Tag Archives: sisters

new blog post: peering at sugar mountain through binoculars.

“oh, to live on sugar mountain
with the barkers and the colored balloons,
you can’t be twenty on sugar mountain
though you’re thinking that
you’re leaving there too soon,
you’re leaving there too soon.”

these lyrics, this song, sugar mountain by neil young (who incidentally wrote it at the age of 19), went through my head on more than one occasion today. it was seventy degrees, the sun was out, and there was a slight breeze letting us know that it’s still february. the girls and i headed up rainbow mountain to find unicorns and listen for bears. we accomplished both of our missions – the unicorns were bouncy without horns (some might call them horses) and the bear snores were either testing sounds from the arsenal or thunder that never made rain – though i kept the threat of possible rain in my back pocket in the event that the girls budged at leaving time. “come on, come on, gotta beat the rain” – gets them moving faster than “we gotta get home for lunch”.

between hornless unicorns.

a.’s confidence climbing rocks, h.’s interest in discovering what’s under every rock, and the other explorations that the girls went on today – not totally guided by me – helped me realize that they are climbing sugar mountain, they are in the foothills, they are on their way to fantastical findings that will form, frighten and fascinate them, they are still allowed on sugar mountain – and will be for quite some time.

i lived on sugar mountain, i think i dug my heels in the whole way down, but realized that we all have to move on at some point. the beautiful thing about having children is getting to sit on ‘sometimes sour, hopefully spicy, and lightly sweetened with stevia’ hill, pull out our binoculars, and catch glimpses of a pure cane time in our lives.

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letting our kids feel, and letting them know it’s real.

i was cleaning up after lunch (a chore i enjoy – setting the stage for round two in the day, a fresh start) and a. and h. were in a.’s room playing prior to quiet time – which is mostly nice, but there are the times i come in to ‘break up the party’ and am met with a myriad of reasons why they should have quiet time together. ‘dad, we will totally play quiet and i will share my leapster i promise.’ ‘no, to your own room girls’ (when i write and say that i feel really old – especially the way i say “girrrrls”) ‘dad, how about we play in here for a little bit, and if we are doing well we can keep playing together or go to our own rooms’ she looks up with a smile, knowing she has just played me at my own game. “no, come on guys let’s go” my tone flatter, my eyes losing their ‘this is cute’ smile. then: they up the ante, i get stern, they hug and kiss a few hundred times – their love enhanced by the fight against a common enemy, h. finally goes to her own room, i sit on the sofa, ten minutes later she is coming out of her room with a ‘rooster in the oven’ (euphemism for ‘poop in the diaper’), we change her diaper (it’s the humane thing to do) and she goes back to her room. i then have anywhere between ten minutes and two hours to ‘do things around the house’ (in quotes only because there is little to no consistency with how i use that time – probably best gauged off of my bejeweled blitz score).

spinning on the moon.

so, during this ‘pre-quiettime play’ i usually don’t notice the noises they are making, unless it is ‘the cry’ – you know, the one that they aren’t faking, the one that comes from the source of the pain and out the mouth, the one we say ‘it better be’ but hope we never hear. as they play, my ears are filled with my own grunts, the garbage disposal, clanging of dishes, and thoughts that range from the talent of plumbers to whether ryan braun is innocent. but, this day the noise that came from a.’s room was different, best described as a wail, a heart-felt, stomach to throat to mouth moan and cry, the sound of her soul coming out of her mouth, a child feeling deep. i walked in, knowing she was hurting and not hurt, to find her holding a picture of her and her friend from back home. not just holding, but pressing to her chest, trying to make him appear in her heart. the sobs were broken up by “i want my l., l. i just want my l.” over and over again. i held her, i think i said it would be alright, but mostly held her and let her feel. i love that little girl. my goodness, she feels. i hope that i or the world never strips that from her. yes, she is four, i could down play the whole thing, and tell her to move on, chalk it up to the irrational crazy emotions of a four-year old – ‘nope’, as h. would say, i want our children to feel. it’s not an easy road to feel that deeply, i know, i think we all know, but being able to express, expose and delve into that type of feeling will help her better relate to the world around her – i think. yes, we must teach children to regulate their emotions, but first we must teach them that it is okay to have and show them.

