The Pre-K Vote

I think the voting age should be lowered to 4. The other day, Julia heard an Obama soundbite on the radio and exclaimed, “Who’s talking? I like his talking!”

She has formed a committee of Playmobil figures to make a recommendation as to her views on Biden.

Pitch In

As I headed into the backyard with the girls this afternoon, I called to Julia that I needed to hurry because Vivi was already outside. Putting on her oversized pink shades, Julia told me, “Daddy, when I’m older I’ll take care of Genevieve and you can just relax. I’ll do all the hard stuff with her and you can just pitch in when you want.”

Can I get all that in writing?

Home Again

We’re back home from Summer Vacation 2008. As I told Shannon, “It was great, and kicked my ass.” The ride home was uneventful and not unpleasant. The only downside is that I’ll now have the Barney theme song in my head for weeks after easing the last hour of the drive by run a couple episodes on the laptop.

Neither girl napped a wink on the way home (stop me if you’ve heard this before), but on arriving home, they tore into their almost-forgotten toys and had a great time playing until dinner. After dinner, they were hustled into bath and then bed, where Julia said, “But I don’t want to go to sleep! I’m not *yawn* tired!” To her credit, she realized how ridiculous this was, and relented. After hearing her two songs, Genevieve screamed for about two minutes, then dropped off as well. A nice quiet night, all in all.

Compare and Contrast

Shannon and I had a wonderful night-and-morning out. Our only regret was that we unknowingly came home two hours before Shannon’s mom expected us. We coulda read magazines at the coffeeshop until noon! Now that we know this, we may try to cash in our unspent chips the next time we can trick Nonna into taking the kids.

Anyhow, we did have a very busy, fun, and relaxing time. I got as much sleep as I’ve have in years, and that was just the unconscious part of the 18 hours. We also had a great dinner (see below), decided on the spur-of-the-moment to go see a strange but good movie (a truth of thirteen years of marriage: Shannon’s openness to impromptu decisions is directly proportional to her state of relaxation at the time the decision is made), had a great slice of cheesecake after the movie, read in bed for a few minutes at the hotel, went to sleep early, got up late, and then got coffee at a nice coffeeshop in Moorhead. Oh, and I didn’t have to listen to a single second of baby-monitor noise!

With all that said, dinner tonight back at the house – exactly 24 hours after dinner out yesterday at Timberlodge Steakhouse in Fargo – was an eye-opening study in contrasts.
8/21: I had just one dinner companion, my lovely and charming wife, though a number of other diners – all approximately twice our age – were also at the restaurant, taking advantage of the early-dining specials.
8/22: I had six dinner companions, including my wife, my in-laws, one of the girls’ cousins, and the girls; only two of these companions would have been able to use AARP cards at the restaurant, though three might’ve been able to order from the kiddie menu.

8/21: My wife was the most beautiful woman in the joint.
8/22: My wife was the most beautiful woman in the joint, though Nonna and the girls are all pretty cute, too.

8/21: I had a delicious meal that was entirely prepared by someone else (the kitchen staff at the restaurant).
8/22: I had a delicious meal that was entirely prepared by someone else (Shannon’s mom).

8/21: I didn’t have to pay a dime for my food, thanks to a gift card to the restaurant. (I did have to pony up a tip.)
8/22: I didn’t have to pay a dime for my food, thanks to the generosity of my mother-in-law. (I did not have to pony up a tip – or even do dishes.)

8/21: Someone else brought me all of my food, over the better part of an hour.
8/22: My mother-in-law brought me my soup, but I filled the rest of my plate myself, and only had time to hurriedly enjoy one big helping of everything.

8/21: I enjoyed a rather good $2 glass of house merlot.
8/21: I would have paid $22 for a shot of whiskey.

8/21: After finishing my meal, I held my wife’s hand over the table while we decided on going to the see the movie.
8/22: While finishing my meal, I let Genevieve hold onto my pinky finger with one slimy hand because she was apprehensive of her teenaged “boy cousin,” who showed up at the table just as everyone else was winding up.

8/21: An hour after finishing my meal, I was settling in at the movie, wondering if I had room for popcorn with melted butter. (Answer: no.)
8/22: An hour after finishing my meal, I lying on the floor of the living room, wondering if last night’s time off would help me keep from getting P.O.’ed during Genevieve’s inevitable bedtime meltdown. (Answer: no.)

