Showing posts from July, 2009

Thanks for nothing, Gretchen

Gretchen failed her obedience class on Wednesday (and, believe it or not, we practiced!) Gretchen’s Obedience Evaluation A Quiz 1. On the recall, when I instructed Gretchen to come to me, did she: a) Trot towards me quickly and obediently and then sit right where she was supposed to? b) Walk towards me slowly but accurately? c) Amble towards me hesitantly, as though she wasn’t sure we’d ever met? 2. On the finish, did she: a) Circle me quickly and then sit in the proper heel position? b) Circle around me aimlessly, like a heavily-medicated mental patient? c) Sit in one position without moving? 3. On the sit-stay exercise, when I said, “Gretchen! Sit!” what did she do next? a) Sit b) Look at me as though she wasn’t sure how a stranger like me could know her name. c) Immediately break the sit and follow me, instantly disqualifying herself. 4. On the stand-for-exam exercise, did she: a) Stand stock-still as the instructor approached her? b) Almost made it except for moving just a hair? c)

Father Has Left The Building

Since a surprising number of people have asked me about this, it is my sad duty to report that Father is now just Daddy. Or sometimes Dada. My daughter began calling her dad "Father" when she was around 2 1/2. One day she asked me a question and I said, "Go ask your father." So she turned on her heel and said, "Father . . ." Since that day, he was Father. Occasionally I have been called Mother, but I've mostly been simply Mama. You get a lot of odd looks in public when your child is shouting, "Father! Look at me!" I can only guess what they must be thinking. Wow, those people sure are formal with their titles. At least she never took it any further than she did. I can just imagine her saying, "Excuse me, legal guardian? Please can I may have a fruit snack?" In June, A moved into the four-year-old room at Kindercare (she turned four in May). You would not think there would be a big difference between three and four, but there is. The

Barbie and the *&!%ing Diamond Castle

When the kid and I visited my mom for Thanksgiving last year, there were lots of goodies waiting for my daughter when we got there. My mom bought her a bunch of these-will-never-fit in your-suitcase toys and a couple of books. One of the books was called, "Barbie and the Diamond Castle." Knowing that my daughter loves all things girly, my mom thought it would be fun to read this particular story to A during our visit. Mom even lovingly wrote her granddaughter's name inside the front cover, employing her impeccable cursive penmanship. Well, little did she know. As it turns out, the book makes no sense. I don't even think hallucinogenic drugs would help my comprehension level on this one. No two pages are related to each other. "I'll be sure to review the book more thoroughly before I buy one next time," said my mother ruefully. She persevered, though, and read the book to the kid. The book starts out by explaining that these two chicks, who are best frien

Rockin' Robin

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

Liar, Liar . . . Dress on Fire

"Mama, I need a new dress." She looked at me expectantly, knowing I wouldn't go down without a fight. She braced herself and put her hands on her hips. "What's wrong with that one?" I asked her. "It's perfectly fine." She was wearing an adorable fuchsia dress with matching shoes. "But it doesn't . . . TWIRL!" We have variations of this debate almost daily. She knows I don't really want her changing her dress unless there is something wrong with the one she's wearing, so oftentimes she'll spill water on herself and then announce that she can't possible wear a wet dress. "I'll dry it with the hair dryer!" I tell her helpfully, which causes her to erupt into an apoplectic rage. During the most recent episode of the dress-changing debate, I did finally give in and tell her that she could change her dress. Fine, whatever. I love extra laundry. Her list of requirements when it comes to dresses is growing ev

The stopping day

I got a call from my stad today. I was a little startled because he doesn't call me too often. Not because he doesn't love me (he does) or because I'm not his favorite (I'm sure I am), but because he generally thinks that when my mom calls me, that counts as him calling me. So I was a little surprised to see his number come up on my Caller ID earlier. When I answered, he casually asked me what I was up to. So, I filled him in on the glamour that is my life. I did a charity bike tour this morning and then watered what passes for a garden in my back yard. In the back of my mind I was a little worried. Was something wrong with my grandma? With him? Had he found my old "Thriller" album in the basement and wanted to let me know that it is now worth a bajillion dollars? "I stopped drinking twenty years ago today," he told me. "You were one of the reasons I stopped, so I just wanted to thank you for that." I felt tears forming behind my eyes. I c

Brittney's Baby (Catching Up on the DVR)

