Sunday, February 26, 2012

What to do about very bad people

Lately I've been thinking a lot about good and evil. And retribution and rehabilitation. I know - deep, right?

I've been a Laura Marling fan for a couple years now, and I keep thinking of her song "Devil's Spoke."  One line from the song is: "Hold your devil by his spoke and spin him to the ground." And I keep thinking, "Who (or what) is my devil?"

As you know, I've been a rescue volunteer for a dozen years now. I've seen firsthand some of the crappy stuff people do to dogs. Last week, our rescue took in an emaciated Boxer who was picked up as a stray by animal control. He weighed just 33 pounds. Keep in mind that the average Boxer clocks in at at least 55 pounds. The three at my house each weigh 60-something. This stray pooch was so thin you could see every vertebra and his hip bones protruded. You could see the dome of his skull in a way that was clearly not normal. It didn't take long before people spotted him on the facility's website, where all of the strays are posted. The reactions were varied but strong, ranging from anger to sadness to disgust. Most wanted someone to pay. They wanted heads to roll. After all, simply feeding your dog is not that difficult in the scheme of things. And if you can't afford to do so, any shelter or rescue will gladly take the dog and provide the sustenance he needs.

After the mandatory seven-day stray hold was up, the dog was released to us. My friend and fellow rescue volunteer, Kim, took him in. I suggested we call him Valentino, as he had been picked up on Valentine's Day. I kept looking at the photo of the skinny fawn boy with the black mask. "Maybe I could foster him," I told Kim. Now, I need a fourth dog in my home about like I need leprosy or cancer. Our house is not that large. However, I couldn't stop thinking about Valentino. He had arrived at the shelter on my birthday. I am not usually one to take note of imagined signs, but you know, I wondered. Plus, he reminded me of my skinny Giddy, who also weighed less than 40 pounds when he was abandoned.

So, Kim got Valentino stabilized (the poor dog was so unsteady on his feet at first) and took him to the vet. At that time we learned that Valentino has a broken jaw and an upper respiratory infection. His jawbone has started to callous over, so it doesn't look like a repair will be possible. We'll find out more during the course of subsequent consultations with a veterinarian.  Valentino also has scars and scabs all over him. I guess we'll never know why.  What I do know is that the meds have kicked in and he's put on several pounds. I brought him home today and the rest of the pack seem to have accepted him just fine. He even attempted to play a bit with Gretchen. Over the next few weeks, I'll simply focus on getting him to a normal weight and addressing any other medical needs he may have.  And, did I mention, he's super sweet? He truly is.

A lot of supporters have been watching Valentino's case closely on Facebook. The volunteer transport organization (they sprang him from the big house and drove him to Kim's house) posted a video of Valentino the day they pulled him, and it was fairly heartbreaking. He teetered around, dirty and bewildered. I should add that he gained several pounds while sitting on stray hold. What that tells us is that there is no medical issue that prevents him from gaining weight normally. Because of his jaw, his kibble does have to be soaked ahead of time so that it is soft enough for him to ingest. We've received several donations to help with Valentino's care. We've gotten a lot of nice notes of support. People are truly pulling for Mr. Skinny. Some of them want Valentino's former owner to be drawn and quartered. Now, I can't say that I blame them. I've learned, from doing rescue work for so long, that in most cases . . . no one pays for what they've done. Animal welfare laws are too flimsy and evidence is often too hard to find - particularly for a stray.

That brings me back to my recent thoughts about evil. I'm almost done reading "The Lost Dogs," the story of the Vick dogs and where they all ended up. I knew the basics of the investigation and the subsequent legal action, where the dogs went, etc. But, I wasn't fully aware of the details of the investigation and decided I may as well know. P asked me, "Why are you reading that book if it pisses you off so much?" I don't know, I really don't. I guess it's just a personal obligation to understand and acknowledge what goes on in this world and not to cup my hands over my ears and sing "la la la la!" A lot of people want to pretend that Michael Vick was not there, he didn't know. The evidence shows clearly that he was there and that he killed dogs with his own two hands. He tried to deny it initially, but then failed a polygraph and realized that the lie wasn't working. Then, as we all know, he went to prison. Then he got out of prison and was again embraced by the NFL and resumed making millions of dollars.

