Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Don't Forget to Wave

Now that our vacation has reached the halfway point, I've made a couple of observations about the great state of Oklahoma.

One, there is an unwritten law that requires you to wave to drivers headed in the opposite direction on the back roads. I keep forgetting until it's too late - the benevolent, waving driver has already passed me, his hand held palm outward in the unrequited gesture. I was driving with my dad the other day so I appointed him as our official waver, since apparently I cannot handle the responsibility.

My mother informed me that there are degrees to the wave that are permissible. You can extend your whole arm and rotate your hand rapidly at the wrist, in an enthusiastic version of the greeting. Or, if you are feeling a bit peckish, you can get away with raising your index finger (no, not THAT finger) above your steering wheel.

The good news is that I'm in a rental car (with out of state plates), so whenever I forget to wave, the locals just think I'm a jerk from Nevada. I don't think anything terrible happens to non-wavers, except that I am probably accumulating bad karma at an alarming rate.

The other observation I have made is that the big style (for the younger girls, anyway) seems to involve skinny jeans and puffy boots. It was odd only from the perspective that it was around 70 degrees today.

Oh, I have to add that I got "howdy'ed" when we went out to eat today. And somehow, it felt downright genuine. People are plenty nice here, though they are friendly in my neck of the woods, too. When I bought groceries the other day, the young cashier (whose arms were the approximate diameter of a McDonald's drinking straw) brought our stuff out to the car and loaded it up for us. Apparently it is a requirement of some sort. I was all confused - do I tip? Not tip? I only had a twenty, so I decided to risk being deemed a jerk from Nevada than a crazy high-tipper from Nevada.

That's all the news for now. I'm headed to my sister's house for the night. You know, on the street with no name in the town with no name. Please send a posse if I don't come back.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Oklahoma's OK (or at least pretty damned decent)

The kid and I made it to Oklahoma on Saturday. Our flights were on time and we had no complaints (well, A had a few, but that's par for the course). God love the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport - we had a three-hour layover and they have a children's play area. We killed an hour there, until one member of our party loudly announced that she had to poop. I took her to a handicapped stall and stood facing the corner while my daughter yelled, "Don't look at my poop!"

My dad met our flight in Oklahoma City. My parents are in the process of moving to OK permanently, and my dad is still in DC, working. So, he arrived about an hour before we did, and we got a rental car and headed to the middle of nowhere. My mother lives in the middle of nowhere, and my sister lives somewhere west of nowhere. Seriously, she lives on a road that has no name. The British lady inside my GPS was completely baffled when I tried to drive over there for a visit.

As I was out and about yesterday, I turned on the radio in the rental car and hit the "seek" button. I watched it spin all the way around the dial and land on a hip-hop station. I can't figure out who is listening to it. The eight thousand cows I have seen are largely black but, um, that's about it. I don't mind a little hip-hop, but I'd reached my saturation point within an hour or so. Now I see why the rental car company was hawking satellite radio.

Other than the lack of a decent radio station, our trip is going pretty well. The kid is over the moon about spending quality time with my parents. My mom bought her toys and my dad is more than willing to watch Noggin with her. "Wonderpets" does creep him out a little, but I can hardly blame him on that one.

Anywho . . . it's a nice, quiet vacation. Not much going on out here. Seriously, though, if you need to dump a body at all, I'm pretty sure this is the place to do it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Off to Oklahoma (Where the Wind Comes Sweepin' Down the Plain)

The kid and I are headed to Oklahoma, Land of Meemaw, tomorrow morning. I've been packing since Tuesday. I'm trying to keep it pared down to the basics, but I also feel compelled to run through a few "what if" scenarios ("what if she rolls in a pile of opened magic markers?" - don't laugh, I actually have a very strong suspicion that she has done this) and plan accordingly. The kid, for her part, is being very helpful by filling our luggage with things like Mardi Gras beads and a small painted pumpkin.

We've run into one minor snag. Now, A has been housebroken for around eight months now and seldom has an accident. But yesterday, just as we were about to head out to see "Sesame Street Live," she peed through her underwear and onto the bathroom floor. I didn't think much of it, and got her changed and then cleaned up the bathroom. Later, after we got back from the gala performance, she was laying in my bed and peed again. Suddenly I started having nightmares about being ten states away with a child who has a roaring UTI.

I asked her a few questions like, "Does it hurt when you pee?" At first she nodded yes but then, realizing that such an admission would lead to a doctor visit, she recanted. We have had ongoing cooter-related issues since she was one or so. The pediatrician never finds anything, and the problem never really gets resolved.

