Friday, January 15, 2016

Once upon a time there was a little toy penguin named Tango...

Once upon a time there was a little toy penguin named Tango.
He and Olivia were inseparable.  They went everywhere together... They've been around the world (well almost).

It makes me a little sad that Olivia isn't as reliant on Tango anymore.  I'm also happy that she's not.  For a while Tango was an extension of Olivia's personality.  She and Tango were the same.  Tango allowed Olivia to be a bit more sociable and outgoing through him.  Mind you she does shove Tango in people's faces... not sure I am exactly a fan of that .

So who is Tango?
Tango is a small stuffed penguin that Larry found in one of his offices.  There was also an American eagle that we named Sam.  Originally Olivia was a bit more attached to Sam and somehow we managed to lose Sam so I kind of forced Tango onto Olivia to try to get her to forget about same (she was under 18 months from memory).  So that was fine.  I do apologize world - I created the monster that is Tango.  It is all my fault.  There is a kid's book named "and Tango makes Three" about two male penguins at the Central Park Zoo who become Dads.  We used to read that book a lot when the girls were younger and when we found the penguin - Tango seemed appropriate.

It's funny as a parent I think you tend to see yourself or wonder about yourself at that age when your children go through it.  I occasionally wonder if I had a toy like Tango that I was attached to and if my parents put up with much as we have with Tango (I shouldn't say put up with but I think most parents can relate to the we have to stop or go back or something because we forgot/left behind/dropped said toy or lovie as they are called here).  I do/did have Theodore E. Bear though - I got him just before I turned 7, he's been by my side pretty much since then even to the point now where he's one of Louise's army of stuffed animals.  Getting back on track...

Tango has been a hoot.  He's been pretty much everywhere Olivia has been, he's pretty much been around the world - there's photos of him in Hawaii, Mauritius, Disneyland.

One unexpected bonus about Tango is that Olivia knows a lot about penguins.  She knows the difference between chinstrap penguins and emperor penguins.  She did go through a phase where if there was anything involving a penguin she either a) had to have it or b) had to know about it.  She's growing out of it a little bit but still if there's something involving penguins it will spark an interest.

One of the other things that has always amazed me about Olivia and Tango is how realistic she has been about him.  He went missing for a while (about 3 months), he was put in another girls bag by mistake and he was in there for the whole time.  After being upset for the first couple of days, she did get very real about it all "oh he'll turn up" - mind you Larry and I did scour the Internet trying to find another penguin that looked exactly like Tango.

Things started to change when Olivia started Montessori last January.  The Montessori didn't allow the kids to have comfort toys unless it was rest time.  This was both good and bad.  It was good in that did allow Olivia to be herself, which I think may have also been helped by the fact that her and Louise were in separate classes.  The bad is that a little part of Olivia that is Tango started to disappear some of the magic was ending.

What has changed can change again.
Olivia and Tango are inseparable once more.  Tango spends the day in her school bag and comes out to play when I pick the girls up in the afternoon.  She still sleeps with him, he still goes pretty much everywhere with us.

A couple of years ago I promised Olivia that I would take her to Central Park Zoo so she could see the real Tango.  I emailed the zoo keepers to see if Tango was still there.  They were quite lovely and emailed me back - unfortunately Tango is no longer around, she died.  Now I will admit that I am a bit of an emotional person at times but this did make me cry.  I found the email again a couple of months ago because for some reason I got in my head that Tango was in a zoo in Pennsylvania and I said to Liv that I would try to find out.  So I find the email again and I'm crying again.  I worry that telling Olivia that Tango is dead is probably going to be more shattering to her than finding out that Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny are all me (I still think she suspects).  However I have promised that we will go to Central Park and see Roy and Silo in the Spring.  These penguins have been so important to Olivia (and us) for a long time its probably about time that we did go see them. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ghost Luminaries

I bought this small Taste of Home halloween magazine last week.  It's got lots of good stuff in there to be honest... one of the things that I thought would be fun and that the girls also latched onto was this.  I'm one of the "room parents" for both Louise and Olivia's Kindergarten classes and I have been trying to find craft ideas that we can do as an activity for their halloween party.  This seemed perfect...

I have to say it's a lot of fun.  I had a blast making this with Olivia.  Louise didn't seem to enjoy it as much as she was having problems getting the glue and the tissue paper onto the jar.  She got there in the end though but I did sense that she wasn't really keen on the whole thing.  She was just doing it because Olivia and I were doing it.

I have to say I loved Olivia's approach on this.  I bought a luminary from Pottery Barn which is a mummy so she wanted to do hers to look like a mummy.  So to make hers look like a mummy she was pasting the strips of tissue paper horizontally.  I was quite surprised at how clever she can be.

