Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not chopped liver yet, but...

I'm still pretty cool as far as my dad status goes, but I am no longer recipient of the rock star treatment. My arrival at home generates the same excitement as a new box of crayons -- wow, that's really nice, lots of immediate attention, and then move on to other things.

My daughters now give the rock star treatment to our neighbor across the street, peeking out windows to see if her car is there, or did she take her husband's car this time, and if there's a sighting... oh my gosh, the shrieking and running for the door and shouting across the street, the begging for when can they come visit. The letters, the fan club... sigh.

I knew my rock star moment wouldn't last long. It was nice while it lasted.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Icy 8

Icy 8 and Icy Monkey: sometimes, better than a parental kiss.

The mommy and daddy kiss works for the small boo-boos, or ouwies (spelling please!) that occur outside of the last hour before bed. But when Reesa gets hurt when she's tired, or when she really gets whacked good (by herself or by her sister -- yes, hard to believe, I know), then the daddy kiss won't cut it. Then you need the big guns.

Call in the Icy 8, and the superhero sidekick Icy Monkey. One for the mouth, one for the boo-boo, and it works better than a bandage. If one is lost or breaks, we'll have to go out and recruit for another Icy pain relieving superhero.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Glorious! I still have hair.

Whew. Made it through a weekend alone with the children, still have most of the hair that I began the weekend with. Not to say that's a lot of hair, but that makes it even more important to keep what I've got.

Genevieve has been driven lately not by the need for power, but for attention. Her eating habits are messier, she spills milk on purpose, and today she had a crying outburst in the middle of Sunday school that only ended after I hauled her out to the car. She-Who and I are talking about it, trying to figure out what is missing, what she needs, what we need to be aware of and look out for.

Reesa has two words of note:

DEEES-gusting! = disgusting, used frequently and with gusto.

Glorious! = beautiful, awesome, glorious. She saw one of Genevieve's new shirts for the first time today and said, "Wow, that's glorious, Genevieve!"

And yes, she informed me this weekend that I still smell like mashed potatoes.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm just a bill

She-Who-Manages-The-Netflix-Queue would know for sure, but I think Schoolhouse Rock! has been steadily working it's way up our list, and is now playing at a DVD player under our TV. It is every bit as good as I remember it from thirty-plus years ago. I still recite the Preamble to the Constitution to the tune I learned in Schoolhouse Rock!

Memorable three minute lessons to tunes that will never leave your head, and viewing it as an adult I can now see influences previously invisible to me. For example, I now immediately hear the Rocky Horror Picture Show influence on Interplanet Janet. In the grammar rock arena, Verb: That's What's Happening has that Mo-town movie sound. Interjections! has the Hallelujah chorus (obvious, I know, but I wasn't exposed much to high culture as a kid).

And check out these lines:
I'm just a bill,
Yes, I'm only a bill,
And I'm sitting here on Capitol Hill.
If you're a butt-end Baby Boomer or Gen X-er, it is probable that you read those above lines not just with a certain tune, but with that raspy voice of Jack Sheldon in your head.. c'mon, you can hear it, right?

Jack is also one of the voices to this ditty:
Backup singers -- Conjunction Junction,
what's your function?
Jack Sheldon -- Hooking up words and phrases
and clauses.
Backup singers -- Conjunction Junction,
how's that function?
Jack -- I got three favorite cars,
That get most of my job done.
Backup singers -- Conjunction Junction,
what's their function?
Jack -- I got "and", "but", and "or",
They'll get you pretty far.
Okay, some of it is a little dated, like Elbow Room and the recent demotion of Pluto from planethood. But this is still fabulous fun for all of us. The girls wanted to watch it again for our pizza and movie night (they liked "galaxy girl" the best -- that would be Interplanet Janet).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sky child

She-Who-Gave-Birth-To-Our-Children gave the following report earlier this week:

Genevieve came running into where I was sitting. She was chasing someone I could not see and yelling, "She's supposed to be on the ground, she's a ground child!"

Reesa was hot on her heels and retorted "No! She's not a ground child!"

As Reesa came to the spot Genevieve had left off, she put her arm around the unseen being and started to walk back from whence they had come.

Genevieve conceeded "Okay, she's a sky child."

And they both went back from where they had come and continued to play with one another and the sky child.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Our family attended a women's college basketball game a couple of months ago. It was one of those promotional days, so the crowd was larger than usual, and with a high ratio of children to adults. I fully enjoy taking my daughters to these events -- I want them to see active, competitive girls and women and know that being active and athletic is an option for each of them.

