Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm bappled

When Anaya was little, we kept trying to coax words out of her. ("Dada. Anaya, can you say Dada? Hey, I think she really said it this time!") "Just wait!" My mom warned me. "When this one gets talking, she's never going to shut up!" (I wonder how she knew...certainly not from raising Mommy...)

She was right. Anaya has verbal diarrhea. I can't even get her to be quiet when I send her to her room alone to think. She complains loudly from her solitary confinement, most notably about Mommy's weaknesses. ("I was PRAYING, Mommy!" she will explain in exasperation if I confront her on this quirk.)

Then we had Seth. Sweet, poky Seth, who didn't want to bother to say things until he could say them in full sentences--or at least astonish us with a whole string of words. (Or maybe he just didn't want us to know that he understood what we told him to do.)

Now we have Skyler, who gives every indication of plotting to follow in his big sister's linguistic footsteps. At fifteen months, he's been amassing new words at the rate of at least one or two a day, so he's probably up to a vocabulary of twenty or thirty words now. (It's kind of hard to tell, because "thank you" and "cuckoo" and "cracker" all sound about the same, "co-co," even though he uses each one in its appropriate context. He has this most adorable way of putting a pause between his syllables, just for effect.)

This morning he spotted an apple in my hand. "Bap-ple!" he announced brightly. Wow. Are his siblings tutoring him on the sly whenever I step out of the room?

Poor Seth. He'll never get a word in edgewise.

Monday, April 28, 2008

...ten by ten, hurrah! hurrah!...

"Mommy, come quick! There are more ants in here than you can even 'magine!" Anaya announced to me last night. "Can I spray them?"

I gave her the veggie spray bottle and then followed her a few moments later to the playroom, where she was vigorously assaulting the mob. "I thought they were your friends," I said.

"Not anymore," she assured me grimly. "I'm tired of them."

Friday, April 25, 2008

and ON and ON

The ants are still marching. Anaya was washing them down the sink in the bathroom yesterday again. "I thought they were your friends," I commented.

"Oh. I forgot."

I saw a whole tribe of them gathered around a silver spoon in the playroom this week. Apparently the kids must have coated it with peanut butter or something and left it out, maybe as a sort of sacrifice to the ant gods. (Maybe it was to atone for the caterpillar that two wide-eyed boys accidentally sent to his eternal rest a few days earlier--but we won't go there.) It looked like the ants were all working together to haul the spoon off to their house. Actually, I thought THIS was their house. They might as well put it away.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Who needs words?

Anaya loves to "read" to herself. She has a blast taking a pile of books to my bedroom and sitting on the bed, loudly "reading" to herself. Recently she invited her friend Aile (that's pronounced like "Ellie") to come join her.

"Can you READ?" Aile asked, wide-eyed. Aile is the same age as Anaya, and though both of them are ardent ABC fans, that's pretty much all they do.

"Well," Anaya acknowledged, "I can't read the WORDS. But I can read!" she assured Aile. "I just read what I WANT the book to say!"

No really

Kids teach you a lot about yourself. For example, lately Seth has helped me to realize that I often answer excited babbling with an absent, "Oh, really?" He helped me to realize this because, of course, he doesn't know what "Oh, really?" means. (Duh, Mommy.) So whenever I answer him that way, lately he's taken to saying, "No really." He then repeats whatever he said before, with more pointed emphasis. Here are a couple of examples from this afternoon.

"T'ain possing."

"Oh, really?"

"No really. T'ain possing!"

At this point I actually looked at what he was trying to show me. After a few more questions, I eliminated possible meanings and figured out that one of his trains was pushing the other one.

"Tee! Aaaugh!"

"Oh, really?"

"No really. Tee! Aaaugh!"

Once again, he really is trying to say something, and it must be duly acknowledged. After more Twenty Questions, I figured out that he had built a tree out of a cloth balanced on a container. He was pushing the "tree" over, causing the "Aaaugh!"

So it's not earthshaking stuff. At least it's fun to have a window into his little mind.

