Unidentified Floating Object


(Disclaimer:  This has nothing to do with missing planes, boats, or other maritime disasters)

On the heels of the Apukealypse, Will caught a cold.  Bad timing, certainly.  In his quest to soothe himself, he rummaged through the pantry and found some chicken noodle soup. Only it wasn’t the regular chicken noodle soup.  It was one of the cans he had bought for the kids:  Campbell’s Disney Princess Chicken and Pasta variety.

I caught a glimpse of his bowl after he nuked it.  It was a modern-day multi-sensory Rorschach test, complete with obscure blob shapes open for interpretation while you taste the salty brine of condensed soup and smell that Campbell’s chickeny-chicken smell.  While I certainly applaud Campbell’s ambition in updating a classic (I simply cannot use the phrase ” making soup sexier” in this case), this may be pushing the limits of what is possible in a canned semolina-based product.

Will thought he was all parental badass by identifying what he claims were tiaras/crowns, Ariel, a glass slipper, and a palace.  To me, they looked like the Transformers logo, a venus flytrap with tumors, a corncob pipe, and a gas station.  I guess I’m not as in touch with my princess side as he is.

 

What. The. Hell.

What. The. Hell.

The Hound of the Basketvilles


Hope everyone out there had a great Easter.  Ours was exceptional.  I’m going to actually use 2 words that most likely have never been used together before (I hope):  it was an Easter orgy.  Never has there been such an Easter.  An embarrassment of riches, really.

In his Easter Sunday best

In his Easter Sunday best

My dude

My dude

It all started Thursday with an egg-hunt at Stella’s school.  Unfortunately I had to bring Felix with me due to the Apukealypse germ taking out every member of Oui Oui’s household.  It was further unfortunate that by the time I got there, Stella was over-stimulated.  I ended up having to drag her kicking and screaming to the car (leaving Felix with some lady I’d never seen before who kindly asked if I needed a hand).  The good news is that she got to hunt eggs and have fun with her friends all day.  She also recovered quickly.  That’s progress compared to the Great Christmas School Party Meltdown this past December.

Friday was an off day for me and Stella.  She was pretty upset about not going to school.  Luckily, my dad and stepmother had sent the kids toys for Easter – one of those LaLaLoopsy bubbling mermaid dolls and a bubble mower – that I could offer up as a distraction.

I’m going to interject some product reviews here.  Stella had been raving about the Loopsy bubbling mermaid dolls since seeing commercials for them.  I told my dad to get her one and figured the Bunny would bring the other given her deep fixation on mermaids.  The dolls are cute.  But the bubbling??  First off, the shit spills.  Once you fill their hair with the solution, if you tilt the doll more than 1.5˚ it spills. Then, I wouldn’t say it bubbles.  It foams.  It’s like the mermaid has rabid hair.  And a mermaid with hydrophobic hair is just wrong.

When added to the Fisher Price bubble mower that wouldn’t bubble for all the tea in bloody China and only distributed a slime of bubble solution all over the house, I had 2 toys which were cute and appreciated by kids, but which didn’t function as intended and gave me an indoor Slip-n-Slide to clean up.

On to the main event.  First, the floppy eared giant magical rodent stopped at our house.  He had to do things a little different since Stella insisted on waking up at 4:15 that morning.  Technically the Bunny had a couple of hours of night left to sneak in and out, but Stella cheated him.  Instead, he had to sneak in ninja-like later after he finished his regular rounds.  Conveniently enough, that was after Will woke up so that he didn’t miss anything.  The Bunny was generous.  There was very little candy, but loads of toys – mermaids (and another damn bubbling Loopsy thing), dolls, and Hello Kitties for Stella and dinosaurs and rockets for Felix.

Basket #1

Basket #1

Easter dinosaur

Easter dinosaur

Preparing to depart for Oui Oui's

Preparing to depart for Oui Oui’s

After we recovered from the morning, off to Oui Oui’s house we went.  There was grilling and crawfish bisque and cousins from out of town we’d never seen.  Oh yeah.  And the Bunny had come to Oui Oui’s house, too, with MORE stuff.  There was splashing in the hose in the yard and ice cream and cake and ANOTHER big egg hunt.

Basket #2

Basket #2

Pre-egg hunt

Pre-egg hunt

Easter basket multi-tasking:  treat holder AND helmet

Easter basket multi-tasking: treat holder AND helmet

Hunting

Hunting

By the time we left, the kids had racked up an impressive bounty, were dirty and exhausted, and were inconsolably grumpy due to lack of napping.  We barely got everyone in, bathed, fed, and kept awake until 5:45 when Stella was pretty much begging to go to sleep.

