Monday, February 28, 2011

Skating away

Let me start by stating that I am not a graceful or athletic person. I go to step aerobics and yoga, but I never get any better at either one. In aerobics, I actually have to count my steps just to keep vaguely in synch with the rest of the class. In yoga, my skills are not exactly legendary either.  I was attempting this arm balance in class last week (called the Crow Pose):

Annnnnnd after balancing for about .000078 seconds, I pitched forward onto my face and then rolled onto one shoulder.  I ended up off my mat and well into the middle of the room. "Ha ha!" I said (since everyone was looking at me). "So close!"  Because obviously I was not even vaguely close.

In general, I am fairly clumsy and often have bruises I can't explain.  As I've already made abundantly clear, I don't have what you'd call athletic prowess.  However, I get out there.  I ride my bike, I go to classes, I hit the treadmill at the gym.

My daughter, however, will not "get out there."  If she doesn't believe she has an innate ability to do something, she will not try.  I'm convinced this is why she didn't walk until she was 14 1/2 months old.  She never practiced walking - she just waited until she knew she could.  In the intervening years, we have purchased the following items for her: roller skates (Barbie ones that fit over her shoes), a scooter, a tricycle, and a two-wheeled bike with training wheels.  The number of these items she has used: zero.  Well, I exaggerate. She has used most of the items once or twice. The skates were the worst purchase.  We got them on her once, she fell down once, and she was done - permanently (at least as far as skating in our driveway goes). 

I took A to the local roller skating rink on Saturday.  We donned our rental skates and then completed one lap, with me holding her hand.  She gripped the wall but still would have fallen multiple times had I not been holding her hand. She was getting more frustrated by the second. I then got my hands on a training contraption in case that might help. It's a triangular thing made out of PVC piping with wheels on the bottom. The idea is that a kid can keep his/her balance while learning to keep their feet under them.  We tried using the training thingamajig for the next lap.  I thought she was doing fine but she couldn't go as fast as the other kids and she got mad.  "I want to go home!" she shrieked through her tears. 

I brought her off the skating floor and tracked down the rink's owner, Mary.  Mary has owned the place since the Vietnam War. No exaggeration this time - the rink's decor bears this out. She is a fit little lady who genuinely loves children, and roller skates every day of her life. I asked her if she had any tips for me. I hated to see my daughter give up on skating and never want to come back.  She nodded, laced up her skates, and took the kid out on the floor.  She asked me to stay behind and wait by the lockers. I watched as Mary worked so patiently with my daughter, teaching her to take tiny steps. When they came back, I asked A if she still wanted to go home.  She seemed less stressed than before, but nodded. I thanked the owner for working with her.

I guess I'm just disappointed because I like skating and want her to like it too.  How do I convince her that eventually, she'll have to fall down? And that this won't be the worst thing ever to happen to a kid?  Summer is coming and I want her to get outside and DO stuff.  It's just interesting to me that someone with such advanced social skills is so skittish in this one particular area.

As we were leaving, she said, "Next Saturday let's just go to a movie."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Reader, Reader

It amazes me what kids learn in Kindergarten these days. Here's what I remember doing in Kindergarten:
  • Gluing pieces of paper to other pieces of paper
  • Sitting at the "blue" table (each table had a color)
  • Befriending a boy named Carl
And that's it.  My daughter, on the other hand, is learning math, reading, writing, science, computers, and so forth.  I've been particularly impressed with her reading skills.  The bad news is that now I suppose I'll have to explain foul bumper stickers and the like. Greeaaaat.

Sometimes she gets a little bit cocky about her reading abilities.  The other day we passed Hooters on our way to Red Robin.  "Huh," she said with a casual shrug. "I didn't know we have a Hotters here." When she is reading and she doesn't know a particular word, she typically doesn't attempt to sound it out or, God forbid, ask for help.  She just substitutes some random word - typically one that does not even start with the same letter - and keeps going.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a little video clip of A reading "Chicken Soup with Rice" (just the first three months, though).  I think it goes without saying that she is a genius. As further proof, I will subject you to a video of her saying her alphabet when she was just 20 months old.  See, I told you - gen-i-us.