So, I think I am going to try to get her an appointment today, just to be on the safe side.

I hope to be able to update my blog next week while I'm on vacation. My mom just bought a laptop and is working on getting an internet connection. She lives in a very small town and apparently her ISP options are pretty limited. Here is an example of how small the town is. When she called a local provider about getting an internet connection, the guy said this:

"Can you step outside and tell me if you have a clear view of the tower on the nursing home?"

My mom stepped outside and confirmed that she had an unobstructed view.

"Great," the technician told her. "We can get you hooked up."

I sure hope so, because nickjr.com is the only thing that enables me to have ten minutes to myself these days.

See you on the flip side.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hey, did we end up with an opened-box floor model or something?


Mmmm, cinnaminnamon toast

A had her six-month cleaning and check-up with our dentist yesterday. Her very first visit was in May and as I mentioned in a blog entry at that time, I learned then that she is defective: she's got an underbite.

At yesterday's visit, the dental hygienist was cleaning my daughter's teeth and mentioned the underbite. She gave me a knowing look and said, "You should start putting away money now for the orthodontia." She informed me that she used to work in an oral surgeon's office and that this sort of thing gets very expensive. Expensive, as in, you'll-be-living-off-Ramen-noodles-straight-into-your-golden-years expensive. "If it gets really bad, she won't even be able to bite into a sandwich," the hygienist said ominously. I had visions of my beautiful daughter developing some freakish Bulldog jaw. (In an ironic twist, I volunteer for Boxer rescue, and one of the tests to determine if a dog is a purebred Boxer is to confirm that the dog has an undershot jaw. This trait is desirable for the breed and in fact the AKC breed standard requires it. In humans, though, apparently this is not the case.)

Meanwhile, the kid was lying flat on her back with a flat-screen monitor hanging over her face. She even got to choose the flavor of toothpaste used to polish her misaligned choppers. Oh, and what does she get to watch while she gets her teeth cleaned? A Spongebob Squarepants cartoon. What do I get to watch on the monitor while I get my teeth cleaned? An x-ray of my own mouth. I've been robbed.

But, back to Little Miss Underbite. We are still paying on an adoption loan we took out when she was born. We will be making payments on it for years to come. So now it appears as though once we pay that off, we'll then start funneling our money straight into our daughter's mouth.

The dental hygienist had me believing that someday a surgeon is going to have to unhinge my daughter's child (you know, like a snake unhinges its jaw in order to swallow a cat or whatever?) and then re-align her bite and put her back together. When the dentist came in, however, he was a bit more conservative. He said we should wait until her adult teeth come in and then see where we are. It has been my experience that wrong things never fix themselves, but qui sait?

And people wonder why we have only one child.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

"You don't hafta go home, but you can't stay here."


After partying like a big dog

Saturday was a long one. I attended a Weight Watchers meeting at 8 a.m. I lost a couple pounds but again, it's the same few I keep losing and gaining. Anti-climactic at best.

Then I drove my van across town to the dealership for an oil change. I was overdue by 1,000 miles, but I'm sure they've seen worse. I listened to my iPod while I waited for the plastic pager to buzz the news of my van's ready-to-go-ness. One of the mechanics (technicians?) came towards me, clipboard in hand. "Shit," I thought. It seems like every other time I'm in there, they show me some random part from my car and tell me how degraded it is. "This is your schnehoozadumper hose, Mrs. M. See how rusty it is?"

But, I got lucky this time. It turned out they had forgotten to write down my pager number and were unable to summon me. They were sending me off with just the oil change, as luck would have it.

Next, I drove to Target to buy a gift card for a birthday party that the kid would be attending in the afternoon. Then I drove home and picked up Chloe so that I could take her to her new digs. Chloe's new home is about two hours away, and the trip was pretty uneventful. She snoozed on the backseat while I chatted with my wee baby sister on the phone. When we arrived at our destination, Chloe ran in to her new abode and promptly peed on a blanket. I had assured her new family that she was absolutely, positively housebroken, so that was fun. Chloe's new doggie brothers were happy to see her again, and the genital sniffing ("Hey, she's still got a vagina, just like last week!") and head punching were in full swing in no time.

I think Chloe barely noticed when I left, but I'm sure she was crying on the inside.

