Friday, December 28, 2012

... nothing but a heartache...

a quick follow up to this post about Santa Claus and Christmas.

sister believers

Late on Christmas Eve, after M and I were in bed (but before the excitement documented here),

I sat up in bed: I didn't put oranges into the stockings!
M (possibly shrugging in the dark): Hmm.
me: But it's tradition! Quarters too!
M: ???
me: In our family. We always have quarters and oranges!!
M (softly, sleepily) : oh...?
me (fading fast): Do we have any quarters?
M (falling asleep) : Hmmm? zzzzzz
me (falling asleep): zzzzzzz

Late on Christmas Day, K and I are in the kitchen.

K (looking up): Hey, there weren't any oranges in our stockings!
me (embarrassed): No....
K (looking at me and then lettting it drop): Oh.
me (almost silent except for the sound of a breaking heart): ....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

... thanks to you...

this is something I've been meaning to post now for some time. I suppose as long as it's before Easter it's still arguable that it belongs with last Thanksgiving.

I don't think I could say it any better than this, so I won't try. Except, thank you K.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

all i want for christmas is...

... some clean, fresh sheets,

or, "Shower the people you love with.... - how we spent our Christmas eve after Santa came and went"

happier moments

The last time you saw us, we were congratulating ourselves on having hosted Santa Claus, and contemplating just how long we were going to be able to keep the magic of Christmas alive.

Shortly after that post was published, Miss L cried out and M went to see what was up.

She'd already told L that if she woke in the middle of the night, she shouldn't call for us "because Santa might be here and what if he heard her?!?" to which L said, shocked, "Oh, gosh! I didn't think of that!!", so we knew it was serious. The two of them returned to our room to announce that L was going to be sleeping with us since "my tummy hurts."

Sad to admit, my first thought was that this was either 1) a ploy to get into our bed, and/or 2) a result of too much excitement about Santa and presents and candy and presents.

L settled down between us and over the course of the next hour or so, managed to establish enough of a beachhead with the covers that my back half was hanging out in the breeze. So around midnight I got up and moved into her bed.

Now with K, we bought a pretty darn good mattress when she moved into a big-girl bed, and I don't mind sleeping on it. With L, on the other hand, who at 35 pounds (back then) was a little tike, it seemed hardly necessary to really pay big bucks for a mattress she barely needed. So, sadly, we scrimped and got one a IKEA, and I pay for it every time a "bed shift" takes place. Anyway, I managed to rearrange pillows and blankets enough so that I could fall asleep between conversations with K who lay awake across the room, pondering the mysteries of time stopping on nights like Christmas.

When what to our wondering eyes should appear, but a bright light, and M looking for new pajamas for L, who'd thrown up in our bed and on M. I struggled awake to ask if she needed help, while K dry-heaved at the thought of throw up, and next thing I knew, I was helping wipe up vomit. M changed the bed while I gathered the soiled things, we exchanged glances, and started to giggle. "Merry Christmas!" Then I took the laundry down to the basement while M tucked L back into her own bed, and by the time I came back upstairs L had attempted sleeping with K, who gave it a try and then rejected her as being too stinky with throw up, and was miraculously back in her own bed.

M and I managed to fall asleep, though I lay with one ear open, and was rewarded an hour later with sounds that took me back to the days when Lucy used to get up and toss her cookies after eating too much of something nasty out in the yard. My first thought back then and last night was "Is she on a rug?!?" I leapt out of bed, grabbing some towels and calling out "She's throwing up again" and she was, though this time she'd gotten out of bed and was standing in the middle of her room. Ok, so maybe it wasn't a ploy after all....

Another wipe down, another round of teeth brushing, and it was bed-roulette again, this time with K insisting she couldn't sleep with L in the same room, so M shifted to K's bed and K came into ours. We also putt a bucket from the basement next to L, in case of third "episode." Can't nobody say we don't learn from our experiences! L picked it up with a laugh and asked, "Can I hold it while I sleep?" Uh, no, you can't!

K tossed and turned for an hour or so, and had just fallen asleep when I heard the sound of liquid hitting the bottom of a bucket. Number 3!

I hopped out of bed, grabbed a fresh towel, and then realized that M already had L downstairs and was rinsing the bucket in the tub, and K was finally asleep, so I crawled back into bed and lay there, pretending everything was right with the world until K and L came in so L could brush again, at which point I motioned to the sleeping body next to mine and said in a loud whisper, "She only just fell asleep!" as though this somehow exempted me from dealing with anything else. But M was in a giving mood and nodded as if she understood, and they headed back out to their twin beds while K and I settled into the queen.

