Friday, July 31, 2009

Thanks for nothing, Gretchen

Gretchen failed her obedience class on Wednesday (and, believe it or not, we practiced!)

Gretchen’s Obedience Evaluation
A Quiz

1. On the recall, when I instructed Gretchen to come to me, did she:
a) Trot towards me quickly and obediently and then sit right where she was supposed to?
b) Walk towards me slowly but accurately?
c) Amble towards me hesitantly, as though she wasn’t sure we’d ever met?

2. On the finish, did she:
a) Circle me quickly and then sit in the proper heel position?
b) Circle around me aimlessly, like a heavily-medicated mental patient?
c) Sit in one position without moving?

3. On the sit-stay exercise, when I said, “Gretchen! Sit!” what did she do next?
a) Sit
b) Look at me as though she wasn’t sure how a stranger like me could know her name.
c) Immediately break the sit and follow me, instantly disqualifying herself.

4. On the stand-for-exam exercise, did she:
a) Stand stock-still as the instructor approached her?
b) Almost made it except for moving just a hair?
c) Wag her nub and indicate that since the instructor is her best friend (apparently), she would go ahead and walk towards the instructor so that they could be together faster?

5. On the heeling part of the evaluation, did she:
a) Heel beautifully at my side, almost as if we were one?
b) Heel in a half-assed manner?
c) Act as though this was her first day out in public and that she had no idea why I was holding a leash that was attached to her neck?

6. On the down-stay exercise, did she:
a) Do it flawlessly and not move a muscle?
b) Get up because the Golden Retriever next to her got up?
c) Sit but not lay down?

Answer key:

1. c
2. b
3. b and c are both technically correct
4. c
5. b and c are both technically correct
6. This was a trick question. The answer is a.

Needless to say, we'll be repeating the same class next session. We'll just sit in the back with the dumbasses, I guess.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Father Has Left The Building

Since a surprising number of people have asked me about this, it is my sad duty to report that Father is now just Daddy. Or sometimes Dada.

My daughter began calling her dad "Father" when she was around 2 1/2. One day she asked me a question and I said, "Go ask your father." So she turned on her heel and said, "Father . . ." Since that day, he was Father. Occasionally I have been called Mother, but I've mostly been simply Mama.

You get a lot of odd looks in public when your child is shouting, "Father! Look at me!" I can only guess what they must be thinking. Wow, those people sure are formal with their titles. At least she never took it any further than she did. I can just imagine her saying, "Excuse me, legal guardian? Please can I may have a fruit snack?"

In June, A moved into the four-year-old room at Kindercare (she turned four in May). You would not think there would be a big difference between three and four, but there is. The four-year-olds get to go on field trips and engage in more activities. Also, I've noticed that the girls are more clique-y. There's a lot of talk related to "so-and-so said she's not my friend anymore!" Although my daughter won't admit it, I'm 99% sure that someone in her class made fun of her for calling her dad Father. She quit cold turkey and started calling him by his new moniker, Daddy.

It's bittersweet, I guess. It had to end sometime, but it was darned cute. It was different. What really made me smile was how good-naturedly other people played along. One time I was in my car with my niece and A wasn't with us. I called A and then handed the phone to my niece so that she could talk to her cousin. I heard my niece say, "Oh, what are you and Father doing today?"

The more sobering part of this tale is the realization that she is now falling under the influence of others, and my own impact on her is shrinking. She knows who Hannah Montana is. She knows that some of her friend at school have dark skin and noses that are different from hers. There are still plenty of other concepts, though, that she simply thinks she knows.

The good news is that her dad and I still have some leverage. We are the only residents in our household, for example, who can reach the fruit snacks.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Barbie and the *&!%ing Diamond Castle

When the kid and I visited my mom for Thanksgiving last year, there were lots of goodies waiting for my daughter when we got there. My mom bought her a bunch of these-will-never-fit in your-suitcase toys and a couple of books. One of the books was called, "Barbie and the Diamond Castle." Knowing that my daughter loves all things girly, my mom thought it would be fun to read this particular story to A during our visit. Mom even lovingly wrote her granddaughter's name inside the front cover, employing her impeccable cursive penmanship.

