Like I said, the solo-parenting weekend went very well for everyone. A few highlights from the domestic scene:
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.
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.
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.
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.
The bad weather meant that the girls had to wear their winter hats, which takes their inherent cuteness and turns the dial to 11.
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:
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.)
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!
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.
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!
1. Name the person who, when asked in 2000, “Are we getting closer and closer to, like, socialism and stuff?” responded, “Here’s what I really believe: That when you reach a certain level of comfort, there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.”
a. Karl Marx
b. Eugene Debs
c. Leon Trotsky
d. John McCain
2. Name the person who, in summer 2008, defended her home region’s unique wealth-spreading mechanism by saying, “We’re set up, unlike other states in the union, where it’s collectively [we who] own the resources. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.” [sic]
a. Karlotta Marx
b. Eugenia Debs
c. Leonora Trotsky
d. Sarah Palin
That ends well. The girls’ first two and a half days – five girl-days! – without their mother are over. Everyone is healthy and resting. The mother seems to have enjoyed her trip to the Large Southern Red State. The girls definitely enjoyed their various outings in the Northfield-Dundas-Faribault area. The weekend’s activities will be more thoroughly blogged later.
It is officially snowing here in Northfield. Light flurries began promptly at eleven a.m. and have continued since then, occasionally intensifying to pretty heavy blowing. The ground’s too warm to let any of it accumulate, though.
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:
It went pretty well, the 0.5 part of the 2.5 days on my own with girls. Tomorrow, not being punctuated by preschool and the drive to and from the airport, will be more interesting than was today, but Julia did have a few good lines this afternoon:
Politico went through the financial report the RNC just filed with the FEC and discovered that the Republican National Committee has spent $150,000 for clothes and accessories for Sarah Palin since she was tapped for the VP slot in late August. One shopping trip to Neiman Marcus cost them $75,062.63, for example. They also spent over $4700 on her hair and makeup. Remember how the Republicans howled at John Edwards $400 haircut (which included a house call by the barber)? Google for: Edwards “$400 haircut” and you’ll get 27,000 hits. That was major news for a week. That aside, a far more damaging effect of this revelation is that Palin keeps saying she is just an ordinary small-town hockey mom. It is likely that if Joe-the-plumber’s wife were to rack up $150,000 in clothing expenses in a single month, Joe might ask how she was planning to pay the credit card bill since the median annual salary for plumbers is $37,514. Palin is already being ridiculed all over the place, and this provides more fodder for the comics.
The girls have, for a few months now, been playing a bizarre game called, “Note-nen, Bee-sa, Menny.” Vivi so loves this “game” that she often starts requesting it as they march up the steps after dinner. It’s simple and – did I mention? – bizarre: they sit sideways, next to each other, with their backs against one wall, feet against other wall, and knees bent. Then they loudly chant, “Note-nen… bee-sa… menny!” and, on the last word, abruptly straighten their legs, creating a huge splash and a great deal of laughter. Then they repeat the game again and again, faster and louder each time.
This article, “Growing Doubts About McCain’s Judgment, Age and Campaign Conduct,” from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press is full of interesting and – if you’re a Democrat – good news about Obama’s improving chances in November. As my astute friend Matt pointed out, one interesting datum is that the number of undecided voters is remaining more or less level, while the number of McCain voters is shrinking, presumably as many flee the GOP ticket for, you know, people who know what they’re doing.
Call ’em Obama Republicans: “Impressed by young go-getters with excellent educations, good family values, and the genius to know when to bring in the experts? Us, too. That’s why we’re voting Obama ’08.”
On Friday, Shannon was elated to receive our copy of the fall issue of the Macalester Today, which includes her lovely essay, “Mama, PhD.” Apparently the alma mater doesn’t have enough dough to put the magazine’s contents online, so we put up a scan of her essay. I hope you like it as much as I, a wholly unbiased reader, do – and maybe join me in congratulating her on the accomplishment!
Having had quite a bit of fun on our this autumn’s two previous farm outings (alpacas and pumpkins, you’ll recall), today we went to a lovely little farm on the western edge of town for more of the same. We were joined there by a family with girls the same age as ours, and proceeded to have a ridiculous amount of fun. A sandbox filled six inches deep with corn kernels! Gourd sculptures! A “hayride” that was actually a long wagon-borne tour of the farm! Cows! Gorgeous autumn colors everywhere! Suffusingly warm sunshine! A haybale maze that was also an excellent climbing/balancing thingy!
The four of us were in the kitchen this morning, attending to various needs (parents: coffee; children: coloring), while NPR ran a fair-and-balanced review of the presidential candidates’ weekend activites. Julia recognized Barack Obama’s voice, how he was one of the men who wanted to be president, and how Mama and Daddy wanted him to be president.
Then NPR ran a sound bite of a John McCain speech, leading Julia to ask about him. I told her his name and tried to explain that he also wanted to be president, that both of them really wanted to be the next president. She interrupted her coloring to look up at me and ask, “How are they going to work that out?”