And that was the last episode of the night, though oddly, L complained off and on about a "sore tummy" today, between eating the head off her solid chocolate Santa, eating 2 packages of PEZ, eating a cookie and multiple Life Savers. And at the moment, both she and her sister are asleep upstairs, bucket between their beds (parental instructions: "If either one of you needs to throw up, use the bucket." L: "But if K does, then what am I supposed to do?" us: "We'll clean it." K: "Ugh!").

We've got our fingers crossed for a relatively silent night. Here's hoping you have the same.

Monday, December 24, 2012

... santa claus is...

... for real?

It's Christmas eve and the girls are asleep and M is reading beside me in bed and Santa's been come and gone:

cookie crumbs
and a nearly empty glass of milk. 

But note too that the dude tracked ash into the living room, knocked over a log that had been standing alongside the fireplace, and didn't bother to put the screen back when he left. Rude!

To be honest, this is more evidence of the big guy's visit than we've ever had before, and there are a couple of reasons for that.

daughter #1, first grader
(in a class with 2nd and 3rd graders)

daughter #2, a 2nd year preschooler
shown here, stepping away from the bike she's just thrown down in yet another huff
(in a class with 1st year preschoolers and kindergarteners)

It's important to note that the girls are in classes that combine multiple grade levels, something we generally love about Montessori school. But, last week K came home and told us that a couple of the 3rd grade girls had told her Santa wasn't real. M asked her why they said that, and then there was a distraction, so we thought maybe things could be left unsaid. But today as we drove down to go on a bike ride, K said again that these two girls had told her Santa wasn't real. And L was sitting next to her in the back seat.

For me, it's hard enough to see the beginning transition from innocent child to something else, something closer to an adult view, but it's even harder when the child is only 6 and is being pulled along by classmates who are 2 years older and that child has a younger sister who has been so incredibly excited about Christmas and Santa Claus this year that she can't sleep and is having regular meltdowns (well, even more regular meltdowns than usual!) due to stress and excitement. 

M and I held our breaths for a second or two, and then M asked K what she thought when she'd heard this. K said that 1/2 her body believed it and the other 1/2 didn't. I asked which 1/2 was which and she said "Daddy, just part of my body believed it!" I told her that I was curious because maybe she would get, like, one boot from Santa, for the leg that believed in him. "Just part of my body Daddy!" she explained. I said that different families did things differently and we talked about how Christmas is a special, magical time, and that when you believe in the magic, it exists. I'm not sure how much of an impression this made, but it was the best we could come up with on the fly.

We sort of let the topic drop during the rest of the short drive, and then later, while M and L were biking, K and I walked ahead and I had a chance to talk with her again about it. I do my damnedest to not lie to the girls, and I didn't want to lie to her now, but I also didn't want her to ruin anything for her sister. Our conversation went something like this:

me (holding K's hand as we walk): So who told you Santa isn't real?
K: [redacted] and [redacted]. They're third graders.
me: Hm... What did you think when they said that?
K (seemingly not noticing that I was taking the opportunity to re-have the conversation we'd already had earlier): Part of me believed them.
me: Yeah?
K: Yeah.
me (after a long pause): Well, it's true that parents do sometimes help out at Christmas.
K (sounding like she's been victorious): So you put oranges into the stockings?
me: Yup, and quarters too.
K: Ha!
me: You know, Christmas is a special time. It's pretty magical, and I like that magic.
K: Yeah. Me too.
me: And for me, the most magical thing is how excited, how much fun children have. So I like to believe in things because I like to see that fun and excitement.
K: Yeah.
we walked along for a bit, not talking, and then I said: Can I ask you to do something for me?
K: What Daddy?
me: Would you not say anything to L? She's so excited and I don't want anything to spoil Christmas for her.
K: Yeah.

And that was it. We didn't talk about it any more, but later, in the car, when L said yet again how the thing she was most excited about was Santa and presents, K chimed in that she was excited about Santa too. 

What we've got on our hands is a 6 years old, and some part of her likely still wants to believe. But beyond this, she's an extremely sensitive and perceptive child who understands how important it is for me to preserve the magical experience for her sister. It was almost more than I could take.... and oh, I was grateful to her for her enthusiasm right then, for helping L continue to believe.
And now she's up with a sore tummy, and M has moved into her bed to try and get her back to sleep, or at least to catch her virus, if that's what she's got, so I'll say a very merry Christmas to everyone out there, believers or not.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

sister sunday, psychoanalysis edition

Sometimes a person just needs a good, austrian-analysist-looking sister with a shoulder she can lay her head (and her cares) upon.

or, Sigmund and Anna O

Saturday, December 22, 2012

great balls of....

... leather?

Or, Scenes From a Solo-Parenting Weekend, Part 1: Soccer, Little Girls Kick Grass.

