Saturday, May 31, 2014

Here it is, the cutest photo(s) ever

The rest of you can stop taking pictures now.  They'll never matter.

It's kind of a lazy afternoon at our house today. I went to the farmers' market this morning, then my daughter and I visited a co-worker who has some baby chicks. After lunch, A and I walked around the neighborhood a bit, because our 'hood is having a community rummage sale.  After that, we ran out of steam. There's a garden fair going on, but I can't walk very far in my sexy surgical shoe and I know that you always have to park in Zimbabwe for that event. We looked at the movie guide, but not much is playing.  So, we turned on the AC and now we're just hanging out. The kid is playing games with her cousin in Virginia. 

Because Diesel is deaf, he sleeps like the dead. You can pass through with a marching band and he won't wake up. So, I was able to take these shots of him snoozing in my bed with the kid. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Be nice, be tolerant, and try not to suck

June, as you may be aware, is designated as Pride month for the LGBT community. Last year I coordinated a Pride-themed Sunday service at my church (I serve on the committee that plans our Sunday services). It went well, so I decided to do the same this year.  The service is coming up on June 22nd.  I'm pretty excited about it!

The first challenge, of course, was to find speakers. I approached a gentleman who visits our fellowship regularly and asked him if he'd like to speak.  He agreed right away. He is part of a local mindfulness community and also does work with Reiki, essential oils, etc. so I thought he might be able to give us an interesting perspective. And yes, I already knew that he is gay so I didn't have the awkwardness of  "Hey, there's a rumor going around and I just wondered . . . " Next, a fellow member put me in touch with a woman who started a local gay-straight alliance.  She is Catholic and proudly supports her gay son, so I think she has an interesting story to share as well.  She happily agreed to speak to our fellowship. I just needed one more speaker and found one by accident.

I'm a "fan" of a local Pride organization on Facebook.  They posted an article written by a local teenager. I clicked the link and was truly amazed.  This young man is a high school student who is in the process of transitioning from female to male.  Although I am sure he gets lots of grief from lots of sources, he reported that his school has been very accommodating and that the students have been mostly supportive.  When I was his age, I was scared to wear the wrong shirt to school for fear of being a target. I simply cannot imagine the bravery that is required to change your gender while still in high school. I posted a comment on the article and asked him to contact me about a speaking opportunity. About a day later, he emailed me and voila - he has also agreed to speak at the Pride service. So, I've got three great speakers lined up and I can't wait to hear what they have to say.

Some little part of me feels like, "Who am I to coordinate a celebration of LGBT folks?" After all, I'm just a boring middle-aged straight lady. The truth is that I'm probably not the most qualified for the job. However, I have friends and family who are gay and as long as they are facing discrimination and homophobia, I will defend my right to be pissed off about that.

The area I live in is probably typical of much of the Midwest.  Nice people, largely blue collar, "work hard, play hard" types. The area is more ethnically/culturally diverse than it was when I moved here, but minorities are still, well, minorities. The predominant religions are Lutheran and Catholic. Politically, I think we've got more people leaning right than left.  However, I certainly don't like to think of my fellow midwesterners as being closed-minded or out of touch.  I've run into a lot of really progressive, forward-thinking people here.

However, if you really want to lose faith in your local community and how some of its inhabitants think, check out the Rants and Raves section on your local Craigslist site. You will seriously start to wonder if any of these people made it past the second grade. 

Our local Pride festival is coming up on July 12th.  One of my upstanding fellow residents had this to say about it:

FagFest 2014!!!!
age : 49

Don't forget to mark your calenders for a fun filled day of Homosexual activity in J Park July 12th. Special activities for the kids like bobbing for cheese filled hot dogs and everyones favorite, hormone therapy injections! Don't forget to vote for the "Gayest of the Gay" who will be crowned as the days fairy princess at 1:00.
Wow, I'll bet his mom is pretty proud. I can only hope this person is sterile and has not reproduced. I also hope he doesn't live in my neighborhood because I will run him down with my fucking car.

I just don't get it, I really don't.  I know there are still yahoos out there trying to make the "it's a choice" argument.  It's so nonsensical that it's hard to know how to address it. I can only use myself as an example. I like boys and that's simply how I'm wired.  I've always thought Robin Meade (CNN anchor) is very pretty. However, I don't have an interest in touching her boobies or anything. It's not that the thought turns my stomach or anything like that.  It doesn't. It's just that I'm just programmed to like the menfolk and it's not something I can override. Try to imagine how a gay person feels having to pretend to be attracted to the opposite sex. Every gay person I know has had to do this at some point in their lives and I can only imagine that it must be exhausting, not to mention psychologically damaging.

