Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lawn Maintenance

We spent some of the weekend working on the external appearance of our house.  We acquired a lawn mower, bought some potted plants and herbs (at the instigation of the children, which makes me wonder what their grandmother is teaching them at her house), and generally spent time outdoors.

Ellie and Margaret were very helpful.*

Some of Ellie's help suggested that she had ideas far above her station.

But we soon found her something that was more her speed.

She is an expert waterer, and also a very good nagger when she feels that her parents are not watering the plants as much as they ought to.

The girls also helped Leo assemble the lawnmower.  None of them read the instructions.

Ellie got frustrated after a while, but it's hard when no one respects your artistic vision for the lawnmower.

After the lawnmower was assembled, the girls sat on the porch and supervised Leo mowing the lawn.  You have to keep your eyes on Leo when he's mowing.  You never know what he's going to do.

*We're going to be using a specialized definition of "helpful" that has little to do with the actual meaning, and speaks more to their perception of their actions than to the reality.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Perfecting Outdoor Dining

We've had a lovely weekend here in St. Louis.  Well, not Saturday.  That was rainy.  But the rest of the weekend was lovely, and we spent a great deal of time outside, much of it eating.

Thursday night, our neighbor had an open house, so we went to meet some of the other neighbors.  We had dinner beforehand, because I didn't feel up to superintending my children eating in someone else's house.  It's not that they're messy, exactly, but that one of them is more persnickety than the word persnickety allows for, and the other one is so exuberant that one is never sure what she's going to do next.

So all they had there was dessert, but they had s'mores for the first time.

Margaret's response was lyrical.  She had no words.

Ellie tried it, which was a big step forward.  She liked the graham crackers, passed on the chocolate, and tried the marshmallow, only to report that it was too sticky and she didn't like it.

That kid.  I don't know.

Then Friday night*, we had a backyard picnic.  It was my first time in the backyard for any amount of time, which is kind of pathetic, but it has been cold and wet and snowy and miserable, and the back steps are steep.

Also, I am apparently very lazy.

So.  We picnicked.  Ellie ate a cheese sandwich.  Margaret asked for a cheese and pickle sandwich.  Fun was had by all.

Towards the end of the meal, Margaret turned into a squirrel.

Sometimes sandwiches require a lot of concentration, you know?

On Saturday night, despite the torrential rain, Leo suggested that we go to Mr. Wizard's.  I realized that I have been remiss in ice cream cone education, because Ellie doesn't really have the mechanics down.  But she persevered, and far past a reasonable consumption time, finished her ice cream cone.

Also, she tried the cone, which was a big step forward.  And she has reduced me to that level: rejoicing at the consumption of an ice cream cone, because at least she tried something new.

She is not as gormless as she looks in that last picture.

Sunday, we had a lovely meal outdoors on Leo's parents patio, and I took no pictures.  Apparently I was having too much fun to record it.

*Actually, it was probably Thursday, because Leo and I went out Friday night, but it was some night last week.  Stop being so pedantic.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Strange Bedfellows

Sometimes in the morning, Margaret and/or Ellie like to come to our bed and snuggle, which is very nice and cuddly and pleasant and all that, but is also full of knees and elbows and fighting.  Ellie has also taken to bringing her pillow, her blanket, her bunny, and her collection of pacifiers with her, which adds to the bulk of the invasion.

Yesterday, Leo and I had to admit defeat and flee.

It seems to me that they really miss us.  A lot.  Wouldn't you think?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

But She Didn't Name a Newt After Her

Margaret likes to keep track of her people.  She's also been working and working on her writing, so she's been bringing home stories every day.  They are frequently about her imaginary relations that live in far-flung corners of the globe (her Ant Rosie, for example).  But recently, she brought one home about something a) real, and b) closer to home.

It reads "My cousin Frane [Franny] livs in olympia.  Hot dogs and hamdrgrs [hamburgers].  I love her."

It's kind of a sweet tribute.

On her end, Franny has named her newt Margaret.  I'm not certain how to take this.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Inventive Scholarship

Margaret has been writing and writing and writing and writing.  She stays up at night, bent over her desk, churning out pages and pages of material.  She goes through paper like it's going out of style.

One problem, of course, is that she isn't quite at the level of writing clear English prose.  She usually makes a good (well, valiant) stab at it, but this weekend she decided to pack the whole thing in and take matters into her own hand.

She made up her own language.

