Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Q & A with L & S

I dated a guy once whose parents asked he and his brother questions when they were kids and then wrote down what they said. I always thought this was a cool thing and the insight gained from how my kids respond is both hilarious and at times very enlightening!

Me: "Leif why is the sky blue?"

Leif: "Because that's the color it's supposed to be."

Me: "Skadi why is the sky blue?"

Skadi: "It's NOT BLUE, it's YELLOW!" (See what I mean... this says so much.)

Leif: "Did I get it right?"

Me: "Yes, I guess you got it right."

Skadi: "GUYS! I said it's not blue, it's YELLOW!"

Me: "Okay Skadi. Leif, why does it rain?"

Leif: "Well see first the clouds get full of water and so full they are about to burst and then they explode! And when they explode, the water comes out as rain called evaporation."

Me: "You mean condensation, right?"

Leif: (Breaking into song.) "The water travels in a cycle yes it does... the water travels in a cycle yes it does, it goes up in evaporation and comes down in condensation - yes mommy! You are right, condensation!"

Skadi: (Not to be outdone in the singing department...)"Old MacDonald had a farm EIEIO..."

Me: "Leif where are you going to live when you are a grown up?"

Leif: "Is elephant meat a protein? I think it's a protein. Is it a protein mommy?"

Me: "Yes, elephant would be a protein, but I imagine it would be really tough."

Leif: "Well I want to hunt elephants this afternoon and if I catch one you can cook elephant meat for dinner, okay?"

Me: "I think you would have to go a long ways from home to hunt elephants."

Leif: "Nope, just to Antarctica for snow elephants."

Me: "Skadi what is your favorite animal?"

Skadi: "SNOW elephants!"

Me: "Leif, what is your favorite animal?"

Leif: "Bears cause I saw one remember last summer in Alaska."

Me: "Yep, we saw bears."

Leif: "A bear would eat a snow elephant."


Me: "Ok, no one is going to eat a snow elephant."


Skadi: "I have a baby in my tummy."

Me: "Nope, only mommies get babies in their tummies."


Me: "What's the baby's name?"

Skadi: "Little baby."

Me: "You could name her Skadi Jeanne."

Skadi: "I the ONLY Skadi Jeanne."

Me: "You are right about that."

Leif: "When Niranjana and Cate have my babies, they will have twins like Ms. Amanda and we will all live at our house with our babies."

Me: "Yikes. I guess you finally did answer my question though."

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not like it's rocket science...

When I was a kid I wanted to be an astronaut, a teacher or a doctor. I think that is pretty on par with kids who grew up in the 70's and 80's. AB wanted to be a lumberjack as a child. That might be more on par with a little boy growing up in Alaska, though I am not sure about that.

It has recently come to Leif's attention that he can choose what he wants to be when he grows up. For a month or so he was stuck on being a policeman. This didn't come as a huge surprise to me because Leif is all about following the rules. I am trying to remember why he changed his mind. I do remember it being a sudden change and a dawning on him that policemen may occasionally find themselves in danger. AB and I weren't disappointed when he changed his mind - not that there is anything wrong with being a policeman - it probably just wasn't what we envisioned.

One day a few months ago in the car he announced to AB and I that when he grows up he wants to drive submarines. AB? Not so thrilled with this. We are supporters of the military, I have projects that support and forward the mission of the military. But knowing where we are in today's world it is hard hearing that your child wants to go into the military.

Ok, so that is our view as adults. From Leif's view, he wants to drive a submarine and it has nothing whatsoever to do with going into the military or fighting in a war (though that last part likely would only make him more eager, being the typical invincible little boy).

"I don't think that you want to do that," AB told him.

"Yes, I do want to drive a submarine," Leif said.

"Why do you want to drive a sub?" I asked him.

"Because I can work with you mommy!" he announced and I remembered that he thinks I spend my days driving submarines up and down the Columbia River.

"How about you become and engineer and you can work on submarines," I suggested, "mommy has got connections there."

