Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why do they call those little candy bars "fun size?" Wouldn't the big ones be more fun?

Halloween-related activities have kicked into high gear. We attended a community event last Saturday and another one this afternoon. Tomorrow, of course, brings the big denouement: trick-or-treating in the 'hood. One of us will stay home to dole out the goods while the other takes A down the street. Then we switch and hit up the neighbors in the other direction. Remember as kids we'd always hear that rumor that some house was giving out full-sized candy bars? I wonder if that rumor still gets around today. And, more importantly, where IS that house?

A's school is also having a "harvest party" on Friday. Some parents at the school don't want their children celebrating Halloween, so we all received a notice about the "harvest party." The party is being held ON October 31st and oh yeah, she is supposed to dress up as her favorite character. Dress up, as in, you know, a c-o-s-t-u-m-e. And we are invited to send treats along. But please note that this is not a Halloween party. Okay ::wink wink:: I get it.

I suppose I understand why many parents don't like the darker side of Halloween. Personally, I don't have an issue with this particular holiday. I don't know of a kid anywhere who sees Halloween as anything other than an opportunity to have fun, dress up, and most importantly - eat enough candy to rot his teeth right out of his skull.

As for me, I've been trying to keep my hands out of the candy stash on the kitchen counter. Fortunately, the Halloween events we've attended with our daughter have largely yielded crappy candy that I don't want. Nerds? A Dum-Dum? Um, no thanks. I'm waiting until the last minute to buy candy in order to avoid temptation. I usually try to buy stuff I don't like, such as Almond Joy and Mounds. Coconut is just so wrong - nothing should be crunchy and chewy at the same time like that. Am I right? Can I get an amen? No? Well, I never!

I do love me some chocolately goodness, though. Even better is dark chocolate. I'm hoping the kid will score some for me tomorrow night. More than hoping, I'm actually planning on it. I'll make her keep walking, clear into the next county if I have to, until I see a Hershey's Special Dark in her princess trick-or-treat bag. And none of this "Mama, let's share it" business either.

A local tribe, performing at a Halloween event. Can non-Native Americans score a dress with bells on it? I really, really feel the urge to have one.

The drum circle, keeping da beat (well, except for the one guy who's . . . not).

Monday, October 27, 2008

This, That, and the Other Thing

I've been sort of preoccupied with the whole "hey, you're adopted" thing, but last week had other highlights (well, some are more like lowlights).

Wanna hear it? Here it go:
  • My new nephew was born on Tuesday the 21st. He arrived a day early, via cesarean section. My sister laments that with two c-sections under her belt (literally), her career as a bikini model will likely never kick into gear now. I will be meeting the new pipsqueak next month when A and I visit Oklahoma (where the wind comes sweeping down the plain) for Thanksgiving. I have been assured that the new kid does have red hair and is thereby eligible for Christmas gifts from Auntie Claudia.

  • My friend's husband has a lump in/on his quadriceps muscle. They've just learned that the mass is malignant. It's in a very precarious spot, frightening close to the femoral artery, so surgery is going to be a bit dicey. I have to say that Kris and Paul are, generally speaking, as upbeat as two people have a right to be. They are only focusing on the positive. (I'd be Mrs. Worst Case Scenario under the same circumstances, which probably isn't all that helpful.)

  • Thursday was supposed to be A's last night in her swim class at the Y (she'll move up to the next level and start her next round of classes in January). She was excited because I was supposed to get in the pool with her. "I'll show you how to do it, Mama!" she exclaimed. You also get to go down the big twisty slide as a treat on the last night. Well, about twenty minutes before we had to leave, she came to me crying and clutching her right ear. The word "Amoxicillin" flashed through my head. I took her to the urgent care joint and sure enough, we had our prescription for the pink stuff ten minutes later. As a consolation prize for missing swim class, I got her some pink ice cream with sprinkles. I can't believe any kid of mine likes strawberry ice cream. She's lucky I let her stick around.

  • After six months in rescue, Chloe (my foster dog) finally got an inquiry last week. They are coming to meet her on Saturday. She's a sweet dog and I'm not in any particular hurry to get her into a new home, but she did chew up a plastic potato and a pink tiara yesterday. She also eats baby wipes. I caught her with one the other day and when she saw me coming for her, she quickly pulled it up through her lips like a child sucking up a spaghetti noodle. So, she's cute but not THAT cute.

