Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Bunny Trail

       Oh, my God it's Easter already! Well, it's just a short week away, anyway. Can you believe it? Easter is a great holiday. Like Christmas it has both religious and secular traditions. The religious aspects of the holiday are complex and philosophical, as religious concepts tend to be, and the secular aspects are whimsical and fun. But when you stop to think of it, the secular aspects of Easter, and Christmas for that matter, are actually based on religious concepts from an earlier time, concepts of an older, pagan religion that our ancestors practiced. (The word Easter is derived from Eastre, the pagan goddess of spring and fertility, of rebirth and renewal after the darkness and hardship of winter. The rabbit was her favored animal because of its reproductive abilities.)  So in some ways the religious and secular aspects of Easter are complimentary, both aspects reflecting a belief in renewal and eternal life.

Of course, when it comes to Kiley and Mackey I am basically stressing the secular aspects of the coming holiday. It goes without saying that for preschoolers the concepts of the Easter Bunny, Easter eggs, and a basket full of candy are a lot easier to grasp than the concepts of the trinity and the resurrection. Try explaining original sin to a three-year-old. I'll leave their religious instruction to their parents where it belongs.

And so I have been talking up the Easter Bunny for the past week or so, getting my two charges primed for a trip to the mall and personal acquaintance with good old Peter Cottontail. It started off small with an offhand remark about maybe going to see the Easter Bunny next week. They didn't object to the idea though I'm not sure they fully understood what I was alluding to. "The Easter Bunny? Okay." Kiley was only two last Easter so I doubt she remembers a whole lot of detail about that event. Mackey was no more than eight months old and, therefore, remembers none of it.

Over the following week I kept the idea alive and growing in their pliant minds by repeatedly bringing up the subject and elaborating on what might possibly be done in the presence of the Easter Bunny – sitting on his lap, pictures, maybe a free giveaway or two. I used excited tones and expressions when talking about the Easter Bunny and that soon rubbed of on the little ones. It wasn't long before they were absolutely thrilled with the idea of going to see the Easter Bunny. They couldn't wait. It got to the point where I was using the promised trip down the "bunny trail" to elicit good behavior – "You'd better finish all of your lunch if you want to go see the Easter Bunny." – "Do you want to see the Easter Bunny? Then you'd better pick those toys up like I asked you to!"

Over the next few days leading up to the promised nirvana, it was all they could talk about. "When are we going to see the Easter Bunny?" Is it time to go see the Easter Bunny yet?" By the time the appointed day arrived, last Thursday, they were in an absolute Easter Bunny frenzy. Breakfast that morning was a fiasco. They were too excited to eat very much and, since it was I who had created the situation, I didn't push the issue. In late morning Uncle Time and I got them ready to go the mall amid their shouts of "Easter Bunny!" Mackey's exclamation was more along the lines of " 'unny!" but no less excited. It was supposed to be a warm day, which is why we picked it for our sojourn, but as we were stowing them into the car it began to pour rain. Oh, well. There was no turning back now. That would have resulted in an ugly mutiny, so off into the storm we went.

Luckily the downpour was short lived and by the time we pulled into the mall parking lot the rain had stopped and it was a warm and pleasant day. We piled them out of the car and into the double stroller, Kiley in the front and Mackey in the rear, amid expressions of excited impatience. Being a Thursday morning the mall was pretty empty, inhabited mostly by elderly people in jogging attire using the mall as a safe and pleasant place to take their morning constitutional. We headed straight for the Easter Bunny who had set up shop in the usual place, the open area in front Penny's. As we rolled down the aisle toward the Promised Land they could barely contain themselves, hooting and hollering with fists held high amid triumphant shouts of "Easter Bunny!" and " 'unny!" eliciting warm smiles from the elderly folks in jogging attire.