the birth of a heart-o-scope.

the girls had gathered art supplies from upstairs, brought them downstairs, and made themselves busy at the kitchen table – while i cleaned up from lunch. i looked over and observed the following.

a.’s tongue was pressed tight to the corner of her tensed lips, her eyes were zoned, and a trickle of snot had crept from her nose. she gave a quick sniffle, to bring the caterpillar back in the cave, shifted her tongue, gazed up, and then quickly back to focus – a robot like motion, a motion much like resetting to the next line on a typewriter. i’m not sure if my mind or her eyes made that wonderful mechanical noise that typewriters used to make, as her pupils lifted, quickly hit the ceiling, and then fell back down on ‘her world’. “da’ zingk”. the only thing existing at that moment – for her- was in her hands. she shifted in her chair, gave a sideways glance – to be sure sister wasn’t working her way towards any of ‘her’ materials, another darting glance at sister, this time to be certain that sister wasn’t one clumsy fall away from disturbing her creation, and a final check, this time to see what sister was working on.

i was washing dishes at the kitchen sink, felt a ‘force’, looked down, and there was the three-foot-four-inch ninja, eyes blurred from concentration, hair without a part, and little hands holding a collection of objects held together by a number of adhesives, she extended her ‘art baby’ and asked that i tie a knot. the string was affixing a piece of construction paper to a roll of paper towel, and the roll of paper towel had been transformed into a valentine’s day kaleidoscope with wings. there was a panted ‘thanks’ as she shuffled back to the table. h. had now successfully plastered cray paper to each of her fingers, which left the glue stick hopelessly melted to itself. her eyes were smiling and wide, her face was painted with smudged marker, her creation, no less awesome, but, her creation was ripped to pieces, while a.’s fingers turned into tweezers as she put the finishing touches on her prized piece of work.

she was done, for now, and a. and h. took turns looking through their ‘heart-a-scope’ – for a moment. then h. wanted it longer than a., a. pulled it away and said it was hers, h. cried, a. scurried to her room – heart-a-scope in hand, h. cried a little more, and we all took a ten minute break.

the heart-a-scope.

a. would not be happy if she saw this picture.

the great worm rescue.

ballet outfit, silver boots, argyle socks, and a blanket for a cape – it was sixty degrees out – today was h’s day, and we were hunting for worms to save. our last bout of rain washed out the creek and left dried minnows and worms scattered on the sidewalk in its wake. h. was calling herself “captain something” as she stumbled down the sidewalk following her sister’s direction. sister (which is what h. calls a. – and she will remind you of their relation to no end) is a professional worm rescuer, and has taken h. under her wing. as they made their way down the parkway, they stopped at every ‘thing’ that didn’t look like a rock, dead minnows or worms, and crouched down to pay their respects to the fallen. dried worms get a little more ‘crouch time’ than the minnows. as they huddle over the crunchy-dried up-circles (h. having to be reminded countless times by a. not to touch) i think a. is reflecting how she could have saved her ‘poor little buddy’.

a. gives h. a pep-talk prior to her first solo worm rescue

we continue on – h. falling on the walkway that was made slippery by washed out mud and sand, a. seeing how close she can go to the creek before I call her back, and me thinking how fruitless this worm search seems to be, but enjoying the sounds and sights that join a walk alongside a moving body of water. and then…what to my surprise do i hear from a.? “h. we got one get over here” h. clumsily run/falling down the slight incline (down the incline?hm), knees knocking, cape blowing in the wind, hair in her face, panting and red-faced she makes it to where a. is hunched over a…a…a… real worm – still alive, and now it is their job to save it. i was quite impressed that a. waited for h. and walked her through the process. “now h. (yes she really speaks this way) pick it up carefully. no, no, no use both hands. okay, now you want to set it on the grass by some water. no h., don’t squeeze it. oh, oh,oh h. just gently set it down.” I am watching with a huge grin not wanting to butt in, and now h. is swinging the worm as if she skipped tee ball and went straight to fast pitch softball. “oh…h….okay, that’s right. set it down right there. good. leave it. no, don’t pick it up. great.”. yah for h. we clapped, danced, chanted “h. h. h.”, hopped in our wagon, and went home.

