Monday, May 18, 2015

Walking, swimming, walking, and swimming

Miriam woke up ready to be my super-duper helper this morning and was a little too helpful the entire day.

"I'm going to be your super-duper helper today!" she proclaimed.

"Great," I said.

"Do you want me to open all the blinds?" she asked while I was making an egg for myself (having already helped the kids with their breakfast).

"No. I'm still in my housecoat," I explained. "I want you to wait until I get dressed."

"But I opened my blinds and it's a beautiful day!" she chirped.

"That's great," I said. "But I'm still in my housecoat. I don't want the blinds opened until I get dressed."

"Okay," she said, grabbing the string for the blind in the kitchen. "I'll just open this blind."

Oh, the one of the window I'm standing right in front of? No thanks.

"Miriam," I said, "If you're going to be my super-duper helper I'm going to need you to be a little less..."

"Cheerful?" she interjected.

"Willfully disobedient, actually," I corrected. "Cheerful is fine. Disobedient is not."

I put that conversation up on Facebook and got a lot of flack about the word "housecoat." Evidently when Americans think of housecoat they think of 1950s grandma-style gross things, but the real definition is "a woman's long, loose, lightweight robe for informal wear around the house." I think robe is the more common word being bandied about these days. How am I supposed to keep track of these things? I grew up calling robes housecoats.

I also grew up calling flip-flops thongs. That term, however, was beaten out of my lexicon long ago because when you say thong in America people don't think of flip flops. I wore more flip flops than housecoats in high school so had plenty of opportunities to have people make fun of me for using the wrong word before I eventually stopped saying it altogether.

There was another word that came up the other day when I was talking with Andrew that we had a bit of confusion about. But now I can't remember what it was. It was another word that I didn't ever use in high school so didn't have the opportunity to have it be trained out of my lexicon...

Oh! It was monkey-in-the-middle!

I overheard the neighbourhood kids playing in the backyard quite late one evening (past 8:00 on a school night so apparently we weren't the only parents avoiding calling all the rascals back inside) and our little neighbour said, "Let's play monkey-in-the-middle!"

"Monkey-in-the-middle," I snickered to Andrew. "Who calls it that?"

"Everybody," he said.

"," I said. "The game is called piggy-in-the-middle."

"It's monkey," he assured me.

"It's piggy," I smiled.

"I usually just called it keep away but if there's an animal involved, it's definitely monkey," he said.

"Dude," I said. "It's piggy. I promise."

We let wikipedia settle the score, as one does, and it turns out there's quite a bit of regional variation regarding the name of this game. So we're both right. But I grew up calling it piggy-in-the-middle which is absolutely the wrong name in America. I felt about as uneasy about this little name change as I did when I first heard someone at the park call an under-duck an under-dog. What?! Live and let live, I suppose. My kids are always accusing me of singing nursery rhymes and folk songs "wrong" and I'm always telling them that there's simply more than one way to do things. But it can be hard to let go of things so deeply ingrained in your brain.

At least I've got all the children saying "freezie" rather than "Otter-Pop," which is the prevalent word for the treat in Utah (even though it's a brandname). Andrew's even started saying it (though he'll often correct himself after).

That was a long tangent. Anyway...

As soon as we got the blinds open Miriam started begging to go to the pool. After all, it was a beautiful day (which is why we needed to open the blinds in such a hurry).

"Maybe we can go to the pool after lunch," I said. "I need to eat something before I can walk anywhere."

"Why don't we just drive?" Miriam whined.

"Dad took the van," I said. It was sprinkling when he left this morning and was supposed to storm this afternoon (but it never really did).

"Oh, well, why don't we just all ride on the scooter?" she asked. "I can just sit on your lap and Benjamin can sit on mine..."

"That's not safe," I said. "Besides I have a big pregnant belly, remember? And I've never driven the scooter before anyway. I don't know how to!"

"I can drive the sookie," Benjamin offered. "Dad teached me how. I can do it!"

"I don't think so," I said.

"Then I will drive the sookie and you can walk," he suggested.

"No one is driving the scooter," I said firmly.

"But can we still go to the pool?" Miriam asked.

"We'll see how the weather is after lunch," I hedged, because saying 'no' would have brought about an immediate tantrum but giving some variation of 'maybe' puts that mess off until later.