The ants go marching ON and ON

We have an ant problem in this house. Actually, that's putting it mildly. I wonder if, pound for pound, there might be more ants than people in, under and around this house. Of course, we have to be really careful not to leave crumbs lying around. That's another way to say that there are ALWAYS ants scurrying around somewhere, in bathrooms, kitchen, dining room and even bedrooms, since everywhere the kids go they seem to leave a trail of crumbs (and sand, but that's another blog...). So the ants go marching faithfully, cleaning up after us. I see them form happy lines after meals, cheerfully carrying away our leftovers if I don't sweep up immediately. Every day is Picnic Day at the Parkers'. No doubt they think that we are the most generous, benevolent people the world has ever seen--some of the time.

But the truth is, I'm becoming less benevolent all the time. I'm tired of sweeping up dirt piles that dash away while I'm going back for more. (It doesn't help that the kids appear from everywhere when I get out the broom, so they can wade through anything I sweep up.) I don't like tucking poisons into all the available corners of the house, and I have tried the recommended environmentally friendly ant killers, with varying success. Lately I've found that veggie spray, the kind you use to scrub wax and random insect poisons off of veggies and fruits, is also a very effective ant killer. I use it so much, now the smell makes me think of ants instead of veggies.

Anaya was getting callous too, until recently. I cleaned the ants out of the tub before her bath the other day, but she called to me after she got in. "Mommy, there's an ant in the water!"

"Well, kill it," I responded heartlessly. (You see how benevolent I'm getting, encouraging my children to slaughter innocent creatures.)

"Okay, I did!" she shouted back, then paused, apparently to contemplate the little carcass. "Mommy, I will never kill another ant!" she announced brightly. "Ants are my friends!"

What that means to her, who knows. She hasn't given up on the concept now, and it's been several days. She comforted her friend Aile today, who screamed in terror when she saw an ant sauntering across her chair toward her. "Don't worry, Aile," she assured her. "Ants are our friends!"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Expect a miracle

It's Friday afternoon, officially. At this moment, just to give you a snapshot of my life, I thought I'd randomly tell you what is happening.

Anaya is sitting at the table, supposed to be eating the Korean jap chae I made for lunch. Instead, she is making letters on the table with her noodles. The boys have already finished eating, although judging from the mountain of noodles I pulled out of the seat of Skyler's high chair, they'll need to eat again soon. Currently, however, they are wearing mesh laundry hampers over their heads and chasing each other around the house, shrieking. I have a loaf of bread cooling on the stove and another batch of dough ready to rise in the bread pan. As soon as we finish lunch, I want to run the dishwasher so it can be empty and ready for Sabbath dishes to be hidden inside. Alan is supposed to be home sometime soon, but he's busy finishing the last Bible study with a student he will be baptizing tomorrow afternoon. And before I wash the dishes, I'll have to scrape the noodles off of Skyler's clothes, which are now in the kitchen sink. (He's presently running around the house in a diaper and socks, with this neat slime of drool down the front of his adorable little chest.) I have a list of 22 things I need to get done today sitting beside me on the table, one of which is packing, since Alan and I are supposed to be leaving at 4 pm to go with the South East Youth Conference leadership group to a sleepover retreat at Cohutta Springs Camp. So far I've done seven of the things on the list. Alan, of course, read my list this morning and told me there was NO way I was getting even to sixteen or seventeen, but hey, who knows, right?

So why am I blogging? Maybe the kids will clean the house if I wait.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Biting words

Have I mentioned that Anaya wants a kitty and a doggie? This is a prominent theme of conversation these days around our house. I've explained that we can't have a kitty or doggie until Anaya can do her responsibilities with a happy heart (i.e., put her pajamas away, make her bed, be nice to her brothers), but that is apparently too high a goal to ever be reached, so she doesn't bother to aim for it. However, she is not shy about informing God of exactly what she has in mind.

My friend Cathy was visiting and watching Anaya a couple of weeks ago while I was gone. Seeing the neighbor's dog wandering through our yard, she banged on the window. "Go away, Doggie."

"Why did you DO that?" exploded Anaya, throwing her arms wide in dismay. "Didn't you KNOW I've been PRAYING for a doggie?"

Cathy thought fast. "That was a biting doggie," she explained. "You need to pray for a doggie that doesn't bite."

Anaya marched over to the window and looked up. "Please, dear Jesus," she pleaded, "send me a doggie that doesn't bite!"

