Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Duckpin Fever

Back on a cold winter day, I decided bowling might be a fun afternoon for Celeste and Quinn. One of our local lanes is a duckpin outfit (duckpins being a native Maryland variant* of traditional bowling), which I thought would be good for the girls given that the balls are smaller — about the size of a softball and easier to manage with little hands &mdash and the pins shorter and squatter.

That first trip to the bowling alley was deemed a success even though the girls only threw a few balls each. The second trip was similarly short. The third trip quickly became a disaster when Celeste tripped the foul line buzzer on her second ball and the resulting noise led her to shut down for the rest of the time there. They turned off the buzzer (it is typically on only for league matches) for us, but Celeste refused to roll another ball. I don’t think we bowled a full game between the three of us on any of those occasions.

Last week, when I picked the girls up from nursery school, Celeste talked about wanting to go bowling, but I didn't think we'd have enough time to go and make it to the farmer's market (despite past history), so I begged off until this week. It turned out to be the right call.

Originally, I was figuring we'd all go to the pool this afternoon, but given today's unstable weather an indoor activity seemed to be the best bet. We talked about the College Park Aviation Museum, but once bowling was on the table, the girls were only interested in duckpins.

After getting shoes, the bumpers in place and assurances that the foul-line buzzer was off, Quinn was up first. I pointed out another kid about her age bowling and she watched her roll the ball, walked to the line, and managed to roll the ball too softly. It made it about 90 percent of the way down the lane and then started to roll back toward us. I stopped about two-thirds down the lane and just stayed there, until we asked the attendant to go get the ball. I don't know if it was embarrassment or what, but after that Quinn didn't want another turn bowling.

Celeste, however, was more than game. She kept rolling ball after ball, not always hitting pins, but making it down the lane almost every roll. Twice, however, she did manage to get the ball to the pins, but it ended up dropping into the gutter just beyond the bumper and then starting to roll back toward us. I tried to roll a ball or two down the gutter to clear the lane, but the physics seemed to work against me. We had to ask the attendant to walk down the lane again.

As Celeste and I bowled a few frames, Quinn was happy just pressing the reset and deadwood buttons — and the dry hands air button ... she loved the dry hands air button — but I kept asking her to help me. Eventually, Quinn moved from helping me line up my shots to helping push my hand to roll the ball to, eventually, getting a ball and rolling it herself.

About the time Quinn got excited about bowling again, Celeste got interested in the pencil and the scoring sheet. I hadn't bothered keeping score; I figure at this point just getting them interested in the basics of rolling the ball down the lane and hitting pins was way more important than scoring. She writes big, so it was difficult getting her to mark each roll's pins small and then the total for the frame large, but Celeste gave it a go as Quinn and I bowled a few frames. What was really exciting was that Celeste very quickly got the hang of adding three numbers together (in duckpin bowling you get three rolls per frame, instead of the two rolls you get with tenpin).

I had to help walk her through the first one: "Quinn knocked down six, so write a small six here. Then she knocked down one, so a small one here. Then put a one in then next box. What's 6 +1 +1?" "Seven. Eight!" (Sidenote: Quinn actually was doing pretty well; I think she had a five-roll streak where she got down at least one pin on each roll.) Celeste also was good about recording and adding zeroes. "Daddy! You missed all the pins, that's zero for you!"

All in all, I think we were there for a least an hour and a half and we threw a number of balls equivalent to a few games, so I made sure to sign up the girls for the Kids Bowl Free summer promotion (two free games per day for each kid ... not a bad deal even if shoe rental isn't included).

After bowling we ran over to Bladensburg Waterfront Park to see how high the river was running given all the rain ... and I promptly locked my keys in the car. While waiting for Evelin to rescue us, we threw a few sticks in the very high water and saw a few great blue herons (Ardea herodias), mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), and other birds.

*There is a question as to whether or not duckpin bowling originated in Baltimore, Maryland, or Lowell, Massachusetts; however, since Massachusetts already has candlepin bowling I'm going to be a Maryland chauvinist on this one ...

Monday, May 18, 2009

It Is a Nice Song ...

About 10 minutes after I put her to bed tonight — read the books, talked about her day, played rock-a-bye baby pony, turned on her CD — Quinn ran out of her room to call after me: "Daddy, Daddy! This song is so beautiful! Come listen with me!"

Naturally, I had to go hear what track got that response: Fabienne DelSol "I'm Gonna Catch Me A Rat."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Girls With Irises

Sisters With Irises Quinn With Irises

The irises were in bloom this afternoon at Calvert Memorial Park, near our Thursday farmers market ...

Friday, May 01, 2009

Word Problems

Scene I: The Park — Thursday afternoon, I took the girls to the park for some running around time and scooter practice. I brought along my skateboard to roll around with them while Celeste used her scooter and Quinn her Skuut, but they both were more interested in lying on their stomachs and pushing themselves around on my board.

After a bit of that, however, we went about the normal sort of play. Celeste was on the small play structure that she used to call the pet store and told me that she had 110 very cute, tiny Pomeranian puppies. She gave me two, and Quinn took three. She was offering some to a little girl who was playing with us when she paused to ask how many puppies she still had.

"Well, you gave me two and Quinn took three, so how many is that?"
"Uhm, five!"
"Right, and you started with 110, so if you've given away five how many are left?"

Questionable Parenting

Scene II: The Dairy — Sunday, as mentioned in an earlier entry, we went to South Mountain Creamery for their spring family farm festival.

One of the attractions were a bunch of ride-on tractors and scooter cars for the kids. Celeste and Quinn were scooting around in the barn having fun, when a kid who was probably about six or so zipped over on a ride-on tractor and started bumping Quinn from behind. She looked surprised for a moment, and then worried, and then moved away and he sought out another victim.

A little bit later, I saw him scooting toward Quinn and interposed myself between them. He circled around me and tried to ram her again, but I kept stepping in the way. After the third or fourth attempt, he was watching me and not Quinn, who all of the sudden zipped forward in her scooter car and started ramming him from the side.

I probably should have intervened, but the look of surprise on the boy's face was priceless. His mother intervened pretty quickly, and me not stopping her may well be questionable parenting, but I have to admit I was a bit proud of her for standing up for herself like that.