Sunday, March 29, 2009

The spray spray.

It is a universal truth that kids love water.  Both of our kids have found endless enjoyment from dragging a chair over to the sink and playing in the running water.  And both of our kids have loved the spray bottle, affectionately known as a "spray spray" in our house.  Doug, being both older and wiser than me, capitalized on Elisabeth's love of the spray spray and gave her a hand towel to go with it.  He set her off to spraying the windows just as long as she'd wipe up after she was done.  You've never seen a kid so happy.  

Fast-forward about a year and now we have Charlotte, who adores the spray spray.  The problem is, she's a second child.  And she's quiet.  Which means that yesterday while I was getting dressed in our room while ostensibly watching Charlotte the clean laundry got spray sprayed.  The pictures laying up against the wall waiting to get hung up got spray sprayed.  The carpet got spray sprayed.  She followed each spray with a delightful squeal.
Then this morning, I told Doug that I was going upstairs to have a bath.  Charlotte heard the words "upstairs" and "bath" and demanded to come with me, and demanded to bring the spray spray.  Now, I might be dumb, but I'm not that dumb.  You're a sitting duck in the tub and I knew I'd spend the entire time getting spray sprayed.  I tried to dissuade her and failed.  So Doug told her the water was all gone and that she would have to come upstairs with me with an empty spray spray.  Well, she figured an empty spray spray was better than no spray spray...

And as I figured, I was indeed a sitting duck.  What is a bath without bath toys?  So I had about 10 of her favorite bath toys flung in my general direction starting with a very hard temperature taking whale that may well have left a bruise.  She dug through the big pink tub of bath toys looking for a suitable friend for me, hold up a rubber duck with a sort of maniacal look in her eye and holler "QUAAAACK!"  I begged her not to throw it, but in it went.  "QUAAAAAACK" again...  No Charlotte, no more toys!  They splash and get stuck behind me and those beaks hurt!!!!  


After pleading with her time and again to stop, she showed me some mercy and decided to try that spray spray and see how empty it was.  Turns out there's always a little more water in a spray spray.  Well, I was not going to sit there and get sprayed with cold water during what was supposed to be my luxuriously hot and relaxing bath.  So... I filled up her spray spray.  And suggested that Willy the cat was hiding somewhere in our room.  Off she went like a bolt of lightning looking for that cat.  I'll never know what happened, but when I came out the cat was happily ensconced  in the middle of our bed and Charlotte was adorably and quietly sitting on the chaise lounge spray spraying.

Now if I could just put some stain remover in the spray spray and set her to scrubbing the stains out of our carpet.  Or perhaps we could get her interested in a new toy - the rolly rolly - and get her to paint our bedroom.  At least the bottom 3 feet.  There are probably a billion outlets for these kids that could be beneficial to us...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Typical Wednesday

Between Charlotte and the cats, I think Fish Prince Charming Charming Charming will be lucky to survive a month.  Today Doug caught little miss Charlotte on a chair that she hauled over to thekit kitchen island.  She was armed with the fish food, right over Fish Prince's bowl.

Today, I called on my way home from a very long day at work.  The long day at work was capped off by a long traffic jam for the first mile of my commute.  The long traffic jam was capped off by an insanely weird camoflage jacket wearing scary guy at the gas station, where I had to stop because I swear my car was sputtering in the traffic jam.  The insanely weird camoflage jacket wearing scary guy was asking to use people's cell phones in between cursing at the pay phone.   If you said no to the phone, he asked for a dollar in change.  My day was not good.  I had no patience for the endless parade of annoying phone calls today.  Anyway, before I go off on a tangent about how some things actually are my problem but a vast majority of clamities in the world or even just calamities that you might experience at the courthouse are not my problem I will go back to the point of this vignette and that is that I called home.  And Doug told Elisabeth to cheer me up.  Elisabeth was very concerned, and her little voice sounded so sweet that the bad of the day melted.

E:  Mommy, what's wrong?
Me:  Oh, I just had a long day at work that wasn't so good.
E:  Did you have FOUR  boxes of work to do?  
Me:  I do actually have four boxes, but mostly Mommy's just grouchy today.
E:  Well, Mommy, just come home!  I promise we'll be good.  We'll behave.  I'll eat my dinner - all of my nuggets even!  And my veggies too!

It was just too cute to pass up, so I did in fact go home.  And........Elisabeth ate a fantastic dinner and truly did behave.  