At last we reached our destination and it was sublime. They had gone all out and the display was adorable. A little, white-picket-fence surrounded the entire thing with pretty shrubs and tulips everywhere, and colored eggs scattered throughout. In the middle of it all, on a throne of great opulence, sat the object of our girls' longing, the Easter Bunny himself. I have seen many an Easter Bunny in my time but I must say that this was by far the best. No huge, plastic, painted, and lifeless rabbit head topping some flimsy and garish outfit here. No, this was done right. This Easter Bunny was dressed in an elegant coat with long tails, under which he wore a vest and a large, though tasteful, bow tie. In the pocket of the vest was apparently a watch (shades of Alice In Wonderland) for you could see the watch chain. His lower half was donned in appropriate, though colorful, pants and he wore a small top hat on his head. And it was his head that was the piece de resistance. No huge, plastic thing, for us, this rabbit head was perfectly proportional to the body and was covered with actual, brownish fur! The ears were long and furry with one cocked to the side as if he were listening to something. He wore a pair of wire rimmed glasses that sat comfortably on his little pink nose which twitched periodically in a very lifelike way. His paws, sticking out from the sleeves of his coat, were furry as well. If there was an actual, living, breathing Easter Bunny, this was what it would look like. He was spectacularly well done and absolutely adorable. At least I thought so.

As we wheeled around to the front of the display and the Easter Bunny, in all his glory, came into the view of the two stroller-bound celebrants, all shouts, cheers, and exclamations of excitement ceased. Silence descended like a storm cloud and reigned supreme. Kileys mouth popped open, and her eyes bugged out of her head as her face went as white as a bride, her expression turning from one of joy to one of blank horror. Mackey sat stunned into silence, a rare condition for her, and froze in a reflexive state of immobility, triggered by an instinctive need for self-preservation. I don't know what they had been expecting, but this wasn't it.

Being a Thursday morning, there were no other children in the vicinity, so all eyes were on my two as I tried to coax them into the full Easter Bunny experience. "Do you want to see the Easter Bunny?" Do you want to go sit on his lap?" There was no reply, just shocked stares. The Easter Bunny's assistant swung open the gate in the little, white-picket-fence as a gesture of welcome, and the Easter Bunny himself began waving and blowing kisses at the girls! Kiley stiffened. Then, to top it all off, the Easter Bunny raised one hairy paw and began beckoning to the frozen pair. At this, Kiley's mouth opened even wider, her eyes bulged even further, and "her face, at first just ghostly, turned a whiter shade of pale."

It was pretty apparent that there was going to be no Easter Bunny lap sitting today, but the assistant, hopeful to the end, tried one more time. "Come on girls, want to see the Easter Bunny?" Kiley began swinging her head back and forth in a silent and continuous negative, never taking her eyes off of the horror on the Bunny Throne. Mackey didn't speak or move a muscle, but the expression on her face left no doubt that were she able to break her paralysis and utter a reply it would be something along the lines of –"Easter Bunny? No, now's not really a good time for me. I'm awfully busy this morning. Besides, I'm probably going to be pooping here in minute or two and that might be awkward. Can I have a rain check? Maybe tomorrow."

"Okay", I said relieving their anxiety, "let's go to the Disney Store." The Easter Bunny's assistant handed me two pair of paper bunny ears as a consolation, but when I tried to put them on their heads they would have none of it. They didn't even want to look at them. As we rolled away from the scene, Kiley kept looking back, still unable to accept what her eyes were conveying to her brain. Mackey just stared ahead, quietly trying to come to grips with what she had just experienced.

A half hour in the Disney Store and a couple of small purchases of their choosing did wonders to restore their equilibrium, and some fries at the food court returned them to near normal. We then packed it in and went home. That was four days ago. The intervening weekend returned them to me with calmed nerves and a fresh perspective. Today they were wearing their bunny ears and bragging about how they had gone to see the Easter Bunny. I assured them that you don't have sit on his lap for the Easter Bunny to visit your house and leave candy. That seemed to please them. It will be another whole week before the Easter Bunny comes to their house and spreads his joy. They can barely wait.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Tummy Ache

        Ooooh, my tummy.  Kiley came in bright and early Monday morning with a stomach virus. Because she was sick, her mother had tried to make it easier on me by having her own mother watch Kiley that day while I looked after Mackey, but I knew that “Mom-mom” had work to do so I went over and took Kiley off her hands. She looked so pathetic! She had been throwing up the night before and felt miserable. A stomach virus is the worst. I personally would rather be sick in any other way and I am sure Kiley was feeling the same way. She just lay on the sofa, crying every now and then, and looking wrung out and listless. She couldn’t get comfortable.

