Sunday, December 30, 2007

Talk about the longest day

So it’s afternoon nap time and I’m watching The Longest Day, you know, the 1962 D-Day movie with John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, George Segal, Fabian (really, IMDB says so), etc. And just as they get to the landing on Omaha Beach, with the Germans opening fire and Allied soldiers falling left and right, Genevieve wakes up and immediately wants to know what’s that going on, and why were those people falling down. I tried to say that it was a movie about a war, and that wars were terrible things, and that people got killed in wars, and she asked if those people on the TV were dying. After a couple more lame attempts, I realized that I had no plan or even good ideas for how I might want a conversation with a four year-old about war to proceed.

Some thoughts that quickly flashed through my mind before getting dismissed:

“Sometimes people disagree, and they get into a big fight. Oh, those are guns. Guns? Well, um…”

“War is the attempt of nation-states to obtain something from other nation-states by force.”

Right. So I fell back to parental plan C (for Change the subject). Specifically, I announced that it wasn't a very good movie anyway (another little white lie!) and changed the channel.

Later in the day, I spoke with Genevieve about guns, first asking her what she knew about them.

"Oh, only adults can have them, and hunters use them for when there's a bear and they have to shoot it."

From there, we talked about how guns and the bullets they shoot can kill things, which is another way of saying it makes them dead. And sometimes, people used guns to kill other people, like in wars, when they disagreed about something and couldn't work it out and had really big fights with lots of people fighting lots of other people. No, it didn't make much sense to me, either. We talked a little bit more about the movie she saw me watching and guns, and came to a good stopping point and moved on to other things.

After dinner I mentioned to Marilee about something about our conversation, and Marilee struck up a conversation about guns with Genevieve. It was clear that Genevieve understood that only adults could touch guns, and if they saw someone other than a police officer with a gun that they should tell an adult, or if they couldn't tell an adult then they could call 911. Then there was an extended conversation about why police officers carried guns and after some time of that Genevieve declared that she was ready to stop talking about guns.

Amen to that. If only our world didn't demand our knowledge of some of these things.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sledding

We've gone sledding twice in the past three days, and the girls already went with mama a couple of other times prior to this, taking full advantage of the third snowiest December on record here. Christmas day was the best, with a very icy snow base and not much else. Even the new toboggan was fast, and the red plastic snow torpedoes were like rockets. Genevieve will usually walk her own self and a light sled up the hill throughout an hour visit. Reesa tires out more quickly.

We had a wonderful Christmas. The children received many gifts, and we haven't gotten around to playing with all of them--yet!

On Christmas night, Marilee and I were sitting around visiting with a couple of friends. Genevieve, watching a yoga DVD in the living room, came over to us in the dining room and said, "Hey, I'm watching this yoga DVD, and we're trying to do this part about peace, and stuff, and quiet, and um..."

"And we're being a little too loud for your peace and quiet time on the DVD?" I offered.

"Yeah!"

That girl is really into her yoga.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"Let us go to Bethlehem..."


The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of God shone around them. They were terrified, but the angel said, "Do not be afraid..."

This morning, the angel of the Lord appeared on our living room wall (photo above). Peace to you and your families and friends, from our family on this Christmas day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

"I'm four!"

Imagine that you just turned four. You are at a party in honor of your birthday, one that you have been looking forward to for many weeks. (In fact, this would be a four week countdown calendar to the actual birthday, plus six more days to the party. But hey, who's counting?)


Many of your favorite people are in attendance, and you are served food that you like...


and are given nice gifts. Everything is right with the world...


Both the actual birthday (a week ago) and the party (yesterday) were very good days. Genevieve thanks everyone for her gifts--she is busy finding the time to enjoy them.

And there were balloons. Don't miss the balloon video posted on the side. One of the dads takes a real whuppin' from the kids.

Also, there was pin-the-nose-on-Santa, birthday poster decorating, cut-out igloos with stickers, party favor bags with no candy but lots of fun stuff, story time, and tents. Quiche for everyone, shrimp for the adults. Loads of fun for everyone.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Sisters, cuddlemates, diaper changers

We tried putting the girls down for a nap on Sunday in the same room, their bedroom. This usually doesn’t work and they need to be separated, and I’ll frequently split them up right from the get-go. Anyway, on Sunday we tried them together and they were so cute, cuddling together and being (mostly) quiet for ten minutes.

Earlier in the day, I walked into their room to find them both on the top bunk, with Reesa between Genevieve’s legs and both of them facing their window. “We’re watching fireworks!” exclaimed Reesa.

