Monday, February 28, 2011

Reminds Me Of Summer

Yesterday was one of the first days I didn't wake up and grab my slippers the minute my feet hit the floor.  Spring's a-comin' and we are all ready for it. 

Harper was sick all weekend, but we made it outside yesterday afternnoon for a little bike ride.
The girls should really be on each other's bikes, but Harper would have none of it.  Every time we suggested that she give Hadley a turn, Harper would scream bloody murder.  She's a raw nerve, this one.  Every thing is just fine as long as nobody does anything she doesn't want them to do. 

That's right, Dad.  Push me on this bike even though there is a nice handle on the other one, and my legs barely reach the peddles on the bike I'm currently on.  Hadley kept saying, "This bike makes me knees hurt."  Well, OF COURSE your knees hurt!  You look like an 18 year old riding that bike. (We insisted Hadley and Harper switch bikes every so often but Harper made such  fuss that Hadley decided it was more fun to ride the other bike.)
We also went out for some for "fro yo" (I can quote Julie Cooper if I want to) at a new place down the street from us.  You serve yourself here, which the girls think is awesome.  It reminds me of my after dinner treat I used to have at Calvin.  I would always get a chocolate/vanilla swirled ice-cream cone (that I made myself).  My trick was to put the sprinkles in the bottom of the cone which served two purposes: 1- it didn't make the cone soggy from all the ice-cream I'd pile onto it. 2-the sprinkles were a surprise at the end of my treat. 

A surprise and a sog defender - you can't go wrong.

"What do you mean I'm not getting more when this is gone?  I don't understand those words.  Are you not aware of what I am capable of?  I'll throw a tantrum in public.  Try me."
"I'm so happy."
Happy, happy, happy!

And here's me and Voldemort.

I can call her Voldemort because Harper and I?  We're the same person.  I understand her anger and frustration.  I don't like it.  It makes me insane when she throws a tantrum, but I understand why she gets mad. She has an idea of the way the world should be and when the world doesn't fit her idea, we all suffer for it.  She's going to hear "roll with the punches" a lot, however, I'm not sure I'll be the one to model that phrase for her.  I don't roll well.  I'm actually quite square.

Anyway, after our ice-cream we walked around for a bit and saw a soon-to-be new hamburger restaurant.  This made us realize that we wanted hamburgers for dinner, so we went to Five Guys.  It was a backwards kind of day. 
The warm weather and sunshine will do that you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Behind the Scenes

When we'd go to visit my Grandma in Grand Rapids, my cousins and I used to wander around what I thought was a huge field next to her condo.  It seemed to go on forever, and the weeds were so high that they blocked the traffic noise of 28th Street, putting me in a different world. I still have the smell of those weeds in my memory. The smell is mixed up with the "S" cookies and breadsticks she used to make; all part of a lovely childhood.

If we happen to be around my Grandma's old condo when we go back to Grand Rapids, I have a bittersweet chuckle when I glance at the "gigantic field" that took up my imagination in those days.  It really wasn't that big, and now, it's pretty much non existent.  There's a bank and several more condos where those tall weeds used to be. 

But I don't think what happens to be takes away from the memory that actually is.  The field is no longer, but my memories of walking around in it with my cousins still exist.  And it might've not been the size that I thought it was, but it expanded my imagination.

And so it goes with the memories I document here.  I've found myself taking pictures of our days together "just in case" a blog entry pops in my head and then I have a picture to match what I'm writing about.  But sometimes the story that's happening isn't the one that the picture captures. 

For example, here are some shots of what we did on Friday after naptime.

The weather was beautiful on Friday, and so as Harper was playing in her crib for a bit (something she loves to do after she wakes up), Hadley and I sat out on the porch. 
Except that's not all that happened.  Hadley has been sick for a few days and it seems that with her ailments come a shortened attention span, as well as a grumpy mood.  So she sat outside for about 5 minutes but went back inside because it was too windy and her paper wouldn't lay flat. 

So then I convinced the girls to take a walk with me to our local grocery store because I thought the fresh air would do them some good.  Plus, I promised them Popsicles if they'd come with me.

Hadley wrote the list of what we needed.  Here she is crossing off "Windex" in the grocery store. (She drew a picture of a blue bottle and put a "w" underneath it.)

And here's Harper doing her best to help out, too.

And of course, the Popsicles.
I can't remember the last time the girls have been in the stroller.  I can't say that I miss pulling that thing in and out of the car, setting it up, buckling them in, and pushing them around in it.  Walking takes more time, but it's more fun for us.  Except when your kids have to constantly compete for who gets to be first and they end up shoving and pushing each other out of the way until they fall on top of one another and land face first on the sidewalk outside of the grocery store. 