Food, of course, was out of the question but liquids are always a must and therein lies the problem. Preschoolers can be fragile things when it comes to dehydration. Believe me I have had some bad experiences with that. You have to keep them hydrated, but with a stomach virus everything that goes in wants to come out. So there I am trying to get her to take small sips of water, flat soda, juice, tea, anything liquid and hoping that her stomach will be able to handle small doses. For the most part it did. She was miserable all day but she wasn’t throwing up.

“Uncle Tom” was home, which helped. She went from lying on the sofa and looking miserable to sitting on his lap and looking not quite as miserable, so that was an improvement. He looked a little miserable himself, knowing that stomach viruses are “catchy”, but she needed him so he was willing to take the risk. He did a lot of hand washing that day.

Kiley was not having a good time, obviously, but with her being sidelined Mackey was in her glory. She was running wild and in a real good mood. I kept looking for signs of sickness in her but she seemed fine. There were a few close calls when I caught Mackey trying to sneak a drink from Kiley’s cup but other than that she was great and spent most of the day entertaining herself.

By mid-afternoon Kiley perked up and seemed a lot better. Her stomach wasn’t hurting and she had more energy. She had been begging for milk all day because that is her favorite drink but I had been holding her off from that fearing it would not sit well with a bad tummy. The amount of other liquids she had consumed was miniscule and I was worrying about dehydration so, since she was feeling better, I figured I’d let her try a little milk just to get some liquid into her. Mistake!!!  About a half hour later her stomach ache came back with a vengeance. I was carrying her around the kitchen and trying to console her when I saw from her expression that the worst was about to happen. We made it to the sink just in time and she let go of most of the liquid I had so painstakingly gotten her to consume throughout the day. On top of that the violence of the eruption caused her to pee as well, all down the front of me and onto the floor. Well, at least I knew she wasn’t dehydrated yet. After I got everything cleaned up, she fell into a deep sleep on the sofa for a few hours. That was good for all of us.

She was sick for the next three days, though the first day was the worst day. She never ran more than a slight fever and though her painful stomach kept her liquid intake down she never became dehydrated. Freeze-Pops worked really good in that regard. She likes them. By Thursday she was her normal self and everything seemed to be getting back to normal until Thursday night.  After dinner on Thursday I started having the experience of feeling not all that well. Within a couple of hours I was full blown sick and stayed that way for the next three days. Kiley and Mackey had to be watched by their grandmother on Friday because I was totally out of commission. It wasn’t really until Sunday that I recovered and even then I felt weak and “off my feed”. I still feel a little out of it now as I am writing this.

Mackey and Uncle Tom dodged the bullet and never did get sick, at least not yet, and since a week has passed since Kiley came down with it they are probably out of the woods. Kiley’s mom and dad never got sick either, nor did her grandmother, just me. Maybe this particular virus is transmitted through urine and since I am the only one who was bathed with said pee, I was the only one infected. It’s a theory anyway. Looking on the bright side I lost five pounds this weekend, the hard way to be sure, but I’ll take it.  My youngest is getting married at the end of May and I have to squeeeeeeze into a tight dress for the occasion. In fact a couple of more days with my head in the toilet might not be so bad if I can shed another five. Dang, why didn’t I save some of that virus transmitting pee I mopped up off the kitchen floor?  Oh well, hindsight is always twenty- twenty.


Monday, March 16, 2015


There were never such devoted sisters.