In our household, Reesa has been the daughter who practices her mommy skills on dolls. Today, Genevieve came into the kitchen and told Marilee that Reesa had a poopy diaper. Marilee was busy talking to a computer specialist, and told them to wait and she would get to it soon. After a few minutes, Genevieve returned to announce that she had changed Reesa’s diaper. And a pretty good job at that, except that Reesa needed to be cleaned a little bit more. Then, Genevieve got Reesa dressed. Genevieve has graduated from dolls to sisters.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Plens and plens of open

Genevieve is beginning to read. Marilee reports that Genevieve noticed the Open sign on the local video store. Genevieve spelled it and asked what it said. Marilee asked her what the first two letters sounded like, and Genevieve responded, and then she sounded out the final two letters and put it together by herself and pronounced the word.

One word that Genevieve probably won’t be reading anytime soon is plens. Yes, plens, as in P-L-E-N-S. Pronounce it to sound like the first syllable in “plenty,” except add an “s” at the end. It is probably no mistake that it sounds like plenty, because in Genevieve’s version of English, it is synonymous with “plenty,” but can have alternate usage. An example of simple replacement would be:
ENGLISH – There will be plenty of classmates at the party.
GENEVIEVE – There will be plens of classmates at the party.
Plens more closely replaces contemporary usage of the word “lots.” For example:
ENGLISH – I have lots and lots of crayons in the bag.
GENEVIEVE – I have plens and plens of crayons in the bag.
She is very insistent on the existence of this word, has used it for the past year, and is very consistent in her proper utilization of it as discussed above. I’ve told her that other people may not understand it, and beyond that I don’t comment to her about it. I sort of like it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Lucy the snowman

During the car ride after picking her up from daycare, Reesa was talking about Lucy, her “best friend.” I have no idea of Lucy is a real classmate or imaginary friend, but Reesa announced, “she hugs me, and cuddles me, and strokes me.”

Lucy sounds a lot like Hugo the Abominable Snowman: “I will hug him, and stroke him, and cuddle him, and sing to him, and call him George, duh.”

Genevieve asked Reesa if Lucy is a child or a grown-up, and Reesa said, “she’s a girl, not a grown-up.” And this is all in her soft, sweet voice—I wish that I had a recording of that conversation. Time to see if there’s a real Lucy in class. I’ll bring my camera in case there is a snowgirl sighting.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Finally, some Halloween

Above are some of the photos from Halloween. Genevieve started as Pooh Bear for her preschool, and wanted the more aggressive Tigger for the evening candy hunt. Reesa was the sweet pumpkin with her classmates, but by night transformed into a killer bunny so ferocious
that no photo of said bunny is fit to be published in this family-friendly journal. Following the successful hunt, much of the chocolate was transferred to Daddy's Disappearing Duffel.

Tomorrow will be another holiday, Thanksgiving. Genevieve thought it was a funny name for a holiday. If there are any photos worth posting, I should have them posted before the next holiday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Car seat wrestling

Genevieve's current fixation is drawing cats. One fine sample is included here. Cats, cats, cats.

Reesa can reliably count to 10. She also knows that eleven is next, but after that it skips to eight and who knows where else.

We made sock puppets today, and then had a sock/finger puppet show. The concept of keeping one's head below the level of the table top (and the puppets above it) was a bit foreign for the kids, especially for Reesa. It was very cute. We all took turns handling the puppets and being audience members

Earlier in the day, Genevieve threw a nuclear meltdown tantrum at Quaker house, following the break of meeting during the social time. I carried her out to the car, strapped her into her five-point seat belt, locked the car and went back into the Meeting House. I was lucky in two ways--one is that she cannot yet get out of her seat belt by herself, and second that it was neither too warm or cold to leave her in car to run some of the energy out of her tantrum. I have been dealing with these tantrums for a couple of months now, mostly at pickup time at her preschool. I think the part I dislike the most is that she is large enough now that when she is flailing about it is actually something of a wrestling match to pin her and latch her into her car seat.

We are now starting pre-K assessments by our local school district for Genevieve. Part of that process is to fill out a developmental survey. Some of the questions ask for information about the detail in which the child can draw. Her drawing of two girls was one of the ones on my mind while answering the survey.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Little things

I once wrote a post about the nirvana that is synchronized napping. Yesterday there was no napping, and I don't want to recount the H-E-double-hockey-sticks I went through yesterday afternoon and evening. Enough said about yesterday.

Genevieve is putting out some interesting drawings. They make me smile. When I get some hardware back in place, I will have to share it on a future post.

Many thanks to Lois for giving me a three hour break this afternoon, and to Branda for bringing her kids out for a playdate. We all needed that. It's the little things that keep you going.

