Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Circus Freak

I am growing out my bangs, so I expect to look like a dork for a year or so.
Ah, who am I kidding? I've got a life sentence.

I went to a new dermatologist yesterday. I'm afflicted with several auto-immune disorders (what can I say, I'm a lucky goil) that require the intervention of a dermatologist from time to time. The last physician I tried was . . . well, I had a few names for him, including an implication that his parents were not married when he was born. Me no like. So, I selected a new doctor and made an appointment. Lo and behold, he was downright nice and spent more than .000023 seconds with me.

I was diagnosed with vitiligo when I was seven years old or so. When I was fourteen, my parents took me to a renowned dermatologist in DC. Together we decided that my condition was so advanced that depigmentation was the best option (and Dr. Stolar had helped to pioneer this treatment, so were fortunate to have the go-to guy so near to where we lived). It took about two years for me to become completely depigmented, using a topical cream. When it was all over, I truly felt at peace. The stares became less numerous (or at least less overt) and the unwelcome comments declined dramatically as well.

When I met my new dermatologist yesterday (I was there to discuss one of my other maladies, but we chatted about my vitiligo anyway), he told me that he had only met two or three other people who had been depigmented. For some reason, this little factoid has been stuck in my head ever since. I mean, this doctor is a little long in the tooth so it's not like he just went into practice. I am sure he has been in business since the Vietnam War. While I have never run into another like me (I don't need to ask the mirror - I already know that I'm the fairest one of all), I guess I just assumed that there were more out there. But maybe not too many after all. It's just a little jarring to come to the realization that you really are an oddity. I'm like one step above the six-legged calf I saw in the Ripley's Believe It or Not museum when I was a kid.

Most people who have vitiligo fight tooth and nail to retain their pigment. I can't say that I blame them, only that it just didn't work out that way for me. And really, being fair doesn't bother me. I do have to be careful in the sun, obviously. When I was a senior in high school, I actually managed to get a sunburn in December, helping the Lion's Club sell Christmas trees. I think it helps that I am now living in the upper Midwest, where winter lasts around eight months. Nobody expects you to be tan when there is snow as high as your hip. Not that anyone would exactly want to trade places with me, though. The only section of the population that seems to appreciate my appearance is: little old ladies. They stop me in the street and compliment me on my complexion. And that's about it for my fan club.

My daughter has not yet noticed that there is something different about me. She also doesn't notice that a fellow student at her school has Down Syndrome. And things like race and ethnicity have no meaning for her. I wish that children could hold onto that innocence a whole lot longer than they do. Schoolyard bullies would then be obsolete, don't you think? One day last week I was picking A up from school and when I walked in, the kids were seated at the table, having a snack. I knelt down next to the cutest kid (mine, you know) and waited for her to finish. There was a new boy in the class, clearly the chatty type, who was sitting across from her. "You're pretty. I like you," he said to me. I wondered momentarily if I could adopt him as well. My appearance might not be the norm, but at least a three-year-old thinks I'm a dish.

Alabaster Mom out.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We've got a what? And a what?

She speaketh the truth . . . well, sort of.

At my daughter's school, they've just finished a unit on home and family. The kids made construction paper booklets about their respective families. A's teacher showed me the one she made.

Miss Angela (flipping through the booklet so that I could see each page): She said you have one bathroom.

Me: We have two, but close enough.

Miss Angela: She said you have two bedrooms.

Me: We have three, but close enough.

Miss Angela: She said you have three dogs, one cat, and one fish.

Me: Hey, she got that one right!

Miss Angela: Oh, and she said the fish lives next to her bed.

Me (picturing our 35 gallon aquarium in my daughter's bedroom): Ah, no.

Miss Angela: She also said that a rabbit or gerbil of some sort lives next to your husband's side of the bed.

Me: Um, definitely a "no" on that one.

By the way, that fish (a Kissing Gourami) is immortal. My sister-in-law gave us the aquarium when she was moving to Kentucky some 11-12 years ago. A "Christmas present," she called it. It wasn't long before I had other names for it. I understood almost immediately why people are always trying to unload those things on Craigslist or in the paper. Space has gotten pretty tight in our home, and I'd dearly love to have the square footage occupied by the aquarium. Fish I'd gotten in my youth had always been gracious enough to pass on to the sweet hereafter within a year or two, so I thought that was how long fish were supposed to live. Our immortal fish is now old enough to be a sixth grader. I mean, who knew?

