Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Dylan Day

We had a few thunderstorms this week and it slowed our super-spectacular farming operation down a bit.  The rain took me off the swather -- and away from my Harlequin Romance books on tape, damn you, rain! -- so I went to town to watch Dylan's swim lessons.

Regina picked a nice shady spot on the lawn for Grady to crawl roll around on and we watched, from a safe distance, as about ten little tadpoles floundered around in the shallow end.  As Etna's is a country-pool, the city feels that any water temperature above that of a high mountain glacier-melt lake would do the children a disservice.  Most of the kids in the lesson just shivered, or whined that they wanted out.  Dylan just bounced ... the entire time.  We could power a Lady Gaga concert with the energy she creates during swim lessons.  And it's a good thing she burns energy with her bouncing because she doesn't burn much listening to the teacher or practicing the actual things she should be doing, you know, like swimming.

Because of her short attention span and the Arctic temperatures, Dylan (and most of the class) wanted out of the pool.  I thought she was organizing a mutiny, instead she was wrestling with her buddy, Ashton, when she was supposed to be listening.  I started writing apology notes to all her future teachers.  Regina and I kept our distance from the lesson and just watched through binoculars, otherwise we'd get bombarded with, "I have to go to the bathroom," or, "I think I left something in the oven," or, my favorite, "Those Cumulonimbus clouds in the distance look ominous.  There will probably be lightning soon; we should leave now, just to be on the safe side."

As a treat, we decided that a lunch at Dotty's was in order.  Now, Dylan, like most three-year olds, says some pretty random things.  She'll ask me if I know how to pronounce words like, "daddy," or "Dylan." "Daddy, can you say 'Daddy'?  Say Daaa ... deee.  Good.  Now say, 'Dylan'."  Our friend, Wayne, came in for a burger and joined us at our booth.  Just as Wayne took a big bite of Cowboy Burger, Dylan said, apropos of nothing, "My Mommy has really big ...."  I'll stop right there.  Dylan didn't stop right there, and I shot ice-tea out of my nose I was laughing so hard.  Regina turned red and Wayne, ever the gentleman, swallowed and politely said that he wasn't going to agree or disagree with that.

The day was topped off with Dotty's soft-serve cones and Grady got his first taste of ice cream.  He liked it a little too much and I think the magical powers of it helped sprout his third tooth and has him (nearly) crawling.

I can't say that I was happy that we had so much hay get wet, but the little respite from counting how many squirrels I'd pureed that day while listening to bad crime fiction was nice.  The clouds all blew away and I've been hauling, baling, and cutting hay since, but I'm already planing on my next lunch at Dotty's, and if it's with Dylan, and friends are present, I'll be sure to get take-out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Therrible Threes

Regina and I grew up in, quite literally, two different worlds.  While I always think it's strange that she didn't grow up reading Cowboy Small and Ferdinand, or never really watched MASH and Three's Company, she thinks it's absurd that I didn't listen to Depeche Mode, have never played Monopoly or Scrabble, or have never read, or watched, Sybil.

Do you know about Sybil?  I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that it was a TV mini-series, based on a popular novel, about a woman who had thirteen different personalities.  After skimming the paragraph Wikipedia devoted to the history of Sybil, I finally understood why Regina sometimes gives that nickname to our daughter.

The terrible twos?  Please.  The Therrible Threes are a force that BP couldn't even cap.  On any given day, we see 8 - 11 of Sybil's, I mean Dylan's, personalities.  The range runs from the sweet and cuddly girl who tells us she loves us and gives kisses, to the comedian who farts on our laps and makes up stories about blueberries, to the toddler-demon who screams non-stop for what feels like hours and throws punches at anyone who comes near.

Today, while I was cutting hay, I received a text:  Do they make boarding schools for three year olds?  At first I thought it was my old friend Kevin (see: Country Livin') seeking advice.  It wasn't though, it was Regina suffering through pre- and post-swimming lesson tantrums.