Tonight, I kept a more cool approach to Genevieve with her multiple times out of bed (only twice this evening). I didn't cuddle with her in bed. I couldn't afford to fall asleep early yet again, since tomorrow's a work day and the house had exploded into a scattering of dirty dishes, books, crayons and papers within the past 24 hours. One time I walked her back to bed, listened to her complaints about missing her lost stuffed animals Freddie and Madeleine, gave her my bear and told her that she was capable of calming herself to sleep. Doesn't always work, but this time it did.

Reesa is very interested in who is happy. "Are you happy Daddy? Is Ge-e-ieve happy? Dat man in da book is not happy."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Down the toilet


A couple of milestones today. First, Genevieve wrote her name without assistance. GENEVIEVE, all capital letters. It looked great. Next on the developmental list—remembering the existence of the numbers thirteen and fifteen.

For Reesa, it was the successful placement of a BM in the W.C. Yes, Reesa dropped her first “poopy in the potty.” This does not yet mean the end of an era; more likely, it signifies the beginning of the end. In the context of today, it hardly meant a thing. The landmark event occurred just prior to nap. Following nap, she wet her pants. Later in the evening, immediately upon hearing her sister announce that she needed to go the bathroom, Reesa declared the same intention. We were at the home of friends, and I asked Reesa to hold it until after her sister was done. That didn’t work, and this time it was more involved than a simple pee-pee. Hmm, now that I think about it, I think that a similar thing happened when we were toilet training Genevieve.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Solo daddy

Marilee left for a conference in Florida this morning, and I had the first of four solo daddy days. I am not typically a single parent, so there is some mental adjustment involved, but I think the biggest problem will be getting enough sleep. Especially when I fall asleep with one of the children at their bedtime and wake up after three hours. I don't get back to sleep very easily when that happens, which explains why I'm still awake at this hour.

Reesa woke from her nap this afternoon with a complaint of a sore right leg. Woke up her sister with her crying, and she just sat on the floor wailing and holding her leg and asking for ice. She tends to have these very specific body ache complaints that respond well to one dose of pain reliever. It reminds me of the body aches that I would have when I was young, especially in my legs. Not only do you have different aches and pains as a child (compared to an adult), but you experience pain in a different way. As and adult, I bang my shin, hop around, mutter some four-letter words under my breath, and a minute later I’m moving on, albeit with a limp. Kids bang their shin, and they either don’t notice it or it’s a five minute cry fest, complete with ice packs and demands for a bandage.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Evening of November Eighth

I arrive home after a day at work. Look in one of the three windows in our front door. I see Genevieve in the living room, in her underpants, wearing nothing else. I open the door, a little, and I can see Marilee and Reesa, also in the living room. Reesa comes running, decked out in a pink tu-tu. She wants a hug, to say hello, and she wants “up-eee.” Lately, she has wanted lots of “up-eee,” and I try to provide some to her each day. Sooner than I’ll know, she’ll feel heavy to pick up, and soon after that she won’t be interested in being picked up and held by her dad. So I enjoy it while I can, and as my back muscles allow.

Reesa likes to kiss. Sometimes, when I’m lying next to her on her bed while trying to settle her to sleep, she will say, “I love you soooo much!” And she will bring her head close to mine and say, “Dis is your cheek,” and kiss one cheek of mine. Then she will lean over to the other side of my face and say, “And dis is your udder cheek,” and kiss that one. And if she’s sleepy, she might start to settle down, and if she is not sleepy she will begin to recite all of the other body parts she can think of, pointing to each and every one as she calls out the name, and then chatter about something else if that gets boring. Anything to keep from falling asleep.

In the course of the early evening on this day, Genevieve will get dress in her red winter theme pajamas. She and her sister are playing “night-night.” As long as it’s happy play. Tonight, it is mostly happy.

We talked to aunt Michelle and cousin Paris. Dinner was a simple egg salad with crackers. Genevieve is adept at peeling the shell off of a hard boiled egg without mangling the egg too much. They eat well, and following dinner after I leave the room Genevieve gets her finger stuck in the high chair tray button. Marilee has to talk to Genevieve about why it took mommy or daddy so long to come help her. The reason is that she has screaming tantrums often enough now that we don’t immediately respond and that tantrums and screams of pain sound quite a bit alike.

They take a shower together. (Showers are a treat—mostly, they will take a bath together.) Then time to get out clothes for tomorrow, and storytime. I forget to get them to brush their teeth after their shower. We are too busy playing “rock.” Marilee finishes the storytime, and settles them down in bed while I get started on some housework. Soon, I’ll get under a comforter on our bed and draft this entry, find a picture, and post the entry. Brush and floss and go to sleep. Marilee is getting ready to go to Florida for five days, so we don't get time together. All-in-all, not too uncommon for an evening.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Party rules

Having a young child's birthday party at some fun public place other than home is a fairly popular idea... more things to do, avoid trashing your home, and there's just something about being in a public place that seems to be clearcut for children in regards to the rules of expected behavior.

