Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Tale of the Six Pretzel Fish

The Crime Scene
This morning, Princess Tenley was woken early, taken to fetch visiting Grandma Barbara, and by 11 was back at home running amok while Daddy got ready to go to work and Mommy got ready to take Ten & Grandma Barbara to Village Venture in Claremont.

It was during this, that with her usual lack of spatial awareness, she tripped on her blue snack bowl and spilled 6 pretzel fish. No biggie- but if you don’t pick them up they’ll end up being ground into the carpet, and the 1 survivor will get kicked under the couch where 2 weeks from now it will be “found food” for Tenley to shove in her mouth and cause her dad and I to pry her jaws open to make sure it isn’t money, a rubber band, etc. So in an effort to teach our toddler to be responsible for her actions and to clean up her messes, Daddy called after her and said “Ten, you spilled your fish. Come here and pick them up.” Tenley’s response was to continue what she was doing and to shake her little head as she casually said “no.” He tried again. “Ten, your fish are on the floor- you need to put them back in the bowl.” This time she actually stopped what she was doing to look at him and say “no.” Daddy is the pushover, so Mommy the Evil Authoritarian decided to wade in. “Tenley?” She ignores me. “Tenley! Daddy asked you to pick up your fish. Go put them in the bowl- NOW.” Tenley looked me in the eye, stomped her little foot, and said “NO” and went back to what she was doing. Big mistake.

In a blinding flash of light Mommy the Evil Authoritarian morphed into her stubborn- beyond- reason pale skinned, flame haired Irish ancestors, leapt the kitchen gate, grabbed her by her little arm and said “You do NOT speak to Mommy that way. When Mommy and Daddy ask you to do something, you need to do it!”, then I dragged her to the bowl and said “Now pick up your fish and put them back in the bowl like you were told! We are not going to do anything else until you pick up your fish.”

With that, the lower lip jutted out, the back arched and the 30 minute laying on the floor- kicking- screaming- fist pounding tantrum began.

First there was angry crying and screaming.

Then she decided to try to get Daddy and Grandma to save her. I was proud of them both for telling her “no, I’m not going to cuddle you & save you. You need to pick up your fish.” That produced more tears, fist pounding, and angry roaring.

Her next tactic was distraction. “Wiggles??” “Buzz Lightyear?” “Style?” “Shoes?” “George??” Each of these was asked hopefully, as though we might just want to put in a Wiggles DVD and forget the whole fish thing. But no, each time she was reminded that we were not going to do anything else until she picked up those fish. Cue more wailing and rolling around on the floor in anger.

Sensing that she had done something wrong (although apparently she couldn’t fathom why we were being so mean) she decided to try to use her tears and pitiful state to her advantage. “S-s-sorrrry D-d-daddyyyy” as she crawled over the fish and into his lap. “S-s-s-sorry” Her contrition was spoiled by the fact that as she was hugging Daddy she was trying to get the Lovey out of his back pocket. Daddy hugged her and said, “It’s nice that you’re sorry, but you still need to pick up your fish.” Ack! Foiled again! More angry wailing.

In between bouts of wailing we had tried to play on her sympathies and tell her that the fish were lonely and wanted to be back in the bowl with their friends. We had worked her knowledge of boo-boos by pointing out that they could get stepped on. We pointed out that if left unattended Beeps would eat them. I sang the “Clean it Up” song. George offered to help. Finally we decided to compromise: we would help her put the fish back in the bowl.

The 3 adults sat down on the floor with her, and each picked up one of the 6 wayward fish as we told Tenley we would help her put them away. We told her to pick one up so she could put one in the bowl too. She sat there staring at us. Finally Jeff said, “Ok you can have mine” and he handed her the fish. Which she stuffed into her mouth. We’re all trying desperately not to laugh. Barbara says “Do you want mine?” as Tenley reaches out and snatches the fish and stuffs that in her mouth too. My fish was next. She grabbed 2 more off the floor and stuffed them in. She was determined not to give in- she was NOT going to put those fish back in the bowl like she was told- she would eat them before she put them away!

Unfortunately for Tenley, 5 pretzel fish was her little mouth’s limit. Faced with the inevitable, she finally picked up the 1 remaining fish and dropped it in the bowl. Mommy, Daddy and Grandma cheered like she had just found the cure for cancer. Tenley smiled and laughed sending a spray of salt and crumbs over the former scene of such drama.

