Thursday, November 11, 2010

Care for a game of.....?

My girls are 23 months apart in age.  I don't know if it's their nearness in age, but they usually get along swimmingly and are usually very happy playing with each other.  I've seen some rather interesting activities come about as part of their play, a couple of them have reoccurred lately and I wanted to write them down.

There is one where one girl grabs the dog's pull rope, then waggles it in the air until the dog grabs it.  Then the other daughter grabs the dog's tail, and they trot off to make laps around the house with one daughter pulling the dog, the other being pulled by the dog.  They sing a weird little chant that sounds kind of like a limbo chant, they say "Congo, congo, Puuh-PEE! Congo, congo Puuh-PEE!"  The dog loves this, by the way.  They can do this until they're both panting. They call it, naturally, "Congo Puppy."

My girls have a problem in that though they usually play extremely well together, their likes are different enough that sometimes it's hard for them to figure out WHAT to play.  For example, one wants to play pokemon, the other wants to play Littlest Petshops.  They've found a work around activity that sometimes works, where they each play their own thing, but the two communities (for example, pet shops and pokemon) discover each other and have to learn to get along.  This is called "Meetings."

Another one which usually happens when they're getting dressed in the morning; they'll pull their arms into the torso of their shirts or pajama tops, letting the sleeves dangle empty.  Then they begin wildly thrashing their upper bodies back and forth like washing machine agitators on acid.  Their flailing causes the empty sleeves to whip around a little, and if you can hit someone with your sleeve you have scored.  I don't think this is that unusual, I seem to remember doing it as a kid. What I like about their version is what the girls call it:  "Sleeve Ninjas." 

I was going to be landing in Germany today,  had our plans not changed.  Hubby skyped and said he's tired of being on the road and feeling overwhelmed and wants to come home a day early, not even staying to do a day of sightseeing.  If he can get a flight, he will.  My initial reaction wasn't the normal "Oh honey, that would be great!  We'll be so happy to see you!"  Instead I guess I looked at him a little stunned...  I just couldn't imagine going to the effort and expense to come home early, avoiding the fun of looking around Nuremberg for a day.  He said "Don't you want me to come home?"  Well, of course, but don't you want to stay?   No.

We're taking the kids to Hawaii after Christmas in exchange for the Germany trip.  Maui, actually.  I've never been to Hawaii and am kind of excited.  We haven't had a vacation that DIDN'T involve a conference or my extended family in a long time.   And all in all I think at the age my children are they'll enjoy the beaches and fun of Hawaii more than the cultural interest of Germany...
But I definitely would have stayed in Germany for an extra day.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Oink Piggy Oink

Thing 2 has a tendency toward drama.  If she's going to be upset about something, she can be VERY upset about it.  Thing 1 tends to internalize a lot of things, but Thing 2 projects her emotions.

There was a particular time when Thing 2 was in preschool. One day when I came to pick her up, there was some drama at the door from another kid.  For a birthday favor, one of the kids had passed out some rather cute foamy masks of different farm animals.  They looked something like, but not exactly like, this:

I seem to remember a chicken and a cow, I know it was a set of farm animals.  There must have been three or four of each animal.  The problem was that one little girl was offended that she'd gotten a pig mask.  She didn't want to be a pig, pigs are dirty and fat and stinky.  She wanted to be a kitty or a puppy.  That was the only thing she'd be happy with.  She was crying and carrying on, and I was very proud when the teacher didn't just give in and trade out the little whiner's pig for someone else's kitty.  So the girl's parent carried her off screaming and crying about her pig mask.  
I entered the room not quite knowing if I was going to have to carry out my own child in a melt down.
I found Thing 2 by her coat cubbie.  With a huge smile on her face, she told me she had a mask.  She put it on, it was a pig.  She started to snort and grunt.  Her snorting made her laugh.  She laughed so hard she could hardly walk.  She laughed and laughed and snorted and snorted, and would catch a look at herself in a window and then laugh some more.  Of course I was laughing at her too...  All the way to the car she was snorting and laughing, and stopping to snort and laugh some more.

If she's upset about something, no on cries harder.  At a playdate recently the mother hosting told me she thought a trip to the hospital was in order based on Thing 2's cries, but it turned out there wasn't actually an injury, the tears stopped and everything was fine.

But if she's happy...  She finds humor all around her.  She watches her environment, sort of scouting for something funny to happen, and will point it out and giggle about it with you.  She is the one who mis-hears things, in a completely ridiculous way, and then giggles about it. Stuff like that is really common.