"Okay!" Miriam said. "I'll make lunch! How about cheese and crackers?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa," I said. "It's only 10:45! It's not time for lunch!"

"It's actually 10:44," Miriam corrected.

I gritted my teeth a bit and then I made the kids help me put the front of the crib on (it's been a toddler bed for a while but we'll be needing a crib soonish), start some laundry, and put away the clean dishes before finally announcing it was lunchtime.

"Can I get in my swimsuit before lunch?" Miriam asked.

This child and her commitment devices, I tell you!

So the children ate lunch in their swimsuits and then we walked to the pool and found that the water was much warmer than it had been on Saturday. We swam for a while in the big pool before moving to the little pool for some independent splashing and some cornhole (a game I never knew existed until I moved out here but which also goes by several names in different places).

Miriam kept fussing about being allowed to swim in the deep end and I kept insisting she pass a swimming proficiency test first, which would mean that she'd have to let me teach her a few things because as her mother and swimming instructor I happen to know that she's not ready to pass a swimming proficiency test.

"But I already know how to swim," she complained. "You taught me last year!"

I got down at eye level and told her quite bluntly, "You are not a good swimmer...yet. You have learned some things, that's true, but you have a lot more to learn. You will learn by practicing what your teacher tells you to do. It just so happens that I'm your teacher. If you want to learn how to be a good swimmer you're going to have to do what I tell you to do."

"That's not fair," she said. "I can swim!"

"You can," I said. "But not well enough to do anything you want—like go into the deep end on your own. The same thing is going to happen in kindergarten. For example, your teacher might give you a worksheet to have you practice writing the letter A. You already know how to do that, but you can still practice more so you get better at it. Writing out the letter A lots of times will help you write beautiful A's. Practicing front floats and glides will help make you a better swimmer."

She sulked for several minutes before coming up to me and requesting that I teach her. I told her that I would; so until Zoë gets here we'll be doing as much swimming as possible so she'll be fairly proficient when Uncle David arrives to take over swimming duty.

With just a few minutes of dedicated practice she was doing stuff like this (and started swimming better overall):

Benjamin's working on swimming as well. He loves the idea of "rockets" (glides) thanks to Little Einsteins, which used to be Rachel's favourite show. She'd watch it on cable when we lived with Grandma and Grandpa, but then we moved here and we don't have cable...or even an actual television. But now it's on Netflix so the kids have been watching it (and loving it).

The other day Miriam was reading The Magic Treehouse: Moonlight on the Magic Flute and she came running out of her bedroom exclaiming, "Mom! Dad! This book is about someone in Little Einsteins! Wolfgang Amadeus...something..."

"Mozart," Andrew filled in for her.

"Yes—him! Mozart! He writes lots of songs!"

I thought it rather funny that she pronounced Wolfgang Amadeus so well and then blanked on Mozart's surname.

Anyway, Little Einsteins is all about these kids who go on adventures in their "favourite rocket ship" and so Benjamin was quite happy to try rockets today. He even pushed off the stairs to me, which was a big change from Saturday when he required two hands on his person at all times.

He also likes to "spiderman" around the pool deck, though he gets nervous around the termite swarms. They're all over the pool right now, trying to eat through the sealant on the pool to make their underground homes. The skimmer baskets are full of dead termites, while the edge of the deck is lined with swarms of live ones. Benjamin calls them "turn-bites."

"Mommy! Help me get around turn-bites!" he'll plead as he spidermans his way along the pool ledge.

That's not the only bug we found today (but it's North Carolina so are you really that surprised?). When I took Benjamin in to use the toilet there was a big fat beetle resting inside.

"I'm not goin' pee in that potty!" he said.

"I don't blame you," I said and we moved on to the next one.

Andrew insists I should have had him pee on it (because that would have been fun) but...I just lack those kind of instincts, I guess.

Eventually we had to leave the pool to walk back home so we could meet Rachel, who, of course, came in the door and blurted out, "After I'm finished my homework can we go to the pool?!"

"I don't know," I said. "We just walked back from the pool. I really don't know if I can do that whole trip again. Maybe another day."

