Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I've been a long time gone...

Wow, it has been over a week since I posted!! Shame on me. We've just been terribly terribly busy - not to mention sick. I'm not sure that I even have much to say right now, but that hasn't stopped me yet now, has it?

Let's see - oh another thing about NYC. You spend all this time teaching your kids not to cross the street when the red hand is up, only when the white walking guy is showing. Then you take them to NYC and all bets are off.

E: "MOMMY! We can't walk now!"
Me: "Shut up and walk kid - the guy behind us is about to bowl us over!"

We also spend a good deal of time listening to They Might Be Giants sing "Don't cross the street in the middle in the middle in the middle in the middle of the block block block." Again, NYC screws it all up. At least we used "our eyes to look out, use your ears to hear."

Charlotte has hit an unfortunate (for me) phase. She can repeat what you say with great clarity. This past weekend, we went to visit Gram. We all sleep in the same room, which typically works out fine because everyone tends to wake up at the same time. But Elisabeth had gone to bed late and was battling a cold, so when Charlotte declared "done nap Mommy!" I wanted to get her out of there quickly before she woke everyone up. My dear, dear little Charlotte has no concept of quiet - she only knows loud, louder, and blaring. She started out with "done nap Mommy" at a loud volume, at around 6:40am. I got up and began searching for my shoes because, well, I'd have to let Ginny out and then guard the koi pond to keep her from using it as a lap pool. This required shoes.

Of course at 6:45 am when I have not slept very well (due to a 75 pound labrador retriever with a paw in my face), finding my shoes under a pile of junk is not easy. It gets harder when a nearly 2 yr old is yelling cute phrases and just being generally difficult. So I shhshhed her. Which, as I'm sure you can guess, made her upgrade from loud to louder. I pleaded for quiet. I sshhshhhed some more. Louder bordered on blaring and so I said..... "SHUT UP Charlotte! People are sleeping! I am trying to find shoes!" To which she loudly and clearly replied: "NO SHUT UP."

Even worse? Doug wasn't sleeping and I was caught red handed.

Luckily we haven't heard the words resurface. Can you imagine the glares you'd get from people in stores if your otherwise adorable 2 yr old said "SHUT UP?"

As an aside, I'm pretty sure my new least favorite words are "done nap Mommy."

Monday, July 20, 2009

More NYC

We're finally home from our super fun New York excursion. I pretty much mastered the subway, but I'll tell you - as the temperature outside goes up, the enjoyability of taking the 6 train decreases exponentially.

A few weeks ago, I played Wii Fit at my sister's house. I hadn't ever played before and I was pretty sure I'd get on the balance board and it would say "wow, you're as fit as a 25 yr old woman!" What I did not expect it to tell me was that I have terrible balance. In fact, I was certain that it was wrong. In the intervening few weeks, however, I have learned that it may well be true. New York City helped me come to this realization, with its craggly angled sidewalks. Let's just say I didn't scrape my knees or elbows or anything, but my ankles and hips are really sore from a few trips. Fantastic. Way not to draw attention to yourself!

We had a lovely time with the girls in the big City. Elisabeth enjoyed the multitude of playgrounds immensely. She climbed, swung, spun, ran, jumped and monkey-barred. She's a hardened New Yorker, though, at the ripe old age of 4. We went to this one playground where there were just two other kids. One was a little girl, probably six or so. She and Elisabeth ended up at the top of a big slide and the little girl very nicely said "You can go first." Elisabeth was thrilled and hollered down to me "MOMMY! She said I can go first!" I asked if she said thank you (which she had) and Elisabeth slid down. The other little girl then slid down and walked up to Elisabeth and said "Do you want to be friends?" I didn't hear Elisabeth respond, so I said "Elisabeth, that was very nice - she asked you if you want to be friends! You should answer her." So Elisabeth said, "I did, Mommy. I said 'no thank you."

