Monday, November 24, 2008

Parenting Strategies that Eventually Come Back to Haunt You

One of our neighbor's kids fell off of the couch about 18 months ago and broke her arm. She is about 6 months older than Elisabeth. We capitalized on this and used it as a way to keep Elisabeth from being crazy on the sofa. It worked, for the most part, and even today she'll explain to you exactly why she's not allowed to act crazy on the sofa.

Just like Pavlov's dog, this positive reinforcement led us to use this technique again. Elisabeth has a bad habit of standing up in the bay window and banging into it with her entire body. It just looks dangerous, I have no idea if the window would actually break or not. But we told her that one time, Sarah (the little girl who broke her arm's sister) was doing something exactly like that in her bay window and the window broke and she fell in the bush! For added effect, we told her that in the bush was a big, huge snake.

We haven't employed this technique in other situations because, well, the snake story didn't resonate with her. She still bangs into the window, driving me nuts.

But, yesterday, Anna (the little girl who started this whole thing by breaking her arm) was over here playing with Elisabeth. I guess we've hit the point where we can't expect the things we say to remain private because she asked Anna about the story in great detail. Anna, of course, knew nothing. I would love to know whether Anna related the story to her parents over dinner...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend kid funnies

The new pre-bedtime game is re-enacting fairy tales. Last night, we had to re-enact Little Red Riding Hood. Doug was the Big Bad Wolf, I was the grandmother and Elisabeth was Little Red Riding Hood. When we got to the part where the Big Bad Wolf eats the grandmother, Doug made some chomping motions. And boy did he ever get in trouble for that. "DADDY! You're doing it wrong! Daddy!!!!! That's not right!!!" Doug, a bit perplexed, said "but the wolf eats the grandmother!" And Elisabeth said, "he eats her but he doesn't chew her - he swallows her whole! You were chewing!"

And, for the fairy tale illiterate amongst you, she's right. That way, the huntsman can hack the wolf all to pieces and get the grandmother out whole.


After Little Red Riding Hood, we played Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Elisabeth finally found the bed that was "just right." It was the step down from our tub, and she laid there peacefully. Charlotte's new favorite game is do anything at all that Elisabeth does, so Charlotte climbed up and laid down up there too.

While not the funniest story, it was easily the cutest thing we've seen Charlotte do in the "I want to be like Elisabeth" genre.


Charlotte might not survive the next few months. Aside from throwing food and driving me insane, she is turning into kamikazi baby. She climbs up onto the couch, stands up, and quite literally flings herself headfirst onto the cushions. I have been there a few times to catch her when she "misjudges" the depth of the couch.

She also enjoys climbing up on chairs, and by climbing up I mean stand up on the chair and then shinny up the back of the chair so that she's teetering precariously at the very top of the chair, which is now very off balance.

And heaven help the fool who tries to take her down. First, she's freakishly strong and has learned to wrap all of her limbs around whatever it is she doesn't want to be removed from. Second, she bites. Third, she can pitch one heck of a temper tantrum. In general, she really wants to do whatever she wants to do. No matter how dangerous that thing might be.

How do you keep a 15 month old from climbing on the sofa? We tried taking the cushions off. She just uses them as steps to get onto the couch skeleton. I could shackle her ankles to the floor, but she's the kind of kid who might just chew her foot off.

We're expecting her to realize she can use the toys in her crib as steps any day now. Probably when we're at my parents house for Thanksgiving, because their crib is ever so slightly shallower than ours.


Saturday, November 22, 2008


In discussing our upcoming December activities, we realized that Elisabeth was going to miss 2 gym classes. We talked about how we'd have to schedule 2 make-up classes.

This delighted Elisabeth.

"I get to wear make-up???? And they teach classes about make-up????"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Cabinet posts

As President Elect Obama names people to cabinet positions, I'd like to nominate Elisabeth for Trash Inspector General. You can't get anything by that kid.

A few days ago, Doug tried to trash the toy that the dentist gave her for behaving. It was a cardboard cutout elephant with a little stand and 4 rings. You tried to toss the rings around the elephant's nose. Sounds cute enough, but if you don't get rid of these sorts of thing on a regular basis, you'll end up having to get extracted from your home by the police, as though you were a hoarder. So, Doug tried to save us from this fate by putting the elephant in the trash. He tried to bury it, but apparently failed. Elisabeth went to throw away a candy wrapper and was taken aback by the horror she saw - the elephant in the trash! "Daddy! I wan't to KEEP the elephant! Why did you throw it away???"

