Snack the Horse copes with loss

I spent at least an hour with Annie in a small tent yesterday, lying on the ground while she stepped around me to play, and Paul occasionally burst in to show us toy cars and bounce on my diaphragm. Annie had encountered a stuffed horse, who we’d quickly decided was Snack the Horse, a character in the “Joe the Purple Lizard” stories Bryan started inventing for her and she now coauthors. (Pink and purple cupcakes are usually involved in their adventures—more on this series in future, no doubt.)

Today Snack was feeling low. He was crying for his Grandma, who’d had to go back to her house, but it was okay, Annie told him, because his mom (Annie) and his daddy (me) were right here. She cradled him and talked to him, and reminded him, “You have your toy” (a car). This went on for some time before things got worse for Snack. Now he had to lay down in his bed (one side of the tent), while Annie went to her bed (the other side of the tent). So much for Mom and Dad. Annie pet him and consoled him, and, from “her bed,” instructed me to tell Snack that he had to stay in his bed while Annie was in hers. Back and forth she went, meeting and parting with poor, weeping Snack in his bed. Things took another turn in Act III, when Snack could no longer have his toy car for comfort. “You canNOT have it, Snack, you canNOT have it,” Annie explained gently, as she hugged and rocked him, and held the car out at arm’s length.

Snack bore up well under the stress, in the end, and I felt like I was treated to an immersive performance of how toddlers make sense of hardship through play. Christmas at the Ranch.

can i see it?

We do a lot of talking about what we see during our daily 60-90 minutes in the car. Cars, trucks, red lights, green lights, blinking lights, the highway, the regular street, cranes, cranes turning around, buildings, birds, bikes, people, the letters A and P—if it exists in downtown Austin, we’ve probably talked about it. It’s a way to pass the time that feels at least minimally engaged with the kids and mentally stimulating, which assuages some of our guilt for subjecting them to a daily commute strapped down in carseats.

Right now, though, when we point out a feature of interest (look, there’s a firetruck!), Annie starts chirping the first question that has truly stumped us as parents:

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Look out your window, it’s right there!

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Well, no, we passed it now.

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Uh, hey, look now—it’s a school bus!

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

I don’t know, Annie, can you? I’m not sure what you can see.

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

I can’t see out of your eyes, Annie, I don’t know if you can see it. It’s right there! LOOK RIGHT THERE.

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

 

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

Can I see it?

 

So far we have managed not to drive the car into the river.

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Rumpus McBumpus

Bryan and I impulse-bought this fellow out on a date night about 9 months ago, having wandered into Toy Joy after a couple of beers and been beguiled by his round and bouncy charms. He’s apparently quite popular in Japan, and specially patterned for some significant anniversary. Suitable for ages 3 and up. The first time we put 18-month-old Annie on it, she promptly pitched off and hit her forehead on a door frame.

Recently, however, her legs have grown long enough to reach the ground around him, and she has caught onto the bouncing. I named him Rumpus McBumpus, but Annie calls him “Rabumpus Rabumpus.” She requests, “Some Rabumpus time maybe?”, rides him like a mechanical bull, and then obligingly hops off so that Paul can have a turn. Paul also loves Rabumpus though we have learned our baby lesson and keep a firm hold on him during his rides.

Ladies and gentlemen, Rumpus McBumpus.

july 4

We got to spend July 4 with excellent friends and family. We started the day at the climbing gym with the Drehers.

watching Miles and Lisa climb
watching Miles and Lisa climb
It was thirsty work.
It was thirsty work.

After lunch and a nap, we headed to the wading pool with Aunt Peanut.

Then Annie had her second go at watermelon, which she still primarily prefers to squash to death in her fists. She also discovered that she loooooves kefir (basically watery plain yogurt).

She's wearing this emergency outfit from her diaper bag after she pooped at the pool and required a full-body wipe down.
She’s wearing an emergency outfit from her diaper bag after she pooped at the pool and required a full-body wipe down.

Then Dad gave her a quick bath so she was capable of a goodbye hug.

Adios!
Adios!