I don't own the copyright to this.  This is entirely Taste of Home so if you end up copying any of the text following please credit them.  The photos are mine so if you copy them - I will get a 6 year old to hunt you down and glue tissue paper to you.

Materials needed:- wide-mouth jars
- face template
- black tissue paper
- white tissue paper
- decoupage glue
- scissors
- tealight candles or electric candles
- sealant (optional)

Method:Cut colored or white tissues paper into 6 to 8 inch strips.
Brush a thin coat of decoupage glue on each jar.
Lay tissue paper strips vertically over the jar, layering only enough to cover the gaps.
Cut face template and trace desired template onto black tissue paper; cut out shapes.
Place face shapes on jar and affix with 2 or 3 thin coats of decoupage glue.  Let dry completely.
If needed spray jars with sealant to protect designs.
Illuminate with a tealight candle or an electric candle.

So I decided to cut the strips a bit smaller - just to make it more interesting... either that or I didn't read the instructions properly (with me it's probably the second part...).  I like the look of the strips being cut smaller to be honest.  The smaller/thinner strips also allowed for Olivia's mummy to look more like a mummy.  I didn't trace the template onto tissue paper - I just cut them straight from the printer.  Although considering I now have an inkjet (thanks to shennigans of broken printer and superglued fingers), I did find that the ink was starting to run slightly with the glue.

Speaking of glue.  Now I am not the worlds craftiest person.  I am reasonably new to all this craft stuff (apart from High School but that was like eons ago).  I have tried stuff in the past but it has tended to backfire on me or it's just become a comedy of errors (Michael's great attempt at sewing as a perfect example).  Now I had no idea of what decoupage glue is - google does though... I think I would be lost without google.  Anyway it's basically just watered down glue - too easy :)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

DIY Bunting

Originally I was going to title this DIY Birthday Bunting but you can apply this to any purpose.  I'm still not really sure even why I'm doing this blog post - mostly because facebook wouldn't let me pin one of my photos.

For the girls birthdays I tend to normally go the extra bit or completely mental going by your viewpoint.  This year I thought it would be nice if I made some bunting to hang from the fireplace.  The idea actually came about as I found some halloween paper at a craft store and I'm going to make bunting for them for Halloween (but that one is coming up after their birthday and we are going completely mental for Halloween!).  So I then thought it would be nice if I made some for their birthday... and the idea was born.

I'm normally a bit hesitant about craft projects as something will always go just a little bit wrong or I worry I don't have the skills or abilities - probably the most famous example is my whole attempt at sewing.  So I generally tend to not "do" things.  Anyway I kind of figured what was the worst that would happen - I'd waste a little bit of money on a failure.  At best I'd have something pretty that the girls would like.

The end result I'm not 100% happy with as I should have made the bunting flags a little bit bigger.  But I did start cutting the flags before I found the stickers.  That was also the sticking point (no pun meant) - I had no idea of how I was going to do the letters.  I had a vision (kind of) and the lettering was what I wasn't really sure on.  I was thinking of cutting the letters out but that meant printing the letters, transferring them and then cutting them out.  Which in theory sounds ok except I broke our printer on Monday - I snapped something, tried to fix it and ended up superglueing my finger.  At times I am really reminded of the Midvale School Far Side comic... It really does apply to me in a lot of ways.

I was originally going to attach the flags to some ribbon I found at a craft store but when I was at Target yesterday I found some red and white twine and (HUZZAH!) the stickers.  I thought the twine would be easier to use than the ribbon and it also made it easier in terms of hanging the flags - I just scotch taped the twine onto the back of the flag and then folded the top of the bunting over the twine and taped the back.  And that was it - repeat twenty-odd times and completed.

I'm actually happy with how they turned out - I know the mistakes I made now so I know what to do when I get around to making the Halloween ones I want for the girls next week.

Friday, September 4, 2015

"Daddy - I don't like you"

I had my heart broken today.
I also cried in front of my children - I won't say I try to avoid this, I suppose being a man I feel like I shouldn't as it does show a weakness.  As a parent I am actually ok with it as it does show my children that I am human.

Summer has been long.  So very long!  Now for the most part I have been able to keep Louise and Olivia busy with camps but 13 weeks is 13 weeks!  This week has probably been worse than most as they have been home with me.  I have also been a bit angsty this week about other things so that hasn't helped.  I will be honest and admit that I woke up in a very foul mood today and I really couldn't shake it.  No idea as to what caused it and unfortunately being human as much as you don't try to do it - it does affect your interactions with your kids, so I really wasn't the most fun I have been with the girls.  Also Louise really is at that stage where she's pushing, constantly pushing.  I do tend to react rather than think and then react which she also feeds off.  So with a small amount of craziness from being home with me and the end of summer so on... Louise and I have butted heads a fair bit lately.  She has developed this tendency of starting to look away and ignoring me when I'm talking (or lecturing if you want to be honest) to her - which upsets greatly.  She did it to me this morning when they had one of their friends here - I was talking to her about something and she turned away and started putting her helmet on because they were going to scooter.