Then I guess the other big argument is Bible-based.  That topic has already been beaten to death, I think. Unless you choose to follow every word in the Bible TO THE LETTER, then maybe you should stop brandishing it.  This whole picking-and-choosing-the-parts-we-like crap has got to go. 

The other part that bugs me (and then I promise I'll stop) is when people say things like, "Hate the sin, love the sinner" or "I can disagree with your choices/lifestyle/whatever but that doesn't mean I don't like YOU."  Blah blah blah. It just feels so . . . I don't know . . . patronizing, I guess?  Like, I'm so morally superior that I'm even willing to share oxygen with you - I mean, you! Of all people!  It just smacks of something ugly, I think. 
I, for one, am hoping to raise a child who doesn't grow up believing that some people are more important, more valid, more worthy than others.  I just wish I could somehow shield her from the hate that flies through the air like so much pollen. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Monday, May 26, 2014

An experiment

My daughter will be gone for a week in June.  She is flying out to Maryland to visit her grandfather at the beach. I will use that opportunity to clean out her room and throw away about 10,000 prizes from Chuck E Cheese as well as other bits of clutter. I have another plan for that kid-free week, though. I'm going to see if I can go completely vegan for a week.  My hope is that some of my meal plans (and food purchases) for that week will stick with me long-term. I don't think I'm ready to pull the trigger on full-time veganism, but I'd like to move more in that direction. I've already been reducing animal products for some time now. For example, we exclusively drink/use almond milk instead of dairy milk. 

I figure the kid's absence will be a good time to try the experiment because I won't really have to cook for anyone that week. My husband can muddle through on his own or eat what I eat. In preparation, I've been making lists of vegan foods.  I have a few friends who are vegan so I've been bugging them for advice. My wee baby sister is also vegan so the other day I was sending her photos of vegan stuff I found at the grocery store. A lot of the stuff is not cheap but it's healthy so I guess that's the trade-off.  Of course, going vegan does not automatically result in healthy diet. Oreos are vegan, after all.  While I was at the grocery store last week my sister gave me the worst news of all: York Peppermint Patties are not vegan. I seriously almost shed a a tear over that.  Good news, though - she said that Junior Mints are vegan.

Many of my current meal choices are already vegan, so that's a plus.  There are some things that will be a challenge to replace. For example, for breakfast I sometimes eat a Vita Top, veggie sausage, and fruit. The Vita Tops are not vegan so I'd love to find some kind of replacement for that.  Also, after lunch I usually eat a Weight Watchers two-point snack for dessert. Those are not vegan either.  So, if anyone has thoughts on replacements for these (ideally, something that doesn't involve a lot of baking), I'm all ears. If you have other vegan tips, sites, or recipes to pass along, please feel free.  I'm all ears at this point.

For my week-long experiment, I will probably write down everything I plan to eat just to make it easier to stick with the plan.  We'll see how it goes!

Speaking of eating, I've had some extra time on my hands this weekend because I am still recuperating from surgery. Yesterday I did manage to go to church but that was about it.  I still have to keep my foot elevated for the most part. I've also learned that if I take half a percocet, it seems to stave off the pain without bringing on a lot of nausea. Anyway, I am muddling through.  It has been a challenge, though. I can see the house getting dirtier and it is really hard not to be able to do all of the things I normally do. 

Yesterday I somehow ended up watching multiple episodes of "My 600-lb Life" on TLC. Holy cow, that show is something else. Now, I have struggled with my weight all my life. However, if there is one thing I've learned from attending a gazillion Weight Watchers meetings, it's that your body really does notice what you put into it. You can't trick it. I was amazed to watch some of these folks have gastric bypass, then continue eating biscuits and gravy, and then tell the doctor, "I have no idea why I'm not losing weight." It's sad in a way. One woman even claimed that she hadn't eaten a thing and insisted that the scales must be wrong (meanwhile, her family was blatantly bringing in fast food for her - WHILE SHE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL). The doctor eventually ended up throwing in the towel, unable to convince her that her failure to change was killing her. Most of the other patients saw the light and tried to change.  I don't really have a point to make with all of this. I guess it just reinforced my interest in making good food choices (and modeling them for my daughter as well).