But, back to the topic at hand . . . like most parents of toddlers/preschoolers, I live in constant fear of what my daughter might be saying while I'm not around. She comes up with some real gems in our presence, so we can only imagine what she says when we're not within earshot. I cringe just thinking of my cherubic child regaling Miss Angela with tales of Father, who - would you believe it? - has a penis. Or Mama, who let her eat a chocolate doughnut for breakfast last week (twice!). I can only hope that Miss Angela takes it all with a grain of salt. In the meantime, I'll just try to console myself with thoughts of some pot-smoking mom whose kid is in the same class, who surely must be more terrified than I.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Last Hurrah

"Bam-a-lam, the damn thing gone wild"

Pie and I attended the last farmers' market of the season last night. We ate copious amounts of still-warm kettle corn and enjoyed a performance by a local musician. The kid danced on the sidewalk and spun around until she was dizzy, lurching into the path of passersby. She happened upon a stray nickel on the sidewalk and then waved it exultantly. "Look! I found a quarter!" What can I say, she's got a lot of "joie de vivre."

The last farmers' market does indeed seem to signal summer's end. We have half a bag of leftover kettle corn in the pantry at home and once that's gone, withdrawal will set in. May seems awfully far away.

I bought some potatoes and bi-color corn at the market, which makes it official that I failed to reach a goal I set at the beginning of the summer. I had every intention of learning how to prepare an obscure vegetable of some sort. The hard-working Hmong farmers always have so many interesting things laid out at the farmers' market, but I don't know what the heck they are, so I don't buy them. Many of the farmers don't speak English fluently, so it's difficult to ask, "Hey, what is this thing and, um, what should I do with it?" Their sullen, Americanized teens aren't much help either. Ah well, maybe next year. Until then I guess I'll stick with the bland. My mother always says that I'd "think a mashed potato sandwich was too spicy."

We stopped to buy some water (to wash down all the kettle corn) and a woman standing next to the counter looked down at my daughter and started chatting with her. "Look at those beautiful curls," she said. "Oh, and those eyes!" She looked up at me and told me that I would be in big trouble in a few years, which is something I've already started to suspect. I elbowed A and reminded her to say thank you to the nice lady.

It's funny . . . I always hold my breath and wait to see if the admirer of my child will look at me and then say something about how she doesn't look like me. But, they never do. My youngest sister has red, curly hair and when she was little, people would always look at our mom and say, "Well now, where did the red hair come from?" Mom always appreciated having strangers implying that her child was illegitimate. The other memory I have is that people would come up to our family (of three daughters) and say, "Aren't you going to try for a boy?" My mom would jokingly say something like, "No, because the last kid took my uterus with her on the way out," (which was pretty much true -it was a bad scene when the redheaded troublemaker was born). Maybe people are just more polite in the Midwest than on the East coast, where I grew up. My daughter has beautiful blue-grey eyes, gloriously curly hair, and tan skin (year-round) that I overtly covet. She may not look like me, but someday she'll be glad that she didn't have to spend a lifetime saddled with the gooey mess that is my DNA.

In any case, I have never been mistaken for her nanny or anything like that, so that's a plus. Maybe it is the way I run after her, shouting, "Not so close to the road! Put your dress down! Your shoes are on the wrong feet!" in a way that only a mother can.

What you don't see is the strange man sitting to the left of her, drinking a forty out of a paper bag. We moved.

She was trying to tell me that she's a "Growly Gus" (from Wow Wow Wubbzy), but she kept laughing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Older Than She Looks

I'm teaching the pre-K class at church again this year. We have several teachers, so I'm only on tap for one or two Sundays a month. That's probably a good thing, because to be honest, I'm really not that good with kids. And I have to think that the kids know it. Kinda like how they say dogs can sense fear (not that I am comparing children to dogs, mind you).

The formal religious education schedule got underway yesterday, and it was my turn to teach. During the summer, the kids hang out in one large group and take on various craft projects and whatnot. But during the school year, they are divided by grade and follow their curriculum accordingly.

I had four students in the Pre-K class yesterday. I gathered the kids into a circle and lit the chalice. I thought it would be fun to have each child say their name, their age, and talk a little about what they did this summer. The first girl said she was four. The next boy said he was four as well. Then it was A's turn.

"How old are you?" I asked her.

"I'm sixty-six," she responded matter-of-factly.

"No, how OLD are you?" I asked again. I thought maybe she believed I was asking for some other statistic about herself, for which the answer would be "sixty-six," though I can't imagine what that would be either.

"I'm SIXTY-SIX!" Now she was kinda mad.

I mean, I could see if she fibbed a bit and said she was four, but sixty-six? At that age she'd be older than her Meemaw.

