We Are Dog People Now

Yep, we are no longer among the canine challenged. Behold young Ezio:

(The name is Italian. Ask a gamer to explain it to you if you don’t get the reference.)

We’d been talking about getting a dog since before our cat passed away, but kept putting it off for one reason or another. Then Geralyn found online photos of some dogs from a rescue shelter that were going to be at a Pets Mart up the road last Saturday and we decided that it was as good a time as any. They actually had several really great dogs there, though a litter of little shitzus (which is a phrase with just one too many “zus” to properly describe those things) was getting all the attention. Our decision came down between the beagle-something mix we eventually walked out with and a cute labrador-spaniel mix. Both were puppies, about 11 or 12 weeks old. The latter displayed a more friendly personality, but eventually we decided that at a projected 40-45 pounds he was going to grow too big. Ezio (the adoption folks had accidentally named him “Cody,” but we’re fixing that) was a bit more mellow, about the right size, and satisfied our “we want a beagle mix” criterion. So after long deliberation we went with him and it seems to have been a good choice so far.

The adoption process was more involved than I expected. I had thought that if these places could load up a vending machine full of cats and dogs, they’d be happy to let you walk up to it, purse your lips in thought for a second, then select a puppy and maybe a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos to walk out with. Instead, we had no fewer than three interviews where they tried to ask us questions not much more sly than “So, how long do you think it will be before you abandon this cute little guy in a ditch?” I guess we came across as all-American enough to warrant rescuing a dog, though, and Geralyn’s status as a stay-at-home mom probably helped a lot. So they had us fill out some paperwork, told us some cautionary and very disturbing stories about heart worms, and helped us pick out some squeaky toys.

As I said, Ezio is a pretty mellow fellow for a puppy. He doesn’t bark much (except in one situation I’ll get to in a sec), he hasn’t shown much interest in chewing things with electricity flowing through them, and he has proven himself able to endure much hugging and involuntary relocation at the hands of Mandy. He’s playful, friendly, and generally what you’d want out of a puppy.

The challenges, it seems, are going to be house breaking him and crate training him. The house breaking is to be expected, of course. He’ll usually do his business outside if we take him, but he also seems content to just drop a load on the kitchen floor if we don’t. But we’re making progress. One of the tips we’re trying to follow is to leave his scat out in the yard so that he can smell it there and associate that area with his bodily elimination. Geralyn thought this made sense in principle, but was worried about all the little brown land mines littering our yard and decided that we should wrap each piece of dog crap with a paper towel, then leave these sheets out in the yard. This is exactly as disgusting as it sounds, so I hope Ezio turns out to be a quick learner.

The other major challenge we’re facing is with crate training. Since he’s not housebroken yet, we want Ezio to stay in a crate during the night and when we have to leave him alone in the house. This is based on the principle of “don’t defecate where you sleep” which most living creatures seem to think is a right and sensible policy. So we’ve been littering his crate with dog treats and praising him when he goes in to get them, thinking that this will build positive associations with the den-like environment and we’ll be able to close the door and have him lie quietly. Ezio, on the other hand, believes that closing the door is his cue to begin howling, braying, and crying bloody murder. The first two nights we put him in our bedroom at night, thinking that our proximity would calm him. At one point he barked for two hours straight, so we relocated the crate to the basement. He still barks incessantly, but now it sounds like something in the ventilation ducts is very upset with us. Hopefully he’ll get used to it and we can move him back up to a more trafficked area if not our bedroom again. But we went through this crying through the night thing with two human youngsters already. Not keen to do it again.

Anyway, on balance he’s pretty great and makes a nice addition to the household. We’re taking him through obedience training, so I’m sure I’ll have some stories to share again in the near future. Now, here are pictures!

Sam the Science Kid: Experiment #3: Crush With Air

Continuing my blogging project for 2011 where I do a science experiment per week with my six (soon to be seven) year old daughter.