Saturday

Just a nice Saturday around the house yesterday. Started with some peaceful indoor playtime.

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She’s pretty good at getting on and off of chairs and furniture by herself now. Terrifying. And possibly related to the way she’s perpetually covered in little bump marks and bruises these days.

We moved on to some good splashing in our new, shady under-deck.

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Our enjoyment of play and relaxation was increased by watching Dad hard at work finishing construction. I covered her ears for the sawing.

I suppose if we can handle one toddler + power tools, we will probably be able to cope with a second kid.

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Fully soaked by her outdoor adventures, she got a second suit of clothes after nap time. We call this one her “park ranger” outfit. (She can also eat whole apples by herself now. And by whole, I do mean stem, core, and all.)

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Later she drenched herself again and required yet a third outfit, but I lost steam on the documentation, so we’ll leave it here.

pig roast II

There were moments leading up to this year’s Pig Roast when I feared we were ignoring obvious signs from the universe to give it up: the exorbitant pig price thanks to last year’s pork plague, the weeks of relentless thunderstorms forecast to continue through the holiday weekend, the 200-mile drive with the one infant in the world who won’t sleep in the car.

Thank goodness I kept my doubts to myself, because this year’s roast was fabulous. Preceded by Cameron and Sous by a couple of days, Bryan and I drove up with my mom and Annie on Friday. She didn’t sleep much but chilled out peacefully in her carseat. Everyone had lunch at, appropriately, a Dairy Queen, and we made it to the ranch with hours to spare before the first tasty meal of the weekend: french dip sandwiches made with smoked prime rib, and strawberry shortcake for dessert. Between the caloric demands of milk production and the possibility of a sleeping baby waking at any moment, I inhale all my meals these days, but I very much enjoyed my 3 minutes with this one.

Called on account of rain in the 4th inning with a score of 15-13.
Called on account of rain in the 4th inning with a score of 13-15.

Annie had great naps all weekend, and we had many wonderful family helpers, freeing both of us up for a lot more ranch fun than we expected. Saturday’s big events included pig-pit building, for which Bryan had able assistance from friend Chris and thoughtful oversight from Dad/Marc, and The Softball Game, which shows signs of becoming an essential part of our newly-minted Memorial Day tradition. A parade of Pous and neighbors also came by to admire Annie, and I had the proud-parent pleasure of watching her charm them with her fleeting smiles and earnest coos.

Maybe next year we'll actually make merit badges.
Maybe next year we’ll actually make merit badges.

Pig prep commenced in the late afternoon with pleura-removal, and Kaci earned her Pig Roast merit badge by boldly excavating the eyeballs. Sous monitored the situation closely—after the roast Bryan would find her with the entire pig skin halfway down her throat—and flopped around the perimeter in her increasingly-dirty e-collar. Heavy rain did not dampen our enjoyment of dominoes, CalvinPong, or karaoke on the barn stage. It did unfortunately dampen our tent-dwellers, but what can you do?

Gentlemen, synchronize your smartphones.
Gentlemen, synchronize your smartphones.

Team Pig assembled at 8:30 the next morning for fire-starting, ingeniously using a leaf blower to help ignite the coals (they only set a small patch of lawn on fire, hardly the worst indignity suffered by the grass this weekend). While Bryan parented, Ali earned the Fire Captain title due to his diligent attention to pit temperature, facilitated by this year’s technological improvement: the Tappecue, which measured the temperature in both pig and pit and broadcast them to the cooks via smartphone app, complete with data visualization and alarms for out-of-range temps. When the skies cleared in the early afternoon, Lisa, Kaci and I hitched a ride on Claude’s boat for a lake tour while the boys monitored, variously, the pig’s temperature and the piglet’s nap.

We're on a boat.
We’re on a boat.

The pig was unveiled at dinnertime, and lo, it was good. Team Pig dished up the food; I jiggled the baby; the multitudes feasted under sunny-ish skies. We’re already looking forward to next year.

When 14-year-old Annie is running the pit, we'll take her picture like this and hang them together.
When 14-year-old Annie is running the pit, we’ll take her picture like this and hang them together.