Anyway, this party of a friend of Genevieve's was at a favorite playground, so the children thought it was fabulous. The party invitation said that gifts weren't necessary or some such thing. I look at all of the stuff our children have and I can understand a desire to not have even more of it. So, I didn't have the kids bring a gift beyond a card. Most everyone else brought gifts. *sigh* I wish that I could figure out what the rules are.

Halloween is tomorrow night. My wife and I are at our most unprepared state for all of the Halloween's that we've been together. Haven't taken stock of toys for handout, and no decorations or lights are up. At least the children will have costumes. Reesa will be a jack-o-lantern (daytime, at school) and a bunny (evening), and Genevieve will be a Pooh bear (and might change into Tigger if she can't keep the bear costume clean).

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Plan


Reesa is spending some time out of diapers. She likes that a lot, except that she refuses to have the BM on the toilet, or to talk about the BM in advance. So, we still also use diapers, though we now use disposable pull-ups. They are easy for her to use for the simple pee-pee stop.

One recent evening she asked me if she could wear her panties in the morning. Since that would be one of the weekday mornings with mommy, I told her that she probably would be able to once she had completed her morning poop. She said, "Oh," and that was all I heard from her on the subject.

The following morning, she woke up shortly after did, got some soy milk from me, and climbed into bed with mommy to snuggle. Between slurps, she softly announced to Marilee:

"The plan is to go poopy in my pull-up...and then, I will wear panties."

Mushroom policy


Regarding mushrooms in food entrees, our household policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence of fungi, puffballs, morels, or mushrooms in any dish, casserole, soup or other conglomeration of served food. Genevieve is on record (if that is possible for a three-year old) as not wanting to have anything to do with mushrooms. We don’t have many problems with her and mushrooms, though I don’t know whether that has more to do with our policy or with the fact that we don’t use mushrooms in our dishes very often.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Box of clothes


Our girls are slightly younger than their girls cousins, Ellie and Gennie in Arizona, and Paris in New York. So when a generous box of hand-me-down clothing arrives, it seems to have a cachet of the exotic, clothing from a far-away land once worn by people they know. Almost anything associated with a cousin is "cool" and enticing, and the arrival of a box is met with excitement only exceeded by birthdays and dessert.

This week, a box arrived from Aunt Michelle in New York, with clothing once worn by Paris. Genevieve immediately wanted to check everything out. She was moved to dance in the red gingham dress, and will hardly ever be seen without her pink and white sandals. The LL Bean parka also fit. It isn't cold yet, so it was difficult to get too wild over it.

Tonight we had friends over -- a couple and their two children -- and had a good time talking over dinner, and the children played and hung out together. Afterward, Marilee laid down to help settle the children, and has disappeared from the scene. Falling asleep is an occupational hazard of parenting. This works okay tonight, as I can work on this entry while watching the Red Sox-Indians game.

Sleeping while putting the girls to bed has been made all the easier by the hand-me-down bunk bed obtained from a friend in Milwaukee. The bottom bunk is a full size bed, so Reesa easily has enough room for parent to cuddle next to her. The bunk bed is probably the favorite "toy" this week, especially by Reesa, who is gleefully announcing her proficiency on the ladder with shouts of, "Watch me, daddy! I climb down!"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Paint, splash, leaf pile



We had some art time today at home. This was, as usual, well received by the children. Afterward, I filled the wading pool with water and the girls hopped in and cleaned off the paint. Then, drying off, getting dressed and jumping into leaf piles. That's what you can do when you have an October day in the mid-80's.

Genevieve is throwing a lot of tantrums lately, especially when out in public, and it's wearing me down. I chose not to go to a party this afternoon, and that was one of the factors in my decision. Ugh. She tries just about every angle on everything. Oh well, not much more to say on that. I'm trying to be patient but am not always successful in getting there.

I'm sure there are new developments for both of those kids, but it's not coming to me right now.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Giving away the bride

Marilee and I attended a wedding in Chicago today. Clarey was able to babysit the children, so everyone was happy—Clarey gets paid to enjoy playing with our children, our children like to hang out with Clarey, and the my wife and I get to attend a ceremony and reception party without having to manage the inexhaustible demands of two young kids.

