So we all went to Los Angeles yesterday where we played at the park (Shane’s Inspiration, I think the area is called), then ate at Philip’s (not sure I spelled that right), and then played at the park some more (this time at Elysian park near the baseball stadium), while mommy and Aunt Nicholle shopped. At the second park, we met Ace the Bunny Rabbit, who used to be Lacey the Bunny Rabbit, because Ace’s owner thought he was a lazy girl (turns out he was just a normally-motivated guy). We weren’t allowed to touch Ace’s mouth, which led daddy to believe that we ought not be allowed to touch Ace at all, so we didn’t. There was some protest at this, but eventually Ace was bustled away by his owner for a date with a slide (who knew bunnies liked slides? turns out they don’t). We got home very late, for the boys, and they managed to sleep in quite a bit this morning, we’re only now even starting to get our day under way.
Whenever Ollie crashes something into something else, he shouts victoriously the following phrase: “terrible, terrible accident!” This has led my wife, today, to issue this edict: “people do not have terrible, terrible accidents!” No doubt she intended this command to protect my other son from what might appear to a casual observer to be blood-lust — crashing into things is, as we all know, just a gateway activity to crashing into people. And no doubt she did not intend the remark in irony. But to me, eavesdropping from the safety of my bedroom-office, the humor is unavoidable.
Took the boys swimming tonight at the Y. Reid likes to play in the pool with a life-jacket on; so we played chase a little bit and “walked” (hand over hand along the side of the pool) up and down the pool a little bit. Then we played Humpty Dumpty (humpty-dumpty sat on a wall, one two three!) for a little while, while Beth and Ollie swam — Ollie with no life-jacket. Ollie is able to take a breath while swimming now (sometimes) and is so comfortable in the water that he clearly never loses his cool. They’re turning into excellent little swimmers.
Solo yesterday, and took the boys to the San Diego Zoo. They’re getting to be easier and easier to manage solo. Only on two occasions did I have to repeat myself when asking Ollie to stop or slow down. That was astonishing for me. We saw giant tortoises (Reid could have camped out there, but Ollie’s attention is difficult to keep focused on anything, especially something so slow as a giant tortoise), crocodiles and some other reptiles, then went to the Kid’s Zoo area.
At the kids Zoo, we found a somewhat secluded spot where the boys were able to spend a long time running around in circles chasing each other. The only animals disturbed by this were the ducks in the nearby enclosure. Then we spent a very long time watching a mouse in the Kid’s Zoo “Mouse House” rearrange the furniture in an enormous loaf of over-baked bread. Luckily, the mouse-house is built over a tunnel large enough for kids to crawl through, so this kept Ollie busy while Reid studied the nesting behaviors of mice.
After that, we attempted to attend a show. Though the boys sat for a while, too much time was wasted on jibber-jabber, and not enough time on action, so they lost interest just as the Australian stick-bug was -really- starting to freak out the little girl the zoo-keeper had placed it on.
After that, we went to the tree-house area for “yunch,” wolfed down our meal and then headed home for a nap. They slept on the way home and then slept another hour or so at the house, daddy’s nap was much shorter and less effective. Then we met up with mommy and some other friends for dinner. At dinner, Reid and I spent some time working on his fork-techniques, and he seems to have improved a lot (I think we was laboring under the assumption that he could only use his fork for stabbing food, and not for scooping — recent investigation online suggests that even by strict standards, this is not the case). He still leans way over his plate while he eats (or else vaults onto the floor most of the food he manages to herd onto his fork), but we can work on that later.
Ollie spent a good portion of the meal interrupting his mommy’s conversations with the other people at the table. And once he acquired her attention (after a flurry of “mommy, mommy, mommy” and some impatient shirt-tugging), the only conversation he had to offer was, “Hi!” We left without desert when the boys started stuffing old rags into the necks of beer bottles and lighting them on fire.
Today, we took the boys to Disneyland to meet up with some more friends. Ollie was in a really contemplative mood for the first hour or so of our time there, and it was interesting seeing him actually stop to look at things. On our way down Main Street, we performed the usual ritual, which goes like this (linked images are from a past trip, but it looks the same every time):
- Run past shops until we find one of the many decorative doorways lining Main Street, climb the steps to the doorway and knock (sometimes on the door, sometimes on the air near the door).
- Say “meh mah meh muh men?” which translates from two-year-old to English as “may I please come in?”