Once I got home in the late afternoon (A and P were still at the birthday party), I had just enough time to change and head over to the fellowship to help set up for an auction/fundraiser/dance. A and "Father" met me there at 6. The kids watched "Madagascar" and ate pizza while the grown-ups spent their money bidding on things like gourmet dinners and massages. I'd never bid on a massage. The last time I had a massage, I spent the entire session fretting over how the massage therapist was no doubt wondering how it was possible for one body to house that much cellulite.

After the auction, the DJ cranked up the music and the kids started filtering back in. Would you like to guess who was the first person to hit the dance floor? If you guessed that it was a curly-haired girl sporting glitter shoes and cake frosting, you're right. Then we couldn't get her off the dance floor. As I recall, she closed down the party last year as well.

I did win a few things in the silent auction: a six-hour chunk of babysitting by a Red Cross-certified 14-year-old, a cloth teepee (which is currently hiding in the basement and should make quite an impression on Christmas morning), and some Disney Princess stuff (also hiding in the basement).


Giddy and Chloe, taking their last nap together

Thursday, November 13, 2008

[Insert Expletives - the More Foul the Better - Here] Airlines

The kid and I are flying to Oklahoma next Saturday for Thanksgiving. We're connecting through Minneapolis. This is the fourth year we have flown for Thanksgiving, and each year the airlines find new and unusual ways to make the entire experience as unpleasant as possible. I knew there were new baggage fees since the last time we flew, so I called Northwest Airlines this morning to ask if I'd be charged if I check a car seat. In the past, a car seat did not count towards one's luggage limit at all. After all, it's a safety item for a child, required by law when traveling in a car, and not a set of golf clubs.

Knowing that the airlines are now charging for everything from Diet Coke to oxygen, I thought I'd better just make sure they weren't planning to charge me for checking a car seat. I sent an email through the NWA website (the acronym NWA always makes me think of the gansta rap group first and the airline second, which probably means there is something very wrong with me) and got an auto-reply indicating that I'd get a response in umpteen business days.

I waited a few days and then tried to call the baggage department at my local airport. The recording told me that I have to report my lost luggage in person and then there was a beeeeeep that seemed to indicate I should leave a message. Yeah, I'm sure they return those calls toute de suite. Then I called an 800 number for NWA. I was eventually connected with a woman who sounded like she had lost the will to live. I asked her my car seat question and she put me on hold.

Now, I should add that I did wade through the website first in order to find an answer to my question. The website says only that I can gate-check the car seat or take it on the plane and attach my child to it. We learned the hard way on our trip to Texas that putting the kid in a car seat lifts her up and out so that she can successfully kick the seat in front of her. Not fun. Plus, I really don't want to haul a car seat through three airports. It's just the two of us so I will already be carrying two coats, two carry-ons, Teddy, and whatever else my little boss lady makes me carry for her. ("Tote that barge and lift that bale, get a little drunk an' you land in jail . . . ") In any case, the website did not answer my question, so that is why I had the privilege and honor of speaking with Mrs. Sunshine and Rainbows.

When she came back from leaving me on hold ("Shoot That Poison Arrow" by ABC was playing, in case you wondered), she advised me that if I check the car seat, I will be charged for a second bag. In other words, it counts towards my luggage allotment.

"Let me make sure I understand this," I told her. "You are going to charge me $50.00 ($25 each way) to check a car seat, when that is approximately how much the car seat is worth? That doesn't make any sense."

She put me on hold, probably to finish up her suicide note, and then came back on the line and told me the same thing again. I went a few rounds with her, hoping she'd at least acknowledge that the policy is way stupid.

When I check in at the airport next Saturday, I will take up the issue again with some hapless NWA agent at the counter, while my husband stands far enough away to make it clear that he is not in any way acquainted with the crazy lady ranting about luggage fees.

Is it just me, or is this the most ridiculous thing you've ever heard? Either I pay to check the car seat or I lug it through three airports. What the $%&*?! I need a sedative.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Chloe-oh-wee-oh

I, wanna take you to my cage
Lock you up and hide the key
Chloe-oh-wee-oh

I often sing to Chloe to the tune of "Jungle Love" by The Time. This means that I am: a) lame, b) mentally unstable c) old, d) all of the above. Oh, and she's stone deaf, so there's that.

Chloe, a purebred Boxer, has been a guest in our home for nearly seven months. A lot of people passed her by, despite the fact that she is young, healthy, smart, and housebroken. Well, I am iffy on the "smart" part. She is intelligent in that she learns new commands quickly and easily. But the other day I was emptying the vacuum canister when it sprang open prematurely, dumping a heap o'gunk on the carpet. Chloe ran straight over and started eating it. I thought she would stop when she realized she was eating dirt but, ah, no.