One part of my day wasn't so bad, though.  I keep my door open at work, and I work in the public hallway at the courthouse.  Needless to say, I get to see some real characters.  It is amazing how many people will just come right in my office and chat with me.  Most of the time this is ok - but sometimes it is unwelcome.  Today, there was a group of about 7 people sitting outside my office.  They were a very happy group - which quite frankly is rare in the courthouse.  People aren't generally happy to be in court.  These people were happy.  They got louder and more boistrous.  Then they began to dance.  Ballroom dancing!  They twisted and twirled.  They critiqued each other.  They choreographed.  They did the hustle.   This went on, every 20 mins or so, throughout the entire day - from 10am until I left at 5:30.  It turns out there was a noncompete case being heard in the courtroom near my office with the plaintiff one Fred Astaire Dance Company and the defendants some former teachers there.  Never a dull moment folks.

Doug took the girls to Dave and Buster's today with his company.  They played "Hit the mole" (which no matter how many times I said whack-a-mole, Elisabeth repeated "Hit the mole").  They also bowled, rode snowmobile simulators, and played skiball.  Seems like Doug got the better end of the day, right?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Weekend of the Dropsies

Yesterday started off innocently enough.  We were expecting a visit from Nana, PopPop and Aunt Jen.  We began with a trip to the grocery store:  it was me, "She Who Hates Grocery Stores With the Fire of a Thousand Suns", and her little sister "She Who Hates Riding in Carts With Her Big Sister More Than Her Big Sister Hates Grocery Stores."  It had the makings of a lovely mommy/daughters outing.  Then we arrived at Safeway only to find out that the TV Carts were broken.  Not to be deterred, I shoved two children complete with coats into a space made for 1.5 children.  About every 30 seconds I heard "She's biting me again!!!" and looked down to see Sharklotte heading towards Elisabeth, leading with her fangs.    

Needless to say, I took my sweet time perusing the veggies convinced that they would sort it out amongst themselves.  I quickly moved on to bribery, though, when we passed the cookies covered with M&Ms in the dessert section.  Bribery definitely works for 4 yr olds, but she wasn't the one in need of bribing.  We picked up the shopping pace and headed towards the checkout.  The biting escalated, and I made a fatal mistake.  I told Elisabeth she could get out of the cart.  Of course, right then and there we had your stereotypical terrible two grocery store meltdown.  Luckily this is kid #2, and these sorts of meltdowns have an edge of humor to them.  Mr. Bob the Checkout Man slipped me some chocolate which made it better.

After I collected the 19 month old up off of the floor (literally face down on the floor in the middle of the store...), we were off to wait for our guests.  Let the weekend of the dropsies begin...

Nana and PopPop were coming bearing a betta fish for Elisabeth as a surprise for her birthday.  Let's just say that during the transfer from travel fishbowl to permanent fishbowl - that betta fish went all Nemo on Nana and is now swimming freely in a pond somewhere (hopefully not the big pond in the sky...).  Who knew that betta fish are notorious for flinging themselves out of their containers??  Well, now you all do should you decide to get a betta.  Nana was terribly saddened over both the loss of the surprise and the poor fishy, so while Elisabeth, Doug, Jen and PopPop headed out for a hike, Nana, Charlotte and I headed to two pet stores in search of a replacement.  Of course Nemo was the perfect betta - blue and yellow!  We couldn't replicate Nemo, but we got a darn good fish.  He has been named Fish Prince Charming Charming Charming and goes to bed with Elisabeth each night (I have struggled with not making a "sleeps with the fishes" joke, but look - I failed)

Shortly after the fish debacle, I made a misstep and shattered half of one of Charlottes beloved stacking dolls.  It shattered into no fewer than 32 pieces.  I was crushed (sort of like a stomped wooden stacking doll) because that is Charlotte's absolute favorite toy.  And not a cheap toy!

So two bad things down, one remains right?  Oh, think again.

Fast forward 20 minutes to lunch.  We got everyone settled in for deli meat sandwiches.  I sat down to eat and Elisabeth said, "Mommy, could I please have more grape juice?"  Happy to reward such a nice way of asking I said of course.  I had that juice in my hands and then something - we're guessing a leprechaun - knocked it up and out and onto the floor where the top broke into 4 pieces and grape juice went everywhere.  We're talking a 4 foot radius.  It was the sort of fall that you swear takes 30 seconds to happen.  I can see the disaster as its about to happen, yet I can't fix it.  The saving grace is that it was white grape juice.  So Doug and I got on the floor and scrubbed.  Keep this in mind.

