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Sept/Oct Thursday :: 01 September 2005
After dropping off Maeve at daycare we took Lilly to Yahara Elementary for the hour-long orientation with her teacher Mrs. Teeter. She's a kindly, slightly scattered, grandmother type and I think Lilly will be in good hands. When Lilly told her she likes art, Mrs. Teeter enthusiastically told us that, she too, is an artist. After orientation we went to lunch and Lilly picked the Pizza Hut buffet. Not exactly culinary genius, but fun nonetheless. Back at home, we packed Lilly's lunch and picked out her clothes for the first "real" day of shcool.

Friday :: 02 September 2005
I hit the road to work and Momma and Maeve waited with Lilly for school bus. She got on without hesitation and Lisa followed in her car (ostensibly so she'd know the route). At school, she parked illegally, grabbed Maeve and tried to walk Lilly into her classroom. Lilly didn't want to have much to do with her mother's meddling. She confidently walked down the long hallway to her classroom and lined up with all the other kids under the semi-watchful eye of Mrs. Teeter. Lisa finally let go departed with Maeve. I tried to take her mind of the separation by meeting her and Maeve for lunch at Maharaja's Indian buffet. Maeve was happy to see me and chattered away, telling me, among other things, about "following shcool bus."

Saturday :: 03 September 2005
Uncle Chris came over to help me work on the deck and porch and Liz came later for dinner. They suprised us by announcing that they were getting married. Lilly came downstairs shortly after the announcement and we shared it with her. She got all shy and quiet and didn't want to talk or look at them. Later I talked to her about it and all I was able to get out of her was that she never EVER wanted to get married. I couldn't quite figure out how that related to others and it worries me a bit.

Monday :: 05 September 2005
I was outside working on the porch when I heard a great deal of celebratory squealing from the kitchen window. Looking in, I saw the girls cheering for Maeve, who had just successfully used the potty. We were all happy and she was justifiably proud of herself. We are hoping that this sets her back on the proper course in the toilet training arena. Later Maeve was in the bathroom trying to grab some wipes. When my explanation (that wipes are only a part of going potty) fell flat, I resorted to the declaratory "NO." Maeve looked at me and in her sassiest voice retorted, "Momma said 'yeah.'"

Thursday :: 08 September 2005
Lilly loved school this week. Each morning she couldn't wait to go out and sit in her chair under the oak tree in the front yard and wait for the school bus. When I picked her up each night, she excitedly told me all about her activities and friends. Yesterday she announced that she now has two new best friends: Skylar and Austin. Later she floored us by talking about a sleepover. Yikes. She is so grown up and so gorgeous. I'm already worried about the teenage years. Not only can she be moody, but she's constantly pushing and testing our limits. On top of all that, I'm going to have to beat the boys off with a stick. Maeve is going to be handful too. Come to think of it, she is right now. Like her sister, she talks constantly and repeats things endlessly until she gets a response. She cracks me up whenever we ask her to do something and she quips "OK" or "alright." Adorable.

Sunday :: 11 September 2005
Lisa had friends over for brunch and while helped her get ready we attempted to convince Lilly to occupy Maeve. This worked to some extent, but eventually, Maeve wanted to sit at the island while we puttered. Once, while Lisa and I were talking, Maeved sneezed. She got a little miffed that we didn't acknowledge her and chastized us: "Momma, say 'bless you.'" Both girls charmed the gaggle of women who attended brunch and while Lilly was happy to eat with me in the kitchen, Maeve wanted to be part of the action and insisted on sitting at the dining room table with the guests. I took the girls over to the Roberts before everyone had left. I had to help Penny with her computer, but they the Roberts girls all wanted to see Lilly and Maeve too. I whisked Maeve back home for a nap 45 minutes later, while Maggie and Penny took Lilly down to the pool for a dip.

Tuesday :: 13 September 2005
Lilly was upset that she didn't get to move her monkey today at school. In Mrs. Teeter's classroom, children who have a "good" day get to move their monkey on a big board, eventually landing them on a treasure box, which entitles them to a small prize. I'm not exactly clear, but it seems that Lilly and her friend Hallie were not paying attention at some point and Mrs. Teeter told them they couldn't move their monkies. I'm not all that pleased with using shame to control behavior and it just about broke my heart to see Lilly so upset with herself.

It poured this afternoon. I picked up Maeve and ran from daycare to the car. As I buckled her in, she looked like she was about to cry, but I managed to redirect with a funny voice and soon we were laughing about getting wet. The sheets of rain made it almost impossible to see and Maeve kept reminding me all the way to Lilly's school: "I see the rain out there." When we picked up Lilly, Maeve made a point of telling Lilly that it WAS raining but now it was raining "just a little bit."

