Thursday, December 28, 2006

Potty Potty Potty

I don't know if it's because of Christmas or what, but Celeste has taken about eight steps backwards with potty training. Before we left (and, yes, I am still needing to recap the holidays — we went to Louisiana, there's lots to blog), Celeste was doing quite well. She'd been wearing Hello Kitty underwear throughout the day without an accident for a week or two; she was even waking up from her nap with a dry diap and she stayed dry overnight a few times.

The first day in Louisiana, she had a few accidents, but otherwise she was more good than not. There was some resistance to using the portable potty seat we'd brought, but, for the most part, she did fine.

Since we've been back home, however, things have been less than fine. Our first night back, before her bath, she fought getting on to the potty until I suggested she use her stepstool to climb up by herself. "That feels right," she said. Unfortunately, that seems to have been the high point.

This afternoon alone, she had three accidents ... and none of them actually seemed to be accidents. She did fine holding things while we were out at the grocery store for over an hour, but as soon as we got home, it was time to mop up the floor again. Evelin thinks it's just readjusting to home, but the willfulness of it makes me worry Celeste is trying to assert herself in some way.

So now we're trying to figure out what sort of reward/bribe/incentive/disincentive we need to give Celeste to help get her back on track and using the potty all the time. Food/sweets as a reward seems like a bad idea for the long term. Evelin was thinking about offering Celeste the chance to watch Sesame Street the following morning if she stays dry all day. We also talked about letting her have 15 minutes of "Cookie Eats Letter ..." on PBS Kids. The PBS Kids option feels best to me, but I'm not sure.

The only thing we've settled upon is that if Celeste wets her pants, she doesn't get to spend any time "nakie" — it's pretty much straight out of the wet clothes to the potty and then in to clean clothes. Beyond this, I'm just hopin' Evelin is right and Celeste gets back into a groove quickly ...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Orion and the Dancing Christmas Tree

I have a lot of Christmas-related blogging to get to, but first a vignette from tonight. After Celeste's bath, we went outside to look at the moon. After the rain of last night, the sky was exceptionally clear and we had, despite the light pollution inside the Beltway, a very good view of a fair number of stars. Orion's belt was very evident, so I pointed out the belt — Alnitak (ζ Orionis), Alnilam (ε Orionis), and Mintaka (δ Orionis) — as well as the shoulders — Betelgeuse (α Orionis) and Bellatrix (γ Orionis) — and his knees — Rigel (β Orionis) and Saiph (κ Orionis).

I told her how constellations were a way people would identify patterns in the night sky and how various legends were associated with them. I told her how Orion was a great ancient Greek hunter. And I pointed again to the belt and the shoulders and knees.

Celeste looked at where I was pointing in the sky and then looked across the street and said, very excitedly, "That Christmas tree dancing!" pointing at a blinking tree in a neighbor's house.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas recap in progress ...

Day 3: (Dec 22)


Out to Dinner

Day 4: (Dec 23 Friday)

Andrew/Niki & twins arrive

Day 5: (Dec 24)

Calm before the storm; prepping the tree; carrots for the reindeer; milk instead of Dixie …

Day 6 (Dec 25)

Day 7: The Flight Home

We decided to fly home on Boxing Day figuring that flights would be less crowded and for the most part they were. We got to Armstrong International (MSY) fairly early for our 10:20 a.m. flight, giving us a good bit of time to let Celeste and Quinn wander, peoplewatch, and find people who had carry-on-sized dogs in the waiting area. At one point, Celeste and I walked back to the newsstand to get some water, and I picked up some postcards for Postcrossing. Celeste wanted a book, but there weren't any kid's books in that part of the airport, so she ended up latching on to a French Quarter walking tour guide/map, which kept her occupied for quite a while.

The flight back was thankfully incident-free and Celeste was very well behaved. We have no idea where the air marshall(s) were on that flight. However, it was a rougher flight weatherwise: We were flying over heavy clouds for much of the trip, and there weren't the sort of spectacular views we enjoyed on the way out.

Landing at Washington National Airport (DCA), I waited with Evelin and the girls to get the luggage together and then Celeste and I rode out to satellite parking to find the T.R.U.C.K. When we were talking about it, it seemed to make sense for me to go to satellite parking, get the car, get Celeste's seat strapped in, and then go pick up Evelin, Quinn, and the rest of our luggage back at the terminal. The thing we didn't really notice until Celeste and I were on the bus was that it was raining.

