Sunday, August 24, 2008

I do exist!

Working full time is less fun than it sounded like it would be. I have been in training for the past week. I thought "training" would be easy, short days. I was WRONG. I pulled 3 11 hour days last week and 2 9.5 hr days (from the time I left until the time I got home). I think, hope, pray that the entire year will not be like this. My predecessor in the position only worked like 35 hrs/week - and I'm pretty sure that once I hit my stride I can do the same. But getting there will be tough. This is the week we get thrown into the fire. I think I'm ready, but I am also definitely in a position to really screw something up.

So what have the kids done this week? How would I know? I can barely even write that without bursting into tears. Heaven help the poor fools who asked me how my job is going at our neighborhood happy hour on Friday night (they got a ridiculously tear filled response).

But, Elisabeth has managed to make us laugh a few times this weekend. But before the funny stories, you'll be happy to know, she went with me to Costco. She even enjoyed it. We went without Charlotte, which I think made her happiest of all. We got to eat our hot dogs and have our Cokes in peace.

As a preliminary to the next story - Doug has a brother named Nick. On the way home from Costco, I told Elisabeth I was going to invent a new nickname for her. She is tired of Tallulah Bell, LizzyLou, and the most frequent name I call her - Lulu (which is short for Lulabell). So I now, occasionally, refer to her as Twinkle Toes, making her full name - as per Elisabeth - Elisabeth Virginia Twinkle Toes. When we got home, a few hours later, she said to Doug, "Hey, Daddy.... Mommy made me a new.... a new..... uh.... a new..... unclename?" Doug, being the smart cookie that he is, immediately made the Uncle Nick connection.

Then, last night, Elisabeth asked me to read her this book: The Tale of the Three Trees which is about these three trees, one of which becomes Jesus' manger, one becomes the boat that Jesus is in on the lake when he calms the storm, and one of which becomes the cross. It is actually a very nice story. But I am increasingly hesitant to read it to Elisabeth because, well, she wants to get into advanced theology that (a) I'm not qualified to talk about and (b) goes well beyond her ability to understand. So last night, we talked about the following things:
  • That the next time there is a storm, she will spread her arms out and say "Peace." I wish I had a video camera for this because, well, it was classic.
  • That Jesus died.
  • That kings can be mean.
  • That a king killed Jesus because they thought he was telling lies (remember, we're in the lying phase, I thought capitalizing on this might be a good idea until she said, with a pale face and wide eyes, "THEY KILL YOU FOR TELLING LIES??" and I had to backtrack and explain that this was in a different time where people got killed for all sorts of things, but that it most certainly wouldn't happen now.)
  • That yes, Jesus also called himself a king (where did she learn this?!?!)
  • That not just everyone can come back to life.
  • That Jesus got sent to Earth by his Daddy to live here and teach people.
  • That Earth is where we live.
  • No, that Earth is also where Mexicans live.
  • Yes, that Mercedes (the cleaning lady) also lives on Earth.
  • That no, the bird that crashed into the window and died cannot come back to life because it is not God.
  • And no, neither can the dead deer we saw on the way to Costco. Because it is not God. Or God's son. I didn't even get to the holy trinity, we got stuck on just the duo.

Then, she asked, "Who is God?" I told her that he made everyone and all of the animals and everything on Earth. And then she asked what happens when people die. And why, if God could bring Jesus back to life, he can't bring other things back to life. It was at this point that I realized I was in way over my head and told her that it was confusing, even to adults. But that Grandmommy would be more than happy to tell her all about it. I've heard rumblings of last night's discussion throughout the day today. I hope I haven't screwed up her religious beliefs at the ripe old age of 3. I was mostly just really relieved when she stopped asking questions. I have no idea how to explain these things. I can't even explain them all to myself!

Today, she has decided that she wants to do rythmic gymnastics, because, well, they get to not only play with hoops and batons, but they get to THROW the hoops and batons. She was pretty sad to hear that the Olympics are over.

