Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thanks for the...uh...help?

As I mentioned the other day, the girls are repeating every thing we say.  They are also mimicking our actions.  They so desperately want to be helpful, and they are most times.  A few times, however, they've missed the mark.

Some of the shorter examples of this include putting shoes on the wrong feet, closing doors and drawers that are still needing to be open (fridge, pantry, etc.), and buckling themselves into their high chairs about an hour before a meal is ready.

One other instance will take a bit more explanation - so here it is.

Julia and I each have a glass of water on the nightstand when we go to bed.  In the mornings, we typically dump any remaining water into a plant or the sink, and start with a fresh glass each night.  Brynne has seen this procedure countless times.
Do you drink enough water?
She also sees me putting all my beauty products back into my drawer in the bathroom each morning when I'm done with them.  As they finish each meal, they observe me washing, drying, and putting away dishes.  They've really done an excellent job of learning to pick up after themselves and put everything where it belongs.  Almost. 

I came into the bathroom Monday and slipped in a little puddle of water.  I noticed my water glass sitting on the sink.  Brynne followed me in and had a grin on her face - she was so pleased with herself for helping out.

I grabbed a towel and cleaned up the spillage, praising her for helping and knowing what to do without having first been told.  I then went to get the deodorant out of my drawer.  It was sitting a little higher than everything else.  Actually, it was floating. 

I looked back to Brynne, but she had vacated the premises.  I'm now not sure if that smile was from being pleased or from the satisfaction of a cleverly devised prank.

She apparently thought EVERYTHING went into the drawer.  The good news is the drawers appear to be watertight.  The bad news is that not every container in there is.

I found her in the living room and told her water goes in the sink, NOT in Papa's drawer.  She nodded, said yes sir (which Mama has been working on with them), and went to get a book to read.

Last night, as I was putting them down to bed, I carried them into the bathroom and slipped again.  This time, the puddle was much larger.  This time, there were two water glasses on the sink.  There was no praise now, and there was no smile either.  I opened the drawer to find exactly what I expected - everything again floating on two glasses worth of water.

We had a very one-sided conversation about where water goes.  I then had a one-sided discussion with myself to make sure I remembered to dump out my excess water every morning.





Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vocabulary quiz

What a weekend we had!  The girls are now repeating every single thing we say.  Not only that, but they are understanding what the words mean and are able to reuse them appropriately.  Fortunately, I've been able to keep Mama from swearing too much in front of them, so they haven't dropped any inappropriate words, yet.

Looking outside our window, we have fee bidfeebers.  There are constantly mummingbids, yeggo feenches, cawdinalls, and bees hanging around.  Translation of the words in italics - three birdfeeders, hummingbirds, yellow finches, cardinals, and bees.

Just past the bidfeebers, for three days only, we had a POOL!! Pool is a very exciting word for the girls.  You can see them in action at Mama's blog.

They played with grandpapa, grandma, and their dog Chloe.  We taught them grandma and grandpa, but they turned grandpa into grandpapa on their own.  It was so awesome to see them make the connection between a papa and a grandpa, and then speak accordingly.

Words have now become sentences.  Though they are in broken English, we can understand them.  More importantly, other people can too! 

One of their favorite activities is taking the hose, filling up the dog's water dish (when we have them outside), and then carrying it ever so slowly to the dogs.  If they don't drink right away, they'll tell them "Weewee, Siobah, drink wawa" (Winnie, Fiona, drink water).  Then, they'll pick up the dish and move it closer.  The dogs will take a drink, probably to get the girls to stop following them around, but maybe because they were thirsty.

When they're not watering the flowers or mowing with their "wawnmowers", all they want to do is "RUUUNNNNNNNNNN", "HANG TEE" (hang from the tree), and "JUMP"

Hadley strung a six word sentence together for the first time.  She and papa both have skinned knees - mine from baseball and hers from an unfortunate run-in with the sidewalk.  Brynne loves to touch said knees and say "boo-boo".  Mama doesn't like the word boo-boo, so she is working on changing that to sore.  After Brynne touched Hadley's boo-boo sore, Hadley exclaimed "Papa, Hadley, sore knees, NO TOUCH!".