  • And finally, I decided to get more diligent about tracking my Weight Watchers points each day. I normally just sort of keep them in my head and hope I'm close. The thing is, it's a well-established fact that I do not have a head for numbers. I didn't major in English for no reason. I'm happy to report that, although it is time-consuming to calculate and track everything I eat, I did lose a bit of weight this week. On Saturday, I had a busy day at a rescue event and actually had some points left over at the end of the day. So . . . I drank 'em.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. Buh-bye! (Back in the days before my stad stopped drinking, he would call my mom and then say "buh-bye" before he hung up. My mom would get mad as a hornet and say, "Who the hell is buh-bye? Is he related to Popeye?")

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Deed is Done

She cheats at Candyland, but we like her anyway.

The book I ordered from Shutterfly arrived yesterday. My stomach was in knots as soon as I saw the package. I showed it to P so that he would be aware of its contents before we sat down to read it to our daughter.

We took A to yet another Halloween event (Meemaw made the costume and by gum, we're gonna make sure the general public has ample opportunity to see it) and then came home to have dinner. After dinner, we sat her between us on the couch and read the book to her.

The story begins with how her dad and I met and fell in love. I wrote about how much I wanted a baby in my tummy, but that no baby came to live in my tummy. I teared up at this point because the pain of my four lost babies is still not that far beneath the surface. I have been richly rewarded with a beautiful firecracker of a child, so it's not a matter of any sort of regret. It's just that those were dark days and at times I really felt I might go under.

Next, I read the section where P and I went to an adoption agency and told the social worker how much we wanted to be a mommy and daddy. I explained how we met a young lady named J, who was pretty and smart and smiley. She had a baby in her tummy and she loved the baby very much. However, she was all alone and couldn't provide the things a new baby needs.

The last section of the book covers the trip to the hospital, the birth, and the homecoming. At the end, I wrote that we are so thrilled to be her mommy and daddy and that we were so proud and happy that J chose us. I tried to keep everything on a level that I felt a three-year-old could understand.

When we finished, I asked her if she had any questions. She seemed to enjoy the book, mostly because she does so enjoy looking at photographs of herself. We flipped back to the picture of J. I said, "You grew in J's tummy when you were a baby, but I get to be your mommy."

"She has a green shirt on," A said. A few minutes later she said, "Is she gonna be my mommy?" We went over the story a couple more times. I used the word "adopted" directly to her for the first time. Oh, and I should add that P didn't really say anything (he's helpful that way). I'm not sure he understood why the whole episode was emotionally challenging for me, but I called my mom and she knew - she articulated exactly what I was thinking.

Later, I was washing the dinner dishes (and still feeling a little raw), when A came in and hugged me around my legs. "You're my mama," she said, just as she had done a thousand other times.

I knelt down and hugged her tightly. "Yes," I said. "I'm your mama."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Just Waitin' for My Macaroni Art

During my long, long struggle to become a mom, my own mother kept my spirits up by telling me, "It's only a matter of time until you'll have macaroni art on your refrigerator." You know you're a parent when the short person who lives in your house hands you a paper plate with uncooked macaroni glued to it (another variation is the macaroni necklace, strung on colorful yarn). Most schools have a long-standing tradition of using pasta as an art medium. When my youngest sister was in preschool, she brought home a macaroni frame with her smiling wallet-sized photo glued into the middle. The best part? The macaroni frame had been spray-painted gold. I sure hope it's still in a Christmas box somewhere at my parents' house.

Though I have not yet received any macaroni art, I think I am getting close. I received this:

Ain't she a beaut? There is at least half a pound of glue holding those goldfish crackers in place. My refrigerator (or fridgelator, as the artist herself calls it) is groaning under the weight of this installation. The magnetic clip is hanging on for dear life.

The kid continues to draw bodyless people and then demands "sticky tape" so that she can attach her artwork to random walls in our home. The four-eyed boy below has something on his head, but I didn't have the heart to ask what it is. I thought maybe the other thing was a worm coming out of an apple, but I got yelled at when I asked her about it.

