Friday, March 23, 2007

Our morning routine

I love our morning routine.

Around 6AM we gently wake the girls. They pull the blankets over their heads and generally tell us to buzz off. We persist until they sit up in bed.

COlleen picks up Emnet and I pick up Meron. We gently sing "Good Morning to you. Good morning to you. We're all in our places with bright smiling faces" as we carry them downstairs into the bathroom.

After dispensing with personal business, they immediately want to take a bath. The girls thoroughly enjoy the bath tub - dunking their heads, washing each others backs, singing songs in Amharic the whole time. One of their favorites is a song their Aunt used to sing while doing the laundry. "Koshasha koshasha. Ya bah teh lay no" (loosley translate means It's dirty It's dirty and that's why I wash it) Hey, we can't all be Elvis.

Then we pull them out of the tub, rub them down with cocoa butter, do their hair, and head upstairs to dress. We usually have 3 outfits displayed for each child and they choose which one to wear that day.

Then we go downstairs for breakfast, and Meron says this short little blessing in Amharic. It is so cute.

Eggs cellent

You will remember from earlier posts how enamoured the girls are with eggs. They sit on the stairs and chant "Oncolal! Oncolal! Oncolal!" - the amharic words for eggs. I got so tired of scrambling eggs that I took to hard boiling them a dozen at a time in order to save time.

One day I thought it would be cool to teach the girls to peel the eggshells off. They loved it. Now that's all they want to do. They will not eat an egg that is already shelled (unless it is a scrambled egg).

Today we had only one hard boiled egg left. The girls freaked because they each wanted one. To reassure them, Colleen went to the refrigerator, and displayed the new dozen of uncooked eggs. Remember, a 2 year old cannot distinguish between an unshelled hard boiled egg and a fresh egg. (yes, that is forshadowing)

So Emnet, who is very quick, grabs one of the fresh eggs and runs away squealing with excitement thinking she has an egg she can eat. Colleen immediately recognizes what is going to happen and lunges for Emnet. Emnet correctly interprets this as an attempt to steal her food, gives Colleen a head fake, and sprints off tackle for the bedroom. On the way, she trips over a shoe and falls "SPLAT" on to the egg.

Emnet is horrified. She has no idea what just happened other than her hands and her favorite sweatshirt are covered with slime. Meron, who had been casually observing until now, decides its a good time to experiment with walking in the slime, and tracks it all over the house. The cats, who happen to like raw eggs, follow Meron around licking the floor behind her.

All in all, it was a hilarious and disgusting chain of events.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Marking out territory (part 2)

Apparently Emnet learned a little too much from the soapy bottle lesson yesterday, and she took her revenge out on me today.

I was on the floor horsing around with the girls. Eventually I wound up on my back with Emnet sitting on my chest facing me. We were playing "the riders on the bus go up and down", or so I thought.

Next thing you know, Emnet puts both her hands on my chin, presses down with all her weight, and holds my mouth open. She is peering around inside my mouth like a dental student. I thought this was harmless curiosity and did not resist. Then Emnet suddenly bends forward and licks my tongue. I was totally caught by surprise and began expectorating. Emnet just sat on my chest with this self satisfied look of dominance, as if to say "I guess I just taught you a lesson about putting soap on my juice bottle."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Marking out territory

When Emnet wants something, and doesn't want to share, she licks it. Then Meron doesn't want it. You might remember from a previous post how unnaturally long Emnet's tongue is. Seriously, she could be a circus act.

So this morning Emnet wanted a dring of cranberry juice. A big half gallon bottle. The bottle was not yet opened, and we already have several bottles of juice open, so we said no.

Emnet sits down on the kitchen floor, hugging this bottle of cranberry juice between her legs, and begins to begins to tongue the entire cover and top end of the bottle. In the time it took me to spring across the room, she coated it. And she looked up at me all smiling and proud of herself as if to say "Ha ha, now it's mine."

So I put the bottle in the sink and rinsed it off.

A few minutes later, Emnet climbed up on the counter where I had left the bottle, and licked it all again. Now laughing, like she really owns it.

So next I washed the bottle with dish soap and did not rinse it. Well, I think we cured Emnet from licking the outside of juice bottles. Possible also turned her off from cranberry juice for a while.

