E-Day Minus 1

I rode over to the playground this afternoon to meet the girls and let Shannon head out on her run. The weather was beautiful – high 60s, a slight breeze, clear golden light. The playground was buzzing with at least twenty kids – a cluster of tween girls talking by the swings, some rambunctious boys climbing over things that weren’t meant to climbed, a lot of elementary-age kids going up and down the slides. Gigantic flights of geese trailed overhead every few minutes – one had at least a hundred birds in it.

The happy activity in the beautiful setting seemed like a fitting end to what had been a hellacious day, and an almost cinematic start to what I hope will be a wonderful 36 hours.

90% Treats

Shannon already provided a full rundown of the Halloween festivities (and anxieties), and I’m buzzing from too many Milk Duds (I should have Milk Dudn’t), so I’ll just share this picture of the little witch helping the little ladybug make her way up to another door:

Witch and Ladybug
Witch and Ladybug

Anyone who can guess why Julia is wearing different witch hats gets a prize – all the Almond Joys we have in our house! (Shannon wants to give up the Milk Duds, too, but NEVER!)

11 Moments

Like I said, the solo-parenting weekend went very well for everyone. A few highlights from the domestic scene:

  1. At the “Enchanted Forest” event at River Bend Nature Center on Saturday afternoon, we went on two hayrides, both pulled by immense Belgian workhorses like the ones my grandpa used to have. The girls were duly impressed by the sheer size of these “neigh-neighs,” but were still willing to go around the front of the team to pet them on their massive noses.
  2. Belgians at Work
    Belgians at Work
  3. In keeping with their penchant for bizarro games, the girls have invented a funny chase/tag game which can only be played in the living room and which is initiated by Vivi walking up behind Julia, tickling her shoulder blades, and saying, “Opie nonnie, opie nonnie, opie nonnie!” Julia laughs and runs away; Vivi laughs and chases, reciting “Opie nonnie” the whole time.
  4. With the weather turning cold and windy on Sunday, we didn’t even bother to try any outdoor activities, but instead headed to the indoor playground at Menards. The girls had a great time running around doing “Halloween Olympics” (“Ghost Race”: run twice around the play structure while moaning like a ghost and waving your arms – “Witchy Slide”: climb up the ladder and go down the slide, cackling), but were mildly traumatized by the possibility of seeing the really horrible-looking life-sized zombie statue that lurks in the store’s seasonal decoration area. I’d accidentally walked with them right past him the last time we went to Menards, and though I avoided that area like, ahem, the undead on this visit, they were still deeply worried about seeing him. Vivi bit her fingers and murmured, “Die! Die!” – “Guy! Guy!” – over and over, which was actually kinda fitting.
  5. The girls knew that Shannon wasn’t home, but they didn’t really understand it. Overall, this was fine: nobody broke down in missing-Mama tears, but there were a few poignant moments. On Sunday night, Vivi thought her messy post-bath hair was so funny that she ran off down the hall, calling out “Mama, dook!” (“Mama, look!”), but then came back, eyes downcast, when she realized that Mama wasn’t in fact anywhere to be found.
  6. The bad weather meant that the girls had to wear their winter hats, which takes their inherent cuteness and turns the dial to 11.
  7. Horizontally-blown ice is an excellent first snow of the season.
  8. Except for certain fantasies about mimes, I never even thought about face painting until it became The Thing at all kid-oriented public events. I know I already blogged it, but the “Enchanted Forest” face painters were pretty good:

    Vivi, Face Painted
    Vivi, Face Painted
  9. Over the weekend, Vivi really started saying, “Yeah do!” when replying to questions. “Vivi, do you want to put your clothes on/have peas with lunch/read this book with me/go for a walk?” “Yeah, do!” She says it so brightly, happy to be able to finally express herself. (Of course, there’s also, “No do!” but that’s another blog post.)
  10. While cleaning up after dinner on Sunday night, I asked Genevieve to take her bib and the napkins down to the laundry room and put them on the washing machine. She chirped, “Oh-hay!” (“Okay!”), grabbed the stack of things, raced off, and came back an appropriately-long moment later. After Shannon got home, we discovered that Vivi had actually – surely by accident – put everything, and a random fork, in the laundry-room garbage can. Oops!
  11. In keeping with their penchant for bizarro games, the girls are now playing “Sea Otter” in the tub. This entails biting a little toy crab by the tail while saying (or trying to say), “I’m a sea otter, eating a crab!” Everyone else must then mishear the sentence and offer all kinds of incorrect guesses – “You’re eating a chair? You’re seating a dad? You’re peeling a dab?” until the otter is laughing so hard that she spits out the lobster and the other otter can pick it up. The fun only ends when someone needs to actually get bathed.
  12. The event on Saturday ended after the sun went down, so the girls had the novel experience of driving in the dark. As we finally turned onto our subdivision’s streets, I mused aloud, “Boy, these streets look really familiar… I wonder where we are?” Immediately, gullibly, Julia piped up from the backseat, “Yeah, they do, Daddy! Maybe you took a wrong street and now we’re in a town that looks just like Northfield!” Thank goodness the resemblance was so strong that a house exactly like ours was just around the corner.

In short, the girls and I had a blast. I fully endorse the idea of Shannon going on a little break at least once a year!

Halloween Cats

More on this later, but the girls and I went to River Bend Nature Center today for their annual Halloween event. Facepaining was one of the many activities. By coincidence, both girls wound up as kitties. First, Vivi revved up by the experience:

Vivi as Cat
Later, on a dusk hayride, the two of them showing off their worn-outness:
Hayride Cats
Hayride Cats