Leif agreed that was fine.

The other day Leif announced that he changed his mind, he doesn't want to drive submarines anymore.

"Do you work with rocket scientists?" Leif asked.

I thought for a minute. I know a rocket scientist - AB's best friend's sister is a rocket scientist. But nope, I don't work with any rocket scientists.

"Well I have decided I want to be a rocket scientist," Leif said. "Maybe we can work together after I am a rocket scientist, okay?"

"That works Leif," I told him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Parenting Manual?

Just thought I should let someone know that I didn't get one.

Maybe I wasn't paying attention when they were distributed. Or I didn't get the e-mail saying where to pick it up. Or the mail didn't get me mine. Better yet, UPS didn't get it to me. That one is more believeable.

One of Skadi's teachers, my least favorite actually, comments all the time that I am THE most laid back parent around. She tells me this when my daughter walks in nearly daily in some new "costume".

Maybe I am laid back. I like to think I am smart in that I pick my battles and I don't give a rats ass when other parents look at my daughter and smirk. Because trust me, many things with Skadi are just not worth the battle.

But when the teacher says this to me I wonder if I shouldn't be picking more battles with her? Am I raising a spoiled child? Are we all giving too much in the name of keeping peace in the house?

I admitted to Leif tonight (as well as a few other nights) that no, life hasn't always been fair to him because I have been the one solely to put Skadi to bed for the last year and a half or so. And yes, I understand that I could start to make it up by putting him to bed four nights in a row and then her two nights. Then I remind him that he had both of us to himself for 2 years and 8 months. But this isn't tangible to him. And it's easier to just say honestly, Skadi's screaming constantly is just too much to handle when it follows quickly with vomiting induced by the screaming and laced in there for good measure - the asthmatic wheezing.

It's just easier and Leif I am really sorry that it hasn't been fair.

Except we did start picking this battle a month or so ago and have had amazing success with it. 40% of the time AB is able to put her to sleep and Leif gets me - which is a huge step in the right direction.

I also thought that the binky was going to be a misery to be rid of. AB kept saying we didn't need to push it, so what if we have a 2.5 year old with a binky at night and for naps? Then one day she threw them in the trash and we were done.

So I keep telling myself that there is some evidence to the fact that we are doing the right thing. Making suggestions on what we would like her to do, keep repeating them and eventually let her decide she wants to go this route. Because there are nights when Skadi requests AB and not me. She is coming around.

Is this laziness? Or being too laid back? Or is it understanding my daughter?

I don't know. But I am sure the answer is in the manual.

(Maybe the parenting manual is hiding with the Olympus Camera manual as well that has the warranty card I need in order to send the camera in for warranty work? It wasn't hiding with the scanner cord that I found yesterday.)

It isn't just my daughter that causes me to question my parenting. It's Leif too.

Leif has such an easy going personality (guess he gets that from us). But he does have one downside to his personality. He is a touch obsessive and maybe compulsive too. He gets on something he likes and he attacks it with vigor. It becomes all consuming.

The first evidence of this was Finding Nemo. Then entered Curious George. It was TV first. But he had the personality that accepted with minimal meltdowns that he was not going to get his way. Not Skadi's personality. TV was just ALL he wanted to do. Ever.

I am not that bad of parent... I didn't fall for it.

Next was the computer. I told myself it was better than TV because it engaged him and if he was using the Leapster then it engaged his intellect as well. And it bought us some peace and quiet to focus on the whiney little sister if Leif was on the computer or on his Leapster. We talked about limiting his time on the computer kind of like we did with the TV.

Next was soccer and we rejoiced that he was obsessed about a sport and not technology. Then we backslid when we bought a Wii and have entered into the new plane of Leif's OCD nature.

AB and I have wrestled with how much is enough? When is too much? How often is enough?

AB came home from a birthday party this weekend with the closest thing to an answer we had seen outside of what is probably in the elusive manual:

"Their boys only get to do the Wii on Friday evenings," he told me about other parents we know and admire (they have three boys).