So yes... talk became a lecture and off she went inside.  She did a couple of other things to push buttons - she decided it would be fun to take everything off her bed so I helped her.  Then came the crunch I asked why she did the things she did.  Why does she not listen to me?  Doesn't she realize that it upsets me and it makes me feel like she doesn't respect me or even like me... Now I did put the words out there so it is partly my fault.  She told me she didn't like me.  It was literally a physical blow.  I had to walk away from her and I walked into her room and cried.  Olivia came in to comfort me and then Louise slipped the note under the door.  Olivia grabbed it and asked Louise what it was about.  "BECAUSE I DON'T LIKE DADDY!"

I took a time out.
I told them both that I just needed to get away and just breathe.

This parenting thing at times is hard.
I know Louise loves me and she was just reacting to the fact that she was upset and I am what ultimately is creating some of the upset.  I just have to try to not take it personally.  It can hurt though.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Daddy I'm really sorry"

These are words I was not expecting to hear for a very long time...
I wasn't.
So you could have knocked me over when Louise said them to me this afternoon.  And the look on her face was just so adorable.

The backstory...
Halloween approaches.
It does!
Last year when we were visiting the states - we unfortunately missed Halloween but we did get a little bit caught up in the hype (it's hard not too really!).  The girls were a little bit sad that they got to miss trick or treating and the rest of the fun that seems to come with Halloween (ok... ok... it's not just the girls... it may also be me).  So Halloween is coming around again (as it seems to every year) and we're all getting a little bit excited (Larry maybe not as much as the rest of us).  I went off to the grocery store after the gym to get some stuff for dinner - I missed a night when I did my shopping on Monday.  I went to the grocery store near the gym rather than home and they had *gasp* candy corn for sale.  So I got some.

Now I thought it would be nice if I got the candy corn and put it in a nice container on the table.  I didn't tell Louise and Olivia that I had bought the candy corn because I didn't think of it - I figured also they'd see it soon enough.

Louise did.
She grabbed the jar and raced into the living room to show Olivia.  Now again my parental ESP should have kicked in.  Anyway the next thing you know *crash* glass and candy corn all over the family room floor.  Cue freak out about broken glass and a puppy trying to eat candy corn.  Now this is where Louise surprised me - she said "daddy I'm really sorry" and bless her heart she looked absolutely crestfallen.  At the end of the day it was just some candy corn and a broken jar - although the funny thing is both her and Olivia were upset at the idea of no candy corn until the next time I went grocery shopping... again maybe it's parental ESP... nah... it was 3 bags for $5 and the third bag wouldn't fit in the jar.  So I had an extra bag and they got to have a piece of candy corn.  When I was putting Louise to bed she apologized again.  It really was very sweet.

Although the loss of the jar was a bit of a downer - it was one of the very remaining remnants of my life as a single person (mind you I haven't been single for a very long time but I suppose we get sentimental about silly things).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The "hitting" incident

It’s rare that I have to come down really hard on the girls.  It is.  I know I come across as the cranky, mean parent.  I kind of am cranky.  I’m not a completely freaking ray of sunshine most of the time.  I do get frustrated easily… anyway… Over the course of the past 6 years we haven’t had many “big” trouble incidents.  Last night was one of them.

Larry’s in Chicago for the day with work and he expected to come back late which is fine.  Funny though how most things like this tend to happen when Larry’s not around.  Maybe it’s some form of parenting kismet.  The afternoon had cruised along pretty easily, the girls were tired from camp so they were just chilling on the couch after dinner.  Olivia and I had our usual run-in over food.  I know common parenting logic says that you shouldn’t make a big deal out of it because you will create eating disorders later in life.  My logic says that my child not eating is indicative of something deeper.  So I push, and I push, and I push.  Olivia feels that’s she not getting enough attention and that one way to retaliate is to by ignoring something I put a lot of effort into.  She’s a smart cookie.

So we’re all on the couch on iDevices.  I realize it’s almost 8pm - give them the quick heads-up that they need a bath.  So I go start the bath.  Olivia comes up and joins me - which is cool.  Then Louise follows.  Now the girls don’t generally bathe at the same time.  It seems to be coming a bit more common so I’m not really sure what’s going on there.  Again I am not really rock the boat though - saves me time sitting on the bathroom floor keeping them company.  They also both decided to wash their hair.  Now the funny thing here is that Olivia particularly doesn’t like washing her hair… I normally have to force that issue.  Recently nope - she’s washing her hair every couple of days.  So Louise and Olivia are in the bath.  Now it’s a normal sized bathtub and I should have foreseen something was going to happen.  Parental ESP and all that.