8/21: I thought continuously about how great it was to be away from the girls, missed them a little bit more each hour, and frequently voiced my thanks that Nonna could take them.
8/22: I thought continuously about how great it was to have been away from the girls, enjoyed being able to enjoy them again, and frequently voiced my thanks that Nonna took them.


Shannon and I are packing up for our night out and away from the girls, which will start pretty soon now. The four of us had a nice morning at the Red River Valley Zoo. Here are my better three-quarters in front of the rather grand carousel there, having seen the camels, the llamas, the baby goats, and assorted other creatures.


This will be my first-ever night away from the girls when not on a business trip, and as far as I can recall, Shannon’s first-ever night away from Julia except when in the hospital delivering Genevieve. It goes without that this really doesn’t count, and that she’s never spent the night away from Vivi (or both girls, for that matter). I imagine that the two of us will manage the sleeping all right (hotel bed, no infernal baby monitors humming), but I’m a bit worried about whether we’ll remember how to eat dinner without the distraction of monitoring two toddlers. We’ll soon see!

Driven to Distraction

“Vacations” are few and far between for this family because the girls emphatically dislike the idea of sleeping in cars, and thus never do it. Well, not never, but in, let’s say, 100 hours of more-or-less long-distance driving, they’ve slept maybe four hours, combined. (This week, I had a well-meaning someone at work advise me earnestly that we needed to be sure to drive at a constant speed. As if.)

So Shannon and I started the drive up to Nonna and Boppa’s house expecting no sleep in the backseat. We weren’t disappointed (un-disappointed?) in that respect, but I for one was happy that the two non-sleepers did fantastically well anyhow. All three driving breaks were thoroughly enjoyed, there were no meltdowns (or accidents) while rolling, and the two girls even entertained themselves and each other for a while. (After that, the fifth family member, the white MacBook, stepped in with some Barney videos.)

The view to the left of the passenger seat:

Vivi "Reading"
Vivi "Reading"

The view to the right of the passenger seat:

Julia Drawing
Julia Drawing

We broke a family tradition by not stopping for lunch at the Sauk Center McDonald’s (motto: “It’s cold here nine months of the year, and we have the only indoor playground between St. Cloud and Moorhead”). Instead, we dined al fresco at a highway rest area (motto: “Your tax dollars are at work cleaning whichever rest room you need to use most”). The girls enjoyed this quite a bit. Picnics go over quite well with the knee-high set.

Tassava Family Picnic
Tassava Family Picnic

The fare was excellent – thanks to Shannon’s planning and faultless execution – and we followed the noshing with a walk around the rest area, during which Vivi noticed this leaf. She pointed at it, then looked up at me and exactly duplicated the facial expression.

Shocked Leaf
Shocked Leaf

Lunch: $0. Entertainment: $0. My two year old: Priceless.

It’s Casual

When Julia came downstairs, already dressed for the day in a Disney Princess nightgown which she wears as a dress, I had her don a bib for breakfast, saying, “I don’t want you to get your fancy dress dirty before the day even starts.” She looked up at me, smiled indulgently, and said, “It’s not a fancy dress, Daddy; it’s pretty casual.”

Happy Birthday, Vivi!

Today – as readers of other Tassava family blog already know – is Genevieve’s second birthday. Happy birthday, Vivi! It has been a wonderful two years!

Vivi Strolling Downtown
Vivi Strolling Downtown

I (mostly) revel (nearly) every day in your (pretty much completely) wonderful self – the physicality, the stubborness, the blondeness, the silliness, and especially the love you have for your sister. And the round, toddlerish cuteness. Can’t forget that! As you yourself said tonight for the very time, “Uv yoo!”

Sleeping Breakthrough?

It’s been months and months and months now since we started the process of having both girls sleep in the same room. For a while, we had success putting Vivi down in her crib and Julia down in the guest room, then moving the elder over after the younger asleep. Around the time the evening light started stretching toward nine, though, Julia decided that she could (or would) no longer fall asleep in the guest room, so I’d end up moving her, 30 or 45 or 60 sleepless minutes after putting her “to bed,” into her own room.

After weeks and weeks of this shuffling, I finally reached my limit on Monday night. When it was time for Julia to go sleep, I put her in her own bed, even though Vivi was still yammering away – and even though she pepped up when “Booah” appeared. But it worked well: after no more than 15 minutes of talking (all by Vivi; Julia either resisted the urge to reply or fell asleep amid the chatter), all was silent at the earliest moment they’ve both been asleep in a long time. Tonight it worked again. Perhaps we’ve finally shifted to the girls’ last sleeping arrangement in our house, the one we hope will last until Julia heads off to college (or, you know, abandons us for a missionary trip to Lesotho). It hasn’t come a moment too soon.