After that, I asked the kids if they'd been swimming that summer. For all but one of the kids, I know their parents so I basically had an idea of what they did over the summer and could prompt them accordingly. "Did you swim in a pool, in a lake, or in the ocean?" I asked them.

Well, according to this group of three and four-year-olds (and one sixty-six-year-old), they were lucky to make it through the summer without perishing. One kid said that there had been some vicious sharks and fish where she had been swimming. Then another kid chimed in and said there had been alligators AND crocodiles after him during his family vacation. Another was threatened by "octopuses." Every story got a bit more dramatic than the last. I have to admit it's a fun age to work with. You can't keep their attention for more than three minutes at a time, but they are entertaining.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Of Wine and Twisted Ankles

The three of us went to a local wine festival yesterday. Now, don't look at me like that. A co-worker of mine is the keyboardist for the band that was playing at the festival. I'd never been, so I asked him ahead of time if it would be appropriate to bring a child without looking like the worst parents ever. We have no babysitters and if we didn't take the kid, we'd never get to go anywhere. Brian assured me that yes, lots of kids come to this thing and it really is very family-friendly.

Well, there were half a dozen other kids at the shindig and that was it. So, I felt a little guilty, but not, um, guilty enough to leave.

When we first got there, I saw that the band was finishing up with the sound check. I spotted my co-worker and headed up to the stage. I was carrying the kid on my left hip. Inexplicably, I promptly tripped over a bright yellow cable that was at least as thick as a garden hose, wrenching my ankle in the process. I tripped and then did one of those scrambling/running maneuvers to keep from falling and dropping my child. "Yeah, watch out for those," Brian told me helpfully.

I bought a commemorative wine glass, had it filled with Oktoberfest wine, and settled into my foldable chair to watch the festivities. I was sitting with another co-worker and her friend. At one point, there was only one person dancing in the grass in front of the stage. Would you care to take a guess as to who that one person was? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

We were right on the waterfront so later on P took the kid down to the beach for a while. My ankle was starting to burn so I decided to stay put. And have a glass of Riesling. Because, you know, it was really for my own safety.

The band had to stop playing periodically so that the festival organizers could hold a grape stomp. Six names were drawn from a box and then those people (all women) hopped into a tub and stomped. The winning stomper was decided by audience applause and, as far as I could tell, seemed to have a lot to do with . . . cleavage.

We stayed at the festival for around three hours and then headed back home. I had the impression that things would get a lot more, um, colorful once evening hit. I have to say that wine drinkers, generally, are pretty darned easygoing, though. It was a nice crowd.

So there you have it, an afternoon of compromising my child's innocence. Later, after we got home, we let her play on the computer for a while. She said she was playing games on the Nickodeon Jr site, but really, who knows. Hee, I'm just kidding. She can't read so she calls us into the room every thirty seconds to switch the games for her.

Dancing with my co-worker and yes, a bunch of wine bottles. We're sort of hoping she doesn't mention it at preschool on Monday.

The band

The grape stomp

The cutest kid evah

Thursday, September 18, 2008

My Old Man

In February of 1999, I drove to our local humane society "just to look." Or at least, that's what I told my husband. I had a young Boxer at home and felt confident that she needed a sibling. This was shortly before I got involved in Boxer Rescue.

I entered the kennel area and walked down each aisle, looking at the homeless dogs to the left and right of me. Some dogs hurled themselves against the bars, desperate for attention. Some had given up and didn't even lift their heads as I passed. The staff members had gamely written little tidbits about each dog on colored index cards. "I love to play with toys!" and "I know how to sit!" A few of the dogs had adoptions pending.

After my initial pass, I left the kennel area and tentatively approached the front desk. "Would you give me a list of the dogs in whom no one is interested?" I asked. A young woman flipped through a three-ring intake book and made a list of kennel numbers on a small piece of paper. I headed back to the kennels, the paper held firmly between my thumb and index finger. I compared the kennel numbers to the ones listed on the paper. I began scratching off numbers for dogs that I needed to eliminate for one reason or another. I am not a small dog person, so all the small dogs were out of the running. (The good news for small dogs is that they have a much better chance of making it out of a shelter alive than their larger counterparts do.) I had a female dog at home and felt that a male would be best. So, no girlies. That left me with a handful of dogs.

I paused in front of a kennel that was occupied by a largish black, fluffy dog named Barney. He stood up quickly and walked towards the metal bars, feathered tail swishing behind him. I could've sworn he'd actually been expecting me. "Hey, you're here," he seemed to say. "Where are you parked?"