Well, little did she know. As it turns out, the book makes no sense. I don't even think hallucinogenic drugs would help my comprehension level on this one. No two pages are related to each other. "I'll be sure to review the book more thoroughly before I buy one next time," said my mother ruefully. She persevered, though, and read the book to the kid.

The book starts out by explaining that these two chicks, who are best friends, live together in a run-down cottage in the middle of the forest. There is no explanation about why they live together or, moreover, why they live in the forest. They like music. The plot gets murkier from there. Something about some adorable puppies that appear out of nowhere, a villain, a prince who inexplicably flies in on a pegasus, a magic mirror with a chick trapped inside, and some sort of double-crossing that takes place. And far, far too many characters for a four-year-old (or her mother) to keep track of.

Every time the book surfaces, I try my best to bury it behind the hundred other books in her bookcase, but she always finds it. It's easy enough to skip pages when you read it to her, though, because doing so does not cause any sort of hole in the plot.

Here is a sample:

Lydia wanted to rule the Diamond Castle, so the other muses had used magic to hide it. Furious, Lydia had played her evil flute and turned the muses to stone.

Melody had escaped with the only key to the castle's hiding place, then hidden herself inside the mirror. And she had not uttered a sound - until she sang with Alexa and Liana.

Unfortunately, Lydia's helper, Slyder, heard Melody's singing and quickly alerted Lydia.

Alexa and Liana knew they had to help Lydia find the Diamond Castle.

"It is hidden near the Seven Stones," Melody told them.

The girls quickly set off on their journey. Along the way, they met two adorable puppies that they named Lily and Sparkles.

They find the puppies in a field of flowers. Oh, and the girls just happen to be wearing floor-length dresses at all times. Seriously, if someone gives your kid this book, put it on eBay immediately.

Fast forward to this week, when A's Godfather gave her a Toys R Us gift card as a belated birthday gift. I suggested to P that he take her to Toys R Us after dinner on Monday and see if they could find Cranium's Hullabaloo game (she played it with her cousin in Virginia and really enjoyed it). Alas, the game is not sold there. Instead, they came back with yet another Disney princess play set (the Polly Pocket-type dolls that wear rubbery dresses and microscopic shoes that do not stay on their feet no matter what) and a DVD. I took one look at the DVD and nearly lost my dinner. It was, of course, "Barbie and the Diamond Castle." Apparently the book was based on a movie (which doesn't really excuse the incomprehensibility thing).

I sure hope nothing . . . happens to either one.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Rockin' Robin

There is a small tree just outside our home office/guest room window. A few weeks ago, we noticed that a robin had constructed a nest in its slender branches. A robin making a nest is not usually noteworthy, except for the fact that in this case she assembled the nest just five feet off the ground (thankfully, she chose a tree outside the fenced part of our yard, which means that the dogs are blissfully unaware of her existence). Also, I think it's pretty late in the season for most birds to be laying eggs but maybe she decided to finish her education before starting a family. Who knows. In any case, it's been interesting to watch her and to wait for the eggs to hatch, since of course such things usually take place high in the treetops, where tiny miracles pass unnoticed by us land-bound bipeds. Periodically, we lift the kid up so she can look in the nest and take a peek at the trademark blue eggs of the robin.

One day, I came home from work and actually thought the mama bird was dead. She was face down in the nest with her tail feathers in the air. I watched her for an eternity and she did not move a muscle. My heart sank, as I thought about a hawk or some other predator having come along and killed her. I saw The Lion King, people! I know about the Circle of Life! But, it turns out I'm a moron and she was just feeding her newly hatched baby.

I took a quick photo of the wee robins when their mom was away. The jury is out on whether they are adorable or hideous. It's a fine line sometimes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Liar, Liar . . . Dress on Fire

"Mama, I need a new dress." She looked at me expectantly, knowing I wouldn't go down without a fight. She braced herself and put her hands on her hips.

"What's wrong with that one?" I asked her. "It's perfectly fine." She was wearing an adorable fuchsia dress with matching shoes.

"But it doesn't . . . TWIRL!"

We have variations of this debate almost daily. She knows I don't really want her changing her dress unless there is something wrong with the one she's wearing, so oftentimes she'll spill water on herself and then announce that she can't possible wear a wet dress. "I'll dry it with the hair dryer!" I tell her helpfully, which causes her to erupt into an apoplectic rage.