No.  More. Easter.

No. More. Easter.

While I put everything away last night, I felt kind of sick about how much stuff the kids got.  The Bunny went overboard, especially when all the other toys and baskets from grandparents were taken into account.  Next year will be massively scaled back.  I don’t want spoiled brat children.  But one thing makes me happy to think about:  when I was getting Stella dressed for bed and asked her what her favorite part of the day was, it wasn’t the toys and baskets she chose.  It was playing with her new-found little cousin.  That makes me happy for loads of reasons.

Thank you, Easter Bunny!

Thank you, Easter Bunny!

A-puke-alypse Now


It was Saturday.  It was one of those days when you wake up and within 3 minutes have hit that “parental wall.”  It’s not that the kids were doing anything horrifically obnoxious.  It’s just that I was done.  I was fried. I realized that I had not had any time away from my offspring – not counting work of course – in weeks.  We put out a distress call to Oui Oui, to please take them.  Just for a few hours.  We’d drop them off.  We’d pick them up.  Whatever. Had. To. Be. Done.

It was still rather early, and Oui Oui needed a bit of time.  Figuring we’d squeeze in an outing, we ended up at Chick-fil-A.  We could all get breakfast and the kids could play.

We dumped the kids off and proceeded to enjoy the next 4 hours or so.  I took a nap.  I needed a nap, badly.  I cleaned out a closet.  I discovered that I am a gift bag hoarder; apparently I have not thrown one away in about 7 years.  It was ridiculous.

Cruising Facebook shortly before picking my spawn up, I saw where Oui Oui had posted some fun outing pics.  There was lots of outside time, drawing, and a McDonald’s picnic at the park.  Good stuff.

Once everyone was back home, I bathed my dirty kids, got a bath myself, and started in on dinner.  I was making tortilla pizzas for the kids with a side of grapes.  Out of the blue, I heard Stella cough and gag.  I looked up in time to see a huge amount of very chunky vomit eject from her mouth.  She produced about 3 huge piles of the stuff – laden with undigested French fries.  Nasty.  And so much.  It was one of those things where you wonder where the hell it all could be coming from (we ask that same question sometimes when she’s eating an extraordinary amount of food).  It’s like her duodenum had become a portal to another dimension.

She shook it off fine, and demanded grapes.  She ate a ton of grapes.  I figured she had just had too much fast food – 2 meals in a row.  While I’m not a total anti-junk parent, we do limit that stuff.  An hour later she puked again.  This time all over our bed.  Everything was tainted down to the mattress pad.

There were about 3 more episodes until the inter-dimensional portal to her guts closed, ensuring that her bed was hosed several times.  By the end of it, there was a pile of soiled linens and towels roughly equal in size to my Forerunner.  Best of all, the washing machine started backing up, spilling water during the drain cycles.  ‘Cause when else would a jacked-up washer be the most fun?  During an apukealypse, that’s when.

Fortunately it was short-lived.  Yesterday we were able to venture out for a fun little Easter outing at a local museum.  Her energy was still a little lower than usual, but I guess yakking up a whole day’s worth of calories will do that to a girl.  She went to bed early last night and slept about 11 hours.  Since no one else has had any issues, I can only assume it’s not viral (knock furiously on wood), effectively ending the marvelous event.  Only the laundry remains.

She was a bit stunned.

She was a bit stunned.

The face painting needed a little work.  This was supposed to be Hello Kitty.  It looks more like her bastard Dollar Store cousin.

The face painting needed a little work. This was supposed to be Hello Kitty. It looks more like her bastard Dollar Store cousin.

Eggs.  Containing candy.  Just what you need after an apukealypse.

Eggs. Containing candy. Just what you need after an apukealypse.

The dude was ecstatic to be out and about.

The dude was ecstatic to be out and about.

 

Slippery When Weather


To some degree, most of us crave at least a little excitement.  That’s why people spend big bucks and risk their lives to climb Everest, race cars, skydive. It’s why we ride roller coasters. Horror and suspense movies and books are big business.  While our lives are safer than they’ve ever been in human history, that adrenaline rush is fun.  We now have seat belts, antibacterial soap, police, hard hats, doctors.  We no longer have to be on high alert – adrenaline pumping – for that bear or tiger waiting in the wings to eat us up.  (I know there’s been a killer tiger in India.  I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of that.  But let’s face it:  globally, that’s an exception these days as far as wildlife goes.) For most of us dwelling in the modernized world, our adrenal system only gets a workout if we think we’ve dropped our cell phones or forgot to set the DVR to record Game of Thrones or Ink Master.