Onward and upward.

Saturday, May 24, 2014


Well, I had my foot surgery on Thursday. It was as fun as expected. I didn't have to be at the hospital until noon, so I worked until 11:30.  I couldn't eat or drink after midnight on Wednesday so of course I became obsessed with food/drink right about midnight on Wednesday. My husband met me at the hospital on Thursday and before long I was wearing a flimsy gown and had an IV in my hand. We sat in a room watching "Pawn Stars" and "Dirty Jobs" until it was time for me to go under the knife.  The anesthesiologist came in and explained that I would be sedated but not fully anesthetized. I had a few questions at that point because I knew the surgeon would be sawing bone and stuff and I wanted to make sure I wasn't going to hear any of that. I was assured that I would not feel or remember anything. Good enough.

At 2:00 the anesthesia guy (not the same one, though - this one was much younger and cuter) injected some happy juice into my IV. Then a nurse wheeled me into the operating room. The last thing I remember was a mask being placed over my face. "Here's some oxygen." And that was it. The next thing I remember is waking up and hearing a U2 song playing in the operating room. I heard my podiatrist saying something about "Rattle and Hum" and I immediately became some sort of Chatty Cathy. "Oh, I saw Rattle and Hum when I was in college. You saw it? What year did you graduate?"  Or something like that. I just know that I was blathering on for some reason.

A few minutes later, my husband and I were reunited in a recovery room. I could already feel a dull pain seeping into my left foot, which was heavily bandaged.  Dr. D recapped the surgery for me. He sawed off the bone spurs (that were preventing my foot from bending normally) and since the cartilage was damaged, he drilled holes in it to spur regrowth/healing. Because of all the trauma to the foot (the sawing and drilling), he assured me that I could look forward to lots of pain and swelling.

A nurse handed my husband some post-surgery instructions, helped me to get dressed, and then gave me a couple of Percocets to stave off the pain that was creeping in. We were also given a prescription for Percocet. Finally, a nurse wheeled me out to the car and I was officially released. The rest of the day is a bit of a blur. P got take-out from Chilis but I was so nauseated that I couldn't eat it. I've mostly been parked on the couch since then. I am trying not to take any Percocet today because the nausea is just not fun. I have been sleeping on the couch because it's easier to prop my foot up that way. Plus, I get nervous that one of the dogs might jump up on the bed and jostle my foot, which would suck. I go in for a bandage change on Tuesday.

The hardest part, aside from the the relentless throbbing pain, is that today is a beautiful day and I can't get outside and enjoy it. I would love to do some biking or at least walk the dogs, but alas, I must stay inside and feel sorry for myself. I'm touched by all of the calls and texts I've received. I'm not sure how coherent my responses have been. One friend even dropped off brownies - woo hoo!  A couple of my Facebook friends suggested that I wash down the painkillers with wine and since I'm pretty sure that people die from doing that sort of thing, I think I need to take a closer look at my Facebook friends' list once I'm feeling better.

In other news, today is our 17th wedding anniversary, so Happy Anniversary to my guy! He's doing his best to be a good nurse. I asked him to cut up an orange for me yesterday and he cut it in a way that never would have occurred to me but hey, he's doing his best to appease his frustrated couch-bound wife.  Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to watching bad TV.

Monday, May 19, 2014

If you want to feel dumb about technology, live with a third-grader

I am not a technophobe. I have my share of gadgets and love learning how to use new stuff. I work for a technology company and make my living building websites for clients. I know more than I want to know about DNS and HTML and whatnot. However, there is just no way I can keep up with a third grader when it comes to technology.  Now that she has an iPad, it's gotten even harder. She downloads apps at the speed of light and I have to try to keep track of who is contacting my baby when she plays games like Minecraft.  After she goes to bed, I check her iPad and delete Game Center friend requests and anything else that looks suspicious.

Because she is on an Apple device and my phone is an Android device, we struggled a bit to find a mechanism that would allow us to communicate with each other.  We tried a couple of apps and eventually stumbled into Google Hangouts. We don't use it very often. If I'm out of town or something like that, we'll sometimes exchange a few text messages.  She's been known to text me from the next room. Once, she gave me some feedback on my parenting skills while we were both in the kitchen.

