On the way to school today:
Are we on the freeway?
OK, if I see a red light, I'll tell you to stop.
[big sigh] There are NO reds on the freeway, Anya.
No.  You're free to go.  That's why they call it a "freeeeee way".  Also, because it's a, um, way.
Oh!  Don't stop, Mama! You're FREEEEEEEE!

At school:
Lily read me a book.  Picked up a tiny, simple reader and started reading the text on the page while her teacher stood by and shot me looks.  She needed very little prompting and flipped each page with a sly smile on her sweet face, showing me her new skill.  Her teacher told me that yesterday Lily simply walked up to her and asked if she could read her the book.  Ms. M expected to have to coach her through each word and was surprised with Lil's ability to simply sound out the words. 

I was stunned.

The thing about Lily is this: if she wants to learn something she will not give up until she has it down.  She will practice and practice and practice until she figures it out.

At home:
Then there's Anya.  For weeks and weeks, Lily wanted to learn to snap.  She kept trying and we kept demonstrating and showing her how she was sliding her finger to the outside of her thumb, rather than the inside.  She's getting better and even starting to produce a small, paper-soft sound when she manages to get her finger to slide into her palm.  But she still doesn't really have it.

The other night Anya called Mark in after bedtime and announced, "Watch this!"
"I can't, Anya.  It's dark."
"Then just listen."
And in the dark he heard the distinct sound of our youngest daughter snapping her fingers.  We had no idea she'd even been trying to learn.

I know now that they will learn very differently from each other. 

Lily will work and work and work and get frustrated and show us every painful step in the process of learning a thing.

Anya will watch and listen and turn the pieces over in her mind until she understands how the thing is engineered.  And they she'll simply DO IT.

They're remarkable, these girls of mine.  One seems to be so passionate and organic and artistic while the other is an engineer in training.  It makes me wonder what they will be some day.  How will these methods of learning shape their lives?  I wonder if they'll ever switch methods?  Will they learn from each other?

How do those you love learn?


Siblings Without Rivalry? Right.

As I listened to the little girl scream from the bedroom where I had stuck her when she hit the big one, held the big one clutched to me as she bawled, all while making sure dinner didn't burn and unpacking the full dishwasher I had a moment where I thought: maybe it's time to reread Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too.

Until then, anyone have any suggestions for handling the intense rivalry that has developed betwixt my girls?  I'm about thisclose to pulling all my hair out and running off to join a commune.  Even the idea of silence is intoxicating right now.

And you thought they were cute


Basic scenario is this: kids are tired.  Very tired.  On the way back home for snack & nap time, the big one bites the little one.  She doesn't know why she did such a thing.  Little one cries, big one shrugs her shoulders.  Big one is told that there will be no snack, only bed. Chaos ensues.


Oh, and sorry for the shakiness.  We were in Mark's car (obviously) and it has crappy suspension.

So we think they can dance


We haven't done any classes with the girls for a while and figured it was about time to get them back into something. Anya, we felt, was finally old enough to make it through the dance class and Lily was over-eager to get back to dance. So we signed them up for a back to back class with the same teacher, Anya going first. She took a while to warm up to the idea of it but did eventually allow me to stick her in the circle and then slowly back away. She wasn't the only child staring blankly at the teacher but I was the only parent in the room (at first), trying to make myself as small as possible, hoping she wouldn't notice me and come running.

She did OK, if by "OK" you mean she just sat there and didn't scream. But getting up on her feet? That proved too much and she burst into sobs. I wanted to go grab her from Ms. K, but wanted to give her teacher the opportunity to try to comfort her. She scooped her up, kept on teaching and would stop frequently to stroke Anya's hair and whisper to her calmly. She was awesome. Anya didn't stop, of course, but she also didn't fight Ms. K. Eventually, she asked Anya if she wanted to go get a hug from Mommy and sent her to me. I gave her some love, and then got her paying attention. Before long she was following along with the class, just at a distance. She was even willing to scotch over there on her own for a stamp at the end of class.