Two days later, the cleaning lady came. After she left, Elisabeth said, "Daddy! Mercedes threw away some of my play money." When asked how she knew this, she replied, "I saw it in the trash bag that she took outside." So Doug, being a much better father than I will ever be a mother, dug through the trash and sure enough found a fake $20 in a bag that had been thrown out. As an aside, we suspect that Charlotte is the culprit who threw the $20 in the trash, she loves to throw things away. Luckily we don't worry about it too much, obviously Elisabeth will catch anything that makes its way into the trash can mistakenly. Or purposely, as the case may be.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The latest Little People game

I work for a judge. On Fridays I sit with her in court. My job on Fridays is largely just to hand her the files we've spent the entire week preparing - researching, etc. and then process the resulting orders. We typically see 25-35 cases on a Friday morning. We have a deputy who is up there with us too. It is very formal, "All rise. Court is now in session, the Honorable Judge X presiding." I skeddadle in just behind the judge and try not to create a scene as I dodge boxes on the way to my chair. And I sit there trying not to do stupid things. One time my shirt fell down, under my suit, which I'm hoping fills my quota of stupid things for the year.

Elisabeth has come to work twice now, each time we've walked through the entrance that is also the entrance to the jail. As I mentioned before, the idea of jail fascinates her. Why are they in there? Do they get out? What do they do in there? Will they die there?

Well, last time she was there, Elisabeth got to meet my judge. She was apparently quite impressed. Ever since then, she's been holding court in the bathtub with a selection of Little People and other figurines (Dora, Diego, and several Backyardigans). Somehow, the character chosen to play my judge was Angel (the angel from the Little People Nativity Set). A koala bear (named "Panda") plays me. And the deputy is played by Blue of Blue's Clues fame.

Earlier in the week, mean old Judge Angel sentenced Dora, Diego and all of the Backyardigans to long prison sentences. Diego's sentence was the longest, at 5 days. And she kept those felons behind bars until their sentence was up - no early parol on her watch. Diego got out yesterday.

After Diego got out, Elisabeth asked Doug what someone could do that was really bad. Doug replied that hurting someone is really bad; if one person hurt another with a gun, that would be really bad. Well, friends, Pablo the Backyardigan shot Boots the Monkey. Pablo had to stand trial in front of Judge Angel. The Judge began the proceedings with a proper "Bring in the Defendant!" She then questioned the Defendant. "State your full name." And, do you know what Pablo's full name is? Pablo A. Cavatica GHXFTS Backyardigan. After a full and fair trial on the merits, Pablo is in jail for a week (Doug the Defender talked her down from a year).

It was a heavy docket day for Judge Angel. After the Pablo trial, she had to listen to a robbery trial. Diego stole Tyrone the Backyardigan's duck. Dora witnessed the whole thing and had to testify. For some unknown reason, testifying caused Dora to start bleeding. Instead of taking her to the hospital, Elisabeth said she'd just take her to the judge who has magic, healing bandaids. The Judge found Diego guilty of larceny, and he has been sentenced - although no one seems to remember how many days he go. I guess now we all know how and why the court file was invented.

I'll be sure to update you with any breaking news in the Fisher Price, Noggin Character world. I'm beginning to think we might have a gang problem.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wild Kingdom

We live in suburbia, but back up to parkland. The parkland provides us with any number of wild animals. We've got foxes, snakes, deer, idiots hunting deer, squirrels, a zillion types of birds, beavers, and many many more. A few weeks ago, I saw two bucks sparring in our neighbor's front yard, pretty neat to watch. Just this morning, a fox trotted through our front yard. We have some enormous foxes.

I enjoy feeding the birds. As part of our Wild Kingdom, sometimes my bird feeding creates a feeding ground for hawks. The hawks swoop on birds about 3 feet in front of our living room window, providing for some interesting entertainment - especially when guests are over. Some of you might remember the war on squirrels that I was previously engaged in. I eventually won, if you consider removing half of my bird feeders and spending $70 on a new squirrel proof one winning. As with the war on terror, if you don't eradicate every last one of them, they apparently get stronger. And bigger.