In other news, A has announced that she plans to "marry Father" when she grows up. I know that every little girl comes to this conclusion at some point, so I just nodded and told her that she's welcome to him. I know it's totally normal, but I also had visions of Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn flashing in my brain. Oy.

On Sunday, the kid was "helping" me make some egg salad for P. She was stirring it and asked me, "Do we need to add anything else?"

"No," I repled. "This is how Father likes it. You may as well know for when you marry him."

Saturday, October 18, 2008

My Kid's Meemaw is Better Than Your Kid's Meemaw

The crown kept falling off her head so we gave up after a while.

Like 94.7% of all three-year-olds girls, A decided to be a princess for Halloween this year. It's the first time I let her choose, because it was really the first time she had a grasp of what was going on. Last year, when I took her trick-or-treating, she tried to enter every neighbor's house when they opened the door. The whole concept wasn't quite coming together in her mind yet. But now, she knows what's what.

I feared that if I asked my mom to make a costume, she might hem and haw a bit (Get it? Hem? Oooh, I kill myself). I knew that if I put her adorable granddaughter on the phone, however, a costume would be in the works as soon as Meemaw could beat a path to the fabric store.

"Meemaw, would you make me a purple princess costume so that I can get some candy at the YMCA?"

I have no idea why she mentioned the YMCA. She goes there for swim classes and, as far as I know, they are in the business of promoting fitness and not tooth decay. But anywho . . .

The ploy indeed worked, because we received the costume about two weeks later. These photos do not do it justice, but it is extremely detailed, with a layer of tulle over the skirt and lots of intricate embellishments on the sleeves. I picked up some silver glitter shoes at Target and we're all set. We attended our first Halloween-related event today at the zoo.

Oh, and if you wonder why I didn't dress up, clearly you have forgotten the Chewbacca story.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Sudden Fit of Modesty

Perhaps someone can explain this to me. My daughter is not at all shy. She chats with strangers and waves at passersby. Proud of her body and all that it can do, she announces every fart and every burp loudly and with great enthusiasm. At home, she can often be found in her birthday suit. The other night I came upon her standing in front of the open refrigerator, sucking apple juice out of her Little Mermaid cup, wearing nary a stitch. She also thinks it's hilarious to put her hands and feet flat on the floor, throw her hinder into the air and yell, "Butty-butt-butt-butt-butt-butt!"

Why is it then, that when I find her sitting buck naked on the potty (with the bathroom door wide open), she yells, "DON'T LOOK AT MY POOP!" and attempts to cover the open bowl with her hands? Does she really think there is anything left that I haven't seen? I've been tending to her bodily output since she was born. I've caught every cold she's ever had. I've scraped vomit out of her hair at 3 a.m. And don't even get me started on how much ear wax she produces.

It's just befuddling, I tell you!

It's been a long week and I'm glad it's almost over. I'm contemplating a trip to my allergist's office today, as my asthma has really been kicking in with this cold I've been fighting all week. Wanna know why I hate to go there? For starters, they weigh me and MEASURE MY HEIGHT every blessed time I go. Keep in mind, this is my asthma and allergy doctor. And also keep in mind that I have been the very same height (5' 6") since 1983. The other annoyance is that I have to complete the same questionnaire every single time. Do they not keep records?

"Do you still have a cat?"
"How about dogs? You still have the dogs?"
"No, I offed all of them after the last visit, since you were so disapproving and all."

I mean, really. It's the same thing over and over. I'm supposed to boil my bedding in hot water, never open a window, use a special pillowcase, rip up the carpeting and replace with hardwood floors (that one I'd actually do if I could afford it), and get rid of any fur-bearing residents.

Somehow it's always the height thing that pisses me off the most, though.

After work today I'm headed to my friend Kim's house to dogsit for her overnight while she goes to her sister's wedding. She has four Boxers of her own and two foster Boxers. She lured me with: wine, food, and a TV with an obscene number of channels (well, I don't know how many of them are obscene - I haven't had her TV all to myself before). Also, she dogsat for me over the summer so I owed her one. She emailed me two pages of typed instructions, though, which has me a little nervous. This dog can't be out at the same time as that one or they'll kick each other's ass. This one can't be fed near that one. This one needs a pill. That one is a pill. And so forth.

