26 March 2008

Kohl's Children's Museum

Clifford, the Big Red Dog, was at the Children's Museum, so we went to visit. It was pretty interesting - mostly everything had an evil corporate sponsor (the little Dominick's grocery store was full of Kraft food boxes) - but they had a water room, and of course, a big red dog.

Olivia and Clifford

Olivia and Emily Elizabeth. Weird.

Captain Olivia steers the boat over the pretend water, with Mommy as a helper.

Olivia and Daddy play with boats in REAL water.
Thank goodness the museum provides waterproof aprons!

18 March 2008

Hang up

There's no doubt in my mind that, all things considered, Olivia thinks her dad is the funnest person ever. It may be because he was the proud giver of her first solid food - ice cream - which even today is the best bribery tactic we have for getting her to do something. Or it may be that she gets to see mom all day long in all her moods, from quiet to loud, while her dad is always ready to play in the evenings when he gets home from work. So percentage-wise, dad time is so much more fun.

But this became abundantly clear when she first began using one of her favorite (though not widely-used) commands:


This is a time- and space-specific command, used solely when Nathan walks in the front door, either for lunch or after work or rehearsal. Regardless of where she is in the house (unless she is deep in a comatose sleep), she hears the keys in the front door and shouts "Daddy! Daddy! Daaaddy!" She then runs* from wherever she is directly to the front door and as soon as the precursory greetings of "welcome home" and "Hi, Olivia" take place, she launches into the following:

Olivia: HANG UP MY COAT (translation: Daddy, hang up your coat please, and then close the closet door promptly, otherwise I will do it).
Nathan: Olivia, do you want me to hang up my coat?
Olivia (ignoring the question): HANG UP MY SCARF.
Nathan: Okay, I'm hanging up my scarf.
Olivia: TAKE OFF MY TIE (this indicates that Daddy will stay longer, since those knots are a pain).
Nathan: Well, I need to keep my tie on right now (for lunch).
Olivia: TAKE OFF MY (work) SHIRT.
Nathan: No, Daddy needs to keep his shirt on right now.

The best time for Olivia, of course, is Nate's evenings off, where all of her commands are gladly heeded and, once changed into more comfortable threads, they romp around the house until bedtime.

*Running for Olivia isn't what you might imagine. The usual banter surrounding children walking is that once they begin walking, they'll be running before you know it. Well, we know it, and still no galloping. Running consists of a quick walk, maybe with a bit more bounce. Not that I'm complaining!


Don't be alarmed. This is not the photo of the world's first pregnant man.

Olivia has decided that this is her favorite hiding place. The bedclothes were for a while, and she can still be found to ask to "hide" underneath them. Tents are, of course, pretty awesome, but we don't usually pitch ours in the middle of our living room just for kicks.

So here it is - Miss Olivia's portable hiding place. And her favorite place to eat cookies.

13 March 2008

To the Tune "The River is Red"

Musings on raising a daughter - this poem was written in China over 100 years ago by a revolutionary woman. How pertinent it is today - perhaps even more so than ever before.

To the tune "The River Is Red"

How many wise men and heroes
Have survived the dust and dirt of the world?
How many beautiful women have been heroines?
There were the noble and famous women generals
Ch'in Liang-yü and Shen Yün-yin.
Though tears stained their dresses
Their hearts were full of blood.
The wild strokes of their swords
Whistled like dragons and sobbed with pain.

The perfume of freedom burns my mind
With grief for my country.
When will we ever be cleansed?
Comrades, I say to you,
Spare no effort, struggle unceasingly,
That at last peace may come to our people.
And jewelled dresses and deformed feet
Will be abandoned.
And one day, all under heaven
Will see beautiful free women,
Blooming like fields of flowers,
And bearing brilliant and noble human beings.

-Ch'iu Chin

12 March 2008


Olivia is sweet and gentle. In public she is usually very quiet and reserved. But she also knows how to regulate. When she maketh a demand it shall be heeded. Excuses shall not be. Here are Olivia's 3 most commonly used commands:


When she was littler this seemed more like a timid request. It had the connotation of, "pardon me...but my name is little Oliver Twist, and I was wondering, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, perhaps you could draw a kitty for me? I would be ever so grateful, seeing as my motor skills are quite lacking . . . and well . . . I'm quite fond of kitties, sir. Would you mind, sir? It could be any color you want, I'm not particular."
Now that she's older, that timid request has turned into:
It is now unmistakably a command, usually a very specific command, with colors and names being assigned more often than not.