They have also taken up our efforts to keep the pups quiet.  They get the sternest look on their faces and holler "Weewee/Siobah/Chloe NO!".  Even Chloe, who has very little experience with them, quiets down and backs away.

Unfortunately, we did have one negative blip to the weekend.  As we were sitting on the deck at 7:30 or so Friday, we saw a police car drive by very slowly with his window down.  He appeared to be listening intently for something.  Our dogs had been outside for an hour or so, and had barked only when Julia's parents arrived with their dog.  I noticed our wonderful neighbors had been outside moments earlier.  I can only hope the officer was in the area for another reason, but I doubt it.  In case you've missed it, here and here and here is the back story on this.







Thursday, May 24, 2012

These terrible twos....

aren't really too bad so far.  We're having a lot of fun watching the girls grow, both mentally and physically.  Here are just a few quick pics from the last week to show you what I mean.

Here are my three lovely ladies, lounging in bed while I get ready to go to work.  Nobody looks ready to get up.
Brynne prefers to be read to while holding the next book...

while Hadley does it just fine on her own.
I let them entertain themselves for half an hour and this is all the mess they could make.  Not typical.
Sassy, just like her Mama.
A beautiful smile, again, just like her Mama.
Great organizational skills!  Though they did hide most of the pieces of a puzzle toy in that big (completely enclosed) speaker.  How they managed to get the pieces in through that little hole in the front is beyond me.  It took 15 minutes and every additional part of the vacuum cleaner, to get them back out, though.
I'm sure it'll get worse, otherwise they wouldn't call it the terrible twos.  For now, we're just enjoying as much as we can.

Happy Thursday!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Things I've learned recently

Here's another list for your reading pleasure.

1 - A 2-0 fastball right down the middle is the best way to end a "four baseball game in three day" weekend. 

2 - You know you need sleep when it's 8 PM, you're home alone with your sleeping twins, and you come to your senses as you're walking to the car to run a quick errand.  

3 - Seeing a father and child playing catch is pretty cool.  Even if the father is standing halfway down a steep hill and chasing every other throw to the bottom.

4 - A two hour lunch with a client where we talk zero business is the best kind of meeting.

5 - Some people just don't know how to negotiate.  You give and you take, you don't just take. 

6 - The thing you hate most about your own house will be a selling point when you list it, and you will defend it like you would your child.

7 - You may struggle understanding other toddlers, but with your own, most words are clear as can be.

8 - Going a day without seeing your children hurts.

9 - Business travel sucks, especially when you go to a coast from the Midwest and are there less time than you spend traveling there.

10 - Celebrate everything your children do.  No matter how big or how small.  You will remember their smiles more than the event which caused it.

11 - Having a toddler wake up with a dry diaper, then immediately asking to go potty in the actual potty, is so fantastic.

12 - Walking out to the backyard and finding your dog run has collapsed is frustrating.  Especially when you can't tell if the wire has worn out (after only a few years) or if it was cut by someone.

13 - Having both of your girls yell "BOO-BOO" as they stick a finger into the strawberries on your knees is funny and excruciating at the same time.

Thirteen is my lucky number, so I'll stop here.  What a week!

Friday, May 11, 2012

In response to the stupid neighbor

As you may recall, in my last post, I told you I would be destroying my neighbor's claims.  So here we go.  I'll try to keep it nice, but you might want to read this before letting your children. 

You might not have to "hide yo kids, hide yo wife" after all.

"We live in a very nice neighborhood and shouldn't have to put up with this. All the neighbors are fed up with it. Nobody else leaves their dogs out for three hours. I can understand an hour, but not three."
That's what she said on the phone.  Rubbish.

Yes, we do live in a nice neighborhood, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a very nice one.  Why?  Because very nice neighborhoods don't have properties the owners don't maintain.  Owners like, oh I don't know, let me just pick someone out.  Maybe like you.