Should be an interesting evening!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


For months I've been been trying to figure out the best way to tell my daughter that she was adopted at birth. It's exactly as hard as you'd imagine it would be. We have children's books on the topic. Jamie Lee Curtis wrote a great book called Tell Me Again About the Night I was Born. We also have one called A Blessing from Above and another called My Family is Forever. We read them to her, but we haven't come out and said, "Oh, by the way . . . " She recently became aware of where babies come from (well, she knows that a baby grows in a woman's tummy - she doesn't know the mechanics of how such a thing happens). So, we have known for a while now that the day draws nigh (you like the way I went all Victorian on you there?).

In preparation, a while back I started telling her the story of how her dad and I met and how much we wanted a baby. I always say, "They wanted a baby girl and they wondered: 'where is our baby girl?'" And my daughter responds, "Here I am!" My intention was to keep building on that story and tell her how she came to be. But still, I was struggling. I know that it's important to be honest, but part of me feels like we are going to shatter her innocence.

I was visiting an adoption message board on Babycenter yesterday when a particular thread caught my eye. A birthmom had posted and offered to give advice to adoptive parents. The relationship between a birthparent and an adoptive parent can be fairly complicated. There is no blueprint for this sort of thing. So, it's always helpful to have advice from "the other side." Anyway, this birthmom spoke of a storybook that was created for her birthson, so that he would know and understand his own story. The book included pictures and a simple explanation of how he grew in one woman's tummy and how he has a family that loves him, etc.

I'm almost embarrassed that I didn't think of this idea on my own. It's perfect in its simplicity, really. Because I am not artsy-craftsy, I decided to hop over to and create the storybook there (I'll order a bound copy of the book when I'm done). I've created an initial draft and now I'm digging through photographs to find the ones that fit the story best. I wish I had more photos of A's birthmother. Obviously she factors pretty prominently into the book. I have one that she gave me around the time that A was born, so I scanned that. There is another one that I snapped when I took her out to lunch about a month after the birth. We didn't take any photos of her in the hospital because we didn't think she'd appreciate it - what with her being in labor and all. She is very pretty and always has a smile (even in hard times). Of course, I haven't seen her in over two years (by her choice). I hope she is doing well.

What I'm not including in the book: A's birthfather. I don't know him, he denied paternity, he's in prison, and I don't have a photo of him. My daughter doesn't understand (at this stage, anyway) that a boy factors into the whole baby-making thing, so I feel like I can safely leave that out for now. I know the day will come, but that day is not now. Also, her birthmother has a son and may have another child by now as well - she married about a year ago (not to the birthfather, needless to say) and I know they wanted to have a baby right away. One day I would love for my daughter to meet her biological half-brother (I got to spend some time with him and really adored him), but again, I am trying to keep things as straightforward as possible. The story will unfold in its own way over time.

Wouldn't it be funny if, after all of my angst over this situation, we sit her down and read the book with her and then she says, "Okay, can I have some raisins?" This morning she asked me, "Mama, where did you buy these Froot Loops? At the Froot Loops store?" Funny kid.

Back in the days when she was somewhat more compliant . . .

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Alrighty Then

A's school was closed for a teacher in-service day yesterday ("In order to serve you better . . . we're gonna close the joint down for a day so that you have no childcare . . . you know, the service for which you're paying us? Oh, and we'll still need you to pay us for the day. In fact, we require it.") so I took the day off.

I had a coupon for Build-a-Bear so I decided to indulge the kid. We headed over to the mall and she ran straight into the store. I showed her all of the different empty carcasses and let her choose one. She selected a pink bear with hearts on it. We were going to pass on adding a sound to the bear, but the nice lady had sold my kid a sound before I knew what hit me.

A got to step on the foot pedal and fill the bear up with fluff. She chatted with the lady as she did so, and I listened carefully to make sure she wasn't sold anything else we didn't need. We were not leaving there with a bear on rollerskates and that's all there is to it. Once the pink bear was stuffed and sewn, we proceeded to the washing station, where A "washed" the bear under an airjet.

Finally, we got to the last station: the computer where you get to enter all of your personal information and then choose a name for the bear.

