Tuesday, October 30, 2012

a super hurricane

Hurricane Sandy blew through our neck of the woods this week. The devestation is wreaked on many areas of the country is mind-boggling. But, where I live, as my friend noted, if I hadn't known it was a hurricane, I would have thought we just had a big rainstorm.

Except we were prepared for a hurricane. So, my husband got a day and a half off work, which we've spent hanging out at the house, enjoying some time to not do errands, not go to preschool, and just be here.

This morning we had a scavenger hunt to find a new toy. This afternoon I went for Bab's blood draw* without the pressure of an older (freaking out) sister in the room. The girls both took a nap yesterday afternoon, giving us some precious quiet time. I didn't have to make dinner tonight.

Of course, it's not all perfect. For example, Grandma was supposed to be here, bathing our girls for us as I write this. But the 50 mph winds last night made for a cancelled trip. Oh, she'll be here soon, but not this week.

But it was pretty close.

* It's the fever thing. And the fact that she tells me at least once a day that she's tired and needs a nap. Really? At two? No, that's just not normal. So we're testing all sorts of things as the Dr. and I try to figure out what's going on.

Friday, October 26, 2012

fired from parenting

One afternoon this week, Kiddo called me "Mom." Babs retorted, "No, she's a parent!" Except she had to say it about four times before we understood what she was saying. And by then, Kiddo decided that was no good for her.

"You're not my parent," she told me.

"Oh?" I replied.

"I just want to take care of myself," she replied. Considering I'm currently (always?) overwhelmed with the idea of caring for the physical needs of two small children, I was intrigued by this turn of events. In fact, I couldn't respond to her for a few minutes while I chose not to reply with the vaguely sarcastic comments that kept running through my mind. I also considered how freaked out she could get if I pushed the idea of independence (which scares her frequently).

"Well, where will you live?" I asked.

"In my room."

"Oh. What will you eat?" I wondered.

"I think I need one of those toys that is a kitchen set. Then I would have a place to make food in my room."

I made some comment about the great pretend food she could enjoy, and a few moments later she stood up and went off to her room.

Five minutes later she was back. "I would miss you too much if I left!" she exclaimed.

Me too.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

meet Bullseye

Also pictured are Woody and Jessie. We really like Toy Story 3 around here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

going to the farm

On Monday I took the girls to a local petting farm, as part of a preschool field trip. Each family drives themselves, which was probably for the best, because we had a deep theological discussion on the way (yes, me, and the four-year old). "Mom, how far away is heaven?" and "How are we born again?"

As I talked about baptism, Babs joined the conversation: I don't want to be baptized! Fine, I replied, knowing better than to take such a statement from a toddler seriously. But Kiddo didn't, and informed her that she could get baptized when she was 8. There was a fair amount of back and forth, involving many statements about not being baptized by Babs, many about being baptized by Kiddo, and a discussion of whether or not Mommy would be baptizing (let's be clear: I will not be). By the time we got to the farm, Babs was converted, and yelled frequently for the first five minutes "I want to be baptized!" to anyone who might walk within 50 feet of us. Luckily, other kids started showing up soon, which distracted her mission.

We spent the first 20 minutes inside with some other girls from preschool, but then interests diverged, and then it was just me, Kiddo and Babs. There were pygmy goats, which meant they came up to Babs' chest. One was roaming outside the pen when we first got there, so we got to pet it. I finally convinced my kids to feed the animals, "That tickles!" was both of their assessment of it. But they loved it, and went back again and again to get more feed. Babs especially loved feeding and patting the one that was wandering around. I eventually convinced them to see some other things.

We pet baby chicks, and baby pigs. We visited the turkeys, and saw the horses. With a lot of help from the farm workers we got milk from a two cows. And we rode on the hay ride, which was absolutely a thrill.

