Sunday, August 04, 2013

More of this week

Benjamin's been discovering more and more secrets about our house. All the cupboards are full of things?! We keep food in the fridge?! All these boxes are full of toys?! Why didn't anyone ever tell him this!?

What is it that they say about curiosity?

Oh, right. It killed the cat. Benjamin's still alive and well but has found himself getting into various predicaments—from splashing in the toilet, to getting stuck in toy boxes, to shutting himself in his bedroom, to putting toys out of his reach. He was in tears just the other day because he stood on his tiptoes and put the ball he'd been playing with on the table and couldn't get it back down, silly guy.

He loves to turn off the lights for us. When I carry him around the house and he notices a light switch, he'll hit me with both hands, twice—one hand on my shoulder blade, one on my clavicle, as if he's clapping his hands with me stuck in the middle—before pointing at the light switch and grunting at me to convince me to let him do the honours.

Fortunately, Benjamin has two forgetful sisters who are always leaving the lights on around the house which means he gets to do a lot of turning off.

Waving has once more become cool. It fell out of favour for a while but now Benjamin will wave on command. He also recognizes appropriate waving situations and will initiate the ritual at the front door, while talking on Skype, or when he sees Rachel's school bus coming down the street (he gets so excited to see her bus).

I can understand why he gets excited to see his sister. She's been a joy to be around lately. For a couple of years there I wasn't sure that would ever be the case (sorry, Rachel, but it's true; you were quite the handful through your preschool years—it's a miracle either of us scraped through those years alive). Now being thoughtful and helpful and reasonable and kind are her norms instead she was (oh, the temper tantrums).

On Saturday she read for most of the day. At around 10:15 AM I told her that she could read until 11:00 or until she finished the book, whichever came first, and then it was time to take a break and do some chores for me. She sighed heavily and started to protest but I cut her off.

"This is a good deal," I explained. "You get to read for forty-five minutes, or finish the book. Then you do a few chores and go back to reading. The alternative is to quit reading now and start doing chores without the promise of going back to your books."

She took the deal.

At eleven o'clock on the dot she appeared in the living room with the duster. She dusted the entire living room and the floor boards and asked what else she could do. I put her to work for a while until I was satisfied and then sent her back to her book. She'd left it with three pages left to go. I didn't go in and remind her of the deal, nor did I ask her to dust. She kept track of time on her own and chose a chore that needed doing all on her own. It was amazing.

Later in the day she built a blanket fort in the living room and asked to borrow a flashlight so that she could read inside it.

She's such a book-aholic. Just this week she's read:

Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand
The Zack Files: Just Add Water...and Scream!
Thomas Edison: A Brilliant Inventor
The Boxcar Children: Mike's Mystery
Cam Jensen: The Mystery at the Monkey House
The Boxcar Children: The Mystery at Peacock Hall
Magic Tree House #40: Eve of the Emperor Penguin
The Boxcar Children: The Summer Camp Mystery
Magic Tree House #14: Day of the Dragon King
Adele the Voice Fairy
Lizzie the Sweet Treats Fairy
Inky the Indigo Fairy
Jade the Disco Fairy
Magic Tree House # 46: Dogs in the Dead of Night
Magic Tree House #24: Earthquake in the Early Morning
Magic Tree House #4: Pirates Past Noon
Ivy + Bean: Take Care of the Babysitter
Ivy + Bean: And the Ghost that had to Go
Ivy + Bean: What's the Big Idea?
The Boxcar Children: The Mystery of the Tiger's Eye
And she's in the middle of The Zack Files: It's Itchcraft!

That doesn't include whatever she's reading at school or picture books; she's read plenty of those, too. She sits through story time and will also read picture books to Miriam and Benjamin. We're also reading the Chronicles of Narnia together. Rachel's always had an insatiable appetite for stories, though. Anyone who spent any amount of time with her as a toddler/preschooler would probably remember her near constant refrain: "Tell me another story!"

Anyway, her fort was pretty lame—she just stretched blankets from the couch to some pillows on the ground. She decided that she was a snake and that was her snake fort (mostly because she couldn't get inside unless she wriggled around on her stomach.

Miriam had been out shopping with Daddy. When they came home, Miriam wanted to join in on the fort fun, of course, but Rachel was unwilling to share (I didn't say she was kind and reasonable all the time, just that those traits are becoming her norm). After much (at times heated) discussion, Rachel traded one of the blankets from her fort for a blanket that Miriam was planning to use for her fort (but that Rachel didn't want her to use because she got it for Christmas one year).

I helped Miriam set up her fort. And then I took a nap because we're all battling this wicked cold and I've been up at obnoxious hours with our sweet baby Benjamin so Andrew took pity on me and sent me to bed. Apparently while I was sleeping Rachel convinced Miriam to trade places altogether (Miriam's fort was obviously of better construction) but Andrew made them trade back when Miriam stopped having fun because it had been an unfair trade (and because Rachel had been so cruelly selfish about her own pitiful fort, refusing to share materials, building space, to rebuild a joint fort, etc.).

I woke up to the sounds of my children giggling outside. It had started to rain and strangely enough—for these parts this summer—it wasn't an electrical storm so the girls were outside on the back deck, treating it like a slip'n'slide.

They would get a running start before skiing on their feet, or dropping on their stomachs to slide across the deck.

Rachel was much more proficient at this activity, so Miriam soon gave it up and started drumming on the chairs and coolers (that we've cleaned and set out to dry several times...but they've never quite managed to finish drying out).

When Benjamin woke up from his nap, he joined them outside. He looks strangely muscular in this picture...

They all had fun and got thoroughly soaked.

When it started to pour, I took Benjamin inside and the girls went into the front yard to splash in the gutter.

The drains here are kind of scary—the opening is definitely large enough for a small child to fall inside, but they do deal well with the amount of rain we receive. You win some, you lose some (just make sure not to lose any of your children down there).

I left the girls playing in the front yard while I helped Andrew with dinner. I heard what sounded faintly like thunder and was just in the middle of discussing with Andrew whether or not it was thunder and whether or not we should call the girls in when the girls came in.

"We heard thunder," Rachel said panting and dripping in the doorway, "So we came in because we learned at the planetarium that our bodies are made up mostly of water and that electricity can travel through water and our bodies and so when there's a thunder storm we need to be inside."

She's a good girl.

We listened for more thunder while we peeled off their soaking wet clothes and toweled off but didn't hear any, so I plopped all three kids in the tub for a quick bath. The girls like getting silly shampoo hairstyles.

Benjamin tolerates the hairstyling. His real joy lies in splashing.

Andrew and miriam had picked up a hushpuppy mix while they were doing the grocery shopping so we had a good southern meal: hushpuppies, biscuit'n'sausage sandwiches, corn on the cob, and green beans. We've tried hushpuppies (from Cookout) a couple of times. Once we bummed some off a friend and once Andrew's mom treated us while she was out here. But we've never had them in this quantity.

"Those look like falafel!" I remarked to Andrew, as I toweled off Benjamin.

"I was just going to tell you that!" Andrew said. "They're like the falafel of the south!"

Funnily enough, our cyber-friend Susanne commented on Andrew's Facebook picture that when she tried falafel in Syria she thought they were like "Syrian hushpuppies!"


  1. Fun rain pictures! Those drains scare me, too, when I'm out with my 2 year old nephew.

    I enjoyed reading how well Rachel is doing - and how many books she is reading.

    Your Southern meal looks good! I don't think I've ever eaten sausage biscuits with hushpuppies, but I bet they were delicious.

    Hope you have a good week. :)

  2. I thought of you and Andrew when this article crossed my news feed this morning. :)