Monday, June 25, 2012

father's day

 This is a week late, yes, but the girls' complete adoration of their father must be documented.

We had been planning Father's Day for weeks (at Junie's insistence). Though we intended our plans to be a secret, Junie spilled the beans dozens of times over: pieces of paper with Junie's writing on them littered our floor and kept reappearing as fast as I could dispose of them in the recycling bin:

father's day

breakfast (bacon)
dinner (ribs)

We made the pajama pants - I use the word "we" legitimately: the girls helped cut them out and sew them. I stayed up much too late putting the finishing touches on them. And then I woke up late on Sunday morning. I knew the girls would find cold cereal an inexcusable breakfast for such an occasion, so I hurriedly began putting together a Dutch Baby. Emerging groggily from her room, Junie was still coherent enough to instantly gather that something was amiss: "Mom, I thought we agreed upon bacon!" Well put, Junie.

The rest of the day came off according to plan, with the addition of a hilarious booklet completed by each of the girls in primary:
 Junie's Book:
 Olive's Book:
Olive is the taller one with the curly hair.

Their explanations of Cody's job - to make money (to pay the people who live on top of our house*, as Olive explains) seem to trivialize the significance of Cody's profession, carefully chosen in an attempt to make service a part of his everyday life. But it is the explanation we give when they demand to know why Dad has to leave every day.

Cody, pulling off bedtime solo this past Friday and Saturday, sang Olive's bedtime songs in my absentia. Olive is in a "Leatherwing Bat" and "Pony Man" phase lately, probably because they are the bedtime songs I grew up with and can mindlessly rattle off at the end of a long day. Cody, who regularly makes up songs (with lyrics that rhyme, no less) at the girls' bequest, sang both songs to Olive with some poetic license. After listening patiently, she said, "Dad, you're not good at Leatherwing Bat or Pony Man, but you're still the best daddy in the world."

And so he is. After a long day at work, he musters up enough energy on the drive home to be fully engaged when he walks in the door. He obligingly throws the girls "out the window", swinging them around to their delight. He tries to remember back to what it felt like to be a kid, then uses that insight to help our kids make it through long car trips or a few consecutive hours indoors. He makes up stories and songs at the girls' every whim.

Happy Father's Day, best Daddy in the world.

*our landlords live on the second story of the house we rent

Sunday, June 10, 2012

snails, slugs and the sort

Cody captured a renegade slug oozing along our kitchen counter the other night. He imprisoned it between two empty baby food jars, knowing how much it would delight Juniper and Olive the next morning.

No, we do not regularly hold animals against their will, even of the slug variety, simply to entertain our children. In fact, I always advocate for their speedy release. "Olive, that [insert insect of your choice here] doesn't want to be in our house! He wants to go back to his family!" Not entirely noble - I admit, there's not much love lost between bugs and I. But the girls do seem to have a special affinity for snails, slugs and worms - perhaps a little too special. There have been some experiments on them in our backyard that would horrify PETA. Junie's subsequent essay documented the disproving of the neighbor girl's theory that if you peeled snails' shells off, they would turn into worms. Yikes.

So I left the slug in the jar on the counter. The next day I discovered a love note, courtesy of Junie, in the jar. But, alas, no slug. What was the fate of this unfortunate slug? Loved to death by Junie and Olive? I'm nervously anticipating a slimy encounter someday soon as I'm wiping down the counters.
Speaking of slimy encounters, our bike ride up to the grocery store on Monday was delayed a bit by the girls' discovery of a herd of snails making their way across the sidewalk. Do snails even travel in herds? Likely these snails were unrelated. Or at least had no qualms about devouring their traveling companions who were unfortunate enough to have been squished. This unnerving behavior didn't stop the girls from rounding them up into pile. Then, worried they wouldn't stick around until we returned from the store, they began removing them to the "safety" of our front steps. Junie lined them all up according to size. I kept Henry from picking them up and eating them.
And then, oh the snail carnage! Junie, suddenly off balance, stepped backward and crushed the entire lot of them.

As the objects of Junie's (at times somewhat aggressive) affections, I thank my lucky stars that Cody and I are not gastropods.

Happenings of note:

- Summer vacation began for Junie! Less hectic mornings. More bike rides and trips to the park and library.
- Junie, Olive and Henry (with Mom) started swim lessons - enjoyed by all, except for the cold aftermath. The
   perfect excuse for hot cocoa in June.
- Henry is throwing temper tantrums in earnest, especially whenever I suggest he sign "please" for something.

And some pictures from the week:

father and son bonding over broccoli

Sunday, May 27, 2012

When the 2-year-old wants candy

Our Bishop has decided that the best way to win over the youth is with sugar. He keeps a bottomless supply of fun-size candy in his office, and every Sunday after church there is a surge of children claiming their share. As if the explosion of pent up energy after three hours of trying to sit reverently isn't enough, the extra boost from the sugar is just enough to catapult them into warp speed.

With great power comes great responsibility. Apparently nursery aged children are not old enough to live up to the demands of a post church sugar high. Before Olive began going to primary at the beginning of this year, Junie was her sole source of a taste of the Bishop's stash.

After packing the kids into the car one Sunday after church - perhaps it was fast Sunday (a.k.a. no candy Sunday) - Olive didn't waste any time in laying out her agenda:

Olive: Junie, give me some candy.

Junie: I can't. I don't have any.

Olive: I want some candy!

Junie: I couldn't get any today!

Olive: Find some.