Did you see the episode (actually a two-parter) of Dr. Phil about the pregnant teen ( Brittney ) who didn't know what to do? I don't know if it was a repeat or not. Dr. Phil has been regurgitating old episodes all summer. I watched both episodes last night, as I was catching up on all the shows that piled up on the DVR while I was on vacation. Speaking of the DVR, I know we've only been seeing other since January, but I really think it's true love. I'd have it cremated with me when I die except that I think Time Warner Cable would frown on that. We did have one little spat when I got back from vacation, though. It stopped recording when it got full, which was a bummer because I really wanted to see what Ruby is up to. I also watched the episode of Intervention where Bret finally got sober and then . . . died of esophageal cancer. I cried my mascara right off when his son said, "he died a dad - not an alcoholic." I still have an episode of Obsessed to wa

Magical Stuff

One of the highlights of our vacation was an afternoon spent in Old Town Alexandria. My dad works at Murphy's Irish Pub so we also scored a free lunch while we were at it. We took my nephew along for the trip. In the past, I was always hesitant to take him anywhere (without my sister coming along) because he had such severe allergies (milk, eggs, nuts, etc.) that I worried I would inadvertently send him into anaphylactic shock. Like a cheese doodle might get away from me or something. However, he has now outgrown the egg and dairy allergies so the odds of me snuffing him out by accident have decreased considerably. We visited the Torpedo Factory (art center) and then walked along the waterfront. It was a beautiful day and even the Potomac was looking particularly picturesque. There was a balloon man out by the docks. Whenever and wherever there is a balloon man to be found, I am always the sucker parent who forks over a couple bucks for a twisty latex flower/dog/wand. Then, invaria


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

Yertle the Turtle

My sister and her family somehow ended up with a box turtle in their possession. They dubbed him Yertle, and he is currently living in a mulched area next to the front porch. The circumstances under which Yertle showed up are a bit mysterious. Someone came to the door a couple weeks ago and when my sister opened the door, the visitor said she had the wrong house. Then, almost as an afterthought, she asked, "Hey, did you know you have a turtle in your yard?" So, who knows if the turtle showed up on his own or if the visitor left him there. Yertle munching freeze-dried crickets. That's good eatin'! My sister and her boyfriend immediately began doing research about box turtles. The oogiest tidbit they learned: "Female box turtles are capable of storing sperm from one mating for up to four years. This allows them to lay eggs for several seasons without mating. " [ Proof that I did not make this up .] After a day or two, my sister got in touch with a local reptil

A Bad, Bad Man

Since I'm on vacation, my most strenuous thinking probably should be something like, "Didn't I wear this shirt once already this week?" I do have one vexing little nugget that's been rumbling around in my brain, though. Last week, my middle sister forwarded to me an email from an ex-neighbor of hers. The neighbor was attempting to persuade my sister of all the reasons why the arrest of Frank Lombard proves the point that gays should not be permitted to adopt children. Frank Lombard, a gay Duke University official, apparently had sex with his young son (who was adopted at birth) and then hopped on the Internet and invited others to come over and violate his son as well. Fortunately, he was caught as a result of an undercover sting operation. The crimes allegedly committed by Lombard gave some ultra-conservative folks exactly the opening they'd been hoping for. "See?" they've been exclaiming with fists pumping into the air. "We told you!&

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

I'm on vacation in sunny, scenic Northern Virginia. We're freeloading off my sister and her boyfriend. The kid is having a great time playing with her cousins. It is challenging at times to keep an only child occupied, so it's nice to be able to turn her loose with my niece and nephew, and then just check on them periodically to make sure they're all still alive. I purposely did not over-plan our days while we're on vacation. I do enough of that back home. Once I recovered from the long drive (I've blocked most of it out, particularly the part where my child lost her mind somewhere in Pennsylvania and started speaking in tongues), I settled into vacation mode: sleeping past the time the dogs would normally allow, drinking a bit more wine than is ordinarily prudent, and buying things I don't really need. We hit the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall on Sunday, which was our first full day after arrival. The weather was iffy, which seemed to r

Au Revoir, Mes Amis

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


The wound. We are pretty sure she will lose the foot. When my sisters and I were growing up, we never knew where Mom kept the band-aids. To this day I do not have any earthly idea where she stored them. If any of us had an injury that (in our opinion) required a band-aid, we first had to show the wound to our mother. Basically, you had to be :::this::: close to needing stitches and then maybe, possibly, if the planets aligned just right, you could have a band-aid. Ideally, your wound had to be deep enough that she could see your internal organs when she peered into it. If you weren't actively bleeding, you didn't even bother asking for one. If she did agree to dole out an adhesive bandage, she'd say "wait right here" and then go into her bedroom, shutting the door behind her. You'd hear combination locks spinning and deadbolts clanging and vaults opening and then a few minutes later you'd have your band-aid. And if you got it wet an hour later and it fell