I've been meaning to write a post about how the girls have started with "Lil Kickers," an indoor soccer program for children, and how last week before their first class there were numerous breakdowns regarding 1) not having the proper clothing, 2) being laughed at by other kids, 3) not having soccer shoes, 4) being laughed at, 5) concern about there being any other girls, 6) did I mention being laughed at? and how, afterward, they burst through the door gushing about how wonderful it all was and how there were girls, more than boys, and they had FUN and they got jerseys and it was lots of running around and not really teams but them again the coach and they played garbage and it was fun!

During that first session I got two texts from M:

note: class started at 10AM

note: does M have a direct line to Santa?!?

Which is all to say that this last weekend, when I was on my own with the girls, I was looking forward to seeing this amazing "soccer" thing myself. And I did. And it really was something.

A few pictures:

#5 and #6 (conveniently also their ages)
talking balls with the coach?

Note: When L was confused because someone who was clearly not 3yo had a jersey with a 3 on it, I had to explain that the number wasn't necessarily supposed to match their age. Who knows if she got it....

It looks like the girls are getting off to a good start...
...when in fact, they're running even though the coach has not said "go!"
(This was a test and he was saying things like "banana!"
I'm assuming they failed....)

After soccer we headed down to Olympia (there will be a "part 2" to this solo-parenting-weekend saga), and I have to say, there are few things that warm a single parent's heart before a long drive like seeing the children running and panting and getting worn down a bit. Not that this means we didn't have moments during the drive, but at least some of their energy was left in the astroturf.

One other point to make: We gave K a soccer ball at least a couple of years ago, possibly longer ago, and she never really took to it. But lately we've been playing soccer in the living room ("it's a rule, girls, keep the ball down on the floor!" "oops, sorry daddy....") and having a lot of fun. So much so that I believe Santa is going to bring an indoor soccer ball. Usually it's 2 against 1, daughters v daddy, and usually the score is fairly tight, in that they somehow manage to score immediately after I do. But this delicate balance was upset a week or so ago, when M joined us (making it daughters v parents) and her naturally competitive nature kicked in and she quickly made 3 powerful goals and Miss L quit in near tears and we all moved on to other things. Which reminds me, some day I should write a post about how I once(!) managed to swim faster than M. She was 7+ months pregnant, about as wide as she was tall, and at this point she decided she should stop swimming for the duration of the pregnancy. I'm pretty sure she was beating me starting again about a week after giving birth, but don't quote me on that. In any case, she hasn't lost to me since.

Thursday, December 20, 2012's your party...

This is a followup to someone's birthday earlier this month. Just in case anyone worries that all Miss L got was ice cream for breakfast. Or that she was in any danger of not being able to blow out all her many candles.

Note: This is a reenactment. The first time she was so quick that I missed the picture. She was happy to oblige with a second go-round.

In our family we have traditions. And then we have the Divine Miss L, who tends to fly by her own rules, independent of what we tell her she can and cannot do, what is and is not appropriate, what should and should not be done. Thus, she wears shorts and tshirts in winter, and heavy coats in the summer, and I don't try to argue any longer about things that don't really matter in the long run.

Family Tradition: You get to eat ice cream for your birthday.

Divine Miss L: You get to put all the candles clumped in a close row. (Why, maybe to facilitate blowing them out, but more likely simply because you're Miss L.)

L, placing the candles 
with expert criticism (L, you aren't supposed to do that!) from her older sister.

The candles, well grouped for a bright light
(not to mention for blowing out)

One of the most satisfying aspects of this particular birthday for me was seeing how L managed her presents. 

K has always been a pretty good at sharing, so much so that I suspect L sometimes doesn't even realize she's been "shared to" because K will hand over half of what she's gotten, as though it's some sort of birthright of her sister's. Which may be more or less true, given that the alternative is loud, prolonged wailing, if L doesn't get something she wants.

On K's own last birthday (6 years old), she was given 2 Lego "Friends" sets, and she promptly handed one to L. I suspect that if we were to ask, L would insist that the one she got had always been intended for her. She (L) has never been particularly gracious in return. But this 5th birthday revealed an relatively new and very pleasing angle to L's personality, making all of us happy. Certainly happy enough to let her put her own candles in, wherever the hell she wanted to. And to blow them out twice.

And to choose the size of her own piece of cake. It's only sugar and baby teeth:

L & the cake
(she was eating it for 3 days)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

i see your light come shining...

... from beneath your blanket....

Here's a case of not being able to scold because I'm too damn thrilled that she's doing it:

For those of you unable to see in the dark, that would be K, reading in bed with a flashlight. Oh how it warms my heart to see her ruining her eyes like this!