I found a shelter employee and asked if I could meet the black pooch with the friendly brown eyes. She opened the kennel door and let me inside. I closed the door behind me and sat down on the concrete floor. I had some treats in my coat pocket and Barney, who was around eight months old, shoved his long nose inside my pocket and helped himself. I spent a few minutes with him and then headed back to the front desk. I placed a hold on the dog and mentally began preparing the sales pitch for my husband.

A few days later, I had my new dog. I didn't care for the name Barney and soon dubbed him Karl Lee instead. My new dog, in turn, set about humping the bejeebers out of his new sister. We called every veterinary clinic in town in order to find the one with the soonest neuter appointment open. "I got one for Monday!" P told me jubilantly. It would be a long weekend.

Karl had been dumped at the shelter by a family that didn't speak English, so it was hard to get a lot of information about him. He seemed to be some sort of Lab/Chow mix. If there is a breed out there that fancies itself a fabulous hunter (but is not even close) and blows its coat in dramatic fashion once a year (every summer we get to pick up chunks of Karl all over the house), I guess that would be him. I did know, even then, that large black dogs have a hard time making it out of shelters alive. Our local shelter has a 50% euthanasia rate, so his odds weren't so great. However, I am really not the type to go around hollering about how I "rescued a dog." I got involved in rescue about a year after adopting Karl, and you still won't hear me say that. It's entirely too heroic, and makes it sound like I swooped in on some sort of Tarzan vine and pulled a dog from the clutches of evil or something. He needed a home and we had a home.

Once he got neutered and stopped humping his sister, Karl turned out to be a wonderful addition to our home. He was easily housebroken and trained. He is so smart that I taught him "gimme 10" (a variation on "high five") in one sitting. He's a bit of a nervous nelly and freaks out if you get near his feet, and we had a tough time in obedience classes because of his nervous chirping (I call him my blackbird). But all in all, even with his neuroses, you could not ask for a better canine friend. Just don't touch his feet.

Karl lost his Boxer sister, Lucy, in November of 2006. She had lung cancer and left us in no time flat. Those two always got along famously, mostly because he didn't mind bending to her will. When my daughter was born, Lucy was unimpressed, but Karl assigned himself the duty of checking on the baby at night. When I got up to feed her in the wee hours, he got up to supervise.

And now . . . my blackbird is growing old. His hips are getting creaky and he's slow to rise from a nap. His innards have started to malfunction, and he vomits more often than our carpet would like. (When guests come over, A is quick to give them a tour, exclaiming, "Karlie puked here! And here! And right over here!") I took him to the veterinarian yesterday, but there is nothing definitively wrong with him. He is currently on a prescription food and seems to be rebounding a bit. I can't picture a day and a time without my big, fluffy boy. He adores the snowy winters and looks at us disdainfully when we light a fire in the fireplace. "How could you?" he seems to say. Irritated, he runs outside and shoves his long muzzle into a snow bank . . . for effect, I suspect.

Karl has tolerated 8 1/2 years of Boxer foster dogs, which is a lot to ask of any dog. He hates puppies, I can tell you that. His loyalty to me, though undeserved, is unquestionable. He even fasts when I go out of town. As near as I can tell, he doesn't even drink water while I am at work. When I come home, he runs to the bowl and begins slurping. "My beauty makes him parched," I always tell people.

My sweet old man. I just need those creaky hips and cloudy eyes to hold out for a couple more years.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Discipline Problem

Does this look like the face of a "discipline problem?"

I've started to dread picking up my daughter from Kindercare after work each day. I've now signed so many Incident/Accident Reports that I'm not even bothering to keep the copy they give me anymore. If it's not an incident involving another child, it's an accident attributable to A's clumsiness. Last week, she somehow got a carpet burn on her forehead.

I'm starting to wonder if I made a mistake in moving her from an in-home daycare to a commercial center. We had two reasons for switching her. One, her old daycare was 20 minutes away and once gas went to $732 a gallon, we decided it would be best to move her to a more convenient location. Two, we had no one to take care of her when her old daycare provider took a vacation. With a commercial center, it is generally open on a daily basis. In addition, I liked the idea of A getting used to a more structured environment, where math and phonics are taught.

At her old daycare, they liked her. I mean, I think they truly, legitimately dug her. Or, at least that's how it seemed to me. Her daycare teacher's mother-in-law was often at the house and she actually shed a tear when she found out I was moving A to a different daycare. She joked about suing me for visitation. The kid is likable, what can I say. I'm pretty sure some of my friends actually like her better than they like me.

At the new joint, though, she's just another unruly pre-schooler. Each day I get the same report: she didn't listen today. So, I take her home and give her a little lecture about wearing her "listening ears." Then yesterday, she was SENT TO THE OFFICE. I wasn't expecting that for a few years.