I had tears come to my eyes when the bride and her father made their entrance into the church, and it had little to do with the bride. She is a fully capable adult marrying a very loving and nice man. My thoughts were on the father and the ceremonial act of escorting his daughter down the wedding aisle. It struck me as the finale of active fatherhood, a movement from father to grandfather. Perhaps if my daughters and I are fortunate and reach that event, I might view it in some other manner, such as with relief, or joy.

Undoubtedly. my mortality-tinged view is influenced by the death of my father earlier this month. With my daughters as young as they are, I am still looking forward to many more years of being an active dad. It’s difficult to contemplate retirement from that role, and it’s really tough to feel like my usefulness to my daughters will someday end. I suppose it won’t really end, but will rather evolve. Still, it’s all too easy to feel myself in the shoes of that father, walking his daughter up the aisle—I am in no hurry at all to reach that day.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Genevieve's First Dance


This is a guest blog authoring by Marilee.


Here’s a photo of Genevieve’s first dance with Mama. She was just one month old, and someone snapped a photo of us waltzing to Last GaspĂ©. That’s not why I’m making a guest appearance in “Fatherhood in three easy lessons” though. Tonight my big three and a half year old went to the Tuesday night Contra Dance with me while Reesa had a special date with Daddy at home.

Genevieve’s been very excited about going to the dance with me. Today, she’s been really careful to be helpful, cooperative and curb any screaming tantrums she may have otherwise been inclined to having. (Nope, I’m not above using bribes...) We danced a total of four dances (if you count walking around the dance floor while the band warmed up with a waltz). Steve, the caller, called very simple dances and made good suggestions to me about how to modify the dances for her, and the dancers made great accommodations for her.

On the way home we had a very advanced conversation about where babies come from (grist for another guest appearance perhaps), and when we got home she bubbled over to Daddy about how much she liked the dance. Here are the high points as she reported them.

“Bill was there playing music.”
“There were two fiddles and Bill was playing the banjo”
“It was kind of a grown-up dance and there weren’t any other kids there”
“We did a Do-si-do” (It surprised me she remembered the do-si-do since she dealt with the do-si-do by standing still until someone grabbed her for the next part of the dance.)
“We did a star which is different from a pointy star you draw on paper”
And her favorite part was when Mommy picked her up “And swung me ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and ‘round and ‘round”

Yep, my baby’s growing up.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

She called Mama’s hand


Reesa is now a two year old, made official by a birthday party with our neighbors the Knight’s and their two young children and Grandma Lois. A good time, and ice cream, was had by all. Don’t expect to get any reliable information about her age from the blondie herself.
“Reesa, how old are you?”
“Three and a half!”
“Noooo. Try again.”
“Um…one.”

* * * * *

Genevieve was pitching tantrums and being frequently crabby and recalcitrant this evening. Finally, at the start of dinner, she complained about having only one fork and received a warning that she did not need any more utensils and that if she continued to complain that she would be sent to bed. She thought for a few moments, then said “Well, if I can’t get another fork, then I’ll just go to bed.”

Big mistake. Mama said, “You called my hand, and now you’ll see it was no bluff. I’ll see your ultimatum and raise you one trip to bed,” took her by the hand and marched her to bed. (Daddy silently cheered—that child had been working on his last nerve of the evening.)

Much later at dinner, Reesa paused from her eating long enough to say to us, “She…called…Mama’s hand!”

Friday, August 17, 2007

T minus 1 to two years

Tomorrow is Reesa’s second birthday. In advance of the obligatory post-birthday party blog post, I’ll list some of her traits. She…

• is blessed with good overall health and physical development.
• is very whiny and cries, a LOT, when tired, hungry or thirsty.
• is not very interested in the concept of delayed gratification in regards to good or drink.
• has an exploding vocabulary. Works hard at correct pronunciation, and is verbally articulate for her age.
• has shouting fights with her sister. “Stop dat!” and “You don’t say dat!” are common themes.
• leans forward from the hips when screaming at her sister.
• likes climbing.
• loves to play with dolls, and really likes playing with toys in general.
• is a little shy with new people.
• continues to provide no consistent evidence that would refute the theory that she is color blind (most everything is “blue” or “pink”).
• gives all books she likes the same high praise (Oh, dat's my favorite!).
• can count to three or four reliably. The numbers after that are “six” and “eleven.”
• mosquito bites are very unpleasant and long-lasting for her. Not a useful physical trait in Wisconsin.
• would rather not wear shoes or sneakers. She’s a barefoot girl.
• doesn’t particularly like meat. Love mama’s tofu (don’t we all!).