This command is most often given while we are reading to Olivia. She will decide, usually toward the beginning of the book, but not always, that the book needs to be sung and not just read. Anything that comes out of your mouth from that point on had better sound like a song. Olivia will do you the honor of listening to your excuses, but she will invariably respond with two words: SING IT.

ME: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see? I see a--
ME: Olivia, I don't want to sing right now.
ME: Olivia, you want me to sing this?
ME: But there is no song for this book. Daddy doesn't know the song.

However, there is a way out. If you persist in claiming that you just don't know the song and ask Olivia to sing it herself, she will make up her own song for the words. Pretty cute.


Nope. This is not Olivia apologizing to you. This is Olivia telling you to apologize to her or to someone else. Once, Olivia was bringing me a book to read and since I was in the middle of something Liz valiantly grabbed the book out of my hands and offered to read to Olivia instead. Olivia's response: "NO MOMMY GRAB FROM DADDY. I'M SORRY MOMMY. I'M SORRY MOMMY." which of course means: Don't grab from daddy. Tell him you're sorry. Olivia was not appeased until Liz apologized to me.
This morning Olivia almost broke my heart with a less aggressive version of this. She looked up at me as I was getting ready to leave, frowned a pitiful frown and said, with tears welling up in her eyes, "No Daddy go to work. I'm sorry daddy." Translation: I don't want you to go to work. Tell me you're sorry. Ouch. That one still burns a little.

07 March 2008

Far Away

All three of us have been various levels of sick for the past two weeks with this headcold/sinus thingy. A few nights ago we had all gone to bed early, but I woke up around Midnight or so and I couldn't fall back to sleep, so I got up and went into the other room to read. I heard Olivia (who now sleeps in her new Big Girl Bed adjacent to ours) stir, but she didn't start talking or crying so I left the room and sat on the couch with my book. About ten minutes later I hear Olivia's little, tired voice coming from the bedroom. She says, "Daddy is far away. Daddy is far away." I go back into the room hoping to save Liz from having to wake up. But when I tell her that I'm here and it's okay she just keeps repeating the phrase. "Daddy is far away. Daddy is far away." I lay next to her on her bed and find that her eyes are closed and she appears to still be asleep. I tell her again "Daddy's right here Olivia, he's not far away." She replies, still with her eyes closed. "Daddy is far away. Daddy is far away." Finally I convince her that I am actually there, and she rolls to her side and continues sleeping, calmly.
So in the morning I asked her if she remembered saying "Daddy is far away" the night before. She replied, pointing up, "Daddy is far away, to the ceiling." I couldn't tell if she was saying "to" the ceiling or "through" the ceiling. But she said it with conviction, so it must have been true. I wonder what I was doing . . .

02 March 2008

Spelling With Numbers

Since I don't see Olivia for large chunks of time when I am at work or rehearsing, she often surprises me by showing off skills and knowledge that she has gained while I've been absent. She actually surprised both Liz and I by suddenly singing along to "Blessed is the Spot". Of course we didn't teach her that directly, she learned by listening and then decided she wanted to join in.

There are other things, though, that would seem harder just to learn by osmosis--and one of those would be spelling. Yes, Olivia can say (or sing) the alphabet, which is a start. But memorizing letters and putting them together to make words are two different skill sets. A couple of weeks ago I spelled her name with blocks, but as far as I knew that was the extent of her spelling lessons. So last weekend I thought I would do some follow up. I suggested that we write her name.

So I begin, "The first letter is--" I am suddenly interrupted by Olivia who states emphatically,"O!" I am surprised, but not exactly astonished because during our wooden blocks lesson we had established that "O is for Olivia" and she had repeated that phrase since then. So I write an O on the paper. Then Olivia chimes in again: "L." Woa... you have got to be kidding me. I write down the L and then she speaks up again: "I." What!? How!? Who!? Why!? At this point I'm beyond astonished, and as I write the I on the paper I'm thinking that there's a chance she will actually spell her entire name with NO help. "T" she says. "Good!" I reply encouragingly, "It sounds a lot like T, but actually the letter is V," and I write the V down. "Now what comes next?" Olivia then proves that she is, indeed, an almost 2 year old: "Six!" I explain that six is actually a number and I write down the second I. And the last letter is . . ."Two!"

So there you have it. My daughter's name is spelled OLIT62. I later found out that Liz and Olivia had written out her name before, so the first three letters weren't so much of a shock. OLIT62 then decided to stop spelling and went to run around with her cousins.