10 July 2008

Under The Bus

By 9:30 this morning I had enough material for a really funny post. Like most things in life, it just got better with time.

Being our 4th wedding anniversary, Mandi and I decided to just relax around the house and spend time together this morning. Neither of us got out of our pajamas until after 10:00. We got some things done, had a leisurely breakfast, and generally just hung out. The only drawback to this plan is that Lily bores easily . . very easily.

She got up around 6:15, was dressed (and I'm using that term loosely) by 6:25, and had her entire chest of dress-up clothes emptied onto the floor by 7:00. She spent most of the next 2 hours acting out her own version of Snow White, in which she was too late to make it to the Princess Ball with the other princesses, she had already eaten the poison apple, and she was waiting for me, King Daddy, to save her from the monsters in the Spooky Forest. She mixed in some performances of her latest and greatest songs from upon her "stage", which is actually the wicker toy box in the living room. Her favorite song, for those who haven't heard it, repeats the phrases "If I don't care if YOU don't care" and " Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls!". So far, this would be considered par for the course, and nothing to really write home about.

Then something happened. She tired of Snow White and began to get extra bored. Having taken off her tappin' shoes, she immediately put back on the socks she'd picked out for today. They're green and white and have little strawberries on them, as well as the Strawberry Shortcake logo near the top. They were inside out from being taken off carelessly earlier, but that didn't stop her. She put them on as-is, with the white heel spot conveniently located over her ankles. She then strapped her pink light-up tennis shoes back on and marched upstairs to find something else to do. All of this, mind you, while wearing a blue dress. What an ensemble.

A minute or two later, I began getting summoned to come upstairs and help Lily find her Dora The Explorer outfit. I try to make her keep looking until she finds it herself, but at some point it's like a switch flips and she's completely incapable of continuing on with something that she perceives has already failed. "Sailboat, sailboat, why can't I see the stupid sailboat!?!" I relented, went up and found her shirt for her, and went on my way. This is the end result.

Remember what I said about it only getting better? Half an hour passed and Mandi and I finally decided on a course of action for the morning. We would get dressed and head down the road to get Lily and I haircuts. Mandi and I went upstairs, and as is her custom these days, Lily was hollering for us from the bottom of the stairs no more than 40 seconds later. Over the TV we could hear her saying "Can I have . . " over and over again, but we couldn't tell what she was asking for. Mandi went to the top of the stairs and asked what she wanted, and Lily shouted "Cream Mommy, can I have some cream?"

Mandi still didn't know what she was asking for, so in response to the puzzled look she received Lily held up the can of Reddi Whip, or "cream" to show Mommy what she was asking for. Mandi of course could not contain her laughter, and she insisted Lily come upstairs to show me what she had. This is a very good re-creation of precisely how she looked when she showed me the whipped cream.

You may be wondering, now that you've stopped laughing hysterically, why I titled this post "Under The Bus".

When I saw what she had, I immediately knew why she had it. Hearing it from her mouth, however, would allow me to use the information to my advantage, so I lobbed a couple of semi-leading questions her way and just sat back and waited.

"We don't just eat whipped cream Lily . . who let you just eat whipped cream?"

No response, just a sheepish grin.

"Lily, did you get to eat whipped cream with somebody?"


"With who?"

"With my Meema."

Busted!!! I knew full well my mom was the culprit . . whipped cream has been one of her favorite foods for as long as I can remember. I'm not surprised at all that she's trying to corrupt Lily with her addiction. It is, after all, more fun to share. I'm sure she told her it'd be "their little secret." Not so much Mom, not so much.

When Mandi and I finished laughing hysterically about Lily throwing Meema under the bus we all headed back downstairs. I thought we'd made it clear to Lily that she couldn't just have some whipped cream to eat, but she kept on asking. Eventually my nice, rational responses turned into semi-annoyed "No, will you stop bugging me!" I yelled at her to put it back in the fridge, and her response looked almost exactly like this:

I say almost, because when the camera comes out she tries to put on a smile through the tears. Before the camera, however, it was nothing but snot bubbles and alligator tears. Poor thing, she got spoiled at Meema's and now it's back to the harsh realities of home.

08 July 2008

I Surrender

Whether you choose to believe me or not, I do put some thought and effort into dressing my children. Sometimes, however, it's just hopeless.

Lily's affinity for dresses and skirts has not lessened. If anything, it's even harder now than it's ever been to convince her to wear shorts or, God forbid, pants. The curious thing is that now, seemingly overnight, her preferred choice of footwear has changed. My dainty little girl, who for so long insisted on only wearing sandals or "tappin' shoes", has suddenly developed an taste for tennis shoes.

The resulting ensemble is downright ghastly in appearance, especially when fancy socks are brought in to the equation. This, I'm convinced, is ingrained in Lily's DNA . . passed down from her mommy, who's most favorite simple pleasure is wearing interesting socks to work and having a stranger compliment her on them. I'm not even kidding a little bit, feel free to confirm this nugget with Mandi if you'd like.