We had a short dash from the shelter to the T.R.U.C.K. (I carried Celeste in her carseat for that instead of trusting the gogo Kidz at speed), and I put Celeste in the way-back while I struggled with the seat. Eventually, things were latched up, and we were able to meet up with Evelin in the daily parking garage.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Day 2: Books

Celeste loves books. She still talks about visiting the Bridgton Public Library during our trip to Maine. So it's no surprise that she was excited to visit the library with her grandmother.

However, the library books were not Celeste's only new read: my mom dug up a bunch of old Ladybird readers that were handed down to A--- and me by our neighbors in London a long, long, long time ago. Celeste loved reading through them, and I remembered a few of them, especially Piggly Plays Truant. My mom also dug up a few Beatrix Potter books for Celeste, including Appley Dapply's Nursery Rhymes, which we didn't already have.

She also found, and Celeste really liked, Little Black Sambo, which isn't that bad in terms of the story (excepting the names of the characters), but the illustrations do bother me. (The Wikipedia entry for the book gives a good rundown of its history and the controversy surrounding the book.)

All this reading time was made possible in part by the rain: From the time we arrived on Wednesday and by the time the skies cleared on Thursday afternoon, the rain gauge in the backyard measured 10.5" of water.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Day 1: Don't Kick the Air Marshal

Since we couldn't print out our boarding passes the night before, I figured my no-fly problem may be cropping up again. Our flight was at 8:30 a.m., but we left the house around 5:00 a.m. We unloaded the T.R.U.C.K. curbside at National Airport, and Evelin and the girls waited in the terminal while I went off to the satellite parking lot. We (correctly) figured that would be easier than schlepping all the luggage and both carseats on the bus back to the terminal.

We got in line at the ticket counter and when an agent walked past, I told her that I have occasionally had no-fly problems. So, she shifted us to another line and we made it up to an agent at about the same time as if we'd stayed in the queue. Since we thought there might be a problem, Evelin and I decided to bring our passports as our IDs. I don't know if that helped or not, but we did have to wait a while while she kept typing different things and made a phone call. Despite all that, we were though security and at our gate with more than 90 minutes to spare.

For the flight, we'd picked up a Stick and Rudder activity book to help keep Celeste occupied, but she found something more interesting — kicking the seatback ahead of her. Since Quinn was flying as a lap child and we only had one carseat bag, we had Celeste in her gogo Kidz-equipped carseat. That placed her at the perfect level for kicking.

The chap in the seat ahead of Celeste was one of two guys who was let on to the plane before the flightcrew. We were sitting near the gate, so we saw the pair approach the gate agent, exchange words, and then be led on to the plane a good 15 or 20 minutes before anyone else. Both guys looked like ex-military linebackers. After everyone was seated, the guy in front of us called over a flight attendant to have her take his ticket; it hadn't been collected at the gate. Add that to the fact that every flight to/from DCA supposedly has at least one air marshal on it and I'm pretty sure this guy was one ... and the other guy ... and the guy Evelin saw walk down the aisle, point at the other guy, and say to the guy in front of Celeste: "Is that your partner?"

I worked hard to keep an arm over her legs, but Celeste did get off a few good blows before we left the ground. The air marshal never drew a weapon or identified himself or anything, but we did hear him mutter something to the effect of "I don't know if I can make this flight ..." Fortunately, once we were off the ground, Celeste was mostly done with trying to kick. She had more fun looking out the window and reading her books or the Sky Mall catalogue. She did get in one last kick after we landed, however. I tried to catch the guy's eye to apologize while we were deplaning, but he was either closely watching a potential terrorist or studiously avoiding any backwards glances at our row.

Day 1: No Alligators

My dad picked us up in New Orleans, and we headed back to the North Shore. As we went across Manchac Swamp, we asked Celeste who lived in the swamp and she said: "Alligators!"

A while ago, Evelin told Celeste a story about me as a little boy. According to Evelin, I found an alligator in the ditch and brought it home, kept it in the tub, and fed it hamburger until my mother found out and got my dad to put the alligator back in the ditch. In truth, while I do remember finding a dead alligator in the canal/bayou back in the woods where we used to go fish with no luck when I was a kid, I never brought an alligator home.