I spent most of my childhood reading in bed, which makes it sound like I spent most of my childhood in bed, which isn't true. I also read in the car, in restaurants, in airports, while waiting for hours to be picked up after school. I was lucky that 1) I never got carsick reading, so I could read anywhere, and 2) my parents had the mindset that if we kids were interested in reading it, they wouldn't take it away. Which meant some memorable episodes with books like The Godfather, which I don't recall much of, but I sure do recall an early wedding scene involving the bride and not-the-groom! as well as other books that were way over my head (Giles, the Goatboy was one that comes to mind, Ulysses is another). But ultimately I think their anything goes approach paid off. I loved to read and I love to read and I'm going to do my damnedest to launch K & L on the same trajectory.

When I picked the girls up from school on Friday, K was abuzz with something she had to show me - a complete set of Little House books, available from Scholastic. "Can we get them? Can we? Pleasepleaseplease!" Sad to say, I was a bit less enthusiastic than she was. Simply because I have a fancy 2 volume set hidden away to give to her at some point (M and I decided it was probably too fancy a set for right now). Which means that, I think we'll get the set she saw in her scholastic book flyer. (An aside - this is the second flyer they've sent home. We ordered several books from the first one, since both M and I love books, and we both have great memories of getting books at school through Scholastic. It turned out that K was the only child in her class of 1-3rd graders who got any books. That makes me so sad....)

She's taken to doing this if it's a night when only one parent is available to read to both girls. In which case, M or I read to L, which K goes off to her bed to read to herself. ("Daddy, is it ok if I kind of make up some of the words if I don't know them?" "Of course. I do that myself!")

One more picture, because I'm so tickled by this development:

May your worlds expand with your vocabulary, my love!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

definitions: redial

It's double-definition Tuesday again, and all I've got for your is a singleton, but a double photo to make up for that.

self-portrait, with daughter

redial - verb, to remove things from your cell phone.


(the girls are in the back seat as we drive through rain-verging-on-sleet towards Olympia and their Aunt, Uncle and cousins. I'm piloting solo, and luckily both girls have brought along cell phones, some old, discarded phones that M and I have graduated beyond. The girls are playing "horses" which means they're characters from Saddle Club, and are discussing their problems with Veronica.)

K: I can't believe it!
L: What?! K, are we still playing horses?
K (slightly annoyed): Yes! Stevie, can you believe it? Look at this! Veronica sent me a message saying that she never wanted to see us again!
L: Oh yeah. Can you believe it? I have one too. It says that she doesn't like us and she hates us and she never wants to see us again, ever!
K (huffing): Well, we'll see about that!
L: Yeah, we'll see. 
K: I'm going to...
L: I'm just redialing that message and all these pictures of her. K! K! I mean Lisa! I have this video of her falling into... (stage whisper) horse manure!
K: Oh yeah! I can't believe that girl!
L: Me either. I can't believe that girl! Veronica!! K! Pretend that I have a different video and it's of her falling into mud and horse manure and getting her new clothes and boots all messy.
K: Ok.
L: Lisa! Lisa! I have this different video of Veronica and it's of her falling into mud and horse manure and getting her new clothes and boots all messy!!
K: Yeah. She is just too much!
L: Yeah, she is just too much!!
me (torn between not wanting to interrupt a good thing, and needing to know for certain the meaning of "redial"): Why don't you just delete them then? 
L (somewhat put out by my denseness): Daddy! I am. I already said that. I'm redialing everything!
me: Oh, ok. (time to refocus on the road ahead)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

sister sunday, holiday science edition

Yes, it's another twisted sister sunday, and this morning we celebrate the holiday season by doing a science experiment that involves flour and sugar and butter and which may result in cookies or possibly just in a big mess.

But before the chaos, a photo for our friend Julie, who gave the girls these aprons for just this sort of thing (the holiday science project/baking experience):

Thanks Julie!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

... i'm hanging on...

... to a solid rock!

the rock in question

A morning conversation:

(K & L are getting ready to dash out to the car through the pouring rain. I'm trailing behind, still getting my shoes on, home because I'm sick).

L (coming back into the house, holding a dripping stone that might be sandstone but just as likely is worn concrete): Daddy, here's my new special rock!
me: Uh, ok. Let's... put it here by the door.
L: No, inside!
me: Inside?
L: Yeah. I found it outside!!
me: It's wet. And rough.
L: I'll put it on the table.
me: No, right here by the door. Inside on the mat.
L: It's my new special rock!
K: No it isn't.
L: Yes it is! It was by the gate!! It's like my anno rock I found at the beach.
me (thinking): Hmm.. it does look a lot like that other rock she made me carry up!
K: It's your old rock.
L (looking at her sister): What?!!
K (with the certainty of an older sister): It's your old rock. 
L: Why was it outside?
K: Maybe Mommy put it there?
L (looking in my direction): Daddy!?
me (shrugging): Into the car. We're running late!
L (a glance down at the rock, now sitting in a puddle on the living room floor): It's the van!
K: She's right Daddy. It's the van. Mommy took the car.
me (shoving them out the door): Into the van!!

note: I confirmed later in the day that yes, it was the self-same rock. M was not please that it was rediscovered.