The fish finally removed from the floor, we gave her a style and her shoes and got on with our day.

The Drama Queen

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Toddler Indecision

Last night, while mommy was at work, Tenley and I were playing at home when I realized that she had not eaten and might be hungry. When Tenley is hungry she will usually tell you but if you have to ask her it gets interesting. If you say “Tenley, are you hungry?” she will look at you like you are speaking greek. But if you say “Eat?” she will respond. Go figure!

So I looked at her and said “Eat?” and she responded “Okay!” She ate a bowl of potato cheese soup from Marie Callendars. When she was done she looked at me and said “Hicken” and then pointed at her fingers. I said “Chicken fingers?” and she again responded “Okay!”

Whenever you ask Tenley a question she takes it as an offer and responds affirmatively. So you always have to be careful with what you ask her as she may accept your offer and then complain bitterly if you don’t provide the agreed upon items or services.

Now tasked, by Tenley, with providing chicken fingers to eat and given the lack of said chicken fingers in the house, we piled into the car and headed to the nearest chicken finger emporium. Tenley likes the chicken from Carl’s Jr. so I went there. I was in the drive through line, ordering the chicken when all of a sudden from the back seat I hear “NO chicken fingers…yucky!” Too late, I had already ordered. I figured as soon as we got back home Ten would eat the chicken with no problem. Boy was I wrong!!!

We got back home and I cut up a few pieces of chicken and put them on one of Tenley’s little plates for her to eat. Eating the chicken was the furthest thing from her little mind. She took the plate and dumped the chicken on her Thomas train table and proceeded to mangle the chicken and spread it all over her train set. When I asked her what she was doing she replied “Chicken yucky.”

So once again I was duped into action by Tenley. The action I was performing was providing requested food for my child. The actual action that she got me to perform was giving her a ride in the car. I’m pretty sure if we could see into, and understand, Tenley’s little mind, it would have gone something like this…

Hmmmm, I’m bored. Maybe I’ll get that man to take me for a ride in the car.
I know, I’ll ask for food that we don’t have here. He’ll be excited because I might
want to eat something so he’ll do whatever I ask. That’s a good plan.
Tomorrow I’ll go back to planning on taking over the world!

Most people think of themselves as mommy and daddy. The kids just think of us as staff! Good thing she’s so cute.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Language Explosion

Here is Tenley trying out a bike at Wal-Mart and wearing her most coveted item, the bike helmet!

Other parents always told us that when a toddler gets language that they really get it. I am totally in awe of Tenley’s ability to say words and use them correctly…even the words and phrases that we didn’t know she knew.

Last night as Tenley was watching the Wiggles, for the three hundredth time, she made the usual strange face she gets when filling her diaper. All of a sudden she started yelling, “Potty, potty” and she ran over to her potty chair and sat down. It was so cute but not two seconds after sitting down she looked at me with a slightly worried look on her face and pronounced, “Too late.”

Tonight she is wearing her black princess boots, thanks a bunch Claire, and refuses to remove them for any reason. She is walking around the living room telling me and everyone “Wearing boots!”…”Black boots!” She is so proud of her boots.

After the Wiggles I turned on Oobi, another favorite show, and she named all the characters and then told me “Oobi no boots…Tenley black boots, nice!!”

She talks constantly now and it is totally mesmerizing. She is far more entertaining than anything on TV.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Tagged for Secrets

My friend Maren, from Disneyland, tagged me on her blog for 10 secrets. So here goes 10 secrets, or something like that, of Jeff and Tenley….

10. Jeff likes children’s programming on TV. (I guess not that big of secret to most)

9. Tenley eats 5 popsicles a day. (sugar free of course!)

8. When Mommy is at work Jeff & Tenley frequently eat fast food. Yum!

7. Tenley likes boys with tattoos and motorcycles. She is always flirting with them the most.

6. Like Maren, Jeff can polish off an entire box of Mac & Cheese in one sitting. Also goes for a box of cereal like Cap’n Crunch.

5. Some kids like to wear their parents shoes but Tenley likes to wear our socks!

4. Jeff has been watching the entire series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” from the beginning on DVD.

3. Tenley likes to put DVDs into the cat box. Nice.

2. Jeff says that Tenley is the most fascinating person he has ever known and at the same time can be the most frustrating person he has ever known.

