Thursday, January 28, 2016

Miss Millie


I'm not even sure how I would spell it, but this is what we hear from Millie constantly now.
"Aw-k" is about as clear as she gets, and that's when she is really mad.
TALK, she says, pointing at herself. Talk to me.
She can't get enough of it, face-to-face conversations. She wants you so badly to listen to her, to hear her, to understand her.
Fortunately, doing so is easier than it has ever been. Real conversations are no longer rare. She tells me about what she ate at school, whether she napped, if she cried, if she played with a friend, whether it was a boy or girl, and if she made new friends.
She recently told me after school that she'd had a "Mickey" sandwich (peanut butter sandwich cut into a Mickey Mouse shape, played with a girl and a boy, and cried a little bit at naptime. She also drove the little red car in the gym. She then formed two little fists, set them side by side on the floor in front of her and then lifted them quickly above her head. It almost looked like a -- parachute! I couldn't spit it out fast enough, Did you play with a parachute today? And her face lit up -- and what followed was a tumble of words and laughs. We couldn't translate it all but we understood it all.  
She expects more of you now. She expects that you can decipher every sound, every utterance. And when you can't, she gives up. First, she gets silly-frustrated, throwing up her hands in a "You are so crazy!" kind of way; then, when you miss again, she gets a little angry, just slightly slitting her eyes and glaring at you; but not even a moment later, she shrugs her shoulders, tips her head back and smiles as she flicks her wrist at you, in a "Oh, just forget it, this isn't worth our time anyway" kind of gesture.
She's an actress, Miss Millie. Years of practice fine-tuned her ability to convey her feelings without a word.
She's now imitating the characters on TV (I should record her impression of Disgust from Inside Out sometimes, she's so funny) and is obsessed with musicals.
Here, she's watching Babes in Toyland :

Here, Star Wars (not a musical obviously, but it's a cute photo):
We've wondered how she would do on stage herself, and in mid-December, when her preschool offered its Christmas program, we found out:

She loved it and asked if she could do it again the next day, and the next.

She's such a sweetheart.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Ray likes to get the girls one special gift each Christmas that is just from him.

This year, he was kind of struggling. As Lola is getting older, she is getting more into tween-ish territory and he really wanted to get her something that they could learn about and connect over together.

A few Google searches led him to littleBits, which sells these nifty little kids of magnetized "bits" that you connect to one another to make circuits and inventions. (Google it -- seriously, they explain it so much better than I could.)

So, on Christmas Eve, Lola got her first set of littleBits, which they promptly used to make:

1. an artbot (a robot thing that draws circles)

2. a robot (a little cardboard box guy)

OK, so then it just so happened that Ray took the whole week between Christmas and New Year's off from work. We played around with some ideas as to what we could do, such as making a little mini-vacation to the Cities, or maybe Duluth. Ultimately, though, we decided that since we just spent a few dollars on Christmas, that we should save up and stay home.

But we were also looking for something to do together as a family.

We thought about the littleBits pretty quickly so I went online to find some project inspirations and, instead, found that there just so happened to be a fun little competition (#BitWars) going on that encouraged people to use littleBits to create Star Wars-themed projects. In a nutshell, you basically had to make up a Jedi story, videotape it, and use your littleBits to create three things: a lightsaber, a droid, and a tool that assists your Jedi in some way.

We happened to stumble onto this thing on Dec. 30. The deadline to upload and enter everything was Dec. 31.

We didn't expect to win, but we figured it would be a good chance to learn our littleBits better, to do something together as a family, and also to give Lola her long-asked-for chance to make a YouTube video.

So, we got to work...

I won't say that we really knew what we were doing. We just had fun with it and did the best we could. We learned a lot and we made great family memories. Which I think was the whole point.

Just in case anyone wants to see the final video ... you can do so here.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Life with Lola

We've been back on an HGTV kick these days, watching a lot of home-remodeling shows and dreaming about what we might do, could do, someday, maybe, etc.

Lola was half-watching as she walked into the living room, coming to ask me something I've since forgotten.

"Why'd they do that?" she asked, after taking in a few seconds of the television show.

"They wanted a nicer table," I responded.

"Why didn't they just buy a new one?"

"Well, sometimes, when you redo something or make something completely new from scratch, then you can make it exactly the way you want." 

I got a little sentimental and tapped her on the tip of her nose.  "Just like you. Your dad and I knew we wanted the perfect little girl so we made you exactly how we wanted you."

She half-rolled her eyes and shook her head with a smug little laugh. "No, you didn't. God made me."


A few weeks ago, I was doing my normal old morning cleaning when I found an iPad nestled underneath a certain 7-year-old's pillow.  I knew it was odd the night before, when Ray and I went to bed, that there was only one charging on the shelf.  But this was a first -- Lola had never snuck one into her bed before (that I knew of), and judging by its absolutely dead battery, I now understood why that morning's routine was filled with a lot more crabbiness than usual.

But she was already at school. I made a mental note to talk to her about it that afternoon, but the rush of life distracted me. And it wasn't until we were having dinner that night that I remembered.

"Oh, Lola," I remembered, grinning knowingly, "I found a certain something in your bed this morning and it is not OK."

Ray had been made aware of it earlier that day and he, thankfully, backed me up, "Yeah, Lola, it's not OK to hide things in bed, OK?"

Now, granted, our kids have more stuff than they really need, so no matter how many times you try to clean up their beds, there can always be whole-knows-what hiding under all of the pillows and stuffed animals.  I've found water bottles, drawings, bracelets, books, games, cards, all sorts of things. But this was the first time for an iPad.

Lola kind of watched us closely, nodding as if she was understanding.

I didn't quite buy that she was understanding us, "What do you think we found in your bed?"

"I dunno. The scissors?"

"No, not the sciss-  WAIT! There are scissors in your bed?" Suddenly, the hidden iPad seemed a little less important. I mean, I've found plastic tape dispensers hidden under her covers -- she likes to tape things to the wall when no one is watching -- but the idea of sharp pointy metal things seemed a little unnecessary -- and unsafe.


"No, there aren't scissors in your bed?"

Deadpan, she said that no, she didn't have scissors in her bed.

It just so happened we weren't at home during this conversation and Ray and I exchanged a few looks of confusion, maybe even a small one of worry, as we considered just why the kid would be sneaking scissors into bed.

Two hours or so later, as we tucked the girls into bed, I remembered that we never really did talk to Lola about the iPad, "Oh, so no more iPads in bed," I said simply.

She smiled, pretending to pout, "Oh come on!" But she quickly agreed.

I turned to leave but then spun back quickly, remembering to actually check the beds for scissors.

There were none.

"No scissors right?" I asked, for what must have been the hundredth time.

She just giggled and laughed, "No, I was teasing before."


I didn't understand the joke. I still don't.

But I do know that all four pairs of scissors were, in fact, accounted for that evening.

Parenthood is exhausting.