Monday, March 30, 2009

Play poor

When Genevieve's time of Saturday afternoon rest concluded (I'd call it a nap if actual napping had occurred), I suggested playing with our pattern blocks. She accepted this idea, and while her sister slept we played with the pattern blocks (2nd photo in this post), and after a time that diversion had played itself out. So we put the blocks away and began to talk about what to do next.

"Let's play poor," she suggested.

"What?" I thought I had mis-heard.

"You know. Play poor."


By now, she must have been wondering just how much overexposure to 70's and 80's rock music had I burdened my ears with? "Yeah, people who don't have money for things."

I was starting to get it now. You can "play house", "play doctor", "play family,"and "play restaurant", so obviously you can "play poor." But I didn't like the idea. There was nothing about it that sounded very fun. I told her that I didn't want to play poor, and could she come up with another idea.

At Friends Meeting the next day, I heard something that gave me pause to revisit the matter. Latter that day, I asked Genevieve if she wanted to play. When she said yes, I asked if she wanted to play poor. Reesa asked what that meant, so Genevieve took her to their bookshelf and paged through The Quiltmaker's Gift, and pointed to a drawing of a homeless person.

But she didn't want to play poor that day. She wanted to hear more of my story that I am making up on the fly during our bus rides, which features a family that lived on a boat until it was stolen from them and now they are poor and trying to make ends meet in a strange city. She is learning from me about how "poor people" live, and wants to hear more before she tries to play poor.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Rainbow love

From Dora the Explorer to other scattered stories to our own periodic viewings, rainbows are held in high esteem by both of my children. Genevieve drew this one below and presented it to me as a gift of how much she loves me. Awwwww........

Here is Reesa's try at flattering her sister's art:

Reesa's art is progressing nicely. We're beginning to see more solid representation. And it is good that they both enjoy it.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I don't have these problems

In the category of "old news," and I can't believe that I haven't written about this one yet. In the latter half of the winter all three females in the house obtained significantly shorter hair -- one by accident, one by appointment, and one by self.

She-Who-Bought-A-New-Curling-Iron-Recently was the one with the accident. Let's call it a curling iron malfunction and leave it at that.

Genevieve wanted a hair cut because she needed help to cease chewing her hair. She did hers the adult way, which is to say she went to a scheduled appointment with a hair professional.

One night toward the conclusion of dinner with a friend, after the two children were dismissed from the table they disappeared to the far end of the house. Soon, Genevieve came back and whispered into her mother's ear.

"Aaiiiieeee!" screamed She-Who, and ran to the other end of the house. This was followed by lots of three-year old bawling. I arrived at our bathroom to find Reesa standing in the dry bathtub, and She-Who was preparing to even out the hair cut that Reesa had given herself.

Following up on this past Sunday's post, I just have to say:
HOLY MOLEY, I'M IN 6TH PLACE IN THE JOHNNY QUEST MEMORIAL CANDY BASKETBALL POOL. It's my fifteen minutes of fame. (Sad, isn't it?)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bobber, hook and worms

Our family has rented a spot on the neighborhood boat rack this year, so Genevieve and Reesa and I walked down to the beach to check out the rack (daddy) and the water (children). It was a warm weekend with high temperatures in the low 60's, so the girls waded into the lake water up to their knees. The bay was clear, but I could still see ice on the main body of the lake off in the distance, so I let the children have the icy water to themselves. (The way I look at it is that I just spent the entire winter trying to keep my feet warm -- I'm not about to blow it now.) They didn't complain, but they didn't stay in for too long at a time either, and played in the sand to round out their "summertime practice."

Another summer prep activity was to pull out the new fishing poles for assembly. I have not fished in many, many years. When I fished, my tackle was limited to hook, spinner, swivel, sinker, bobber, hook and worms with the occasional floating tri-hook lure for muskie fishing. The starter tackle kit that came with the new fishing pole had lots of colorful, weird stuff, so it was almost as new to me as to the children. They are looking forward to their first fishing experience.

Usually, when I mention fishing, I have to put in a disclaimer that no, we will not be keeping any of the fish we catch as pets. If we keep any fish, they will be to eat. It will be interesting to see if they want to see exactly how those fish get turned into food, and what their reaction will be.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Science terminology

"I know these words: expand, contract, and explode."