Today, sent to the office. Tomorrow, a stint in juvie. "No, I'm sorry, your Honor. I didn't have my listening ears on."

Yesterday, she was sent to the office because, during nap time, she sang loudly and threw stuff. The staff can't get her to go to sleep (neither can I, so that's not at all surprising), so they ask her to be quiet while the other kids are snoozing. She can't, apparently. And it's not like she can lay on her nap cot and read a Nancy Drew novel. She flips through a picture book and then tosses it over her shoulder. Or maybe she scrawls one of her bodyless people on a piece of construction paper, and then she's done. Not much holds your attention for long when you're three.

I guess it just bugs me to think that they see my child as a brat. She's headstrong, for sure. I told her that she needs to be respectful to Miss Angela and she said, "But I'm mad to her." It goes without saying that my daughter is the brightest, most talented child in the class, but how to explain to the teachers and administrators that my superlative genius child couldn't possibly be a "discipline problem?" I mean, please.

Monday, September 15, 2008

All Fundraisered Out

Please forgive the dearth of blog posts recently. One, I'm still busy being mad at my husband. Two, I worked my ass off at a fundraiser on Saturday and haven't quite recovered from it.

I volunteer for a Boxer Rescue organization and we have a huge fundraiser every September called "The Boxer Bash." Basically we invite every dog lover in the state to come to our event, and then we do everything we can think of to separate them from their money. We have a silent auction, bake sale, food sales, etc. The event is a lot of work. We spend about six months preparing for it.

This year, it rained. We'd dodged the bullet for the past seven years, and then our luck ran out on Saturday. We kept our fingers crossed that the rain would not be a dealbreaker (most of our events were indoors - we rent a large exposition building for the occasion). On Saturday morning, Chloe (my foster dog) and I were scheduled to be at the local Fox station for a live interview. We got there at 7:15 (as instructed) for a 7:45 spot. It was pretty interesting, I have to admit. I felt like I was a third grader on a field trip. Chloe and I sat in the studio and watched the anchors deliver the news. I was able to read the teleprompter along with them and hear what they were saying. The weather man strode into the "Weather Lab" every three minutes to remind the viewing audience that we could expect relentless rain All. Day. Long. Thanks for the scoop, Doug!

At one point the anchors were chatting with a reporter who was at a remote location - some sort of wine festival. The female anchor mentioned something about a celebrity grape stomp (the reporter was the "celebrity," which does stretch the definition of the word a bit). "You'll do good!" she said enthusiastically. My head whipped around so that I could check the teleprompter to see if she was actually instructed to say that. Indeed, she was not. I think I heard the sirens of the grammar police as I was leaving the studio later.

As for us, Chloe sat patiently (well, as patiently as a 20-month-old dog can) until it was time for our little segment. As soon as the camera started rolling, she flopped onto her back, began gnawing on her leash, and commenced kicking me in the shins with her flailing hind legs. "So, Chloe is available for adoption?" asked the anchor chick. "Yes, she is!" I responded brightly, as Chloe continued trying to make herself appear as unadoptable as possible. The only thing that dog overlooked was the opportunity to squat and take a shit on live TV.

One thing that surprised me about being inside the studio was that there was junk EVERYWHERE. How none of it shows up on camera is beyond me. Chloe and I were sitting in a mock living room (basically two upholstered chairs on a raised, carpeted platform, with some sort of backdrop behind us). The carpet was littered with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam. The chairs themselves had certainly seen better days. There were soda cans and other drinks here and there around the set. The joint was not as high-tech as you'd think. The rescue was happy to have the media coverage of our event, though. I have no idea how I got elected to do the interview, except that I have a reputation for showing up for commitments. Damn me and my reliability anyway.

Despite the rain, we had a good day on Saturday. The event was very well attended and we made something like $12,500 (expenses have not been deducted from this figure). I won a few things in the silent auction - a purse, some Boxer notecards, and a leash/collar set. After the Bash ended, I hit the bake sale with a fury. I probably would've lost five pounds on Saturday, but I took measures to prevent that.

I am taking it easy this week. Well, as easy as a type-A, chronic list-maker, control freak type chick can take it.

Me getting a smooch from a Boston Terrier.
Boston Terrier rescue came to our fundraiser and set up a kissing booth.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big Girl

"Mama, I want to walk," she said. "Because I'm a big girl." We were headed into the grocery store and she didn't want to ride in the cart. Beat down from a long and taxing week, I didn't argue with her.

"Just stay next to the cart," I said flatly, and grabbed her hand.

As I looked down at my "big girl," I couldn't help but notice that she had magic marker all over her shirt and hands, and that she had a snot nose. So near, and yet so far.