Bride ideas

Anaya wants to get married. (That seems to be a common hope here at Southern.) She decided this at age 2 1/2, when she went to Justin and Stephanie McNeilus's wedding. After all, Stephanie come down the aisle in a beautiful snowy white dress, with everyone watching, and then everyone got cake afterward. This seemed like a great arrangement. Anaya commented as we pulled out of the parking lot after the reception. "I want to get mawwied!" This has been her fairly consistent view ever since.

We try to encourage Anaya not to narrow down her list of prospective mates quite yet. (Not that it matters, since she has already agreed that Daddy will choose her future husband.) Though she has occasionally declared her undying allegiance to Skyler, and pleaded with me to marry her, most of the time her plans center on Daddy. At the very least, she insists she is going to marry someone "nice like Daddy." But other times she is more bold about declaring her designs: she wants to marry Daddy. My feeble, illogical protests that I married him first, he promised not to marry anyone but me, etc. make no difference. No one else will do. A few nights ago I came into our bedroom to discover an exhausted Daddy lying in bed while three boisterous children bounded around him. Then Anaya snuggled down beside him. "I'm so glad I can sleep with my HUSBAND," she declared gleefully, then condescendingly addressed me. "Good night, little girl! You need to go sleep in your bed now."

I'm sure Freud would smile triumphantly and declare that he was right. Well, I don't care; I think his theories are stupid. I'm just glad that my little girl loves her daddy so much.

She does briefly change her mind now and then about the whole marriage thing, by the way. "I don't want to get married," she announced last week. "Children are too much work!"


Here are a few pictures of my children's latest demonstrations of talent.

Yes, that comb says "unbreakable" at the top.

How many two-year-olds do you know who can take five-foot closet doors off in five minutes flat when Mommy steps out of the room? (I still haven't been able to put them back on, either.)

Alan left his computer on the couch for a few minutes. Skyler thought he'd display his technological savvy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Last week

If I'm not blogging very regularly, it's no indication that my children are getting any less cute. If anything, it's that they're just doing more stuff than ever, hence giving me no time to write about it. But I thought I would write down a few events from this week.
(After I asked Anaya why she had just unbuttoned her shirt.) "Oh, I just wanted to be sure it was okay in there."
"What was okay?" I asked.
"I wanted to see if there were any spiders and crabs inside," she responded.


I've been trying to get Anaya to understand that she needs to clarify when she is describing real situations versus pretend ones. Please, no more dashing in from outside yelling, "There's a snake chasing me!" Instead she has been instructed to scream, "There's a pretend snake chasing me!" But as I was getting into the car after putting all three kids in the back seat, Anaya squealed, "Mommy, we have a 'mergency back here! But it's not a real 'mergency," she assured me quickly, "So don't call 9-1-1."


This week we decided the boys were old enough to understand not to touch a fire, so we started building them in the fireplace. So I built a fire, gathered the boys close and explained the dangers to them in terms I hoped they could understand. "Hot! Owie! Not for Sethie! Not for Skyler! No, no!" They watched wide-eyed and avoided the fire obediently while I was in the room. I congratulated myself on having such well-behaved, obedient toddlers.
A few minutes later I heard a suspicious rattling. I came back into the living room to see my boys attempting to poke twigs through the fireplace screen.
Then again, should I be surprised? Their uncles are the ones who set fire to the field behind their house and burned down the servants' quarters as kids. (Their father, of course, insists he was just watching wide-eyed the whole time.)


Seth continues to amaze us with his sudden language skills. Rather than practicing all the time, and getting very frustrated when we don't understand his garbled words (like Anaya when she was learning to talk), Seth tends to wait until he can say the full sentence. He silently picked out his star stickers for his chore chart (on the refrigerator) by pointing to the one he liked, until one day he announced, "I choose g'een skicker!" One day when his exhausted parents sneaked in a nap while all three were sleeping, we were jarred out of our beds by Seth's sudden bellow from the next room. "Daddy, get me OUT!" (Where did he learn to say that without practice?!)


Skyler's little language skills are improving, too. He is now faithful in saying "thank you" ("dit-duh"), and even "please" (peeze?). He will cheerfully meow like a cat or tweet like a bird on command. Dogs and ducks still growl--we're working on that.