Of course, the little brainiac wore her tee shirt inside out all day on Monday, persists in singing incorrect lyrics constantly, and still thinks we store our cheese in "the fridgelator."  But still . . .

Monday, February 21, 2011

The one in which I attempt a segue between halitosis and Strawberry Shortcake

The kid is recovering well from her surgery and was all set to go back to school today . . . until school was canceled because of a winter storm, that is.  The only real issue we've noticed after the surgery is her breath.  It could "knock a buzzard off a shit wagon" as my stad would say. The doctor had warned us about this possibility, but I guess we didn't think about it until it came to fruition. I assume it has something to do with dried blood and/or healing tissue from the adenoidectomy.  Whatever it is, we don't have the heart to say anything to her.  Of course, one time I ate some garlic-parmesan pretzels and the kid didn't hesitate for a second to tell me that I had problem. There was all sorts of hand-waving-in-front-of-the-nose and "Oh my gosh, your breath, Mama!" theatrics going on.

Other than that, she's been doing fine.  She goes back in for a follow-up with the doctor on Thursday. She and I spent the day together on Saturday.  We went to Weight Watchers, out for breakfast with a friend of mine, and then to a local farmers' market (yes, a farmers' market in the winter - see, I told you we were capable of finding a festival or celebration anywhere and any time!) The kid got her face painted and ate a wee cupcake on a stick ($7 for the face painting, $2 for the microscopic cupcake, in case you wondered). After that, we headed to a meet-n-greet that the rescue was holding at a pet supply store about an hour north of us.  We weren't there officially as volunteers - we just went to check it out and say "hey" to the others. I bought Gideon a skull-and-crossbones collar because you know how he likes to look tough with his four remaining teeth and all. We rounded out the afternoon by catching a performance of "Beauty and the Beast" at our local junior high.  A friend from church was playing Belle (yes, we are that well-connected!)

I was a little nervous all weekend because I was scheduled to lead the service at church on Sunday as well as to deliver the sermon. I must say I have a renewed respect for pastor-types, as it took me a couple of months to a) come up with a topic, b) write it, and c) obsessively edit the bejeebers out of it. Obviously there'd be no hope of pulling this off every week. Also, I'm officially out of topics now (this was my third time presenting) so I guess it's a moot point anyway. 

Part of our service entails reading a story to the children before they go off to their religious education classes.  I chose a book called "Hooray for Diffendoofer Day!" by Dr. Seuss.  I sat in a rocking chair and the fellowship's youngsters sat on the floor in front of me.  My kid made sure she was physically closer to me than anyone else. As I was reading, another little girl made the mistake of inching closer to the chair.  I was trying not to look down but out of the corner of my eye, I saw my daughter's arm fly out and give the other child the  universal "stop" signal of the open hand.  By this time, A was sitting on my feet, with her arms and legs wrapped around my calves. At that point, she could not get any closer to me without having herself surgically implanted in my flesh, so she settled for glaring at the other kids.  I wasn't expecting the green-eyed monster to appear quite so menacingly during an innocent children's story!

A snowstorm was scheduled to roll in by afternoon, so we stopped at Red Robin* for an early lunch after church. I had my free birthday burger coupon and, as you may have noticed, I am not one to let free things go by. After that, we headed to Best Buy to buy a wireless router. Our neighbor was willing to let us tap into her wireless network, but the signal was not strong enough.  Anyway, we can now view streaming movies through our Netflix account (via the PS3).  A immediately wanted to watch Strawberry Shortcake, which caused us immediately to second-guess the purchase of the router.

The storm ended up dumping about a foot of snow on our fair city. I can't say that I'm too upset about it, in as much as the poop swamp in the back yard has now been returned to its unseen glory.

*After lunch, I played the claw machine and won something on my first try (an orange teddy bear).  Just as P started to say, "You know you'll never win any-" my ugly little bear came tumbling down the chute.  Take that!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Daddy-Daughter Dance

The glitz! The glamour! A gymnasium full of little girls jacked up on cupcakes and ice cream!