I was mortified. The little girl's parents looked at me with disgust. So I said "Elisabeth, that wasn't a very nice thing to say." And Elisabeth looked at me, perplexed, and said "why, Mommy? I said no thank you." I called her over to me and tried to explain, but then decided that I shouldn't make her be friends with someone. So instead I convinced her to come with me to another playground. Oh the shame.

Our New York time let us take the girls on all sorts of public transport. Bus, subway, taxi - I think that's it. Mostly, though, bus and subway. We took a taxi over to my friend Ed's house for a barbeque. Alex showed Elisabeth how to hail a cab. Wow, did that cab ride ever make me (and Doug) motion sick! The girls loved it, though. Elisabeth played with the tv in the cab that had a big map on it. Charlotte hollered "look, look, tacky (taxi), tacky!" After that motion sickness experience, we took the subway back. Astor Place station was closed, so we had to take the train 5 blocks further north and walk back. This was after a very long day - Central Park Zoo, a picnic in Central Park, then a barbeque. The walk was pretty hard on all of us. However, it was Little Miss Charlotte who seemed to take it the hardest - she had missed her nap. She whined a bit while riding in the backpack. Then we looked back and she had her arm out yelling "tacky! tacky!" I felt her pain, I wanted to hail a cab too at that point...

Here's a picture of girls piled on Mommy on the R train.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

In New York...

So here I am in NYC. I've been here since Sunday, and the kids and Doug and the dogs joined me yesterday. I'm here for some estate planning classes. This class starts at 8 (!!!) and ends at either 6 or 6:30 each day. That is a serious CLE (Continuing Legal Education). Luckily they have wireless internet, so I can have a bit of a distraction when the gunners are asking their annoying questions. Yesterday I learned that unless your estate is above $7M, estate planners consider you to be "middle class." I also learned that the tax code is ridiculously complex and you could go to school for many years and not understand half of this stuff. I further learned that I should get pretty high malpractice insurance...

I used to hate this city. My blood pressure would rise as soon as we got within sight of one of the tunnels. I have to say that after being here for a few days, I can see the attraction. Every day I see something new, even though I traverse the exact same path. Walking around, Doug and I were both struck by how different each restaurant is from other restaurants. How different each store is. How dark and dreary apartment doors look (the grungy street level ones that you buzz up) but how they probably open up to gorgeous apartments. If you then add the crazy people on top of the interesting buildings, you could walk around in wonder all the time.

I did almost get runover by a nasty nasty woman on a bike within 15 minutes of my train arriving on Sunday. The cab stopped in the middle of the road (well to the right of the bike lane, but in the far left lane). I opened the door, got out, got my bags out and LOOKED to see if any bikes were coming and then crossed the street. She had apparently jagged to her left to avoid something and I didnt see her behind a delivery truck. She slammed on her brakes while hollering "WATCH OUT!" I apologized - even though I do not think this was at all my fault, but she said some choice words to me and rode off. The funniest part about this is that she looked like Joan Rivers. Not exactly who I picture as biker lady.

I also feel like I got the true New York experience as a subway rider. I quickly decided that I didn't want to spend $20/day on cab fare to and from the school when it was just a teeny bit slower to take the subway. My friend Mia assured me that the No. 6 train, which goes from the Upper East Side to Wall Street is clean and new and airconditioned. All went well on my first trip, so I committed and bought the bonus pack of tickets. My second ride went less well. I got on in the uptown entrance and had to waste a fare by exiting and crossing the street to go into a downtown entrance. Total rookie mistake. Then I made another rookie mistake and sat in the vicinity of a man who, I'm thinking, has no fixed residence. Aside from the aroma, the downside of my seating choice was the view I got of him going to the space between the train cars, urinating, coming back in without zipping, going back out and urinating again, coming back in and then spending a good 3 minutes figuring out his zipper. Only in NYC.