Wednesday :: 14 September 2005
Lisa was working late so I was on my own with the girls tonight. Maeve is an absolute angel going to bed. She likes to do the "airplane" on the way upstairs but insists on getting down outside her door so she can open it herself. After PJs, a story, the nightly afirmation, and a song, she lay right down and didn't make a peep as tiptoed out the door. Lilly, on the other hand, was quite needy, requiring all sorts of consoling, attention, and reassurance. She tells us she loves school, but, still, the adjustment has got to be hard.

Thursday :: 15 September 2005
Today was picture day at daycare and Maeve must have reminded me about 20 times between the time I picked her up until the time she went to bed. Lisa worked from home today so she picked up Lilly from school. She got a frightening glimpse into the teenage years. Lilly had to run back inside and get her backpack and noticed a small group of boys on their scooters on the other side of the parking lot. Waving, she coyly shouted "hiiiiii Justin." Immediately the swarm of scooter boys descended on her and she took a few minutes to chat them up. Yikes.

Friday :: 16 September 2005
Maeve and Lisa came to the office to have lunch in the cafeteria. As she walked into my cube, she excitedly pointed at all the pictures hanging up. "Maeve's there. Maeve's up there... Maeve and Momma... and sister's up there too." We walked outside since the day was so nice. She saw the pond and the fountains and asked if we could go in it. I told no and then countered the ubiquitous "why?" by telling her that the fish would bite her toes. I followed up the next "why?" by telling her that the fish would think her toes were little pink worms. That gave her pause and I was able to redirect her toward lunch. As we approached the door, she turned and waved. "Bye-bye fish. I'm going to eat."

Sunday :: 18 September 2005
Lisa took Lilly to church and Sunday school this morning and I stayed home with Maeve. She entertained me by keeping a running commentary on everything she was doing. "I get book now." "I'm building a house." "Baby go night-night; I get tea towels." ...and on and on. I gave Maeve string cheese for snack and she sat on my gleefully pulling off strands. She would pick at the end until she got a string started and then proclaim, "here she comes." Then she'd hold it up, tilt her head back, announce "cheese string," and drop it in her mouth. When I mentioned that the strings were like worms, she giggled uncontrollably. Just before the girls got home, Maeve told me that she wanted the fan on: "I'm hot and so is baby." Not five minutes later, she told Lisa that she was cold and wanted a sweater on: "I'm cold. brrrrrrr." Later we went out for lunch and, despite the unseasonably warm weather, Maeve insisted on wearing both the sweater AND a jacket with the hood up.

Around 4:00, we were sitting around at home not really doing much of anything, when Lisa suddenly floated the idea of going on a picnic. We were up and on the road in under 15 minutes (an unheard of record with two kids). We grabbed some potato salad and charcoal at the store and drove to Governor Nelson State Park. We found a picnic table and the girls ran to "go explore." They were absolutely adorable — Lilly waving a stick and leading the way and Maeve plugging along behind as fast as her chubby little legs could carry her. When we opened a bag of chips though, it did not escape their notice. Maeve sidled up to Lisa and, oh so sweetly, implored "Hi Momma... I want THAT," pointing directly at the chips. Neither girl was much enthused with her veggie burger, but the peanut butter cookies were a big hit. In fact, every time we turned our backs, Maeve was going after the box for more.

After dinner, we took a little walk down to the beach. Lisa and I sat and the girls went to get a closer look at the lake. Lilly came running back, "Poppa, there's something in the water. It's a monster!" Maeve chimed in, "Come look." I tried to dismiss it as just a stick, but they were not so easily convinced. I trudged down the beach and halfway there once again repeated my stick theory. Lilly countered by saying "No it's going up and down." The fact that the waves were bobbing it didn't convince her either: "It has sharp teeth." Finally I fished the stick out of the water and held it up. As I flung it away, Lilly matter-of-factly stated: Oh yeah, it IS a stick." After the removal of the stick/monster threat, the girls stuck their toes in the water for a few minutes. We left before the toe-dipping had a chance to escalate into a full-blown clothes soaking.

Monday :: 19 September 2005
Lisa and Maeve went to Yahara to have Lunch with Lilly and her class. They arrived after lunch had already started and Lisa reports that it appeared as though Lilly was holding court. It was a round table, but all eyes were on her and Justin was next to her hanging on her every word. When Lilly introduced her Momma and her baby sister Maeve, her classmates were overjoyed to have more Lilly-ness at the table. How did this happen? At five years old, she's already the kind of "popular girl" who wouldn't look twice at me in high school.