Tonight was the long-awaited Daddy-Daughter Dance. A has been looking forward to this event ever since the invitation arrived weeks ago. I bought her a velvet navy blue dress at Lands' End.  It is a traditional, classic style and I know this was probably my last chance to get her in something like that before she falls further under the influence of other kids at school.  Also, it was on sale - not because it had some kids' monogram on it (as you find with some bargains at the Lands' End outlet), but because the style has been discontinued.  Anyway, I glammed her up a bit with some fancy barrettes, dressy shoes, and glitter in her hair.  Plus, she got to wear her "big girl" add-a-pearl necklace.

P ordered a corsage for her, and she was thrilled about that.  Yesterday she told her dad, "Daddy, I want you to wear your marrying day suit to the dance."  He didn't plan to wear a tux (which is what he wore on his "marrying day," of course), but he did wear a nice suit.  I took a bunch of photos before they left and, much to my surprise, he was willing to take my camera along and snap a few at the dance itself.

The whole scene was undeniably adorable. I took pictures and then my husband strapped his date into her car seat and they headed out to paint the town red.  Or at least the gymnasium of the local high school.  As for me, this was the first time I've had the house to myself in a solid year.  Woot!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

She's not leavin' til she's heavin'

My daughter had her surgery today. Yes, I know it's a relatively minor procedure (installation of tubes in her ears plus adenoidectomy) but I'm a worrier. I held it together until the nurses wheeled her down the hall into the operating room.  Her dad and I were instructed to go and wait in the lobby.  I made the mistake of turning around to look at her one last time and she just looked so . . . tiny.

She didn't go into surgery until nearly noon, so it was a bit of a rough morning.  I have to say that I'm sure this whole scene was much easier with a 5.75-year-old vs a younger child.  I was able to explain everything to her, as did the nurses and doctors, and she understood. I could tell she was still worried, though, and at times she was teary.  When the nurse informed her that she was going to take her blood pressure, A responded: "You're going to take my blood?" She was wide-eyed and frightened. I'm glad I was able to hold her and stay with her right up until the last second.

Although we were at the hospital for several hours and were introduced to at least two doctors and half a dozen nurses who seemed to be involved in the process in some way, the actual surgery only lasted about 15 minutes.  A few minutes after that, we were escorted back to the recovery area. The kid was awake, but just barely.  I held her hand (which had an IV in it) under the blankets. "Mama, can I go to sleep?" she asked.  I nodded and a few seconds later, she was out.  P and I just watched her sleep for a half-hour or so.  When she awoke, she drank her apple juice and eventually decided she was ready to go home - on the condition that her dad would carry her out.  A nurse removed the IV and handed me some post-surgical instructions.

I sat my daughter up and proceeded to dress her.  She seemed woozy but said she felt fine.  P stood her up on the bed and was just about to pick her up when . . . the apple juice exited her mouth, arced into the air and over the bed, and splashed the floor at high velocity. She also managed to hit her winter coat and her dad's shoes.  There were three nurses nearby.  They all congratulated her.  You've gotta love nurses and their cast-iron stomachs. "You'll feel a lot better now!" they said, almost in unison.

I then drove the kid home (as she held a barf bag in the back seat) and P drove back to work.  She was quiet the rest of the afternoon, which is a rare event indeed.  So far, she says she feels fine (no school for the next two days, though). We are hoping that she is almost completely recovered by Friday night, because she and her dad are attending a "Daddy-Daughter Dance."  She is absolutely over the moon about it.

Next up: expect at least one blog post containing a prolonged rant about the insurance and the medical system. The hospital called last week to pre-register my daughter for the surgery. When I answered the phone, the woman on the line asked to speak to my daughter.  I advised the caller that A is five.  "Oh, it says here she is 39," she replied.  Then I got a call from a finance lady at the hospital less than 24 hours for the surgery advising me that our portion of the surgery will be [insert obscene dollar amount here] and would I like to pay for it now by credit card? So yeah, I have full faith in the doctors and nurses but the paperwork people? Not so much.

