Monday, April 30, 2007

tree fishing

Today's theme song:

I'm not sure how it came about. We came home from the gym saturday morning (John and I joined the local Y--they provide free child care!) and I then ran back out to the dry cleaners. Ten minutes later I was back home and John and the girls were in the yard and he was putting the finishing touches on the last of 3 fishing poles, made from twigs and twine. Some corn cob pipes, a raft, and a traveling companion named Jim would have completed the picture nicely (not to mention, some water, and, ah, fish), but it was pretty humorous as it was.

The twins kept "casting" their lines at the various trees in an effort to "catch" them. Those poor trees didn't stand a chance. Occasionally lines became entangled and tempers got testy. A little while later John got some small animal toys in the house and tied one to everyone's poles, so they brought in a good catch for their efforts.

In quite the turnaround in overall refinement for the weekend, Grandma dug out some princess paraphernalia for the girls to dress up in at her house on sunday. Sparkling heels, tiaras, and scepters galore. Good grief.

Allison even walked by John and me and gave us the "beauty queen" wave. The first time I thought it was a fluke, but there was no doubting it by the third time.

I guess the little princesses don't know about, or don't trust, hired help when it comes to their horsies because they took them outside to graze in Grandma's hedge for a while before dinner. The horsies were mighty hungry, or the hedge needed trimming, or both.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

"octagon is my favorite"

Erin had her kindergarten assessment interview this morning. A teacher took her into another room while I filled out a couple of forms and kept the twins occupied. There was a window in the room so I saw some of what went on but I couldn't hear much of anything.

She wrote the numbers from 1 to 10, she wrote her name, she pointed out various letters she was asked about in either upper or lower case, she was a given a paper with various shapes drawn on it and asked to color each one in with a different color and to name the shapes and colors. "Octagon is my favorite," she told the teacher, "why isn't there an octagon?"

Then the teacher showed her a card with words on it and when she was finished and came out I asked her about that part. Erin said the teacher asked her if she knew the words there and wanted to read them for her, and if she didn't know them it was ok, she didn't have to read.

"So did you read them?" I wondered.
"Well, I saw 'cat' and 'fox' and 'hat' and 'dog' but I didn't read them."
"Why not?"
"She said I didn't have to, and I didn't feel like it."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

party hats, walking shoes

The past few days have been your typical wacky, rowdy, silliness around here. Over the weekend the kids attended a birthday party. Key and most memorable features at the party were a) the extra lovable large doggie that lives there (Erin was terrified of him, Kate would have loved to have taken him home and traded Allison for him as a roommate),

b) the weird balloon/magician dude they hired, which none of the girls wanted to get too close to, and I can't blame them, because the way he talked and looked and acted makes Elton John of 1977 look conservative, and,

c) the cake, which features prominantly in their mind at each and every birthday party they attend.

Weird as the guy was, the girls were impressed with his various balloon creations.

At the park today Kate discovered some extra fancy plastic princess heeled shoes which were set aside by another little girl. Kate loved the clicky sound they made on the pavement, and perhaps she enjoyed being a bit taller too. I never have liked heels with jeans, personally. Oh wait, that's right, I don't like heels, period. But I gotta say, she did pull them off well. She was a model in search of a runway. Just one more tidbit to lead me to suspect that my girls were switched at birth.

Lately the dining ambiance around here has taken a turn for the worst, which really hardly seemed possible. For the past 2-3 days the twins are finding it hilarious to tear up food into little pieces, scrunch them with their hands, and yell about how yucky everything is, even if they have been given one of their favorite foods. Not that I would take their criticism seriously in any case. I mean, these are kids who drop a banana on the ground at the playground and have a fit when I insist that since it is now covered in dirt and wood chip splinters, they should not continue eating it.

I wonder if one of these days we'll have children who are well mannered enough to take to fancy restaurants. You know, like IHOP or something.

Friday, April 20, 2007

ladies and the tramps

Since it was a cold, windy, threatening to be rainy day, some of our friends invited us along on a new indoor adventure, to an all trampoline play area. Someone took a huge warehouse and put about a zillion tramps inside. Mercifully there was two areas sectioned off for little kids and their parents. Not so wonderful was the fact that the dodgeball area...yes, that's dodgeball on trampolines, was just a few feet from it. Kate and Erin almost wandered in there a couple of times and I don't think the teens who were playing for blood would have had any trouble taking advantage of such easy targets.

The tramps are all adjacent to one another including ones that are sloped against the walls, just in case the horizontal surfaces aren't challenging enough.

It was sooooooo much fun. Ah, I mean, you know, for the kids. I tried to get some good pictures but the place had no natural light at all and the huge space was too much for my little flash to illuminate. So most of my pictures turned out pretty cruddy. And besides that I discovered when you take pictures of someone jumping it mostly just looks like they're standing still with a dopey look on their face. Dopier than normal, I mean.

Next to the kiddie tramps was a gigantic area filled with blue foam cubes to dive into from the tramps. Erin called it the ocean. It was far, far, far bigger than I captured in this photo, with Allison climbing out of it.