After the hay ride, I was pretty much done, so I convinced them to do one more visit to the goat, and then go home. Except first we had to go through the maze. And then see the hay bale sculpture. But then I walked them to the pumpkin pile, just before the exit, and had even picked out two of our three pumpkins, when Kiddo heard the announcement. She really wanted to go see whatever fun was happening at the gathering of people. So we went to learn more about heifers (do you know the difference between a heifer and a cow? I didn't). While there we also got to see a short pig race, which is always exciting for Kiddo.

The rain that had gently come and gone throughout the morning started to come down more seriously while we were learning about heifers, and Kiddo asked for my jacket to cover her head. I went to get her own jacket, and realized that we had lost her hoodie.

Sigh, sigh, sigh, for many reasons. It was green, so it wouldn't be obvious on the grass. We'd been a lot of places since I last remembered seeing it, so we had a lot of ground to cover (hilly, grassy ground, with at least one kid in the stroller because they were now too tired to ignore it). And, perhaps most frustrating would be Kiddo's inevitable reaction when she learned it was gone. She is petrified of losing things. She won't watch shows when things get lost (even though she knows they will be found), she won't read books about losing things. She does not like things to be gone.

I was not disappointed. Kiddo was distraught. After a few minutes of fast negotiating, she accepted that, no, I could not make the jacket un-lost just by saying so. And the crying started. And continued. And continued while we wandered around the farm area, looking for a small sage green hoodie.

Kiddo, worn out before realizing the jacket was gone, sat in the stroller while I pushed it around. To her frustration and sorrow, I put Babs on her lap so I could just push both of them. (Wow, that stroller is amazing.) Babs wasn't quite sure why Kiddo was crying, and alternately tried to hug her to help her feel better, or cried along with her. I found neither actions particularly helpful.

Before too long, it was too hard to keep the crying up, so she racheted up the behavior to loud wailing. It was then that I put my foot down and said: There will be none of that. I will accept crying. But there is no wailing in public. And so she returned to loud crying. (She was not happy I took this picture. But I figured after how long she'd been crying, I deserved to document it.)

After walking by all the places we'd been, there was still no hoodie. Babs was now walking. I parked the strolled near the exit and told Kiddo to stay put so I could a) ask at the lost and found, b) pick out my pumpkin, and c) check near the turkey pens. I could do all these things within sight of her, and was tired of pushing the stroller.

About now, this whole experience had moved to high comedy. I had no luck at the lost and found. But I also realized Babs was no longer following me. I turned around to tell her (with very little patience) "Come here!" She looked at me, looked at her feet where she was standing in a dirt patch, and whined "I can't! I stuck in the mud!"

I picked her up (easily, as there was no mud to be stuck in), carried her to the stroller, set her next to the stroller, and informed her she would be walking with me to the car, and started pushing. It should be noted that Kiddo was still crying, and Babs was still whining.

I finally reached the car, and turned around to see Babs had stopped 15 feet back. She put on her saddest face and yelled "I just want to be baptized!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

funny dark

Do you want to play a game with us? Kiddo dreamed it up, but Babs is the great believer. We play it (way more) often (than I'd like) after Babs wakes up, but before I get her out of her crib.

Here's how it works:
Babs switches the light on, then switches it off. Every time the light is turned off, we are supposed to laugh. When the light is turned back on, we stop, often I am expected to say "Oh!" as if I'm surprised. This continues until I can't stand it a moment longer. Sometimes, to add more variety, Babs turns the light on and off really fast, while I make a bunch of silly noises until she settles on one or the other (briefly).

Because I want my children to feel loved, and to have lots of fun, I play this game a lot. Today though, I'm not very fun at all, and when asked "Do you want to play funny dark?" I finally said what I always want to say: "no, I absolutely do not want to play" and that was that.

I'm sure I'll get to play again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

war's begun

Kiddo wanted to watch YouTube on my iPhone during Saturday conference, so I told her sure. She loves watching toy reviews for play-doh on it. I then sent her into the other room, so I could hear conference. About 20 minutes later my husband found her watching a video of a video game, one which can only be described as inappropriate. We're pretty sure she didn't know what she was seeing, but she still saw it. Although I have been careful with what they watch on YouTube, and how they watch it, with that one moment of less vigilance, everything changed. Now we've established tighter rules on her watching. (Which frankly she loves. She watches it with me now, so she gets my undivided attention in a way that makes me want to scream, and seems perfect to her.)