A started a new swim class at the YMCA tonight. It's called "Intro to Kinder Swim" and it's for three-year-olds. The best part about is that I don't have to be in the pool with her. Woot! It was a little scary leaving her there while I wandered off to the observation lounge, but it turns out I know the instructor so that made me less nervous. They (the instructor and her assistant) strap a foam "cube" to each child's back and then work with them in the shallow area. There was a crier in this class, just as in the dance class earlier this year. Maybe there's a quota that needs to be filled for each class. Know-it-all brat? Check. Nose-picker? Check. Crier? All set. I shouldn't poke fun, though, because I probably would have been the crier back in the day. Actually, I was the tattletale, not the crier . . . if you really want to know the truth.

After leaving my child with the instructor, I walked upstairs and quickly claimed a spot at the window. I stood there with my forehead pressed against the glass, watching my daughter, so confident as she strapped on a cube and ventured into the water. I almost got teary and then immediately felt a little silly.

Realizing that I did have 20 minutes to myself, I popped in my earbuds and decided to listen to a podcast. If you're into new music at all, check out the "All Songs Considered" podcast from NPR. They also have a concert podcast. I watched a mini-concert by an artist named Thao Nguyen and the song "Bag of Hammers" has been stuck in my head ever since. Check it out - I guarantee you'll dig it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

He loves me, he loves me not

Check out this photograph that my daughter took of her daddy. I couldn’t stop looking at the picture and then it dawned on me why I was so taken with it . . . I have never seen this expression on my husband’s face. It’s one he reserves especially for her, I suspect. Sure, he might smile at me, but the smile is filtered through 16 years of stuff. Four babies lost to miscarriage, the death of his parents (and our beloved dog), long periods of financial instability, more than a little nagging, one large interstate move, and the occasional night spent on the couch. He loves her freely and fully, this curly-headed comet who lives in our home - the consummate daddy's girl. I fear my cuteness wore off in the mid-90s sometime.

Is this how a marriage goes, then? Eventually you start to realize that your hand hasn't been held in a very long time (except by a three-year-old, when crossing the street). And that maybe no one is too concerned anymore about what you did all day. And that your best crystal vase has sat empty for years. And that maybe you never hear "you look nice today" because you do, in fact, look like shit.

Monday, September 8, 2008

If you give a kid a camera . . .

The kid's latest obsession is my camera. As long as she is careful with it and I don't hear an ominous thud while she is using it, I don't mind if she takes a few shots. Here are the results of a photo session Saturday evening:

I can assure you that I don't want any part of me to be photographed. And most definitely not THAT part.

"He drinks a whiskey drink, he drink a vodka drink . . . "

Noggin, of course. Our TV misses broadcasting movies with bad words and gratuitous sex in them.

Giddy is blurry in real life, so it's fine.

Shoot when you see the whites of their eyes (was that the saying?)

Poor downtrodden old Karl

That must be our . . . or it could be our . . or maybe the . . . ah, hell if I know.

Here's one for this year's Christmas card.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Synonyms for vomit: purge, cast (WTF?), cat (really?), be sick, disgorge, retch, puke, barf, hurl, spew . . .

She's cuter when she keeps the contents of her stomach . . . in her stomach.

I know you were hoping for another puke-related update, so here it is. I regret to report that the situation did not improve after my last nausea-filled post. I had to stay home from work with Pukey McPukerton yesterday, because she repeated Wednesday night's performance on Thursday night.

Call me a crazy, paranoid, over-reactive mom, but I did take her to the pediatrician on Friday. The kid kept saying, "But I'm fine!" The problem is that she also said that on Thursday, and then spewed black beans on her bed a few hours later. We saw a new pediatrician, who apparently just joined the practice. I dug him. He poked her and prodded her, and pretended to find live flamingos in her ears (this joke goes over very big with the preschool crowd, I gather). He diagnosed her with . . . a virus. So, we just ride it out and hope we don't catch it. I am washing my hands so many times a day that your average OCD sufferer would be impressed. Maybe even a little jealous.

On our way out I said to Dr. Alexander, "My daughter is the most adorable kid you've seen all day, right?" He nodded and said, "Of course." I smiled smugly and walked with head held high as we passed all the hapless, ordinary kids in the waiting room. Then I remembered that it was only 9:30 a.m.

On a more serious note, I did have another reason to take the kid to the doctor. My friend Hattie had a young son who was vomiting a lot. The doctors ran some tests, and Hattie was expecting a diagnosis of lactose intolerance. Instead, Max had a brain tumor and died on Christmas Eve in 2005. So, once my daughter's illness persisted into its third day, I got a little bit spooked. Dr. Alexander said that since A also has diarrhea, that's an indication that her entire gastro-intestinal system is under siege and that there is no relation to her brain.