        Do you remember that song from the movie "White Christmas"? It was written by Irving Berlin, and it expresses, in a very light hearted but effective way, the dichotomous clash between devotion and competition that is at the heart of the relationship between sisters. Kiley and Mackey are sisters. One is three and the other is eighteen months old, and, being preschoolers, they are together all day every day. They are a team. They play together, watch TV together, eat their meals together, and sleep in the same room. With that much contact it is remarkable how well they get along together. They adore one another. They rarely get angry with each other. They share everything without conflict or complaint. Each is always looking out for the best interests of the other without any thought of, or concern for, themselves. They epitomize the concept of loving devotion. They are kind and generous to one another, calm and reasonable whenever the rare disagreement does occur.  Selfless and self-sacrificing, caring and considerate, faithful and thoughtful, they fill the house with warmth and tranquility and make every day a paradise of joy and serenity. Yeah, as if!

        The other day Mackey was playing happily without a care in the world when she picked up a small toy. It was nothing special, merely one toy figurine from the mountain of toys that have sprouted up in my family room and occupied every nook and cranny of my once neat and orderly house. Unfortunately, as unimportant and inconsequential as this particular bauble was, in Kiley's mind it fell within the wide category of objects that she defines as "hers". Upon noticing the transgression, Kiley's face changed from an expression of calm normalcy to one of cold outrage. She pounced on her beloved sister, and grabbing her by the wrist was intent on wresting the desired object from her possession, but Mackey, realizing what was happening, was too quick for her. She broke free and ran. This, however, was merely a temporary reprieve from the inevitable. At eighteen months Mackey is rough and tumble, stout and strong, she is brave and doesn't back down, but she is no match for Kiley, who is larger and has a three-year-old's speed, agility, and coordination. "Kiley!" I said in a raised voice and warning tone, but this had no effect as the curly haired hound from hell closed in on her fleeing prey. She was "in the zone" and words alone were not going to deter her. She quickly caught up with Mackey and, forcing her to the floor, held her down as she began to pry the disputed treasure from her chubby little grip, all the while ignoring her sister's kicks and screams of protest, a look of intense determination on her face. I intervened, returned the item to it's original possessor, and put Kiley in "Time Out" with a lecture about sharing and the rights of possession which I'm sure went in one ear, mixed with her tears, and went right out the other. It will take many such battles for a three-year-old to learn true generosity. Ah, the tranquility!

        The older Mackey becomes the more they compete. Our day always begins with the same routine. The car pulls up in the driveway with the girls in their car seats in the back, Kiley facing forward and Mackey facing to the rear. They always seem excited to see me, which I love. Originally, I would get Kiley out of the car and carry her into the house while their mother would take care of Mackey.  Me carrying Kiley into the house each morning is a routine that was established before Mackey was born. A few weeks ago, however, Mackey started wanting me to carry her into the house as well and each day became more and more adamant that I do so (Mackey wants to emulate her big sister in many things). It soon became an issue that I thought to solve by carrying them both into the house one at a time. This solution was only partially successful in that they soon began to battle over who would be first to benefit from my carrying services each morning. I now try to alternate days, carrying Kiley first one day and Mackey first the next, which placates them only to the degree that a three-year-old and an eighteen-month-old can keep such a pattern straight in their heads from day to day. "Calm down Mackey, you went first yesterday."

        Kiley and Uncle Tom have always had a coffee making ritual that they share. They have a number of rituals which they share, actually: an Uncle Tom coming home from work ritual, an Uncle Tom going to bed after working the night shift ritual, an Uncle Tom carrying Kiley out to the car ritual, etc. They were all created before Mackey was born. The coffee making ritual is, by far, the most elaborate one.