My religion, Unitarian Universalism, places an emphasis on prison reform with a focus on rehabilitation. Generally speaking, I'm on board with it. The prisons and jails are all operating well over their intended capacity and the recidivism rate is so high that it's hard to make a case for the effectiveness of doing time. For minor crimes, maybe throwing someone behind bars isn't the best way to go. I don't pretend to know the answers to such weighty questions.

When it comes to Michael Vick, though, I feel like no amount of time would ever be enough. If you read the book, you'll never forget what happened to the little red dog. It's hard to think of the man who killed her as anything less than a monster. With rescue work, though, we generally don't have as specific a target for our fury. I will probably never know who owned (and neglected) Valentino. All I can do is focus on this sweet dog, make him better, and find him a new home where he'll never feel a rumble in his tummy again.

Like many UU's, I don't believe in the existence of heaven or hell. I believe that hell exists right here on earth in many forms. I don't want to believe that some people are inherently evil and yet, there do seem to be some awfully bad apples out there. Sometimes I fear that if I think too much about starving dogs and abused children and neglected elderly  . . . I might just lose my mind. I do want to grab my devil and spin him to the ground, but he is an apparition. Instead I am just a crazy lady who tries to help broken dogs, one dog at a time.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What? No, that's not a tear in my eye. I have allergies, damnit.

My daughter and her dad attended a Daddy-Daughter Dance this evening. The kid had been looking forward to it for weeks. I did allow her to get a more grown-up dress this year. It was sparkly and fuchsia and fancy - basically, her dream come true. 

On Monday I left P a note before I went to work: "Order wrist corsage. Her dress is fuchsia."

He looked at the note. "I have no idea what that color means."

I nodded. "I know you don't, but the florist will know."

Later in the day, he called me at work. "Um, the corsage is for her, right?" I tried to picture my 6'3" ex-Marine husband wearing a fuchsia wrist corsage.

"Yes, dear. It's for your daughter."  My husband is very smart in a scholarly way, but sometimes day-to-day stuff seems to elude him a little bit. But, he came through. The corsage turned out to be beautiful and matched A's dress perfectly.

After dinner this evening, I helped the kid to get dressed. She was beyond excited and I had a hard time getting her settled down enough to get her dress and tights on. She immediately commenced with picking her butt and adjusting her tights. "Daddy doesn't like having a date who picks her butt," I offered helpfully. I instructed her to sit at her vanity so that I could tackle her hair. I am not particularly skilled when it comes to hairstyles, but I gave it my best shot. I even bought some little rhinestone corkscrew clips and poked those into her curls. I'm not 100% sure they will come out easily when she gets home. They may be permanent.

Finally, she was dressed and ready to go. Her dad put the corsage on her wrist. I snapped a bunch of photos. She looked so pretty that I found myself feeling a little verklempt. Where did my chubby toddler go? She beamed for the camera and for just the briefest moment, I could see her in her prom dress and then in a wedding gown. I caught a glimpse of the adult version of my child and my breath caught in my throat.

I smiled back at my daughter. "You look so pretty, baby," I said.

She nodded and . . . reached around and plucked at her butt.

Don't ask my how I failed to notice she had pizza sauce on her face in every shot. Argh!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rock Lobster

I received an iTunes gift card for my birthday so of course I was compelled to spend it within 24 hours. I spent some time on iTunes, digging around in the Alternative section, checking out the songs that were recommended just for me, and so forth. And then it hit me: I did not have the song "Rock Lobster" on my iPod. Truly, I was horrified. First off, if my friend Kevin were still alive he would probably run me over with his car (preferably his old-school Geo Tracker) for this sort of infraction. He was a big B-52s fan. Second, just how did I miss this? It seems like Rock Lobster should be a building block of any decent music collection. I did have "Private Idaho" in case I get partial credit for that.

So, I bought Rock Lobster. Or rather, my sister bought it for me. Then, as I was making lunch yesterday, I popped my iPod into the radio in the kitchen. I told my daughter she had to come in and dance to the song with me. She was playing games and whatnot online, but her curiosity got the better of her and she agreed to come into the kitchen when I called her. I told her to keep dancing and then when Fred Schneider sang, "Down, down down!" I let her know that she needed to sink to the floor and then stay there until the music started up again.