I just can't get that scene out of my head... Thing 2 in her pig mask, snorting and laughing so hard she snorted, then laughing and snorting some more.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scheduling is hell

Scheduling anything with Hubby is usually fraught with danger.  The danger of cancellation or of having to call everyone else involved to change the date.  Birthday parties, group photos, get togethers...  nearly anything involving anyone beyond me, Hubby, and the girls gives me a headache and requires multiple phone calls and emails.  If it's just the four of us our options are always open anyway and I know things will change dramatically at any moment.  We just don't plan much of anything and as much as possible we're a seat-of-the-pants kind of bunch. That's fine.  Sometimes annoying, but fine.  It's when other factors, like extended family, or Delta, become involved, that I go crazy.

A couple months back Hubby got a four day contract in Nuremberg.  Then there was a two day class for him to teach in Hamburg the next week. If we wanted, we could schedule them as far apart as possible, and the girls and I  could  come to Germany and play with him in between.  If I had my top choices of where it would be cool to take the family, Bavaria would be right up there.  I've been there twice, I know some fun things to do there, it's a beautiful area.  Hubby's never been to Germany, I could show him around a little too.  We weighed all the options.  Briefly.  For a couple of days.  Seriously enough for me to see that if we DID decide to go, we had to renew the girls' passports. Yeah, how freaky is that?  I got my first passport at 18 or something.  My girls are 7 and 9 and they need theirs RENEWED, and they've actually needed them TWICE.  The times they are a changin'.  I digress.
We decided to go to Germany.
Then we talked about it some more for another couple weeks or so. Of course when I say "talk" I really mean "brought it up while squeezing everything of relevance into a late night phone call, or an intercontinental skype session in which one of us was trying to have dinner while the other was trying to have breakfast."  That's what I meant.
After briefly discussing it a couple times, for many reasons we decided not to go.
Then Hubby talked to his contacts in Hamburg to see if he could schedule his thing there the 2nd week at the beginning of the week instead of the end, and only be gone for 7 or 8 days or so all together, instead of the full 2 weeks.  They said it's too late to move the dates, so he'll be stuck alone in Germany for the full two weeks, just working at the beginning and the end.
So we decided the girls and I should go meet him.  We're going.  We're taking the girls to Germany! 
We looked into airfare. It seemed relatively inexpensive, and we got these sweet direct to Paris flights...  so we bought tickets.  That's always a scary moment... the "YES DANGIT GO AHEAD AND DO IT!!!  LET'S GO TO GERMANY!!!" moment.  Everything is rolling toward going.
I told the girls' teachers at parent teacher conferences that we'd be leaving on November 10th after school, coming back the weekend of the 20th.  We'll come get any homework assignments for them to take with us and do on the plane. It's getting closer and closer!
Then on Saturday Oct 30th I get an email from Hubby telling me his thing in Hamburg at the end of the 2nd week in Germany was canceled.  Suddenly we have no real reason to have a big family vacation, with the girls missing 7 days of school, in the middle of November, right before the Thanksgiving break.  
We talk.  We decide to cancel, eat the change fees on the tickets and use the remaining credit to go somewhere else another time.

Hubby calls the airline to make sure it really is a $250 fee per ticket to cancel an international ticket.  Yes, it is. He is shocked that it really will cost us $1000 to NOT go, in changing his ticket and cashing the girls and my tickets in for credit.  He gets off the phone and doesn't cancel.  We start talking about what we'd do in Germany.  I start getting excited, and telling him all about Bavaria and the castles and the nutcrackers and the shopping and on and on...
We decide maybe we should go.  By now it's Sunday evening.
We talk some more.  We weigh our options.
By Monday we'd changed our minds again.  This one is looking final.  The reasons to go?  The experience, the cancellation fees on the tickets.  The reasons NOT to go?  For me, the thousands of dollars of the expenses of this trip (in addition to the price of the tickets we have sitting on this cycle of the credit card) and the fact we'd be pulling the girls out of 7 days of school.  There are quite a number of other, lesser reasons.

So we're not going.  Hubby leaves Saturday for Nuremberg, and will have to change his ticket anyway to come back the following Saturday.  And will enjoy having a week at home, for a change.  We've told the girls to tell their teachers we will be here after all.

There.  The decision is made.  Final.

This is not the first time a European trip was cancelled for me... the last time I found out TWO DAYS before we were leaving that our trip to Sheffield England was off.  But knowing in the back of my mind it always could fall through isn't much comfort.  I'm still sort of sad... I did really want to go.