This week’s experiment returned to the world of air pressure and was actually conducted right after experiment #2 from last week. Sam wanted to do another, and who was I to say no? Equipment for this week consisted of…

  1. A 2-liter soda bottle (empty) and cap
  2. Some hot water
  3. Some ice water
  4. A large pan full of ice

We started by having Sam fill the bottle with the hot water and putting the cap on after a few seconds. We used a funnel, but there was still mess. I think she makes the mess on purpose, but you know what? That’s okay. Nobody ever did science without making a mess and/or killing a bunch of graduate students.

She then lay the bottle down in the pan of ice and slowly poured the ice water over it. Again, more spillage. I think I should invest in some proper science-ey beakers so that we at least look the part.

We then sat back and watched, which for Sam was probably the most grueling part. Soon, though, the plastic bottle began to crinkle and pop as the cooling air inside began to contract and thus lower the air pressure. Sam thought this wanton deformation of grocery items was exciting, so I explained to her about how gasses expand when they get hot and contract when they cool. I tried telling her about the three-way relationship between volume, pressure, and temperature, but she was too busy poking the bottle and asking (perhaps hopefully) if it would explode.

This being a pretty simple experiment, I asked Sam to focus in her journal on describing what we did. I told her that this is an important part of doing science, since one of the qualities of a good experiment is that it can be copied and repeated by other people. Here’s what she wrote:

Experiment 3 Crush with air. We pot hot water in a bol. Pot the led on. The dottle felt hot. We pot it in ice it crushed. The air crushed it.

Next week: we grow stalactites and learn about the importance of careful measurement! Maybe. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll crush something else.

Sam the Science Kid, Experiment #2: Grow Mold

As I mentioned earlier, my pet blogging project for 2011 is going to be a weekly recap of 52 kid friendly science experiments in 52 weeks. I’m doing at least one little project each weekend with Samantha where I’ll teach her some miscellaneous science facts by doing the experiments in addition to familiarizing her with the scientific method in general by having her use a notebook to make predictions, record observations, and describe what she’s doing. (Practice with writing, spelling, and grammar is a nice bonus, too.)

This week we learned about mold and what makes it grow. To start, I collected some aluminum tins to hold the following:

  1. A piece of bread
  2. A toasted piece of bread
  3. About 8 ounces of yogurt
  4. A peeled orange

I then explained to Sam that mold was a fungus, which is a kind of plant. There are tiny mold spores in the air that will grow on food if you set it out. She surprised me a bit by sitting up and saying “Oh, like decay!” Yep, mold could definitely be part of the decay process. I then asked her to write down in her journal what she thought would happen. She wrote:

I thigk the tost will grow the most mould. I think the yogrt will grow the lest mould.

Sam, forming her hypotheses.

At this point I asked why she thought that, and she said, “Because I think mold will grow best in dry stuff.” Bam. That’s a model, folks. Not a complicated one or a very accurate one as it turns out, but that’s beside the point. She articulated a model of mold growth!

Final step: we labeled our specimens:

After that, I placed them on a shelf in the basement and we let them alone for a week. At this point I should point out that I kind of screwed up by not covering the tins with plastic wrap per the book’s directions, which probably affected our results a bit by drying the bread out. Fortunately Geralyn did this for me before all was lost.

A week later we retrieved the specimens and laid them out. The bread that was robbed of its moisture by the toaster was mold-free as far as we could tell. Unfortunately so was the untoasted bread, most likely because I had let it dry out. Normally I think it would have grown something:

The yogurt, on the other hand, was just starting up a good green head, but nothing spectacular:

The orange, fortunately, came through and provided the moldy jackpot:

Eugh. We took a good look and I asked Sam to write down what she was observing.

The yogurt grew a letl mold. The ornge grew the most mold. The tost and dreb ded not grow aney. The mold is green and wite on the ornge. It looks fussey. When you poke it dust comes off.