I traveled out of town last Friday night. I was visiting my friend Kathy.  We both needed to sign some tax paperwork for the rescue and have it notarized.  So, we took care of that over some Grey Goose at a bar. Then I stayed overnight at her house.  Anyway, while we were still out I send the kid a text message via our Google Hangout.  The next thing I knew, a message comes up on my phone telling me that I had an incoming video call from the kid. I am just going to be honest here: I had been unaware this was an option on my phone. I'm familiar with Skype but didn't realize that we could chat via video within our Google Hangout.  I accepted the call, and there she was.  "Hi Mama! What are you doing?"

If you can just keep in mind that in my lifetime I have owned vinyl records and cassette tapes, and that I know what it is like to have to search for a payphone (when I needed to call my mom to have her pick me up from the roller rink).  I know what it is like to try to find my way via a paper map. I learned to type on an actual typewriter.  So you can see why it takes me a second or two to process all of the stuff that is now at my fingertips.

Parenting is hard enough without technology, I think.  I don't know how I feel about the fact that she can talk back in so many different ways. When I was her age, I had to be rude to my mother in person, dontcha know.

Here are a few sample exchanges. Perhaps you have some theories on why she sent me an animated pile of poo.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Foster Dog

You know what's weird?  I've been fostering dogs for so many years (over 14) that when I don't have one, I actually miss it. After Kaiser and Mr. Bates both got adopted a couple months ago, I was happy to have a few weeks with my own dogs.  Then, after a while, I started feeling like something was missing. However, the rescue was just entering an unusual quiet period and we didn't have any males on the waiting list.  I can't take any dog with a vagina because, well, Gretchen would order an immediate execution (and then carry it out herself).

We were contacted a few days ago by a local Pit Bull rescue that had taken in a nine-month-old male Boxer. I said I would take him. What can I say? I guess I've just been missing being a part of those happy endings. I like helping the non-humans in my own small way, I suppose. Originally, Diesel had been living with a mom and several children and apparently that mom was unprepared for the exuberance of a young Boxer. A volunteer from the bully rescue has had him for a month or so and has been working with him.  Diesel is, as far as anyone knows, deaf. It's tempting to see if we can have someone run a BAER test on him to confirm. It's just very, very unusual for a non-white Boxer to be fully deaf. It would be interesting to know if any sound, at any frequency/pitch/whatever gets through. I'm going to go with the fully deaf theory, though. I just whistled to him from the other room.  My dogs came and he did not.

He is cute as can be, though, and I can already tell that he's a very nice dog.  The bully rescue knew that we (Boxer Rescue) are used to crazy young Boxers and might have more luck/resources as far as taking care of him and finding a new home for him. 

So, here you have it. The new chaos in my life:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day

If you've been reading my blog for a while . . . you have my sympathies. Ha! I kid, I kid.  I was going to say that if you've been reading my blog for a few years, you know that Mother's Day always seems to cause me a lot of angst. My husband is a good egg, but he's not what you'd call the thoughtful type. Or the plan-ahead type.

I think a lot of it boils down to birth order. No, seriously. Hear me out. I am the oldest in my family and he is the youngest in his. I've had to make decisions all of my life. As the baby, he never really had to make a lot of decisions. Normally, I'm okay with having to manage every single aspect of our lives but sometimes it would be great just to hear, "You just relax. I'm on it."  On Mother's Day, he typically says something more like, "Well, I guess we could go out to brunch. Where do you want to go?"  It leaves me feeling like I've caused some sort of inconvenience just by being a mother on Mother's Day.

This year, in an attempt to throw the guy a bone, I went to World Market's website, picked out a few items that I like, and added them to a wish list. I figured that I would solve the "what do I buy" dilemma for him and it would sort of be a surprise since I wouldn't know exactly which item(s) he would choose from the wish list. We have a World Market located about 30 minutes from our home. When I sent him the link to the wish list, I gave him the location for the store.  A day later he called me and said, "I ordered some stuff for you from that list, but they won't be here in time for Mother's Day."

I responded, "Oh, I guess I thought you'd take the kid and go to the store or something."

"Well," he said, "I'm not going to drive all the way down there if I don't know for sure that they have the stuff in the store."

That's what he said, but what I heard was, "You're such a horrible mother that I can't be bothered to drive a half-hour for you."  

Moreover, there seemed to be an implication that it was my own fault that I wouldn't have a gift on Mother's Day because I had not sent the list soon enough.