Monday, December 3, 2012

... she's my, she's my little baby...

well, well...

the divine miss L
(saturday, woodland park zoo)

but first, to set the stage:

not at sea

No, we're not on a ferry crossing the North Sea. Though that's pretty much how it looked outside yesterday, which, in Miss L's phraseology, would be "before this day." This day being her birthday.

And the weather is fairly fitting, given the weather 5 years ago. 

That would be the night it rained so hard for so long that our basement flooded the first time, the night M, scheduled for induction at 6.30a the next morning, said to me "it's not going to make any difference, we can't keep the water out, let's go to bed" so I went to bed and a good, solid sleep, only to wake up the next morning and find that she'd been up all night bailing water. 

But the weather isn't really today's topic. Today's topic is, Hello 5!

sleeping like a baby

Many happy returns on the day!

And just for historical purposes:

Pooh looked on admiringly.
"I'm just saying 'A Happy Birthday,'" said Owl carelessly.
"It's a nice long one," said Pooh, very much impressed by it.
"Well, actually, of course, I'm saying 'A Very Happy Birthday with love from Pooh.' Naturally it takes a good deal of pencil to say a long thing like that."
"Oh, I see," said Pooh.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

sister sunday, readers edition

it's another twisted sister sunday...

two heads are better than one

This Thursday morning I stayed home sick and told M I'd take the girls into school. When I came downstairs after taking a shower, this is what I walked into. They'd settled down together to read. I grabbed my camera....

especially when it comes to a good book

I drove them to school, dropped them off, and came home to crawl back into bed. That's the worst thing about staying home sick - you don't feel like doing all the things you can do when you stay home.

Friday, November 30, 2012

dear Amnesty International.... (rant)

Note: I debated posting this for some time, but finally decided to go ahead. You may want skip it and come back in a week or two. Be warned that it's a rant I felt I needed to get off my chest. It's not likely to be of much interest to anyone else. It's neither funny nor insightful. I promise my next post will be more in line with the usual stuff I write (which, now that I think about it, may not be funny or insightful either, but that's a different issue).


Dear AI:

I've got a suggestion I'd like to pass along: As a general rule, it's a bad approach to make your donors, especially your regular donors, feel like c@#%.

Disclaimer - I've been sick, so am not feeling my best. Also, I was pretty busy when you called. And we don't have caller ID on our land line.

And just to be clear, my complaint isn't really with the man who called. He was was reasonably pleasant (though rather insistent).

When you called last night I answered because I thought it might be my wife and if it had been, I could have asked her about preparations for dinner. It wasn't. It was a man calling from AI.

He started by introducing himself and then launched into what has become the standard for organizations calling to ask for money: "First of all, I'd like to thank you for all your support…." which is a red flag telling me that I'm about to be asked for more support. It might not touch a hot button if, perhaps, you occasionally called simply to say "thank you" without asking for anything more, not that I need or even want such a call, but when you regularly link any "thank you" with a new request, I'm starting to feel a bit used.

But I knew he was only doing his job, and because I appreciate the work you do and support your efforts (which is why we make a monthly donation), I let him go through his spiel  And yeah, I know there is a world-wide problem with treatment of women. I abhor the fact that anyone, anywhere, would use rape as a tool of warfare. It makes me sick to think that young girls are kidnapped and used as sex slaves, and that others are married off at ages not too far from those of my two daughters (both of whom are upstairs and wanting my attention ss I listen to your caller) so this issue does touch me. Once he's done explaining what you want to do if you had the funds, he makes his pitch for an additional donation of $100.

And I've been expecting it and I tell him that 1) we never (I mean never) commit to any money over the phone, and 2) we're tapped out at the moment.

And he tells me he understands, which is the indicator that he's going to thank me and hang up.

Note: In this less-than-perfect world, where callers of organizations I support cannot know that I'm sick, busy and cranky, this is where things ought to have stopped.

But he doesn't and they don't.

Instead he launches into a second routine about working within the US on the same issue, and asks if I'd make a donation of $50. Which is an indicator that either he wasn't really listening to me, or that he's got a script he is required to run through.

So at this point, I've already spent more time on the phone than I would like, and it appears that he needs to ask for the smaller amount if the larger one isn't going to fly. Which means, even if he really had heard me say that I wasn't going to commit to an amount over the phone (and I'm not sure he did), he goes ahead and asks me a second time for money.