As an attendee (a.k.a. fan) at a sporting event, there is much to take in, to experience, to be entertained by, and for young children the biggest star doesn't wear a sport uniform. No, the center of attention for young children is someone wearing a garish furry costume with an oversized head and team colors.

"Aaiiiiieee! It's Local College Mascot*! Local College Mascot, come here, come here!"

After a first half of spending equal time watching the game as watching out for Local College Mascot (LCM), I took the two girls to the family restroom. Thank goodness for the public family restroom! (Though having two potty seats would've helped things move along more smoothly.) At the conclusion of our break, I looked into the arena. Halftime had less than five minutes to go, and the halftime show was wrapping up. Rats, the kids would've liked that. So, I figured to burn off some of their energy by walking around the concourse under the seats of the arena. We made it a quarter way around and our pace was slow, and I was about to turn around and backtrack to our section when I stopped. I couldn't believe my luck.

"What, daddy?"

There, behind a gaggle of eleven year-old girls and scattered adults was LCM.

"Girls, look! It's Local College Mascot."

Genevieve followed my eyes, locked in on her target, and took full advantage of her five year-oldness. Small enough to weave around the legs of adults and squeeze through and end-around the eleven year-olds, she pounced on Local College Mascot as he was signing the t-shirt of a pre-pubescent fan, hugging his furry leg with all her little happy joy.

Reesa shouted the name of LCM again and again, but didn't budge from my side. I finally had to rescue LCM from the clutches of my elder daughter. Later in the game, Reesa regretted not hugging LCM and got her mommy to carry her over for a personal greeting.

So here we are, watching our children scream for (a) a marketing ploy (b) an oversized stuffed animal that moves (c) a goodwill ambassodor for the university (d) a combination of some of the above.

*(yes, our local college mascot has a name, but does it really matter?)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Egg race

Though She-Who-Cringes-When-Her-Children-Eat-Chocolate and I are convinced Quakers, we still raise our children with some of the the traditional religious holiday baggage. Santa and the Easter Bunny visit our house.

This year, we attended our local egg hunt for the first time, and it was a little confused and chaotic for a first-time attender. I'm usually the type of person that counts (or estimates) heads at an event, but I really didn't think about it when I was there. Let's say there are 400 screaming, squirming children, held back from their prizes by caution tape. Plus adults with cameras, an unintelligible person on a bullhorn, and a man in a bunny suit that featured an open mouth and big teeth -- oh, yeah, THAT will attract the two year olds.

The "hunt" was divided by age group. Reesa was in the 1 to 3 year old field with She-Who. (See photo of both of them checking out the 1-3 year old field). I took Genevieve to the portion of the play structures allocated to the 4 to 6 year olds.

I ran into some neighborhood friends, chatted briefly and was interrupted by the unintelligible man on the bullhorn. I got my camera ready for the excitement. Finally, Mr. Unintelligible said something I could understand.

"On your mark...get set..."


...oh no


On our compact digital camera, the battery is low message is not a warning of things to come soon, but rather a courtesy informing you why it just shut down. In the thirty seconds it took to replace the battery, the mad dash for the plastic eggs was over. I found Genevieve after several minutes of searching. She was wandering around the maelstrom of adults and children, looking for two more eggs to fulfill the maximum of ten eggs.

"Honey, you found eight eggs! That's really good. Some children only found five or less." She didn't fully believe me, but she did seem to succumb to the reality of not finding any more eggs. When she discovered that her sister had collected "only" three eggs, she decided that she could be fine.

Reesa had three eggs because she eschewed all but pink and/or purple eggs. Walked past other colors. She seemed happy enough.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Elephant muffins

Conversation between Reesa and She-Who-Bakes-With-Children yesterday morning...

Reesa: Momma, can we make elephant muffins?

She-Who: You mean monkey muffins? (We have a recipe for monkey muffins)

Reesa: No, elephant muffins!

She-Who: I don't have a recipe for elephant muffins

Reesa: You take eggs, sugar, yogurt, sauce and almonds and mix it up. Then you just bake it!

She-Who: Ah! Thanks for the recipe!

I just want to know to which sauce was Reesa referring.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Please curb your rabbit

On Saturday, Reesa found a small, round, desiccated tan item in one of our perennial beds.

"What's that, daddy?"

"Hmm. It's old rabbit poop."