thanks to the efforts of a. and h. – there is one more worm in the world, and one less crunchy snack on the sidewalk for a one year old.

my second piece on “extremely loud incredibly close” will hopefully be up by friday. r. is out-of-town and today time only permits a quick story about worm rescue. if you have seen the movie, or read the book, since my last post – please let me know what you thought either in the comments section of the last blog post or drop me a note at idiowind@gmail.com.

oh, a touching one for the weekend.

“i love you h., and i want to be together forever, but we can’t, i have to go to school next year…”

i was in the kitchen and overheard a., our four year old, explaining to h., our two year old, the following.

a., while rubbing h.’s back with her hand, “it’s okay sweety. i know that you will miss me, but i have to go.” my ears perked up. i thought she was setting h. up for a crying jag. you know, planting thoughts and feelings in her younger sister’s emotionally fragile mind to see how she’d react, not that she is all that emotionally stable either, i stopped and continued to listen.

“i love you sweety and we are sisters and we will be together forever, but next year i have to go to school. do you know what school is?”. i was expecting to hear one of h.’s stock answers to questions, like ” ummm bue” she’s moving out of it, but she went through a period where everything was “bue” (of course that is blue). “h., how many fingers am I holding up?” “ummm bue?” – always asked like a question. “h. what is your name?” “umm bue?”. you get the point. we took to asking her the color of her eyes and the sky. but, this time she just looked at her sister, as i peeked around the corner.

a. continued “h. i will be home for dinner, but all kids have to go to school. i love you h. and you will go to school too. did you know when we grow up we will have to live in separate houses? i know, i don’t want to sweety, but we will have to have our own families and we can’t live together.” h. continued to look at a. as a. continued to rub h.’s back. “h. it will be okay. we will always be sisters.” after clearing my throat and blinking my eyes i rounded the corner.

“okay guys let’s get our shoes on.” we headed to the library.

a nice moment between two little beings. glad i was there to witness it.


new blog post: stubborn.

“fine. i don’t want it anymore”

the “fine.” caught my attention as i worked on my second cup of coffee while cleaning an alligator cup with a chipped lip, i have yet to throw it away because it’s h.’s and a.’s giraffe is in good shape. we tease h. that she needs to stop eating plastic alligators. she has no idea and smiles – oh, to be that clueless. i mean innocent.

“a., stop it, she said you can have it. she just didn’t want to be grabbed at.” i am guessing that was the case by the grunts, squeals and predictable nature of their sisterly exchanges.

“no, that’s fine.” she says with a huff and walks towards her room. which, by the way, she has been going to, locking the door and listening to music when she gets upset. a good strategy to cope with anger, but she is four, and that was the second “fine”, i may be willing to let one go, but a second? i think it’s time to see what’s going on. there are three words that work their way behind my eye balls and claw at my optic nerve “whatever, sure and fine”. there are more than three, but those are the “big three”. i once had a student who made and wore a t-shirt to school that said “whatever andy” – i hope he knows how much i loved it. that day i played as if it upset me in some way, we both smiled, knowing in our own ways that it was a connection we had.