Screech (or, life from Skyler's perspective)

7:30 Wow, look, it's light in here! I'd better tell everyone! I'm awake, morning has broken, and there are a zillion things to do! Get up, everybody! SCREECH! Hi, Seth! How are things over in your crib? Look, here's Mommy! Yay! I wonder why she always looks sleepy in the morning. I'm not sleepy. Why be sleepy, when I just slept a LOOONG time? I've finished sleeping! I never want to sleep again! Grownups are so weird.

7:35 Mom's strapping me into a high chair. Yay, food! Looks like Mom's mixing up some of that goop with applesauce and cereal. Maybe I can get my hand on the spoon when she's not looking. I know I could feed myself if she would just give me the bowl. And wouldn't THAT be a blast?! I had so much fun with that pasta yesterday. The only problem with feeding myself is that they always try to scrub my face off afterward. I like my face! Why don't they leave it alone?

8:00 No more, no more, I'm stuffed! Let me out! Hey, look, there's a toy car! Hahaha, nobody's got it! Vroom, vroom!

8:05 Here comes Sethie. Oh, no, he wants my CAR! MY car, MINE! I've got to run, run like I've never run before! But he's so fast! There's no hope! He's going to take it! SCREEEEECH! There, Mommy heard me and she's stopping Sethie from his wicked purpose. Hahaha! I love Mommy!

8:07 Look, here's that orange punching balloon! Who cares about a stupid car? This thing is flat, but I know what to do. I saw Mommy blow it up the other day. It turns into a ball! It's the coolest thing! I just need to put this end in my mouth and come it isn't getting bigger? It's just getting wetter. That's kinda cool, but not what I had in mind. Hmmm. These things are so weird. SCREECH! There, Mommy is coming. Hey, you're taking my balloon! SCREECH! How can you do this to me? It was mine, mine! I had it first! No fair! Mommy, you're so unbearably mean! Oh, wait, she's blowing it up! It's getting bigger! Yay! Me, me, me! I want it! Don't let Sethie have it! Oh, yes, yes, yes, I have it! Look, I can throw it! Hey, don't touch it, Sethie! SCREECH!

8:30 Here's a broom! I love sweeping, love it, love it, love it! Mommy does too, obviously, because she does it all the time. Especially the dining room. She likes to push the Cheerios around. So I do too, before I eat them. I'm getting so big now that I can walk, I'm going to be just like Mommy soon. Only she doesn't eat the Cheerios after she pushes them around. That's silly, in my opinion. Enjoy them in all the ways you can, I say.

8:45 There's Seth with a sippy cup. Hey, I want a drink! In fact, now that I think about it, that's the only thing in the whole world that I want. I want it! I need it! Give it to me! SCREECH! Hahaha, I got it! Hey, quit howling! He's always howling. Oh well--hey, gimme back that sippy cup! SCREECH! Mommy! Seth just stole my sippy cup! Here, if I fall down on the floor and bury my face, you'll see just how intense my anguish is. How can you allow him to keep drinking that when you knows it's MINE? You're so mean, Mommy! This is the ultimate injustice! Life is so unfair! Oh, she's filled one up for me! Yay, my own sippy cup! I love sippy cups! I love Mommy!

9:00 Where's my binky? I want it! I need it! The world isn't as nice as it was when I woke up this morning. How come nobody gives me what I want when I want it? Mommy must know I want it. I'll go hang on her leg. SCREECH!

9:05 Look, Sethie has a doll stroller! Yay! I love strollers! This one makes a great noise and is so much fun to push. I'll go take it from Sethie. Hey, give it to me! How can you do this to me? Don't you know that's the only thing in the whole world I've ever wanted? Gimme! SCREECH! This is so unfair! Everyone in the world is bigger than me! I said GIVE it to me! Aaaaa--oh, look there's another one! Yay! Look out, here I come! I'm so glad I have a brother to chase!

9:10 Did I just hear Mommy say, "bath"? Oh, yay, yay, I love baths! Who cares about strollers? Maybe if I zip in there in time, I can reach in the water from outside the bath, and get my sleeves wet. That is so cool. I wonder if that neat little pool is open. Nope, Mommy closed the lid. Sigh. She always does that. Augh, she's caught me! Well, there go my pajamas! She peels me like she peels a banana (and have I mentioned that those are the most incredible things in the whole world?) and pops me in the water. Yay, this feels great! I love baths! Here comes Sethie! Look, Sethie, can you splash like this? Whee! Let's kick our feet too! Hey, let's throw things out of the bathtub! Where's that cup? Here, I'll throw this, you get the washrag...Uh oh, here comes Mommy with our clothes. Why does she always yell when she comes in the bathroom?