- Immediately decide the house we’re visiting is unoccupied and announce it by…
- … turning around and loudly saying, “nobody home!”
Ollie then decided he wanted to go to the Castle (Reid had muttered something about wanting to ride the Rocketships, as we were walking past that ride, but it looked like a very long line, and he forgot about it quickly), so we we went for the castle, where many photos were taken. On the other side of the castle, we rode on carousel, then angled for Toontown. After Toontown, we headed for New Orleans Square for lunch, where Reid and I fell back from the group to watch ducks and boats, then joined up for lunch. This detail is, to be fair, entirely unrelated to being a daddy: I found a large, heat-blackened insect (maybe a wasp or a bee) in the grapes that were served with my Monte Cristo.
Toward the end of lunch, the boys started assembling molotov cocktails again, so we high-tailed it outta there. They napped well, and woke up significantly less belligerent. As I write this, they are again sleeping peacefully.
Yesterday, at dinner, we taught Ollie and Reid to ask for things by saying please, and at the same time doing jazz hands. Yeah, they’re gonna be weird kids.
So at one point I had told myself that I was never going to do “rewind” blogs. If I miss something that happened yesterday, it’s gone forever from the annals of history. But what happened yesterday at the zoo was too good to be passed up — and far too good to be lost due to my blogcrastination. After an exceptionally busy day, the boys found themselves at the zoo with their friends Ashley and Isabelle (I’m spelling Isabelle’s name correctly now, where I have used the Spanish spelling in the past).
While the kids were all playing together at the hippopotamus exhibit (ignoring the live animals in favor of the large bronze replica nearby, of course), some poor unsuspecting girl passed near Ollie with a bag of Doritos in her hand, and what can only be called An Incident ensued. Ollie (perhaps guessing by height and assuming this was Isabelle, without really inspecting his target), reached out and snatched at the bag of chips — I am not sure whether words were exchanged or not, but the girl demonstrated remarkable reflexes and stunning determination, and the Incident lasted far longer than such an incident ought to because of the determination of the two children involved. Ollie’s first mugging attempt was, in the end, a total failure. As far as I could tell, he didn’t acquire a single Dorito. I don’t know what about the incident was the most embarrassing for him (whether it be that he mugged someone random, instead of a friend; or whether it be that the mugging failed so categorically), but he did seem to react with genuine embarrassment when “the authorities” arrived.
Today, Ollie and I were on our own. Reid, his mom, and nanny (Aunt Judy) all ventured fearlessly to a quilting show. Ollie and I, spared this terrible, terrible torture instead set our sights on a visit to the Wild Animal Park. In general the thing went off without a hitch. Ollie doesn’t look at animals so much, but it is possible to stall him with food when I want to observe a particular animal for a while, and he very much enjoys running as fast as he can up and down the slopes and hills with which the park abounds.
He may have reached an interesting milestone after his nap tonight, since I think it is the first time he has ever actually asked a question of either of us, spontaneously. The question: “What name?”, asked while holding up a train to be identified by its character-name from the Thomas series. The answer: “Duncan.”
The boys’ aunt Judy gave them a Christmas present which they opened late today. The gift is a mantle-ornament which is a scale train-engine. They love trains. This one, when plugged in, emits some sort of scented smoke, and rolls its wheels, while playing Christmas carols. All of the boys in the house (including myself) crowded around the dangerously-exposed wall-socket to inspect it.
I’ve been negligent in my posting the last couple of days. Yesterday, I took off in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., but I have no excuse for other days.
My wife and I rarely wake up in time. On the rare occasions we do wake up before them, showering and other morning distractions usually delay us enough that we hear them chattering on the monitor before we see them for ourselves. In other words, both of us having relatively flexible schedules , the monitor is also our alarm clock — I told you it was handy.
This morning, Beth made it into the shower before the chattering started, so I had a chance to listen to them singing the “mommy…. daddy….” song for a little while before I joined them. A pleasant wake-up this morning, no screaming, no whining, and apparently no egregious personal assaults (these include the taking of blankie, sitting upon your brother, or hugging him for way longer than he could ever possibly want a hug to last).
When I arrived in their room, though, I was greeted by a site I now know well. Both beds were totally stripped: blankets, pillows, meow-meows, Jeffs, and dinosaurs strewn about. Upon seeing me, Ollie proudly announced, “I close it!” and ran to close an ominously-open bathroom door (all their doors have sophisticated, high-tech security systems installed, so we must have left this one open last night. Fortunately, the bathroom itself seems not to have been visited with the same tsunami of destruction as their room.