1 - You have multiple screens in your windows with large gashes in them.  Not little cuts, but foot long gashes where the screen is flayed open.  For less than $10 you can buy a kit to repair them.  I've done it myself and will help if you want.  While you're at it, maybe you'd like to put the screen door back on the tracks instead of having it lean against the house.

2 - The yard looks great.  I love what you've done with it.  Nobody else had the idea to get rid of a good portion of actual grass and let bare spots and weeds be accented by the occasional pile of crap.  Way to be a trendsetter.

3 - I take that back.  You do have a nice section of grass.  It's right along your fence line and looks to be about 18 inches tall.  It's nice and green, but I'm sure you've just overlooked that when you drove by on your riding lawnmower. 

Seriously?!?  You need a rider for that "yard"?  I could probably use the weed eater to mow your yard in about the same time it takes you to use the rider.
If he'd thought of this, he'd be doing it instead.
4 - The little bench in the yard, on the side of the house, is only lacking three of the five boards needed to sit on and two of the four back support pieces, which is probably why I've never seen anyone actually sit there in six years.  It might be cozy on a cool fall evening, seeing how it's right next to the homemade portable fire pit with the rusted out bottom. 

Perhaps having nowhere to place the wood is what prevents you from using it.  I'd still use it, if I were you, since there's no grass to catch fire near it.  Seeing how it sits eight inches from the house, I'm sure you have plenty of clearance so you don't have to worry about melting the siding.  If that worries you, just wait until next time you mow.  When you push it around with the rider to avoid getting up and actually moving it, just put it where you want it.

5 - While we're talking about the fence and siding, can I just say how much I love the job you've done painting it?  There's nothing wrong with the red color you chose.  It matches the yellow house quite nicely.  It especially matches the part of the yellow house you painted red.  In case you ever get another wild hair up your ass and decide to repaint, might I advise NOT spray painting while the wind is gusting?  I'm sure you'll get that fixed up right away, it's only been three years.

6 -  The 10 foot by 30 foot fence you installed encompasses a hot tub, swimming pool, patio, and rotting jungle gym thing.  Well planned.  You have one foot of clearance around all items.  I bet your dog just LOVES all that free space to run around.  If you were to play fetch, the dog would have to run to the ball, pick it up in it's mouth, and walk backwards to bring it to you.  FUN!  But, since you're more worried about my dogs than yours, I never see you play with it, so no need to worry about that.

I might have considered paying the extra $50 to extend that fence out another 10 or so feet, but since you couldn't get the rider in there to mow, you probably made the best choice for yourself.

7 - You have a two car garage, yet one car in is the driveway and one is mostly in the street, parked facing the wrong way.  I say mostly because you tend to park in the yard.  At least you're in no danger of killing grass.  Instead of vehicles, you choose to fill the garage with the rider, a motorcycle badly in need of a muffler (I can hear that when you go cruising around the subdivision at two miles an hour so everybody can see how cool you are), and a treadmill/clothesline. 

I do appreciate when you hang your stars and stripes micro-thong speedo on it as opposed to being slung over the fence where I would have to see it - bet your wife can't get enough of you in that.  I know I threw up in my mouth when I saw you parading around with it on.  I have a long t-shirt I will gladly give to you, in case you feel like covering up.
Next year's swimsuit.
8 - Your mailbox, well, I guess there's nothing wrong with your mailbox.  Finally, I've found something you've done right. 

That's enough of that, for now.  On to the rest of your comment.  There are ten houses which form our inside circle of backyards.  I've spoken to eight of the other owners.  None of them have any issues.  Most of them have dogs, and one of them even apologized once she found out you called the cops as her cat "prances around the backyard antagonizing your dogs every chance she gets". 

Our next door neighbor's dog was outside the whole time they were today, four hours or so.  The neighbors next to us on the other side regularly leave their dogs out all day, and bark back and forth with mine while running along the fence line.  One other house has two new puppies and they are out in the mornings, evenings, and a lot on weekends.  The neighbors across the street from you have two dogs in their front yard all the time on a lead from a stake.  They barked for three hours yesterday when I was outside, yet no cops were called.  Interesting. 

