Saturday, March 26, 2011

Family Date Night

Hubby and Thing 1 had a "Daddy-Daughter Night" church activity last night.  Thing 2 heard about it and wanted to go.  She probably could have, but I thought Daddy and Daughter 1 needed some face time.  So I told Thing 2 that she and I could have a date.
"Can we go for ice cream?"
Yes.  Thing 1 doesn't like ice cream.  Getting ice cream is what Thing 2 and I do when I'm making up for some fun thing that Thing 1 is doing that Thing 2 doesn't get to do.
We could also go to Old Spaghetti Factory (Thing 1 doesn't like) or Noodles and Company (Thing 1 doesn't like).  There are quite a few choices.
I also proposed to Thing 2 that we could see the Children's Dance Theater play at the Capitol Theater.  She vacillated.  She didn't know what to do.  As I kissed her goodbye outside the school yesterday morning I asked her one last time if she wanted to go to the play, because if she did I needed to get tickets.  She still didn't know.
She called me an hour later and said she'd been crying.  She made up her mind to go to the play and was upset that it might be too late to get tickets so her teacher let her call me.
I bought tickets.
The Capitol Theater is as close as we get to High Society in my world.  I told Thing 2 she had to wear a skirt and her dress coat.  I even took the price tag off the matching hat so she could wear that too.
We all had a quick pizza dinner then we raced off to our respective dates.

Thing 1 had a good time with Daddy.  When I asked  him later how it went, he kind of rolled his eyes and said it was fine.  A lot like last year, some relay games... whatever.  It was fun being there with Thing 1. Oh, okay.

Thing 2 and I... had a MARVELOUS time!  She liked the bright lights and the crowd of the theater.  The ticket taker directed us to the coat check room where they gave us a big cushion for Thing 2 to sit on.  I had brought binoculars.  Our seats weren't fabulous, on the back row of the ground floor, but I'd gotten Thing 2 on the aisle and she could see everything.  There was a pre-show, with some other dancers that Thing 2 did not enjoy so much... "When is the REAL SHOW going to start?!?!"  Then the lights came down again and Alice Through the Looking Glass started.  (I don't know how long that link will be active.)
We know one of the little girls who played the caterpillar and one who played a card.  It was exciting for Thing 2 to try and pick out her friends with the binoculars.  The little kids dances were by far the most entertaining.  The cards, the flowers, the caterpillar, and the teacups...  just charming.  As the show was ending, the different groups came out for their final goodbye dances and Thing 2 grabbed my arm...  I saw she had tears shining in the lights from the stage.  I asked her what was wrong, and she just whispered "I love you so much!"  Awwwwwww....

And even though it was 9:45 or so, well past bedtime when we left the parking lot, Thing 2 and I went to Baskett Robbins for ice cream.
It was a magical night.

Mom dates totally rock. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stop oozing color!!

I wrote a couple of posts ago (in case you missed it) how Thing 1 has been frustrated lately that there's not enough time at school for her to express her artistic side.  Third grade has too many scholastic requirements and art got squeezed out.  Even though she has an after school class in which to expend artistic energy, unbidden creativity oozes out of her sometimes.
She was frustrated last week that her teacher scolded her for being artistic.  When the assignment came home I saw what happened.

Now I realize that the teacher must have her reasons for stopping Thing 1 from going psychedelic on her assignments...  Maybe she's worried if others see Thing 1 doing it, they'll want to do it too, and it will slow down the class.  Does she think decorating your homework is one more stepping stone on the path to becoming a graffiti tagger?   I don't know... but it was so sad hearing Thing 1 (who is an angelic student) get reprimanded for anything, and even harder to hear she was reprimanded for finding a way to be artistic.  

Here's the assignment.  

Exhibit A
You can see where she got caught, then had to go back to basic one color shading. 
What the heck is wrong with Partridge Family Bussing her assignments? Not a darn thing that I can see. Those little smiley faces aren't making up for the fact that she's being forced into conformity.
Curse the homogenization of the public school system!  


The kids saw this post sitting up on the computer screen and I got the whole story.  
Thing 1 said she had half finished her math worksheet but then had to go to a reading group.  When she came back to her desk the note was there and the (student) teacher came over and told her she couldn't draw pictures because it wastes time and she'd have to do the whole thing over again plain.   Grrrrrr!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A visit from the Leprechauns

Two leprechauns came to  our house last night.  This is not our first leprechaun visit and now each year it becomes more and more expected.  I see this as a problem.
The leprechauns have made it a habit to visit only the girls' room, where they arrange stuffed animals in the middle of the floor, move things around the room, hang underpants from the ceiling fan, and sometimes hide chocolate coins around.
This is the 2nd year that letters were exchanged.  The girls ask the leprechauns, who seem to travel in pairs, questions about where they're from, what it's like to be small, and where they get their gold.  The leprechauns reply in tiny tiny font that can barely be read.
This year the girls hit the jackpot and found nearly 90 chocolate coins around their room (they counted, not me).  I suspect they may find 10 more if they'd clean up a little more, but I'm not sure.
All I know is the leprechaun visits are taxing on me, and every year it seems to get more and more of a production.  I asked if the girls had told anyone at school about their leprechaun visit.  Thing 2 said yes, she'd told a bunch of people.  Another girl in her class was also visited and received the chocolate coins.  Thing 1, in third grade, said she only told a couple people and wasn't as forthcoming about the whole thing.
I wonder how long the leprechauns will be welcome... how much longer this will go on.  I expect we're soon approaching the point where these kinds of visits will become less of an ordeal, and then will abruptly end.  Which will be both a relief and a very sad thing.