We only paid for an hour of playtime, which ended up being plenty considering we went there immediately following the twins' gymnastics class. Then we left and had lunch with our friends and with the addition of full tummies the twins' exhaustion was obvious. They crashed hard and took a long, solid nap. I, er, we, want to go back someday.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

bubbly bug bonanza

I'm thinking we need some mood music here, so if you would, hit play. (Don Ho, rest in peace...)

That's better. Quinton brought a bubble making set-up to the park today and it was a big hit with everyone. Neither Kate nor Allison were very good at blowing bubbles but they had help. They were successful at proving something that might seem very unlikely upon first thought--too much soap can actually make you thoroughly filthy. Good work, girls.

During a snack break the kids neatly divided into a girls' and boys' seating area, which I think was initially coincidental but they noticed it quickly and teased each other back and forth about which side was favorable. And so it begins.

But good friends don't let squabbles go on for too long, especially when it's obvious to everyone that the girls' side was, and always will be, way cooler.
But our gang had important work to do, like examining a large and unfortunate roly-poly bug. I always called them potato bugs, but whatever. Neither is a very flattering term I guess.

After poking it repeatedly to observe it curl up Rylan posed with it on the tip of his finger for everyone to marvel. And Allison was anxious for her turn as well. Erin kept her distance, but was fascinated.

I'll leave you with some buggy poetry (this entry is just brimming with art and culture isn't it?)

There are bugs in your carpet and bugs in your hair.
There are millions and billions of bugs everywhere.
They will eat up your trees,
They will dig up your lawn.
You can squash all you can, but they'll never be gone.
They will dive in your food.
They will hide in your bed.
You will never get rid of your bugs.
So instead-- Ask them kindly not to bite.
Do not wash them from your hair.
Let them know you'll treat them right.
Learn to love them.
Show you care.
You might as well--
They're everywhere.
--Rick Walton

Bugs suck.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Sunday morning was off to a roaring start around here.

It was another busy day for the future physicists of america. First they had a demonstration on the importance of friction in our everyday lives. Sure, we're actually relying on friction anytime we walk anywhere, but it's more easily illustrated on sloped, smooth surfaces.

Then, because of all the rain yesterday, daddy was able to show the girls the wonderful changes that water makes to the cohesion of granular material, and how that change makes for great castle building. Allison preferred playing the role of Godzilla to her sisters' sandy Tokyo, however.

Some things just have to be learned on your own though, such as, wet or dry, sand tastes pretty yucky.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

festivus for the rest of us

You know, Festivus, from "Seinfeld"--the wacky holiday George's parents invented which no one outside the family could make sense of. That's like Picnic Day at UCDavis for me.

For CAMB members Picnic Day as the biggest day of the year and just because you've graduated doesn't mean that designation entirely disappears. I realize this makes no sense to non-Aggies. So many of my alum friends make a point of going to cheer on the current band, and see each other and the campus again. I try to go most every year and since there are so many things for kids to see and do, I like to bring Erin with me and so far she's really enjoyed going. This year was going to be challenging though--rain predicted, and my favorite events are outside. But it was only supposed to be a 40% chance of rain, in the morning, and mostly a clear day, so I tempted fate, bundled us up, brought umbrellas and changes of clothes and we were off. No use sacrificing the whole day just because we'd see a little rain early on.

Well it rained, and rained, all day. Sometimes very hard, sometimes not so hard, but it didn't stop. We still watched the band's big street show and some of the parade then ducked inside for some indoor activities. We went over to avian sciences and looked at new chicks in incubators, and some chickens and japanese quail that were just hatching. We went to animal science to see some cow milking and see some horses, goats, and sheep. We went to environmental toxicology and Erin made a paper ladybug craft and we got to take a bag of 300+ live ladybugs home with us. We had cotton candy and popcorn and walked all over the place while running into friends, seeing parade floats, grown-ups wearing animal suits, cowboys on horses, the usual idealistic college student left-wing wackiness, and general Picnic Day goodness.

We had a bite to eat with some friends and then they were all going to see the Battle of the Bands, which started at 2, outside on a huge lawn area. But neither standing up with Erin on my shoulders so she could see, nor sitting in mud appealed to me, so we reluctantly left. It's the first time I've been to PD but didn't stay to at least see the Battle get started, and with a new addition this year no less, from Oregon State University. I think they brought the rain with them. Bastards.

Back at home we decided to sprinkle our new ladybugs around our yard. I hope they like it here.
Go Ags!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

ni hao

John's in China on business this week, all week, thus our lives have been turned upside down because if you look up "daddy's girl" you will see my daughters. Yesterday at daycare Allison and Kate apparently were talking about daddy all day long. Last night, today, tonight, all 3 were asking for him, and about him, constantly. "Daddy's in a big the SKY!" Kate informed me when I picked her up yesterday. During most days at home together someone will ask about daddy at some point, but one of the others will remind her, "daddy's at work" and that's usually the end of it. They all seem to understand that this week is going to be different.