The girls meet animitronic dolls

My Dad bought an animiated singing Teddy Bear. It's dressed up like an Italian Chef and sings Amore. The girls are fascinated by it.

At first, they just stared at it as if they were asking themselves "Is that a real person in there?" The bears mouth moves when it sings, so they began peering down its throat, all serious and looking at all angles, like they are dental students in their first clinical lab. THey were prying at its jaw so hard, that I thought they were going to break the doll, so I picked it up and starting dancing with it, like in a waltz.

They girls thought that was great fun. They started calling the bear 'baby', as in Daddy is dancing with his baby. They only way we could persuade the girls to stop playing the song was to convince them that 'the baby had to go to sleep'. And we placed the baby in an old clementine box in the top of the broom closet. It was out greatest hope that the girls would forget about 'baby'. No such luck.

Every time we open the closet door to get the broom, a trash bag, or something - the girls beg for the baby. It's going to be a long life.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Emnet meets Gospel

We're all gathered around the dinner table. It's a late dinner, and the kids are tired, so its pretty quiet for a change.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Emnet sits up straight and shatters the silence with:
Ayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyymen! Amen! Amen!

We all just look at each other like, where they hake did that come from? Then Colleen's Mom gets all red and starts snickering. Turns out she had taught Emnet that song on the car earlier in the day.

Meron meets JC Penney Catalog

I come home from a business trip. The kids are quiet. Colleen is relaxing. This is the time I go through the mail.

Somehow, a JCPenney catalog all defaced with magic marker has survived into my read pile. I ask Colleen about it. She says "Oh, yeah. I wanted you to see how your girls reacted to their first catalog sighting".

Meron's ears perk up, and she climbs into my lap, and she is all business. She begins pointing to each piece of clothing in the catalog and saying "Ye Ne" (It's mine) and Ye Ne Emnet (This is for Emnet). Every single piece of clothing, regardless of size or gender appropriateness, was identified as either 'mine' or ' Emnet's'.

Luckily this was a skinny little seasonal clearance catalog. Remember those Sears catalogs of biblical proportions we used to get pre-Christmas when we were kids? Meron would have had me invest months in reviewing each page of that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Emnet meets Nebulizer

Emnet had this persistent congestion and the doc prescribed a nebulizer. For those of you who are unfamiliar with nebulizers, it is a small air compressor that delivers air through a surgical tube to a mouthpiece. In the mouthpiece is a small vial of medicine. The compressed air interacts with the medicine to create a fine mist that flows from the mouthpiece and into the lungs and nasal passages of the patient. Emnet was prescribed a treatment in the morning and in the evening.

Now envision this.

It's bedtime. The lights are dimmed. Emnet is in Colleen's lap and Meron is snuggled beside them in the sofa. I am on the other side. The nebulizer emerges from Emnets mouth trailing a thin trail of smoke. She sighs, her eyes roll back for an instant, and she passes mouthpiece to Meron. Meron takes a hit, smiles, and coos. Then Emnet takes another hit. Then tries to pass it to me. I defer, so Ement just cuddles the mouthpiece against her chest like it was a teddy bear. The expressions on their sleepy faces, their slow motion movements, the dim light, and the fact that the mouthpiece looks eerily like a bong had me cracking up.

It looked like a Saturday Night Live skit of a rastafarian potfest.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Our new friend Bella

There is an Ethiopian woman, Bella, who lives nearby and we learned about through a mutual friend. She invited is to her home Sunday afternoon. What a treat!!!

As we walked in, we were greeted by about a dozen relatives of hers, all jabbering in Amharic. They whisked our girls into their arms, starting pinching their cheeks and telling them how beautiful they are.

Then they led us to the kitchen where they had prepared a huge Ethiopian dinner with injera breads and many stews and dishes. Meron was in heaven. She chowed and chowed. Ethiopian music was playing in the stereo and Bella prepared a coffee ceremony in the traditional style. We had a total blast!!

First time snow sledding

I took the girls out in a little plastic sled near our home, gave them a gentle push, and they swooshed down to slope. No spills and no collisions. Meron was laughing hysterically and yelling "endeggena!!"