Reesa didn't think that rabbits should be pooping in our garden. So she took her chalk and wrote a message on the driveway closest to the garden bed. It had a simple drawing of rabbit scat, overlaid with a circle and a line through the circle. That would be the universal "NO!" sign. Then she added a line of scribbles with a few letters and pseudo-letters mixed in. I asked her what it all meant.

"Well, that's Frrrrench wrriting." She trills her some of her R's. "When da rabbits come here in the night wif their flashlights, they can see it. It says, 'No rabbits poop in the garden wif da yellow flowers.' "

"Oh. Where will they go poop then?" I asked.

"In the forest." Duh! Don't you know these things, daddy?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Color chart ABC's

Genevieve did this gem at pre-school last week. She started with seven columns, intending to do a calendar, but changed her mind and used the first four columns for color charts. Very rainbowy. The fifth column has the ABC song:

NIV = now
i NO = I know
M AB C N X TM = my ABC's, next time
WT YOU SIN G W TH M E = won't you sing with me

She cracks me up.

As you may recall, I quickly gloated when I reached sixth place in the Johnny Quest Memorial Candy Basketball Pool, correctly sensing that I had reached an apex. I am no longer anywhere near sixth place, and in the interest of complete and unbiased journalism, I report the following:
  1. Genevieve won the family pool, and has already been rewarded with her yogurt pretzels. Don't even have to await the outcome of tonight's game. She even smoked President Obama by 15 points.
  2. I will beat 1000 out of 1001 chimps (I will either lose to, or tie, one chimp).
  3. Most importantly, I again accomplished my most important goal and did not lose to She-Who-Is-A-Mostly-Good-Sport-About-My-Tournament-Watching.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

New bicyclist alert

A bicyclist has joined the family. Genevieve rode without training wheels for over a minute at a time, negotiating both left and right hand turns, slowing and braking at will. Well, almost at will -- the braking/stopping is not reliably smooth, but in a pinch she will bail out or fall over.

This is not a shocking development. She was on the verge successful sustained riding last fall before the cold weather halted children's biking. Her bicycling development mirrors her some of her personality: diligent, determined, and a little impatient to master something that she felt was almost in her grasp. She doesn't immediately look for sympathy or attention when she falls, but seems to run an internal diagnostic before announcing her status. Like many things in her life, it came somewhat easily to her, and now she's ready to use it to jump into other things.

For me, it was a lot of fun both in watching her accomplishment and in working well with her to provide a little bit of coaching. I treated practicing how to stop as a game while providing some insight as to why it was so important, and mostly cheered her on and fixed dropped chains (finally got the wheel backed out enough to keep the chain taut).

Just a dad getting to do something that dads are good at. Doesn't get much better than that.

duck... duck... mud...?

My wife owned a dog before she married a husband. Some days she wonders why she ended up keeping the husband and giving away the dog, but that's neither here nor there. (Specifically for the record, the dog was incompatible with young children and the husband was both compatible and extremely helpful with young children. The dog moved on to a child-free home.)

Gromit is a pointer. He loved going to the dog park, playing with other dogs and, most of all, chasing waterfowl and rabbits. Generally an obedient dog, he was nothing but raw canine instinct when prey was in his sight. Command? What? Did you say something?

On Wednesday evening, I took the girls to a playground. When it was time to head back to the car, instead of motioning them to the bike path that led directly to the car, I pointed toward the soggy field and foolishly said, "You can walk back that way and get a closer look at the birds."

The birds were a mixture of mallards and pintails. The attraction of this field for these twenty or so dabbling ducks was food. Standing water in a grass field fits the bill for a nice duck dinner.

In the mind of a five-year old, grounded ducks fit the bill for a game of chase the birds. Once locked in on her prey, the outside world (i.e. daddy) fell away. She expertly moved the flock just enough to find separation between three ducks and the remainder, and drove that wedge. Wearing a bulky winter coat, cotton pants and flip-flops, she had her selected trio on the run. With the bulky-coat gait of a three-year old, the speed of a five-year old and the frozen smile of glee of a demented duck chaser, she laughed and relentlessly pursued, oblivious to my calls or anything else including what might happen if she actually caught a duck.

If it weren't for the mud, she would've been there until dark or until she had dispersed the entire flock. She couldn't hear my pleading, but she came to a sudden stop when her flip-flops became mired in some deeper mud. She stared at her feet, looked over to me, and shouted with incredulity: "I'm... stuck! My feet are stuck!"

Daddy and the ducks quietly cheered.