You thought a stake in the ground which labeled vegetables was actually a grave marker for all the animals we've killed.
RIP tomato and carrot.  You were good dogs.
You thought our dogs were tied to a tree when in fact they are on a 30 foot dog run with a ten foot lead.

You thought buying a bikini four sizes too small would look good on you.

Based on your past thinking, you'll have to forgive me for not believing you can understand such abstract concepts as units of time.  I'm not sure you know what an hour is.  I know you don't know how long it takes for three hours to pass, as every time you call the cops you claim the dogs have been barking that long. 

Here's something we agree on - you don't understand three.

I rest my case.

PS - I would have loved to take pictures of all of these things at their house and post them, but I didn't want to run the risk of getting caught, so you'll just have to visualize.



Thursday, May 10, 2012

I have a new phone number label in my cell phone

It's Stupid Neighbor.  I was going to name it something else, but I have enough entries under B already.

The saga began a few months ago, and you can read my wife's take on it here, while my view is here.

Two weeks ago, on a beautiful 70 degree day, at 6:30 PM, the cops showed up again.  Our wonderful neighbors called them out, again.  As I went to bring the dogs inside, I could see her out in their backyard.  She appeared to be antagonizing the dogs so they would be barking while the cops drove by.

This time, it turns out, they were having a party at their house and didn't want to be disturbed.  Of course they told the cops it was barking, but truth is only a minor detail - so easily overlooked.  We could have called the police back out due to the screaming and yelling as 40 year-old idiots did cannonballs into their 2.5 foot above ground pool, but decided not to.
I think this is what their pool might look like.
The cop also asked me not to go down there and say anything as the last time I did, she called them back and chewed them out.  She thought the officer told me who had called them.  Lovely woman.  I did him the favor of not going down there, and asked him to do me a favor and just call me next time to save a trip for himself.  He couldn't do that, so I wished him well, until next time.

This time, all I did was leave a note on their car, asking them to stop wasting the cops time and just call me if they had an issue.  I said it nicer than that, but it was the same message.

Today, she called me.  At NOON!  Our dogs have been outside for three hours, barking non-stop - according to her.  Actually, they have been outside most of the morning, but only started barking once the neighbors were out mowing their yard.

Apparently,
"We live in a very nice neighborhood and shouldn't have to put up with this.  All the neighbors are fed up with it.  Nobody else leaves their dogs out for three hours.  I can understand an hour, but not three."
I called Julia and she was in the middle of lunch with the the girls.  I called the neighbor back, informed her the problem would be taken care of and asked if she could give my wife ten minutes or so to finish the meal.  She said okay.  I also informed her the neighbors were outside mowing, which was causing the issue.  Their dog was also outside barking.  She said she knew they were out there.  I asked if she wanted me to call them and have their dog taken inside, and she said no.  I apologized again, thanked her for the call, and said we'd try to limit their time outside to smaller chunks.

I didn't mean any of it, but I thought it could do no harm to try and make her feel heard.  Turn the other cheek, smother it with love, or whatever you want to call it.  Maybe this will help the situation.  Maybe not. 
Giving them two cheeks is not the same as turning the other cheek.
With any luck, we'll be moving soon and this will all be behind us.

In the next post, I'm going to vent a bit.  I'll take her statements and lay out my case as to why she is wrong.  Should be a lot of fun.  At the very least, it will be therapeutic.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bathtime fun

Bath night used to be the girls sitting in the tub while we washed them.  This would be followed by them trying to escape our grasp as we toweled them off and prepared them for bed.

At some point, it became more about playing than cleaning.

They HAVE to be in the tub when the water is running so they can hold toys under to flow and clean them.  If they're not in the tub, they'll be standing at the edge, leaning precariously over the deepening water. 
I protect the faucet from little ones and little ones from the faucet.

Once the toys have been rinsed, a wash cloth is used to scrub them clean and dry them.  Sometimes, they are lined up on the side of the tub and at other times they are tossed back into the water.  The two larger animals, dolphin and turtle, are guided along the edge of the tub and up the shower walls.  For some reason, they make a VROOM sound like the cars and trucks do.