Then it's not so fun.  Then I have to carry them both while they're screaming about being hurt and wanting to be first. 

Moving on....

As I mentioned, Hadley has been sick, and this is primarily what she did for most of the weekend.  She doesn't nap anymore, but the past few days she'd sit down on the couch and just fall asleep.  So Sunday, the girls and I stayed in our PJ's and watched a few Glee scenes while Jesse went to church.
(Jesse was the "deacon on duty" yesterday, otherwise he would've stayed at home with us.)

Hadley got tired and wanted to lay down, so she went into her room.  Harper decided that Hadley needed a story read to her before she went to sleep.

Here's a little video to give you a better idea of the sweet and grumpy that I'm trying to express:

Here's what else happened that I didn't take a picture of.  When we were at the grocery store, I accidentally got into a line where the light was off.  The girl said she was about to take a break and I made an attempt to get out of line, but then she recognized me and said, "Oh, I can take YOU!  I haven't seen you in forever!  How are you?  How are the girls?"

And then on Sunday evening, as Jesse was getting ready to go back to church, we got a phone call from another deacon who said he'd be in church and since Hadley was sick he'd take the responsibility so Jesse didn't need to go.

I'm taking a creative nonfiction class, and the first line of the course description is a line from Emily Dickinson, "Tell all the truth, but tell it slant."  I like that.  The truth is the weekend was filled with both sunshine and cold wind.  It had frustrating and funny parts to it.  There was running and falling, and laughing and crying. I like that we live in a community where people at the grocery store know us, and people at our church are willing to offer help even when we don't ask.  I like that we live in a place where we have a little "field" of our own that we can walk through.

And while we're walking through this little field, we can stop and note that we have matching shoes on our feet.

So I'll keep taking pictures and jotting down notes of what we're doing with our days together.  I think part of the fun with writing these posts is figuring out what the memory will be.  It could be about a favorite breakfast spot.

Or time spent drawing band-aids on a triceratops.

I'll take it all, whatever it ends up being.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Because I Should've Been an English Major

Jesse and I were in Australia a few years ago visiting my brother while he was there for awhile.  One night we watched a movie that I forgot the name of, and actually don't remember much about the story except a very small part.  The main character had just moved somewhere new, and as he was wandering around his new area, there was this great line about how right now, the things he was looking at - stop signs, store fronts, cafes, etc - are all strange and maybe intimidating.  But it won't be long before these things are familar and part of what makes up this person's home.

I knew we were moving to DC a few weeks after we came home from Australia, and I thought about putting that quote on a wall somewhere in our home.  As places around me became familar, I'd put pictures of them around these words to illustrate how DC was becoming a place I felt at home in. I liked the idea of something starting out as unfamilar and intimidating - maybe even overwhelming - but turning into something I identify with.

Kind of like motherhood.

I didn't pursue this idea, but I think about that scene in the movie a lot, and was reminded of it this Valentine's Day when the girls and I made a morning trip to Hadley Park.
This is a park I've been going to since Hadley was six months old.  Before she was crawling we would come here because the ground was soft and easy to play on.

And four years later, it is still a favorite place to go.
I remember once, when the girls were both in diapers, I realized as they were playing at this park that they both needed to be changed.  That was probably the hardest diaper duty I ever had.  Haul screaming, smelly kids to the car.  Put one screaming, smelly kid in a carseat.  Lay the other screaming smelly kid in the back of the car and change diaper.  Put clean screaming kid in carseat.  Take the other screaming smelly kid out and change diaper.  Go back to the park (for the love of all things good, go back to the park).

It seems that every year the girls and I go somewhere for the first time again, I take notice of how things have changed from when we were there last year at this time.  Our first trip to the park this year, I found myself pleasantly surprised how my role as "spotter" has diminished.  I may put out a hand here and there, but mostly I go to enjoy the sunshine and watch Hadley climb all over the place.

And see Harper go down the "twirly" slide.


and again.

Once, when I was at Calvin sitting in a British Literature class, we were discussing a poem by Wordsworth.  The prof was trying to help us understand what the poem was about, and in an effort to do so he had us think about a place that we return to again and again.  He told us that as the years go by, we change, but this place does not.  When you come back to it, despite what has happened over any amount of time, you know what to do in this place.  You know what it's for.  You can mark time and do a little thinking in this place. Maybe you figure things out about yourself in this place.