But like our appendix, our adrenal system is still there in our bodies.  It wants to work, man.  It needs it.

So what to do if you want to feel that heart-thumping, rapid-breathing sensation without subjecting yourself or your wallet to true danger?  Read the weather.com’s headlines, apparently.  It’s ridiculous.  Like so much in the “news and information” bracket, these people have gone from providing useful information – particularly in potentially dangerous or precarious conditions – to being outright outlandish.  Just today I see:

  • Teen Jumps In Drain After Cell Phone
  • America’s Fattest City Is…
  • When the Snow Melts,  They Find Them Buried, Dead in the Snow
  • Do These Bison Predict a Yellowstone Eruption?
  • Meet the Awesome Half-Dog
  • Rare Lassa Virus Strikes Minnesota man
  • Under the Ice; I Thought My Life Was Over

More than once I’ve had to do the rapid “X” out of the website due to some horrific picture of a mutilated animal they’re picturing for some reason.  And this past winter, they started naming storms.  Why should the summer have all the delicious weather danger with its hurricanes and tropical storms?  I want my next blizzard to be named “Snowy Death,” please.  Or maybe “Thor.”

Since when did the Weather Channel’s website become affiliated with the damn National Enquirer?  Why can’t weather just be weather?

Sugar Stay or Sugar Go Now?


This weekend was something of a bust.  Some of it was weather induced.  Some of it was our fault.

Saturday we had a birthday party around lunchtime.  Candidly, that’s tough, especially with a younger kiddo like Felix.  It’s smack-dab around the golden nap hour.  But hey: birthday parties are still popular, so you go with it.  This was also the weekend of both a big festival downtown with huge bounce-house things for kids, music, food, etc… as well as a kite festival across the river.  To complicate things even more, the weather looked to be threatening.  Like really threatening.

So you do what you do in these situations: you prioritize.  We knew Saturday we were committed to the party.  Given Stella’s tendency to get over-stimulated, we figured it would be risky to try to squeeze something else in but we’d play it by ear.  Maybe after the party everyone would nap, reset, and we could try to head downtown even if just for an hour.

My first critical error came Saturday morning.  Since I’m committed to getting back to a sensible diet and exercise routine this week, I figured we’d have one last family splurge and do donuts from Dunkin that morning.  I let Will and Stella go pick out an assortment.

OHBOYLOOKITMYDONUTS!

OHBOYLOOKITMYDONUTS!

They have Easter/Peeps donuts.  The tackiest donuts in the world ever.

They have Easter/Peeps donuts. The tackiest donuts in the world ever.

And are they good.  This is also where the generation gap shows; rather than be called a "smurf," Stella preferred to be called Toodee - a Yo Gabba Gabba reference.

And are they good. This is also where the generation gap shows; rather than be called a “smurf,” Stella preferred to be called Toodee – a Yo Gabba Gabba reference.

Scrumptious.

Scrumptious.

Within an hour, things were interesting.  Stella was bouncing off the walls.  It was cartoonish.  I usually don’t notice that big of an effect from sugar.  But then again she usually has at least a side of protein to go with it, like bacon or ham on pancake mornings to balance off the rush.  Not so Saturday.

And we're going to a party.  Look how excited I am.  Really.

And we’re going to a party. Look how excited I am. Really.

She was crashing from the sugar by the time we went to the party.  Upon arrival, she briefly perked up when she saw and received balloons.  Pizza was served.  She maybe had 2 bites.  Then came the cake and ice cream.  She had a piece of cake the size of Delaware.  And ice cream.  It was downhill from there.  We had to depart the party very quickly, before we even got to play games or anything.  It just would have been too ugly.

Brief respite from the sugar crash due to excitement by balloons and imminent cake.

Brief respite from the sugar crash due to excitement by balloons and imminent cake.

Felix.  Just chilling.

Felix. Just chilling.

At home she wouldn’t nap.  There was random yelling and general spazzmo behavior unlike we’ve seen in quite a while.  Like hell were we going anywhere else that day.  It was a day when you collapse with joy when the children go to bed.

More sugar rush action pics.  Note that Felix did not have cake.

More sugar rush action pics. Note that Felix did not have cake.

Sunday was most definitely a no-sugar day.  The meteorologists kept promising dire weather so we were afraid to go anywhere.  We finally ended up at the hardware store.  Wheeeeee!  What fun!