Wednesday :: 21 September 2005
There was terrific thunderstorm tonight and Lilly came into our room a few times in tears. Maeve on the other hand was quiet through the night. In the morning, she told Momma that "the clouds bumpin'," and broke into a rousing rendition of It's Raining, It's Pouring.

Thursday :: 22 September 2005
I picked up Maeve from daycare and we met Momma and Lilly at Yahara for the school open house. We were floored at Lilly's confidence. She knew exactly where she was going as she led us to the Library, Music, and Art rooms and everywhere we went, kids were greeting her as some sort of celebrity. She was very excited to show us all the things in Mrs. Teeter's room. Maeve did pretty well, despite getting soaking wet by playing with every drinking fountain we passed.

Saturday :: 24 September 2005
While I was outside doing hard labor on my porch and deck, Lisa came outside to inform me that Lilly had pinched Maeve and that we needed to come up with a punishment. She balked at my suggestion that Lilly decide it for herself. I felt certain that whatever she came up with would be more severe than us. Later at dinner time, I asked her what she thought her punishment should be. She shyly replied, "No TV for a week." I readily agreed to this pretty unreasonable and over-the-top punishment. I'm going to have to remember that tactic in the future.

Sunday :: 02 October 2005
The girls left me working out back to go shoe shopping. They returned with some really cute purple Mary Janes for Maeve but nothing for Lilly. She was a little miffed that her shoes had to be ordered and wouldn't arrive until Monday or Tuesday.

Monday :: 03 October 2005
Maeve's crankiness continued to worsen today. She was cranky from her afternoon nap when I got home and basically screamed and cried for an hour and a half straight. She was inconsolable and wanted Momma to hold her. The only time she stopped crying was when she had to yawn. She was exhausted and refused to eat and, since there seemed to be no end in sight, we put her to bed screaming without any dinner. Lilly, on the other hand, was quite chipper and eager to talk to Grandpa Hall on the phone and wish him a happy birthday. She managed to keep up the conversation for ten minutes before Grandpa asked to speak to me.

Wednesday :: 05 October 2005
Maeve is still out of sorts. Daycare reports that she has been refusing to be cooperative and quite naughty for the last few days. It's quite unlike our shiny, happy Maevey-baby. She settled down a little during dinner and bedtime and was quite sweet as I got her into her sleeper. She looked up and me and out of the blue asked, "Poppa, how old is you?" Lilly's new shoes still hadn't arrived today and it was quite a traumatic bedtime. I eventually convinced that they would either come tomorrow or we would call to check on their progress.

Thursday :: 06 October 2005
Well the shoes still hadn't shown up and Lisa found out that they now weren't expected until Monday. I tried to sympathize with Lilly's disappointment at the week delay and I made her a special dinner of French Toast (with white bread) to compensate. Maeve has been getting quite adamant about not being interrupting. "I'M talking," she'll say emphatically if she feels she is being ignored. As I was brushing her teeth after dinner tonight, I noticed newly erupted molars in her mouth. This is probably the explanation for her cantankerousness over the last week. All seemed right with the world now that the teeth are in.

Later in the evening as I watched images of our sick world on TV, I felt battling overwhelming sensations of happiness and sadness. I love my girls so much that it almost feels wrong or selfish to have brought them into this wicked world. Maybe, as Lisa pointed out, the reason is so that they can make it a better place.

Sunday :: 09 October 2005
While I waited for the weather to warm up so I could paint, we had a leisurely French-Toast family breakfast. The girls are nuts for anything with syrup on it and they quite like the veggie breakfast sausages. It was fun sitting around the table with my laughing, smiling girls. Interesting though that Maeve is a neater eater than Lilly.

We had family dinner too and afterwards I pushed back and slid down in my seat a bit. Maeve turned and admonished me: "Poppa, sit up." I replied that I was done eating and, further more, I was the head of the household. This designation held absolutely no weight with Maeve. She turned to Lisa and complained: "Momma, Poppa isn't sitting up." Then she turned back to me and once more told me to sit up. Then she gravely began counting: "1 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 2... Poppa, SIT UP." I had no choice but to rectify my bad manners.

Tuesday :: 11 October 2005
Over the weekend, Maeve suddenly began talking in clear, concise, and complete sentences. She had, of course, been talking quite well and voluminously, but she suddenly seems to have become quite expert at communicating using speech. To demonstrate this new-found lucidity, she informed me as I picked her up from daycare: "Poppa, I have poop in my diaper." Then as I loaded her into the car, "Poppa, I have paint on my pants right there." When Lilly got in the car at school, she immediately wrinkled her nose and inquired, "Did Maeve poop her pants?" Maeve gleefully answered "I pooped in my diaper, sister." She couldn't wait to tell Momma at home either.