Biblical Rewrite

As much as she loves the nativity story, Julia doesn’t like every part of the canonical narrative, which (at least in its YouTube variant) culminates with the “mischievous” Herod trying to “steal” the baby Jesus. This doesn’t jibe with Julia’s sense of how the world ought to work, so she has altered the story in various ways. Below, read an amalgam of some of the best bits of her revisionism. If she has to be a Christian – and on Saturday, she said that she was a Christian, like Nonna and Boppa and Grandma – at least she can be a heretical one.

After Herod tells his guards to go find the holy infant, he calls them back and says that they should leave Jesus alone. Then he goes to his own house and talks to “the lady Herod lives with” and they decide to have their own baby, “because all he really wants is his own baby.” After a few minutes, “the lady Herod lives with” has a baby which they name Mary. Herod loves the baby and takes good care of her and doesn’t feel like stealing other babies anymore. Then Herod moves his castle to Bethlehem, right next to Jesus’s stable, and lives there. Sometimes, when Mary and Joseph are tired or have had “a rough day, “Herod comes by to babysit Jesus. When this happens, Jesus squeals in delight and shouts, “Hewwod! Hewwod!” Herod entertains Jesus by “falling down in a funny way” over and over. When Jesus gets hungry, Herod makes toasted pita bread with frosting and myrrh on it.

Vivi’s Speech Analyzed

One of the perks of having highly educated, highly skilled friends is that they can offer interesting insights that, like the TV says, you just can’t get anywhere else. Here, a friend who was a linguistics major at Mac and is now a professional wordsmith explains, more or less scientifically, how Vivi gets ma out of spoon:

  1. Drop the final n first: spoo
  2. Mess up the vowel: spa
  3. The sp is a consonant blend – big time tough. Many languages don’t even have them. Look at Hawai’ian, just single consonants with lots of a‘s and o‘s in between. So she drops the s and gets puh
  4. Finally, p and m are both bilabials, made with the lips together. The m allows air to flow through the nose while the p stops the airflow entirely, which means the m is easier. This is why “Mama” is a common first word, and why puh becomes ma.

I believe that this is technically called QED.


The girls enjoy nothing so much for breakfast as the same thing, day in and day out. For months now, weekends have been given over to “banana split breakfast,” which is a few slices of banana topped with peanut butter (Julia) or yogurt (Genevieve), a handful of berries, and a handful of dry cereal.

Weekdays have recently been dominated by toast with peanut butter and honey (J) or cereal and yogurt (Vv), but for the past week both girls have asked for waffles, topped for one (guess who) with peanut butter and honey or butter (ditto), and, on the side, a banana and, for Vivi, a dollop of yogurt.

Adorably, Vivi loves to eat all these things only about half as much as she likes to name them, using her spoon (“ma,” mysteriously) to point to each in turn and announcing: “Orgut! Num, num. Nana! Num, num. Bawffle! Num, num!”

Bawffle – an all-time great kid word.

Kidding Myself

On my Sunday-morning walk with the girls (come to think of it, the next time Julia asks, “Why don’t we go to church on Sundays?” (as she did on Sunday), I’m going to reply, “Because it would interfere with our walks”), Vivi and Julia reenacted this little routine at a certain corner two blocks from home: I crouch down, clasp hands with one of them, and then lift as that kid climbs up me – her feet on my shins, knees, waist (if I’m lucky), stomach, chest, shoulders (and if you’re Vivi, my face). (The other kid stands nearby, shouting, “Me next! Me next!”)

It’s fun, one of those things that strike me as quintessentially dad-ly, and they’re both still diminutive enough that I can actually do it. But as I helped Julia scale my torso for the third or fourth time, I looked down at her legs and realized with a start that they were kid legs, not baby legs – gangly, not chubby; lightly tanned, not pink; lean, not thick; long, not stubby. I missed this transformation, which is all the more shameful because she has worn only skirts and dresses – no shorts or pants – since May. Before long, she’ll be as tall as me and hopefully using those legs to run ten miles or swim 1,000 meters or bike a century – or patrol the stacks at the library or help her sister through the first day of seventh grade.