That seems like a nice idea of home.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

UR GR8. For realz.

Did you know Valentine's Day is coming up?  It is.  It's coming up and there's going to be some festivities at Hadley's school.  I was supposed to be a helper on that day, but I'm not allowed to bring the Harps.  It's OK because in all honesty, Harper would destroy the classroom and probably scare all the kids.

But I was in charge of getting white bags with handles on them along with Valentine's Day stickers.  This is so the kids can decorate their bags to hold their Valentine's that they get from each other.  This will be the end of their "sharing" unit, and all the kids are bringing in Valentine's for their classmates.

So I got the bags and stickers with little to no stress, but it's the Valentine's that caused a mild panic attack this week.  Were they always so tacky?  Oh, and the things they say on them!  "U R GR8."  Is it so hard to write the words out?  And also, who am I allowing my kid to say "U R GR8" too?   I'm sure all of Hadley's classmates are "GR8" indeed, but while I'm still in charge of what she can and can't write I'm taking advantage of this responsibility.

I know I wasn't the only one who thought the Valentine selections left something to be desired.  When I was at Target on Tuesday, this aisle was the most crowded aisle in the store.  All of us mothers were crammed in reaching for boxes and putting them back.  At one point I looked at the others' faces and I'm pretty sure I was displaying the same scrunched up face as they were. 

I decided I'd have Hadley make her own.

I'm really nervous about my decision.  What if Hadley gets to school the day of the party and sees everyone elses princess, Dora, Mickey Mouse,what-have-you Valentines, and then looks at hers and thinks, "THESE ARE SOOOOOO LAME!"  Case in point: I cannot STAND those light up shoes.  I hate them.  And yet, Hadley has a pair.  Why?  Because when she saw them in the store, and I saw her face as she tried them on and watched them "sparkle" (as she said), I had to get them for her.  They are so incredibly tacky, but she loves them and so I got them for her. What if she thinks those other Valentine's are super cool and she hates the ones she made?  I've single handedly ruined her very first Valentine's Day party because I made her make her own Valentine's cards.

This is my train of thought as I drove home from Target.

But we made them anyway.  I cut out hearts and glued them on some red notecards (with matching red envelopes), and wrote "Happy Valentine's Day" on each of them.  Then I got out some pens for Hadley to write her name and do some doodling on each one.

Look at those cute hands. 

And look how proud!
My mom is going to contemplate disowning me for writing this, but there's this scene in Eddie Murphy's "Delirious" (I can hear her now, "OH Callie, don't talk about that!") where the neighborhood kids are eating burgers.  I think they're from McDonalds.  Little Eddie wants a burger too, and his mom says she can make one for him.  So she makes him a hamburger and it's nothing like the one from McDonalds.  It's huge and there's grease running down his arm and I think he starts to cry.  This is what I'm imagining is going to happen when Hadley passes out her Valentine's to the kids.  They're like three times bigger then the ones that were in Target.  Will that upset her?  Will she think her pictures are dumb?  Will she wish I got her the ones with princesses on them?  Should I stop writing this post and head back to Target and get the "UR GR8" ones?

Hadley loved making her cards, and she can't wait to give them to her classmates, so I'm just going to not worry about it and eat cupcakes instead.

U R GR8.  For real.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Red Dress Club Prompt - Somebody Tells a Joke; Somebody Cries

Every summer the Little League teams in the Chicago suburbs were invited to Comiskey Park for “Little League Night” (at least, that’s what I’m calling it now). We got to wear our baseball uniforms, eat hotdogs, watch the Sox play, and the highlight was being able to walk around the baseball diamond while the crowd cheered and the organ played, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (or maybe it was “Pump Up the Jam”).

The night I went I had previously spent several hours at the dentist’s office getting a root canal. I needed a root canal because I’d gotten half my front tooth knocked out during one of my baseball games.

I love the reactions I get when people find out my tooth was knocked out during a baseball game. They look at me like I might be an athlete, and if I knew enough about baseball, I’d make the next part up and create a character who won the game while sacrificing her front tooth.

What happened was this: I was sitting on the bench in the dugout, trying to draw a butterfly in the dirt with my shoe. I heard cheers and screams, and looked up to see my teammate running the bases. She got to home plate before the other team could get the ball, resulting in a homerun. We jumped and “hoorayed” as she ran into the dugout slapping her “five” and hitting her helmet.

Now that I think about it, I don’t know how her helmet came into contact with my tooth. I was one of the last people to congratulate her, so maybe she wasn’t paying attention. Or, more likely, I lost interest in congratulating her and turned my attention to my butterfly dirt sketch.