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Magic-ness and goofball


The children are somewhat fascinated by the concept of magic. They like to put hooded towels on their heads immediately following their bath and run around dripping wet screeching, “Abra-ca-da-bra, jiberty-jabber!” They like the Kiki the witch thing, and at their ages some perfectly pedestrian things seem to occur like magic.

Genevieve is taking the Aristotelian approach by investigating what is the magic-ness of an action or occurrence. She told me that her tricycle has some magic-ness that keeps it going toward the street after she stops pedaling and removes her feet, so she has to counter it by using her feet to stop her before getting to the street. Inertia is magic at age three and one half.

Reesa is something of a goofball. She’s exhibited that tendency even as an infant, and I think the quality that makes it seem so endearing is that for the most part, Reesa is an introvert who likes to check things out (can you say “daddy’s girl?”). Then, this seemingly quiet and contemplative tyke will suddenly burst into funny faces or giggles.

Not only is she a goof, but she invites people around her to be goofs, too. Tonight, she once again starting laughing and egged her sister on to do the same. Genevieve snickered back, and suddenly I had two guffawing girls making food-stuffed faces at each other in attempt to out-do the other.

Sometimes Genevieve will be grumpy, and will not want to play with Reesa, and will in fact tell Reesa to stop it. This never goes well for Genevieve, because Reesa doesn’t miss a beat in continuing her goofiness. Oh yeah, Reesa knows when she’s got some serious teasing available.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Nirvana


Genevieve is having a hard time falling asleep for her nap, and I have been short on patience all day long. And it’s not as if she doesn’t need the sleep. She was having multiple meltdowns with any frustration prior to lunch. I want to believe that she will be happy and cooperative after “nap” time, but…

Fact is, simultaneous napping is parental nirvana, and even if she nods off now, Reesa will be awake soon. For today, nirvana denied. Instead, I have to deal with a new Genevieve excuse to get up every 10 or 15 minutes. At some point, I will need to open the door and give in to the inevitable. I feel cranky and frustrated—heck, I need a nap!

I returned from a five-day conference on Wednesday night, and the children, with a little help from mommy, put together a calendar with daily updates and drawings for each day I was gone. It is very nice. I brought back a stuffed bear for Reesa (she already calls it “Boston”), a yo-yo for Genevieve (she claims that she can’t nap without it), and a book of games that you can play with only pencil and paper for my wife Marilee (she likes it).

Reesa is still in the super-cute stage. I’ll try to make some notes at some of the thoughts that she puts into words. She really works out how to say, or try to say, some amazing things. Her favorite and frequently repeated phrase is still “I wanna go run-chant eat!” Translation: I would like to go to a restaurant now.

Okay, it seems as if Genevieve has conked out. Quick, mini-nirvana!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Merry Go Round

They both love the carousel, in different ways. Genevieve was effusive in the moment. Reesa simply talks about "Merry Go Round again?" every day for the past week.


Genevieve, 2005, 19 months old.








Reesa, 2007, 23 months old.

Monkey. Bars.




Genevieve conquers brachiation.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

First Fourth


We survived our first family 4th of July fireworks display. First, Marilee and I had to help the children with successfully staying awake and well-behaved beyond their regular bedtime. This was not a problem for Reesa; she was patient, communicative, and eventually ate a good dinner. Genevieve woke from her nap announcing that she was still a little grumpy and did not want to go to the party. She eventually agreed to go, and needed only one “pull-aside” parent-child clarification (not so much a discussion as some time to calm down and to provide a reinforcement of the consequences of more misbehavior).

We stayed a good half-mile away (from the fireworks, not the children) and that helped. Genevieve enjoyed it without reservation. Reesa needed to sit on a children’s chair with a favorite toy and my hand and arm on her chest and abdomen—she would complain if I moved away from her. It made me feel like the big Protector Daddy on a primitive level, with my little girl wanting the cover of my arm.

All that celebrating makes for a late night. We’re letting the girls sleep in this morning.

Art by Genevieve, age 3.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Safe

“I’m safe now,” Reesa will say to me when I come to get her after she has been sent to her crib for a time out.

What does that mean, I’ve wondered. Marilee thinks she understands.

Apparently, Reesa was scared in the pool recently, and Marilee calmed her down and then kept telling her, “It’s okay, honey, you’re safe now.” Reesa associates this phrase with the act of calming down. To her, “I’m safe now” means “okay, I’m much calmer now, thank you very much.”

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rock


Immediately following every bath, the girls demand to dry off with a game of “Rock.” Here’s how we play. After stepping out of the tub dripping wet, they each get a towel from daddy. They cover their heads and back sides with the towel and drop to the ground face down with their legs tucked under, and they wait for daddy to say:

“I wonder where Genevieve and Reesa are? Hmm, I don’t see them anywhere. Ooof, oh, I stubbed my toe on this rock. Where did this come from?”