This afternoon she pulled her dress off her shoulder, explaining to me that it was prettier that way. I just replied (continuing a conversation theme we pick up now and then), with less patience than usual, is that what it did was make her look immodest. And I told her to pull it back up. She responded by ducking down where I couldn't see her (her response when she thinks she's in trouble), then running to her room saying "I'll show you what I mean!"

I rolled my eyes, and started wondering a) what I'd find when I followed her to her room, and b) where she picked up that showing her shoulder was a pretty thing to do?

She ran back in wearing her dress with the halter top (that she has always worn with a shirt underneath) without a shirt. "See mom, like this." And then I just got sad. Why does my 4-year old think she looks prettier with her shoulders showing? and for that matter with make-up, and probably nail polish? It is impossible that she got this message from me. We live a sheltered life, but apparently it is not sheltered enough.

Now we need a real conversation about modesty, not only what it is, but why it is. And some serious contemplation about how to teach her about her beautiful amazing body that does not go on display. And a major sigh that it is starting so soon, when she understands so little.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

some good some bad (at the aquarium)

On a whim this morning, I decided to take my kids to the aquarium (we have annual passes after all). After convincing them that we had to go to the big one (not the small, less accessible one) and that we would not be seeing "baby jack" or any of his family, we were on our way.

Aren't I spontaneous? I thought to myself, as the aquarium was not on our to-do list today. Kiddo brought her drawing bag (it nicely holds paper, markers, pencils, scissors, and glue), in case she needed to draw something. And Babs had her Jesse and Woody figures tightly in her fists. The drive up was pleasant, and it's always nice to use the members entrance. As we stopped to look at the fish in the first tank, and comment on colors and such I thought "this is going to be a great trip."

But before too long, Kiddo was running far ahead of me, Babs was screaming (pleasantly) at the man who welcomed us because she was so excited, and I wasn't so sure this was the right idea after all. Kiddo rushed past most of the exhibits without a second glance, so my time to enjoy the fishes was cut short. She did stop to draw a picture of the grouper fish though, so that was nice.

As we were approaching the shark tank, Babs approached me, and seriously reported, "Jesse's gone. She fell down." And I looked over the wall, and there was the Jesse figure, lying two stories down on the roof of some construction site. "Oh, Babs," was all I could say, as I took Woody and put him in my pocket, hoping that we could hold on to one of them.

I was torn. Do I ask some poor employee to try to help, or do I just accept the loss (knowing she was replaceable)? Kiddo answered that question for me as she came back to where we were standing, saw the Jesse figure, and started in with the hysterics. This clued Babs into the seriousness of the situation, so she started crying too. I calmed them both down slightly, and headed toward the information desk, where they could at least find someone in charge. There was a lot of crying and weeping. I asked the welcoming man, who found some sort of manager, who found the foreman, who (quite easily) retrieved Jesse. I stuck her in my pocket too. 

After that we saw the dolphins (always amazing) and played in the children's section. Then we saw the jellyfish, and by request, had "french fries in the aquarium." (Babs loves french fries.) "And how about the ketchup?" which, once she finished all her fries and chicken, she hopefully asked if she could eat with her fingers?

The trip home took an hour, as opposed to the 30 minutes I expected because a car almost ran into us (thank goodness for good breaks) and then a traffic jam. And as I pondered on all the hard parts of the day, I wondered why I even try. Is this how all the excursions I remember so fondly as a child went? One disaster after another for my mom? Then why did she keep at them?

Then a quiet thought reminded me that the day was what I make it. I could remember the glory of the dolphins, the fact that we didn't get hit, Kiddo's sincere desire to do art wherever she goes, Babs head on my shoulder as we walked back to the car, and realize it was a good day after all.


