26 April 2008

Love Is In The Air

Spring is most definitely in the air. There might be something in the water, too, because it seems like everywhere I turn these days I'm watching wildlife copulate. Specifically, as it turns out, woodpeckers.

Last Sunday, after dinner at Mandi's parents' house, she and I went for a walk to Latta Park, where I hoped to see some good spring migrant birds. I think we saw 2 squirrels total and, ironically, one male Downy Woodpecker. I was disappointed, but as we walked back I heard an exceptionally loud call from a tree in front of me. I looked up, focused my binoculars, and just as I did I captured two very loud Northern Flickers making whoopee on a branch. Did I say very loud? These two birds were LOUD.

Then, as a little change of pace for the story, Mandi, Lily, and I went to Frank Liske Park for a picnic lunch on Thursday afternoon. As we approached the pond, there were two different pairs of Canada Geese leading little goslings around the grass and into the water. Baby ducks and geese are as much a true sign of spring's arrival as this Iris is, which blossomed in our back yard this week.

As it happens, there was also a female American Robin sitting on her eggs in her nest almost directly above the shady spot where we chose to have our picnic. She was aware of us, but not intimidated. She turned methodically from one direction to the other, both watching for predators and keeping even warmth on her clutch. Mercifully, she did not poop on our lunch.

Last night I took the girls to a park in Highland Creek where I was planning to play basketball with some friends. We got there early because Avery wanted to go for a walk in the woods behind the playground, and as we traversed the fallen trees we heard more boisterous bird calls from above. I looked up to find a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers doing the dirty-dirty on the outstretched limb of a pine tree, and I was thankful Avery was looking innocently at a half-built nest in a tree in the other direction. As much as I think she's too young for the birds-and-bees talk, it would have somehow been appropriate to have had the subject come up over actual birds instead of people. Maybe the woodpeckers are trying to gently coax me into having "the talk" with her. That, or they're just especially horny this time of year.

22 April 2008

My Way . . .

. . . or the highway. Cliche as it is, that sentence does an exceptional job of summarizing Lily's outlook on life these days.

Case in point. Remember the Toddler Bed Experiment post? It ended with a story about her falling out of the bed and having a boo-boo on her behind to show for it. Let me say that since then, the sleeping situation has improved, albeit in a way so unique only Lily could produce it. But it didn't happen right away. The next few days ended in exceedingly tenuous confrontations over when it was bed time. The bottom line was that Lily was determined to exercise her will over Mandi and I, and that's precisely what happened.

I was over all of the fighting. Three or four nights in a row of knock-down drag-outs was all I could stand. Bed time with the rest of the family was not working for Lily, especially when (as it often is) the sun was not even all the way down yet. Then, one afternoon, it came to me. A method by which I could get her to sleep, and at the same time let her think that she'd won the battle of wits.

Having failed on numerous occasions to replace the naps she was losing with some "Quiet Time" spent alone in her room, I resorted to allowing her to just sit on the couch in the play room. If she'd just spend some time unwinding mentally before Avery got home from school I thought it would do her a world of good. She was surprisingly amenable to that idea . . so much so that she began to request her Elmo sleeping bag for the floor. Before I knew it, her regular afternoon naps were back, albeit on the floor in the play room.

Spin it forward a few hours, and my creative daddy brain was in high gear. After dinner and a bath, when I would usually begin "talking up" bedtime, I sent Lil to the play room to watch Diego. As I often do, I got the vacuum out so Mandi could experience that fresh mowed carpet feeling she loves so much. I told Lily to get up on the couch so she didn't get vacuumed up, and as she did I zipped her in to the sleeping bag. That was my Moment of Zen. I cleaned up, made dinner for Mandi and myself, and when we headed upstairs she hadn't moved from her spot. We gave her a quick kiss goodnight, and off we went. When I returned to the scene mere minutes later Lily was fast asleep. She did not wake up as I scooped her up and carried her up to her bed.

Since then, I've fully embraced Lily's newfound ability to just fall asleep on the floor. She doesn't seem to care for a pillow or a blanket . . a simple princess dress will do.