Anyway, I believe I have reached my quota of vomit-related blog entries for 2008, so I'll keep any future spewings to myself until January. As you were, soldiers.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thanks for the links! (Added bonus: a vomit story!)

I'm a bit bleary-eyed this morning, because I was cleaning up vomit at 1:00 a.m. The kid came into our room, whimpering, and repeating "Mama . . . " At first I tried suggesting she go back to bed, but then I smelled it . . . that acrid, nostril-assaulting aroma that could only mean one thing. And right then she spewed again. On our carpet. It was actually pretty impressive - she got quite an arc on it. So, we rolled out of bed, got her cleaned up in the shower, and threw all of the contaminated stuff in the washer. My mom always said that you can clean up your own kid's vomit, but that it's almost impossible to clean up some other kid's vomit. I hope I never have to test that theory.

We decided to keep the kid out of school today; her dad is staying home with her. She has been a bit off for the past week or so. Her cheeks have been flushed, but I thought maybe it was the heat we'd been having. Everyone kept asking me if she was teething, but she's already got all of her teeth (well, all the teeth she's supposed to have at this age). Then she had a runny nose for a couple of days. I couldn't figure out what was up, but didn't want to take her to the pediatrician without having more to go on. ("Ah yeah, she's got unusually rosy cheeks - would you take a look at that and fix it?") Then yesterday she refused breakfast ("I don't like my lunch," she told me at breakfast.) It was her favorite - a waffle with surry-up, so I thought that was odd. She fell asleep after school and slept for three hours.

So, now I will do what I suspect all parents do after their child yacks: clutch my stomach and wonder if/when I'm going to catch the plague. Every little twinge in my gut and I think, "Oh nooooo!"

I did want to address a topic other than vomit, believe it or not. I wanted to take a moment to thank all the people who link to my blog from their blog. Starting from the time I was seven or so, I told everyone that I wanted to be a writer. Since starting my blog 16 months ago, I've been building up my confidence a bit so that I can finally start submitting some of my work to publishers and such. In bloggerland, it is hard to stand out from the crowd, but I've been slowly working on building up traffic to my blog.

So, if you are a blogger and you link to my blog, thanks!

A few of the blogs that link here:


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Teen Pregnancy Thing

So, which is the bigger tragedy? That Sarah Palin's oldest daughter (age 17) is knocked up, or that Ms. Palin gives her children names like Track and Trig? My middle sister emailed me yesterday regarding the names - I had been blissfully ignorant until then. I was aware of the pregnancy, however, because well, it's hard to miss. I scan CNN.com on my lunch break every day. I like to keep up on current events just in case I am ever called to be a contestant on my favorite game show, "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me." You just never know.

The answer, of course, is that the names are the true blight on our country. I mean, who does that to their children? A lot of people, I guess. My mom watches "Maury" in order to collect unusual names. She calls me with new name suggestions from time to time, just in case I ever decide to change my daughter's name. "I've got one for you," she'll say. "Sha'Diamond."

Speaking of The Maury Show, though . . . teen pregnancy seems to be the main topic there. In the days before our living room TV stopped broadcasting anything except Noggin, Maury used to come on right before dinner so I would catch random shows from time to time. Random, and yet all the same. On virtually every episode, a young woman sits forlornly and tearfully on the stage, while Maury explains that three boys (sometimes as many as six or seven) will undergo a DNA test to see who is the father of the wee bastard sitting backstage. The woman says that she is "110 percent" sure that so-and-so is the father. So-and-so rants that he is "120 percent" sure that he is not. You have to wonder what kind of math they are teaching in school these days.

When it turns out that the guy in question is not the sperm donor, the young woman runs off stage in tears, as though her very honor has been compromised. Never mind that she has already gone on national television to announce that half a dozen young men gained carnal knowledge of her in a very short span of time (I mean, you can only get pregnant during a few days a month, right?)

What always bugged me about the show is that the word "adoption" was never uttered. Not once, not ever. Even if the hapless parents were only in the eighth grade, it is assumed that there is only one way to deal with this situation: to keep the baby and, in all likelihood, raise the child in poverty. Maury would always ask the alleged father what he would do if the child turns out to be his. "I'm gonna step up," he would say. Half the time, though, the parents aren't even old enough to work legally. That is not to say that there aren't young parents out there that are doing a great job and working hard at it. But sometimes when you read stories like this, you wonder why it has become such a badge of honor for every teen to keep her baby? Of course, my perception is colored by the fact that I cannot have biological children. The point is not lost on me, I can assure you.