I sat with my fingers poised above the keyboard.

"What's the bear's name?" I asked my daughter.
"Axsha," she said without hesitation.
"No, seriously. What's her name?"
"Mama, it's Axsha."

My brain immediately thought of a dozen ways to spell the name. Achtsha? Acksha? Actia? I finally settled on Axsha and typed it. We then headed to the register, where the birth certificate gets printed.

The cashier pulled the birth certificate off the printer. "Oh, Axsha?" She looked at me. I shrugged.

On our way out we stopped at ShopKo so that I could buy some lightbulbs. The cashier noticed the Build-a-Bear box and asked my daughter the name of the new friend inside. A told her the name. The lady looked at me in puzzlement. "Don't ask," I mouthed to her silently.

Honestly, I don't know if she made it up or heard it somewhere. Or, more likely, misheard something somewhere.

When we got home, she ran to her room to introduce Teddy to Axsha. I was in the office, checking my email.

"Mama, did you take your shoes off?" she shouted.
"Yes, I did!" I shouted back. "Did you have any more questions?"

She came into the room. "Yes, I have more questions."
"Okay, go."
She leaned against Gideon's crate and rested her elbow on the top. "When the moon comes up in the sky, it's bedtime," she stated.
"Right, but that's not a ques-"
"And when the sun comes up in the sky, it's morning time."
"Okay, thanks for letting me know. I need to go let the dogs in."
"But I have more questions!"

Monday, October 13, 2008

In Memory of Griffin

When you serve as a foster parent to homeless dogs, people often say things like, "Oh, I could never do that. I'd want to keep all of them." Well, once you do it for a while, you really don't think in those terms. You simply can't keep the dogs. For starters, your neighbors would be pretty pissed. Plus, for each dog in rescue, there is generally another one on a waiting list who also needs a foster spot (and a shot at a "forever" home). You need to place the current one so that you can help the next one. Rescue work is a perpetual exercise in "one step forward, two steps back." All we can really do is to try our damnedest to keep up with the flow.

In 8 1/2 years of fostering, I've lost count of how many dogs have passed through my door. I have to imagine that it is well over 50 dogs. Some have been adopted quickly, while others have lingered for months. Most have peed on my carpet at least once. Most have been thin. All have been beautiful.

In 2004, a skinny white Boxer arrived in my home. His name was Griffin. He was picked up as a stray. He was stone deaf and had one blue eye and one brown eye. Griffin was all white, save for a brown splotch on the top of his head. His toes were splayed - we believed he had spent a lot of time in a wire-bottomed crate of some sort. He had horrible black tear stains on his face.

Certainly, I'd seen dogs in worse shape than Griffin. In past fostering experiences I'd dealt with a broken femur, an embedded collar, and tumors the size of my fist. But, there was something about Griffin that made my heart flutter when I met him. I set about the task of putting Griffin through the rescue's veterinary protocol. I fattened him up and had him neutered (and he subsequently tore out the sutures, resulting in a scrotum swollen to the size of a softball - he was a tough little bugger). I worked on his tear stains and began teaching him a few hand signals.

His was a pure spirit - he drew me in and I adored him. I felt like Griffin was supposed to be my dog, but there was a major problem. My husband and I were knee-deep in the home study process so that we could adopt a child. A social worker inspected our home, asked us deeply personal questions, and handed us a pile of paperwork thicker than my thigh (and that, my friends, is some kind of thick). Knowing that a potential birthmother might be concerned about how a baby would fare in a home with so many dogs, we decided that we would not foster for a while after the child was born. We also decided that it would be best to stick with the two dogs we already had and not add another one. I was truly smitten with Griffin, so it was hard. Right dog, wrong time.

Right about then, a family applied with the rescue and indicated an interest in Griffin. They came to my home to meet him and seemed like a good match for my little guy. They were willing to commit to the additional requirements for adopting a deaf dog, like having a fenced yard and taking him to obedience classes. With a heavy but hopeful heart, I drove Griffin the considerable distance to their home. I had left him, I thought, in good hands. I called my friend Brenda on the drive home. "I just dropped off my boy," I told her between sobs. After fostering so many dogs, it was rare for me to get teary. Normally, my happiness in seeing a dog trot off to a "forever" home overrides my sadness in losing that dog from mine.