We also tried to make Ginny a city dog. We went to the dog park by Alex's place. Maggie isn't allowed into such places, since she views little yippy dogs as merely the appetizer course. But Ginny isn't jaded to the world (yet, or at least wasn't) and, quite frankly, we needed to wear her out. So in she went. She sniffed other dogs, made a big circle of the park. Then an evil little black dog that looked like a pot bellied pig came over and attacked her!! Poor little Ginny monster was pretty traumatized and went running over to Doug. That little rat followed Ginny over and attacked her again!!! Someone told the dog's owner that she needed to take the dog out, and she said she was going to, but then she sat back down and watched her little ugly, ugly excuse for a dog go around tormenting others. If I go back, I might "accidentally" kick the dog.

Ginny is definitely a suburb dog. So is Maggie. I think they yearn for grass to poop in - they both had to poop on the sidewalk last night. On the flip side, I think they both LOVE walking around smelling the trash in the street. Ginny got herself a nice leftover bite of ice cream last night on 7th Street. I thought I might pay for that later in middle of the night bathroom trips, but she did ok.

The rest of the week entails a trip to the Central Park Zoo (notably the location of Alex the Lion from Madagascar), a picnic in Central Park, and more than a few trips to the playground down the street, and a bachelorette party that the girls and Doug don't get to come to. Unfortunately I'll be in class for almost all of that time, but the girls should have fun. They might not ever want to leave, since Alex has a Wii and a big movie room.

OK, we're done with ridiculous questions and break, now we're doing retirement planning so I should pay attention. At least this speaker is really funny...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Vacation Bible School

I don't know about the rest of you, if you went to VBS, but when I went the theme was something like "God loves you. You're special. Happy happy happy."

Elisabeth is learning about.... the plagues. She came home from the second day and said that she wanted to have a play at our house. She was going to "write out our lines." She got two huge pieces of paper and an orange marker. My piece of paper said "GOD SENT BUGS." Doug's piece of paper said "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO."

So Elisabeth stood at one end of the room and commanded Doug (who was apparently playing the role of the mean old Pharoah) "LET MY PEOPLE GO!" Then she told him to read his lines, which he did saying "NO NO NO NO NO NO NO." She pointed to me, signaling that it was my turn, so I said "GOD SENT BUGS." And then she pretended she was a bug and attacked the Pharoah.

We repeated this with chickens, cows, cow eating cows, and attack owls at which point it was time to brush teeth and hit the tub.

As a side note, I relayed this story to my mother and said "Oh they're learning about the 7 plagues." My mother, who knows more about the Bible than anyone I know said "I thought there were 10 plagues." Not one to argue with her (stop laughing, I know when to pick my battles), I said "oh right, 10."

When I got home, I asked Elisabeth how many plagues there were. She looked at me as though I was the dumbest person on earth and said... "10." I'm not sure what it says about me that I trusted my 4 yr old more than my mother?? But Elisabeth doesn't forget anything, ever.

So, back to the plagues - Doug and I have been considering how we work this into our parenting. The whole idea behind teaching them about the plagues is so that they learn not to fear. God sends the plagues but then he helps the people through it (at least this is what Elisabeth has relayed to me, I'm not certain this is actually the lesson learned from the plagues, but I suppose it doesn't matter if this is the lesson Elisabeth has taken away from it.) In what might be termed the "Fire and Brimstone" discipline plan, we've been considering telling Elisabeth that if she doesn't do X, God might send attack weasels. And, since she now has ten examples of God doing just that, she might believe it.

This might be more powerful than 1,2,3 but I am a little fearful to unleash it. I mean, what if God really does send attack weasels??? They've got big fangs!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Where to start??

I've been so slack lately, you guys have missed out on some really good stories. And the bad part is that they are now purged from my brain and you'll never get to hear them, unless you're one of my lucky co-workers or IM buddies who get to hear my stories sometimes 3-4 times...

Let's see, maybe I'll do an update on each kid and that will include some of their recent funnies.


What comes to mind when I think of Miss C is that she seems to like to blame others for things that they didn't do. The other day, Elisabeth did the unforgivable and smacked Charlotte. Now, Charlotte probably deserved it, but we don't want to encourage sister smacking - at least not outwardly. Being the younger sister, who goes around beating on her older sister without batting an eye, Charlotte earned her Academy Award when Elisabeth smacked her. Tears upon tears. The Charlotte patented pout. Then, the words we would have to hear about 492 times in the next week: "Zizzie mack me. Zizzie mack me!!!"

The event was apparently so upsetting that it haunts her. In the mornings, she will lie in her crib saying 'Zizzie mack me. Zizzie mack me!" Anything that happens to her, boo-boo wise, is Zizzie's fault. Elisabeth can cause boo boos while she is sleeping, at preschool, or probably even if she were 100 miles away. That super hero cape I made her has some serious powers.

Oh and the next episode in the "Charlotte is a Turkey" series is the one entitled "The One in Which She Locks Us Out." Charlotte is a picky little bugger. She wants exactly the right mix of toys in her crib at nap/bed time. You are safer to err on the side of too many things in the crib because extraneous items can easily be de-cribestrated in the pre-nap wind down. Erring on the side of too few things in the crib can be fatal to naptime because it will just work her up into a tizzy.

So we were at the beach this past weekend with Doug's family and I had made the fatal mistake of leaving the blanket and Llama book downstairs (oh the horror, call CPS). Charlotte is able to spread her limbs and prevent you from lowering her into the pack-n-play, and she knows it. So she took a quick inventory of crib items and quickly started hollering "bankee yama bankee yama" while spreading her arms and legs and refusing to get into the pack-n-play. I said "FINE, I will go get your blanket and llama book and then put you in the crib." I set her down and ran downstairs only to hear the door slam. I got the items and went back upstairs... to find the door locked. A few screwdrivers, 4 adults, and a wee bit of irritation mixed with fear later we had the doorknob off and were into the room. Doug then put scotch tape over the handle lock. At that point, our morning wakeup at 5:30am went like this: "Zizzie mack me. Zizzie mack ME! Tape. Daddy. On. Zizzie mack me. Tape. on."


Elisabeth started Vacation Bible School today. She seems to really like it, I've already heard a few of the songs they taught them and seen her art project from the day. She was disappointed that they didn't get to color, which is funny because she doesn't spend even a minute coloring at our house. Some biblical education will do her some good. Yesterday, in the car on the way home from Lewes, she said - out of nowhere - "Mommy, I know what God's real name is." I said "oh really? what is it?" She replied: "Gopal." I had no response, and all I can hope is that she does not repeat that story to her VBS teachers.

Elisabeth has reached a new reading level - she is now reading me books. I made a deal with her that if she'd participate in the Fairfax County Library Reading Program, which requires her to read 15 books, then she'd not only get their coupon booklet with free ice cream coupons, but she'd also get a very special treat from me. We're still working on the treat options, but she is pretty excited. We picked out some Level 1, 2 and 3 books from the "I Can Read" series that she'd never seen before. She read me a Level 1 book (Diego's Rainforest Race) with no trouble at all. Then she read me a Level 2 book (Arthur's Trip to the Farm or something like that) the next night which required a little help with about 7 or 8 words, but otherwise she read it all herself. I'm all for bribery as a parenting method. As one of the two parenting books that I read said, it isn't bribery if you're convincing them to do something legal.

Oh, another Elisabeth funny - the other day we were reading a Magic Tree House book, Mummies in the Morning. I had to explain what a mummy was. I could see something churning in her little brain. She said, "Mommy, what does Constance call her mom?" (Constance is a British friend). I said, "mummy." She said, "but she's not dead and wrapped in bandages..." No, no she's not. "But whyyyyyy mommy?"

Sorry about the mass update. I have a bunch more posts brewing in there somewhere. Complete with pictures. But we've been traveling too much for me to do much writing!