Sunday, May 25, 2014

What We're Reading

Cook - On Such a Full Sea
Me - The Signature of All Things
Duchess - Harry Potter and the Thingymagig (she's re-reading them all with great joy)
Skipper - James and the Giant Peach (This is being read to her, of course. She loves this book very much, and wants to talk about it all the time. She says things like "I think the author decided to make a pattern in this book, so it goes scary funny funny scary funny funny and it would make you want to keep reading it!")

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Harevwzzt to all of you!

 Skipper has been writing a lot of notes and cards lately, all on her own, and they come from some deep, weird well of inspiration. She likes to draw fuzzy bears, and she insists on writing "fuzzy" as "fussy." When I got home recently after one of my many evening work meetings, Cook said "Skipper made the best birthday card ever," and I said "Oh? For whose birthday?" and he said "Apparently, the Earth's! And it's from a frog!"

The next one isn't a card - it's a drawing. I think she was just practicing letter-writing at the top. The animals are tigers, and the bubbles next to their heads are thought bubbles. One is thinking about rainbows, one is thinking about playing with his friend the frog (see, it's all linked), and one is thinking about his camper crashing into another camper (that's why he looks so sad, presumably). I'm not sure what's going on here otherwise.

Science Fair happened.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pitstock came over for a playdate

 Pitstock came over. He found Duchess's fighting gear for kung fu. Skipper was not intimidated.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The things we do for science.

Duchess is doing a project for the science fair. She shopped for a project from the excellent sciencebuddies website, and decided that a cookie-tasting project was a good fit. Today she made the cookies and took them around the neighborhood to collect data points.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A very short story

Skipper, after disappearing in her room for a while, came out with her notebook, looking very proud, and said "Mom, I wrote a very short story!"

The title is "I LiV You". You may not be able to read it, so here's a transcription:

You HAT me I Liv You
I liv You mom
me To
The eNd

This is a pretty accurate relating of some of the dialogue going on around here lately, which I think bodes well for Skipper's authorial future. I don't know what's going on with the snowman, though.


 Homework is due on Fridays. It usually includes a few reading comprehension questions of the kind Duchess loathes, involving vague questions like "What is the big idea in this story?"

Five days ago.
Duchess: Mooooooom. I don't get these questions.
Me: I'm washing dishes. I can't help you right now.
Duchess: Okay. (wanders off and picks up a book)

Two days ago. 
Me: Duchess, where are you at with your homework?
Duchess: I'm done! I even finished my reading summary!
Me: Great!

Cook: Duchess, are you done with your homework?
Duchess: Yup.
Cook: Good.

This morning. Duchess is sitting in her room working on her homework.
Me: Duchess, are you still working on your homework?
Me: I thought you said you were done.
Me: You're blaming your failure to finish your homework on... me?

Then there was yelling. I refused to help with her homework questions given that she was being a total asshole. I told her she was being an asshole. I was pissed off. Duchess threw a pencil at me. I kind of hated her. She definitely hated me. (She said so.)

I'm assuming that at some point she will be able to at least not blame other people OUT LOUD for her failures. Right? I also assume that at some point, I will be able to not be furious at her for blaming other people for her failures. Right?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Boasting, or contentment. Maybe both.

This evening, Cook had a meeting/hanging-out session with one of the groups he volunteers with. I took this as an excuse to go out for dinner with the girls. They chose sushi, and they chose to bike there. Skipper has recently grown into a hand-me-down bike that still feels very large and dangerous to her, and she hasn't done much biking on the street, so this was kind of a minor big deal.

These are the things that happened:

1) The weather is absolutely gorgeous - a warm, glowingly sunny evening, with everything in full leaf and/or bloom.

2) When we walked in to the restaurant, a woman whom we've seen working there (and know to be a native Japanese speaker) greeted us in English, and Skipper said, casually and without being prompted, "Konnichiwa," and the woman politely returned her greeting but made no fuss about it, and when we left, Skipper said "Sayonara."

3) The girls liked ALL their food and nobody complained.

4) Duchess said dreamily, in conversation about her day and her future options for living in China, "Mom, I think I'm growing up."

5) All the way home, Skipper told us facts (and "facts"*) about ants.

6) The biking went very smoothly.

So there I was, biking home on a lovely evening with my lovely, safe, healthy children who are growing up, who are interested in many things, who want to know about ants and live in other countries, and we have enough money to go out for sushi sometimes and return to our comfortable, safe home where we have enough food and all the things we need, and everything just felt so idyllic that I felt completely peaceful about everything.