And here's the thing. I really and truly do support the work AI does, and I really and truly believe there are some horrible things happening in the world related to treatment of women. I'm helping to raise two young women that I hope grow up in a world where rape and sex slavery and child marriage are fading, declining events. But I am needed upstairs, and I need to get started on dinner, and to be honest, my head aches like it has all day and I really need to blow my nose again.

So I tell the man again that I don't commit to any money over the phone, and this time I tell him that I NEVER commit to money over the phone.

And he starts again to tell me that he undertands, but he also starts to launch into something else about sending the card and needing to …. But I interrupt him to say "Never" again and that if he wants to send the card he can and we'll look at it and decide. And he says that if we're not going to send any money, they don't need to send the card. And I'm really ready now to be off the phone because I'm feeling bad for being rude to someone who I know is just doing his job, and worse, being rude to someone who is doing his job for an organization I support.

After fending off his inquiry about whether I want to be part of the text alert system (I'm already subscribed to email alerts and to be honest, I've had enough of AI for the evening, so he could have asked if I'd like a free AI Hat and I would have said no), I hang up while he's either saying his thanks again or starting to pitch something else, and I feel awful.

Which is the point of my suggestion to you. It strikes me as bad business to make your donors feel awful.

Yeah, I know you're doing good work, and as I've already said a couple of times, I support that work. But if doing so means I'm going to feel sh@%#y, I may decide it's not worth it and shift the money I send to you each month to one of the other rights organizations I support. The ACLU for example.

Hindsight: I wish I'd asked him to put me on their "no call" list, since I already donate monthly, and they're not  in the business of calling to simply say "thank you" (and honestly, I don't want any organization I support to spend any of their resources doing that sort of thing!).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

definitions: toebottoms / sobbing wet

It's another double-definition Tuesday, and today we get two from the Divine Miss L.

toebottoms (toe bottoms?) - noun, the opposite of stretching to see something you're too small to see without stretching. Compare to tiptoe.

(I'm combing my hair after a shower, rushing to get out the door in time to catch the last watertaxi of the morning. L is brushing her teeth beside me.)
L (mouth full of toothpaste): Daddy!
me: Hmm? Spit that out before you talk. You're getting it all over.
L (spitting into the sink, sort of): Daddy! Look! I'm standing on my toebottoms!!
me (wiping up toothpaste): Huh. Yeah, you are! You're tall enough now to not need that stool.
L (looking proud): I know!
M (from out in the bedroom): Maybe we can get rid of that now.
L (looking shocked): No!
M: No?
L (shaking her head): Uh uh.
me (glancing at my watch and realizing that I may not make the boat): Why not?
L (shrug): Because, we need it.
M: Maybe we can take it to the downstairs bathroom?
L: Yeah.

sobbing wet: adjective, describing something that dripping with moisture.

(the family is staring out at the dreary PNW fall weather)
b: I want to go somewhere. I want to do something!
me: It's soaking out there.
K: Yeah, let's stay here.
M: That's our homebody.
L: I want to DO something!
K (a look in our direction): Well, it's wet outside!
me: Yes, it is definitely wet.
L: It's sobbing wet!!
me (looking at M): Uh, yeah, it is in fact. Sobbing Wet.

note: Miss L regularly shows up "sobbing wet" after a good cry over, oh, something like a failure to draw a Santa exactly the way she would like, a critical analysis often contributed to by her older sister who regularly advises her that she can't draw good [fill in the blank]s.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

sister sunday - ... ah ooooo, werewolves of...

... the bathtub!

bubble bath after a cold hour at the beach

prelude to a warm bubble bath

What you can't really see is the 32 degree windchill coming off the water, the other beachgoers in down and fleece, and the odd looks the girls got as they tossed aside their boots and rolled up their leggings. (Note, too, the lack of jackets.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

sisters can ring my bell....

Yes, it's another sister sunday, and this one is sugar-coated.

mermaid, pumpkin and pumpkins

Such a classic picture, no? The jack-o-lantern on the lower left of the group of 3 is the one the girls and I carved. They came up with the face, and I did the surgery. (The other two are plug-in ones from Target or something like that.) We were happy with the way it turned out, and the collaborative effort was fun for all of us.

Trick or Treating this year was... interesting. We went early, during a window between rain squalls, and it was still just barely light, it was dry (though the ground was soggy wet and Miss L ended up with soaked shoes), and it was deserted. Not many kids out at that time. Which meant the girls didn't really have many role models to follow, which in turn meant that they weren't very good at going up to doors and knocking or ringing. We went to three houses, one belonging to their friend down the street (who was still getting dressed up), and then they refused to do any more. So we went home in frustration (me) and with nearly empty candy bags (the girls).