During the most recent episode of the dress-changing debate, I did finally give in and tell her that she could change her dress. Fine, whatever. I love extra laundry. Her list of requirements when it comes to dresses is growing ever longer. She has not worn pants for over a year. First off, the dress has to be a soft cotton knit. If it's denim or corduroy, she won't wear it. "No hard dresses," she tells me. (My mom thinks it would be funny to walk into The Children's Place and ask, "Excuse me, where do you keep your hard dresses?") Second, it can't have any external pockets. Third, it has to be relatively long. And fourth, it has to twirl. I don't think this is going to end until we get to the point where she heads out of the house each day in some voluminous square dancing frock.

But, a girl never knows when she might have the need to twirl. I get that (or at least try my best to play along). So off she went to pull a new dress out of her closet. A few minutes later I was buttoning and tying the back of a flowing sundress. "Where did you put the other dress?" I asked her.

Without hesitation, my daughter looked me in the eyes and said, "I put it down the laundry chute." If by "down the laundry chute" she meant, "left it in a crumpled heap on my bedroom floor," then her statement would be accurate. The situation was fairly cut and dried: she lied. I set the kitchen timer for four minutes and escorted Miss Twirly to the time-out corner, where she burst into tears and screamed as though I'd made her wear overalls or something.

The evening got better, though. We have a rule that you don't have to eat your entire dinner but you do have to try at least one bite of everything. Just one. That same evening, I made a rather innocuous cheese and vegetable casserole. I insisted that the kid try a bite. It didn't even have to be a bite of a green thing, even a potato would do. I gave her several chances. She refused, so I put her to bed early. She put on her Daisy Duck nightgown and climbed into bed without questioning the penalty too much. As the hours ticked by, I felt guilty that she was in her bed flipping through books while the sun shone through a blue sky outside. Despite the guilt, giving an inch just seemed like a bad idea.

Still, I don't know if she really got it. "Do you know why I put you to bed early?" I asked.

She looked up from the copy of Everyone Poops that she was reading. "Because it's bedtime?"

Did I make the right parenting decision? I guess I'll never know. The good news is that the nightgown she was wearing . . . it twirls.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The stopping day

I got a call from my stad today. I was a little startled because he doesn't call me too often. Not because he doesn't love me (he does) or because I'm not his favorite (I'm sure I am), but because he generally thinks that when my mom calls me, that counts as him calling me. So I was a little surprised to see his number come up on my Caller ID earlier.

When I answered, he casually asked me what I was up to. So, I filled him in on the glamour that is my life. I did a charity bike tour this morning and then watered what passes for a garden in my back yard. In the back of my mind I was a little worried. Was something wrong with my grandma? With him? Had he found my old "Thriller" album in the basement and wanted to let me know that it is now worth a bajillion dollars?

"I stopped drinking twenty years ago today," he told me. "You were one of the reasons I stopped, so I just wanted to thank you for that." I felt tears forming behind my eyes. I congratulated him and told him I was so happy he'd made it.

You see, twenty years ago our family was a bit of a train wreck. Pop was an alcoholic but we didn't seem to know what to do about it. My mother had reached her breaking point and had begun to think of creating a life for herself that did not include her husband, though she loved him beyond all measure. A few years ago, my grandma (my stad's mom) said to me, "I never knew how bad things had gotten at your house." When you live with an alcoholic, you don't exactly advertise it to the neighbors. I didn't turn to a classmate in my Sociology 101 class and say, "Hey, did I mention that my family is imploding?"

We wanted everyone to view Pop the way they always had. He was the guy who had taken on a ready-made family when he was just 21 years old, who dropped all of us "ladies" off at the front door when we went to a restaurant. He was the jovial dad who called all of my male friends "big guy" (even if they weren't). He was the friendly man who knew everyone, and treated them all kindly. "Hey man, how're you doing?" he would say to the busboy at Anita's, our family's favorite restaurant. He drove us (or sometimes flew us) to Myrtle Beach in the summer and always made sure we had the time of our lives. He kept a change jar on his dresser and you could take a scoop when you needed it (you have no idea how much I miss that change jar).