Besides the big glaring absence of the center of my girls' entire universe, things were entirely normal today. We had fun with friends at the park, we did puzzles and read, I broke up WWE wrestling in my living room a few hundred times. Erin tried a new reading game I got for her recently. She had to connect cards together like jigsaw puzzle pieces when you find the two pieces that make a sentence that rhymes. "A moth" & "sits on a cloth". So you do have to read to be able to figure out what goes with what. Erin did very well by slowly sounding out many words as she doesn't recognize most of their spellings yet.

While I made dinner she occupied the twins for me by reading to them and though she was conveying the story here accurately, this was mostly memorization.

I told the girls I'd video them so they could send daddy a message:

Sunday, April 8, 2007

no added sugar

Saturday Erin started another new class for the next few weeks--a tap and ballet dance class for kids age 3-5, her first dance class of any sort and she was very excited. Nearly all the other little girls had dance leotards and real tap shoes. Gimme a break, I'm not shelling out for that stuff at this point. Before class started music was playing and Erin got going right away.

They started with some tap basics first, then forming this sort of conga line to walk around and practice the new skills, which didn't work at all. The kids just walked and looked around confusingly. A couple of kids fell down because of their tap shoes on the slippery dance floor, and the domino effect ensued. Comical to be sure, but a good teaching technique? What do I know. This was actually a substitute teacher for just today. We'll see what the permanent teacher comes up with.

Well the easter bunny visited our house and on the girls' behalf he also left deposits at Uncle Jeff's, Grandma's, and Uncle Brad's house. The girls made out like chocolate-coated bandits. At one point I caught Allison feeding Kate treats until her cheeks were puffed out and chocolate was running down her chin. "Get a napkin!" John shouted as he held his hand out to collect drippings. But then he revisited that thought, "...or, get the camera, then a napkin!"

Then we went to Uncle Jeff's house for a some egg-dying and an egg hunt, which the kids made very quick work of.

Jeff and Grandma prepared a fantastic lunch and both Kate and Allison liked Grandma's deviled eggs and homemade rolls, and Kate just about gorged herself on ham. "More Pam! More Pam!" she kept shouting. She ate about half of my serving then another big portion that John cut up for her. Allison had a couple of bites. Erin, as usual, wouldn't try much of anything. We left there with another abundance of sugary things and a new little purse for each from Grandma.

Later on Uncle Brad came over with baskets and......more goodies! "I thought of filling them with apple slices and veggies," he mentioned, "but then I thought what the heck." I have admit I would have done the same. Leave it to the parents to push the veggies, uncles are entitled to supply treats, no question. The trick was keeping an eye on Kate while Allison and Erin were busy playing with Brad. She kept taking advantage of the distraction that having company brings by sneaking off with her basket to devour the contents in private, and all too close to dinner time.

Here is a fun photo from today of Allison giving a ride to her bunny, while getting a ride from daddy.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

do cowgirls swim?

"Yee-ha! I'm a cowgirl!" said each of the girls after getting dressed this morning. Today, along with Noemi, Lisa, Betsy, and their kids, we had an outing to a large rodeo that comes around every spring. The girls have been looking forward to this for quite a while. We came last year and Erin remembers much of the detail of that visit. The schedule today was a bit limited, but still there was plenty for animal-loving city kids to see. It was more like a county fair experience. The bull riding and big events are always in the evenings; during the days are teens showing their prize animals in smaller competitive events. Still, this was much more enjoyable for the kids than our usual livestock encounters, which involves waving at them on distant hillsides as we drive down the freeway. The entire area was open for wandering around and meeting and greeting.

I love this photo. -->

After checking out the horses outside we went into the hog barns.

Watching the hog competition, or "piggy show" as Kate and Allison called it.

Then on to the cow barns, where the kids enjoyed watching the 4H and FFA kids wash and groom their cows in prep for show.

Erin and some pals watching the cows, and getting inspired by the corporate-sponsored life lesson above them.

A little more wandering, a little lunch, and it was a great day with our friends. Then we came home and Erin had a brief nap before the next part of her exciting thursday--her first swim class. Erin's latest gymnastics session is over and her enthusiasm for it had been waning significantly anyway, so she was very happy with my suggestion that she try swimming lessons. Uncle Jeff has a pool and it would be nice to have one less potentially sinkable child I think.

We arrived and watched some other kids finish their lesson and Erin seemed thrilled to get her chance. But then when she met her teacher, a nice young man, she decided she did NOT want a "boy teacher". I guess she was expecting a woman and I didn't know who her teacher would be until we got there today. She threw a great fit and wouldn't go with the other 2 little girls into the pool, and I wasn't getting anywhere in trying to reason with her.

A supervisor came over, talked to her for a minute and ultimately just picked her up as she kicked and screamed and put her in the pool. That's just what I was hoping he'd do because she isn't afraid of the water. She loved swimming in Hawaii and at every visit to Uncle Jeff's pool. It's just time for her to learn to be free of the floaties that have made this possible up to this point.

She calmed down a bit but then the supervisor noticed that the instructor next to hers was a woman with only one student and was teaching the same level, so Erin was moved to her, which made a nice 2 students/1 teacher setup for both instructors.

She was fine for the rest of the class and seemed to enjoy everything. She followed directions and was smiling and waving at me. I hope this goes well.