We went back out later, when it was darker, wetter, and there were a few more children out and about, and this time the girls found some random girls from outside the neighborhood which helped to get their courage up, and we managed another 4 or 5 houses before coming home for good. It was a short run, and I was just as happy about that (fewer stops = less candy).

They sat on the living room floor and counted and ate (a few, we cut them off after 4 or 5 candies), and then we got them into jammies, brushed teeth, read stories and got them into bed. All in all, a "frightful" time!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

... by the light...

One of my big challenges as a parent is that of staying "present" when dealing with the girls. It's not that I want to avoid them or what they're doing, but I often notice after the fact that I've missed something that seems important, even if relatively small, due to allowing myself to be distracted while talking with them.

earlier morning walk

It's far too easy to give the girls just some of my attention, rather than all of it, when they're asking me a question or telling me about some small moment in their day. They say something that seems insignificant, that sounds like a passing comment, and hours later it'll strike me that it was something significant, at least to them, and I ought to have paid a little more attention, given them a bit more interest, concern, or simply joy.

K: Daddy, do you like my costume?
me (distracted with… almost anything): Yeah, I do.
K: I think the kids are going to laugh at me.
me (still distracted): No, no one is going to laugh.

And later I realize that she was looking for some reassurance, and while I gave it to her, it was perfunctory, and I hadn't really been there "with" her during our conversation.


L: Daddy, guess what?!
me (stirring spaghetti): Hmmm? What?
L: In class today I had to do the calendar twice!
me (remembering): Oh yeah, you were snack master. How was that?
L: Fine. But I had to do the calendar twice!
me: Really?
L: Yeah!!
me: Can you tell your sister dinner is ready?
L (yelling): K, dinner is ready. Daddy?
me (serving up pasta now): Yeah, do you want water with dinner?
L: Daddy?
me: Here, sit down.
L: Daddy?
me: Yeah, L?
L: I had to do the calendar twice….
me: Right. K! Dinner!

From the grownup perspective, the things they want to tell us, the stories they need to share, are small things. But in other senses they are huge.

For a child, nearly everything is new, their worlds are expanding with each experience, whether it's a face plant into a muddy puddle (like K did this last weekend while I was at work and M took the girls to the aquarium) or a classmate peeing in his pants during calendar (as happened when L's was snack master and doing the calendar so she had to restart calendar after things were settled), it's all part of what they're taking in and experiencing, and they want to talk about it. And if they can't talk about it with us, who can they talk about it with?

Weekend before last, we had a candlelight dinner after a chilly afternoon of hail and icy winds and family movie "night" (watching The AristoCats which was one of our more successful choices) and as we ate I realized that there were moments worth noting, even if they were simply questions like, "How many more bites of chili do I have to take before I get a piece of candy?" :

L, with chili
(and candles)

I have this theory that if I can be here while they're learning about being little girls and making friends and being snack master, listening in ways that lets them know I think what they have to say is important, then maybe they'll continue to share their stories and experiences with me when they're older, and they're busy learning about heartaches and love and successes and failures and are starting to stretch their wings and fly a bit….

I really would love to share a tiny bit of that with them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

sister sunday

note: i never did manage to get this one posted, back in September, so I'm using it now.  I'm not even sure it was truly "finished" but this is the web, and "finished" is for old farts and sticks in the mud (with more time on their hands than I've got). It seems complete enough to give you a good sense of that first week of school, so I present to you:

Twisted Sister Sunday, the better late than never (and today I've got excuses!) edition


How I had a great photo of the girls planned for Sunday morning, but events conspired to make me late posting it, and then life conspired to create events that needed writing about, but I was too shellshocked to do so.

"not having fun" at Jack Block Park

So, this last week has been a long one. First week of school (starting Weds) for one thing. We've got a 2nd year preschooler and a 1st grader!

And I know I've already written a post about this, so I won't go into it further, but the complication this year was that M had an event that meant she was working 6.30a to past 10p Weds/Thurs/Fri, which meant I was working from home and both dropping the girls off and picking them up. And for those of  you at home who aren't paying attention, or who, perhaps, have no kids or don't remember what the first week of school is like, what this all means is that we were running ragged by the end of things.

The girls did quite well. M and I dropped them off together on Weds morning, and I picked them up that afternoon. Everyone was in a good mood. We made it through both afternoon, dinner, evening, bath, reading and bed without too much trouble.

The evening routine is complicated when it's just one of us. The girls like significantly different things read to them (Bedtime for Baby Bear vs The Boxcar Children - the Lighthouse Mystery, for example). And we're at a point where both girls like to be laid with while going to sleep. This means that K has to listen while I read to L, and then L has to chill while I read to K. On Weds, L fell asleep while we were reading, which simplifies things greatly.