Anyway, because she is deaf, most people dismissed her out of hand when they saw her on the rescue's website. Finally, though, an applicant came to meet her last weekend. Chloe was thoroughly obnoxious, and jumped all over her guests. However, these folks already have a Boxer and probably would have been surprised had she NOT jumped on them. They brought their other dogs along for the visit, and the three pooches ran around my backyard, taking turns punching each other in the head and sniffing each other's nether region.

Chloe will be going to her new home on Saturday. I will miss my "sweet little cupcake baked by the devil." She spoons with me at night. She grabs alphabet letters off the refrigerator and chews them up. She eats baby wipes like they are some fine gourmet delicacy. She humps my Boxer, Giddy. Each time I head down to the basement to grab the laundry, she shoves her head through the cat door and waits for me to come back up, resting her chin on the top step until I do.

Good luck in your new home, sassy girl. I'll miss you. Here, take the letter B - one for the road.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Stuff Not to Say to Moi

"Mama, you're sooooooooo . . . large."

That's what my precious daughter said to me on Saturday. Couldn't you just eat her up?

I did take her to Weight Watchers with me that morning. She doesn't know why I go or that it has anything to do with my apparent enormousness. She entertained herself during the meeting by drawing letters on a points tracker. At one point she whispered, "Mama, somebody farted at your meeting!" After Weight Watchers, we headed to a craft fair and then out to brunch with my friend Nancy.

Later in the afternoon, I drove out of town and stayed overnight at my friend Becky's house (in case you ever spend the night at Becky's, please note that she seriously turns the heat off overnight. I assured her that this would not keep me from freeloading in the future, but that it was darned good try.) I spent most of Sunday at a dog fair with the rescue. Let me just say this about that. If you ever attend a dog festival of some sort and you see me holding a leash with a homeless dog on the other end, do not say this: "He must smell my dog." Really, do you think so? It's okay, you didn't know that the 74 people who passed by before you also said it. That's why I'm telling you for next time. Write it down if you need to.

Anyway, you can say it if you want, but my foot will reflexively connect with your shin.

In other news, our kissing gourami finally expired over the weekend. I am feeling guilty because on Friday I said this: "I really wish we could put our Christmas tree right where the aquarium is." Fitting a tree in our smallish living room involves a massive restructuring each year. Plus, I had no idea that a) our kissing gouramis would live for 11 years (I know I am prone to hyperbole, but I assure you that 11 is accurate) and b) I would be the only one to clean the aquarium - ever. I never could tell the two fish apart when both were still alive, so I never named them or anything.

P did the honors of removing the fish. I am not sure what he did with the corpse. I know he was much too large to flush. A saw me emptying the aquarium and asked where the fish had gone. I explained that he had died because he was very old and his body didn't work anymore. Now, I should also add that I was out of town for a good chunk of the weekend and neither she nor her father noticed that the fish was pressed up against the glass on the front side of the tank, actively rotting.

As I was emptying the millionth pitcher of water into the sink, A came in and leaned against the pantry door. She sighed loudly. "I sure miss Goldie."

Wha?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Truly, truly maddening

I know I've complained about this before, but would someone please tell the media that raising a child makes you a parent - not just the act of giving birth?

I stumbled across this article about Nicole Kidman.

The quote that made my blood boil:

"Then, last July, Kidman gave birth to her first child, daughter Sunday Rose. Suddenly the long lenses were back, behind every bush and mailbox.

The new mother has reacted intensely with "whatever that primal thing is, the need and desire to keep her very protected," Kidman says."

This baby is not her first child and she is not a new mother! Her other children, Connor and Isabella, were adopted at birth and are now teenagers. The woman has been a mom for a long time now. But according to the media, I guess those were just practice kids and she's got her real one now.

I was in the delivery room when my daughter was born. The moment I saw her, I understood why people say that a mom can muster the adrenaline to lift a car off her child. I feel like I could lift a bus (fully-loaded) off my daughter if I had to. I know her by heart. My nostrils carry the scent of her hair and my fingertips are moist with her tears. Being her mom is my greatest joy, and anyone who thinks otherwise will be wearing the aforementioned bus.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

And you thought you could rely on inanimate objects to be . . . well, inanimate. (Alternate title: this is where the tall tales begin.)

Yesterday morning, I sent my cherubic daughter off to school in a light blue Gymboree frock ("with a beauuuuutiful ice skater princess on it, Mama") and with a white plastic headband perched on her skull.