OK another week begins tomorrow. Tragedy of tragedies, we've learned that they have blocked yahoo fantasy sports and facebook so that we can't access them from work. You have no idea how crushed I am. I love surfing the waiver wire and, well, facebook is an addiction. But maybe this will inspire me to work faster so that I can get home sooner. Hopefully I'll have a "happier" work report next time. In the meantime, don't ask.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I survived.

Well, I survived my first day of work. Barely. And not without a few tears. But so long as people stop asking me about my children and everyone else in the general public keeps their children at home so that I don't have to see kids at all, I will be ok. It is kind of a shame that these first 3ish weeks are long hours and almost complete communication deprivation - because it is definitely not easing me in to work full time. But I have a lot of hope that once this "training" is over and I'm actually doing substantive work (next week), I'll find it all a lot more enjoyable.

This is going to be a short entry because I'm exhausted, but I do have two quick stories that I don't want to forget.

First, Charlotte, as I have mentioned before, is a determined little booger. The other day, after we had lunch with Heather, I hear some munching going on in the back seat. I look back and see that she's chewing on her shoe. I'm sure my mother wouldn't be pleased with me, but I decided to let her just keep chewing because, well, I knew that taking it away from her would create a heck of a tantrum. A few minutes later, though, I look back and she's clearly chewing on something and its not her shoe. So I take a look at the shoe in question and she has actually removed a chunk from the toe. I take off the shoe.

Chewing noises continue. I look in the back and she has chewed a hole in her sock and is pulling strings out of it. So I took off the sock. And look back 30 seconds later and she is chewing on her toe. Determined.

And a very short one about Elisabeth. She is well mannered. So well mannered in fact that she even remembers her manners during nightmares. Lately she's been talking in her sleep every few nights. Usually I'm too out of it to know what she's saying, but let's just say the last few nights I have not been sleeping. So last night, she wakes up and hollers something that is mostly just jabber. Then she cries out. And says, "I said NO THANK YOU. I ssaaaaaid NO THAAAAANK YOU!" I had a little chuckle thinking about what she might be dreaming about. What her nightmares are about. My best guess is that it is evil mommy trying to get her to eat something with herbs on it.

So, tomorrow is day 2. I decided at the outset that the only way I can get through this time is to take it a day at a time. Tomorrow will be a day about like today. Lots of lectures, out by 4ish.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

pediatrician, lying, and the winds of change

Little Miss Charlotte had the fabulous experience of going to the pediatrician for her 12 month checkup on Monday. She's still in the 5th percentile for both weight and height, a little peanut. She also got jabbed by 3 needles. She's pretty resilient though, no real effects yet - although I guess its the 7-10 days post shot time frame that causes the fever. She didn't show off any of her tricks for the doctor, though. She was much too busy being absolutely furious with us for bringing her there.

If someone can explain to me why, when we have approximately 42,317 toys in the living room alone, both children need to play with the same exact toy, I'd be forever grateful. It is enough to drive me insane in half of a second. Even if we have two things exactly the same in every appreciable way - they have to both have the same one. I'm torn between refereeing it and letting them sort it out for themselves. On the one hand, Charlotte is much smaller than Elisabeth. But on the other hand is a big fat bite mark.

We've entered into the "lying phase" with Elisabeth. It is tough. "

Me: Did you just jump off of the couch like a Chinese gymnast? (she's about the same age...)
E: No.
Me: Elisabeth, are you lying to me?
E (with coy smile): no.....
Me: I have secret video cameras hidden all around and I can go review the tapes. Now did you jump off of the couch?
E: I don't want to tell you. (translated: yes)
Me: I don't like it when you lie to me. You'll get in less trouble for jumping off of the couch if you tell me the truth than if you lie to me about it. Because, like I said before, I'll find out.
E (head hanging low): I jumped off of the couch.
Me: did you at least stick the landing? Because if you're going to win us a gold medal, you need to start sticking the landings. You know, little children in China don't have enough to eat. Plus, they ship them off to state run training centers so they can win gold medals. Those children stick their landings...