But enough about Maury. Getting back to the Palin situation . . . see, I'm not going to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket regardless, because I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat. So, from that perspective, her situation is probably none of my business. Everyone seems to be weighing in on it, though. Some say that she can't possibly uphold the "conservative ideals" that McCain espouses. Others take more of a laissez faire attitude.

It's hard for me to squawk too loudly about teen pregnancy because . . . I was born to a teen mom. My parents met in high school and got married after my mom became pregnant. That's what you did in 1969. If you were pregnant, you got married. People did marry much younger back then. I didn't marry until 27, which is pretty average these days. When my mom got pregnant, there were no nurseries in her high school. No one counseled her not to drop out. Now, the pendulum has swung the other way, and pregnant teens receive lots of support. It's become more acceptable to be a pregnant high schooler, but part of me wonders if a little bit of social disapproval was such a bad thing.

I also have a daughter, of course, and I can't cast too many stones, lest I find myself living in that glass house someday. When my sisters and I were teenagers, our mom didn't say a lot about preventing pregnancy. But she did say this: "Just so you know, I've already raised three children and don't plan to raise any more. So, don't bring a baby home." Would she have been supportive if one of us had become pregnant? I suspect she would have been, but she would not have taken on the role of caregiver. She made that pretty clear, and I don't blame her one bit. I haven't decided what I'll say to my daughter when she becomes a teenager. It's a slippery slope, to be sure. For his part, her father is simply planning to head off any suitors by idly cleaning his Marine Corps sword when they come over.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Trop de chiens

That's Chloe on the left and Tula on the right.

I had a lot of dogs at my house this weekend. On Friday, a dog was returned to the rescue. Tula's original foster family was out of town for the weekend, so I agreed to take Tula until they returned. The adoptive family brought Tula to my home on Friday evening.

It goes without saying that dealing with a surrendering owner can be challenging. This particular family had had Tula for 12 days. They returned her to the rescue because they decided that they are "too busy" for a dog. Now, I don't mean to imply that I've cornered the market on "busy" but it was hard not to wince as this family stood in my living room explaining how "busy" and "active" they are. I work full-time and devote 12+ hours a week to rescue. I have a husband, a three-year-old child, two dogs, a foster dog, a cat, and a fish. I do at least six loads of laundry every week. I pick up the poop from the backyard. I prepare most of the meals. I bathe and dress my child (and just keep her alive in general) each day. I won't bore you with all the tasks with which I fill my days, but suffice it to say that I know a little about "busy."

The family that returned Tula has two children, a boy and a girl. The girl cried when she said good-bye to Tula. They had purchased lots of accessories (toys, bed, treats, etc.) for the dog, and brought those along as well. I suspect that they liked the IDEA of Tula, but not so much the day-to-day walks/food/water part of the job. As they stood in my living room on Friday evening, I was cordial but probably not what you'd call gracious. I've been through these situations before and generally I think it's best to keep the process short and sweet, lest I say something regrettable. People adopt and return dogs - it's a fact of life when you work in rescue. But here's the part that upsets me: when a family with children returns or surrenders a dog, I can't help but think about the lesson that the parents have taught their children. If something inconveniences you, get rid of it. Don't bother honoring your commitments.

All I can hope is that they will make a more careful decision if they ever decide to add another living being to their family. They seemed like nice people and . . . I suppose they just made a mistake.

As luck would have it, Tula got along great with the other dogs here. In fact, she and Chloe wrestled so much that Chloe's surgery incision suffered for it. I have to cart her to the vet tomorrow morning to have her incision re-stitched. It is really my fault - I should've worked harder at keeping the dogs separated. It doesn't help that Gideon had been licking the incision obsessively.

Before A was born, I usually had two foster dogs at any given time. However, since that time I cut back to one foster dog. It's funny how our home seemed plenty large until we added a baby to it. Now it just keeps getting smaller and smaller. So, a fourth dog was fine for one weekend, but not something I can do long-term.

In other news, it is HOT. It is in the 90s again today. Yesterday after church, I took the kid to see WALL-E at a second-run theater in town (because I am way too prissy to be outside in this kind of weather). We had seen WALL-E before, but I had free tickets that had been in my wallet forever. A does pretty well at movie theaters, though her behavior is still iffy once the popcorn runs out. She kept getting up and wandering around the theater. I noticed that one of the back rows of the theater was occupied by some developmentally disabled kids and their adult chaperones. I found it interesting that THOSE kids managed to stay in their seats quietly, while mine could not (or would not).