When I picked her up, no headband. I learned that an amazing feat of physics had occurred during the afternoon. Apparently, the headband flew off her head and spontaneously snapped in two. "It broked all by itself," my daughter assured me solemnly.

"Really?" I responded. "You weren't, you know, twisting it?"

A shook her head vigorously. She didn't break down under cross-examination when her dad asked her about it at dinner either. You gotta give her credit for sticking to her story, no matter how illogical.

Later, when I was talking to my mom, she suggested that maybe a malevolent spirit had attacked my child. A spirit that . . . really has it in for headbands. I believe it may be related to the same malevolent spirit that has been known to color on our couch with a marker.

The worst part about the headband incident was that I had to take her to the grocery store with matted curls hanging in her face. She also had various stains (picked up in the course of the day) on her ice skater princess dress. Basically, I had to complete my shopping with a homeless street urchin sitting in my cart. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it?

Monday, November 3, 2008

My Overwhelming Popularity

One of my two readers sent me a little award. Woot!

Thanks, Jennifer! By the way, at one point I examined my friends list in Facebook and determined that a full 10% are named Jennifer. Apparently there was a scarcity of baby girl names from around 1970 to 1980. I noticed that the Duggar family held out as long as they could but ultimately bestowed the name upon the seventeenth of their J-themed clan. It was inevitable, really.

I should add that the Jennifer who sent me the award is, of course, my favorite.

In any case, apparently I am supposed to include the answers to a slew of questions. The caveat: you only get one word for each.

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Where is your significant other? Bed
3. Your hair color? Brown
4. Your mother? Glamorous
5. Your father? Kind
6. Your favorite thing? Daughter (if the answer was supposed to be an inanimate object, I'll go with "brownies")
7. Your dream last night? Unknown
8. Your dream/goal? Publication
9. The room you're in? Office
10. Your hobby? Writing
11. Your fear? Cancer
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Comfortable
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. What you're not? Easygoing
15. One of your wish list items? Money
16. Where you grew up? Virginia
17. The last thing you did? Flossed
18. What are you wearing? Pervert!
19. Your T.V.? On
20. Your Pet? Dogs
21. Your computer? Love
22. Your mood? Iffy
23. Missing someone? Family
24. Your car? Practical
25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
26. Favorite store? IKEA
27. Your Summer? Eventful
28. Love someone? Yes
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When is the last time you laughed? Yesterday
31. When was the last time you cried? Weeks

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When You Can't Get a Babysitter . . .

You stay home with your three-year-old, hook up your iPod to a speaker, and take photos of each other dancing. Wait, that's not what you did last night?



Saturday, November 1, 2008

Not That Kind of Father . . .

Trick-or-Treating was pretty uneventful. I dug out the kid's wagon and hauled her down the street. We have a nursing home about five blocks from our house. I don't think "nursing home" is the correct term and I know that "old folks' home" is not politically correct, but I assume you know the type of joint to which I am referring. It's the sort of place I've been threatening to put my parents for quite some time, even though they are only in their fifties.

Anyhow, the Harmony Home had a sign inviting trick-or-treaters, so we thought we'd check it out. There was a sign inside the door that read, "Follow the feet if you want a treat!" A followed the orange feet laid out on the carpet as they wound through several rooms. Kindly oldsters handed her a piece of candy as she passed by. The ladies, in particular, exclaimed over her princess gown.

"Her grandma made it," I'd say.
"What's that?"
"HER GRANDMA MADE IT!"

Then they'd smile and nod.

We passed through a lounge area where the residents were gathered around three round tables. At one of the tables sat a Catholic nun in full habit (no, it wasn't a costume - we have a heavy infiltration of Catholics in these here parts). My daughter walked to a bowl on the table and pulled out an individually-wrapped cherry Twizzler. She waved it in the air. "THIS IS FOR FATHER!" she said loudly and tossed it in her bag, knowing that my husband does love the Twizzlers.

I glanced over at the nun and then said, to no one in particular, "She, um, calls her dad 'father,'" I said. "We have no idea why." I've stopped telling people that it's a phase, seeing as how it's been going on for the better part of a year now.

After that, we headed back down the street to score some more candy. Then P and I switched places. Would you believe that one of our neighbors DID hand out full-size candy bars? And it's no ordinary Hershey bar either. It's a mint chocolate bar from a local chocolatier. It's too good for a three-year-old, don't you think? Work with me here!