My feelings were hurt.  I know it sounds silly, but it was never about the gift. It was a matter of wanting to feel like I have some value as a mother. Apparently realizing that he was in danger of never seeing me naked again, my husband attempted to redeem himself on Saturday. He got me some flowers and a balloon.  Then, while I was out biking with the kid, he drove to World Market (he drove all the way down there and, not coincidentally, visited a comic book store nearby) and got me one of the items from my list (one that he had not already ordered).  Then he got me a bottle of wine and a dark chocolate bar.

On Sunday, we did go out to lunch and yes, I had to pick the restaurant myself, but we had a nice time.  I really don't mean to give the guy such a hard time, but honestly, I think he'd be surprised if I didn't make the day just a little bit difficult.  After lunch, we went to the amusement park so that the kid could ride the roller coaster a few more times. I rode it with her twice and then she rode it twice more by herself. P and I watched from down below.  We couldn't really see her - just her arms in the air and some curls flying in the wind. She's some sort of adrenaline junkie now.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty quiet. I called my mother, of course. I had sent her some gifts a few days earlier.  One of the gifts was four packs of satellite wafers.  She ate them all in one sitting so we had a brief chat about whether an intervention is needed. We also discussed my culpability as an enabler.

On a more serious note, Mother's Day dredges up a lot of stuff for me, but there is another person who is never far from my thoughts. Without A's birthmom, I would not be a mom. Her selfless act changed my life forever. I thank her from the bottom of my heart. On Mother's Day, I also thought of one of my fellow May 2005 mommies (from the old Babycenter days). Her daughter had many physical issues and died two years ago. I know that Mother's Day is a bittersweet day for her. I also thought of a couple of friends I've known since the sixth grade whose mothers have died. And I thought of a friend who placed a child for adoption many years ago. I can imagine that there is some weirdness around Mother's Day for her. Finally, I thought of my friends who have struggled with infertility. So, while I am busy wondering if I am a horrible mother or not, I know that there are plenty of people out there just wishing they had a kid to yell at or a mother to complain to.

A belated Happy Mother's Day to moms of all kinds!

p.s. You can yell at my kid if you want.  She doesn't listen anyway.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Day O'Fun

The kid and I spent a lot of quality time together yesterday. I'm about to become a temporary invalid when I have my foot surgery next week, so I have to squeeze in all the stuff I can before that happens.  First up was a sewing class at Jo-Ann Fabrics.  This was a Sewing 101, "How to Use Your Sewing Machine" sort of deal. The class was small, just us and a college student. I'm not sure why she (the other student) was there since she made it pretty clear that she was already God's gift to sewing. We brought the kid's machine to the class and proceeded to set it up for the first time. The first hurdle?  She's too short to reach the foot pedal. Doh!  We had to lower the chair significantly. Once we did that, she could no longer see the instructor so she just peered at her through the middle of her sewing machine.  We learned how to thread the machine and then the kid practiced a few basic stitches. I took notes and asked a few dumb questions, most of which were related to the bobbin - a concept that seems to elude me.

When we got home, she wanted to spend some more time practicing. I was glad to see her level of interest. I am expecting her to win Project Runway someday.  About 15 minutes into her practice session, though, something went wrong with the bobbin (see, I told you the bobbin is just an effin' troublemaker!). I attempted to fix it while she dissolved into tears. I called my mom but it was hard for her to help without being able to see the machine.  I finally decided to put the sewing machine away and try again some other day. I may have to entice one of my sewing friends over to unravel the mystery for us (and I think I mean that almost literally).  Oh, and I signed us up for another class on June 13th. We'll complete an actual project at that class. I mean, if there's one thing this house needs, it's an owl pillow.

After class, we grabbed some lunch and then loaded up our bikes.  P was out running errands or I'm sure he would have joined us. We drove to a nearby bike trail and biked to a park. It's great now that she's on a bigger bike because she can go a lot faster/farther. Every time I go to the trail, I buy the daily pass (they have these little DIY stations along the trail) and I've never been asked to show the pass. Well, yesterday I was stopped about a mile from our starting point and was asked to show my pass. I have to say that the goody-two-shoes in me was gratified by that.

It was a beautiful day so we hung out at the park for a while before heading back. Short Stuff talked me into stopping at a frozen custard place on the way back. She got a root beer float. As for me, I feel weird about eating calories that I've JUST burned so I took a pass.