I cranked up the song and we danced feverishly in the kitchen, our feet pounding rapidly against the linoleum tile. After several minutes of dancing, my daughter asked, "Mom, can I stop? I'm really tired!" I told her that the B-52s would never allow it. In fact, it's illegal. I encouraged required her to dance on.  When we got to the "down down down" part, we spun ourselves down to the floor and laid on our backs. The dogs promptly ran over and stepped on our heads. Then the beat picked up again so we sprang up and kept dancing. She asked again if she could stop and I told her I just couldn't permit it. Yes, the song is seven minutes long but sheesh, a six-year-old should have more stamina than that! Kids these days, I tell you.

When the song ended, she sucked down some lemonade and then got back online to watch The Fresh Beat Band. As if that inane "Bananas" song they sing qualifies as real music! Who knows, maybe someday she'll come to her senses and force her kid to dance to Rock Lobster. Pass the tanning product! 

She's at a friend's house for a play date right now but when she gets home, she'll be delighted to learn that I downloaded another song that requires much dancing:

Friday, February 17, 2012

That's not what they called it back in the day

I attended a "Math & Muffins" event at my daughter's school this morning. Parents were invited to join their child(ren) for some math exercises and then to munch some mini muffins afterward. So, I took part of the morning off work and trucked over to the school to pretend I care about math (in the interest of being a good mom and all). There is, after all, a reason why I chose English as my major in college. However, I do want my daughter to care about math, so I've tried not to let my apathy slip out when she's around. When it comes to homework assistance, we have a clear division of labor: P handles math and I deal with the written word. Although I suspect it won't be long before the kid's math lessons are over my head, at this point I'm still able to handle the basic arithmetic lessons she is tackling in the first grade. Therefore, I felt qualified to attend this particular event.

The parents gathered in the cafeteriauditoriumnasium and the principal stopped by to say a few words and to thank us for coming. We were then dismissed to head to the classrooms. My daughter was excited to see me. She pulled up a chair next to her desk so I could sit with her. Mrs. S gave us instructions for playing the first game. We had three decks of flashcards, with each card containing an equation. For example: 7 + ___ = 11.  (See, I told you I can handle it!) The idea was to solve the equation and then set the card down on a corresponding square (4) and creating a quilt of sorts.

Then the teacher said this: "Some of the kids may be able to do it in their head but others may want to use finger flashing."

Wait a second . . . finger flashing?  You mean, what we used to call counting on your fingers? At first I thought I misheard her but then she repeated it several times: finger flashing. And here I thought finger flashing was something entirely different. I use it not so much for math but for signaling my displeasure at other drivers on the road. I looked around the room to see if any of the other parents found it amusing, but apparently I was the only one. Clearly, something is wrong with me. I blame my parents. I think they taught me to derive humor from inappropriate situations.

It's worth noting that because of her genius-level intellect, my kid didn't have to flash anybody the finger to do her math. We played the game and then received instructions on the next game. For this game, we had to roll a die and then use a chart to draw a snowman. So, if you rolled a 1 you had to draw the hat, a 2 was the head and so forth. The kid and I rolled the die and drew our snowmen. And then we were done.

Eventually Mrs. S realized that there was too much time left over. We weren't supposed to eat the muffins until precisely 10:10 a.m. and it was only 10:00. She decided we could add accessories to our snowmen.

"What accessories would your snowman have?" she asked the class. The first thing that popped into my mind: a lit cigar. Again, I don't know what is wrong with me. I had to fight the almighty compulsion to put a stogie in my snowman's mouth.

I looked over at my daughter's snowman. She had drawn a purse, which was draped delicately over the snowman's stick arm. Then she added a flowing scarf. Her accessories made a lot more sense than what I had in mind. She handed me a purple marker and instructed me to give my snowman a purse also. I complied.

Before I knew it, it was time for the mini muffins and room temperature apple juice. I had a chocolate chip one.  And then I had to go back to work and do grown-up stuff. I hope I didn't embarrass my daughter too much. I had scared her this morning by suggesting that if I came to school and my butt started to itch . . . I might, just might, have to scratch it. In front of her friends. "Mo-o-om!"

At least I know that finger flashing is not a problem and can be done freely in public or in private. Please make a note of it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


First off, I really need to show you this photo of my four-month-old nephew. My middle sister posted it on my Facebook page yesterday.

