Over the winter break, I spent way more time with my children than is socially acceptable. Finally we came home, started back to school for one day and then a Polar Vortex came our way and closed or delayed school for, in this order: snow, freezing rain, and then just plain cold. I have lived in a lot of places, a few miles from the Canadian border, in the middle of the the Sonoran desert, but in all those places, I have never seen school closed because it was too cold - not because the roads were bad, or the heat in the school building didn't work... the sun was out and roads were dry, it was just cold.  I'll wager that a lot of children would have been warmer that day had they gone to school. I know the overworked furnace in my house would agree. 

But since I've spent so much time with my children this month, I've learned something.  The Caterpillar is really funny. Hence, a minutiae post completely dedicated to her.

The Caterpillar came home with a catalog from the book fair, and pointed out a new book she'd maybe like to read called Fly Guy Meets fly Girl.  The KingofHearts took one look and said, "Does he meet a girl and then completely lose himself in her and forget all about his best friend and never talk to him again or return his phone calls?"

Me: "Um... maybe you're projecting just a bit onto Fly Guy?"

KoH ignoring me: "Well, does he?"

Caterpillar: "I haven't read the book yet, Dad."

The first grade performed a Winter concert the week before school ended, which I was obliged to attend.  No problem though; it was hilarious.  Especially when they sang I Saw Momma Kissing Santa Claus and the action they performed with the lyric "I saw Momma tickle Santa Claus" made it look like Momma was tickling Santa underneath a completely inappropriate place.  I really wish I had video to show you on that one, but I was too slow with my camera.

The Caterpillar is still in dance class.  She doesn't practice all that much at home, but uses every spare moment while waiting in line to perfect her Twist.

And then leaps through the air like a gazelle when it's her turn.

Of course she landed about two inches before that puddle that she was so gracefully leaping.

I like to put together a puzzle during Christmas and haven't been able to the last several years, so I spend a ridiculous amount of money on a puzzle to do on New Year's Day and started to set it up.

Me singing: "♫Puzzling.♪" (that'll make more sense if you watch this show)           

Caterpillar: "I think mom's had too much sugar."

We were having dinner at some restaurant together when I looked over to see The Caterpillar repeatedly taking bites out of a lemon wedge that came with her water and making these faces.

"Why do you keep eating the lemon if you don't like it?" 

"Oh, I like it. It's just sour."
As a school assignment, The Caterpillar brought home a disturbing book about having to move away from your home and leave all your memories and friends.  She had to answer some questions for homework after reading it. The KoH generously helped her with her writing.

KoH: "Why do you think they were gonna move?"

Caterpillar: "Because she had a new baby and she probably wanted the baby to have a better life."  

KoH: "Ah. We were gonna move when you were born but then we realized we didn't care if you had a better life." 

The cactus candy grandma sent for Christmas was a big hit. 

Though not completely understood by The Caterpillar.

A couple people have commented on the lack of human bodies in my pictures at Temple Square here and asked how I managed to get all the people to move out the way while I snapped the shutter.  Well, here's where you make insomnia plus jet lag work for you because the entire time we were in Salt Lake, I never woke up later than three thirty am.  This is early even for me.  We flew on Christmas day so on Boxing Day, for once, everyone else woke up with me.  Rather than sit in a hotel room twiddling our thumbs until breakfast could be served to normal people who sleep until it's light outside, I bundled up everyone and we went over to Temple Square for sunrise.  Which turns out to not only be the only time you can walk around there without tripping over a hundred plus people, but also a great time of day to take photos of Christmas lights.  The Caterpillar looked like Ralphie's kid brother Randy after we dressed her and put The KoH's scarf on her, but she was warm enough. There was only one problem.

"Dad? Is there a washing machine at the hotel?"

"I don't think so, why?"

"Because I have a really runny nose and you're probably gonna want to wash this scarf before you wear it again."

The whole trip we took was difficult mostly because at one point or another everyone was sick, cranky or both.  At some point, we stopped into a WalMart to buy acetaminophen for The Caterpillar who had a fever.  I plunked her into the shopping cart and tried to quickly navigate the store so we could get out of there and get where we were going, while she whined that she wanted to sit in the chair... or walk... or Idunno... whatever was the easiest thing to do was just not acceptable to her at that moment in time.  I stopped in the middle of the aisle and put my face down to her level and said tensly,

"Look, I know you don't feel well.  No one does.  I know you're cranky. Everyone is.  But we have events we need to be at and there's nothing I can do about it and you can either make this easier or harder on yourself and everyone around you.  It's your choice.  So I'm gonna need you to cowboy up just a little and help us get through this day. Can you do that?"

She looked at me with no life in her eyes, put one finger up in the air and circled it slowly like a cowboy swing a lariat and said, with no enthusiasm whatsever, "Yee.... haw."

This is the face of someone who is trying desperately to cowboy up at a wedding.


Speaking of learning to cowboy up...

When one cannot find one's pillow a hotel room in the middle of the night, one simply makes do.

I said later that day to The Dormouse, "No, sweetie, I have no idea why you didn't sleep so well last night," knowing full-well it was a bald-faced lie.

If there's a way to insert yourself in the middle of a conversation, 

The Caterpilllar will find it.

By the time we were ready to head home after a week of travel, hubbub, illness and chaos, the smallest things began to amuse us.  Also, I envy the core strength I no longer have.

We both have Kindles and agreed to let The Shortlings use them to keep them quiet on the plane becuase if you've flown anytime in the last two decades, and you are a parent, you know that as soon as you approach the gate with any child under fifteen, you immediately get the stinkeye from every other passenger who will be on that flight.  Even if your child is the best behaved thing on the planet, people will judge you for having one and having the audacity to bring it on a plane as if you should have found a children-only flight to stick it on or at least have the decency to put it in cargo.  This annoys me because I have endured many annoying plane rides sitting next to adults who were smelly, drunk, twitchy, take up more than their fair share of space, talk loudly, talk constantly, or who are just downright disturbing in some way, but I never assume that every adult I see who walked away from the airport bar will automatically disturb my peace when I sidle up to the gate.

Anyway, The Caterpillar wanted to play on my Kindle, which has markedly fewer games on it than The KingofHearts' Kindle.  I handed it over to her.  She tired quickly of Sudoku and crossword puzzles and handed it back to me, forlornly.  "Don't you have any ACTIVE games?"

One of the airplanes we took (and there were many) had monitors in the back of every seat and some free programming.  The Dormouse and I entertained ourselves by watching about eleventy hundred TED Talks throughout that leg of the trip (best plane entertainment EVER!). The Caterpillar, I believe, assumed this position about five minutes in and didn't wake up until the flight landed.

You could turn the screens on the seat backs on or off with the touch of a button below the screen.  When the plane finally hit the ground, The Caterpillar woke up and we got up from the very last row where we were sitting to deplane.  The Caterpillar and The Dormouse led us and walked up the entire length of the aircraft while The Caterpillar, one by one, turned off each and every monitor on the plane.  And The Dormouse followed behind her back, turning each and every monitor back on.

We should have just named them Order and Chaos.

I know she's only six and shouldn't understand the joke here, but I'm not sure I can say that that's true, given the look on her face.