Now, if you'll excuse me . . . I made the mistake of handing someone a walkie-talkie and it seems I am being summoned.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Party of Three

Our little clan had a fab-u-lous weekend. We swam, we whirlpooled, we ate candy. Bliss!  Of course, the shortest member of our party could not stop talking, but that came as no surprise.  Last week the director of Kindercare emailed me to let me know that my daughter had invited the entire building to join us for our weekend getaway. I cringe when I think about some of the stuff she must say at school. One of my clients told me that when her son was around five, they caught a mouse in the breezeway between their house and garage. Later, she found out that her son had told his teacher that they had HUNDREDS of mice in their home.

As soon as we checked into the resort, we heard the following about a thousand times:

"Can I go in the ball pit now? How about now? Can I go in the ball pit now? Okay, after you use the bathroom can I go in the ball pit? Okay, but after you pour your drink can I go in the ball pit?"

We let her play in the ball pit and then took her swimming.  We stayed in the pool until we were prune-y. The goal, of course, was to wear her out. However, in all honesty, I don't think running a marathon would put a dent in my daughter's energy level. She finally passed out a few hours later.  The next morning, she immediately launched into "can we go swimming?" and "can I play in the ball pit?" - alternating them every few seconds.

The three of us went "into town" to go to a candy store. The kid was grabbing this and that, seemingly intent on rotting her teeth before lunch. I noticed she was mixing different types (price points) of candy in the same bag.  I told her she couldn't keep them all in the same baggie and instructed her to put the rest in the basket I was carrying. "Oh, I'll just put them in my pocket!" she exclaimed, shoving some foil-wrapped chocolate pennies into her coat. I guess I hadn't yet explained the issue of "perceived shoplifting" and why store owners tend to frown upon that sort of thing.

After returning to our unit, P and I decided to hit the gym.  We brought along a word find book and A's Leapster in an attempt to keep her entertained, but of course she ran her mouth the whole time. We had stopped at a Target for a few supplies on our way to the resort on Friday. A told the cashier, "We're going away for my mom's birthday!"  He laughed and asked her if she knew my age.  I held my breath.  "She won't tell me!" my daughter replied.  Whew!  It's not that I'm trying to hide my age but rather that I'm not dying to have it broadcast all over the free world.  When I went to A's parent-teacher conference a few weeks ago, the first thing her teacher said to me was, "Soooo, I understand your husband just turned 39?"

Anyway, we did take her swimming (and yes, back to the ball pit) Saturday afternoon. After dinner, we watched "The Town" while she watched "The Wizard of Oz" in her room. We briefly wondered if she'd be afraid of the flying monkeys, but she never said a word about it so we're assuming that she'll just be secretly afraid of them henceforth . . . you know, like the rest of us are.

On Sunday we had one last trip to the children's play area and then hit the road.  I stopped at a pet boutique and bought an overpriced collar for Gretchen.  Saturday was her birthday and I was feeling a little bit guilty about boarding her on her big day.  P didn't ask about the cost of the collar and I didn't offer any information.  Don't ask, don't tell!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Upside Down

Is it just me or did someone add an extra day to this week?  I feel like I'm stuck in some particularly demented version of that movie "Groundhog Day."

May I share my big accomplishment of the week?  I stood on my head.  Well, mostly.  I generally attend a yoga class every Tuesday night. For part of the class, we work on inversions.  As in, being upside down.  Apparently there are some benefits to having your heart and feet over your head, but I'm not 100% what those are (I'm a beginner, remember).  I remember standing on my head readily and easily when I was in elementary school.  However, it seems like once you get to, ahem, a certain age, the thought of hoisting your lower half into the air seems almost preposterous. My daughter and I hang upside from the monkey bars at the park, but I haven't attempted a headstand in, oh, 30+ years. I also stopped doing cartwheels at some point after puberty.

For the past few months I've been practicing what is known as the headstand prep.  I'll spare you a detailed explanation, but essentially you just use a couple of cork blocks to steady your neck and head as you support your weight on your forearms while your head is down, your arse is in the air, and your feet remain firmly planted.  I was pretty happy just to stay with that, to be honest.  However, on Tuesday the instructor encouraged me to give the headstand a try.  She spotted me as I raised one leg into the air and then launched myself off the other foot. And there I was, upside down (and thankful that I was wearing a quality sports bra, otherwise my chin and my bosom would have met for the first time, I suspect).  Anyway, I did it! Physically, there's a little more to me now than when I was eight, which is why I am so impressed with myself over this little victory. I say I "mostly" did a headstand because my skull was still an inch or so above the floor and my weight was supported on my forearms.  Supporting all of one's weight on the head is the next step.