In all seriousness, I have read lots of things on this lying phase. They all, strangely, say not to punish your preschoolers for lying to you at this age because it is natural and because they don't get it. So I've been trying to teach her that lying is bad. We don't like it. Explaining lying to a kid is tough, especially when you're parents who tend to joke around with your kid a lot. The difference between "just kidding" and "lying" is a fine one. But I also think she does understand it, so she loses movie privileges and sometimes dessert (depending on the egregiousness of the crime, I'm in the process of developing sentencing guidelines) for lying to me.

In other news, I start my new job on Monday. I can barely talk about it without getting weepy. But at the same time, I'm very ready for a change. I feel like I've lost my mojo as a stay at home mom, which is perhaps the fault of summer and a lack of a consistent routine. Routine, to me, is critical. So while I'm really looking forward to the job, I'm absolutely ripped up inside about not being home with my girls all the time. But, I think some Daddy time will be good for them. He has fresh legs and a different approach. They can experience something other than a dictatorship for awhile.

On that very happy note, we're off to the mall for my least favorite thing on Earth - panty hose. I hate them with the fire of a thousand suns, but apparently they are a part of formal business attire. Blech. Men should have to wear them.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Elisabeth is uncharacteristically playing by herself with one of Charlotte's birthday presents: the Little People Birthday Set. Here's what I just heard:

"Michael, you can sit wherever you want. No, no, I said wherever. Not whatever. I didn't say ugh... whatever. I said wherever. That's nice. I didn't say (puts on gruff voice) ugh...... whatever!"

And you people thought ugh... forever had gone by the wayside. Not so much!

I love love love it when she plays with the Little People (which is once in a blue moon). Hearing her have conversations with them is priceless. Apparently it is all of the little people's birthdays today, all except for one, who is the visitor. And she has a cupcake. You can hear what she must hear us saying day in and day out. An example:

"Maggie (not dog Maggie, little person Maggie) you have to sleep. It will be hard for you to sleep though because you had two glasses of lemonade. But if you don't go to sleep, no cake for you."

Sometimes I feel like a mean mommy when I hear her doing things like that, but then she'll make me feel better by saying something like: "here's a special treat for you because you're such a good good girl," which I KNOW she hears from me. So her life can't be all commands all the time.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Happy first birthday, Charlotte!

Friday marked Charlotte's first birthday. She, of course, had no idea. But Elisabeth was very excited about it. She became less excited when she realized that a vast majority of the presents were for Charlotte. It was actually a difficult morning for her, hearing us say things like "no, you can't open that, or "no - let Charlotte play with it!"

But, Charlotte thoroughly enjoyed her day, I think. I mean, there's nothing like starting off a morning with a sugar high. When we put the piece of cake in front of her, she looked at us with this look that very clearly said, "and where have you been hiding this for the past year?!?!"

So, at a year old, here's what Charlotte likes, dislikes, the tricks she performs, etc.

Picture on her first birthday:

Favorite food: probably pizza. although, she doesn't turn her nose up at much of anything. Cereal with milk is a big hit too.

Favorite activity: she loves going for walks in the backpack. She also loves sitting on the jogging trampoline and bouncing. She enjoys playing with musical toys and bangs on her new xylophone like it is her job. But, I'm going to have to say that her absolute favorite activity is climbing into the bathtub, especially when she's not supposed to. The silver medal for favorite activity goes to flopping down on pillows stacked up on the floor and then bouncing.

Favorite toy: Discovery House - especially the flushing toilet, which we hear over, and over, and over, and over again. It makes me laugh whenever I hear it.

Words: she says cat, dog, and dada very clearly. Well clearly for her mom and dad. She doesn't say "cat" as clearly and precisely as Elisabeth did. She says "ca ca ca ca ca ca ca ca ca ca ca" over and over when sees the cat and "dogdogdogdogdog" when she sees any dogs. Dada is quite clear and clearly intended for her daddy. Now, she might be saying mama (intended for me), wawa for water - but it is a yell that you might mistake for just hollering, and mack-in for food and in particular mac and cheese. They're all fairly consistent, but we're not quite ready to call them words.

