Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What we're up against

The other night we had macaroni and cheese for dinner. It was actually leftover macaroni and cheese, but that did not eclipse its position at the top of the Toddler Food Pyramid. The accompanying peas, usually welcomed, were slighted.

When D3 pushed her plate back for more noo-noos, I pointed out that the peas needed to be all gone first. A few minutes later, she shoved an empty plate across the table. Suspicious, I peered into her bib and discovered she'd deposited all of them in her bib. I poured them back out on the plate and repeated the requirement.

The meal continued as I tended to the other children and chatted with DOB. And then, I noticed to my perplexity, that I seemed to be eating peas with my fingers. I looked down, and there was D3, quietly holding up one pea at a time and murmuring, "Here, mama" while I absent-mindedly picked them up and ate them. Once I noticed it, I realized it had been going on for a considerable time.

"Wait a minute!" I said, "*You* are supposed to eat the peas."

She batted her eyelashes at me.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Breather

Well, the Evil Virus seems to have departed, or nearly departed, the premises, after infecting each one of us in slow, agonizing succession.

Surprisingly, about midway through the attack, but of course after I personally had recovered, all the housekeeping and child-wrangling things seemed to fall into place for me: we found a working schedule, I got on top of the toy mess and stayed there, and life, in short, resolved itself into a serene pattern (interspersed with handing around the bucket).

If my past life is any guide, this means everything is about to go crazy again. Of course, a closer analysis of my past life indicates that it is just the point where everything settles down that I deliberately undertake something crazy. Apparently I find functionality boring. But, with DOB's bar results only a week away, chances are good that things will change soon, one way or another.

A big part of the leap in schedule functionality has been putting the twins in their room to play for twenty minutes or so each morning. We have a singing time all together first, and then D1 and D2 get some "real school" time at the table. They are quivering with excitement over the arrival of *handwriting* books. This is my one concession to structure, because I think as much as they are writing on their own they should probably not be writing things backwards any more.

Then we go outside to play. So far we have not permanently lost D4, as he still likes to check in on me occasionally, but his obsession with going "Up the hill!" "Down the hill!" "Up the hill!" keeps us well-exercised. D3 tends to stick closer, in case she needs something, a newly discovered sentence structure: "I need up!" "I need changed!" "I need chocolate!"

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

And STILL not what I was hoping for

The stomach flu still lingers like a guest who didn't ask for decaf, hitting us each in turn, and sometime in turn again. We missed church, we missed the next-to-last week of AWANA, we missed the last ship tour on this side of the Sound for a few months, and we've missed quite a few meals.

On the other hand, there are a lot of worse weeks it could have come on, so we'll try not to complain too loudly.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Not what I was hoping for

We had plans today to drive along the coast and tour an old-style sailing ship with the older two ducklings. Their Majesties were going to supervise the twins, and the day dawned blue and golden.

And I have the stomach flu. DOB has it more mildly, and D1 fell asleep at 10 and napped for two and a half hours, which is about as much sickness as she ever manifests. So far everyone else is perfectly well and very noisy. I lie about and moan faintly occasionally. Thanks to B5 we have a new stack of books in from the library, so I have that small consolation.

We're hoping to visit the ship at another port next Wednesday. If I live that long.

From Now to Eternity

Semicolon has been posting the most popular poems from her poetry survey, and along the way mocking a bit the conviction of various poets that their words would grant immortality to the subjects of their poems. (Listen to the YouTube clip while you're over there; it's amazing.) The irony is, egotistical as they sound, they were quite right: here we all are, still reading them sing the praises of their long-dead loves.

Perhaps it is not just ego, either. For the whole point of writing a poem is to capture a fleeting moment and transform it into something permanent. We are always losing everything, every moment, and we fight to catch it and hold it back. No wonder life doesn't feel real until we have captured it, like the family Chesterton mentioned that felt their existence confirmed when their own suburb warranted mention in the Times. It's not even our life itself that we love--it's the glimpses it gives us of something more.

Which reminds me of my very inconsistent aversion to photography. The ducklings often clamor to have their picture taken and I grudge them, not just because I don't want to go hunt the camera and a fresh set of batteries up, but because I hate the thought of them suspending their involvement in what they are doing to pose. But perhaps they are, in a childish way, trying to do the same thing I do in words: they don't just want to climb the tree, they want to capture the moment of climbing the tree and turn it into something transcendent.

Then again, maybe they just like mugging for the camera. And maybe the poets just really do have inflated ideas of their own importance. And maybe I just blog because I'm in love with the sounds of my own keys tapping. But I think for all of us, whether we succeed at the effort or fail miserably, at the heart what we want is not just attention, but eternity.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On the Road Again

Last weekend we drove down to Corvallis to visit our friends at Blue Castle Photography. Not only did we get a lovely weekend of relaxing and operating at little-kid speed (eat, go to the park, take a nap), but we got family pictures, too! They do an amazing job at capturing us at our better moments and getting everyone to look relaxed.

D1 especially reached celebrity status as their little boy, a couple years younger, discovered that she could read. It's roughly the equivalent of being able to drive to young teenagers.

On our trip down, we discovered that having older children does not always make for easier travel, as the twins are now much bigger, louder, wigglier, and less sleepy than they were last fall. And D3 has developed some susceptibility to motion sickness, although the traffic we had for the entire trip down would have developed motion sickness in anyone. We had more screams and moans on the four hour (well, actually more like five) drive down than we had in two weeks crossing the country.

Our trip back up was an easier drive, but somehow the twins managed to stay awake the entire time, D4 by sheer force of will and shouting, "Hey, Mama!" every three minutes. They have both reached the stage where they wish to converse, but find themselves short on topics. When "Hey, Mama!" begins to pall, they will often bring up the topic of cows. Which go "moo." And then they go "moo" some more. Chickens don't go "moo." That's about as far as the conversation goes.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Looking Sheepish

Low Lights

"Low" is an adverb describing a lack of altitude, literally or metaphorically, with a broad variety of application: lowdown, low spirits, low condition, low temperature, low comedy, low notes. Use any and all such applications freely.

But please, do not ask "low" to stand in for the interjection, "Lo!" meaning something akin to "There it was!" only more sudden, as in "And lo! the Angel of the Lord came upon them." It wouldn't be nearly as impressive if low, the Angel of the Lord started talking out of gopher holes.

Nor does it make any sense to speak of "Low and behold." You wouldn't say "bee-hold" as if you were coddling insects. Just because it sounds the same doesn't mean it is the same.