It didn't take long before Griffin's new family began to complain about him. He barked at the kids, he acted squirrely around visitors, he did this, he did that. "What the . . . ?" I thought. Are we talking about my sweet little guy with the magical blue eye? Realizing that they would never love Griffin, I began imploring them to return him to me. For months, they refused. Then finally, much to my relief, they did.

Griffin was returned to rescue in approximately the same condition in which he had arrived the first time. He was unreasonably skinny and his face was once again blackened by tear stains. I was simultaneously saddened by his condition and furious with myself for having chosen the wrong home for him.

However, Griffin's luck was about to turn again. The first time he was in rescue, I'd needed to go out of town one weekend. I asked an adoptive family, one that I trusted and with whom I was on very friendly terms, if they'd take Griffin for me. Mary and Sandy happily agreed and I dropped him off for an uneventful stay at their home. I picked him up that Sunday evening and soon he was adopted. I didn't give that weekend another thought.

When Griffin was returned to rescue, Mary and Sandy spotted him on the rescue's website almost immediately. "We want to adopt him - right away," they said. As it turned out, they had been kicking themselves all that time because they didn't adopt Griffin after he'd spent the weekend with them months before. They didn't want to waste any time on giving Griffin the care and attention he deserved. We expedited the adoption and soon Griffin was home. For good this time.

For the past three years, I have not had to worry about my sweet boy. I knew that he was living with someone who loved him just as much as I did. I joked that he was my dog, but who just happened to live with someone else. I was rewarded with frequent photographs and updates, and even a few visits. In September of this year, Mary and Sandy brought Griffin to the rescue's annual Boxer Bash fundraiser. I was busy, but couldn't wait to kiss his jowls. "Griffin is so upset that you haven't come to say hello," Mary teased me. I knelt down and gave him a smooch. He was as adorable as ever, with his brown splotch and his magical blue eye.

Last weekend, Griffin and his family were enjoying a weekend at their new cabin. At their regular home, they have a securely fenced yard. But at the cabin, Griffin was on a tie-out attached to a stake in the ground. Somehow, he was able to break away and was hit by a car in the briefest of moments. It was no one's fault and there was nothing that could have been done differently. It just was.

I take solace in knowing that Griffin was very much loved and that the last three years of his life were, without a doubt, the best three years of his life. Thank you, Mary and Sandy, for loving him so. I still cannot articulate what it is about that little Boxer that caused him to cut such a wide swath through my heart - which suddenly feels frail and . . . not altogether resilient.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Moment

After a whirlwind of kid-centric activities yesterday, my daughter and I were sharing a quiet moment after her bath last night. And by "quiet," I mean that she was ordering me around like a dog while I attempted to tame her raucous curls. I gathered up the various haircare products (this is an ongoing experiment of mine - by the time she leaves for college I expect to have found the perfect combination) and sat on the floor in her bedroom. She sat between my legs and chattered away as I spritzed detangler in her hair.

As I worked, she craned her neck and looked up at the highest shelf above her dresser. Like most kids, she has far too many stuffed animals. My mom, never one to think about things like "how much stuff can fit in a 1200 square foot home," bought A a huge Siberian tiger for Christmas one year. So, the tiger is perched up there (he is sporting some Mardi Gras beads, as most tigers do), along with several large teddy bears. The shelf is also home to a bow-tied FAO Schwarz teddy bear that she received at her baby shower, and nestled in front of that bear is a small one that plays music when you wind it up.

"I want the music bear," A said. "The one who's sitting with his mommy."

"I'll get it in a second," I told her. I was still negotiating those curls with a wide-toothed comb.

"I want the music bear," she said again. Because, you know, it had been ten seconds and all.

"But I'm sitting on the floor," I replied.

She stood up. "Well, stand up like me," she instructed. She gestured with her hand in case I was still confused. I sighed and began gathering up the towel and whatnot.

Just then, she turned around and faced me. "I love you very much, Mama." She kissed me on the lips and then wrapped her arms around my neck. She pressed her cheek against mine. I breathed in her baby lotion scented skin and closed my eyes. "I love you too, baby."