Through this whole thing Lily leaned in the window and encouraged her sister. She was awesome and did everything she could to make Anya feel better. She was really looking forward to her own class and told Mark that she would do everything the teacher asked. And boy did she ever. She was the picture of a perfect student, attentive, enthusiastic and with a pretty awesome carriage. That kid just wants to dance.

I feel like this will be a good session for them both: with Lily actually improving her skills and Anya learning to take instruction from a teacher. I think by the end of the summer Anya will be enthusiastic and engaged and am looking forward to seeing her blossom.

But hell, if nothing else, they are wicked cute.

I love this kid


A couple of weeks ago while driving up to work (a 40 minute drive on a good day), Anya suddenly became very despondent.  "It's too long!"
"I know, baby.  But we'll be there soon." I replied.
"I need... I need someone to touch me!" she cried.
In the rear view mirror I saw Lily quickly reach over and grab Anya's hand.  Anya popped her thumb in her mouth and instantly settled down.

See, here's the thing about Anya: she's intensely tactile.  She must be in contact with someone at all times.  Mark's always been deeply tactile as well, although doesn't need to be touching all the time, he just really digs any type of contact you offer.  Both Lily and Anya have always been the type who touch while they sleep: the stroke your arm or squeeze your earlobe or pinch your skin.  This makes me insane, but Mark?  Mark is in heaven with all that touch.

But Anya takes it to a whole new level.  She needs to be in contact like we need to breathe.  If she's the least bit uncomfortable in a new environment, she needs to be clinging to me.  She'll run off to play and then run back to touch me, throwing her arms around my neck and then running back into the playground. 

Lily used to get annoyed at her sisters constant touching but now she takes it in stride.  In many ways, she's become Anya's touchstone.  She is instantly there to comfort when needed.  She runs to her sister when she sees that look of panic in her eye.  She is amazing.

At the same time, I wonder what the heck is going to happen when she goes to school in the fall.  How will Anya cope with the world without Lily by her side?  Will she simply hang on me all the time? Or will she find her own voice? Her own way of coping with the world?  I wonder if this will be her chance to truly find herself or a cause for her to slip backwards into seclusion from the rest of the world, clinging only to me and her dad.  I want her to blossom and fear that she won't be able to find her way in this world where her sister disappears for a large chunk of the day.

And yet, I know how deeply adaptable children are.  I want to believe that she will be just fine and for the most part, I really do think that's what's destined.  But oh, I am a mother.  And as a mom, I fear for her fragile little self.  I want to protect her in any way I can.  I want to wrap my arms around her and kiss her sweet mouth and promise that it'll be OK.  

Lily is going to Kindergarten so soon.  So very soon.  And sometimes, I just don't know what the hell we'll do with ourselves then. 

Birthday Bash 2008

Full piñata

 proudly showing off the piñata they picked out and stuffed themselves.

Today is the girls birthday bash, which isn't as big as it sounds, except in the mind of a certain three and five year old. They are over the moon excited about the 25 family and friends coming this afternoon for tacos, two kinds of cake (Lily wanted chocolate and Anya strawberry), games and, of course, a piñata. Lily keeps announcing that she simply CAN NOT WAIT.  Nap time is bound to be AWESOME.

Yesterday we hit up Costco, Party City and then I made a solo trip to the co-op for groceries.  This birthday business is expensive and we don't even have a pony or bounce house to claim.  We're sticking to old fashioned games I remember from my own parties as a kid: musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey and a clothespin drop game.

Photos to come of the big event.  Or not.  Sometimes on occasions like these I simply put down the camera and get into the game.  In any event, it's going to be a blast.   

There's a Pox on my house

Anya and the Chicken Pox Anya and the Chicken Pox

So the girls have the chicken pox.  Not just a little.  Big.  It's wicked awesome with the red itchy bumps.  And you know how Lily is a drama queen?  Yeah, this is the role that she was born to play.  That child can out howl the moon.  Last night she woke after a couple hours flailing around half asleep in her bed and started screaming like death was at her door.  We did everything we could (short of clubbing her in the head to knock her unconscious) and nothing made her feel better in the least.  Anya, of course, slept right through this; not wanting to push our luck we took Lily into the main house and decided a little "movie therapy" might be in order.  She watched all of Annie, not getting back to sleep until after 2am.  Mark loves me so he took care of it, once again proving that he's the better person.  I'm OK with that, mostly become I'm rested.