After that, Reid and I threw Pluto around a bit, there were several choruses of “little bunny fu-fu” sung (their favorite verse of the Trout Fishing in America song “The Window”), and then Beth showed up to relieve me of duty. On my way out, Ollie went out of his way to stop me to insist on a hug. It was a good morning.
Took the boys to the World Famous San Diego Wild Animal Park today. Drove there, loaded ’em up in the stroller, got ’em inside the property and let ’em loose. They ran to their favorite waterfall first thing. Five minutes were spent admiring the waterfall (a new speed record) before bustling away to admire — and feed — the mother and baby gorilla sculpture. We were sternly advised by a far-too-old groundskeeper to be very careful of the area around the sculpture due to the apparently-deadly needles falling from the trees looming over it. In spite of an utter lack of regard for this warning, no casualties were sustained.
After feeding the metal gorillas, we continued to the railway ride that runs in a circuit around the park. It’s being expanded to include a roadway tram, but that work isn’t complete yet. On the first trip down the path, we discovered that the train had just left. Not daring to tempt fate by making both boys wait for the train before boarding it for a forty-minute ride, I turned back and instead let the boys run in circles in the switch-backs leading up to the ride. After a good ten minutes of running in circles gleefully, Ollie announced a poo. Myself an experienced poo-harvester, this only caused a brief delay in our excursion, in spite of what Ollie considered a “very messy poo, daddy!” (he was right, too) After that we made another descent toward the railway. This time, our arrival was timed perfectly with the last few moments of loading the train, so there was no waiting before the ride. Which is good because about 15 minutes before the end of the ride, Ollie announced that he was done. Now.
Though Ollie is a very verbal little boy, he also is a firm believer in the theory that actions mean more than words, and so he made his announcement not in words, but instead by kicking the seat in front of us, thrashing, rolling in my arms, trying to bite me (these are relatively playful bites, not the cannibalistic assaults of his younger days — but still unpleasant), and so on. This left me in the awkward position of trying to subdue him while holding Reid — or rather the lump of sleeping toddler he had become — with one arm, while trying to prevent the thrashing Ollie from injuring myself or the people in front of me, or flipping himself out of the train. No one died and a good time was had by all.
The overzealous, needle-obsessed groundskeeper then somehow managed to find another opportunity to scold me as I was pondering the exit sign of a restaurant near the railway ride. I immediately turned to find the other door (the one labeled “enter,” as the groundskeeper had irritably informed me) and was in no time the proud owner of a hamburger (for myself) and two colorful plastic buckets full of a very small portion of breaded chicken and enormous quantities of chips and animal crackers. The end to a delightful trip to the wild animal park.
After that, we headed home. “NO nappytime, JUST home!” Ollie boldly asserted during the drive. Ten minutes later, he and Reid were both fast asleep in the car. Some strategic and tactical errors were made during Operation Enduring Naptime (the transfer of personnel from car to sleeping quarters), however, and so Ollie’s prophetic prediction largely came true. He napped forty-five minutes or an hour before waking up ready to face the world — Reid wrapped up a tidy two-and-a-half hour nap just before their sitters for the evening (some close friends of ours) arrived and we left for our anniversary dinner.
Anniversary dinner at the Napa Rose at Disneyland was delightful. There’s something very pleasant about not having to bolt one’s food down (we did anyway, of course, probably the result of a parental survival instinct which dictates that the slowest eater loses), being able to chat and enjoy food and wine, and all of the other luxuries of a nice dinner, without having to know the location and potential lethality of every piece of cutlery on the table, and without having to defend one’s drinks and plates, and without having to exhort two two-year-olds to eat anything that isn’t mac & cheese. That’s right. We missed them. They apparently enjoyed an evening at home and went to sleep on schedule, without event.
Many parents see this endlessly useful invention as merely a means of ensuring that their children continue breathing throughout the night. And while that is, I concede, one of the primary responsibilities of any parent, this function of the monitor is vastly outdone by the ability to eavesdrop on morning mischief.
The only downside to the monitor in this capacity is the tendency for its batteries to die just when things are getting interesting. It feels as though I’m Houston having finally re-established contact with the moon mission, only to have the transmission cut short just as an astronaut begins to scream bloody murder:
“No, Ollie! Aaaaagg~~”