After dinner, we headed to a friend's roller derby bout. It was fun. I'd been before but it was the kid's first time. It's more of a family-friendly activity than it might sound like. She drank a Sprite, ate some Chex Mix, and got her face painted. Then, on the way home, she talked me into letting her hook up her iPad to my car's stereo. We sang along to Katy Perry's "Dark Horse" twice in a row. There's no going back . . .

All in all, it was a very nice day. That kid of mine - she's a'ight.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Birthday Weekend

So, as you know all too well by now, my daughter turned nine last weekend. My dad and his girlfriend drove in from Maryland to join us for the festivities. P and I left work early on Friday, picked up the birthday cake, dumped the dogs, and headed out of town.  We invited A's second-cousin (is that what one calls your cousin's kid? She is A's cousin's daughter) to join us for the weekend.  The girls generally get along pretty well and we thought it would be nice if our kid had someone with whom she could swim. I'm good for about one swim a day but my daughter demands more than that.

We arrived at the resort on Friday and the girls went swimming shortly thereafter.  We had pizza for dinner and then of course there was more swimming. I joined them this time. On Saturday, the six of us went out to lunch and then stopped at a candy store. I thought my dad was going to buy A's candy but then he snuck outside for a cigarette when it was time to check out. (Dad, you owe me!)  The afternoon was filled with more swimming and whatnot.  For dinner, I made burritos and then we had cake and ice cream.  The kid had already opened her gift from us, which was a sewing machine. Grandpa Ted gave her a crisp hundred-dollar bill.  Have you seen these buggers?  It looks for all the world like fake money. A thought it was a joke at first but we convinced her that the currency is legit. Grandpa Ted's girlfriend knitted a beautiful purple blanket for her as a birthday gift. After dinner, we went swimming yet again.

On Sunday, we took the long way home and stopped at a county park that the lady at the front desk (of the resort) had recommended. I must say it was worth the trip - very beautiful and scenic.

Now, here is the big news.  We have a big wooden roller coaster in our hometown. The height requirement is 48 inches. Since we were driving right by the amusement park on the way home, I thought we should stop and see if Miss Thang is tall enough to ride. She has been waiting for two summers to ride it. When my mom visited us in March, she measured the kid (because she sews clothes for her all the time) and clocked her at 48 inches.  However, sometimes the measuring thingies posted next to rides are a little "off."  So, I couldn't be sure.  My heart was in my throat as she ran towards the "you must be this tall to ride" sign. Well, hallelujah!  She was tall enough. Whew!  I am so relieved because this will open up a lot of stuff to her at other parks, too. 48 inches seems to be a standard height requirement for a lot of rides.

The first time, four of us rode: me, the kid (sitting together), P, and our great-niece (sitting together).  My dad and his girlfriend sat at a picnic table and waited for us.  As we strapped ourselves into the coaster's seats, I could tell that my daughter had some trepidation.  The ride started and we climbed the first big hill.  Then, seconds later, we plummeted downwards.  I looked over at her face. I couldn't read her emotions. She wasn't smiling so I wasn't sure she was digging it.  However, when our car lurched into the station, she yelled, "Let's do it again!"  No one else was willing to ride a second time, so she and I got back in line and rode again.  Then she wanted to ride it a third time.  Although I do love that ride, it is very jarring to the body (as many old school wooden coasters are) and I'd developed a headache by that point. Fortunately, my dad's girlfriend took one for the team and rode the roller coaster with Miss 48 Inches.  After that, we were out of tickets and it was lunchtime, so we left and drove home. The kid has announced that she wants to ride the coaster 500 times this summer (just 497 to go!)  I told her I will take her quite a few times over the next few months, but I can't guarantee that we'll hit the 500 mark.

So, that was the birthday weekend. I took the kid to the mall on Tuesday so that she could spend her birthday money.  In addition to the Benjamin that was burning a hole in her pocket, she also had ten bucks from her Great-Grandma and a $15 gift card from Justice (a gift from her aunt and uncle).  She wanted to head straight to Justice when we got to the mall.  She told me she was just going to spend a little bit of her money and save the rest.  She had $125 to spend and she spent . . . drumroll, please . . .   $127.00.  So, if you're keeping track, she owes me $2.00 and my dad owes me around ten bucks.  She also received an iTunes gift card. She has announced that she can't wait to buy her favorite song, which is "Talk Dirty to Me" by Jason Derulo. I haven't quite figured out how I'm going to put the kibosh on that, but rest assured that I will find a way.