I told P about it when I got home and, in his typical style, he gave no reaction whatsoever.  I tell you, I could set that boy on fire and he'd have very little to say about it.  I guess it's better than living with a control freak, eh?

Speaking of my guy and his general reticence . . . we have a set of walkie-talkies at our house.  The walkie-talkies eat batteries like mad, so both units are usually dead.  However, the other day I put batteries in them.  The kid was watching Mary Poppins and I was watching the Super Bowl (in separate rooms, of course) and she wanted to be able to talk to each other.  I don't know what I was thinking, handing Miss Chatty a walkie-talkie, of all things.  I put my unit in my pocket while I was watching the game, and all I heard was: burping, giggling, an extended rendition of "spoonful of sugar," some jokes with no discernible punchline, and some fart noises.

The batteries weren't dead by Monday, so she grabbed them as soon as she got home.  She handed one to me and one to her dad.  "Daddy!" she commanded. "Say something passioning to Mama!"  He stood there, confused.  She urged him on.  Finally, he pressed the button, cleared his throat, and raised the walkie-talkie to his lips.

"Something passioning." 

The kid was not having it.  She wouldn't let it drop until P managed to come up with a half-hearted compliment about my eyes.  But seriously, "passioning?"  The child only watches children's programming - where did she come up with this?  I assume she heard the word "passion" somewhere and made it into an adjective.

With Valentine's Day coming up (also my birthday, in case you wanted to send cash), I wish all of you a very passioning day with your significant other.  Or a stranger - up to you.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


First off, my husband is not funny.  He makes me laugh maybe twice a year, tops.  When he does say something funny, it is usually unintentional.

My daughter received a piggy bank from her Meemaw for Christmas.  The piggy bank is electronic and calculates a running total as you put coins through the slot.  P tends bar two nights a week (second job) and often gives A some change from his tips. Meanwhile, her Great Grandma sent the kid some money for Christmas.  I took her to Toys R Us the day after Christmas because she needed to spend her loot ASAP.  She chose a tabletop-sized red gumball machine. The gumball machine takes pennies.  I filled it with gumballs and set it on the baking rack in the kitchen (because letting her keep it in her room seemed like a very, very bad idea). 

Predictably, the kid started shaking down me and her dad for pennies. Even when she already has gum, she feels compelled to buy gum for us (whether we want it or not - usually not). When we started refusing to supply pennies, she took things into her own hands and started getting them out of the pig, which has a circular trap door under its squiggly tail. She would empty the the contents via the circular opening, grab a few pennies, and then put the rest of the money back in through the slot in the top.  Before we knew it, the electronic display indicated that she was well on her way to making our next mortgage payment even though the actual contents of the pig totaled something more like three bucks.

Recognizing what was causing this issue, P opened up the pig, reset the total to zero and, with a completely straight face, said the following:

"Listen, if you take it out through the butt, you have to put it back in the butt."

Gosh, I can hardly wait for her to repeat that one at school.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Surgery and Stuff

My daughter is getting tubes in her ears on February 16th.  They are also planning to remove her adenoids at the same time (the doctor won't know for sure until she gets in there and confirms that the adenoids are as large as she suspects they are).  It is common to remove the tonsils as part of this procedure, but I've opted not to have that done right now.  A has not shown any signs of having complications from her large tonsils (no sore throats or that sort of thing).  I just have a hard time giving the thumbs-up for a surgical procedure that may not be necessary, a "remove this and that just in case it might bug her later" sort of thing.  On the other hand, I did hesitate because I know a few people who've had their tonsils removed as adults.  What is a relatively minor surgery for a child . . . knocks an adult on their ass for at least two weeks.

The appointment with the ENT (Ears Nose Throat) doctor was a little bit frustrating.  The doctor was nice and certainly seemed very competent, but I think she sees so many kids with recurring ear infections that perhaps she forgets they are not all the same. She seemed to be operating under the premise that my daughter is a "mouth breather."  She pointed at my kid's mouth.  "See how her teeth are?  She's got an underbite."  It felt like she was pointing out a dent on my car or something.