We tossed around the validity of this and set into the week with good intentions.

Then OUR life hit.

And the fact that on weekday mornings AB is gone long before we get out of bed. I have to get ready and it is just easier to let Leif go play Wii while I shower and Skadi watches Dora and Diego on our bed. Because no, I am not going to "force" Leif to watch Dora and Diego with her. Nor am I going to have him take care of her in the playroom because that is just a recipe for him getting whaled on by her and ending up in tears.

I put him downstairs on the Wii while I vowed to get ready fast so that he would only be on there for what, 20-30 minutes? Then I would make him stop and come help me get breakfast reasy. Then that would be it for the day.

Or so I told myself.

But wow, when you get home and are trying to get dinner on the table. And Skadi is done watching her show and is now playing babies on the floor. And so the TV is available. And Leif has done a good job working on his nightly reading work. And I have picture forms to fill out. And a Scholastic book order to finalize. And dinner to start. And mail to go through.

And he looks at me longingly and says, "now that I have finished my reading, and I was good at school today, can I do a Wii game?"

And surrender is easy.

I never thought of myself as laid back. In fact, at work I tend to be the opposite. And I like my life organized. And I am a list maker. I show all the signs of being type A... until it comes to my kids.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Things I wonder

Leif is enrolled in Spanish class for the fall. It was a big of a cramp to my style in that he has to be there by 8:25am on Tuesdays for Spanish. But he loved it so much this past summer, he really missed it in August and still talked about Spanish through that month. When she sent out the enrollment information, I knew it was a must do.

This morning he was up early and ready to go in order to get to school in time for Spanish.

We arrived at the school and Senora Susan was setting up in the commons.

"Senora Susan!" Leif yells. "Hi Senora Susan!"

He was ready for class and beaming to join her in walking around to get the other kids.

What I wonder... do you think he understands that Spanish is another language that people speak? And not just a different way to talk? He knows that things "translate" - like "did you know naranja is orange in Spanish?" And "did you know diez is ten in Spanish?" So he knows that there are equivelent words. But I am not sure he has ever heard anyone speak Spanish outside of Senora Susan, or the occasional counting to ten exercise in class.

Just something I wonder.

Conversations with Skadi

"MOMMY! LOOK NOW!" Skadi yells.

"What?" I reply.

"I have a poley poley in my tummy," she says.

It is amazing how fast your mind moves. Poley poley = rolly poley. In her tummy. Oh no, she ate a rolly poley?

"What did you do Skadi?" I groan.

"Mommy! I have a poley poley it's on MEEE!" she states.

Ok, the poley poley, I mean rolly poley is ON her.

"Where honey," I ask her as I head over.

"HERE, IT'S HERE ON ME!" she points to her belly button.

Me laughing, "nope, that's your mole, you have a mole on your belly button," I tell her. She really does. The belly button stump fell off and revealed a little brown mole on her belly button.

"No, it's not a mole mommy," she says, "it's my poley poley!"


Skadi at 9:15pm... long after bedtime.

"I want a blankey," she says.

I pull her Dora comforter on her.

"No, I don't yike dis one!" she screams. And actually, she normally doesn't like blankets on her at all at bedtime.

I didn't take the time to try and convince her. I just grabbed her soft green snuggly.

"No, dis one no cover my yegs!" she cries.

I grabbed the one I made her and put it on her. Two milliseconds it lasted.

"I no yike dis one," she says.

Ok, I took issue with this. I MADE it for her. "But it's green and yellow and has doggies and kitties on it," I lament to her.

"I said I no yike dis one," she whines.

"I will go find your pink one," she has a pink soft blanket that grandma bought her that is usually reserved for only the best dollies not in time out. I found it and returned.

It stayed on her for about five milliseconds.

"No mommy," she says, "I want a black blankey."

"You want a black blankey?" I ask making sure I heard right.

"Yes, a black blankey," she says.

"I don't have a black blankey Skadi," I said with my head in my hands.