Tonight as we were frantically making playdough when we remembered we were on the hook for a double batch of yellow playdoug tomorrow, Doug said, "what is that noise?" as we heard what sounded like Maggie and some friends tearing around on the deck. Maggie was asleep at my feet, so the noise was extra curious. We turned off all of the lights and peeked out onto the deck to find the cutest little raccoon head you've ever seen looking back at us. I quickly realized that my new $70 feeder was missing and suddenly the raccoon head looked more like a coonskin cap. Being the brave woman I am (need I remind you about the mouse?), I sent Doug out to retrieve my bird feeder from wherever the varmit took it.

As Doug opened the door from the porch to the deck, we heard an entire pack of raccoons - a nursery or a gaze according to Wikipedia - scurry off of the deck and into the woods (there were at least three, which to me constitutes a pack, nursery, gaze or all of the above). Our deck is two stories off of the ground, so they had a long way down and then they tore across the backyard as though their very lives depended on it.

I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know that the missing feeder was recovered mere inches from the scene of the crime. It had gotten stuck in the deck so the (adorable) wretched little beasts weren't able to haul it off. I'm almost sad to pull the feeders in each night because it means we won't get any more raccoon visitors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Don't Forget the Lyrics - Preschool Edition

Elisabeth is very into singing these days, and the way she mangles lyrics provides us with some hearty laughs. Today's winners:

Oats bee bee an arley grow, Oats bee bee an arley grow, Mommy, how does the rest of it go? Oh right, Do you, or I, or anyone know how oats bee bee an arley grow?

You're..... a..... jimmy rat corn and I don't care, jimmy rat corn and I don't care, jimmy rat corn and I don't care, my master's gone away.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Doug once said that he was dreading the day that a balloon of Elisabeth's popped. She loves balloons. And whenever something happens to a kid's balloon, it is a tragic event. Well... yesterday something happened to Elisabeth's balloon. We went to a birthday party for a kid in her class. They gave each kid a helium balloon, in the color of their choice. She chose blue, predictably. I tied it to her wrist like the good mother I am.

We then went to Costco, where I insisted that she let me untie it (foreshadowing alert!!!). We left the balloon in the car and did our shopping. We piled back into the car and came home. I said, as we exited the car, "Elisabeth, go straight inside. Do NOT let go of your balloon. Don't go out in the driveway. Just go inside." (see how good I am at reinforcement?) And, as you can all guess... she went outside. It was just too exciting, the neighbors showed up with their new dog Jack. Doug and Charlotte came outside too. In all of the excitement, the balloon got released.

I have never, and I mean never, seen Elisabeth react so strongly to something, including last weekend when I scared the bejeezus out of her for picking up a dead mouse. The wailing was Oscar worthy. Charlotte, who is apparently the most sympathetic kid ever, burst into tears immediately upon Elisabeth's outburst. So there we stood in our driveway, Doug holding a sobbing Charlotte and me holding a sobbing Elisabeth. Neighbors all looked up to see what in the world we had done to our kids.

I tried to get Elisabeth to see how cool the balloon looked way up in the sky, as high as the airplanes. She did not appreciate the magnificence. We tried to just calm her down and hug her. No luck. So I pulled out the big guns. "Elisabeth, I bought you a Christmas present. I'll give it to you now if you'll stop crying..." "NO Mommy!!! Don't give me my Christmas present now!" This is when I knew we were really in trouble.

All that I had left in my bag of tricks was a promise to go out and find her another blue balloon on Sunday. She said that was ok, and we went inside where she continued to cry, on and off, for about an hour. Our neighbors' kids, who are two of the sweetest kids on earth, witnessed the meltdown and snuck over with a yellow helium balloon left over from a birthday party the day before and left it on our front doorstep. Elisabeth was grateful for another balloon but kept on crying and saying pathetic things. "I miss my balloon." "Can we go look for my balloon?" "Mommy, why did you let my balloon fly away? I was trying to give it to you."

