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.