Anya woke with about a billion pox on her face to which Lily pointed out, "Anya, go look at your face in the mirror. It looks really bad."  Thanks there, Spanky.  Luckily, she's doing really well, just kind of sad and clingy and wanting the two of us to hang out in the shower for all time (where she takes great delight in peeing... good times) and asking to put ice on it (which we translate as a cold washcloth).

So yeah, things are fun in the wannabe hippie household.  But we're about half way through this crap so I have hope for a new life without red itch welts plaguing my children.  Light a candle for us.   In the meantime, I'll be staring at this little face:

Anya and the Chicken Pox

30 tiny moments: more moments from breakfast

13 of 30: Making pink pancakes

We tried out a new recipe today with these ultra pink pancakes. The girls totally dug them but Mark nor I were the fans we had hoped to be. Here's how you make 'em:

Blend together:
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup ricotta cheese 1/4 cup beet puree (thus the color)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

dump into bowl and add in:
1 cup pancake mix (I make my own with flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt)
1/4 cup grated apple (don't grate your knuckles... it hurts. Ask me how I know!)

Mix until joined but still lumpy and cook as you'd cook any other pancake.

From Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.

This photo has notes.  Click on it to take you over to Flickr where you can read them. 

30 tiny moments: sleeping at the theatre

Today Mark is helping to install the set for our upcoming production at my theatre so the whole family is running wild through the hallways all day. The girls have already accompanied me on a business lunch (thank goodness for understanding city officials) and have spent a fair bit of time watching their dad work. He had to shoo them out of the theatre while he was welding but other than that they've spent most of their time in the theatre seats, playing and running around, flirting with the set designer who has her own little person to love and didn't mind sharing some of that affection with my girls. *** click on over for todays photo and a bit more about how working with kids is going ***

Nothing better than a box

2 of 30: Nothing better than a box


Two very important things to notice in this shot.
1. cute daughters playing in a box
2. item that was delivered in box is out new latex mattress topper (see it airing out to the right).  Our cat peed on the old one so we had to pitch it (you just try to get cat pee out of foam).  We thought we had a good mattress under that foam but instead we've enjoyed the last several weeks waking to the delightful sensation of having spent the night being beat by sticks. We finally sucked it up and ordered a new one. It joins us in the bedroom tonight!

well, they got the concept anyway

Lily: See this, Anya?  It's a magic coin.
Anya: No it's not, it's a top.
Lily: No.  It's a magic coin!
Anya: Nuh ah, Lily.  It's just a top.
Lily: No, see this here?  It says, "G-A-B-H-O-M-A" which spells "Magic Coin!"
Anya: NO! It says, "H-I-B".  "TOP!"

Hey, what do you want?  They're only two and four.  We'll get them spelling in another six months or so, I'm sure. 


Coloring together

I love it when they are like this, hands engaged in play, voices happy and full of smiles, Lily jumping up to retrieve Anya’s crayon when her chubby little hands fumble it and a soft “uh oh” escapes her lips. I love these moments of togetherness when I know the choice to have another child was the absolute right one, when I see that it can be a bond of peace and not a frustrated kick that sends a tiny person headlong into the hearth. These moments of quiet creation make my heart breath a sigh of relief and somehow restore my belief in myself as a mother. “If they can do this” my heart whispers, “if they can be like this, then maybe they can always have a place of quiet for the other. Maybe, even if I totally screw them up, they can still find peace in each other.”

And then they disappear into Lily’s room. Moments later we hear a scream and Anya comes tearing out of there, a huge smile on her face and Lily’s favorite doll clutched in her hands. Lily is chasing after her, screaming and crying, arms reaching for the stolen treasure and Anya is giggling madly in the theft. Mark and I laugh so hard tears streak our cheeks and for the next hour we break into laughter, telling each other the story from all angles and giggling anew. This is the push and pull, the furious passion, the dramatic comedy that has become our life.