Grady is easier to predict.  If he's kept fed and rested, he's happy.  Exceedingly happy.  Tom Hanks in Castaway wasn't as happy with his first meal off the island as Grady is about just being fed, anytime.  But, he's one, and easy to predict.  We can limit the number of Dylan's personalities that we see on any given day with the same prescription as Grady: diet and rest.  But miss a nap or throw a Jujube candy into the mix and her head spins completely around and we have to have yet another exorcism.

We hear from parenting veterans that the terrible twos are a myth perpetrated by grandparents to distract young parents from the real storm of a three-year old.  The young parents get through the twos, are so proud of their awesome parenting skills that they pat themselves on the backs, and then those pats lead to a caress, and that caress leads to baby number two.  All before the oldest turns into a three-year old.  The grandparents laugh, knowing they just suckered their offspring into giving them another grandbaby to spoil.  It's crazy logic, but it's crazy enough to work.

And here we are, in the middle of this gale and all we can do is lower the main, baton down the hatches, and ride it out.  Dylan still shows enough of her good side that we feel like there could be a lull in the storm (someday), and we hope that by the time she's worked her way through these crazies, we'll have time to gear up for Grady's threes.  Until then, I'll watch The Sound of Music (Regina even calls it un-American that I haven't seen that one), learn to play Scrabble, and put on my black eyeliner and listen to bad 80s electronic music.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Country Livin'

Once, in my cut-off jeans and sunburned back, I hopped in my inner-tube and floated a river (like a modern day hobo) that was relatively close to a large city.  So close that I could hit it with my empty Natural Light cans.  Which I did.  The point?  Tubing rivers is rad.  Also, and I'm not bragging, but since I've seen "the other side," I think that makes me kind of an expert on country living.

Some things have happened this summer that I'm sure wouldn't happen anywhere else but the country.  The first is the ongoing issue of "The Potty."  We have what could be construed as a liberal-potty-policy.  No neighbors = no boundaries and when Dylan has to go and we are outside, or even inside but near a door, she uses the "potty-tree."  Our "go wherever" attitude backfired last week in Ashland.  We'd spent an afternoon in Lithia Park with the passed-out hippies, the creek splashing new-age crystal geeks, and the Tai Chi show-offs.  Before we left, Regina took Dylan to the restroom while I held Grady.  Suddenly, a lion attacked ... or that's what Dylan's shrieks sounded like.  They continued, and reverberated nicely from inside the restroom where Dylan threw herself on the floor.  The screaming continued as Regina dragged her back to where Grady and I waited.  Had something horrible happened?  No.  Dylan just wanted to pee on a tree.  Granted, we were in Ashland, home of the liberal potty policy, and would have been applauded for our forward-thinking parenting skills had we let her fertilize the oaks, but we decided that we have to draw the line somewhere.

Another great thing about living in rural America is the colorful characters we have.  I know, they're everywhere; I've seen the San Francisco homeless population, but country-colorful is different.  We have cowboys, hippies, loggers, cops, mountain men (and women), addicts, saints, thieves ... and that's just in the typical family.  Take, for example, Kevin.  Recently, Kev accidently sent me this series of texts:
3:21 PM "Hey this is my second phone u can call it so save it n now I can communicate again."  
Then, at 5:05 PM, "Hey this is kevin tryn 2 tell ya I got a phone."  I don't know Kev, and I don't like how he spells, so I ignored him.  Mistake.
At 11:07 PM, I was in bed, but Kevin wasn't.  "Hey did ya get those text its kev?"
From there, things went downhill rapidly.  11:37 PM, "U goin 2 respond or am i just the guy u hate or something."  Yes, Kevin, since you keep waking me up with your texts, you are the guy I hate.
He continues.  2:18 AM,  "So u wont say anything 2 me or wht it is kev i still want 2 talk or wht i guess u just thnk whtever or something u can have any1 so i guess do wht u want with who u want because u can have wht u want."
Two minutes later:  "N btw i havent been around because u want our kids around my tweaker bro than u care about anything else besides ur freedom dnt ignore me i will blow up ur phone chick dont temp me."  Apparently, ignoring stupid people tempts them.
Four minutes later:  "so wht u got some1 else or something figures u alway had every1 u wanted instead of me i new u would never talk 2 me so f u 2 always prove ur worth never talk 2 me u dnt want me bac or otherwise u would talk n give a s@#* chick"
The next, seven minutes later, gets ugly.  I'll paraphrase.  Kevin goes insane when he's ignored and, as a cry for attention, threatens suicide.  He does this again two minutes later when he texts that he's going to drown in the "stupid water" and "u dnt care ... lol."  LOL?  Kevin, come on.  Finally, at 2:31 AM, he threatens suicide for the last time.  I know, I should have called and talked him off the ledge, but by then Regina had turned off the phone and I was sleeping.  He ends with, "... when u find this message i will b dead because ur dumb n will never look lol so whtever."  Whatever indeed.
This seems sad, right?  But there's a rainbow at the end.  Kevin called my phone the next day and immediately realized he had the wrong number.  Party on, Kevin, and stay away from your tweaker bro.  Whatever.  LOL.  When I Googled his number, I found that he was from the Jersey Shore of Nor Cal: Redding.  I'd of bet a crisp Ben Franklin on that fact.