I would be heralding this as evidence of her brilliance (and I'm sure she's very clever) but the slight hitch is that she can't translate this into English, so as a language no speakers, it's a bit of a dud.  Still, it's a valiant effort, isn't it?  I like that she's capable of writing some very long words in her imagination.

Ready for School

I know, I know, it's been a school-heavy couple of days, but a) pipe down, you're getting posts so be 'appy with them, and b) that's what the kids have been doing.

Anyway, Ellie has been behaving like a small demon recently, and we figured out that part of the cause was that she was missing me in the mornings, so I have (heroically, I might add) rearranged my schedule so that she sees me in the morning.  Also, Leo has been busy so I have been taking them to school more in the last few days, which means more time for photo ops.

When I take them to school, of course, there is a bit of time pressure, since I have to drop them at 8 on the dot in order to arrive at school on time for me, and so I have been encouraging them to get ready in an expeditious manner.

I encouraged them so well yesterday that they were ready, snacks and lunches and sound of the week artifacts clutched in their hands by 7:20, and we didn't need to leave until 7:45.  So I took a picture, and then we chatted about things.

It turned out that Ellie was dissatisfied with the zigzag that I had made her for z, and wanted me to make her a paper zipper that was not attached to any clothes.  I said I couldn't do that, and she was very offended by my substandard paper skills.  I will work harder next time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

School Days

Sometimes I worry that sending the girls to full-day school so early in their short lives will make them hate it, and thwart their education forevermore.  Because that's the sort of sane and rational fear that I can cook up in the dark watched of the night, you know?  So I worry about blighting their lives.

It doesn't seem that that is the case, however.  Yesterday, we had the girls help us clean up the upstairs.  With their help, it only took two or three times as long as it should have.  But we got the place spotless, and then Margaret and Ellie shared some of their plans for redecorating.*

They wanted the play table moved into Ellie's room with the two chairs, and they wanted paper and pens, and then Margaret grabbed her globe.

They set up a school.  It was adorable.

So I've decided that I need to find something else to worry about.

*I'm pretty sure that Ellie's dream job is one where she is allowed to move furniture all day.  The child positively glories in shoving other people's things all over the world.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Child Labor

When Margaret was a small person (well, a smaller person) she had a railing on her bed and a tendency to jump on said bed while holding the railing.  The railing was not designed for this harsh usage, and cracked both itself and the bed frame.  We continued to use the bed frame, and were careful of this weakness at the end.  Until a few weeks ago, that is.  I was sitting on the edge of the bed, and my abilities to stand up have been adversely impacted by this small internal person of mine, so getting up off the bed was not done as gracefully as has been done previously.  To put it another way, I leaned on the crack, and finished the job.

Margaret insists on telling people that I broke her bed, which is partially true, but also partially false, and I feel it important to point out that if she had not jumped excessively as a small 2-year-old, we would not be in this position.  She broke all the slats that way, and we had to replace them with solid oak.

This weekend, we had a grand bed shuffle.  Margaret's bed frame came out of the house, as it was no longer useful.  We made the children to most of the work, since that seemed the most efficient way to accomplish what we wanted.

Ellie seemed to dislike having a large bed (and I disliked that there was room for me to snuggle with her, since she had a habit of demanding it at 3 am when my reserves of resistance were low), so we set the crib back up in her room with the side off.  She seems very happy with her small bed, and when she came and asked me to snuggle and I said there wasn't room, she said "oh" and went back to bed.  That's a win.  Margaret is glorying in having a double bed, so that's good.  I also feel that Margaret will be more amenable to being shifted when we have visitors, since she is a more flexible person at the moment.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Baby Steps

Those of you who have spent any time around my younger daughter may be aware of the fact that she is a tad picky about what goes into her mouth.  Just a little.  Not much.

She has been getting slightly (slightly!) more adventurous, though.  Yesterday she tried a purple jellybean and a red jellybean, so that's something.

The other night, I made a bargain with her -- she wanted strawberry cereal bars instead of dinner, and I said that if she would eat some real strawberries, she could have cereal bars after.  Because I bargain with her sometimes.  You know, to get nutrition down her throat.

It worked, but her little face as she ate strawberries was the funniest thing that I have ever seen.

One of the big draws, apparently, was getting to cut them herself, so we let her do that.  It degenerated a bit into mushing up the strawberries and then complaining that they were "too juicy," but she choked some down.  It was slow progress, but progress nonetheless.