Hubby comes home tomorrow, which will be awfully nice as he's been gone almost two weeks.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I Wanna Iguana

Thing 1 needs art. She joneses for it. She MUST draw.  
Once when we were at the State Fair standing in the rabbit warehouse, she was nearly shaking when she turned to me and said "Do you have some paper?"  I just happened to have a tiny little notebook from Hubby's work.  "And a pen or pencil?"  In my checkbook.  She just HAD to draw the rabbits.  Not that it was a totally realistic rendering or anything, she just NEEDED to record her experience on paper.  That's how she's wired.
So when she moved from 2nd grade to 3rd and the level of daily art expression allowed dropped dramatically, so did her spirits.
It took me a while, but I figured out a good art class and got her in it.
She has been much less like a drug addict in withdrawal ever since.  She'd be happy if art class was every day, though, instead of once a week.

Today they drew from a model.  Of course models in art class are often kind of along the lines of this:

But these are elementary school kids.  This was their model.

The model was the teacher's pet iguana.  Named Pickles.  Pickles is about 17 years old, and weighs "about as much as a fat cat."  He eats vegetables (NOT CRICKETS!!!) and is extremely tame.  Totally open to being picked up.  And handled.  By ten extremely interested kids.  And their siblings.  And their parents.  He was incredible!
I understand that not all iguanas are as friendly as Pickles.  But I'm understanding my kid's philosophy to trade up in the pet department.  I like our gecko, but hate the crickets.

That is a wicked awesome pet.
Besides, I just like saying it.

I wanna iguana.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What a Nightmare!

Thing 2 has long been my troubled sleeper.  She hardly slept through the night until into her third year of life, and has had a really rough time off and on with nightmares.  Compare this to her sister who slept through the night at 3 months and has only called me a handful of times in her 9 years.

Thing 2 can go for weeks with no incident, and then I'll have three or four nights in a row where she's screaming for me in the middle of the night.  Then when I get there and calm  her down, she's insistent on telling me her nightmare, in detail.  Usually after the nightmare, when she's 100% sure she's awake, is when the scary part happens.  She sees something or someone right over her bed... or hears them right next to her bed... that's when the screaming starts. Some of the descriptions she's given me have creeped me out too, but my assurances that there was NO ONE in her room, and she had to have still been just a little bit asleep don't convince her one tiny bit.  She KNOWS there was a monster/person in her room.  And yes, the screaming is heartbreaking and she is truly frightened, and I am usually pretty sympathetic and calm and sometimes it does just work to hold her and pet her head and rub her back until she calms down and can go back to sleep.  But over the years that too has worked less and less and my sympathy has waned a little.

When Hubby's out of town, my resolution to the nightmare problem has been to take her into my bed with me.  I am not a co-sleeping advocate, but I am a ME SLEEPING advocate, and if my unconscious sleeping presence can calm her enough for both of us to get through the night, that is a concession I'm willing to make.  Also it allows me to calm her down on subsequent outbursts by just reaching for her instead of tossing off the warm covers and sprinting down the hall to her room.
I usually have a large feather pillow in the middle of the bed which I spoon to compensate for Hubby's absence, and I put Thing 2 on the other side of it.  I hold onto her waist or back or shoulder across the pillow.  She doesn't like this much.  She wants to be plastered to me.  But she wiggles, thrashes, touches my face, and pokes me with her hands, feet, and elbows.  So I need the pillow there as an insulator between myself and all that thrashing.  It's my only hope of getting any sleep at all once she's in bed with me.  When Hubby's in town and she wakes up with a nightmare, sometimes he goes and squeezes into her twin bed with her, and sometimes she joins one of us in our bed and the other takes her bed.
Thing 1 sleeps in the top bunk, by the way, and almost always sleeps right through the screaming and crying.  Thank heaven! 

Last night Thing 2 woke me up at 3:00 am.  I stumbled into her bedroom, got her to stop screaming, and lead her back to our bed.  I situated her on the other side of the pillow.
For the next hour we alternated her whimpering and reaching across the pillow to me, and me petting her and asking her to please stop wiggling and be quiet and go back to sleep. She'd lie still for a minute or two and I'd just start to doze off when she'd thrash and start over.  She insisted that she'd seen something (with her sleeping mask on) and the only way she could make it go away was to poke it or wiggle at it.  Yes, really.  She was becoming as agitated with me for asking her to stop as I was with her wiggling, because, she insisted, this was how to make the scary stuff go away.

I believe myself a patient person, but after AN HOUR of this my patience was completely gone.  I started pointing out that a tired mommy is an ANGRY MOMMY and if she couldn't let me sleep she had to go back to her own bed.  Of course this gets her really crying and apologizing, and saying she needs a REAL HUG not just across the pillow.  At that point I gave up, swapped places with her and the pillow, rolled her onto her other side so her poking appendages were mostly facing the other direction, and spooned her.  Either I was exhausted enough to sleep through any further thrashing, or she slept the rest of the night without thrashing but the next thing I remember was my alarm going off.

Ever since a particularly bad nightmare in California the nightmares have been more frequent, and I have the bags under my eyes to prove it.  Nightlights just cast creepy shadows.  Stuffed animal protectors work sporadically, but apparently lose their powers.  She wears a sleeping mask, which helped a lot for a long time, but it too seems to have lost its nightmare defense potency.

I have no real answers.  I'm too tired to figure out answers.