Giggling. Then daddy says: “Hmm, I don’t remember any rocks here before. I wonder how they got here?”

Genevieve will frequently stick a leg out and wiggle her toes.

“Hey, wait a minute…what’s this? Toes! Do rocks have toes?”

(Reesa usually says, “nooooo.”) Tickle feet. Much laughter.

“Oh, and right here, and here…two doopahs! Do rocks have doopahs? I don’t think so!”

Pinch doopahs. More laughter and squirming.

“And wait, that’s a belly button! These aren’t rocks! They’re little girls!”

Huge dose of tickling, lots of squirming and laughter. The moment I stop, Reesa stands, re-drapes her towel over her back and exclaims, “Again!”

Repeat.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Back in the (blogging) saddle

Whoa! I haven't been posting for many-a-day, in part because the computer was in the shop for a few days, and in part because we are enjoying summer. Oh well, time to hop back into the saddle and get blogging!

Summer seems exciting for the children--so much goes on. Genevieve will stay up late even if put to bed early. Reesa sometimes will recognize her limits and ask to be put to bed. Correspondingly on the other end of sleep time, it is Reesa who is likely to be the early riser.


No photos (of our own) until we get out photo software updated, might be a week or so. Let's see... what's going on here lately? Today, Mommy had a day in which she used up all of the "good mommy" just before daddy got home, so daddy and the girls took a dinner picnic to a park and ran an errand with daddy. Since I last wrote, daddy has also had a couple of days in which the "good daddy" tank was near Empty, and mommy helped rescue me on those days.

We've had three campouts in our backyard this summer. Everyone learned a little more each time. I've become much less aprehensive about using mosquito repellent on a child (Reesa). Compared to the alternative suffering and week-long swelling, I'm going with the repellent. The kids are learning to sleep through a couple hours of morning light on these campouts, so hurrah for that.

Brooms are popular. They both pretend to be be witches. Reesa says, "I'm Kiki!" Yup, they sure love that Kiki.

The backyard, five-foot diameter, 10 inch deep wading pool is popular. Slip and slide is more of a hit with the older neighborhood boy. Sprinklers are fun for everyone. And another fire-pit and grillout will be held Friday. Hopefully, pictures will be available next week.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Happy Father's Day, Dad!


This is for my dad, and my big thanks for all he did for me as a father. For one thing, I am well prepared to be a homeowner, what with all of the lawn mowing and painting practice I had!

And the photographic evidence doesn't lie--I'm at least as good looking as you! Way to pass on those genes!

Sorry I'm not there to take you out for fish fry. Happy Father's Day.

Daddy's ten-count

Expectations. They come in many flavors, so maybe it’s helpful to myself to distinguish amongst them.

Expectation of the moment.

--Most frequently manifests itself in the negative form, as in the internal dialogue of “oh no, I can’t deal with that whining right now.”

--Occasionally appears in the neutral form, as in contentedness without the necessity of an internal dialogue.

--Occasionally appears in the positive (or surprise) form, as in the internal dialogue of “aww, she just said ‘I love you…soooo much!’ in her soft little voice. That is so stunningly sweet!”

Both the positive and negative forms point to lack of balance in my mindset and preparedness to be the best father that I can be. Of course, I find the negative form most frustrating.

The primary set-up behind that negative situation is that I am attempting to simultaneously perform several of my roles while with the children, such as cook, dishwasher, waiter and launderer. Each child can, at any moment, suddenly want all or most of my attention, and that will usually trigger the other one to want the same. I will attempt to give some time, to balance all of the tasks, to distract them. But it may not work, and after a while I will hit a threshold.

If I’m in tune to what’s going, I’ll count to ten. Mostly, I now do this out loud—I am trying to have them hear that I am frustrated and will not be responding to them until I arrive at ten. Then, I try to talk about how I feel, why I am frustrated. Sometimes this results in peace and sometimes there is still upset, but by then I will usually be clear about some options that are appropriate.

However, I am not often in tune to what’s going on, and I end up frustrated and make abrupt decisions. *sigh*

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Parade and camping



First of all, photos from the Memorial Day parade. Genevieve enjoyed watching the parade with our friends, and we have a rare picture of daddy, this time holding a flag-waving Reesa.

Second, we have taken the children camping twice this summer. All the way to Camp Backyard, complete with blood-sucking mosquitoes, bunny-killer cats, bats, birds, neighbors stereos and floodlights, and roar of the highway from one and a half miles distant. It’s all good practice—first night, Reesa didn’t make it the entire night, then the second time it was Genevieve that had to come inside at 2:00 a.m.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Pink. It's the new blue.