Anyway, Thurs morning went fine as well, as I dropped the girls off without them even seeing M. That afternoon things went fairly well as well, with the usual conflicts and yelling. Nothing out of the ordinary. I was getting tired though, so while the girls played in the tub, I scrambled to get some stuff done online and in the kitchen, and that was a mistake.

There were conflicts in the bathroom that resolved themselves (the girls are actually pretty good at resolving conflicts, though often it means K compromises in the face of tropical storm L), but when I went in there was water everywhere. Mind you, the girls were fine again with each other, but I got cranky and said something like "Ok, that's it! OUT!" and K hopped out in order to get her reading, but L laid in the tub and refused to budge.

I dried K off and then managed somehow to coax L out, but her mood had turned, so that evening we took forever to find pajamas that would work. In contrast, on Weds night we went up and both girls grabbed PJs and were dressed and brushed in minutes. On Thurs, L went through literally 5 different sets of clothes over the course of dressing/brushing teeth/reading book, and every time she realized that her pajamas weren't going to work, K had to sit and stew, waiting for her chance to be read to. I got frustrated (first week of school quiz - Q: What's the worst thing you can do in a situation like this? A: Get frustrated and show it.). Somehow we managed to muddle through, but there were tears, great fountains of tears, and K got bent out of shape which was one more thing to get me, and finally she started having her own personal meltdown in retaliation, which of course made things worse. And when she has this sort of meltdown, she hisses and gets in her sister's face.

In retrospect, I wonder how things would have gone if I'd kept my cool better in the bathroom when faced with .... but that's all just water over the floor.

The upshot is that we managed to get ourselves into bed, with me lying with L who was stuffed up from crying, and K thrashing in her own bed muttering (loudly) things like "Well, I guess you're not going to lie with ME tonight!" and me whispering that I would be right over once L fell asleep, and K loudly opening and drinking from her water bottle and then kicking the wall and saying "You don't even act like you want me to be your daughter!" and me whispering that I would be right over to her bed once L fell asleep (you can see that once I hit upon a winning response I don't change it).

Luckily L fell asleep quickly, so I managed to crawl in with K before she  fell asleep, and we snuggled and she thanked me and said she loved me and then she promptly fell asleep and I crawled out of her bed and downstairs to clean the kitchen.

Friday morning M was here long enough to see K (or was it L...? The whole thing is a bit of a blur now), and then she was off again to work and I was going to make the girls pancakes but didn't have baking powder so we fell back to the usual (toast, egg whites, some cinnamon cereal with chocolate milk in it), and somehow things spiraled downhill with K actiing up in major ways, getting into her sister's face and hissing, hitting her, and doing other things I'm sure I'm forgetting. The upshot of this morning was that K lost the privilege of video and books on Friday, and video on Saturday as well. I wasn't too worried about Friday because my company picnic was that afternoon, so I figured we would be busy anyway, but the Saturday thing was a case of shooting myself in my foot because I could have used the distraction on Saturday, and I knew she was going to be pretty distraught about not getting to watch something. Her response though, on Friday morning was "I don't care!" and as she sat on her bed in a timeout, she wanted me to know that she didn't even like me as a father.

I don't even remember how I got them off to school, but I did it, and then got about 4 hours of work done before picking them up. I was leaving it up in the air as to whether or not we were actually going to go to the picnic, based on behavior on pickup, but they were both fine, and we went to the picnic and they had fun and didn't eat properly and then we went home around 7ish, which is later than they are usually out and is about the time we're into pajamas, but they were filthy and M was home and so we did bath and then bedtime was rotating tap of meltdowns with first one and then the other girl in screaming tears, each setting the other off, while M and I lay with L and K respectively. It was.... a special evening after a long week. Oh yeah, congratulations on being done M, and welcome home!

Saturday was M's birthday, and we had presents for her and had foolishly (?) arranged for to host a few folks to celebrate that evening, which meant cleaning and prep work... without video. Needless to say, we had a few meltdowns over the course of the day, but somehow managed to get the house cleaned and food made and were ready to celebrate M's birthday. That went well, but the girls got into bed late (9-ish) and didn't sleep as long as they ought to have and so....

Now we're to the point I really started writing about, Sunday.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

... dance with me...

it's another Twisted Sister Sunday, and today we're going back to the beach (because the weather has been getting me down):

dancing on the edge

I love watching the girls at the beach, even though K will come and ask things like "Daddy, is it ok that I'm getting my skirt sandy?"

Monday, October 29, 2012

... give me a song....

This is something I'll never get tired of:

And how could I?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

... there's a light...

another Twisted Sisters Sunday post here, this one lit by candles and smiles: