Friday, May 30, 2014

Our Small Water Park Adventures

One of the things that both Leo and I have thought is that the slide on our play structure, being an enclosed and plastic sort of slide, would make an excellent water slide, were someone to run a hose up to the top and put a wading pool at the bottom.

So yesterday afternoon, I did that.

The first set of splashes is Margaret, the second Ellie, and the third Margaret.  Ellie only went down a few times -- 4 or 5 -- but Margaret went and went and went and went.  It was her favorite thing ever.  If I hadn't dragged her in last night, she'd probably still be on it, although I like to think that some of my neighbors would have called the police about child abuse, but perhaps not.

Anyway, it was a horribly water-wasting pastime, and I am glad that we are not going to be here all summer, because having shown them that it is possible to do that, I'm not sure that I would be allowed to not do it if we were here in the worst of July.  I imagine, however, that there will be a lot of August spent in the pool.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Caved

After all of my high-minded whitening yesterday about how I tried not to push my children on the swings, because it bred laziness, I spent a great deal of yesterday afternoon pushing them.  Because, you know, that's how I roll.  Anyway, they had a blast, and you can tell that Margaret is explaining things of great importance to Ellie as they circulate on the tire swing.

There was actually a small amount of disagreement because one of them (I forget which) felt that it was better to be swung in a wide-arcing, but gently spinning circle, and then other just wanted to experience a tight spin.  They had opinions, but neither of them was particularly clear in voicing how they wanted the spinning that I was doing (medium arc, medium spin) to be done differently.  I mean, they were both tops at telling me that they did want it done differently, but not at explaining how it should be done differently.

I say they shouldn't look a gift-pusher in the mouth, but they don't listen to me :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Swing Dynamics

Margaret and Ellie have been doing a great deal of thinking about swings.  They've been figuring out how often they can get adults to push them in the swings; Leo and I both believe that they should learn to pump their legs, and so we advocate for that, but these children of ours are quick to identify easy marks among the other adults of their acquaintance, and exploit them should they walk into the yard.

So beware.

Anyway, Margaret is resistant to the idea that she should make the swings go all on her lonesome, and so she is endeavoring to invent a fun swing-based activity that requires little effort on her part and doesn't necessitate adult involvement.

It's a work in progress.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

In the Dirt

As the play structure ceases to be amazing, and becomes merely a feature of the backyard, Margaret is turning to new forms of excitement. Of course, the backyard doesn't offer all that many sources of excitement, but one thing that it has in abundance is dirt.

So Margaret has become a devotee of dirt.  I seem to have convinced her (mostly) not to pour it over other people's heads, but in her imagination, the loose dust is pixie dust, and so the thing that you do with pixie dust is scatter it over people so that magical transformations can take place.  Obviously.

This can be a problem, because she and Ellie and sometimes I come in from the yard with a comprehensive coating of dust all over our persons.  And although I can tell that I have or haven't gotten the dirt out of the children's scalps, I can't see with me.  So it makes it an adventure every day.

Margaret, when she is tired of flinging dirt around, dances in the dirt, does somersaults, rolls herself in it so that she can achieve maximum coverage.

I'm sure it's good for her, although I'm not sure that the thrice-daily bath is doing her much good.  Clearly, we need to get furniture that is slightly more mud-colored, so that we can skip the midday bath for the sake of her poor, dry skin.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Hell Has Frozen, FYI

This is not about the movie Frozen, although I could write many pages about the space that it is taking up in my children's imaginations.  Ellie insists that she is Anna, and Margaret is Elsa, which is the game that Margaret wants to play as well.  Every so often when I am getting annoyed about something, Margaret will say "Let it go, Mommy, let it go" which is passive-aggressive and annoying.  I told her it wasn't helpful, and she said "But it was a quote, Mommy," which is both precocious and EVEN MORE IRRITATING.

But that's not what this post is about.

Last Sunday night, we decided to try to have the girls share a room for the night.  I want them to share a room, because it seems to me that we are wasting a great deal of real estate at the moment on sleeping quarters for children who only sleep in their bedrooms, and that they're old enough to share a room, and that they should.

It went badly.

I mean, it wasn't too bad exactly.  They had a blast.  They gabbed and chattered and shrieked with laughter.  For about an hour after when they were supposed to be in bed.  Finally, seeing that they weren't going to go to sleep unless we sat on them, and probably not even then, we separated them.

There was much consternation from Margaret, and so it took another half an hour to get her calmed down.

This meant that on Monday, she was rather short on sleep.  Monday afternoon, we ended up driving in stop and go traffic for about a half an hour (never go somewhere at rush hour.  Never.)

And the unthinkable happened.  Margaret has been very anti-nap for years and years and years (which is 6 years at least.  I know that that's longer than she's been alive, but I feel that her anti-nap feelings merit that description).  But somehow, on Monday, in the car, she conked out.

This picture was taken by holding my camera up above my head at a stoplight.  I'm not proud of the composition, but in the circumstances, I think it's pretty good.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Small Rebellions

Bedtime has always been somewhat fraught for Margaret.  She was born, as far as I can tell, angry about the fact that she was expected to sleep at any time.

We spent most of the first year of her life tying her up to get her to sleep.

And then we just confined her in a cage.

But early on (like 20 months) she learned to climb out of the cage, and so we had to move her into a bed.

This began the really terrible part of her sleeping plan.  She had freedom to come out and bug us.  And she did.

So we installed a lock on her door, and sometimes we would just close it.

Then we potty trained her, and that meant she needed access to the toilet.  

So we had to unlock the door.

This began another series of bedtime escapes and arguments.

She's pretty much calmed down now, and will go to sleep with only an occasional nighttime foray out into the house to tell us something important, like that she wants to tell us something.

But she bucks our rules in small ways, denying our rights to tell her where to put her head.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Speaking of Cleaning

I've been on a Spring cleaning rampage.  Really, I've stopped having to go to job interviews, or prep classes, or do work related to school, and so I have time in the afternoons to clean.  It's lovely.  Particularly since we're going to have a nanny possibility come over some afternoon this week, and it's a lot easier to get someone to sign on for a job with the expectation of "light housework" when the house looks like the housework would only be light if you had a bulldozer tucked into the back room.

So I tidy.

And Ellie, who likes tidying, helps me.

And when Margaret tries to come and take the vacuum, screams "NO!  This is my bacuuun!  Marget, you get your own."

Because you don't get between Ellie and her cleaning supplies.  Not if you want to live.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Children Should Not Be Left Unattended

I was trying to clean yesterday.  There was an area just inside our front door, where boxes and junk mail tend to pile up, and I wanted to sort through it and dispose of it and collapse the boxes and generally deal with the mess.  It's connected to our living room/play room, but there's an area beyond a turn in the room into which I can't see if I'm in the entryway.

But I could hear.  And I thought that was enough.  While I cleaned and threw away and broke down boxes and whatnot, I heard happy, cooperative voices, and a great deal of laughter and good humor.  I was congratulating myself on my good parenting, that my girls could play by themselves and have fun while I worked, and wasn't life marvelous?

And then I came out from my corner and saw what they were doing.

Maybe I'm not as good a parent as I thought.

On the other hand, Ellie has good balance, so that's something.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Educating the Young

Leo, when not setting up massive climbers in the backyard, has spent a reasonable amount of time this weekend trying to teach our children how to swing.

Cynics might argue that this is ultimately self-serving, because if he teaches them how to swing alone, then he will never have to give them fish, if in this metaphor the fish is self-sufficience.

Which fish usually are.

So he demonstrated pumping legs (on a swing which was much too short for him, which amused me) and made little jingles for them to recite to themselves if they forgot which movement went in which direction, and he gave them little pushes and tips and lots of help.

And then he bowed to the inevitable.

Because Ellie is a sneaky child, with a very cute way of asking for things.

Also, I'm beginning to suspect that Leo has fun on the swings.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Welcome to the Suburbs

We were given an enormous play structure recently, with the slight hitch that we had to move it and set it up.

It sat in our backyard for a week or two, while we worked out logistics.  And by "we" I mean Leo, and possibly the children, because I couldn't even visualize how it was going to fit together.  This is sad, I admit, but true.

And then this weekend, we had an Amish play structure-raising, where we invited the neighbors in (and only one came) and we put the thing up.

The children have not really been inside since.

Leo has been trying to teach them how to swing, with minimal success.

Leo's swinging skills are advancing quite amazingly, though, so that's good.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Max the Cat

Margaret has been wanting to learn to read, but insisting that she can't.  This has led to some tearful bedtime interludes where she insists that she wants to read book x, but she can't read.  It is very sad.  Not sad enough that we read it to her, but still very sad.

We've been working on sounding words out, but that penny has not been dropping for her.  My mother suggested that we should make her word lists, all using the same vowel consonant, and so last night I did and it was the best thing ever.  She was so excited, and the concepts started to make sense.

So she took her lists to bed with her.

And snuggled them.

And then wanted more when she got up this morning.

It was all very cute.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


When I started this post, and titled it, it was because my children spent yesterday afternoon covering themselves in dirt.  This was not, just to be clear, an incidental process; this was not dirt acquired in the prosecution of other pursuits, but rather dirt piled on with giddy and reckless abandon, simply because the purpose of the process was to pour dirt onto themselves.

They were filthy.

But as I ruminated on the specific qualities of urchin-ness (such as appearing in a Dickens novel), I realized that they weren't really even remotely like hedgehogs, because after they had adhered their coating of mud about their persons, all they wanted to do was cuddle.

I could have done with them being a little spiny.

I think that one should make especial note of the grit surrounding Margaret's eyes.  That took real effort to balance there.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Jet Plane

As part of a sticker chart behavior modification program (or, to put it another way, do what you're told and you get loot), Margaret acquired a model plane kit which she painstakingly painted and put together (with my help, and with her Uncle Ron's help, because his model plane sense was tingling and wild horses wouldn't have been able to keep him away).

She loves it.

According to Leo, her intention was to play with it all night long, but after I took this picture, I moved it, because I didn't think that her plane was really all that cuddly.

I'm cruel like that.

She wants to make more -- maybe a car, or a train, Mommy?  Do you think that have a train? -- and I'm pleased, but also a little worried, because I don't want to live in a house that has, for the next decade, tiny plastic landing gears littered about the place.

I've done that, and I don't like it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014


Uncle Pat visited a while ago, and introduced the word "selfie" into the girls' vocabulary.  I'm not happy with this, but you can't really unring that bell.  So they know the word selfie, and they use it properly, though Ellie still pronounces is "shelfie."

Last weekend, she got her paws on my phone, and figured out how to flip the camera around, so that she can take the picture that she sees on the screen while the camera is looking at her, and snapped away,  exclaiming between pictures "Look, Mommy!  I have a shelfie!"

We're super-excited about this, as you can tell.

Still, they're pretty good pictures for a 2-year-old.