Tricks: she waves, claps, signals when she wants more food or water, and Doug claims she tells him when she wants to be picked up by pulling on the front of her shirt. I believe him, but she doesn't do it to me and I haven't seen it. She communicates that she wants me to pick her up by flinging herself at my feet and yelling. She can go up and down stairs (crawling). She takes one step, but not two. She's also a climber - she is now only 6 inches away from being able to climb up on the couch (as gauged by the highest thing she is capable on climbing up on so far). Luckily she's really short, so we have a bit until she can actually climb on the couch.

I'll have to update with her size statistics tomorrow, as she's going for her one year appointment tomorrow.

Here's a few more birthday pics:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Olympics

In preparation for the Olympics, we've been teaching Elisabeth about races and competitions and, of course, the medal ceremony. So each night, instead of Crazy Dog, she's been doing "Crazy Jumps." She competes against that Lula Lou, who used to cheat and have points deducted for cheating - however Lula Lou seems to have been reformed. Elisabeth is a quick teacher, apparently, and Lula Lou is no longer bad. We are hearing, however, that Maura and Elspeth are villainous. Time will tell. And, Doug tells me that Maura is at least occasionally a dog. Anyway, back to Crazy Jumps.

The set up is sort of like the vault in gymnastics. The runway up to the vault consists of pillows: one bed pillow, one throw pillow, one bed pillow, one throw pillow, then the vault of two couch cushions stacked on top of each other. On the other side of the vault is a circular changing pad (thanks Lindsay!). On the changing pad are five rings of various colors. Elisabeth has to hop, in hopscotch fashion, on each pillow then stand on the couch cushions and bounce. Doug, who does both the play by play and the announcing tells her what she's required to do to get the points. For example, "Elisabeth is coming down the path, she's bouncing on the platform, and ladies and gentlemen, she'll get TWO points if she can land with one leg in the red and one leg in the yellow, can she do it?" Each night it is a close competition between Elisabeth and Lula Lou. Elisabeth always wins, though, and then we sing the national anthem and she receives her gold medal. Well we don't so much sing the national anthem as hum it, and we're required to hum it in different instrument imitations. And at least once the gold medalist has fallen off of the platform while just standing there.

After the medal has been awarded, she takes a very impassioned bow. I think that if we can teach her to curtsey with as much feeling as she bows, we'll be a big hit on the debutante circuit in 13 years or so. Let's face it, we'd be a big hit anyway.

So now, we're all very excited to watch the Olympics. I can't wait to show her gymnastics done by real gymnasts, because my pathetic excuse for a cartwheel is probably doing her a disservice.

Oh, and at noon every day the country station plays the national anthem. Yesterday on our way to Doug's office for the great handoff, it came on. She was pretty excited to find out it has words, and not just hums.

I believe I posted about Charlotte being a big fat pig and eating more than Elisabeth and me combined. We have cleared out a shelf for her in the fridge now. See for yourself.

Monday, August 4, 2008

the newest addition to our crew

Well, you know we have four humans in the house: Elisabeth, Charlotte, Doug and me. Three pets: Maggie (dog), Willy and Silly (cats). What you don't know is that in addition to the mice in the basement, we have three imaginary people living with us. We've come to know Elspeth, Maura, and now Lula Lou. Elspeth and Maura are good kids. They have wild adventures with Elisabeth during the bedtime stories that Doug tells to Elisabeth. They sleep in her bed, they play with her toys, sometimes I even have to buckle them into the car.

But this weekend, Lula Lou joined us. She's a bad apple, that Lula Lou. She lies, cheats and steals. She's always misbehaving, yet Elisabeth loves her. Elisabeth has asked me a few times today if Lula Lou can live with us. She'll live in Elisabeth's room. I don't get quite why she wants her to live with us, since she gets so upset by bad behavior. But she is certainly fascinated with Lula Lou. I suppose it is because Lula Lou does things that Elisabeth would get in trouble for.