Actually, the kids weren’t too bad for the most part.  I wheeled them around gardening and Stella even picked out a few random plants for the flower bed.  But after about 30 minutes, the 3 of us (sans Will) had had it.  When you wake up at 4:30 AM, which is our currently time to get up apparently, you’re hungry for breakfast at 6:00 AM.  Flowers be damned, our blood sugar tanked.  We picked up Greek takeout and went home.  Where we stayed.

I did some arts and crafts with the kids.  We did Play Doh, painted, dyed eggs.  But we missed all the cool stuff outside, damn it.  The worst thing was that it didn’t even start sprinkling until dinner time.  And then at midnight last night it got terrifying with high winds, unreal lightning, and mighty big hail.

And nerd alert:  I put this on FB and Instagram with the caption "Valar Preskulis: all men must eat crayons and Play Doh."  It's a Game of Thrones reference.  No one got it.

And nerd alert: I put this on FB and Instagram with the caption “Valar Preskulis: all men must eat crayons and Play Doh.” It’s a Game of Thrones reference. No one got it.

Maybe next year we can manage this stuff better.  Talk about a perfect storm, or series of them.

Kind, Sealed, Delivered


I’ve been seeing a whole lot of those articles and postings about random acts of kindness by complete strangers on social media lately.  Y’all know the ones I’m talking about.  A family struggling with bankruptcy has their grocery bill paid by a nice lady just because.  People picking up the check for the person behind them at Starbucks.  A waitress getting a random $100 tip on a $13 check.  I sometimes read them for some unknown reason; it’s not the type of stories I’m usually drawn to. I’m ashamed to admit that when I do read them, my usual reaction is skeptical: yeah right.  These people are making that shit up for publicity.

I’ve been in a funk for a few weeks now.  Some of it is work-related.  Some of it is home stuff.  Will’s work schedule changed a bit.  He’s now going in an hour later and therefore getting home an hour later.  It’s “only an hour,” but it’s made a huge difference.  I went from not seeing him much to not seeing him at all.  We’ve also had some pretty hefty obligations and tasks the past couple of weekends, so that’s just compounded it.  I’m  feeling some pretty deep sadness about some of my other family – stuff that I don’t intend to write about.

I’ve just been in a funk.  Oscillating between feeling depressed and angry.  And really really lonely – lonely yet crowded in that way that probably only mothers can feel.  There’s no one to have witty repartee with, so that part of your brain just languishes.  Meanwhile, there’s always someone up your butt demanding something.  By the time I do get to sit down and talk to someone, I just can’t.  I’m stopped up.  I’ve called this “cognitive constipation.”  It’s been a strange and hellish psychological mix that’s difficult to even articulate.

A few weeks ago, Will and I decided to try to steal a lunch together.  I say steal, as I was telecommuting, Felix was with us, and Will was rushing to get to work on time (and I was conscious of the clock, as while I’m allowed to have a lunch on telecommute days, I don’t think I’m supposed to take an hour and a half).  We decided to go to a Mexican restaurant near Will’s store to try to save him time.

We ate.  I had enchiladas.  Felix squealed, flirted with the waitress, and colored (mostly on the table vs the paper menu they gave him).  Everything was going very quickly until the plates were cleared.  We sat and sat.  The very nice waitress came by loads of time to check our water and tea and ruffle the boy’s hair.  Finally I had to ask: where’s the check?  It was so incongruous that we had had this attentive service but that the check would be neglected.

It was paid, she said.

I thought she was messing with me.

Then I thought I had mommy brain; Will had paid it while I was sitting right there and I was too dumbed-out (real term as of now) to know it.

Nope.  It was paid, she said.  Had I seen the table of older gents when we came in?  I was vaguely aware that there had been a table of 4 older guys, but that was it.  I didn’t know them.  I hadn’t made eye-contact with any of them.  I was trying to get my string-bean of a son to eat something and talk to my husband – steal a precious half hour or so with him.

One of the guys was a regular.  He regularly did stuff like this.  Just paid a random table’s tab.

Y’all, I wanted to cry.

I know that sounds so silly, but I’ve never had a random person do something like that for me or my family.  It couldn’t have been much.  Maybe a $15 purchase.  But it. Was. So. Nice.

So yes.  Things like that do happen to real people.  Just because.  Random acts of kindness.  Who knew?

I will, as they say, pay this forward.  And not once.  I’ll be all government-like and do it in triplicate.  Someone out there, one day, will enjoy a pro bono caramel macchiato, or a Big Mac on the house.  At least 3 of them.  Maybe more.  Probably  more.