So this morning, as I was getting lily dressed, I strapped up her Velcro tennis shoes and attempted to push her socks down around her ankles. She would have absolutely no part in that nonsense, proclaiming "No Daddy, I want them to be big!", meaning she wanted them pulled up over her calves Steve Erkle-style. Whatevs. This is the result.

To make matters worse, after her nap was over she decided that she was going to raid her sock drawer and use the others to accessorize her outfit. I can't say for sure that she got this behavior from her mommy, but I also can't directly rule it out. Anything's possible, and we'll just leave it at that. I apologize about the quality of this picture, I had forgotten to take the camera out of "close-up" mode and it was struggling to decide on a focal point.

The New Babies

Our third (and presumably final) brood of Eastern Bluebirds hatched this weekend . . right on schedule. 14 days after the last egg was laid, 4 little naked chicks emerged from their shells to the strange new world that is my side yard.

I've made 5 official visits to the nest so far, at least for the purpose of making recordings. For the sake of reporting the data to Nestwatch, I will make one or two more visits to note the date the birds fledge the nest and the overall success of the brood. So far, so good I'd say, as on this their third day of life there are still 4 living birds in the nest. For those of you who just can't get enough pictures of new babies, here you go! The first photo clearly shows the 4 open mouths, while the second is in a bit better focus.

Travelling With Avery

Unfortunately, bad news always gets the headline over good. It is for that reason that until now you've heard only about the tragedies involved in my trip to New York, and not necessarily about any of the comedy. I was so caught up in the airport drama (which, incidentally, did not subside for the return trip) that the only funny story you heard was about Lily pooping in the stranger's front yard. And while she doesn't produce quite the belly laughs Lily does, Avery has always been good for one or two funny pieces of artwork. The stories of two such works follow.

Finally having arrived at LaGuardia late Tuesday afternoon, we loaded up in mom's car and headed North toward our destination. The newness of seeing Meema and Tess had quickly worn off, and Avery was looking for something to keep her entertained. Sans electronic media, we resorted to a notepad and pen for her to draw some pictures. As any supportive adults would do, occasionally mom and I would ask Avery and the girls to show us what they'd done. Ave has gotten good at drawing animals and bugs . . she had some impressive drawings of horses mixed in with a number of different insect-collages. A few moments later she handed another drawing forward for review, this time unprompted. Mom and I looked at it and both immediately burst out laughing, to the point that I nearly had to pull the car over I was laughing so hard. Take a look for yourself.

The young lady, as I understand it, has asked the dog if he will in fact "be her dog". At the top of the page, for clarification, is an excerpt from the "Dogword dictionary" indicating that the phrase "bow wow" in fact is equivalent in dog words to a response of "no". Continue on to the dog's response, and you'll notice his response to her request, a convincing "bow wow". Well, at least he thought he was being convincing. The young girl, having apparently missed her opportunity to consult the "Dogword dictionary" before making her interpretation of the response, promptly and confidently responds to the dog, "I'll take that as a yes!" The idea, in and of itself, is not what's funny. I'd theorize that we misinterpret our pets' thoughts and intentions a vast majority of the time. But to see the idea put to paper in such a way really does cast the relationship in a different light. I can just hear the dog's response in my head . . "Yeah, that's right lady, you just keep right on thinking whatever makes you happy. Put words in my mouth like you always do and then lock me outside when company comes over."

On our trip (toward) home, Avery and I again waited all day in the airport. This time, however, we were at LaGuardia and facing an entirely new set of circumstances that was preventing us from getting on the plane. You see, in my haste to get the girls off of the plane a week earlier, I left my wallet in the seat-back pocket of the plane. Fast forward to our attempt to return home, and you can only imagine the scene when I arrived at the TSA checkpoint without a single form of identification. The process to clear security without any photo identification in today's travel climate is akin to applying for a job at the Secret Service. These people know everything there is to know about you, and they will quiz you with questions you'd better know the answers to if you want to have a shot at getting through to the airline terminals. Well, to make a short story long, the process of getting through security took close to an hour, and we missed our direct flight to Charlotte by around 5 minutes. 5 hours, a total of 3 pat-down searches, and 2 more background-checks at TSA later, we finally boarded a flight headed for Dallas. It was the only plane that was going to get us out of New York that night, and it was scheduled to arrive in Dallas 30 minutes after the last flight left for Charlotte. We boarded the plane, and finally we were able to relax.

After taxiing and taking off, Ave and I were still so wound up that neither of us could sleep. Bored by the SkyMall magazine and uninterested in our books, we decided on a game of hangman. Neither of us had any paper, but I somehow managed to hang on to a pen throughout the day. Avery scoured the seat-back pocket in front of her and came up with a barf bag. What the hell, I thought, so she started drawing the gallows. Just then, I noticed that all-too-familiar smell wafting through the air . . someone had taken advantage of the large number of people in close proximity to let a ripe fart loose without being identified. I leaned over to Avery and, in an attempt to add a little humor to our otherwise upsetting day, said "Ewwww, somebody pooted!"

Her response said it all. She looked at me, gave me that sheepish little grin, and chirped "It was me!"