        In the coffee making ritual, Uncle Tom turns the coffee maker on then picks up Kiley and holds her in his left arm so she can help him make the coffee. First he opens the cabinet and she takes his coffee cup out and puts it on the counter. Then he looks at her and she says, "spoon". He gets a spoon from the drawer and hands it to her. Then he looks at her and she says, "sugar". She hands him the spoon and he doles out the desired amount of sugar and puts it into the cup. Then he looks at her and she says, "blue", which means a blue packet of Equal, the artificial sweetener. (Yes, Uncle Tom takes sugar and Equal. He has very particular tastes.) He hands her a packet of Equal, which she shakes to get the contents to gravitate to the bottom of the packet, tears open the top, and pours it into the cup. He walks her over the trashcan and leans down so she can open the trashcan and throw away the empty packet. Next he pours coffee into the cup. He looks at her and says, "hot", and she nods. He stirs the coffee. He looks at her again and she says, "milk". He opens the fridge, takes out the jug of milk, and hands it to her. She says, "it's heavy", regardless of how much milk is actually in the jug and unscrews the cap. She hands him back the jug and he pours the appropriate amount of milk into the cup. He holds the jug while she screws the cap back on then hands her the jug. She says, "it's heavy". He opens the fridge, she hands him the jug, he puts it in the fridge and she closes the door. He says, "thank you". She says, "you're welcome". Then they go sit on the sofa with Kiley in his lap and he drinks his coffee while they argue over what to watch on TV. This is all very strange, I know, but it's also sweet to watch. It is one of the ways they express affection for each other.

        Mackey is now old enough that she has begun to join in on some of the rituals, especially the Uncle Tom going to bed after working the night shift ritual, which involves three kisses and three hugs (one of each for each of us), three blown kisses, and three "ni-nights". Kiley encourages her to join in and originally coached Mackey in what to do. That is all very heart warming and sweet, but some things are special and not everything can be shared. Now that Mackey is older, Uncle Tom will eventually create rituals that are specific to her and that only they will share because, well, that's just what he does. He had better do it soon.  Last Friday when Uncle Tom came down to greet them in the morning, Mackey seemed unusually overjoyed to see him. When he picked her up she pointed to the coffee maker. I smell trouble brewing.

        In spite of the sarcastic nature of the first paragraph above, Kiley and Mackey truly are devoted to each other. Their days together really are punctuated with many expressions of affection toward each other (and fighting), sharing (and fighting), cooperation (and fighting), mutual fun (and fighting), and enjoyment of each other. In other words they are typical sisters. Who would want it any other way?


Monday, March 9, 2015



         Close to nineteen months ago, on a hot August day, Kiley underwent a profound metamorphosis. She had spent the first nineteen months of her life as an only child, a unique object of affection and, you could even say, adoration. That's not to say that she was spoiled or pampered in any way. Adoration aside, her mother is a very down to earth no nonsense type who doesn't allow her motherly devotion to interfere with her motherly duties. Raising children is a delicate balance between the overwhelming love we feel for our offspring and the overwhelming sense of responsibility we feel for their proper upbringing. Some people, understandably, have difficulty balancing the two, and depending on which way the scale tips can either over or under indulge their children, resulting in either spoiling them on the one hand or impeding their ability to form a healthy sense of self esteem on the other. Kiley's mother has no such difficulty. The ability to strike that delicate balance seems to come naturally to her and is a testament to her own upbringing (in which I played a small part.) But getting back to the point, at nineteen months of age, Kiley stopped being an only child and transformed into that most extraordinary and mysterious of earthly creatures, the "sister". In other words, in August of 2013, through the benevolent efforts of her parents, McKinley Renae was born, otherwise known as "Mackey".

As my husband is fond of saying, Mackey is a "funny little squib". At nineteen months of age she is exhibiting her individual personality, and I think everyone who knows her would agree she's a regular pistol. She is showing a real sense of humor, which is unusual for someone who is just learning to talk. She actually makes jokes from time to time. It's unbelievable. Granted, they are primitive attempts at humor, being fashioned by someone with about a twenty-word vocabulary and a limited understanding of the world, and they primarily consist of unusual or ridiculous responses to questions or statements, but they are obviously intended to elicit laughter from her "audience". Saying, "yes" instead of an appropriate "no", for instance, is apparently the height of humor to her and though we don't always get the point, she does and thinks it's hilarious. She is always laughing.

She has a way of looking at people out of the corner of her eye with a sly kind of expression that my husband finds adorable. "What are you looking at?" he'll say, and she'll reply with a knowing smile. She's kind of "rough and tumble" and has a swagger in her walk. She's presents a tough exterior to the world but underneath she's a drama queen. When she gets a little boo-boo it's like the end of the world- oh, the wailing! - the tears! - the burying of her face in your neck! Calming her down takes forever and usually requires some kind of distraction.