That photo is the cutest thing you've ever seen, right? A and I are flying out to DC to meet this little guy at the end of March. I am really concerned that that new baby smell will have worn off completely by then. Seeing the photo made my day.  Well, lots of things made my day yesterday, which was also my birthday. It's always amusing to me when people ask, "Your birthday is really on Valentine's Day?" I'm not sure who would lie about the date of their birth (or why). Or maybe my mom, who was a teenager when I was born, somehow falsified my birth certificate because I was REALLY born on [dun dun dun!] February 13th. But anyway, yes, my birthday is really on Valentine's Day. It's legit. And I was legit, too - those crazy kids were married and whatnot. In case you wondered.

I got a lot of nice messages on my Facebook wall yesterday, so I felt all poopular for a second there. One friend thanked me for my rescue work, another thanked me for my tres amusante Facebook status updates, a couple of friends pointed out that I am old, and so forth. I asked my daughter for one and only one thing for my birthday. I asked her if she would get up when her alarm went off and then get dressed voluntarily and on time. I did not get my wish. Her alarm went off at 6:10 a.m. and by 6:20 she was in a naked heap on the floor, crying loudly and bemoaning all the ways in which we've wronged her. So much for that.

The problem with being a grown-up is that you have to work on your birthday. So, I went to work as usual.  We had a baking contest at work yesterday in honor of Valentine's Day and I did not win. Perhaps my co-workers misunderstood the unwritten rule about voting for the birthday girl. I came in second. The co-worker who won is a super-nice guy, which made it really hard to mock his victory. And believe me, I tried.

After work, the three of us went to Noodles. Yes, we got a little crazy in honor of my birthday, going out to dinner on a Tuesday like that. I'm lucky I made it to work on time this morning after that kind of overindulgence. Anyway, I had coupons for a free meal at either Red Robin or Noodles, so we went to Noodles. I do love their Penne Rosa with tofu, and I thought it might be slightly better (health-wise) than dinner at Red Robin. I'm not sure why this was important to me at the time, in as much as we went home and ate cake (chocolate with white icing - my favorite). My daughter made up some new version of the birthday song where my age was repeated over and over. You can imagine how much I appreciated that. "Happy birthday to you cha-cha-cha! You're 42 cha-cha-cha!"

I rounded out the evening by watching some stuff I had on the DVR - "House" and "Dance Moms." I don't know what to say about Dance Moms. It's like a car accident where I can't look away. It makes me really glad my daughter has demonstrated zero talent in dance and that it's unlikely I'll ever have to spend time in a studio like the moms on the show. They are barking mad, every single one. And yet, somehow entertaining.

In closing, I just want to welcome my wee baby sister back to the land of the internets and over-sharing. She has not had computer access for the past couple of years. However, now she and my brother-in-law are running a convenience store* and have internet access there. Feel free to check out her blog.

*It is not called Kwik-E-Mart, which disappoints me greatly.
No, she does not think it's funny if you call there and ask for Apu. Believe me, I know.
No, they do not have a Squishee machine - which, I think you'll agree, is bullshit.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Now? How 'bout now?

We had a wonderful, relaxing weekend out of town. We stayed at a resort about 75 minutes away. It's quiet and surprisingly inexpensive (since it's the off-season and all). Our daughter did her best to do away with the "quiet" part, though. Her dad and I heard this about a trillion times this weekend:

"Can we go to the play area? Can we do go the pool?" She alternated the two questions and then repeated them every minute of every day, except when she was asleep.  For the record, we took her swimming twice (and stayed in there until the three of us were prune-y and waterlogged and our lungs stung from the chlorine). We also took her to the kids' play area multiple times. On Saturday, I took a book along and sat nearby while the kid played with some strangers for a good portion of the afternoon. P also accompanied her to the play area on several occasions, taking his Kindle along and playing poker while A bounced around in the ball pit.  On Saturday afternoon we told her we'd take her to the pool after dinner. P and I sat on the couch for a moment after we'd finished eating. The kid went to her bedroom. We laid down a bet. It was 5:42 p.m. I bet that she'd come out and ask to go to the pool within five minutes. My other half guessed that she would ask at 6:00 p.m. We had to call off the bet, though, because she didn't ask at all. She simply changed into her bikini and stood there with her floating noodle tucked under her arm. You know, just in case someone might want to  . . . take her to the pool. And so, submitting to the inevitable, we dutifully donned our swimsuits and padded down the carpeted hallway behind Miss Triumphant.