We successfully made it about 5 hours until the next "oops" which happened when Nana went to put some leftover chicken kebabs in the fridge.  (As an aside, I tried to replicate the kabob e joojeh from our favorite Rose Restaurant.  I used some variation of this recipe and Doug said it turned out really good.)  As I'm sure you can gather, that chicken also ended up pulling a Nemo.  But luckily it almost all ended up on the inside of the fridge.  But even that that ended up on the floor was deemed edible by me, since - hey - Doug and I had just cleaned that part of the floor.

So we have Nemo, the stacking doll, grape juice, and chicken.  Bad things happen in threes?  Try fives.  Today, Charlotte wanted orange juice.  I'm sure you can see where this is going.  But - I successfully navigated getting the orange juice out of the fridge and into a sippy cup.  I even got the OJ back into the fridge and got the sippy cup in Charlotte's hot little hands.  It was at this point that I turned around to grab my Coke and hear the sound of something pouring on the ground.  Although I got the OJ into the sippy cup I, apparently, failed at properly closing the sippy cup and out came the Fantastik and towels to clean yet another large swath of our floor.  At this point we figure we've covered about 50% of our kitchen floor and that means we've gotten a big chunk of our spring cleaning out of the way.

So if bad things happen in 3s, I guess we have one more coming.  Any guesses??

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More Grand Treehouse Plans

On the way to school today, Elisabeth said, "Mommy, can I have some tools for Christmas?"  I said sure (thinking she meant a kid set).  Then she proceeded to tell me some of her additional plans.

E:  I'm going to use the saw to cut the wood.  
Me:  Oh, you're going to build this treehouse yourself?
E:  Yep.
Me:  Do you know how to build a treehouse?
E:  Yep.  I saw it on George (Curious George). 
E:  But mine is going to be a castle.  A castle treehouse. 
Me:  But aren't you going to miss me?  I'm going to miss you when you live up therer.
E:  Nope.
Me:  Really?
E:  Nope.  I'll have Maura and Elspeth with me.  (Her imaginary friends).  And I'll have my movies.
Me:  Well, I'll really miss you.
E:  Well, Mommy, you can come live in my treehouse too.
Me:  Really??
E:  Yes.  But.....  You'll have to dress fancier.  In my house, everything is pretty.  And everyone dresses fancy.  So if you want to live there, you have to dress fancy.
Me:  What, exactly, does dressing fancy mean?
E:  You have to wear a dress every day.  A pretty dress.
Me:  But you don't wear dresses!
E:  In my house I will.

So, she's building her own house yet we're still expected to bring her food.  Via a pulley system she's devised.  She told Doug today that we need to holler out the window when it is quiet time, lunch time, and dinner time (so that she knows and doesn't miss them).    I'm allowed to live in her treehouse, but I really need to step up my game.  No more of this slumming around.  High heels and tiaras all around.  No thanks, I'll keep my bluejeans and la-z-boy recliner...

Yesterday she was acting up so much that I suggested the timeframe for the treehouse was a little farther out than worked for me, and that maybe she'd like to pretend her bedroom was a treehouse.  She didn't buy that idea.  My mom suggested putting her to bed on the porch one night and seeing how long she lasted...

Also on the way to preschool today, I saw an SUV that was marked as something like "Jenny's Clutter Busting."  I wondered if she had some sort of GPS/divining rod system for finding cluttered houses.  I expect she'll be arriving at our house sometime tomorrow.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Age 4: Terrible Twos, Back with a Vengeance

The two year old Elisabeth was tough.  Very tough.  Many timeouts and a lot of frustration.  Then she turned three, and things got a lot better.  We would go days without a timeout.  And then.... she turned four.  Four is awful.  Tonight she actually flung herself on the floor and kicked and flung her arms.  Why, you might ask?  Because bed time is "no fun."  You can't "play and play and play."  This sort of thing has become a daily occurrence, if not more than daily.  

What's funny about it, though, is that it appears to be solely a control thing.  She's not really that upset over whatever sets her off.  But once we start hollering at her, she has to dig in her heels.  The end result is that we have a lot of knock down, drag out fights over things as important as whether she stands at the top of the stairs or the base of the stairs to tell me that it is my turn to read her stories before bed.  Or whether or not we're going to the bird store after lunch.  Or whether or not we can throw another stone in the creek.  I refuse to give in because I don't want to teach her that yelling and pitching a fit gets me to change my mind.  In turn, she refuses to give in on principle - to have some control over her little life.