She is an accomplished dancer, especially when dancing to the "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Song" which we have on a disc. Unfortunately, she only wants to dance to the first three stanzas. Once they sing "Forever let us hold our banners high, high, high, high" and she has raised her right fist and shouted "high" along with them, she insists that we start it over at the beginning. After starting it over for the thousandth time, that gets old. "Just let it play, Mackey!" But she is like that. She likes certain things and certain specific parts of things. Her favorite movie is "Lilo And Stitch" which she has to watch every morning on a portable DVD player while she eats her breakfast. But once more, she wants to watch her favorite part of the movie over and over and over again, the part in the very beginning where the little girls are dancing while the credits roll.  Unfortunately, she can't operate the machine herself and I am busy at breakfast time so her stubborn insistence can cause a situation. "Just let it play, Mackey!"  Kiley can operate the machine, however, so she is a big help in these situations. Having a tech savvy three-year-old in the house can be a Godsend.

Toddlers go through "phases" where they latch onto new experiences and stick with those new behaviors and activities for a time before moving on to something else. Mackey's latest idiosyncrasy is "whispering". She will come up and whisper to you in a confidential way as if imparting some kind of deep secret. There are no actual words involved, just a whispering sound and a secretive air. You are required to whisper back, of course, and she always let's you know that she understands what has been exchanged by giving a quick nod or whispered " 'kay" before moving on to some other activity. She has also become fond of pushing her baby doll around in a play stroller, endlessly. Through the family room, through the kitchen, all around the house Mackey and her baby are going for a walk. And the doll looks like her - a Cabbage Patch with a chubby face and short, curly, blonde hair. Mackey is a good mother.

Mackey is a good baby too. She loves to eat and loves to laugh. She likes Daisy Duck. She likes dancing, hiding, and playing with flashlights. She loves Mister Pickles and building forts. She burps as loud as she can whenever possible. She is smart, sweet, funny, and affectionate. She is tough and teary, a cut-up and a cuddler, half little sweetie and half linebacker. She is both a worthy opponent and loving little sister to Kiley, and a tender little treasure and brutish little bandit to me. Having her with us for the past year and a half has lit up our lives, melted our hearts, and filled our home with warmth and laughter. She is a cherished and beloved addition to our daily lives. How were we ever happy without her?


Monday, March 2, 2015

Kiley At Three

        Three years old! I can't believe it. Kiley is three years old. How can that be? It seems like it was just last week that she was only one year old. Okay, bad joke, but seriously, time really does fly. When we were first thrown together three years ago Kiley was just a tiny little larva with eyes too big for her face and abilities that were limited to eating, sleeping, crying and pooping. Now she is a walking, talking, climbing, jumping, affectionate, loving, obstinate, tantrum throwing, fashion conscious, potty-trained, fully formed little person.

At three, Kiley now has her own opinions, at least on subjects she is knowledgeable about such as "Barbie" (a cartoon you would not believe!), cinnamon rolls, and whether or not her sister has an inalienable right to certain objects and behaviors. She also has her own way of looking at things. In other words she has her own personality, and like all three-year-olds, and all people for that matter, she is one part angel and one part devil.

The angel part of her nature is most likely to express itself in the morning when she first arrives at "Nan's" house (bright and early at 6:30am). When I go out to the car to greet her in the morning she is usually overjoyed to see me. She loves Nan and loves coming to Nan's house. That said, the first word out of her mouth when I open the car door every morning is " Tom?" meaning "Is Uncle Tom home?" When the answer is "yes" it is an extra special day for her. She is usually very pleasant in the morning (whether Uncle Tom is home or not). She arrives still in her "jamas" and is generally loath to change them for regular clothes. I don't know if that is because she prefers "jamas" to regular clothes or whether she just doesn't want to go through all the effort of changing. I suspect it is the latter.