What I do remember was the crack I heard when her head hit my tooth. And then the sand-papery feel of what was left of my tooth. Suddenly that warm summer breeze was frigid when I breathed in, and I put my hand over my mouth quickly to protect it while tears streamed down my cheeks.

So after the root canal, I’m walking around the baseball diamond at Comiskey, and all I can think about is the root my dentist showed me when he took it out of my mouth.

“Do you want to keep it?” he asked my mom.

“NO!” With that one word my mom was able to express disgust as well as her suspicion that the dentist might be nuts.

 As we drove home on the Eisenhower, we were behind a school bus filled with adults, that to my 4th grade mind, were not following the rules of good riding-the-school-bus-behavior. You NEVER stick your head out of the window, or stand up while the bus is moving. And you certainly don’t pull your pants down and press your butt up against the back window so the family in the brown caravan with the 9 and 11 year old kids can see it.

“What is he doing?” my brother said, a mixture of awe and fear in his voice.

My mom, never to miss an educational moment, said,

“Kids? That’s what you call a pressed ham.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lessons Learned At Arts and Crafts Class

 Today we went to an arts and crafts class, and here is what I learned.

Lesson 1:

 Harper doesn't listen to anyone.  She is going to do what she's going to do, no matter what.  The teacher told us to bring smocks to class, so I did.  Hadley?  She put it on right away.  All the other kids did too, and I would like to add here that there are both boys and girls in the class.  Everyone put their smocks on. 

Not Harper.

We worked with red paint, can you tell?  It's on her face, on her pants, all over the chair, and on the table. 
"Harper, you have paint all over you.  Do you want to put your smock on now?"
"No.  I'm not putting on my smock. Right. Now."  That's what she does when she's trying to sound like she really means what she's saying.  Like this, "I'm not cleaning up. Right. Now."  Or, "I'm not going to eat my apple. Right. Now."

Also, when the teacher was explaining the three crafts we were going to make, Harper, in not a quiet voice kept asking me, "Can you trace my hand, Mommy, PLEEEEEEASE?"

"Harper, we need to listen to the teacher."

"Don't wanna listen to the teacher. Right. Now."

Lesson 2

Hadley is super fast.  Today's crafts had to do with the Chinese New Year, so we made hats, a bunny rabbit (it's the year of the rabbit), and lanterns.  The parents get the materials for the kids, and I thought I'd start with the stuff for the hats.  Before you could say "Ni Hao Kai Lan", Hadley says, "I'm done."
"You're done?"
"Yea, what's the next thing we're gonna make?"

Meanwhile, Harper's painting the room red.

Lesson 3.

I'm that guy with the clipboard and the lab coat in the movie The Dream Team.  Do you know who I'm talking about?  Christoper Lloyd plays this character who is in a mental hospital in this movie.  He walks around with a clipboard with a list of things to do, and a very detailed schedule of the day.  He likes things very neat and organized, and he doesn't do well when the plan changes, or people aren't following rules.  He didn't know why he was in the hospital.

And honestly, I don't know why he was either. His behavior seems like good common sense, to me.

I was reminded of him today as I was going back and forth getting art supplies for the girls.  There was one hole punch for the entire group, and I swear the teacher told the parents to keep it on the counter, but I never saw it once.  That was annoying, but what really got me was the kid who was using the only stapler available to staple newspaper together.  The newspaper was not part of the projects we were working on.  It was to prevent a mess.  OK, fine.  Your kid likes to staple newspaper together?  Mine likes to paint the table, chairs, and herself red.  But tell your kid to share the darn thing because I need to staple my kids' lantern together so they stop yelling at me from across the room, "Mommy!  My lantern doesn't work! Why doesn't it work?  Mommy!  Fix it! Fix it!"

This would not have happened if I had a clipboard.  And my own stapler.  OK, so maybe I'm like that guy from The Office, too.

Lesson 4.

Nothing is better than watching to the magic of what a teacher can do.  Hadley is obsessed with mixing colors.  She loves to talk about what happens when you mix yellow and blue, or what have you.  While the teacher was walking around the room, she stopped what Hadley was working on and after complimenting Hadley on her work, she said, "Now how did you get pink?  I didn't put pink paint out today."

"I mixed 'em."
"You mixed the paints?"
"Yea.  I mixed the red and white to make pink."  Hadley is beaming at this point.  Like she's teaching the teacher something. 
"Now that's a great idea."

Year O' the Rabbit, indeed.