Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Poop Card

Dylan has a new trick.  Whenever she's napping, or, rather, not napping, and needs an excuse to come out of her room, she plays her best card.  No, it's not the race card.  Telling us she can't nap because she's Scots-Irish-English-Brasilian-German really doesn't go to far with us.  Dylan, in a brilliant strategy, plays the poop card.  What can we do?  "I need to poop!" always works because A) we don't want to call her bluff and wind up with a turd in bed and, B) see A.

Normally, I'm working when Dylan goes down for a nap, so when Grady started running a fever last week and didn't go to daycare, Daddy took the call to stay home with the monkeys and witness, first hand, Dylan's nap avoidance techniques.  The other get-out-of-bed trick she uses is: The Random Question.  Usually, the question involves Santa, but sometimes it's, "What do you call your birthday?" (answer: April 24th), and is followed by the Mumbling Question, as in, "Where did Mommy mum mum uum...."

So, on the first sunny days of winter, I sat in the house with a crabby boy and a stir-crazy girl.  After the first day's stab at a nap, I decided Dylan needed a little outside time.  Alone.  "Daddy, I chewed on my sock," she told me as I tried to get her dressed.  Sure enough, in her bed, I found a soggy sock.  In the year's most obvious question, I asked, "You put this in your mouth?"  She looked at me like I'd just asked if she'd like cookies for breakfast.  "Save yourself," I said, "go play."

We spent our days with naps, poops, puzzles, coloring, chalk, and, when the fog would finally burn off, I'd send Dylan outside for a run around the lawn and a jump on the trampoline.  This only lasted two days, but the fog and Grady's fever kept us cooped up indoors for most of the time.  I completely understand why, in the far north of Canada when the snow melts in the spring, local authorities go door to door to see who's murdered whom over the dark, dark winter months.  No wonder Dylan's chalkboard illustrations of the family closely resembled police chalk outlines.

A fun as fevers, nap-tricks, and cabin fever are, my days with the monkeys wasn't all fun and games.  Grady's fever kept climbing and I finally took him to the clinic.  He had massive congestion and an ear infection.  Despite knowing what we were up against (and why we hadn't had a good night's sleep in a week), knowledge wasn't really power.

When Regina came in from work on Friday, she took one look at me and said, "Take me to bed or lose me forever."  Okay, she didn't, and I often confuse our life with Top Gun, but she was wise enough to tell me to get out of the house and go for a bike ride.  Instead, I played beach volleyball, then flew my fighter-jet super fast and made the fat guy in the control tower spill his coffee all over himself.

By tonight, Grady seems to be nearly over his fever and Dylan's been able to at least go outside and feed cows.  She even got to spend the afternoon (after another non-nap) with her cousins up the gulch and have a chocolate chip cookie dinner.  Watching your kids fight a fever (real or cabin) always sucks.  Grady just needed antibiotics, rest, and time, while Dylan just needed to figure out how to successfully play her Brasilian-Irish card.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Monster Truck Valentines

Valentine's Day is, by far, the most awkward of all holidays.  I'm never sure to what lengths I should go to impress my bride.  A chest waxing?  Private dinner at Chez Panisse?  A monster truck, suspended by a hot-air balloon, ride?  If I believe the media hype, nothing short of a twelve-carat diamond, twenty pair of frilly thong chonies, and a giant teddy bear holding a red heart submerged in Dove chocolate, will do.

My last non-awkward Valentine's Day was in 1993, just five days before I met Regina, and that nearly ended in a misdemeanor.  Since then, I've had mild panic attacks each February 13th.  Did I get enough?  Will the hot-air balloon hold the monster truck?  Is she still into Scott Baio lunch pails?  Will St. Valentine fill my stocking? (No, that's not intended to be innuendo.)  Of course, it always turns out fine ... small gifts, a great dinner-date, followed by food induced comas.  Ah, love.  But, honestly, the excitement of Valentine's Day is usually right up there with Arbor Day or carpet shopping.

This year, though, Dylan added a new and unexpected element to the day: she made it fun again.  It started with a Valentine exchange at daycare.  We spent the night before "making" cards for her buddies.  It made me think of the Valentine cards I used to make with my mom.  We'd spend hours glueing heart shaped doilies to red crepe paper, each personally decorated with glitter and crayon.  The memory depressed me, only because I sat with my daughter, taping M&M's to Walmart cards that she'd scribbled on.  We didn't even get to use yummy practical Elmer's Glue.

I got over my lack of Valentine's Day artisan skills as soon as I saw the loot Dylan collected.  Valentine's Day = Candy.  I did not know that, but it's good enough for me.  To reinforce the point, Regina brought home cupcakes that our neighbor -- a high school junior -- made and was selling at school.  If God laughed so hard that he shot milk out his nose, those milk drops would fall to earth in the form of those cupcakes.  That's how awesome they were.

Valentine's Day finally ended, after a four-day sugar bender, with a mommy and daddy night out.  Every Valentine's we go to New Sammy's Cowboy Bistro, one of our favorite restaurants, for some serious eating and excellent wine.  This year's meal was one of the best.  I won't go into the menu, mostly because I can't pronounce or spell half the things we ate.  I felt compelled to eat whatever Regina couldn't finish, so by the second course I had to loosen my belt, by the third I popped a belly button on my shirt, and by dessert the over-eating cramps started.  I could only say, "Oh, that was good .... Oooohhh, my stomach hurts," the whole drive home.

Now that I share my Valentine's Day with the two women of my life, I have a renewed sense of appreciation for the holiday.  Dylan and I get tons of sweets, Regina and I always renew our wedding vows (we don't, it just sounded sweet -- we do get a great meal though), and all without the dread of finding the perfect heart-shaped gift or the fear of a misdemeanor.