I handed her the musical bear. I started to wind him up but she informed me that she'd take care of it. She cuddled the bear against her chest and headed down the hall. I was struck by the fact that to her, a mama is simply a larger person (or bear) who looks after a smaller person (or bear). And that they love each other.

I waited seven years to hear "I love you, Mama." And oh, the sound is still just as sweet every single time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Mama, Take My Picture!

Princess in full effect:

Princess after Chloe steps on her plastic princess shoes:

The alleged foot stepper on-er:

"Not me. Must've been some other deaf white Boxer who lives in your house. In fact, now that you mention it, I am downright offended. I'm calling my attorney right now."

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Good boy, Giddy!

I volunteered to bring Gideon to Kindercare this morning. A's class has been learning about pets, so I thought it would be fun for them to have a live specimen. I also brought in some dog bite safety worksheets (produced by the ASPCA) and handed those out. If I can stop one kid from running up to (and hugging) a dog he doesn't know, then my job is done.

While still in the van, I wrestled Giddy into a Halloween costume (yeah, he was pretty psyched) and then entered the classroom. The kids were very excited to see him, and he them. I was proud of him for not jumping on any of the young'uns. He does jump on adults, but seems to know that kids will just topple over and that it's just a bad idea in general. I am hoping to bring the jumping issue under somewhat better control before having him formally tested for the Therapy Dog certification.

The kids were gathered in a semi-circle on the carpet in their classroom. I talked to them (as best as I could while holding a wiggling dog in a wizard costume, anyway) about dog-related safety. "Is it okay to pet a dog while he's sleeping?" I asked. "Yes!" shouted my kid, a kid who has been told approximately one hundred thousand times that she must never, ever, ever bother the dogs while they are eating or sleeping.

I let the kids feed him some treats, and Giddy was definitely down with that. We hung out for twenty minutes or so and then headed out. He was successful in sliming most of the kids (his tongue doesn't quite fit in his mouth), so he felt like his job was done.

During this "pet unit" they've been doing at school, apparently the kids learned that animals are not human. A has been stuck on this idea for the past few days.

The other day we had this exchange:

"Mama, dinosaurs are not human."
"Yep, you're right."
"Giddy is not human."
"Right, he's not."
"Yes, but he farts just like me."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

She'd be even sunnier if she'd take a #&%$ nap

My Sunshine, My Only Sunshine

In case you are wondering, I did not partake of an Egg McMuffin after my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday. I ate a chocolate Weight Watchers muffin. Later, though, I met a friend of mine for lunch and ate garlic bread and fries. I tend to get a little splurge-y on weigh-in day and then get back on the wagon after that. Yesterday at the meeting there was a mother-daughter duo that I probably hadn't seen for a year or so. Apparently, they were back to Square One. The daughter's weight gain, in particular, was very noticeable. I felt like I had seen a ghost or something. It was a good reminder to me not to slack off quite so much. I've kept 50+ pounds off, but I continue to grapple with 10 pounds or so. I just don't want to let it get any worse than that. No elasticized waistbands for me, thanks.

I stopped at a craft fair after the meeting. I need to start Christmas shopping one of these days. Our budget is pretty tight, so I've negotiated with most friends and family members to buy gifts for each other's children and then call it a day. I think Christmas should be more about the kids anyway. Both of my sisters were eager to take me up on the deal. Of course, they have two children apiece (well, my new nephew is scheduled to be born via c-section in a couple weeks) and I just have one. I think my kid should get double gifts, don't you?

In any case, I only bought one thing at the craft fair: a baked potato microwave bag. It looks somewhat like this. Apparently, this particular crafter saw me coming. Or at least her husband did. He was one fast talker. Next thing I knew, I had a neon green fabric thing (which was handed to me in a Burger King bag - no lie) and was down five bucks. I'll give it a try, though. I am always lamenting the fact that baked potatoes made at home never taste as good as they do in restaurants. The other offerings at the craft fair consisted of the usual stuff: dish towels with the knitted loop sewn to the top, plaques with sayings like "snowmen fall from heaven unassembled," and jewelry made by every chick who has ever learned how to throw some beads onto a string.