But, he was also the guy who stayed out too late and, since we only had one car, prevented us from getting groceries. The one who sometimes said things we knew he didn't mean.

What I said to my stad that summer day was nothing overly profound or earth-shattering. I was 19, a college freshman. As I recall, it had been a particularly bad day in our home. That evening, I came up the stairs from my bedroom and found him sitting on the couch. "You have to stop," I told him matter-of-factly. And, all at once, he did. He didn't go to AA or seek treatment as far as I can recall. He simply gave it up. Maybe I just happened to catch him at the precise moment he needed to hear it. Maybe drinking just wasn't any fun anymore. Whatever it was, he turned that corner and never went back.

In time, our family healed itself from within and came out stronger on the other side. It's hard to believe twenty years have passed. When I hear my daughter squeal, "Granddaddy!" and then watch her jump into his arms, I am as grateful as ever for the stopping day.

Congratulations, Pop. I love you.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Brittney's Baby (Catching Up on the DVR)

Did you see the episode (actually a two-parter) of Dr. Phil about the pregnant teen (Brittney) who didn't know what to do? I don't know if it was a repeat or not. Dr. Phil has been regurgitating old episodes all summer.

I watched both episodes last night, as I was catching up on all the shows that piled up on the DVR while I was on vacation. Speaking of the DVR, I know we've only been seeing other since January, but I really think it's true love. I'd have it cremated with me when I die except that I think Time Warner Cable would frown on that. We did have one little spat when I got back from vacation, though. It stopped recording when it got full, which was a bummer because I really wanted to see what Ruby is up to. I also watched the episode of Intervention where Bret finally got sober and then . . . died of esophageal cancer. I cried my mascara right off when his son said, "he died a dad - not an alcoholic." I still have an episode of Obsessed to watch as well, so that I can be reminded that, at the end of the day, I'm probably downright normal. Did you see the one about the lady who was terrified of pooping? Yowza.

But back to Brittney. Brittney became pregnant at 15 and her parents were understandably upset. Dr. Phil sat Brittney down with three young women who had made three different choices when they became pregnant (say what you will about Dr P, but I thought this was an excellent approach). Each was at peace with her decision. One chose abortion, one chose adoption, and one chose to parent. Brittney knew right off the bat that abortion wasn't the right choice for her. So that left her with two options. When the girl who chose adoption was speaking, I liked that she said, "I didn't give away my baby. I made a plan for him." I know I'm always kvetching about this, but the term "give up for adoption" drives me batty. No child should go through life thinking that someone gave him away or gave up on him. She also listened to the young woman who chose to parent. Many, many teens do choose to parent, with varying levels of success. A lot depends on how much family support they get.

In the second episode, Brittney revealed that she had chosen adoption for her baby. I have to confess that I felt there was a good chance she might change her mind. Dr. Phil also introduced Brittney to a woman who'd endured FIVE failed adoptions. I know of stories like hers, and this is a major reason why P and I have not pursued another adoption. Even if we had the money, the emotional risk is very, very high. By bringing her into the picture, perhaps it helped make Brittney aware of the full import of her decision. Adoptive parents are painfully aware that birthparents have the legal right to change their minds, but that doesn't make it any less wrenching.

In the postscript after the show, it was revealed that Brittney did indeed make (and carry out) an adoption plan for the baby. She seemed at peace with her decision, though I think her parents were still struggling a lot. I felt buoyed by Brittney's courage. Just when you want to shake your fist at all the world's teenagers and carry on about those young upstarts . . . you remember that Olympic gymnasts are bringing home gold medals at 13. And then you remember that your mom was a teenager when you were born and well, maybe you don't know what you are talking about after all.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Magical Stuff

One of the highlights of our vacation was an afternoon spent in Old Town Alexandria. My dad works at Murphy's Irish Pub so we also scored a free lunch while we were at it. We took my nephew along for the trip. In the past, I was always hesitant to take him anywhere (without my sister coming along) because he had such severe allergies (milk, eggs, nuts, etc.) that I worried I would inadvertently send him into anaphylactic shock. Like a cheese doodle might get away from me or something. However, he has now outgrown the egg and dairy allergies so the odds of me snuffing him out by accident have decreased considerably.