1. Tenley has started taking her clothes off during the night and has started climbing out of her crib.

Now that I look at these I think they are not all that interesting. But I have now complied with the “tag” from Maren.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


As Tenley becomes more verbal and learns new words she is becoming more entertaining with her Tenleyisms. Some of her words, though clear when she started saying them, have become increasingly degraded as she gets comfortable with them. One of my favorites is “Dumbo” – her favorite ride at Disneyland. When she first started saying it she was very clear. Now it has degraded to “Bumoan” and if you say Dumbo she then lifts her arms up and down while saying “Up down”.

Lately she has been learning to string words together and this comes out in some funny word combinations. I’m sure she knows what she is saying but half the time I have no idea.

The other day she had me just rolling on the floor with laughter from the statements she made. I had a large coke sitting on the counter and Tenley decided she needed some of that. She jumped up on the couch and pressed her nose to mine and said “Daddy’s Coke?, Daddy’s Coke?, Me Some, Me Some, Share!” She was so insistent and it was the funniest thing ever.

Tonight she started throwing water in the air during her bath and saying “Shower” every time the water hit her in the head. I asked her what she was doing and she said “Taking shower”.

A while back both Michelle and I stated it would be nice if she would just start talking so we would know what she wanted. Of course now she never shuts up and it is really, really cute!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pumpkin Patch Particulars

Last Sunday we took Tenley to Tanaka Farms in Irvine to roam around their pumpkin patch. Toword the end of October last year we hit a patch in Yucaipa with the Inland Empire FCC Play Group. At that time Tenley had only been walking for a few weeks and was toddling around and falling down a lot. This year she has been walking for more than a year and she was still toddling around and falling down a lot.

Tanaka farms was really nice. It had a very large field of u-pick pumpkins, a hay bale maze, a couple of hay bale towers to climb on, a u-pick vegetable patch, petting zoo, snack bar and tractor wagon rides. Getting into the pumpkin patch lot was a total disaster as they share a driveway with a golf course that was having a luxury auto show, and apparently if you owned a car that cost $100,000 or more it was compulsory to attend. Their $15 premiere parking lot was full and backing up out to the street so the Irvine police shut down the driveway just as we got there. After driving around through the ridiculous traffic twice, we settled on a spot a few blocks away and walked.

When we arrived we found the entrance and paid for the petting zoo and our wagon ride. Then we chose a wheelbarrow and took off into the patch to get a pumpkin. We were looking for something small to medium so Tenley could enjoy carving her first pumpkin. All three of us were climbing through the patch in different areas. Michelle and I were looking for pumpkins and Tenley was looking for anything to pick up and rip apart. Occasionally she would stop and yell for me to look at her. When I did she would lift up one foot completely tangled in pumpkin vines and say "Help!" or point to some decaying piece of vine or her dirty hands and say "Yuk! It was too funny.

There were lady bugs flying all around and we kept pointing them out to Tenley who like a typical toddler was too slow to see them. Finally one landed on her upper arm and then walked all the way down her arm to her hand before flying off. As soon as it was gone she smiled real big and said "More?"

Eventually we found a picture perfect round bright orange pumpkin, and after I talked Michelle into using a can of Libby's and out of buying a second one to make pumpkin pie, we decided to go check out the maze.

I pointed Tenley toward the start of the maze and off she went running along. About 3 or 4 turns into it we decided the maze was boring and we were getting hot so it was off to the petting zoo! We grabbed Tenley and jumped onto the wagon ride to the other part of the farm.
*Note: I would recommend doing this itinerary in reverse- petting zoo, then pick pumpkin so you don't have to haul the gourd with you. It was a good thing ours was pretty small. Also, don't bother with a stroller unless it has 4wd.

The petting zoo was two pens that were enclosed and were full of goats, pigs and a llama. Michelle and Tenley went into the zoo armed with two cones of feed ready to pet the animals. Unfortunately, Tenley still doesen't get the concept of cup your hands, put feed in, hold out to animal. Eventually Michelle ended up feeding the goats the alfalfa pellets & Tenley just held out the empty ice cream cones. The goats, for their part, were remarkably un-helpful. None of them were that interested in being fed- so odd for petting zoo goats.

We got a chocolate dipped strawberry, a huge popsicle, and a soda for our hike back to the car, and then it was back to home having happily kicked off the harvest season and a very busy October.