While I was out and about, P took the kid to see "Kung Fu Panda" at the budget theater. They got home shortly after I did, and suffice it to say, he was in a mood. "I'm not taking her to another movie until she is six," he announced. "She said she needed to use the bathroom three times. Three times!"

"Did you let the popcorn run out?" I asked. He nodded. "Well, see, that was your first mistake." Apparently he did not study (and commit to memory) the popcorn graph that I posted back in February.

Since he was so wrung out after spending quality time with his own child, I decided to take her to a pumpkin festival that was going on a few miles away. When we pulled up, I saw one of those inflatable "bounce houses." Or, in parental terminology, a kid-wearer-outer. We headed straight to it and I let her jump as long as she wanted. She also played pumpkin bowling and took part in a pumpkin beanbag toss. Before I knew it, I was carrying around: her jacket, a bottle of water (because she had insisted that she was dying of dehydration), two mini pumpkins, a pumpkin dot-to-dot coloring sheet, and my own gear. After two more jumping sessions in the bounce house, I finally convinced her that we'd reached maximum pumpkin festival.

After dinner, I decided to take A to a coffee/bookstore joint downtown to enjoy a performance by a local folk musician/storyteller. He performed at our church the previous Sunday, so I was familiar with him (as a side note, he looks remarkably like Santa Claus, which makes him pretty likable right there). By this time, the kid was pretty tired and I probably shouldn't have taken her. She was sleepy (but wouldn't sleep) and I could tell she was about to go 'round the bend when we had this exchange in the car:

"Mama, I have to tell you something."
"What's that, Pie?"
"Lights can see in the dark."
"Um, okay."

In a way it did sort of make sense, so I didn't argue with her. We only lasted about 40 minutes at the concert. She was just too unruly. But before we left, there was a funny moment where the singer launched into "You Are My Sunshine." He said he wanted to start with a song that everyone knew, so that we could all sing along. A's eyes lit up and I could tell exactly what she was thinking: "This man knows MY song!" She has a toothbrush that plays it, and she also has it on a CD that one of her cousins gave her. She sang along happily. Things started to deteriorate after that, though, and once her head started spinning around, I tucked a five-spot in the tip jar and snuck out as quietly as possible.

So, that was our day yesterday. I want to give a shout-out to my middle sister, who completed the Army Ten-Miler this morning. I am so proud of you, sister o'mine! I may have gotten a lot more boobage than you did, but you definitely got the athleticism. Good on ya.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

I'm Not the Line Leader

Here is why I'm not online as much these days:

She'd been dabbling on the computer for a few months, but only recently figured out how to use the mouse. This opened up a whole new world for her. A world, namely, located at I have to say that the people who created those online toddler games knew what they were doing. My daughter can't read, but she can definitely figure out that she needs to click on a huge, throbbing, green arrow that says "Play again!" And play again she does.

Generally speaking, I don't mind if she spends a little time online. It keeps her busy and, judging from what I can see when I look over her shoulder, she even appears to be learning from some of the games (choosing the object that is different, colors, shapes, numbers, letters, etc.). I may have to start limiting the time she spends online, if it doesn't dissipate on its own once the novelty wears off a little. We did reach a low point the other day, though, when I heard Diego's voice coming from our PC and our TV at the same time. I don't think even POWs have to endure that.

A does seem to be learning at a rapid pace at this age, which is fun to watch. I went to a school supply store and purchased a set of cardboard letters. I then posted her name on the wall in her bedroom so that she can start learning to write it. She knows the letters and can write some of them, but she has a eight-letter name so I figure it will take her some time to learn all of the letters in order. (I wrote my own name as "Clpubia" for far longer than I should admit.) They are also working on this at school.

We are starting to see some of the effects of having her in a more formal preschool environment now. When P and I are casually passing from one room to another in our home, the kid flings herself in front of us and shrieks, "No! I'm the line leader!" She also forced me to walk behind her on the way into the grocery store on Tuesday. I don't know how the process of choosing a line leader works, but it certainly doesn't seem to be very democratic.

I do have another post rumbling around in my head and will sort it out this weekend. But for now, I have to cart my expansive self off to Weight Watchers. (It's not cool to have an Egg McMuffin after the meeting, right? Are you sure? Oh, okay.)