"Yes, I'm well aware," I responded a bit curtly. The doctor then went on to say that my daughter doesn't hold her tongue correctly against the palate, which causes the mouth breathing, the underbite, the snoring, and is probably also to blame for the current situation in Egypt. I think she could tell I was getting irritated because eventually she asked me what was on my mind.

"With all due respect, don't you think I'd notice if my child was a mouth-breather?  Also, she does not snore."  As I was speaking, A was sitting in the exam chair, breathing through her nose.  You know, like she does. 

We chatted for a bit longer, with the doctor eventually conceding that perhaps my daughter doesn't specifically fit the pattern she is used to seeing. She escorted us to the office of the scheduler person, who handed me a folder and started talking about general anesthesia, which of course made me think about my baby lying on a gurney in a hospital gown, which in turn caused a minor panic attack. A is not worried about the procedure at all, but I'm having heart palpitations over it. Yes, I know this is a very common procedure and yes, I know she will be fine. Nothing can stop me from fretting about it, though.  She is my only child - I do not have a spare!

The kid and I headed to the car and as we made our way across the parking lot, I slipped on some ice and went down like a ton of bricks.  I had been holding A's hand, but she was still fully upright.  The folder was lying in a pile of snirt.  My keys were nowhere to be found. "Baby, can you help me find my keys?"  I started looking under nearby cars.  Instead of helping, she stood there with her hands on her hips.

"What are we going to do?  How am I going to get back to schoooooool?"  Good to know she is supportive in a crisis.  Eventually, I found the keys (I'd managed to fling them pretty far, as it turns out) and drove her back to school. Later, I did some Googling to find out where, precisely, one's adenoids are located.  Seeing that they are in the middle of the head did not make me feel more comfortable at all. I guess I'm just taking a little leap of faith here, hoping that the adenoidectomy plus the installation of the tubes will lead to fewer ear infections in the future.  I'm also anxious to confirm that my daughter can hear better out of her right ear once the trapped fluid has been drained.

I could've scheduled the surgery for next week, but we're going out of town next weekend and there will be lots of swimming involved in our little trip.  I wanted her to be able to swim without worrying about the tubes (we'll have to be more careful once she's got them).   We're looking forward to getting out of town for a couple of days.  I think we've hit that time of year when we're totally over winter and spring is nowhere in sight.  All we can do is plan fun stuff on the weekends and hope it's over soon.

Speaking of fun, the kid came home yesterday and announced that today was scheduled to be a "pajama day" at school.  I thought she might be confused because they do have pajama days at Kindercare every so often (she goes there for before and after school care).

"I dunno," I said.  "I'd feel a lot better if I had something in writing to tell me about pajama day."  After all, the wee lass has been wrong about stuff before.  I didn't want to send her to school in a nightgown only to find that she was off by a week or something. I started digging through her backpack to see if the school had sent home a note of some sort.

Meanwhile, she went in her room and proceeded to write a note. 

[Name of school]
Tomorrow is pagama day  ("tomorrow" was misspelled, but it was close enough that I knew what she meant)

She handed me the note.  "There, you have it in writing."  Smart. Ass.

I finished sorting the contents of the backpack.  Worksheets, paper glued to other paper, wet mittens, etc.  But nothing about a pajama day.  "Sweetie, I don't see a note about pajama day.  Are you sure it's tomorrow?" 

She rolled her eyes.  "Mama!  I. Gave. You. The. Note."  She enunciated every syllable because, you know, moms are stupid. Finally, I called another mom from the class.  Whaddya know . . . today IS pajama day. 

I hardly knew what to do with myself this morning when I didn't have to yell "Get dressed!" every thirty seconds. At what age do kids start dressing themselves? I mean, I am sure she is capable of it.  She just doesn't give a rip. I just keep picturing this future scene where I show up at my twenty-five-year-old daughter's house and her husband answers the door.

"Oh hi, Aidan," I'll say. "I'm just here to get A dressed."