?
me: Sure.

Happy 11th Feb 3, M!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

family: .... stop! in the name of....

.... the sheriff!!

Note: file under "setting a bad example" or, alternately, "another teaching moment."

One of the wonderful things about having kids is that they don't know any better than to ask questions, the answers to which would be obvious to most adults. Or, if the answers aren't obvious, at least adults would be too embarassed or ashamed to ask. Embarassed or ashamed for me.


When a policeman comes walking over to the car and sticks his head in the window, most adult passengers would sit quietly, in spite of the once-calm-now-berserk-going dog in the "way back" of the van. Not so little children.

Approaching car flashes its lights at us.
me: Hmm... that's interesting.
M: I wonder why they did that?
me: Back home, it usually just meant "hello." We're out here in the sticks.
M: Back home, it usually meant there was a cop ahead.

Fast-forward 5 minutes to....

M: That was a policeman.
me (looking in the rear view mirror while slowing waaaaaay down): And he's turning around. (still looking) And his lights are on now. (looking for a place to pull over) Damn!

Main event:

K: Why we stopping?
me: Uh... we're being pulled over by the police.
K: What?
M: A policeman wants us to stop.
K: What?
L: Why we thopping?
Policeman: Good afternoon.
me (softly): Hi. Lucy, hush!
Policeman: You were going 60 in a posted 50 mph zone.
me (it was 50? whew! as far as I knew, it could have been 30!): Yeah.
Policeman: May I have your license, registration and proof of insurance.
me: Handing over license and.... registration (thanks M!) and... (hmm... insurance card only says Feb.'s the general card). Lucy, hush!!
Policeman: You should have one with the expiration date on it.
me (yeah, but it shows as expired!): Hmm.... here (thanks M!!)

he goes back to his car, lights flashing in my rearview mirror.

K: What he doing?
M: He's checking your dad's license.
K: What?
L: What he doing?
me: Lucy, quiet!!!

he comes back...

Policeman: We're doing an awareness check on carseats (leaning in to look into the back of the van where the girls are safely buckled into their approved car seats) and seat belts. You've done good. I'm going to give you a break today. Drive safely.
me: Thank you.

he walks back to his car.

I start our car again.
K: What he doing?
me: He's getting into his car. He's a nice policeman.
K: What?
M: He's checking to make sure we're all safely buckled in.
K: What?
L: Even gwownupth need to wear they-a theatbelth. Even little kidth too.
me: Yes, that's right. We all need our seatbelts.

I drive off, slowly, careful to stay at 50mph.

A few minutes later....

me: That was close.
M: Yes it was.
me: That was nice of him.
M: Yes.
me: I've never had a moving violation before. I thought my string was broken.
M: You never have?
me: No. I think if we'd had anything wrong, he wouldn't have let me off. (glancing in the mirror where I can see the girls) What's interesting is that he said we did a good job. That means there must be people who don't use car seats. Or seat belts. Doesn't that surprise you?
M: Yeah, it does.
me: I told you this was the sticks.
K: What?