I dragged my family shopping on Saturday and allowed them to buy me a couple of things for my birthday.  What can I say - I'm a giver!

At some point over the weekend, I came to the sad realization that I had managed to catch the cold that had dragged down my daughter a few days before. My throat started to feel like I had swallowed a razor blade. So, I did what any reasonable person would do, which was to drink my sore throat into submission. I was classy about it, though - I picked up some fancy wine at a nearby winery and poured it in a nice glass and everything.

Other good uses of our time over the weekend:
  • Playing "Fruit Ninja" on the Kindle. It is easy to become addicted to this game. At one point my daughter was calling me from another room and I actually yelled back, "Can you not see that I have a fruit frenzy here?!" If you've played Fruit Ninja, you know how crucial the fruit frenzy is to your score. 
  • Playing Bananagrams. It was fun until the shortest member of our little family insisted that "weddingsub" is a word and stomped off when informed that it, in fact, is not.
  • Stopping at a candy store and spending $30 on candy. I bought and promptly ate two dark chocolate-covered Oreos (and also spent an hour in the resort's exercise room to alleviate the guilt). I also picked up a handful of my favorite suckers - the Charms green sweet and sour ones.
  • Painting my toenails blueish-green. I remember painting my fingernails blue one time when I was a teenager and heard this from my mother: "Oh geez, Claudia Marie. It looks like you have heart disease." So, I heard that echoing in my head all weekend.
All in all, it was a good weekend. The kid climbed into our bed sometime after midnight on Friday night. She said she'd had a bad dream. I couldn't convince her to go back to her room so after about an hour of her relentless spinning and kicking and coughing, I abandoned ship and slept in her room. When I woke up at around 7, P was also up. "I couldn't take it anymore," he said. Honestly, we have no idea how someone so tiny (the kid is nearly 7 and is still under 45 pounds) can take over a king-sized bed so efficiently and mercilessly.

She won . . .

She won again

And again

I have heart disease

Friday, February 10, 2012

I've had better weeks

Sorry I haven't posted in a few days. I do hate to disappoint my reader ("hi, Mom!") My kid has been sick all week. Some kind of plague hit the first grade and they've been dropping like flies (almost literally - one of A's BFFs fainted the other day). Her temperature has been up and down all week. I decided to go to yoga on Tuesday night and leave her in the mostly capable hands of her father for a couple hours. When I got home she was sleeping on the couch but I felt like I should wake her up and take her temperature (it had spiked to 103.2 earlier in the day). She scared me a little because I could not seem to rouse her. I kept saying, "Sweetie, I just need you to put this under your tongue." Finally, she opened her eyes halfway, grabbed my forearm tightly, started to cry and said, "Mom, I need . . . FRIENDS!" She was just completely incoherent and sweaty and weird. She still has a cold but seems to be on the mend now. Getting medicine down her gullet has been an ordeal, too. I suggested to her that if the grape flavored acetaminophen was THAT bad, she could just hold her nose and swallow the medicine very fast. She looked at me like I'd proposed she drink her own urine. "Hold my nose? Mom! I have to BREATHE, you know!"

My other focus right now is launching a new website for the rescue. Bringing over the content from the old site involves a lot of copying and pasting and downloading and uploading. It's exactly as fun as it sounds. A new volunteer offered to help move 700+ photos and I was so giddy about it that I'm pretty sure I spontaneously proposed to her. The new site is going to kick ass when it's done, though. I can't wait to launch it.

Other not-so-great news: my four-month-old nephew has not pooped in over a week (I just left my sister a voicemail to check on the poop status - I'm obsessed with the boy's output now). Also, Gideon broke out of his crate this morning and ate my entire bag of crackers from Trader Joe's. It's worth noting that I have to drive at least two hours to get to a Trader Joe's. I'm taking the cost of the crackers out of his allowance.

The only good thing to happen this week is that I bought this:

What the hell is that, you ask? It's a "fire bowl."  (Duh!) Essentially it's a bowl full of Himalayan salt rocks. You shove a wee light bulb into each one and they all glow. Right now I have it sitting on the hearth in front of the fireplace. I've been a little worried about the dogs licking the rocks, but so far, so good. The rocks emit healthy negative ions. I have no idea what negative ions are or why they are beneficial to me, but I felt I needed this bowl of rocks. They are sold at my yoga studio and since I had a gift certificate burning a hole in my yoga pants, I had to buy one.