She bravely said that would be okay but was choking back tears as she pulled out her homework. Not manipulative tears, but sincere I'm-trying-to-be-grown-up-about-this-but-this-just-stinks tears, so I chatted with Andrew, who said he'd pick us up on his way home. That made it doable. I could walk to the pool. I could even walk to the pool and make sure no children drowned. But walking home after? Again? That wasn't going to happen.

I made a deal with Rachel that if she finished her homework and helped me fold a load of laundry and pushed Benjamin the whole way there (because that also wasn't going to happen again) that we could go swimming. She was finished with homework and laundry in no time flat and happily pushed Benjamin the whole way.

She had a fabulous time swimming with Miriam. They even put on matching swim suits:

Andrew picked us up shortly after 6:00 because he stopped to pick up a watermelon on the way home. Andrew hates watermelon but he loves me and he got a watermelon on Saturday so we could have a barbecue (because he knows that no barbecue is complete without watermelon—even if you're not going to be eating it). I counted a serving of watermelon as one of my carbs and exercised after eating to rid myself of all that sugar (because watermelon is kind of high on the glycemic index) but when I took my blood sugar it was in the eighties! Low enough to be a fasting level, which is not at all what I expected after having fruit with my meal.

This trend continued the entire weekend. I'd have a serving of watermelon, counting it as a carb, and then would come up with a super low number. It was quite mind boggling, so I researched it a bit and it turns out that it's not just me. A lot of diabetics (probably not all) can eat watermelon without having their blood sugar sky rocket. I guess there's something called a glycemic load in addition to a glycemic index, and while watermelon ranks high on the glycemic index, it's got a low glycemic load, which basically means that you'd have to eat a whole heck of a lot to have it affect your blood sugar significantly.

That means I can eat fruit.

This is huge. I've been sneaking bites of banana and apple from my children for weeks now because eating a full serving of fruit leads to high numbers for me. But not so with watermelon.

I don't plan on going crazy on watermelon, but it's nice to be able to eat more than a mouthful of fruit. Fruit is yummy. I'm just saying.

We didn't eat dinner until around 7:00 so we discussed calendar/family business over dinner so that family night could be expedited, and when everyone was finished eating we met in the living room for the lesson, which we counted as scripture study (because we read a few scriptures, okay?), and then prayed, read stories, and put the kids to bed.

And they're all asleep before 10:00 and somehow I feel victorious about that, which is perhaps good evidence that they're really not great about going to bed (and/or that we're really not great about getting them there).


  1. Great news about watermelon!!! That is awesome! Wish I had known that about 26 or so years ago! Swimming used to help my kids to sleep. When we lived in Raymond, I would take the girls swimming pretty much every night to evening swim, and sleeping came really easy after a good swim.

    1. Yes; it's wonderful news. Though I'm a bit confused about why I can't handle apples, looking here because they have a low glycemic load as well. But for whatever reason I just can't. *shrug*

    2. Plain apples bother me all the time. I have to eat apples with something substantial like cheese. And hopefully not a whole apple.

    3. I agree. Plain apples make my tummy hurt. I haven't eaten a whole one by myself in years because I always have someone to share with now. :) But even sneaking a couple of pieces when I cut one up for the kids messes with my numbers.

  2. I loved the regional-variations tangent! Those are actually some of my favorite things to read and discuss with others. I have a private FB group of ladies I met on a BabyCenter name poll of all things. We've been friends for a dozen years, and we talk about that sort of thing on occasion.

    I'm with Andrew on monkey in the middle. And I was thinking of your use of "housecoat" as I walked around Graham yesterday after reading your FB post about that. I was like "housecoat? housecoat? I remember that word vaguely, but don't we call those robes? Or are they different? Hmmm." I think maybe my mom used the term when I was a child. She went to a boarding school in Nigeria so maybe they used that term there.

    Yum, watermelon is so good! Glad you found a fruit you can enjoy until Zoë arrives!

  3. Pig-in-the-middle is what I've always called it. Under-duck and under-dog I get all mixed up on. I think I called it under-duck, but I don't remember. I had to be trained out of thongs vs. flip-flops, too. And I've heard lots of people talk about housecoats (all my Canadian family), so I'm guessing that it's my mom and her family that's had the most influence on my vocabulary. :) Crazy how things can be so different in the same language, isn't it...