(As you can see, she still sometimes flip-flops her “b” and “d” letters. Working on that.)

At this point I asked Sam what other sense she could use –besides touch!– to make observations about the mold. She made the face below then wrote “it ded not smel good.” in her journal. This was true.

At this point I asked her to read back over the predictions she had written several days earlier and tell me if they had been correct, which resulted in her writing this in her journal:

My prediction was wrong. Mold gros in wet plases not dry.

She seemed disappointed in herself, but this was a great chance to point out that one of the reasons science works so well is that even wrong guesses can be very useful. Science is iterative, meaning that every result is the entry point for a new repetition of the process, leading to refinements and better predictions. Wrong answers are helpful if they help us point ourselves in the right direction, which her “Mold gros in wet plases not dry” comment illustrates.

It can almost go without saying, though, this is all beside the point if you’re not doing science with a fancy sparkly pen:

Christmas 2010

Christmas photos! Had a great time with my mom and sister in town for the holiday. The girls got tons of loot, including a bike for Sam which she cannot ride due to the foot of snow outside but which she loved nonetheless. Click the photos to embiggen.

Sam the Science Kid, Experiment #1: Card Trick

As 2010 draws to a close it comes time to pick my blogging project for 2011, and I’ve decided to return to writing about my kids. Wait! It’ll be a bit different than before.

One of the Christmas gifts I bought Samantha this year was a book containing a bunch of science experiments for kids. All the experiments are pretty simple and can usually be accomplished with stuff you can dig out of the trash and junk drawers. I also bought Sam a white lab coat with a name tag reading “Dr. Samantha” –because hey, you have to look the part. Over ninety percent of science is just looking dapper. To round things out, she also got a journal and a sparkly pen –again, science demands fashion sense– to take notes about the experiments and write up the results. The goal this year is to do one of these experiments with Sam each week and then to write about it.

One of the reasons I’m doing this is to help teach Sam about science in general and the scientific method in specific. You know, a good foundation for a mad scientist girl genius. When she finally gets her weather control machine working and starts making demands of the world’s governments, you’ll know who to thank.

I started off Experiment #1 with an explanation that scientists look at things in the world and do the following:

  1. Make up explanations for those things based on what they know
  2. Guess at what’s supposed to happen according to those explanations
  3. Collect information to see if those guesses were right
  4. Share those results with others
  5. Repeat

Some of the finer points may be missing, but it’s good enough for a six year old. In addition to learning the fundamentals of science, having her write in the journal should have the added benefits of getting her to practice her penmanship and translating her thoughts into words.

Future mad scientist in training.

For example, consider Experiment #1, which had to do with air pressure. I explained that I was going to take a shot glass, fill it to the tip-top with water, place a playing card on top, then flip the glass and card upside down before letting go of the card and holding the glass in the air a foot above the table.

Today's science experiment brought to you by Kappa Delta sororoty.

I asked Sam what she thought would happen, and she immediately said, “The water will fall out and make a huge mess!” This seemed to be a delightful prospect to her, especially since I’d be the guilty party for once. At any rate, I instructed her to write down her prediction:

I think it will spill out.

(FYI, I’ll be posting Sam’s journal contents verbatim. I’m working with her on her spelling and grammar, but I don’t think it will be worth interrupting the flow of the activity to get things perfect.)

So I filled the glass, put the card on top, and flipped them. Here’s what happened:

Sam was confused but fascinated, so I explained about air pressure –how air was pushing up on the bottom of the card harder than the water was pushing on the top. I also told her about how air always tries to go from where there’s more air (high pressure) to where there’s less air (low pressure), and that if we gently pressed down on the card enough to let a few bubbles in, the pressure dropped to the point where the card fell and the water dumped out. I then instructed her to record this observation in her journal:

What hopind: The card stayed up.

So, like I said, I’m starting off simple but I hope that Sam keeps her interest level up so that I can task her with writing more detailed predictions and explanations for why she predicts what she does. Next week: we grow mold! Who doesn’t like mold?

She makes this papa geek proud…

Earlier today Sammy and I S-ranked (100%’ed, FC’d, whatever) Lego Harry Potter Years 1-4 on the Xbox 360. All the red bricks. All the gold bricks. All the students in peril. All the crest pieces. All the character tokens. “True Wizard” on every level. All the achievements. All the secret levels. EVERYTHING. BEHOLD THIS UNDOCTORED PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE:

100 Percent Perfect Potter. Click to embiggen.

This is a feat that took us several months of effort. She and I would play this game together for 30-45 minutes at a time, 3 or 4 times a week, usually between dinner and bathtime. It’s the kind of thing that flies in the face of outdated attitudes towards video games as mindless time wasters played by people incapable of anything requiring social interaction. Full completing the game with another person playing cooperatively required imagination, communication, logical thinking, persistence, long-range goal setting, and a lot of fun. Sam learned all the mechanics involved, ranging from simple platforming to cataloging which characters had which special abilities that were required for what situations. She and I would sometimes talk about the game when we weren’t playing it, and she often wanted to engage in imaginative play with her sister, pretending to be characters from the game. And it has continued to feed her interest in reading the books.

Sure, I would never want gaming to comprise 100% of her leisure time, but I can say without a doubt that this game (and others) have given she and I an experience that both of us will remember fondly for the rest of our lives.

And I got her Kirby’s Epic Yarn for the Wii for her birthday. I can’t wait!

Happy 4th Birthday, Amanda Rene Madigan!

Mandy recently had her fourth birthday, which she announced by marching up to me and declaring “Today, I AM FOUR” with all the requisite solemnity. Which is to say, none at all. We had a small party for her with her grandpa and Aunt Joy, during which there were many toys unwrapped. She got a lot of great stuff, but the big hit was probably the little electric buggy, which goes forward, backward, and BEEP BEEP BEEP! I think Sam was as amazed as anyone by this magical device, and it took her approximately four seconds to try and commandeer it like she was auditioning for the next Grand Theft Auto game.

Mandy was given her choice of cakes to order, and she elected for My Little Pony for some reason. There’s just something undeniably appealing about pink horses. I guess. At any rate, she seemed delighted to see it.

December, 2010 Snowfall

Boy, you know what’s fun? Getting woken up at 6:30 am on a Sunday morning with shouts of “WOAH! SO MUCH SNOW!” and then having a shrieking six year old yank open the blinds to your bedroom so that the blinding white brilliance can illuminate the back of your skull even though your eyes are closed. I suspect, though, that the only reason Sam and Mandy are so delighted by this particular form of precipitation only because it means we get a lot more free with the hot chocolate.

On the other hand, snow always makes for fun photo opportunities!

New Cuts

Like some kind of little zen garden, we had been growing both Sammy and Mandy’s hair out for some time. After a point, though, they began to scream a lot more than zen gardens when you tried to comb the tangles out of their lengthy locks, so we decided to get them some breezy new cuts just in time for winter.

We had actually been trying to grow their hair out long enough to donate the trimmings to an organization called Locks of Love which takes such donations and and weaves them into wigs for children suffering hair loss on account of medical treatments or conditions. It turned out that only Sam’s hair met the minimum length requirement, so she got the most extreme cut, as you can see in the before and after pics below. Mandy also got a much needed trim, but not quite as much.

The place that Geralyn took them for the deed was, by all accounts, very strange indeed. Apparently they do parties for little girls where they will pick up your party goers in a big pink limousine, take them to the spa, let them dress up as princesses, get mani/peti treatments, and have glitter infused into their scalps by a machine that probably started its existence as a sand blaster. As someone whose most extravagant childhood birthday party was headlined by a fat guy who wore a Spider-Man outfit and fooled no one, this seems almost too alien for me to contemplate.

Soccer / Hooligan

Sam’s soccer season is coming to an end, so I thought it high time I pop on my telephoto lens and get some action shots. I paid enough for the thing, so I’d better. BEHOLD!

She’s really gotten much better in a short period of time. I hadn’t had a chance to take her to a game in a while, and I was surprised at how much more aggressive towards the ball she was being and how much more she was generally trying. She had also written “Winner!” on her palm prior to the game, presumably to help her remember to …win.

Mandy was also in attendance, and due to unusually warm weather she got hot in her fleece sweater and stripped down to her tank top undershirt. This showed her little belly, which she proudly displayed to everyone as she ran around in circles. So, in a sense, everyone wins.

I did have one spot of trouble earlier in the weekend when Sam was out in the area where several of our neighbors’ back yards merge into one common area. She was in the neighbor’s back yard playing with some friends, so I was keeping one eye on her while I made dinner. During one check-in I noticed that another neighbor was talking to Sam and her friends, and judging by the body language involved it was not a friendly chat. By the time I got out there the neighbor had already departed, but I managed to glare at Sam enough to get her to admit that they had been throwing rocks at the nice lady’s flower pots and had broken some.

Groaning, I marched Sam over to the lady’s front door and made her apologize in person. We decided that she would come back the next day (it was late) and help clean up the mess, which is exactly what we did. I also made Sam write a note of apology and give it to the neighbor. Sam seemed appropriately upset over her actions, and I took the opportunity to not only reiterate that destroying other people’s property was bad (I’m almost positive this point had come up in casual conversation before) but that sometimes she had to be brave and stand up to her friends when they were doing something wrong –or listen to them if they did so with her. All in all I think I handled it okay. We’ll just have to see if dead rats and pottery shards start showing up in our mailbox.

October, 2010 Photo Dump (Part 2)

Halloween! Mandy changed her mind about what she wanted to be at fifteen minute intervals right up until the time she needed to get ready, but finally settled on a fairy. Samantha, on the other hand, had been resolute all along to engage in some gender bending and go as Harry Potter. We suggested Hermione, his female friend, but Sam was not going to play second fiddle (lyre, whatever) and wanted to be the main character. Good for her.

October, 2010 Photo Dump (Part 1)

Okay, here’s some photos of the kids from the early part of October. Figured I should get these out of the way before Halloween. Sam wishes to be Harry Potter (NOT Hermione), and Mandy changes her mind every time you ask her. Though as you can see, she has vampire teeth and a hula skirt. So maybe a vampire Hawaiian.

As you can see, Samantha lost one of her front teeth, giving her that coveted adorable gap-toothed hillbilly look. She wears it well and was quite excited to lose that particular tooth.

Mandy is turning into quite the little ham who will mug for the camera and perform silly dances on command if you catch her in the right mood. She really seems to love getting reactions out of people, and will make faces and prance around in front of them until she does. Great fun!

Summer 2010 Photo Dump

All summer long I’ve been meaning to put up some pictures of the girls, and all summer long I’ve been letting it slide. So instead of not doing it at all, I thought I could at least just do a huge photo dump. So here it is.

This covers a lot of ground, including lots of time at the pool, swim lessons, trips to the Farm, the 4th of July, our vacation in the Lake of the Ozarks, and culminating in Sammy’s first day in 1st grade. Of them all, this one is probably my favorite because of how it tells a little story. Enjoy.

Carnival Season, 2010.

It’s been a while since I posted anything about the girls, so I thought I’d throw up a few pictures I’ve taken during “carnival season 2010.” About this time of year the local churches and municipalities call in carnival companies employing people with more cigarettes in their mouthes than teeth to run rickety rides. The girls love it, of course, so we usually hit up a couple. There’s also some father’s day pics in there.