Genevieve then proceeded to describe each term accurately enough. She claims to get this information from her newest favorite TV show, Sid the Science Kid. I did not see that particular episode, but from the one episode I've seen and bites of other episodes I've caught in passing, Sid certainly seems curious and industrious enough to have explored the meaning of all three terms.

"You know what I don't know, is what does decompose and disintegrate mean?"

As a parent, you are called upon to deliver definitions without recourse to a dictionary. I do my best. I pointed out that both words referred to something that was falling apart and in the process of changing from one solid structural form to another crumbled form, and that "decompose" was the description used for things that were once alive. Upon later review, this was not supported by Merriam-Webster's, but was marginally supported by an online Webster's. In any case, I believe I conveyed the meaning well enough.

"Did you know that jam and jelly are made with jellyfish? So that's not good for the jellyfish."

I had to shoot that one down. But I couldn't explain pectin at that moment, and thankfully didn't try. Sometimes the best course is to say simply, "No, it's not made from jellyfish, it is made from fruits."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

They humor me

It is that most wonderful time of year again, that of college basketball tournaments with all of the basketball competition on the court and the bracket competition off of the court. This year, yours truly wised up and took five hours of vacation on Thursday and watched the entire first day of the tournament. This was fun for me on that day, and after 12 hours of basketball on Thursday, I watched some portions of some other games the remainder of the weeked but didn't feel like I urgently had to be in front of the TV.

This ties into the family because like last year, everyone joined in on picking their winner of all 63 games of the men's tournament. After the first 48 games, here's the family lowdown:

Genevieve discovered what the seeding numbers mean. A team with a lower number (higher seed) is considered to be better than a team with a higher number (lower seed). That's all she needed to know. With the exception of two first round games in which she pick the lower seed (Texas A&M and Wisconsin, and both won [how did she do that?]), she picked the higher seed for all the other regional games. She picked North Carolina out of the four number one seeds to win the tournament, and in a year with few upsets, Genevieve finds herself in 25th place out of all 658 entrants in our on-line candy bar pool. She leads the family pool.

The President is an honorary member of our family pool, though if he wins, we ain't sending him a candy bar. Like Genevieve, he is enamored of the former Jayhawk coach Roy Williams and the Tar Heels to win it all, but unlike Genevieve he did not use a scientific method to make his selections and finds himself 5 points behind our five year-old.

She-Who-Fills-A-Bracket-Because-It-Will-Give-Her-Something-To-Talk-To-Her-Husband-About-For-The-Nineteen-Days-Of-The-Tournament has a soft spot for Duke, and apparent residual year-old warmth for Kansas. She has both teams playing in the finals, with Duke and Coach K on top. She has proven herself as good a prognisticator as the Prez and is tied in points, and she will be applying for a cabinet position as soon as one opens.

Reesa... well, Reesa does this by which names she likes better, or if it corresponds to something she recognizes. Arizona, Arizona State and Wisconsin were all picked to win a few games on name recognition. The word "Siena" slipped like silk on her tongue all the way to the final game, but there was one other team that caught her fancy like no other.

As a native New Yorker (as in the state, NOT the city), I grew up pronouncing Binghamton like this: BING-um-tun. Not Reesa. She says it like this: bing-HAM-ton. Or, to be more precise, "bing-HAM-ton, tee-hee-hee-hee" as if every time she uttered the word it tickled her neck. Reesa gets "daddy credit" for picking two New York teams in the finals, but by her using her methodology she is already mathematically eliminated from winning. No yogurt pretzel prize for her.

And me? So far, I'm four points ahead of She-Who, one down from Genevieve. I figure I can start getting used to being outcompeted by my children -- that's the way of the world. As long as I don't lose to She-Who-Gloats-Upon-Beating-Her-Hubby, I'm doing okay.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Nightmare on My Street

"I had nightmares last night, but I can't tell you what they were about because you'd freak your head out." -- Genevieve

5:40 a.m.
Hah! It's not Genevieve's nightmares that would freak me out. I just spent what seemed like hours in the midst of a bad dream that sends shivers down my spine. It was about Genevieve, and she refused to go to sleep for hours and hours, kept getting up, and didn't care about what I said or did, or what consequences or punishments I would use.