Her most recent coping mechanism is interesting.  She has a dream of creating a tree house in the back yard, where she'll live full time.  On her own rules.  She'll "play, play, play all the time."  She expects us to bring her food.   She's taking her DVDs up there.  Doug reminded her that she'd freeze up there because tree houses don't have heat, electricity, water, a potty, etc.  The lack of a potty was welcome news because getting that kid to use the potty is another post in and of itself.  But in response to the lack of other modern conveniences, she said, "oh, no, my treehouse will have it all."  She better start saving her allowance!

I think its funny that she's dreaming about moving out at the ripe old age of 4.  I have dreams of sending her to live in a treehouse sometimes too.  Maybe she won't have to save up all that much allowance if she keeps throwing fits every day...

Did I mention that this revenge of the terrible twos comes at the exact same time as Charlotte is really blossoming into her own terrible two?  Oh my dear sweet little Charlotte has become my dear sweet little Charlotte and her evil other personality Hyde.  Every step is a fight, unless, of course, you choose to do everything her way and then she's as lovable and cute as you can imagine.  But try to wrestle clothes on her at your own risk.  Give her the purple bowl instead of the blue bowl and you better get a head start on running away.  And if you think she's going to eat that pizza that you just put down, well DUCK!  

Yesterday I picked her up to carry her on our walk and took a boot to the face.  Two days ago, she bit Elisabeth and we put her in a timeout.  Then, I talked to her about biting and asked her to apologize to Elisabeth with a "pat pat."  She refused and had a sort of "well, she deserved it," air about her which Doug and I told her wouldn't fly.  So she put herself back in timeout with the classic little kid lower lip stuck out pout.  Oh, and as soon as Elisabeth tries to get in the tub (Charlotte is already in the tub), Charlotte scoots to whatever end Elisabeth is trying to get in.  And then a major fight ensues which ends in either (1) a biting, (2) slapping, (3) pushing, (4) one kid getting out of the tub, or (5) both kids in tears.  

Who thinks this resurgence of the terrible twos was caused by Charlotte's entry to the terrible twos?  Or who thinks that Elisabeth is teaching Charlotte all of her tricks?  And can they both live in the treehouse??

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The effect of working full time on blogging

It turns out that I am at a loss for interesting and/or funny kid stories since I don't get to spend much time with my kids during the week.  No Costco trips, no disastrous mornings in which Elisabeth refuses to get dressed, no lunch outings, no trips to the zoo.  I get home and pretty much go straight to the dinner table.  Then its bed/bath time which quite frankly is often just hectic and stressful.  So I can blog about (1) funny things said at dinner, (2) funny games played before the bath, (3) the nightly battle of which kid gets to sit in the "front" of the bathtub, or (4) night time prayers.    And I think I've covered almost all of those.

But that won't stop me.  I guess each night is the chance for new and interesting stories.  Such as this one - yesterday was fire safety day at school.  Elisabeth came home with a cardboard fireman hat and told us about about what they learned.  Not wanting to miss a chance to bolster our "Parents of the Year" resume, we decided to give her a little test.

Me:  Elisabeth, what happens if there is a fire?

Elisabeth (looking at me like I might be intelligence-challenged):  Uh... things get really hot?

Me:  No no, what would you do if the house was on fire?

Elisabeth:  Oh!  I would stop, drop, and roll.

(Elisabeth gets on the floor and demonstrates)

(Charlotte begins attempting to blow out the pretend fire on Elisabeth)

Me:  Well, actually you only stop, drop, and roll if you're on fire.

(imagine the throngs of students who have had "stop, drop, and roll" permanently implanted into their brains - they hear a fire alarm and hit the dirt - we had great fun laughing about this last night.)

We set the record straight and even decided on a meeting place in case our house ever actually is on fire.  We talked about feeling the door to see if its hot before opening it, and we talked about crawling through smokey hallways.  Fabulous conversations to have shortly before bed, but I suppose conversations that need to be had.

We're expecting our parenting award in the mail any day now.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sleep positions

You know what I love most about having kids?  When they come in and sleep in your room in the middle of the night.  They're so angelic looking, sleeping peacefully next to you.  It makes you remember how special it is to be a parent - the miracle of life.  That this perfect creature, so full of life, was born of my womb.  

And then... they kick you in the head.  And sleep sideways.  With their feet pressing against your skull.  And you're left with the option of (1) waking the sleeping beast who might not ever go back to sleep, (2) going to sleep elsewhere, or (3) just sucking it up and dealing.  