We visited the Torpedo Factory (art center) and then walked along the waterfront. It was a beautiful day and even the Potomac was looking particularly picturesque. There was a balloon man out by the docks. Whenever and wherever there is a balloon man to be found, I am always the sucker parent who forks over a couple bucks for a twisty latex flower/dog/wand. Then, invariably, my daughter will scrape her balloon along a tree or the side of a building until it pops.

This particular balloon man was very funny and animated. As he was twisting pink and purple balloons into the shape of a flower, he joked with her and made funny comments. Then he asked her, "What is that?" He leaned forward and tweaked my daughter's nose, pulling out a Dum-Dum sucker in the process. "Look what you had in your nose!" he exclaimed. My daughter just shrugged as if to say, "Yeah, I guess I did!"

I love the way kids can so easily employ a willing suspension of disbelief. She never seemed to doubt that she'd had a lollipop in her nostril. A few minutes later, I heard her telling her cousin, "I had this in my nose." In a few years, she won't believe such things and then Santa will come tumbling down, too. But, perhaps the memory of that simple moment will somehow remain.

What really made my day on that particular excursion was the water glass guy. I had heard of rubbing the rim of a water glass to create a musical tone, but I had never seen it taken to this level. I was mesmerized. P kept asking, "Are we done now? How about now?" I think I could've stayed all afternoon. There were dozens of glasses of varying sizes, each tethered to the table with a series of rubber bands. He played song after song, many of them Christian hymns. His hands flew over the glasses, a stroke here and a stroke there somehow creating one cohesive melody. His talent was its own kind of magic.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Dear Readers,

The bathroom scale has made us aware of an error in a previous entry. The sentence "However, I am determined not to gain more than a pound or two on vacation" should have read "five pounds." We regret the error.

- editor

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yertle the Turtle

My sister and her family somehow ended up with a box turtle in their possession. They dubbed him Yertle, and he is currently living in a mulched area next to the front porch.

The circumstances under which Yertle showed up are a bit mysterious. Someone came to the door a couple weeks ago and when my sister opened the door, the visitor said she had the wrong house. Then, almost as an afterthought, she asked, "Hey, did you know you have a turtle in your yard?" So, who knows if the turtle showed up on his own or if the visitor left him there.

Yertle munching freeze-dried crickets. That's good eatin'!

My sister and her boyfriend immediately began doing research about box turtles. The oogiest tidbit they learned: "Female box turtles are capable of storing sperm from one mating for up to four years. This allows them to lay eggs for several seasons without mating. " [Proof that I did not make this up.]

After a day or two, my sister got in touch with a local reptile rescue person. The rescue chick was pretty hardcore. "If you keep him, you are slowly killing him," she told my sis. "You need to release him so that he can continue on to where he was headed." Now, it is not like Yertle had a "Bethesda or bust!" sign taped to the back of his shell. My sister and her family live in the suburbs of DC, where soul-crushing traffic is the norm. There is no "wild" nearby to speak of, where one might release a wayward turtle (unless you count the thicket of four trees across the street). The road that runs past their house is quite busy, and they don't particularly want to explain to the kids later on why there are pieces of Yertle all over the street. There is a small park/playground in the neighborhood, but we can just picture Yertle meeting his maker when some big industrial mower comes through to cut the grass.

For now, the ethical dilemma continues. Do they release him or continue to look after him? He seems content for the moment. He buries himself in the mulch, but comes up rapidly when offered crickets, meal worms, or corn on the cob (no kidding!). They leave out a tray of water for him, and he always poops in it before drinking out of it (which is oddly endearing, believe it or not).

To test out the theory of "where he was headed," we set him down in the yard (outside the fenced area) a few days ago. Yertle turned and marched very purposefully . . . towards the house. We repeated the experiment several times and he headed for the bricks every time. What would you do?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Bad, Bad Man

Since I'm on vacation, my most strenuous thinking probably should be something like, "Didn't I wear this shirt once already this week?" I do have one vexing little nugget that's been rumbling around in my brain, though. Last week, my middle sister forwarded to me an email from an ex-neighbor of hers. The neighbor was attempting to persuade my sister of all the reasons why the arrest of Frank Lombard proves the point that gays should not be permitted to adopt children.