Saturday :: 15 October 2005
Our friend Kris came for a weekend visit and Lilly was thrilled. Every chance she got, she cornered Kris into coloring, playing, or reading. No wonder Kris took the early bus home Sunday so she could recover. Sometimes I forget how draining Thing 1 and Thing 2 can be.

Monday :: 17 October 2005
We had a few people over to the house for my birthday. I told Lilly she could come down later and say hello (and have some birthday cake). She made her entrance on the back stairs in her pajamas and silenced the room. She charmed everyone with her beauty and charm and shocked them with her manners. When she finished her cake, she told my friend Leslie that she couldn't get down because Momma or Poppa hadn't told her she was excused.

Sunday :: 23 October 2005
We dropped Lilly off at a birthday party on the west side and went out to lunch with Maeve. She was good as gold, eating chips while we ate our burritos. Later in the afternoon Maeve invented a new game. Grabbing the hook attaching her fuzzy pink mittens together, she waved them while tipping toeing towards us. As she approached, she whispered "dirty spider, dirty spider" until she was within striking distance and then yell "BITE YOU." When I asked her who was coming next weekend, she promptly answered "Nanny and Grandpa." When I asked what she was going to say to them, she answered "I love you." Maeve's favorite new animal is the Octopus (although she pronounces it "Opapus"). She learned it from her flash ("crash") cards. In fact, she seems almost obsessed with the cards, correctly identifying a plethora of common household items (though I'm not sure of the relevance of a floppy disk these days). As I was putting Lilly to bed, I told her that I was glad she liked school. She smiled at me and said "I LOVE school."

Thursday :: 27 October 2005
Nanny and Grandpa arrived at noon. When I got home form work in the evening, the girls were still giddy from the arrival. Lilly and Maeve were lobbying loudly to go out for dinner and who were we to argue. We made the longish drive to Middleton and had a nice dinner — grandparents doting and granddaughters basking in the glow. Everyone was wiped out on the way back, but Maeve managed to sing an animated, but tuneless, song all the way back.

Friday :: 28 October 2005
Grandpa had promised Lilly she could pick out something at the Cracker Barrel gift shop. Winding her way through the isles and displays of tacky imported country junk, Lilly spied a battery operated talking Toucan and would not be persuaded otherwise. The thing had some kind of super-low bit depth digital recorder in it so that it parroted (ahem) back anything said to it. While I had visions of using it for some whacky sampling purposes, Momma just cringed at the prospect of it actually being in our house. After a late breakfast, we spent some time at a bookstore before returning home to hang out and eventually have family dinner at home.

Saturday :: 29 October 2005
We all went to see the Cashbox Kings at the Overture Center in the morning. Lilly was to shy to get up and dance today, but Maeve sat pie-eyed on my lap and smiled and clapped. After lunch at Noodles, we bought pumpkins on the way home. We all sat on our new screen porch and Lilly and I carved Jack-o-Lanterns: a scary witch and a scary monster. We also discovered the the talking Toucan could churn a pretty scary witch voice given the right input.

Monday :: 31 October 2005
If the idea of a Halloween costume is to scare people, Lilly succeeded. At least her parent were frightened by the choice of a Barbie cheerleader. Lilly suited up and boarded the bus for school. Later, Lisa took Maeve in her bunny suit to watch Lilly's school parade through the cafeteria. When I got home, we went of for our traditional visit with the Roberts girls. Just in case there was any doubt, Maeve announced to anyone within earshot "I'm a bunny rabbit. Hop hop." We hung out for a while until Maeve got tired and cranky and Lisa took her home to bed. Lilly and I did some actual trick-or-treating for the first time this year. We made a circuit of Oak Springs Circle and hit every house with a light on. Lilly was beside herself. She was so happy identifying which house was next and bounding up on the porch to ring the bell. While she was waiting, she would often turn to me and confirm her lines: "Trick or treat and thank you?" she would ask tentatively. Occassionally, I did have to remind her to say thank you. Once muttered to herself, "I'm almost forgetting my manners." She seemed amazed at the whole concept: "Everyone is so nice. They don't know us but they're all nice to us."

Past diary entries: July-August 2005
May-June 2005
March-April 2005
January-February 2005
November-December 2004
September-October 2004
July-August 2004
May-June 2004
March-April 2004
January-February 2004
November-December 2003
September-October 2003
July-August 2003
May-June 2003

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