Currently, the parents of this house maintain a thin veneer of control over the children. Putting aside the nice desire to fully embody love and logic and the application of natural consequences, when metaphorical push comes to real-world shove, we rely on other strategies to exert control. My nightmare was of a child who fully and completely realized that she could not be controlled. It's good to have parental 'authority,' but worse than Freddy Krueger scary to be confronted with the fragility of it in the middle of the night.

Monday, March 16, 2009


She-Who-Organizes-Things-And-Creates-Lists came up with this one for the tykes of the house. For use any time that particular complaint of childhood comes up.

  • Read a book
  • Color
  • TV (sometimes)(just a little bit)
  • Write a note
  • Organize a shelf
  • Sweep the floor
  • Brush your hair
  • Fold blankets
  • Visit friends (sometimes)
  • Put away toys
  • Dance
  • Dress up
  • Cook with mommy (sometimes)
  • Play with toys
  • Music--piano, flutes, violin
  • Brush your teeth
  • Dust
  • Play outside (in nice weather)
  • Swing (in nice weather)
  • Yoga

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bilingual fruit

I've written before about pronunciation, and recently I was reading an alphabet book to Reesa. An alphabet book of food. We were on the B's, beans, beets, and...


Like her sister and am-blee-ance, Reesa is very consistent in her mispronunciation of the yellow Cavendish. Has done that since early in her language career.

"Bee, bee. bee, boo."

She was getting silly.

"Bah-nana! Ha-ha! That's Spanish."

I couldn't believe it. She got it right.

"How do you say banana in English?" I asked hopefully.

She looked at me, gave her impish smile and said, "Bi-yana."

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Genevieve walked into the living room. "What smells so good on you? You smell like graham crackers. Or peanut butter. Did you eat something like that?"

I had just snuck a couple of peanut butter graham crackers. It was late afternoon this past weekend and I hadn't had much lunch. Man, it stinks to be ratted out by a five-year old with keen olfactory ability. And now she will want to know why can't she have some for a snack.

"Maybe." I admit nothing.

There I am, stuck between one daughter who can distinguish between many odors, like a nosy detective, and a younger one who thinks I smell like mashed potatoes all the time (except following toothbrushings, and then I smell like mint).

They both are proud of brushing their teeth. "Daddy, smell my breath!" Hhhaa, Hhhaa come two exhales.

"Oh, smells like mint. Very good."

They used to go for the bubble gum or other children flavors of toothpaste, but lately, it's been all about the mint. They clamor for my adult minty toothpaste. She-Who-Can-At-Times-Be-More-Eco-Than-Me uses baking soda, which is neutral in the odor realm. She-Who's stockpile of toothpaste is at no risk from pilferage by our children.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Grown-up stone

"I want to have a sleep-over at Sheila's. She has a magic stone that has special-er magic than my black stone." We were driving to Quaker meeting, and Genevieve had a captive audience.

"What does it do?" I asked.

"It only works for children. If a grown-up comes in, they would get poisoned, and I don't want you to get poisoned."

"So if you were there using it, you wouldn't want a grown-up to come in because it could poison them"


"Well, that's very considerate of you." Good to know she's looking out for me. "So what kind of magic does it do?"

"Sheila didn't tell me yet, but I think I heard her say that it makes smoke to try to kill the grown-up, so that when the grown-up comes in, you forget where you're going and get lost, and it hates grown-ups."

"What does it do without grown-ups around?"

"Oh, well, the princess turns into an evil queen, and she has magic that makes you get lost, and ..."

...and on it goes with castles and rescues and danger, all rendered in spoken phrases not capable of being logically linked by a grown-up, but I'll bet that Reesa understood every word her sister said.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I have no funny pet fish stories to tell, which is another way of saying that two and a half months into Genevieve's first foray into pet ownership, things are going well. No fish under the bed, no toilet bowl tears. Just a little spilled fish food. Of course, I do the water change-outs and more often than not have to remind her to actually give poor flipper some food. But she sometimes remembers to feed it on her own, is still interested in the fish, and even asks for another pet.

I bought her a male beta, since they require no mechanical filter, are fresh water fish, and are a very good starter fish as far as pet fish go. The males have showy fins and color. My girls don't care what my story about the provenance of this pet -- it's a girl, and it's name is Dorothy, end of discussion.

Shown here is Reesa's earliest extant representational artwork -- Dorothy from the top. The squiggy blob in front of Dorothy's face is the food that she is about to suck in.