Most commonly heard from Skadi's mouth:

"It's not funny!"

"You making me very sad."

"Mommy, daddy told me no."

"Daddy, mommy told me no."

"Freya, come here!" (Then she feed Freya whatever she can find. The dog is getting fat.)


"Thirty minutes." (As in she will do whatever you are requesting in 30 minutes. And if you believe this I have a bridge to sell you...)

"Let's go for a walk!"

"It's NOT funny, I said!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

My love of music

AB commented the other day that he had never been to a big rock concert. I immediately jumped on the fact that in fact he had. When we were dating, he went to Seattle to visit his best friend. We were in college and he went for a break. I was jealous. I had never been to Seattle. While there they saw The Beastie Boys in concert. (And he bought me a bottle of wine, but it didn't make its way back to Colorado... likely story, huh?)

This got me to thinking about music.

My first concert was Rick Springfield at the Casper Events Center, followed by (in no particular order) Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and I think we saw Poison too.

When I was in 7th grade I managed to secure tickets at Mile High Stadium in Denver to go see Michael Jackson. He looked about a half centimeter tall from our nosebleed seats. But yes, I saw Michael Jackson in concert.

Once I hit high school my concert list improved.

I scrounged $4 to pay for a ticket to The Red Hot Chili Peppers. My high school years were full of local punk rock shows. Among the best was seeing All - formerly the Descendents.

College improved my concert list substantially more.

Enter Paul Simon, The Grateful Dead (twice), many festivals that included the likes of Mark Cohn, John Hiatt, Michelle Shocked, Nancy Griffith, The Wailers, Hot Tuna, Tuck and Patti, Social Distortion and Little Feat to name a few.

Then my world changed...

I have seen Richard Thompson at least seven times that I can recall and it may have been more. I saw him at the Chataqua Auditorium in Boulder, Colorado for at least five years running (judging from who I went to the concerts with - Scott, Scott, Scott and Michael, Ande, and finally AB). Then twice in Reno. The second time in Reno and last time I saw Richard in concert was a few weeks after September 11th happened and he gave a very heartfelt speech about how special it was for him (a Muslim) to be playing music in front of the American crowd, decrying the acts of terror that had occurred. I remember tears all around.

Favorite artist. And I feel quite confident that this will never change.

The year we got married I stressed and stressed about what RT song I would have played at our wedding. His songs are beautiful... but not the thing that wedding songs are made of. Most are tragedies. I finally gave up and admitted defeat when I couldn't hone in on a song that represented what I wanted. RT didn't make an appearance at my wedding.

AB isn't the Richard Thompson fan that I am, though he has come a long way. He has always liked Thompson, but a favorite? No dice.

Until this song came along.

This would have made it into the wedding.

There are a few more concerts I would like to see someday... would love to see Dave Matthews, Jack Johnson and well... I am quite positive I will frequent RT's concerts many times more.

New resolution as of today... my children will listen to more music. Their horizons WILL reach beyond The Chicken Dance (which I did NOT allow at my wedding - but damn it is cute seeing my kids do it), The Monster Mash and The Yellow Submarine.

"Three Dollars"

Somewhere, somehow, Skadi has picked up the phrase, "THREE DOLLARS!"

For a minute I thought maybe AB or I had slipped a Better Off Dead reference out there that she picked up ("I want my two dollars.")

But I don't remember that.

She likes to scream "THREE DOLLARS" when she is mad. Usually at Leif.

And we know she is mad at him because when she isn't mad she calls him, "Weifer" and when she is mad, it is just "Weif".

And if she is really, really mad it is "WEIF, THREE DOLLARS! HEAR ME WEIF?"

Ideas? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

"Teal isn't a color anymore"

It is funny to me how some things affect Leif deeply. Things that I wouldn't normally think about.

A few months ago - about the beginning of summer I think, his class was learning about the planets.