9:20 Hey, gimme that! I wonder where my binky is? How come nobody does what I want them to do? I'm warm, I'm comfy, but I feel grouchy. Hey, why is Mommy taking me out of the bathtub? SCREECH! I hate this! Don't dry me off! Hey, is that my binky? Yay! I love binkies! I love Mommy! Oh, she's dressing me in that adorable "My Parents Are Exhausted" shirt! I like that one! Yay!

9:30 I'm feeling so snuggly, so warm, so...sleepy...Ah, bed at last! It seems like hours since I was in here!

10:30 Whoa, I think I slept a LOOOOONG time! Won't Mommy be excited to see I'm awake? SCREECH! Yay, here she is! First I need a snuggle as we go down the hallway. OK, that's all I'll need of THAT today! Listen, is that music playing? Yay, I love music! My favorite sport is be-bopping to Vivaldi! Sethie and Anaya are already spinning around in the living room. Oh no, they never see me when they spin. I guess I'm below their line of vision. Oh well, maybe this time will be different. Wheeee! Ouch! SCREECH! I'm down here, don't hit me! Wheeee!

10:45 Look what I found, a book! It has bright pictures! I love books! I love pictures! I wonder if the pictures in this book can be pulled out. The ones I found the other day could, but Mommy didn't like that I took them out. I don't know why. I thought it was fun. Grownups are so weird.

11:00 Look, there are plants in the windowsill! Actually, they're the same ones that were there yesterday, but hey, I didn't get my fingers into them yesterday. Maybe I can reach them today. Yay, something new to explore! I think I can reach those green things! Yay! I...can...almost...get...uh oh, here comes Mommy! Sigh. Okay, another day, guys. Someday I'm going to get a good mouthful of you.

11:30 Look, Anaya and Sethie are running up and down the hall yelling! What a fantastic idea! Why do they get all the good ideas? Oh, never mind, I can always join the fun! AAAAAUGH! This is great! I love running! I love yelling! I love doing whatever Sethie and Anaya are doing! So much fun all packed into one moment!

11:35 Hey, look, there's a room at the end of this hallway. Let's go inside! I just remembered, there's another little room off of this one, and in THAT room is that little tiny room with the wet floor! I LOVE that place! That is simply the coolest place in this whole house. Let's stop on the way to see if the pool is open. Nope, Mommy closed the lid again. But look, the tiny wet-floored room is open! Yay! Wet socks! I LOVE wet socks! Let's dance in it! Yay! Oops, I fell down. Hey, my butt is wet. SCREECH! Oh well. Yay, let's chase each other down the hallway again!

11:45 Hey, my socks are cold! Mommy! SCREECH! How come you dressed me in cold socks? You always do that to me! My butt is wet too, but I don't know why. Oh well, I don't have to walk on it, anyway. Thanks for the dry socks, Mommy. Yay! Let's run down the hall again! Anybody have a ball to throw?

11:50 Hey, what are you doing in the kitchen, Mommy? Hey, food! I'm hungry! Hungry hungry hungry! What's for lunch, Mommy? Hey, you're not picking me up! You're not paying attention to me! SCREECH! I wanna see what's up there! Don't you know I'm starving, I'm so hungry, there's nothing else in the entire world I've ever wanted like this. Please! You've got to help me! Mommy! I'm desperate...oh, hey, look, there's a marker cap on the floor! Have you ever seen one of these things? They're the coolest thing in the world! Look, I can fit it on my finger and point it! Yay! I love marker caps!

12:00 Lunchtime! Yay! I love lunch! I'm so hungry! Hey, what is this stuff, sweet potatoes? You fed me this yesterday! Yeah, I KNOW I liked it yesterday, but that was yesterday! You can't feed it to me again! Yuk! SCREECH! I hate sweet potatoes! Why are you doing this to me? I want...something. Something else! What else do you have? Lentil soup with carrots and fresh basil, please. Or some Cheerios. And why are you calling me Screech?