In the past, if water so much as touched one of their faces, they would be reduced to tears and screams.  Now, they stick their faces in the water to blow bubbles, pour water over each other's head, or use a "water gun toy" to spray one another.  Typically, as soon as a face is wet, the wash cloth is used to dry it off. 

More often than not, the first attempt to dry a face is done by grabbing the wash cloth straight from the bottom of the tub.  It's a funny thing, wet wash cloths do a poor job of drying things off.  So after they wring it out, they try again.

Once they're all clean we need to dry off.  They MUST get a dab of lotion on their hands so they can rub it in themselves.  Actually, they need to get a little dab about a dozen times.  Once they're dried, lotioned, and dressed, they INSIST on putting everything back in the proper drawer and putting the rolling drawer thing in the closet.

Only then can we brush hair and leave the bathroom.

It's turned into one big game.  Most of the time we have fun, but not on the days they don't nap well.

The only thing I can say to share what that is like is to quote one of Brynne's favorite sayings:
"Uh-oh"

Monday, May 7, 2012

Caught in the act

Hadley rarely gets disciplined.  Brynne, well, let's just say she doesn't get away with much of anything.
Based on that statement, you might think Hadley is an angel and Brynne is a demon.  You're wrong if you're thinking that.  They're both demons, but Hadley is sneaky.  I assume anyone with children has this same issue, so I'll add my foolproof methods to catching the sneaky demon child in the act.
It felt like this when it happened to me, but I can now see the other side of it.
Here are a few scenarios and the corresponding actions to take as a parent:

SCENARIO:  It's nap time.  We can hear the squeaking of the springs in their beds as they jump up and down - a clear violation of rules.  When Julia goes into the room to check on them, she finds Hadley laying down with her eyes closed and Brynne bouncing.  We know they were each jumping, as we can identify the unique sounds their beds make, but Hadley is laying there quietly.

SOLUTION - Burst through the door and don't give Hadley a chance to lay down.  The only downfall is she tries to move quicker, usually resulting in her cracking her head against the side of the bed.  It might be difficult (for the parent) to discipline a child who is already crying, but I know she's faking it and hoping it will get her out of trouble.  Nice try little demon!

SCENARIO:  They're playing in the living room.  We can hear them calling for Winnie and Fiona.  As we enter the room we find Brynne standing on the couch, looking over the back at the dogs, while Hadley is sitting down, trying to look all innocent.  Sometimes, she's gone so far as to have a book in her lap.

SOLUTION:  Since they don't do this when we're in the room, I go outside.  Then, when I look in the window I can clearly watch her.  Someday, she'll figure out I can see inside, but for now, she is oblivious.

SCENARIO:  In most sports, the retaliation penalty is called, but not the initial foul.  Both girls are good at inflicting the first blow covertly.  Hadley can make the payback appear to be accidental contact, such as stumbling into her sister and knocking her down, or swinging a toy without looking to see if anyone or anything is in the vicinity.  Brynne, on the other hand, is just a bulldozer.  You could put a brick wall between them and she'd go all Kool-Aid man on it to get at her sister.
I think the Kool-Aid man is using steroids, not a sugary drink, to get his energy and rage.
SOLUTION:  Not every scenario has a good solution.  Sometimes you just can't catch it all.  Unless we see the first shot, or unless there is evidence of it (bite marks, a hand print, etc.), we might have to let it go.  Soon, the girls will be able to tell us exactly what was done to them, but for now, we are stuck guessing. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Who am I talking to?

Here is a quick list of things I find myself saying frequently at home:

No.

Sit.

Stay.

No.

Don't eat anything off the floor.

Don't eat grass.

No.

Don't touch the oven.

You need to sit on your bottom or lay down when you're on a chair.

No.

You're not supposed to be in this room.

Don't go to the bathroom there.

No.

Excuse you.

How about some kisses?

No.

Do you want to go outside?

Be quiet.

No.

Can you tell which comments are directed toward a dog and which ones are for children?  I'll give you a hint - anything in italics applies to both.