Apparently she can make her little girl voice sound quite commanding when necessary.


And some pictures from the week:
Henry's gross motor skills take another flying leap
a rare nap photo-op

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Negotiating, 3-year-old style

There has been some impressive sharing going on around our house lately. Why am I so impressed by sharing between my children? I suppose it is because I am also privy to the hysterics that ensue when someone doesn't get their way; to the cheerios, inches from his mouth, that are swiped from the baby's chubby hand by his older sisters. And actually, when you think of how little control children have over their lives in a world ruled by adults, it's pretty amazing when they voluntarily relinquish anything.

Junie has a fairly solid record of saving things to share with Olive. Last year when she was in preschool, this meant saving part of her afternoon snack. This year in kindergarten, she has hit upon the strategy of asking for an extra cupcake when a classmate has birthday treats brought in. A bit less sacrificing perhaps, but still striking that she always remembers to do so.

Olive, in turn, has picked up on Junie's sharing habits. Her offerings may be a bit less impressive (a meager crumb of bread offered to Henry; the last few sips of warm, melted Jamba Juice saved for when we pick Junie up from school) but her heart is in the right place.

The real rub comes when both Junie and Olive want something that cannot be divided. But recently I've overheard a few conversations between them that have successfully resolved instances where Junie wants something of Olive's. There are two reasons I can see for the success rate going up: 1) Junie has become quite sophisticated in her persuasion skills (almost scarily so); and 2) Olive appears to have an increasingly sweet and giving disposition (except when she doesn't).

The other day Olive found a grubby Hello Kitty watch at the park. The instant Junie became aware of her find, she began vying for a turn with it. I was ready to jump in and tell Junie to lay off for a bit, but Olive, after only a moment's hesitation, said, "Sure, June, we can share it." They began to negotiate the terms of the sharing agreement:

Junie: (enthusiastically) I know, Olive! I can have it today, then you can have it tomorrow, then I'll have it the next day, then you can have it... like that!

Olive: (a bit less enthusiastically) Oh, yes. (and then getting very excited as she hit upon the perfect joint custody agreement) I know! I can have it while we're on earth, and then you can have it when we get up to heaven!

Junie: (long pause) I think that might be a little too long, Olive.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

a pilgrimage

We made one to Henry's birthplace last weekend. Santa Cruz is quite possibly the most perfect place in the world. This boy seemed to take to the beach quite easily - apparently he takes after his father. Watching Cody and him drink in the ocean together was like watching the quintessential game of catch between father and son.
Perhaps returning to his roots inspired him to take the next step - literally.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Henry teaser

There has been some consternation out there regarding the lack of Henry pictures on this blog. Here is the problem: apparently I feel no great necessity to document what others might consider memorable moments of my children's lives.

Recently, the pictures I tend to take of them are quite selfish - destined for posts about my projects on Shape of a Spoon. This has been embarrassingly obvious on occasions when Grandma Christie has come to visit. We begin clicking through pictures on our computer to show her what the kids have been up to, but I'm certain it's like suffering through the quintessential vacation slide show. The pictures are oddly focused on details that were important to me (i.e., a nice side view of the collar of a dress I've made for Junie - oh so interesting!), and escape a grandparent's interest who simply wants a glimpse into her grandkids' lives. The attempts at snapping pictures to showcase my own sewing abilities is, by the way, one of the things I dread most. Refusing to pose for pictures appears to be Junie's preferred method of rebellion. We usually both end up furious at each other.

So I'm trying to take more pictures of them as my kids instead of my clothing models. But then we're back to my first problem - what constitutes a necessarily documented event in their lives?

Olive attends a music class once a week. The official name of this class is Cherubs. I refuse to refer to it as such - I just call it her music class. Olive absolutely loves this class - it's a routine; a weekly event she claims as her own. The entire week revolves around this class. Every morning she asks, "Is it my music class today?", then grumbles if it isn't. Each Sunday as we arrive at church (where the class is held) she says, as if pointing it out for the first time, "This is where my music class is!". I understand her need to feel as though she is in control of some aspects of her 3-year-old life, and I happily bring her to this weekly event and fully participate in cheesy songs with cheesy hand motions and cheesy props (though there are decent songs as well).

But I digress. My point in bringing up her music class is to illustrate how I seem to be a bit out of the loop in the expected pictorial documentation of my children's growing up years. During significant holidays there have been "class parties": i.e. a Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's and Easter party. All other parents arrived to these armed with an impressive array of cameras and video cameras. After the reminder email to bring our cameras to the Christmas party because Santa would be there, I tried to start bringing my camera along to these events. But even when I remembered to toss it in the bike trailer during our mad dash to leave on time in the morning, I often forgot to even bring it in and use it. When I did remember to pull out my camera during these photo ops, my heart wasn't in it. I really didn't feel that interested in seeing pictures years later of Olive putting plastic Easter eggs into a basket.

If I can convince myself to grab the camera during those moments when all I want to do is watch my children delightedly... those will be the photos I'll cherish in 10 years.

In the meantime, here are some photos from the day I asked Cody to help me finally take some photos of the kids in the Easter outfits I had sewn for them. But I also snapped a lot of pictures of them just being our cute kids. With some encouragement from Dad, that is. That man is a genius in getting our children to pose for photos. The picture of Junie and Olive hugging each other and smiling was achieved when he began playing "Simon Says" and instructed: "Simon says hug each other and smile."
 Their trademark sour grass face.