It was a brutal day for Leif when the teacher announced that the 9th "planet", the one called Pluto, was recently declared "not a planet anymore". This bothered Leif a lot and generated lots of follow on questions.

(For the record, I still live in denial and Pluto will always be a planet to me.)

"I don't think Mars is going to be a planet any longer," he said.

Another time he expressed concern that "Earth maybe won't be a planet anymore either like Pluto, and then what happens to us?"

And then they moved on to studying different things... however, the fact that things we once believed and relied upon are subject to change.

"I think that maybe a triceratops is not going to be a dinosaur anymore," he declared one day.

Another day he said that maybe Spanish wouldn't be another language anymore.

Then today he was listing off (correctly) the colors of the rainbow in order of energy. I was highly impressed.

"Where does teal fall?" AB asks him. (I rolled my eyes... why complicate the matter?)

"Dad," Leif says, "teal is not a color anymore."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

To walk or not

85.7142857% of the evenings we go for a walk. Skadi is generally quite thrilled about this and anxious to choose her mode of transit (trike, wagon, back pack, or walking). Leif on the other hand fights it. He wants to stay home and do Wii. And once we get out he wants to head to one of the two parks within walking distance.

The one night a week we don't go for a walk is pick up night.

It was pick up night tonight.

Skadi at dinner: "Okay everybody let's go for a walk!"

AB: "Nope, no walk tonight, it's pick up the house night."

Skadi: (Lip sticking out.) "I DON'T YIKE THAT YOU TELL ME NO WALK!"

Just a wee bit of attitude.

Subject Matter Expert?

Leif: "I told Miss A that I know she has two babies in her tummy today!"

NM: "You did? What did she say?"

Leif: "She said, 'how did you know that' and I said, 'from my mom!'"

NM: (Hoping that was ok.) "What did she say then?"

Leif: "Nothing, but I just told her how rough it was when I came out of your tummy."

NM: (Glad I didn't have anything in my mouth for fear of choking.) "You said what?"

Leif: "You know, I told her how rough it was when I came out of your tummy." (Very matter of factly confirming that I did hear correctly.)

NM: "Rough in what way?"

Leif: "You know."

NM: "Nope, tell me how it was rough."

Leif: (Clearly annoyed with me.) "Because I liked to go on all the big slides and all, but I was really too little."


(Hoping this was explained in detail to Miss A. Wondering if I should relay this conversation to her tomorrow as a means for explanation?)

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Keeping it simple?

One of the problems with being a scientist like I am is that it isn't always the type of work you go home and brag to the kids about. You know, like a policeman - "I caught 15 bad guys and put them in jail!" or like a fire fighter "I saved a doggy from a burning house!" or even a teacher, "I taught 26 children how to read". It's a little more abstract...

Leif knows I am a scientist - kind of like Professor Wiseman on Curious George - but he has just started asking me about my day and what I did at work, what I study as a scientist. He is still young enough that I can couch it all quite simply and phrase it in a way that makes it sound fascinating!

"I work with submarines," I told him awhile back.

This maybe wasn't the best idea.

"Did you go on a submarine today mom?" was the common question on the way home.

"Can you show me the submarines?"

"Do they put the submarines in the Columbia River?"

"Do you drive the submarine up and down the Columbia River?"

The notion that I direct a team of people exploring an issue with submarines is completely foreign and not exciting at all. Neither is the fact that none of us will EVER see the inside of a submarine EVER because of something called "confined space entry" also makes no sense whatsoever. (Kind of doesn't to me either.)

The other day Leif overheard AB and I talking about a proposal call open that is out for chemical weapons research.

"Do you have weapons at work mom?" he asked suddenly, we didn't realize his ears were perked.

Question time. Honesty or not?

"What I do at work sometimes involves understanding weapons," I told him homestly.

"AWESOME!" he replied.

Today we were walking home from the park.

"Do you have arrows at work mom?" he asked me.

"Arrows? No honey, I don't have arrows at work," I replied.

"Well you said you work with weapons!" he retorted.

Oh if it were that simple!!