But Kevin, with his excellent spelling and grammatical skills, doesn't hold a candle to the couple in the Raley's parking lot yesterday.  He drove some Mad Max-style import with a giant fin and racing harness seatbelts.  Cables held the hood down and I tried to guess the car's original color based on the small patches of paint between the primer and the places a grinder had hit.  The cute couple (matching black wife-beater tank tops!) ran in for cigarettes, and when they returned they sat in the car and lit wooden matches on their teeth.  Over and over.  Then tossed the spend matches out the window.  And I thought lighting matches on my fly was cool.

And finally, horses.  I love the fact that my kids learn to ride horses before they learn to ride bikes.  I love that Dylan gets excited about going for rides and named our newest foal Princess Banana.  We try to show Dylan and Grady more than just ranch work and rodeos, so for the 4th of July, we went to Grant's Pass to the horse races.  Races are everywhere, I know.  But the GP Downs are country to the core.  There are no fancy hats or juleps or even a well groomed infield.  GP had corndogs and a dead grass infield that doubles as a high school football field in the fall.  It's the only racetrack I know of where the odds of a horse finishing or breaking a leg are even.  Second, the spectator area feels like a prison-yard.  It's concrete and hot and weedy and surrounded by chain-link.  I always expect to get shanked when I'm there, which really adds to the excitement.

This country life may be weird, but it's our weird and we love it.  Dylan will teach Grady how to fertilize our trees and how to ride a horse, and the next time Kev texts, I'll send him your way.  Who knows, you might just make a country friend.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Grady 360

No, the Grady 360 isn't a cool new snowboard trick that I've invented on my private half-pipe (thanks to my sponsor, Red Bull) hidden in the Colorado mountains.  Nor is it a sexy new dance move, created on my private dance floor (thanks to my sponsor, Southern Comfort) hidden in the basement of my parents' house.

The Grady 360 is ... drum roll, please ... the days it took for our little Meatball to pop out his first tooth.  Not that we were nervous about having a ten-year old with falsies, but if you typed in the letter "T" in the Google search bar on our computer, the history would show repeated queries of: Teething, when does it begin?  Tooths, anyone? and, Toddlers, can they wear a grill?

We were reassured by plenty of experts (our pediatrician), non-experts (parenting blogs), and strangers (the People of Wal-Mart) that some babies don't sprout teeth until as late as twenty-seven.  Although, those babies were fed a steady diet of Pepsi and meth in utero.

So now, let the dominoes fall.  Let the teeth grow like the dandelions in our yard, let crawling commence, and let his cooing and baby-Chewbacca speak turn into something we can comprehend.

I guess, sadly, this is Grady's first big step out of the baby-baby stage.  It's been a slow step out (a baby step? Oh, clever), but now that threshold's been crossed, I guess the next big milestone will be this: click here