        Breakfast can sometimes be a struggle because Kiley is not a big eater. She doesn't seem to really like to eat, unless it is cinnamon rolls, and I generally have to coax and coerce her into devouring the proper nutrients in the morning. I am not always successful in this regard and have the same problem at lunchtime. She often seems to be able to run all day without eating and without getting hungry. Where does she get the energy? Her metabolic processes must be unnaturally efficient. Or maybe she's cold blooded, you know, part reptile. Snakes and the like can go for weeks or more on a single rat, and Kiley can go all day on a single bowl of Rice Krispies if you let her (you can't give her Lucky Charms because she just picks out the marshmallows and eats just them). She likes fruit, especially bananas, and her favorite vegetable is green beans. She loves anything that tastes like mint. She drinks milk and fruit juice all day and she still prefers a sippy cup to a big-girl-cup, which is fine with me and with my carpets.

        Her tastes in TV programming have evolved over time with her favorite show progressing from the initial "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" (insipid Disney) to "Doc McStuffins" (cute and clever Disney) to "Tickety Toc" (bizarre alternate reality) to "Barbie" (campy parody on the perennial glamour doll) and finally to her present favorite 'Bo On The Go" (a children's animated exercise program). Added to regular programming are her favorite animated movies: "Lilo And Stitch" (destructive alien bonds with destructive little girl),  "The Croods" (caveman family evolves), "Brave" (red-haired Celtic princess learns lessons), and, of course "Fozen" (Disney's version of  "The Snow Queen"). And, not surprisingly, there are various less favored favorites of both categories too numerous to mention. That said, Kiley uses the TV primarily for just background noise the way I do. She is usually far to busy with other things to really pay attention to what is on the tube.

        The angel part of her nature dominates until approximately mid-afternoon. Mid-afternoon is the time when she normally begins to get tired. And that is where the devil part of her nature hides, in tiredness. As is normally the case with small children, tired equals cranky, and cranky equals impatience, obstinence, temper, selfishness, and rebellion.

        The cure for all of this, as every mother knows, is naptime. Unfortunately, because the devil part of her nature with its obstinate rebelliousness dominates at naptime, it is often very hard to get Kiley to actually take a nap. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink, and you can make a little girl lie down but you can't make her sleep, not when she doesn't want to. And she never wants to. Sleep is boring. Sleep takes her away from the things she wants to do in spite of her crankiness. Sleep is unfair and unjust. Sleep is her enemy.

        And so I have to circumvent her natural objection to naptime, and there are various strategies I have developed to accomplish the impossible. "Lie down and close your eyes" accomplishes nothing, one must be more subtle, more clever, more devious. It is deviousness that separates man from the beasts of the field, and fifty-nine years of living have honed my inherent deviousness to a sharp point. The crux of any sleep inducing strategy must be misdirection. Don't say the word "nap", don't say the word "sleep", don't say the phrase "lie down". In lieu of all of these, simply use the phrase "let's watch a movie". Then off handedly suggest that the best vantage point from which to watch said movie might be the sofa. Next, simply inquire: "where's "Snuggy"?"  Once "Snuggy" has been obtained, "Frozen" put on, and the sofa occupied, just lie down yourself. Don't suggest that she lie down as well. That will create suspicion. Simply lie down on the sofa and a three-year-old's natural inclination to cuddle will do the rest. Once she is cuddled, just slowly begin to rub her softly on the back, just barely touching her skin with the tips of your fingers and before you know it, "voila", sleep happens. There are many variations of this same strategy, and they should be employed randomly in order to avoid any detection of a pattern. Once she falls asleep, Kiley is out for a couple of hours.  Ah, blessed is quiet and gentle sleep, especially for the one not sleeping. Small children need sleep in the afternoon. You just have to coax them into it.

        By the time Kiley awakens, it is only a short time before her mother comes to pick her up and another day is done. Off she goes to the car to be buckled in amid a plethora of hugs and kisses and promises of tomorrow, a process that takes at least fifteen minutes. More kisses are blown as the car pulls away then it's time to make dinner. She'll be back again in the morning, bright and early, and another day of adventure will begin. And such is our daily life together, interspersed with trips, activities, and surprises to keep things interesting for both Kiley and me - and her little sister Mackey, of course. I'll tell you all about her next week.