Of course, now I have to put Skipper to bed, so I will probably not feel so idyllic. But I did. I do. I remain very lucky.

*She says some ants eat the blood of cockroaches. While the ants in our house often bite my bare feet, I'm skeptical about the cockroach thing.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's a good thing the bar is set pretty low.

I'm not invested in Mothers Day at all, but Portland Public Schools is, so I got a pile of cards this morning. Here are my favorites.

From Skipper (made at home). There's a draft version that says "I heart Yuo mom" 12 times in a row.

I don't listen to her when she talks about video games, either, but she's generous.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The dentist, and my strange kid

I took Skipper to the dentist yesterday. As with the doctor, once she realized that the situation was not as terrifying as she had thought, she went straight from mute cowering into a kind of manic show-off mode. Lying in the chair, while the dentist and hygienist were looking at her records, she pointed her finger straight up in the air and said loudly "I want to POKE SOMEBODY IN THE EYE!"

The dentist turned and looked at me questioningly, and I really had no idea what to say.

On the plus side, she has no cavities.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


A few weeks ago we all made a field trip to a furniture store to investigate options. It was the kind of store we rarely go to, a vast building surrounded by parking, and it was full of enormous furniture. At first I felt slightly superior in an envious way ("Sacre bleu! All the chairs have cupholders built in! Lazy Americans!") and then I just got into it.  I am naturally inclined toward reclining with cupholders, and if we had any furniture capable of that, I would do nothing but recline. And drink things.

The kids skipped the feeling-superior phase, because they don't know how to do that yet. Also, the moment we walked in, a friendly greeter pointed out the kids' area, which had televisions and these little rocking chair things that doubled as remote controls, so you plugged your headset INTO THE CHAIR and controlled the volume WITH YOUR CHAIR. And they had Xboxes! Skipper sat down to watch "Finding Nemo" while Duchess sat down beside her to play a VIDEO GAME! With an XBOX! Duchess has never seen a game controller, and it was apparently a revelatory experience.

When Cook and I finished goggling at the enormous reclining couches and armchairs with cupholders (and when I finally struggled out of the last one I tried, which I could happily have lived in for the rest of my life), we went to collect the kids. On the way out we walked through the kids' furniture area, which was full of child-sized armchairs with cupholders. As we walked out the door, Duchess said "Mom, can we come back here tomorrow?" All the way home, the kids dreamily discussed how fabulous it would be if we were magically granted all the furniture in that store. Each kid would have their own room! And each room would have a trundle bed! And a giant TV! And an Xbox! And an armchair with cupholders!

On a related note, the girls were reading the wellness handout we got at Skipper's doctor's office on Friday, and they found the advice to limit children's screen time to 1-2 hours per day. And not to let your child have a TV in her room. I silently congratulated myself for being a great parent** while the kids contemplated the possibility that these might be options. I think they may be considering trading me in for a different parent model, possibly one with cupholders.

* Yesterday I let Skipper watch Daniel Tiger for nearly two hours, which I suspect some of my friends would consider borderline abusive parenting. I considered it a great way to make dinner without Skipper's help - she's relentlessly enthusiastic about participating in cooking, which is cool, but also inconvenient for me, as it slows things down considerably. I frequently find myself sneaking into the kitchen to cook, hoping she won't notice. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Our life right now, in numbers

9,998 - hours to go before I become a guitar virtuoso.* I've been increasingly bothered by the gap between the amount of time I spend on supporting my kids to do cool activities and the amount of time I spend on doing cool activities myself, so I bought a super-cheap guitar** and an online guitar course. I can now play super-simple versions of Amazing Grace, Happy Birthday, and When the Saints Go Marching In, very slowly and badly. Also, my wrists hurt. And my brain hurts.

4 - my remaining weeks of work

6 - the remaining weeks of school

89 - degrees in Fahrenheit at the hottest part of the day last Thursday.

41 - Skipper's height, in inches.

36 - Skipper's weight, in pounds.

25 - Skipper's height and weight, as a percentile of girls her age in the United States.

1 - the number of times Skipper said "Fuck!" at her appointment with her new pediatrician.

*Also, apparently I need to concentrate and get good coaching, too. But that's harder to put into numbers.
** So new that it is still offgassing solvents, and smells like the tears of abused, underpaid Chinese factory workers.