Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Farm Munny

Skipper and Duchess both get an allowance. Duchess has gotten more careful over time about how she spends her money, but Skipper has been miserly from the start. When I ask her if she wants to bring her money to, say, the candy store or the toy store, she always says, without hesitation, some variation on this:  "No, because if I spend my money I won't have it any more."

Yesterday I asked her what she's saving her money for, and she said, again without hesitation, "Animals." It turns out that she's saving up to buy a farm.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chicken? Egg?

The scene: All of us around the table, eating dinner (pizza a la Cook, which is why nobody was whining about the food).

Skipper: Daddy was born the first of all of us in this family.
Cook: Yes.
Skipper: Hey! I have a question. How was the first person born, if there was no other person to give birth?
Me & Cook, in fumbling collaboration: Completely inadequate attempt to explain human evolution in four-year-old-appropriate terms.
Skipper: So... it wasn't Daddy. Daddy wasn't the first person.
Cook: No.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Also a quiet week.

Tonight we ate a dessert that I realized we'd last eaten exactly a year before. Thank you, peaches, for your brief and lovely tenure at the grocery store every year.

Friday, July 26, 2013


This has been the kind of summer where I often wear my sunglasses on top of my head when I'm not in the sun, not just because it makes me look so cool* but because I might need them at any moment.  I might need to go out and set up the wading pool for the kids, or I might need to pick zucchini, or walk to the grocery store, or hang laundry, or do something else bright and shiny.

I'm trying to balance my angst about not having a job, plus my guilt about not holding up my financial end of the household, with my pleasure at having this kind of summer. At the end of the day, when Cook comes home and I'm telling him about our adventures, I frequently have to admit that yes, I had a really lovely day. Sure, the kids were sometimes  (or often) assholes, and I spent about half the day escorting them to their activities, and I did some tedious housework and errands, but the truth is that I also did a lot of stuff like lying on a lawn chair at the pool reading a book while Duchess swam and Skipper talked to Rosemary the baby doll.

Truly, I don't even mind the escorting part of my days. I just read a (different) book in which a character referred to something she did as a parent as making a deposit into the account of her kid's future wellbeing. I think that my faith in that idea is what gives me satisfaction from the soccer-mommy part of my summer. (Not that anybody's doing soccer at the moment, but you get the gist.) Yes, I'm spending my time helicoptering my children around,** but it's not a bad thing to do. It feels, mostly, like making lots of future-wellbeing deposits, and that's very satisfying in itself. Last week, for example, in the short-term wellbeing investment category, Skipper very much enjoyed "Space Camp"*** and is feeling very confident and excited about her big-kid chops. (The teachers were somewhat concerned about the fact that she just watched everything and didn't talk to them or to her classmates, but I assured them it was actually a raging success, because she didn't cry, and she reported she had fun.) We hope this will translate into a smoother transition when she starts preschool in September. And in the longer-term category, Duchess is learning how it feels to swim for five hours a week. In my parenting fantasy, this will help get her into a lifelong habit of regular exercise. **** I'm pretty convinced that that parenting doesn't actually work like that, but I can pretend it does, in an optimistic summery kind of way. 

In conclusion, I'm having a lovely summer. I'm not becoming a better person, I'm not doing fun/educational activities with the kids, I'm not working on my resume , I'm not learning any new skills. I'm not even keeping the house very clean or growing lots of vegetables. But I'm enjoying the time, I haven't broken the kids, and I look extremely cool. 

*Though, of course, I look extremely cool.
**Except that while I've got the spending-lots-of-money-and-time-on-kids'-activities part down, neither Cook nor I are actually very helicoptery about the activities themselves. I'd chalk it up to a healthy sense of perspective, or our desire for the kids to own their activities, but it's also at least partly about our disinclination to invest any more energy in something we find boring. Swim meets, for example. Ugh. 
*** Actually 2 hours each day of low-key preschool activities with a space theme. She brought home several craft projects involving aluminum foil and glitter.
**** Which will probably mean that she'll give me lots of lectures about my own poor exercise habits, but I'm okay with enduring them. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sleeping with Pachycephalosaurus

I left Skipper in her bed, awake but sleepy, and when I checked on her 10 minutes later, I discovered that she had brought her favorite dinosaur to bed with her. She appears to be giving it plenty of room. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Photographic Evidence

Resting after a long day of hard work.

Another birthday party.

Halfway through Return of the Jedi...

Duchess's favorite character is Chewbacca.