now, here is the true battle of stubborn. i could let a. walk away in her fit of anger and think about what she may or may not want to do next, i mean we are talking about a princess wand that is missing its jewel and batteries to make it go “zwing”, which had no value in the house prior to h. picking it up, a. going to grab it, h. saying “mi…mi…mi…whaaaayah.”, and a. turning away to exhibit her control to younger sis. i could let her walk away, or i could ask (read: demand and watch take place) that she ask h. for the wand in an appropriate way and see what h. says. i let this one go, i was only on my second cup of coffee and had yet to have my three glasses of morning tea – yes, i enjoy liquids – more on that some day. a. went to her room, came out 4 minutes later holding a flashlight, walked past h. dangling it, h. wanted it, a. gave it to her, a. then grabbed the wand and moved on. they were both sitting below me with towels on their heads five minutes later.

i am stubborn, i like things to go my way, and i dig my heels to the core of the earth when i believe in something. what’s interesting? i am not sure if others see my stubbornness. i mean, i know that r. does, and definitely the people who i used to work with, but it’s not like i am unwilling to compromise, i just know when i am right, and when compromising would, well, compromise the situation. a. and h. have been working on balancing my stubbornness, they don’t know it, but they are. kids have a funny way of exposing your weaknesses and giving you time to work on them until they have “real” memories.

is it a weakness? i actually wear my stubbornness with a sense of pride. (but questioned whether other people see it in the previous paragraph?) i would ask people at work, with a half grin, “am I stubborn?” they would look at me as if i just asked them if i was white and bald. i knew the answer, i like being stubborn. (sorry, but I was just reminded of a time when i used to work in kitchens and when a new hire was working their first day i would ask them “is something in my nose?” not sure why. it made me laugh.) i enjoy listening to people’s ideas, but I don’t enjoy pandering. so if you want it your way, well, do it that way, don’t give me your left over compromise. that sounds weird.

tomorrow r. and i will celebrate fifteen years of dating. fifteen years ago tomorrow i walked into a “fine” establishment called the “golden chair” in eau claire, wisconsin on my brothers twenty-second birthday and said hello to the woman who is now my wife and mother to our two girls. she is much more than the previous sentence – to list what someone becomes to you in fifteen years of being together would be ridiculous.

as we drove home from lunch today, a beautiful eighty-degree day demanded that we eat outside, i was trying to remember who I was fifteen years ago. i look at pictures and i can see how i represented myself, but i can’t get myself back in the body and mind of the person i was when i first met r.. i feel like i was a lot of “normal” things that a nineteen year old is; carefree, relaxed, and up for anything, but i couldn’t remember how that felt, i couldn’t completely remember the traits that i had then that i don’t have now. i don’t miss them, well maybe a little, but the benefits and growth that come with actually “growing up” certainly outweigh a longing to feel carefree again. at this point at least – i kind of have to care. we all go through the process of wondering “who am i?” “who have i been?”. many times we take outside roads to try to get closer to the person we want to be, or who we want others to see. we want people to see our confidence, we want to be confident, we want the world to know that we have our shit together, but none of us do. actually, if none of us have our shit together, then we all have our shit together – yeah. which, I think we all do. there is a core all of us share.

i may still be stubborn, i didn’t walk away from r. when she politely took my hand off of her knee fifteen years ago, but there are many things that i am not anymore, and many things that i still aspire to be. can’t stop.

anniversaries, birthdays, holidays in general, are important. they are a time to look back, but more importantly they are a time to look forward. trite? perhaps, but true. they are a time to be grateful that you can’t fully remember who you were “back then”, and a time to hope that the pieces that have taken you to a more positive place are the ones you held onto, and the ones that held you back were dropped off. we can get caught up in our past, become nostalgic, long for what was, but that is what we are, we are a culmination of everything that we ever went through. we are our past. we hold onto it. do we remember it? not important. be what you are as a result of what you were, and continue to forget – so that you can appreciate who you are now.

ramble babble ding-dong. bunny needs a rope tied around his neck. that is not a euphemism, but would make a really cool one, really a. is holding bunny and has asked six times for me to tie a rope around its neck. i should probably now state that the bunny is not real. i’ll stop now.

a cool song. no real connection to the post – just beautiful to listen to.

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