We're headed out of town for a couple of days. My birthday is on Tuesday but I'm forcing my family to celebrate it for several days in a row. I probably shouldn't post on my blog that I'm going out of town. You'll probably come over, break in, and lick my Himalayan rocks. Because you've been so worried that your ions are out of whack.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hey, Hector

In my last blog post I mentioned that I worked at a pet expo last weekend. I love pet expos. There are tons of rescues, vendors, and other animal-related stuff all in one location, giving me the opportunity to buy dog-related products that I don't really need. One benefit of being an exhibitor at these events is that we can scope out the booths before the expo opens, which is exactly what I did on Saturday. And that's when I had the opportunity to meet a handsome fellow named Hector.

Hector is one of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's property a few years ago. Hector was adopted through Bad Rap. Many of the "Vicktory" dogs were evaluated, rehabilitated, and then placed through that organization.  Some of the pit bulls, although people-friendly and well-behaved in general, were so conditioned to fight that they could could not be placed in adoptive homes. However, they are living out their lives at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah. Not a bad deal considering some of the alternatives.

Hector is a certified therapy dog and came to the expo to tell his story. He serves as a reminder that his life is worth more than his original fate, that he and his brethren have value. He challenges myths about the breed. His stellar temperament and obedient behavior serve to make my own dogs look like colossal, ill-behaved slackers.

When it comes to Michael Vick, a lot of people - particularly many sports enthusiasts - seem to share the sentiment that "the man did his time - leave him be." They don't understand why the crazy dog people can't let it go. Well, here's why. We can't "let it go" because Michael Vick never truly admitted that he did very bad things. In press interviews he made vague comments along the lines of "I allowed this to happen, I allowed that to happen." Now, I am all for redemption and rehabilitation, but you can't be redeemed or rehabilitated if you remove yourself from the equation. Like Dr. Phil says, "You can't change what you don't acknowledge." There is ample evidence that Michael Vick knew about everything that went on at Bad Newz Kennel and that he actively participated in the horrifying abuse himself. Dogs that did not perform well in the fighting ring were summarily killed in all sorts of brutal ways. Vick may have agreed to say, "Yeah, I did it" in some sort of legal sense as part of the original plea agreement, but I don't think he ever came clean in a real way that the public could see and BELIEVE.

Maybe people who are rich and famous live in such an insular or sheltered world that they forget what normal is. Look at Michael Jackson. The dude was beyond talented but totally wackadoo. If there is no one in their immediate circle to say, "You know, I'm not so sure you should . . . " then they are free to make bad decisions out the wazoo. So, you take a gifted athlete with no moral conscience and give him a bunch of money and voila! It somehow seems to him like a good idea to start a dog fighting operation. They are, after all, just dogs. They won't mind if you electrocute them for not doing their job well enough. But, as it turns out, someone did mind. The law, for starters. And, of course, animal lovers everywhere. I wonder what Vick thinks now about the dogs that were removed from his property and went on to become therapy dogs, live in loving homes with families and, most of all, prove that they have value in the world. Nothing, probably. I imagine that he doesn't think about them at all.

So it was with great joy and excitement that I made the acquaintance of handsome Hector on Saturday. I said hello to his owner (who is not too hard on the eyes either) and knelt down next to the placid brown-eyed dog. "I'm so happy to meet you, Hector! I'm a fan on your Facebook page." Yes, I said that to a dog - don't look at me like I've gone 'round the bend. Hector just stood there sweetly while I gave him some pat-pats and then agreed to let me take his photo. I tell you, the dog is a professional.