I chose option 3 last night after an unfortunate pull-up incident.  Really, is sleeping exactly perpendicular to the people next to you necessary?  Apparently so, if you're 4.  This is even better on a "spring forward" night when you have to go to work the next morning.

Notably, I don't think Charlotte has ever slept in a bed with us.  Not even when she was tiny.  She's always been a "don't touch me" type while she's sleeping.   If you try to rock her before bed, she tolerates it for 30 seconds and then pushes you away and points to her crib.  This is not terrible, because it rarely puts me in the position to have to choose option 3.  But at the same time, those cuddles are nice in a non-perpendicular sleeping arrangement.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Puppy Prayers

We're getting a new puppy on Easter Sunday.  Another lab, a female.  We get first pick.  There are two black puppies and one yellow puppy.  I typed a version of this story for the people who are currently parenting our little pup and thought it would make a good blog post.

Elisabeth saw pictures of the puppies a few days ago and immediately honed in on the yellow one, because blue and yellow are her "favorite favorite" colors.  As evidence, I'd offer you her wardrobe.  If I buy her something that isn't blue and/or yellow, I get grumped at.  Since she saw the pictures (and realized the possibility of a yellow dog), she has been begging for the yellow puppy.  Each time I explain to her that we want the puppy that would fit best in our household - the nicest puppy for us regardless of whether that is a black puppy or the yellow puppy.  She seems to understand each time.   She has chosen to appeal to higher powers.  At bedtime each night, we say our prayers.  The past few nights, Elisabeth's prayers have consisted of (among other things) "Dear God, please help the yellow puppy to be nice," "Dear God, please help the yellow puppy get along with Maggie," and tonight's -  "Dear God, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease let us pick the yellow puppy."

How do we now go about picking a black puppy if that is the one we should pick???  Clearly her appeal has worked.  

Monday, March 2, 2009

Elisabeth funnies from the past few days

Yesterday morning we woke up to a thin layer of snow.  Elisabeth was thrilled.  She came running into the room and said:

"Mommy, Daddy - you've gotta seeee this.  There's snow out there!  We can build a snow fort and make snow angels and go sledding and have snowball fights!  All of us.  We'll get on all of our clothes and sweaters.  Come on mommy!  Come on!  Let's DO this.  Let's DO this.  Let's DO THIS!"

The "let's do this" part was combined with fist pumps.

Has she been watching sporting events that we don't know about?  I think we almost got the NFL butt pat when we got out of bed.  Also, don't you wish that you had this kind of energy at 6:45am?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tonight, Elisabeth decided to play a game called hotel before her bath.  She showed us each to our rooms and then brought us "room service."  She took our orders and generally tried to attend to all of our needs.  Doug told her that before she entered the room, she should say "room service!"  So, she'd say "room service," and then bring us fake food.

Eventually she said "room service," at Doug's "room" and went in.  And said, "scoot over, room service."  She got under his blanket with him.  This was the first sign that this is not your ordinary hotel.  The second sign that this is not your average hotel is that she soon thereafter began ordering us around.  This is, however, indicative of a hotel run by Elisabeth.  Her hotel would have no relaxing activities and a constant jabber - maybe ElisabethTV on infinite repeat, a la Mike Saylor on Cruises 98 and 99 on every TV in every room at increasing volumes.  There would be no quiet massages or lazing by the pool, those activities would be strictly banned at Hotel Elisabeth.  So after cuddling with the hotel guest, she commanded, "Room services, you have to come over here and see the garden light glowing!"  It was then that I realized that she thought that meant she should call us "room service".

The third and final sign that this was not an ordinary hotel was when Doug called for room service and said that he needed some company (I noted that this is not what we want to teach our children to call room service for...).  The response?  She brought us each a pretend monkey to keep us company.  Doug's monkey was a loud monkey, though, and would keep him up at night.    Room service was wholly unsympathetic.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of signs, we have a few more signs of spring that Elisabeth shared with us today.  In addition to crocuses, red winged blackbirds, and bugs we have (1) skunk cabbage in the flood plain, (2) bluebirds and (3) goldfinches.  I felt a little bit sad telling Elisabeth that numbers two and three stay for the entire winter, but she seemed fine and clung to skunk cabbage as her next contribution to spring's (imminent?) arrival.

And if you don't know what skunk cabbage is, here's a link for your learning pleasure: