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4 kittens

Every Ounce of Restraint

Posted on 2015.06.14 at 17:19
A Study In Jammies:

The mustache was then shaved off, but the portrait series does not include the final product.


At story time, Hawaii said, "Dad, could we please try to keep the toys and books a little more organized around here?"

Jammies turned colors and steam blew out his ears and I suppressed laughter, as Hawaii inadvertently eviscerated his whole core reason for being. "HONEY," he growled in a stilted voice, "That is why...I am always...asking you guys...to pick up the books and the toys."  Hawaii said, "I KNOW. It's just always messy in here."

NB: it is only messy to Jammies and Hawaii. It's really a quite reasonablely contained mess.


On Saturday we took the kids to Schlitterbahn, which is a waterpark time-travel adventure.  (Actually there's a new half and an old half, and you take a tram back and forth. Obviously I'm a snob about the old half.)

Old Schlitterbahn is like this:

The chutes are so wide that it creates vortexs, and your inner tube is constantly getting stuck in the backswirls. You must actively paddle to continue down the ride.  Every 30 yards or so, there's a vortex so big that they station a college kid (as pictured) whose job is to stand in the water and give you a shove past.

The old half is run on Comal river water. It's not chlorinated, there are small bits of debris with you in the water, and some of the rides let you out in the river. There are mature trees hanging over everything.

It feels like it was planned by a 1950s set designer with a vision of a treehouse water park. It's all connected by oddball paths - "you've got to climb upstairs first to get to the staircase that lets you down there" - and the chutes mingle and cut across pedestrian walkways, so that you could touch the tubers and  they can splash you. You're allowed to bring in your own food.

People arrive early to claim picnic tables, and then they just leave their coolers and towels and food sitting out on that picnic table all day. Even the social etiquette is anachronistic.

The new half of Schlitterbahn features the Master Blaster, The World's Only Uphill Water Coaster:

aka the world's dumbest water ride.  (See the part at the beginning of the ride, how it goes down and then right back up. With those vertical pipes pumping water into the low part, so that they can start flowing you uphill.)

On what planet is going uphill the fun part of anything? Whee, the surging water is heaving my bulk up and over this hill so that we can continue with the sensible dowhill portion. What fun listening to the water audibly groaning as it struggles.

We left Ace and Rascal with a babysitter.  We revelled in the ease and simplicity of parenting older children.


On Monday, I exercised just fine. On Tuesday, I exercised but was not fine. On Wednesday, my temperature spiked and I finally called the doctor. The on-call doctor prescribed Cipro.

I diagnosed myself as having an internal infection, because my incision sites were all fine, but my gut was tender and felt sloshy, and the fever responded quickly to the Cipro. On Thursday I felt somewhat better, and then on Friday pretty much able to exercise again. (Thank you, Cipro. You're also a helluva drug.)


Hawaii asked me, "How do you spell 'cranky'?" and I mustered every single ounce of restraint and gave her a straightforward answer. There, that was my parenting moment of the year.

She would sprint to the front of the house and ask, "How do you spell 'bother'? As in, 'that person is BOTHERING me!" and I'd spell it for her and she'd sprint back, and then sprint to the front again to ask, "How do you spell 'great'? As in, 'this is really great!' "

I really loved her context sentences so that I'd know which bother or great or cranky homonym she needed.  Eventually she produced this survey of favorites:

I don't know where the words cranky, bother, and great ended up being used; clearly more has been written behind my back. I'm fond of her chart, though.

I am having consultations with tattoo artists. My favorite so far is this one up in Austin. He is serious and maybe a bit of a dimbulb. "I am not artistic and I will not help you with your design, but they call me a perfect xerox machine," he said solemnly. "Perfect!" I said, "I want exact copies of these cats."

I had a list of prepared questions. "What makes this tattoo challenging?" I asked him.
"Honestly, nothing," he answered earnestly, "This tattoo will be really easy for me."
That was reassuring.
"In fact, I would have turned it down, but your story with the cancer and all is really powerful and meaningful," he continued.
"Oh no!" I yelped, "I don't actually have cancer now. It's just preventative."
"Still," he argued, "It's still a big deal."
"Sure," I agreed.

So aside from misgivings that I'm cashing in on misplaced cancer sympathy, I think he's my guy.


"We have a lot of children!" Ace says sometimes, being charming and conversational. Also she uses the word "favorite" a lot - "this is my fav-o-rite!" - pronounced laboriously but contextually teeny-bopper, when an upbeat song comes on the radio or whatever.

Her daily dedication to coloring all over her arms and legs and clothes, that part sucks. "Marking the tires" we call it, letting the whole world know that she hasn't gotten a bath as the marker stains linger.

Hawaii asked us about the orphan song, and we drew a blank. But we happened to catch it on the radio:
Give it to me
Baby I'm worth it
Give it to me
Baby I'm worth it.

"See?" she said, "Baby I'm an orphan. What's this song about?"
"I think she wants something," we said absent-mindedly, glad for the easy dodge.


I read this article about the history of using children as research subjects.  They describe an experiment from the 30s where they tried to induce stuttering in some orphans who hadn't previously stuttered, and I thought, "Oh yes, Grandma told me about this experiment! The orphans started stuttering!" But according to the article, the orphans did not start stuttering, but they did develop emotional problems from being berated.

Then the article went on to say that the study had never been published, and was uncovered in 2001 by a reporter, which led to a $700,000 settlement by the University of Iowa in 2007 for the remaining participants.  Then it clicked: my grandmother hadn't read at some point about the study - one of her graduate school friends at Iowa was actually the graduate student who did the study, and Grandma was (incorrectly) recollecting her fellow student's experience. I felt the satisfaction of being a very small detective over that.


My mom often says that she was good for about three hours of parenting, when we were little, and then she needed a break. It recently dawned on me how literally that applies to me, too.  For three hours, I can parent well, and be patient, and think ahead, and have energy for diapers and tears and so on.  But that is enough.  The work week is great - three hours in the morning and three in the evening - done.

(Parenting that doesn't include playing with children. I'm constitutionally unable to enjoy playing with children. I like to talk with them and read books with them, and occasionally I can stand parallel play where I'm doing my own thing next to them, but they must play by themselves.)


Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2015-06-14 22:51 (UTC) (Link)

Playing with kids

Holy hell, me too.

Dr. Skull could play with her by the hour. I could read to her, and cook with her, and take her for walks, teach her Latin -- whatever. But put me down there with the blocks and small dinosaurs, and we were DOOMED.

heebie_geebie at 2015-06-16 15:59 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Playing with kids

It's so fucking boring. I'll get down there with the best of intentions, play for a while, consult the clock, and discover all of 2 minutes has elapsed. By 3 minutes, I'm checking the internet on my phone.
mistersmearcase at 2015-06-15 04:33 (UTC) (Link)

I like that place. I only went once, and it was during my year of sorta-nervous-breakdown and I was too anxious to do much of anything other than the lazy river stuff but eventually I took a Xanax and went down a big slide, and it was fun.

Also when I worked at Borders this one guy would sing the jingle from the commercial to annoy us. It just went "Schlitterbahn! Schlitterbahn!"
heebie_geebie at 2015-06-16 15:58 (UTC) (Link)
The hottest coolest time in Texas! I'm very curious as to whether you were in the old or new half - it's possible to go to one half and not really know the other half exists. Jammies and I had our very first fight more or less about that exact subject.
(Anonymous) at 2015-06-15 14:23 (UTC) (Link)


Hi Heebie. Long time reader, first time commenter. My father in law first directed me to Unfogged back when we were both pregnant with our now 6 year olds. I have been creepily reading you here since then THAT'S NOT WEIRD RIGHT? Anyway, I totally am with you on the playing with kids. I am one of those people summarily perplexed that other people would actually choose to play with little kids all day as their living. And I am glad to find other people brave enough to say it!! heh. ok better go back to lurk land.
sincerely, a fellow mom
heebie_geebie at 2015-06-16 15:54 (UTC) (Link)

Re: agreed

No kidding! It was the admission of my hatred of play that de-lurked you - that's kind of amusing. Also, I have bloggers that I've read (creepily?) for that long or longer without ever speaking up, and perhaps you are one of them if you happen to blog elsewhere, secretly.

So, rather pleasant to meet you!
Kelly Jennings
Kelly Jennings at 2015-06-15 22:02 (UTC) (Link)


I forgot to say!

Hawaii's handwriting is so IMPRESSIVE!

My kid is 17 and her handwriting is not that good yet. Congratulate Hawaii for me! Well done, you, H!
heebie_geebie at 2015-06-16 15:55 (UTC) (Link)

Re: OH!

I know!! Her handwriting exceeds Jammies' handwriting by far. (His is atrocious, even though he struggles to print as clearly as possible. He writes in all caps because otherwise he can't read his own writing.)
Will Truman
trumwill at 2015-06-17 19:23 (UTC) (Link)

Schlitterbahn. Sigh

I had a dream about Schlitterbahn just a couple nights ago. I woke up lamenting that I would have to make my way back to Texas (or find an excuse to go to KC, but I don't think any of the satellites can compare to NB) to go there again, and it may be a while before the little ones are old enough.

heebie_geebie at 2015-06-22 02:49 (UTC) (Link)

Re: Schlitterbahn. Sigh

Our little ones stayed at home with a babysitter. By the time your little ones are old enough, bring them by and we can all go together!
rebeccastob at 2015-06-18 16:06 (UTC) (Link)
I totally agree about the playing with children. I think that was one great benefit of having the kids so close together - they almost always had each other to play with so it lessened my (not very great) guilt about not being that kind of mom. P just turned 6 last week (and I've been reading and commenting I believe since before I was pregnant with her) and had her last day of Kindergarten this week. Next year all my kids will be in school! It's so much more fun and less expensive! She really has pretty good handwriting as well and keeps writing all kinds of notes - like when I wouldn't let her get a sandwich at Starbucks she wrote me a note that said "I love you so much and I wanted a sandwich at Starbucks" it was cute.
heebie_geebie at 2015-06-22 02:52 (UTC) (Link)
I remember! I remember you commenting back when the 2 or 3 months between P and Hawaii actually meant a developmental difference. That is going back a looooong time. It's really very nice and flattering to have a longtime reader or two.

That is a super cute note.
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