True to my word (and since she asked me about it 15 times), I set out today to find her a blue balloon. At the grocery store, which would be our only stop, all they had were mylar balloons. But for $3.99, it was worth not having to drive around aimlessly looking for a place that was both open on Sunday and sold regular balloons. I had one of these fancy "TV carts" that Safeway now offers. They are a smaller shopping cart with a car in the front for kids to sit in. In the car is a tv screen that shows episodes of things like Bob the Builder. Charlotte and Elisabeth got in. 5 seconds later, Charlotte got out through the front window - despite being buckled in. The kid is Houdini. I put her back in. She got back out. After 3 more attempts, I finally said "forget it" and threw her in the back with the food. She proceeded to climb out of the cart and nearly kill herself a few times. So I tried to carry her and push a very heavy cart (those TV carts are not nimble little sporty things). This did not go well for many reasons, not the least of which is Charlotte's habit of going limp in an effort to make you put her down.

So, I picked out a mylar balloon and let Charlotte hold it, in the back of the cart, while I pushed. She spent the next 7 aisles beating me senseless with the balloon while hollering and making aggressive sounding grunting noises. The nice little old lady behind me in line, witnessing the abuse, said, "my, she's a rugged little thing, isn't she? Ready for anything..."

And then she followed that up with, "but her sister is so nice and quiet..." Lady, if you only knew....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Funny Elisabeth-isms

Just some recent Elisabeth funnies:

When she brushes her teeth, she doesn't use water to rinse. She takes a dry washcloth and wipes out the inside of her mouth.

Yesterday, she asked for chocolate turtlenecks for dessert (she wanted turtles - those chocolate, walnut, caramel blobs of goodness).

At breakfast, she asked us what manure is. And then after we told her, proceeded to list all the different possible types of manure, a la Bubba from Forest Gump. We were stumped on whether there could be such a thing as ostrich manure, but in the end we decided that there could be.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

job funny

I don't think I can give you the specifics without getting into trouble, but here is an overview of my favorite phone conversation from my new job.

"Sir, sir.... you're going to have to turn down Lynyrd Skynyrd while you tell me about how your daddy died while you were in prison thereby screwing you out of some money, and how exactly this is my fault. I just can't hear you over Sweet Home Alabama."

On why I am not an outdoors-woman

We went for a long walk this morning: our neighbor Jean, her dog Georgia, Elisabeth, Maggie and me. We walked through neighborhoods, to a tennis court. Then we walked on the cross-county trail back to our neighborhood. This trail is paved and winds through wooded areas, next to a stream.

As we walked, Elisabeth picked up trash. She has an eagle eye. As you'll remember, we have cats. They LOVE to play with toy mice. Elisabeth said, "Jean! Look what I found!" She was bent down picking up ------- a dead mouse. I might have screamed "OH MY GOD ITS A DEAD MOUSE" like a pre-teen girl. I know that I scared the daylights out of poor little Elisabeth who immediately dropped the mouse and burst into tears. I tried to comfort her, but she was really upset. I explained that we can't pick up dead mice because they have germs. And that she'd need to refrain from touching her face until we got home and could wash her hands. She told me, between boo-hoos that she thought it was a toy mouse. And then we set off on our way home. Elisabeth still crying. Me apologizing profusely for scaring her. Elisabeth walking with her little arms at 45 degree angles from her body, so that the germs wouldn't get on her clothes. She walked the entire way home like that. Except for when she was so distraught that she couldn't climb the huge steep hill up to our neighborhood and made me give her a piggy back ride.

I even tried explaining that the germs couldn't be that bad because our cats kill and eat mice and they're still alive. She didn't buy it. She thought she had some sort of horribly caustic substance eating away at her flesh. And it was passable between people. She was plagued, in her mind.

After we got home and washed up, she was still feeling melancholy. So I gave her some crackers and let her relax on the couch for awhile. About 45 minutes later, she came to me with her palms up and asked what these little red dots were. She had fallen down on the pavement yesterday, which I think caused the little dots, but I'm pretty sure she thought the end was near.

As much as I overreacted to the dead mouse, I'm pretty sure the Academy will be sending Elisabeth an award for her performance today. I think there's a very good chance that the entire overreaction was staged as a way to get out of going with us to the grocery store (and it worked).