It’s worth calling out a few of the pictures below. This year Sam informed us that she wanted to go up on the tallest, scariest ride in the joint, which was this tower structure that took you up quite a ways before letting you free fall for a second or two on your way back down. Sam bravely strapped herself in, and I captures some of her reactions photographically. This is how she looked going up, this was captured during free fall on the way down, and this is the expression she walked around with for about half an hour afterwords.

She’s a little thrill seeker, I think.

Mandy, by the way, won second place in the coloring contest she’s seen working on here. None of us knows exactly what she’s won yet (we have to pick it up tomorrow), but whatever it is, Sam is absolutely, positively sure that she wants it.

Week 325: Pigs, Dances and Daddy Daughter Weekend

Just a quick multimedia sampling for you this week. Sam had her operatic debut in her school’s production of “The Three Little Piggies Opera,” which I was disappointed wasn’t sung in the original Italian. Sam played the part of “Brick Vendor #2” and while it wasn’t exactly a headliner role, she did impress us by actually knowing all the words to every other kid’s song. She also got to dress in a red hankerchief.

I also love this picture, because it proves that Sammy is good at “panting Rambos.” Which is a good skill to have.

Geralyn actually did capture the entire performance on video cassette, and while I had strong, virtually palpable intentions of transferring it and post it here, I kinda ran out of time. But I did grab this little bit where we captured Mandy’s song and dance routine while I was reacquainting myself with the camera. It even features the fabled “Mandy Dance” about 1:15 in. It’s kinda totally worth it.

The last couple of days have been a blur. Geralyn went out of town, leaving me to take care of the kids from Saturday morning through Sunday evening. I’ve never been the kind of dad who was afraid of stepping up to take care of his own kids –I still outweigh them and can still outsmart them most of the time– but I have a new appreciation for what Ger goes through every day. Rainy weather kept us indoors, but I started off strong, thinking I not only take care of the girls but do a load of laundry and mop the kitchen floor. I made it until early Saturday afternoon before deciding that I was utterly spent and that there would have been a very good chance that my children would die of starvation if the fruit snacks weren’t kept on the bottom pantry shelf. Fortunately I rallied my strength and things have gone pretty well.

All told, the weekend involved a donut breakfast, the gym (to work off the donut breakfast), a trip to the science museum, a “everybody make your own personal pizza” party, movie night, a Sunday school recital, a trip to the Butterfly House to replace the little plastic butterfly that got washed down the tub drain, and another movie night that should really be more accurately called a movie afternoon. Geez, I can’t wait for Geralyn to get home. Or the sun to come out and dry up all the rain. Either one.

Week 323: Easter!

Okay, ask me how much candy my kids ate. Ask me. Infinity! They ate infinity candy!

Well, at least they had a good time. We dyed eggs on Saturday, but the girls’ hearts weren’t in it because their neighbor kid was having a birthday party at the same time, to which they had also been invited. And they had a bouncy castle. And a clown. We had eggs and cups of bright liquids that smelled of vinegar, so both Sam and Mandy made their exit early. Mandy would periodically trek back up from the neighbors’ house, up our back porch, into the house, then back down to the basement to tell me things like “Daddy, there’s a clown!” This message delivered, she would then turn around, go back upstairs, go out to the porch, then back down to the neighbors’ house where the festivities were continuing.

Unfortunately in all the exuberance Mandy took a bit of a spill on the concrete patio outside the bouncy castle and kinda sorta busted her lip and scraped her cheek. So on Easter morning after she had gotten her enormous basket of candy I started telling everyone who asked that she had fought the Easter Bunny for his sugary loot. And won.

Sam also got candy, and one addition to her basket was a package of Pop Rocks that I had been hanging on to for a while. You remember Pop Rocks? Those little handfuls of sugar-coated gravel that would pop and snap inside your mouth and blow your head clean off if you combined them with Coke? Without telling Sam what to expect, I let her gobble a mouthfull and then documented the results:

The transition from frame 5 to frame 6 is my favorite.