When we got off I-55 at Ponchatoula, I asked Celeste if she wanted to stop to meet Ole Hardhide, the town alligator. She said, very quickly, "No." Evelin asked Celeste if she thought that the Ponchatoula alligator was the same one I had when I was little. Celeste said she thought it was, but she still didn't want to meet it.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Still Blogging ... An Update

On Friday, The Editors Weblog had an item about the blogging reaching a plateau. One would be forgiven for thinking that I've joined the estimated 200 million who've stopped blogging, but it's just been a bad past couple of weeks at work and home.

We're not sure who was/is patient zero, but Celeste, Quinn, and I have been in various stages of illness for the past fortnight or so, and Evelin seems to be finally succumbing as of yesterday. Each of us has manifested differently, but it's basically been a coughing, sneezing, snotfest for quite a while with plenty of disrupted sleep for all. Adding to the fun, Quinn's first two teeth came in at the same time back on the 8th and Celeste's last two molars seem to be shifting into place if not yet breaking through the gums.

But enough with the whinging.

Quinn is building her language skillz. Last week (after a particularly bad night of screaming), she must have made a mental leap; she's started practicing dee, dah, gaa, and other new sounds with a vengeance. It's really cute and sounds much more like "her voice" than the squeaks and squawks that make up most of her vocalizations heretofore.

Celeste is building an interest in astronomy. Her prebedtime routine now includes a post-bath stop outside to look for the moon. During the early stages of the current moon's phases, that worked out really well as the moon was high in the sky around her bedtime; now it's rising around 2:00 a.m., so we go out to spy planes, stars, and Christmas lights. Of course, given her fondness for all things Stick and Rudder, every plane is a Gooney Bird. Also every car is a race car. Most of the buses actually are Metro buses, but I don't think she quite has it right when she points and says "Metro bus is eating insects!"

Potty training is going quite well with Celeste. The first few diapless days were a bit messy (particularly with the chaos that was Evelin's annual gingerbread house party: eight children and five adults was a bit overwhelming for Celeste), but she made it through the day more often than not last week. (She still gets diapers for naps and overnight, although the naptime diaps have been dryer than not lately.).

This morning, after being up with Quinn a lot last night, I think I nodded off for a moment while Celeste and I were reading on the couch, so I guess it's no surprise that I was a little groggy when she said "Potty! Potty! Potty!" and I raced her upstairs and dumped her into the toilet. It didn't register to me that her seat was up and she slipped bottom-first through the regular toilet seat. Despite some shocked tears, Celeste was a trooper and managed to do what she needed to do once we got her wet pyjamas off and her seat in place.

Of course, when the time comes, I will have to careful not to let something like that happen to Quinn. One, it's already evident that she has a temper. Second, I think she might be a baby ninja. She hasn't gone through everything covered in Question 3: Ninja Training, but she does try to rip my throat out on a regular basis.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Kia Ora

Yesterday, I found myself being discussed on Kiwi FM. This sort of thing has happened before, of course, because I often listen to far-flung radio stations and occasionally send in an e-mail.

This time, I caught the chorus of a very catchy song — Cut the red wire / Or cut the blue wire / And see if she blows — that sounded a bit like Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Conner or something else dance-pop-punky. Since Kiwi FM is 100% Kiwi music, I knew it wasn't one of them, and the station website doesn't offer a played tracks ticker or anything ... so I sent an e-mail. It was around 5:30 a.m. NZDT, so no-one was in the studio yet, but a few hours later, I heard my name on air.

Apparently, U.S. postal abbreviations aren't immediately recognizable that far south, because before they figured out what track I was asking about, they were trying to figure out where I was e-mailing from; the consensus seem to be somewhere in Canada. I e-mailed back and said I was just outside of DC, and they then figured out that VA = Virginia.

The song, by the way, is "Bomb Squad" by Motocade, and the band is offering the track as a free CD-quality download from its MySpace (scroll down). If you like that guitar-driven dancy sound, it's totally worth the bandwidth to download.

Back to Kiwi FM, I have to wonder what the morning listeners in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch think about their DJs going on about online listeners. I had the same question in my mind when I had a longish e-mail exchange with Jason Shand of Moray Firth FM and he'd reply to my e-mail over the air for all of Inverness (or at least anyone listening around midnight) to hear. And it can't be any worse than when I was a Cub Scout and our pack took a field trip to a local radio station and were let on air ...
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