So I grab the rope on the front of the sled and begin schlepping them back up the hill. I look back and see Meron making this whipping motion with her right hand, like I am her donkey or something, and screeching "Fatah!! Fatah!!" (quickly, quickly)

Meron makes Mockery

Grammy gave Meron two little purses with a few pennies in them and told her to share with Emnet. Coming from an area of great deprivation, the girls are unfamiliar with the concept of sharing. This really took some work.

I sat and rocked Meron for about 40 minutes, repeating the mantra " Emnet oo dah jee ah bra choo tetch ah too" (Love your sister Emnet. Share with her.) Finally, just as I was about to lose my voice, Meron ponied up two pennies for Emnet. I called it a moral victory and moved on. Colleen and I made a mental note to each other that we have work to do in the sharing department and we would role model sharing at every opportunity.

Fast forward to later in the day. Meron is suspiciously quiet. When I find her, she has my Amharic Journal cracked open and is repeating "Emnet oo dah jee. Emnet oo dah jee." With her left hand on her hip, her right finger wagging, and this really sassy expression on her face. When she realized I was watching, she slammed the book shut, tried to look all non-chalant, giggled a little, and said "Allo Daddy!!".

The little peanut was totally mocking me!!!

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Meron meets snowstorm

Friday afternoon was the first real snowstorm the girls have experienced. And Meron has become a real Daddy'd girl lately. So when I stepped outside to fire up the snowblower, Meron had a fit. Colleen finally rapped on the window and insisted that I had to come inside.

That's a problem because, at that moment, our cars were blocking in the road because the drive way wasn't plowed. So I had to clear the driveway, to park the cars, to clear the road. It just could not wait.

So I bundled Meron up, placed her in one of those LLBean type kid carrier backpacks, and off we went to clear the driveway. This was a wicked storm. Hard and sharp icy flakes were driven almost horizontal by the wind whipping off the lake. You could not face the wind for more than a few seconds without getting a brain freeze.

Meron hung in there like a champ - laughing and smiling the whole time. When we were finished, I expected her to be half frostbitten. Instead, she looked up at me with her big beautiful smile and said "Endeggena!" (lets do it again!)

Emnet meets beans

Colleen's family has a long history of baking slow cooked beans in the traditional crock pot. Save the fart jokes for later (hint, they are coming).

Today we were at Colleen's parents around lunch time, and the first pot was just coming out of the oven. Naturally, we want the kids to try new things so we can see what they enjoy. Emnet went to town on these beans like it was the Cony Island Hot Dog Eating Contest. She ate three heaping bowls, then she wanted to drink the bean broth. We showed her how to sop up broth with bread, and she ate nearly half a loaf of Italian Bread sopping up the bean broth.

Coincidentally (I think), my dad and Joan had just given us a custom made kids potty. It is really cute with a toilet paper roller built into one side and a magazine rack built into the other side.

Fast forward 18 hours. Emnets bowels are hyper active. She is only two so can't consistently distinguish between a fart and the real deal. The new potty got so much use that I have to replace the seat and pump the septic system. We kept some windows cracked in order to alleviate dangerous levels of methane accumulation. Meron just stared in slackjawed disbelief, and privately thanker her God that she had eaten chicken instead.

Leo as Marge Simpsons' sisters

Wednesday was the day from hell. Colleen had to go into the office for the morning on short notice. Which meant I, also on short notice and under protest, had to wake, bathe, and feed the kids, and keep them entertained until the Nannie arrived shortly after 8. I know. Sounds easy. I'll remind you the kids get up around 5:15AM, they don't speak English, and they are still attention starved.

It gets worse.

The Nannie arrives and I still have not had a shower, shaved, brushed my teeth or had anything to eat or drink. My blood sugar was below zero, the kids were swinging from the chandelier, and they were cranking out about 300 decibels each.

The look in the Nannies face as she crossed the threshold said it all. I looked like the male version of those caricature housewives. You know, housecoat, slippers, hair in curlers, 5 oclock shadow, and behaving like a stoner. It was ridiculous.

The Nannie nicknamed me Hagrid, after that guy in the first Harry Potter movie. It's not fair. I used to be so handsome and svelte.