Just before dinner, Kiddo asked if we could do play-doh. No, I responded, we can't. Why not, she wondered. Because it's not on our to-do list today, was the answer I came up with. The aquarium was, not play-doh. We'll do that tomorrow, I assured her.

A little later she came running over with my actual to-do list (which did not have aquarium on it) and pointed out: We're supposed to do YouTube! How do you know that? I questioned. It's on the list! she triumphantly announced. It was, back from when I didn't know we were going to the aquarium today. I can't believe I thought it was a good idea to teach her how to read.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

General Conference & NPR

This weekend is our church's semi-annual General Conference, where our prophets and apostles share with us messages from our Heavenly Father.

I keep working on making it meaningful for the little girls, even if it's hard for them to understand, and to have patience with the length. There are a lot of choir songs, which they like, and a lot of talks, which do not keep their attention. But one thing I have succeeded at is hyping up the experience, so Kiddo is very excited about it.

Yesterday afternoon I had NPR's All Things Considered playing while I made dinner. A new story started, with a church organ playing, then the iconic quote voiced by an old man "Maw-aige, maw-aige is what brings us to-ge-ther, today" from Princess Bride.

"General Conference!" Kiddo yelled.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

happy birthday to me

My birthday was earlier this week. It was a fun day because my kids are just old enough to understand the birthdays are really fun. (Did it hurt that I sang a silly song all Sunday about the next day being my birthday?)

My husband planned to make me one of my favorite dinners and a magnificent cake when he got home from work, but came home with an intense (and I mean, intense) headache. So instead we got take-out. (Bad take-out, like where the kids McDonald's cold french fries looked appetizing. But in an attitude that was cultivated in graduate school, we did not see the meal as a loss. Now we know we don't like this particular restaurant, and never have to wonder about it again.) After that, my husband and girls made me a super chocolate-y cake, and then went to wrap presents.

I got a lot of fun presents. Babs and Daddy had replaced the batteries in my watch. When I opened the present, she announced to me that they gave the watch to the man, and he fixed it. Kiddo got me gardening gloves, and a kneeling pad from my husband so I can get all the weeds up. I got fancy scissors from my parents, and a book. I got tickets to a play from my mother-in-law, and a fancy fruit arrangement from my sister-in-law. Plus a magazine subscription from my sister, and phone calls and texts from my brothers. Birthdays are nice like that.

As we were approaching the end of the presents, Babs came over and had me put my gloves on her hands. Then she started giving me lots of little kisses, all over my cheeks and nose. Really, is there much sweeter than toddler kisses? But she kept at it, for much longer than time than her attention span would suggest. She took my face in her ridiculously gloved hands, looked me in the eye, and said "Kisses for my Bullseye"  kissed me one more time and ran off to play.

I know I'm a mom, because that was the best moment of the day.

Monday, October 1, 2012


I teach child Sunday School at my church (except we call it Primary). I, along with two other ladies, teach all the kids that started the year 4 years old, and at some point have/will be turning 5.

When I was first called to this position, I had only five kids in my class. They came every week, stayed in their chairs (mostly), and we had a good little class. The other two teachers worked with everyone else. Their class size ranged from two to eight kids on any given week, and as such, the class dynamics changed accordingly. Their two kids that came every week are also the two that have the hardest behavior issues. (They had the more complicated class because there were two teachers.) But the differences, which we thought we understood when the class was split, ended up being much bigger in practice than on paper. So three weeks ago we combined the classes (and teachers).

Because Babs was sick, then I was visiting my grandma p, last week was my first week there. We had eleven kids. That is a huge number of kids of this age. They really did quite well, and we had a pretty good lesson. Most of the kids do want to be engaged, and try to learn and participate. But eleven! It means that it's harder to get to know them, it's harder to involve them, and behavior expectations went up, because things that work with five kids do not work with eleven.

I will miss my intimate little class. But I think this is good for them for right now. And we'll have a chance to shuffle them up again in a few months, when they move up a year for their new class in January.