Pink is the new blue

As noted in an earlier entry, Lily has no time for the finer distinctions of hues and color tones. Or primary colors. Used to be, that when you asked her what color something was, it was “blue.” Not anymore.

“Lily, what color is that?”

“Pink!”

Pink. It’s the new blue.


A-cute test

“Ant! Ant! Ant!” Lily was pointing up over my shoulder as we were eating dinner at our backyard picnic table. I looked in the direction she indicated—the roof of our house, one of our maple trees.

“Uh…no, I don’t see any ants up there, Lily,” I said.

“RIGHT DERE!”

My wife pointed them out to me. Two ants walking on a wire about 20 feet from us.

She might see the world in black and white for all we know, but you can’t find fault with her visual acuity.

This is a child who can spot a one foot drawing of our local college mascot (a.k.a. LCM) across two lanes of traffic while moving 30 m.p.h. Of course, when LCM walked right by us at the Memorial Day parade, she was too enthralled looking at something else to notice LCM. I had to gently grab her hand and hold it out for LCM to touch on his way by.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Second firepit of the season

A very nice evening last night, and wood lying around with some matches, so hey, let's have a fire! And while we were at it, we got some photos of mom playing with Lily.


Some of the neighbors came by, and other friends, and dinner was delicious. We had ice cream and okra (not at the same time), with salmon and grilled apple.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Seeking the Center

She-Who-Is-Also-An-Artist is having her second art show in town, and her first at a gallery. It's a fabulous local community-oriented gallery, and they are showing her most recent set of inked mandalas in the month of June, coming up soon. The opening reception is June 1, and it’s very awesome to see my wife’s work on display.

SEEKING THE CENTER
[She-Who] creates mandalas, Sanskrit for circle, as a means of centering and enjoyment. These vivid geometric shapes are created by hand and are not computer generated. She uses permanent colored and metallic inks on acid free paper. Please join [She-Who] and view her mandalas and over 200 local artists work.


Just between you and me, “centering” is a code phrase for “doing some relaxed adult thing so that I don’t lose my mind after nine hours with Olivia/Lily/both.” Not that we don’t love those kids, but hey…

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Subject/Predicate


Lily had a fever this weekend. Sitting on my lap after taking some pain reliever, she looked up at me with her droopy eyes, smacked her lips, and said:

"I like it."

Her first sentence was about yummy medicine (or 'cine).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Very scary pink friendly monster


Used to be that Olivia wasn't afraid of the dark. She'd wake up in the dark, walk to our dark room, and would not comment about the lack of light. But in the last few months, she has generated an awareness of dark places and the imaginary monsters that lurk there. She occasionally draws them.

So now we work with that fear. I take it as a natural development, and try not to make too big a deal about it. She falls asleep with a night-light.

Tonight, I had to follow her downstairs to stay near her while she turned on the light. (This is a new thing, that she can reach the basement light switch, which is set higher than standard switches.) She said that she used her "shooter" and the monster was dead. Even three-year-old girls know about "shooters." I suppose this knowledge is unavoidable in our world today.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lily talk

Approaching 21 months, the language explosion is on. We ask her what she did at daycare:
"Pl-aay," she says in her sing-song voice.
"Gas station."
"House," as we approach our house from a couple blocks away in the car.
"Bye Kay!"
"Lounch," for any meal.
Want this little piggie again? " 'gain!"
"Book. book. book"
"Sowwy," when apologies are needed.
"Sing. Sing. Baa baa sheep" and then "Tinkle tinkle?"
She frequently loves to carry around a board book to look at.
"Lotion."
"G'ama, g'ama" whenever grandma is on the phone.
"Aw done." Unless olives will be served for dessert. Then she comes storming back into the kitchen screaming "Owives! Owives! Owives!"
And, of course, a whole bunch of things she is urgently trying to tell us that we simply don't understand. Parents--we're soooo slow to get it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Loser boyfriend?


Olivia was complaining that Tombo was calling her stupid, so I said that he’d have to go home for the remainder of the day. When she claimed that Tombo’s mom and dad and house all died, we told her that he could go to his aunt’s house.

“No, but I love Tombo!”

So now she's creating imaginary loser boyfriends for me to deal with? At age three?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Photos, because you like them


I thought that I would publish fresh photos of both children, but uh... turns out that lately, we've only gotten good close-ups of Reesa. So there she is, on the swing last night. Some of her favorite words are doggie and birdie. She has a word for her sister, Genevieve. It is Zhe-zhe.


Speaking of Zhe-zhe, here's our most recent good close-up of the elder child. It's from February 10.