Easter evening we had Geralyn’s entire family over to our house for an Easter party. Ask me how many family members were at our house. Ask me. Infinity! Infinity family members were at our house!

Not that it was bad in any way. In fact, the girls had more fun playing with their various cousins (and, in one case, trying to shove one of them down the play structure slide) and there was ANOTHER egg hunt with MORE candy. We had given up trying to regulate their candy intake about eight hours ago, so they pretty much gorged until they looked green in the face. When we finally tried to give them a bath around 9:30 that night, Sam had a total sugar crash. She just lay there in the tub, saying “I’m SO TIRED. I want to GO TO BED.” I squirted her in the face with cold water until she got out of the tub, which is also a good trick for teaching errant cats a lesson. At any rate, sleep was instant in coming, deep for its duration, and released reluctantly in the morning.

And yet, they both wanted candy for breakfast. But don’t worry; I only let them have a couple of pieces.

Week 322: Early Easter and RAWK

We got a bit of a head start on Easter as you can see from the pics below.

This was at some little Easter egg hunt at a local park, but they had a massive turnout. The kids were all segregated by age group, but over in the “Ages 1 to 3” lot Mandy had the advantage of being at the top of her age bracket. She put this to good use, sprinting ahead of the crowd when the whistle blew and throwing the occasional elbow into the face of the 18-month olds who got into her way. I had to do a lot of apologizing, but she scooped up the little plastic eggs by the armload and was well pleased with herself.

Sam didn’t quite do as well despite being at the top of her own age bracket. The differences between 6 and 4 are not as tower as between 3 and 1, for it seems that once you learn to walk and generally control your limbs it levels the playing field dramatically. Still, she did score one special egg containing a prize ticket that awarded her a stuffed animal. Because, you know. SHE NEEDS MORE STUFFED ANIMALS.

The girls spent the rest of the weekend playing with some stuff that their Aunt Shawn had mailed them a bit ahead of the holiday, including some sunglasses that they put to good use totally rocking out. Notice Sam’s tee shirt, please. She’s legit. What Mandy lacked in proper instruments, she more than made up for in sheer attitude and furiously banging two nondescript pieces of plastic together as hard as she could.

Week 320: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

As you can probably see, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day a little bit early at our church’s annual …whatsitcalled. Thing. Carnival. Event. There were games and food and beer. The girls partaked of two of the three.

Mandy has generally been on good behavior, but one event does bear mentioning. We had put her to bed for the evening and thought she was down to stay, but when Geralyn came upstairs to get ready for bed, she found that all of her fingernail polish bottles had been arranged on the bathroom counter and every one of them opened. The thing is that the mess you’d expect was nowhere to be seen. Not a drop of the stuff was anywhere, but it was too late and too dark to inspect Mandy so had to go to bed and lie awake for quite some time wondering what she’d look like when she bounded in to greet us in the morning. Turns out that she had actually done a fairly good job of painting just her fingernails (and one toe), without making a mess. So Geralyn let her redo the job with green fingernail polish in honor of St. Patrick.

Week 319

As you may be able to see from the picture above, Sam’s latest mania is Batman, fueled by our semi-regular evening sessions of Lego Batman. Like any good geek, she immediately clued into the fact that the best part of the whole Batman thing is the rogue’s gallery. Pictured above, from left to right, are Catwoman, The Riddler, and Man-Bat. She had also drawn Joker, Clayface, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, and Killer Moth, and Mad Hatter. The Poison Ivy one was actually really elaborate, with plants, flowers, and stuff.

Mandy’s new obsession, you can see, is scribbling on her own face with magic marker and then saying “ROWR! I’M A CAT!” Which make Sam mad, because she always wants to be Catwoman.

Week 318

The girls dug into one of the cabinets the other day and decided to ROCK OUT. And in this case, “rocking out” involved Sam’s bellowing songs about princesses and Batman while Mandy beat the ever living daylights out of a tiny toy piano. Rolling Stone has been notified.