"Oh dear Lord!" I yelled as I elbowed her and pushed her away toward the window seat! She just sat there and laughed hysterically as I suffered through the remnants of her gas.

A few moments later, when the smell had subsided and we'd both stopped giggling, we decided to resume our game of hangman. Avery thought for a moment, and then drew the blank spaces where the letters for her phrase would go. I began by guessing a few different letters, some wrong and some right. Stumped at first by the fact that the "y" I guessed did not complete the 3-letter word that began the phrase, I plugged in the only other vowel you can add to W-H- and make a word . . and then it all clicked. I snatched the barf bag away from her as I laughed hysterically at what I'd guessed was the answer to her clue. Keep in mind the story of the virtual "hot-box" she'd put me in earlier with her gas, and I wonder if you can guess what the answer is?

That's right . . W-H-O P-O-O-T-E-D?????

Arte y Pico Award

Sometimes, as they say, the sun shines on a dog's rear end. While on vacation last week, and in the midst of one of my longest blogging dry spells ever, I was honored with the Arte y Pico Award from Wendy (a.k.a. Sparverius), who blogs at Musings on Nature. I found Wendy's blog while scrolling through the long but impressive blogroll at Born Again Birdwatcher. Her posts were well written and her photos were breathtaking, but the thing that truly captured my attention was her job. She works in a nature center in Utah teaching people about the outdoors, leads nature hikes, and (presumably) gets paid to do it. Needless to say, I was jealous, so I continued to read. I was flattered when she became a regular visitor and commenter on my blog, and her nickname always makes me smile (the American Kestrel, one of my favorite birds, owns the scientific name Falco sparverius) .

The award, as I understand it, recognizes art in all of its forms in the blogging world. While I hardly consider myself an artist, I guess that's the inate beauty of art . . it is something different to all people. There are a number of blogs that I visit regularly, although Wendy and I tend to "run in the same circles", so my nominees for the award would overlap a few of hers. Most notable in that group (aside from Wendy herself) is Felicia at OC Warbler. Felicia and her husband (I assumed that, sorry if it's just significant other) Glen bird and blog in Southern California, and their photos and stories are always amazing. I envy the diversity of species they come in contact with regularly, and I really envy Glen's photographic talents. Dude is just good.

So with that "honorary" award given to Felicia, I would like to officially pass the award on to the following blogs that I visit regularly. They all add something different to my days, and I truly look forward to reading their posts and seeing their wonderful photos.


My first award goes out to John at Born Again Birdwatcher. I found John's blog while mindlessly watching the "Blogs of Note" scroll past the top of my Blogger dashboard one afternoon. I was immediately pulled in by his writing, which I appreciate for its wittiness as well as its sophistication. At one point John, like me, was a stay-at-home dad. That connection was only slightly stronger than our mutual affinity for all things winged, and his became the first blog I ever read on a daily basis.

The next award is for Lynne at Hasty Brook. I must have some subconscious affinity for woodsy, mountainous locales because most of my favorite blogs are written from such places. Lynne posts unbelievable photos of birds she sees right in her back yard in Minnesota, and they make me so jealous! She has a knack for blowing my "big days" right out of the water . . it seems each time I have what I think is a great birding day, she's seen 7 life birds and gotten incredible pictures of all of them. I find myself striving for her fortune.

My final award I have saved for last for emphasis. While I'll admit that I can, at times, be a bit of a sap, I try not to get too emotional about things that don't immediately impact my life. Problems at home may still conjure up a tear every now and then, but few other things will. Mary's View is one of those few other things. I found Mary's blog when she posted a bird sighting on our local Audubon Society's list server. At first it was just neat to read another blog from the Charlotte area, and it was a bonus that she often blogged about birds. I soon learned, however, that Mary's blog was much more of a series of postcards than any other I'd encountered. She's got an incredible circle of friends in the blogosphere, and her posts are often very personal and emotional communiques with those friends. Her writing spans the widest emotional spectrum imaginable, and I find myself bracing for a good cry when I click her link in my bookmarks. Much like with this award, I always save Mary's blog for last.


The designer of this award has asked that the following be passed along with it:

The origin of the Arte y Pico Award: "This prize has arisen from the daily visits that I dedicate to many blogs which nourish me and enrich me with creativity. In them I see dedication, creativity, care, comradeship, but mainly, ART, much art. I want to share this prize with all those bloggers that entertain me day to day and to share this prize with those who enrich me every day. Doubtlessly, there are many and it will be hard to pick just a few. The people I will name today deserve this prize, as do the very long serious list of bloggers I also enjoy to read. But I will name the first 10 and leave the rest of the work to all the bloggers that visit other's blogs and are nourished by them."

Here are the rules, if you decide to pass the award further to remarkable blogs in blogosphere worth to mention:

The rules:
1. You have to pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award through creativity, design, interesting material, and also contributes to the blogger community, no matter of language.
2. Each award should have the name of the author with a link to their blog.
3. Award winners have to post the award with the name and link to the blog of the person who gave them the award.
4. Please include a link to the “Arte Y Pico” blog so that everyone will know where the award came from.
5. Show these rules.