The funniest thing, to me at least, is that I cannot discipline Lula Lou. That is solely the province of Elisabeth. I told Lula Lou that I was going ot have to stop reading the story if she kept interrupting, but I got yelled at by Elisabeth because it is Elisabeth's job to quiet her.

The second funniest thing is that Maura, Elspeth and Lula Lou are apparently about the size of mice - when she wants me to say something to them or do something for them, she holds her little hand out like they're in the palm of her hand.

And in Charlotte news - the little bugger bites. She's bit me twice today, once when I dared change her diaper and then when I got her ready for her nap. If she weren't so stinking cute...

Her birthday is this Friday. I can't believe a year has gone by! I plan to do a birthday post for her, and then another post where I can compare the two kids (parenting no no #1), maybe even with videos!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I don't want to tell you

Ah, my new favorite saying. And I don't even get to use it myself. These days, about 50% of the time I ask Elisabeth a question along the lines of "what are you doing?" I get the response, "I don't want to tell you." I'm not sure if she thinks she's doing something wrong, or more likely if she just doesn't want me to bug her if it is something "off label."

So today, she walks over and takes a ballpoint pen off of my side table. I've had many things "decorated" with pens, including my piano music (which nearly made me blow steam out of my ears). So I said, "Elisabeth, what are you going to do with that pen?" "I don't want to tell you," she said. So I told her that she could have the pen if she promised only to use it on blank paper. She looked at me blankly, put the pen back, and walked away.

A minute later she popped up and went to grab a thermometer. She sat down with this gumball machine toy we have. I said, "What are you going to do with that thermometer?" "I don't want to tell you." She stuck the thermometer in a screw hole and I said that it wasn't a screwdriver. Before I could finish the sentence with "so don't use it as a screwdriver and break it..." she turns around, looks at me and says, "DOOOON'T look at me Mommy. Just do whatever you have to do. But don't look at me." And then she went back to using that thermometer as a screwdriver. And you know what? I didn't look. Well, ok, I looked. Doug looked. And we snickered when she wasn't looking. Lesson learned - let the kid use household tools as screwdrivers just as long as she doesn't stick them in outlets. What does it matter if she breaks a thermometer every once in awhile?

Friday, August 1, 2008


I rented Enchanted from Netflix. To say that Elisabeth and I love it would be an understatement. I walk around singing the songs approximately all the time. We watch it daily. We practice our dancing. We re-enact scenes. Apparently I am going to have to purchase this movie or else we'll never be able to get another Netflix movie.

Also, my h key is not working, so please excuse any typos. I think I'm catching most of them though.

Elisabeth, my darling sweet little girl, said something incredible to me this week. We were on our way home from Costco. Coscto is one of our favorite outings. We have lots and lots of fun there. Each time we drive to Costco, we spend the 25 minute drive contemplating what life would be like if we lived there ("Daddy will have to come and visit us at Costco. We'll have quiet time in the place where they sell all of the tvs... do you think they'll play my movies?") So, I am going back to work full time in 2.5 weeks, and Doug will be a stay at home daddy. So I said to Elisabeth, "Elisabeth - when I go to work every day, will you still come to Costco with me on Saturdays?" The answer (verbatim...): "No, mommy, I won't. I like Daddy best and I want to do everything with him and nothing with you." "Nothing" was overly emphasized.

I might have been in a slightly fragile state. There were tears. So now, for the past 3 days, she's gone around saying, "I will go everywhere with you, Mommy. We'll go to Costco! It will be fun!"

I know she's looking forward to Daddy staying home with her. Heck, I'm not sure I blame her. I'm pretty sure if I were given the option, I'd choose him too. I'm glad that the girls will get this chance to bond with their father. But, really, does she have to try and make the transition easy for me by being mean????