Frank Lombard, a gay Duke University official, apparently had sex with his young son (who was adopted at birth) and then hopped on the Internet and invited others to come over and violate his son as well. Fortunately, he was caught as a result of an undercover sting operation.

The crimes allegedly committed by Lombard gave some ultra-conservative folks exactly the opening they'd been hoping for. "See?" they've been exclaiming with fists pumping into the air. "We told you!"

I have gay friends who have children (both adopted and biological). Do you want to know what same-sex parents do with their kids? Come closer, because I don't want this getting out. Ready? Okay, here goes. They take them to the park. They yell at them for not making their beds. They make dinner every night - well, except for the nights they cheat and order pizza. They help their children with homework. Sometimes, they let their offspring go to bed without brushing their teeth first.

In short, gay parents are just as dull as the rest of us.

The truth is that the vast majority of pedophiles are decidedly heterosexual. My friend J referred to Frank Lombard as a "statistical anomaly" and really, there's no better way to put it. Lombard is a reprehensible human being and that fact that he is gay doesn't make him any more or less vile. It's clear that he should never have been permitted to adopt a child. However, if he had no criminal history and passed all the other tests, I doubt the agency or social worker who placed a child with him had any way to know that underneath the fancy job title and social standing lay one demented piece of dung. Thank goodness he was stupid/cocky enough to get online and brag about the abuse, because now (with a little luck and a little faith in the justice system), he will have plenty of time to think about it in prison (where even the most hardened criminals are known to despise pedophiles).

I hate to think of all the couples out there who, thanks to the publicity surrounding the Lombard case, may never have the opportunity to become parents now. Birthparents wishing to place their baby for adoption may think twice about choosing a same-sex couple. I think back to a friend of my parents when I was growing up. Ron was gay and desperately wanted to be a dad. This was in the mid-80s, though, and back then he was as likely to sprout wings as to become a dad. He was always so nice to my sisters and me, and once bought us a gumball machine that sat on a pedestal. I don't know if my parents were all that thrilled about it (I don't recall that we had dental insurance consistently), but my sisters and I thought it was the best present ever.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The one where I brag about how I'm on vacation and you're not

I'm on vacation in sunny, scenic Northern Virginia. We're freeloading off my sister and her boyfriend. The kid is having a great time playing with her cousins. It is challenging at times to keep an only child occupied, so it's nice to be able to turn her loose with my niece and nephew, and then just check on them periodically to make sure they're all still alive.

I purposely did not over-plan our days while we're on vacation. I do enough of that back home. Once I recovered from the long drive (I've blocked most of it out, particularly the part where my child lost her mind somewhere in Pennsylvania and started speaking in tongues), I settled into vacation mode: sleeping past the time the dogs would normally allow, drinking a bit more wine than is ordinarily prudent, and buying things I don't really need.

We hit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall on Sunday, which was our first full day after arrival. The weather was iffy, which seemed to result in smaller crowds than usual. Normally when we go to this festival, it's 100 degrees in the shade and I rapidly spend my paycheck on $4 cups of lemonade. This year, the festival featured Latino culture, the role of the spoken word in African-American culture, and Wales. I particularly enjoyed a performance by the Welsh Choir "Only Men Aloud!" They were talented and adorable. I started looking to see if any of them were wearing wedding bands but on closer inspection it occurred to me that many of the gents are probably dating . . . each other. Oh, c'mon - you know the cute ones always are! On Monday, we went to Potomac Mills for a bit of shopping and then took A and my niece to see Ice Age 3 (it was watchable, but you may as well wait for this one to hit your Netflix list). Mostly, we've just been relaxing, hanging out on the deck, and eating stuff we'd never buy if we were at home (it's probably for the best that we don't have a Trader Joe's within 100 miles of our house).

Today we visited my grandma and my stad. We hung out for a while and chatted, but I decided it was time to go when my daughter found a tassel hanging on a knob, attached it to her butt, and announced that she was farting just like a horse. Isn't she precious? We stopped at the grocery store on the way home after our visit. The kid proceeded to grab a handbasket and then informed us that she was "a different person." Apparently, if she isn't HER then we have no jurisdiction over her and can't tell her what to do. The logic is fishy, but you can't blame her for trying. Different Person ran around the store, chatted with a few strangers, and then started tossing random crap into the basket. "Different person," I kept telling her, "Put that back. We're not buying it."