Here are a few photos of the festivities from last weekend:

Monday, May 5, 2014

I'm moving to England

I'll write about the big birthday weekend later, but right now I have to share something much more important.  For some 25 years now, I have been mourning the discontinuation of Apple Slice.  I don't even drink soda anymore, but I still miss Apple Slice. I drank it like crazy when I was in high school. If memory serves, Apple Slice was discontinued in the late 80s. Welcome to adulthood, Claudia. No more good stuff for you. 

On Saturday, I visited a store that sells only British stuff. From Paddington Bears to Monty Python memorabilia to weird candy bars - it's all imported from England. My dad is visiting and I thought he might have an interest in some of the Beatles stuff, so that is why we journeyed to this particular store.  My daughter and my great-niece picked out a couple of those weird candy bars (Nestle Aero Mint bars, to be exact). I spotted an apple soda so I bought it and took it back to the resort.  I poured it over ice and sipped it by the pool.  While I don't think it's identical to Apple Slice, I must say that it is amaaaaazing. In that instant, all my dreams came true.

I went back to the store the next morning (right before we left town) and bought six cans of carbonated appley goodness. They are $1.35 each so I couldn't get too crazy. The store is about an hour and a half from my house. So, I can either drive there every time I need more, order them online (and pay outrageous shipping costs), or just move to England. Bloody right!

I have to say that the back side of the can is kind of funny.  It says, "Apple Soft Drink with Sugar and Sweeteners. Contains no artificial colours or flavours (or any of those poncy ingredients like ginseng or elderflower.)"  I don't know what poncy means but I'm going to look it up and then incorporate it into my vocabulary right away.

After I bought my six-pack of fancy sodas, I wandered into a gift shop across the hall. I had seen the shop owner enter the building with her Basset Hound so I had to pay a visit. I had met this dog a couple of years before, so I was glad to see he was still around. He's an older boy and he's got terrible skin issues so I was just happy to learn that he's hanging in there.  The owner offered to take a picture of me and Truman. When I tried to leave, Truman gave me a woo-woo-woooooo to let me know that I needed to stay there all day and rub his belly. Then he shed his white hairs onto my black outfit.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Happy birthday to my curly girly

Hey Goober,

Happy birthday! So, you're nine years old. You're halfway to adulthood. Just nine years to go until you leave for college, meet a biker named Pus, and blow your college fund on a drum kit and a VW bus or something. But regardless, you'll be able to vote and that's the most important thing (you told me the other day that you seriously cannot wait to vote).

I am kidding about the n'er-do-well boyfriend, of course. Or at least I hope I am. The other day you told me that you expect to be able to date when you are 19 and I suggested that you go ahead and double that number.

You are at an interesting age. In some ways, you seem very grown-up. You're old enough to fly on an airplane by yourself.  You're allowed to ride your bike around the neighborhood (within reason). I can have real conversations with you and I don't have to edit my thoughts so that a kid can understand them. Your knowledge of technology seems to be surpassing mine pretty quickly (and I work in the technology field, fer cryin' out loud).

In some ways, it seems like you're too grown-up.  Sort of.  Lately some of the popular songs you like are making me cringe. You like a song called "Talk Dirty to Me" by Jason Derulo and I don't have the heart (or the nerve, I guess) to explain to you what the lyrics mean. I turn it off every time it comes on the radio, but you must be hearing it somewhere. You also like a song called "Classic" by MKTO and I don't know quite what to do about you singing "let's get it on like Marvin Gaye" at the top of your lungs.

You still don't get ready on time and you do everything on your own terms.  The other morning you screamed at me and your dad when we asked you to get dressed, saying that we were putting "too much pressure" on you.

I've also noticed that your dad and I are getting more embarrassing by the minute. The other day you had a friend over and the zipper on your dad's khaki's broke. He was sitting on the couch and you were so worried that he would stand up and that your friend would see the broken zipper. I sometimes threaten to break out in song and dance when I'm at your school, just so I can see the look of horror that crosses your face.

I can hardly believe it's been nine years since you joined our family. I feel so lucky to be your mom. You challenge me at every turn, but I love you with all my heart. I love your sense of humor and your cute face and your crazy curls. I love the way you still call me "Mama" sometimes. You are the very best thing that has ever happened to me. Happy birthday, baby girl.