So something did happen.  The bathtub is getting to be a bit too small for two kids to lay side by side.  So the next thing is the argy-bargy, the she touched me, no she touched me, she got water in my face and whammo - Olivia hit Louise.  So Olivia gets hoisted out of the bath given a towel and marching orders to brush her teeth, hair and get straight into bed.  Now for the first time in her life she complained that she hadn’t washed herself… seriously! 

So Olivia has her pajamas on and has brushed her hair and teeth, is in bed and she cops the lecture.  Now we have a couple of golden rules in this house - one is no hitting.  So it’s not a small lecture, it’s not the I’m upset that you hit you sister.  It’s the I’m disappointed in you.  Now I get to a 5 (nearly 6 year old) the gravity of things isn’t quite apparent.  We got there eventually.  The clanger though was when I did the channelling my own parents - the “I thought I was raising you better than this.”

Now ordinarily this probably wouldn’t be so much of a problem.  However the girls share a bathroom that separates their bedrooms so Louise overheard me saying “I thought I was raising you better than this” and she took that to mean that I was raising Olivia better than her.  Cue favoritism drama - so I have one child upset because she’s gotten the lecture and didn’t get a kiss and a hug good night (I’ll come back to this) and the other one is upset because she thinks I favor her sister.

So I have to put that little fire out.  One of the things I really love about the English language is the diversity and breadth of expressions.  There are just so many cute and interesting sayings.  One of the things I dislike about the English language is that you have to try to explain to children who don’t quite have the same understanding of the language you do what these expressions and sayings mean.  So I spent the time explaining to Louise that I was disappointed in Olivia and I thought I was doing my best to raise kids that don’t hit.  So that was sorted out.  

Meanwhile Olivia is having a meltdown in her room because she didn’t get the hug or the kiss.  That was hard for me.  When I was having the talk to Olivia about what punishment she felt was suitable - none really felt that they would lend themselves to the gravity of the offense.  Taking her iPad away for a day is pointless because she still has the TV… so I thought if I just tucked her in and said good night and walked out that would do it.  Now I am not a complete monster - there is one thing that I have always tried do to with Louise and Olivia and that is leave with them a smile or a laugh when they go to bed.  So I went back in and had a quick chat to Olivia and told her that I forgave her and explained that I get angry too, I react to things without thinking them through - it’s human nature, I don’t hit people though.  I tend to say TV words - the really bad ones!  That gave her a bit of a laugh.   I gave her a kiss and a hug, told her I loved her and said good night.

There’s lots of things about parenting that I find hard.  I’ve spoken to people before about the fact that I try to be the perfect parent (which I know isn’t possible).  With situations like this I worry if I have done the right thing.  It was all a bit stressful for me… now in the past I’d unwind with a few drinks (probably a few too many) - these days I unwind by folding laundry and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  The ultimate outcomes are that my kids know that I love them, the boundaries were enforced and my sanity prevailed.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Louise & Ramune

I have a thing for Japan.  I can tell you the cause for that actually - I fell in love with Robotech when I was a kid and that sparked my interest in Japan.  How you cross over from americanized anime to a general love of Japan I'm not quite sure of but hey - it is what it is!

Louise seems to be developing a similar interest - although I don't know if it's about Japan as such yet.  Obviously being young their interests will be molded by mine and Larry's.  They are interested in comics, cartoons and superheroes which is entirely via me.  Louise and Japan at the moment is purely food based.  When they were younger (about 2 maybe) we went grocery shopping one day and there was a sushi place near the supermarket and I got a couple of handrolls for lunch and Louise wanted to try one - so I gave her some.  There started her love affair with sushi (some would say obsession!).   For my birthday last year - Larry took me and the girls to Ichi Ni in St Kilda which is my favorite Japanese Restaurant (I haven't found one in the DC Metro area yet so I am open to suggestions) - Louise also really loves lemonade.  Our waiter suggested that Louise try Ramune - obsession #2 gets created.  She loves Ramune.

Fast forward a little bit.  We're now in Arlington.  I went grocery shopping one day and I was really surprised to find out that they had Ramune!  It really wasn't something I was expecting to just find at a grocery store.  And of course I just had to get some for Louise.  I have since found out that the Asian grocery store (which is massive) near home has an extensive selection of Ramunes so Louise is really happy with that idea!

Although I will make one observation.  Sushi and handrolls seem to be much more common in Australia than what they do here in the US.  Mind you I am not in downtown areas very much so it could be different there.  I don't really know.

The whole reason for this blog post is that I wanted to explain one of my 365 photos - so this is the explanation.