I have surrendered to summer. Today we stayed at the pool (or at least within the park in which it is located) from 9 to 1:30, so we could enjoy the free open swim period. Then we biked straight over to drop Duchess at her afternoon circus camp, and Skipper and I biked home (I biked, while Skipper napped in an extremely uncomfortable-looking position in the trailer) to hang up swim suits and recuperate with all the blinds closed. She's quietly playing with the babies,* and I am computering. I feel pickled, and faintly grimy, and definitely overdosed in sunshine. I have mosquito bites. I have a pink-nosed husband newly sporting a summer haircut and a summer sunburn.** (He's sunburned because he spends all his leisure time painting the house. I spend mine complaining about the heat.)

I realized today that all of Duchess's summer pursuits are physical. Her brain is resting while her body swims (and swims and swims) and does martial arts and (this week) circuses. I think it's probably a positive thing - she's doing lots of reading, so it's not like she's truly mentally ossifying, and the habit of physical activity is a good one to start early. Math camp can wait a little longer.

It's also worth noting that Skipper, who is suddenly starting to look more like a kid and less like an elderly toddler, is really enjoying swim lessons. She participates with enthusiasm - she smiles, and even laughs during her lessons, which is unheard of. Next week she has a parks and rec preschool camp in the mornings - we'll see how that goes down...

*The babies are the favorite play activity right now - Duchess and Skipper appear to be operating a fairly sketchy orphanage. Yesterday they got ALL the baby and babyish dolls out, and got out lots of pretend food and whatnot so the babies could have a birthday party. Our whole dining room was committed to babies.

** Cook rarely sunburns, preferring instead to turn enviably golden of hair and skin as the season progresses. I met him at the end of a summer in which he had spent a lot of time outside, and it took me probably six months to realize that he was actually light-skinned and brown-haired.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Boring updates, again.

So. Summer.

We had family visit. We visited family and friends in Seattle. All of that was excellent, except that the kids turn out to be woefully ill-prepared for long car trips, and almost died of frustration during the drive to Seattle. Otherwise, lovely. Did you know there's a park in Seattle where you can ride a zip line, watch polynesian cricket, and visit a food forest? There is.

Then the girls and I went on a trip to visit friends, which was also lovely. The only sad part of our trip was that Cook stayed home to earn money and hoard his scarce vacation hours.

And THEN we went on a weekend camping trip with friends, which was also lovely. And now we’re home.

Our summer routine is anchored by Duchess's swim team practice, an hour every weekday morning. This is kind of an epic thing for an 8-year-old, as it turns out. I think she'll enjoy it more when she gets to know some of her teammates better, but for now it's just a lot of swimming. A LOT of swimming. Watching her attempt the butterfly after 45 minutes of nonstop swimming makes me feel tired, even as I lounge by the pool reading Richard Scarry books to Skipper. Duchess doesn't hate it, and she is proud to be pushing herself, but she's not enthusiastic.

For me, the summer so far is about learning the limits of my parenting toolkit. Skipper is in what I desperately hope is a difficult stage, and not the flowering of a sociopathic personality. She likes nothing more than provoking a response from me, and she's at least as happy with a negative response as a positive one. Duchess has had evil stages, but she's always remained heavily invested in getting approval from authority figures. Not so with Skipper. Skipper doesn't care. She is also very proud, and cannot admit fault. Oh, AND she's finally transitioning out of napping, which means she's exhausted and horrible by the end of the day. And timeouts just don't work on her. All of which, when you throw in an impatient, ungenerous parent, is a recipe for disaster. Or at least a lot of yelling.

The other thing we're doing this summer is watching the original Star Wars movies. We are very busy.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Duchess is swimming every weekday morning with the local pool "swim team." She feels pretty neutral about it, but she's improving rapidly and getting a lot of exercise, so we're keeping it rolling. Today was the first day of Skipper's first session of swim lessons, so we'll be spending the whole morning at the pool for two weeks.

The girls were in an exceptionally good mood this morning, and they chose colorful clothing, so I brought the camera. 

Walking to the pool

Skipper and I hang out by the pool for an hour while Duchess swims.

Duchess and I watched Skipper's lesson together.

Skipper participated! Duchess and I were very proud.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Still here

I'm back! The girls and I returned yesterday from a vacation trip, the second of THREE exciting outings we've piled up at the beginning of our summer. I don't have much to say about our outings, except that so far they've all been fun, and we're off to the third tomorrow. 

Also, it's summer! We've got blueberries and strawberries and basil and garlic, and it's hot...

More later!