Over 10,000 visitors came to the expo on Saturday so I'm guessing that by the time Hector got home, his head was probably flattened from all the petting. But, I'm sure it was worth it. Now there are thousands of additional people who know his story and know that sometimes good things do come out of very bad things. Good boy, Hector. Good boy.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Taking one for the team

I took my daughter to Chuck E. Cheese's this afternoon. I was feeling a little guilty because I was gone for part of the weekend (sans child) and wanted to make it up to her. I worked (well, volunteered) at a pet expo on Saturday and spent the night at my friend Kathy's house on Friday. As a matter of fact, I had to leave my niece's birthday party early on Friday, so P got his fill of single parenting this weekend. I figured I'd take one for the team and head over to Chuck E. Cheese's on Sunday afternoon after church. We never eat the pizza there - we just play games, exchange our tickets for worthless crap, and then head back home. Chuck E. Cheese's is located almost within spitting distance of our house. I'm sure you realize that this is a very bad thing. I actually had my daughter convinced that the joint was "under construction" and "very definitely closed" until she was around four years old. "But, Mama, there are CARS there!" Kids are just too damned observant sometimes.

When we got to Chuck E's this afternoon, we had to park in Outer Mongolia. That's never a good sign. Then we had to wait in line for a while just to get in. There were two women behind me who were apparently there for a birthday party. They muttered to each other about the crowd. "This is a fucking zoo," one said to the other. Like maybe she didn't notice that there were scores of children within earshot. I mean, she was right, but still.

When we finally got in, we played games for about 45 minutes and then our tokens ran out. We fed our tickets into the ticket muncher and then headed to the redemption counter. We had 442, which the chick behind the counter generously rounded up to 450. Either that, or she just didn't want to do any tricky math. Anyway, I spent $20.00 in tokens and since my child would ultimately leave the join with $.69 worth of sheer crap, I think Chuck E still came out on top. A jabbed a finger at the glass case. "I want nose putty," she stated emphatically. I peered into the case to see what she was talking about. I read the label of the desired prize.

"It's noise putty, Goober."  If something called "nose putty" exists, I don't want to know anything about it. You've probably seen this fine "noise putty" product, though. It's essentially a plastic canister full of goop. She couldn't wait to get it home and show her dad. She ripped off the lid, shoved her tiny fist into the canister, and was rewarded with a loud fart noise. P laughed. I mean, legitimately laughed, not like the ha-ha you give your kids when they make up knock-knock jokes that aren't jokes at all. I attribute this to the fact that he is a boy. Even when boys grow up, bodily functions are still funny.

In case you wondered, the 450 tickets also earned her some Laffy Taffy and Fun Dip (which, in my mind, should still be called Lik-M-Aid). She also conned me into buying her a bomb pop, because apparently the sugar content in the candy was not high enough.

So, that was my weekend. We ended it with a Skype session with my mom. The kid asked her, "How much cats do you have, Meemaw?" My mom mumbled some sort of response. She gets very cagey when you ask her how many felines call her address home. I suspect we are talking double digits here.

I have to say, though, that even though we don't have the hover crafts and other awesome shit foretold to us in Jetsons cartoons, we do have the ability for a little girl to talk to her faraway Meemaw. And that's pretty amazing, too.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

You'll be happy to know that . . .

The tooth came out. Now I can go back to worrying about other pressing matters, such as: is there something weird about Drake's hairline or is it just me?

I packed lunch for the kid yesterday. Her Hello Kitty thermos contained three vegetarian "chicken" nuggets (and some ranch dip on the side because God forbid a child should eat naked food). She told me that she bit into a nugget and the tooth popped right out. A teacher in the cafeteria swiftly gave her a "tooth necklace" - basically a plastic tooth-shaped receptacle (with the newly liberated tooth inside, of course) that she could wear on a string around her neck for the rest of the day. I suspect that the school must have to dole out those necklaces to the first graders on an almost hourly basis. My daughter's classmates all look like jack-o-lanterns.

I asked her if it hurt and if there had been blood.

"It didn't hurt. There was just a little bit of blood," she told me.  "The blood was on my nugget."

"Oh, okay. And did you eat the bloody nugget?"  She nodded. It's kind of funny because I am constantly riding her about wasting food and this is one time when I would not have given her the starving-kids-in-Africa speech had she opted to throw the bloody nugget away.

Last night she put the tiny tooth in the little pocket of her tooth fairy pillow and drifted off to sleep. The tooth fairy left her three bucks. This morning I asked her if she had three dollars I could borrow and she told me no. The kid has wisely decided to save the money for Disney World in a few months.

I asked her if she has any other loose teeth. She quickly shook her head no. I have my doubts, though. I have my doubts.

p.s. I can hardly wait until someone Googles the term "bloody nugget" and finds my blog.