I may try this "different person" tactic when I get back to work next Tuesday.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Au Revoir, Mes Amis

I'm leaving on a jet plane an excruciatingly long car trip. We're headed to the nation's capital to freeload off my sister for a week. I may post a blog entry or two next week, if you play your cards right.

I'm looking forward to the vacation itself, but the car trip . . . not so much. We did purchase a new DVD player after the last one passed away. So, a few dozen viewings of "The Little Mermaid" should keep the wee one moderately entertained on the trip. (As an aside, has anyone ever noticed that Ariel is only 16 when she gets married? It always surprises me that no one ever raised a ruckus over that, since ruckuses have been raised over far lesser things.) I wish we'd had a DVD player when I was a kid. Instead, you had no choice but to sit in the back of your mom's Monte Carlo and punch your sister (and, once got so mad that you pulled out a chunk of her hair and hid it under the seat, but . . . you didn't hear that from me).

Aside from the challenge of keeping a small child occupied for 16 hours, my other concern is with food. The rest stops along the way all seem to feature the same restaurants. ("Another TCBY and a Cinnabon? No way! What are the odds?") I'm packing some snacks from home in hopes that I'll be able to resist the "I'm on vacation and therefore can eat myself into a stupor" trap. However, I do need to indulge in a few of the items that I can get in the DC area (where I grew up):
  • Entenmann's Chocolate Chip Cookies (I can get the doughnuts where I live, but not the other stuff for some reason)
  • Utz's Barbecue Chips
  • A chocolate chip cookie from Larry's Cookies
  • Pizza from Bugsy's in Old Town Alexandria

As you can see, I'm pretty much a health nut. However, I am determined not to gain more than a pound or two on vacation. I can pack on five pounds in a weekend if I set my mind to it, so gaining only a pound or two over ten days is no small feat.

So, I'll see you on the flip side! Oh, and don't rob my house while I'm on vacation - my neighbor and her huge, vicious (probably rabid) dog are watching it for us while we're gone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


The wound. We are pretty sure she will lose the foot.

When my sisters and I were growing up, we never knew where Mom kept the band-aids. To this day I do not have any earthly idea where she stored them. If any of us had an injury that (in our opinion) required a band-aid, we first had to show the wound to our mother. Basically, you had to be :::this::: close to needing stitches and then maybe, possibly, if the planets aligned just right, you could have a band-aid. Ideally, your wound had to be deep enough that she could see your internal organs when she peered into it. If you weren't actively bleeding, you didn't even bother asking for one.

If she did agree to dole out an adhesive bandage, she'd say "wait right here" and then go into her bedroom, shutting the door behind her. You'd hear combination locks spinning and deadbolts clanging and vaults opening and then a few minutes later you'd have your band-aid. And if you got it wet an hour later and it fell off . . . fuggetaboutit. You were done.

Now that I have an accident-prone child of my own, I think I understand why band-aids must be kept hidden. For starters, they're not cheap. Currently, I have Batman, Spongebob Squarepants, and Hello Kitty band-aids (of various sizes) in stock. A couple weeks ago, the kid wore some new shoes and was rewarded with a blister on the side of her foot. Now, she continues to insist that she is about to bleed out through this weeks-old owie.

"Mama, can I have a band-aid?" She pointed to the place where the blister once existed and where there was now just a tiny speck of disrupted skin.

"I'll think about it," I replied. (Translation: if we stop talking about it, maybe, for the love of God, she'll forget about it.)

Thirty seconds later: "Mama, I really need a band-aid."

"If you say 'band-aid' one more time you are going to time-out. Seriously."

I was kneeling down to help her dry off after her bath. She cupped my cheeks in her hands and pulled my face close. "Mama, would you just think about giving me a band-aid? Would you just think about that?"

A few minutes later, she was dancing around the living room, a Hello Kitty band-aid stuck firmly to her instep. Sometimes, my sanity is worth more than a band-aid. Makes me wonder about my Mom, though.