I just wanted you all to hear that story.  It won’t go viral, but the sentiment should.  And it’s important for me – when I’m feeling low and alone – to know that this kind of stuff is out there.  It made that stolen moment with  my husband – son in tow – that much more special and memorable.

To whomever you are, sir: Thank you.  Not just for a meal, but for a shot in the arm.

In One Career and Out the Other


Dear 21 year old me,

How are things?  Fine?  How’s that education degree coming?  You still have a 4.0?  That’s awesome.  Enjoy it.  Seriously. It won’t last.

I want to talk to you about the future.  Your/my future.

When it comes time to do the student teaching portion of your special ed degree, you will be so depressed and dejected by what you see, particularly when you compare it to the schools you worked in back in PA, that you will begin to seriously question the wisdom of your choice.  You’re about to take that geology class for your science requirement since you know damn well your chances of doing well at that are far greater than physics or chemistry.  You will love that class.  It will be taught by an awesome professor, who will one day become a mentor and great friend.  You will become so enamored with the subject that you will quite deliberately change majors despite the fact that you are within about a semester or two of graduating.  It won’t matter.  Dad will even be happy about it, as “teachers don’t make any kind of money.”  You’ll scoff at that, as what is money compared to professional and intellectual fulfillment, right?

Dad was kind of spot on about this one.  More on that later.

You’ll work through this degree and enjoy it.  You’ll do well in your geology courses and most others.  Except calculus, physics, and chemistry.  Those courses will eat you for breakfast.  You’ll fail one, get Ds in others, and even withdraw from one or two.  Thank goodness for all those “puff” courses back from your ed degree, eh?  Balance out that old GPA.

Grad school won’t go well.  You’ll hate the first 2 thesis topics you’re offered.  You won’t be able to work on the group of microfossils you’re in love with, as that prof is going on sabbatical and isn’t taking on new students for a while.  That bastard.  You’ll complete your course work and then some.  You’ll stall on your thesis.  Forever.  You just don’t like your topic.  How can you eat, breathe, and sleep a topic you don’t like?  If only you had discovered Dr. Liu in time, you would’ve finished.  But you didn’t know.  And really, you can’t make money in micropaleontology.  Oil companies don’t use it as much, and you don’t like the idea of working for such a volatile market-driven industry, anyway.  Too much  uncertainty.

Ultimately, you won’t finish your master’s degree.  You walk away, beginning about 4-5 years of random professional wandering.  You will ultimately end up in a “geologist” position, but it doesn’t deal much with actual geology.  And the money stinks.  By the time you realize how badly the money stinks, you’ll have a husband, a mortgage, and most importantly, 2 amazing little kids relying on you and that stinky paycheck, and because of the few perks the job offers – good health benefits during a terrifying time on that front, stable schedule, and telecommuting privileges- you can’t make a move into the more lucrative private sector.  You’ll be pudgy and out of shape.  You’ll be 40.   Your house is a mess, full of clutter and needing improvements you can’t make.  You’ll be kind of stuck.

No, money isn’t everything.  But I do wish you’d wake up and smell that lovely green ink sooner so that we’d be a bit better off.  While your job in and of itself isn’t terrible, within 7 years you’ve hit sort of a ceiling there.  Things that would make your life a bit easier – some home improvements, a cleaning lady, gym fees, vacations – are out of reach because of that silly little stuff called money.

Ultimately, here’s what I want you to do:

  •  Really think about that major.  Think hard.  If you want to stay in geology, be prepared to get ambitious.  Either finish your fucking degree or at least pursue internships in the oil industry more aggressively.  If you’re not prepared to do that, then…
  •  Consider a different line of study.  Psychology might work.  People love to tell you crazy shit, anyway.  You might as well get paid.  You’re interested in that realm of science.  It would probably be a good fit.
  •  Enjoy your youth and the ability to eat a whole pizza in a sitting without gaining a pound while you can!!  It really doesn’t last.  You’ve got legs and a tiny butt.  Ditch the long schlumpy skirts and combat boots and get some minis and heels.  Show them off!
  • And while you’re/I’m at it, pick up some exercise habits now.  You liked that Tai chi class you took.  Carry on with that.  Or maybe take some more ballet classes.  Something.  Anything.  By the time you realize you need to be doing something, you’ll be way out of shape; since you’ve never had to exercise a day in your life the climb will be up a very steep hill.

That’s all.  I don’t mean to be a buzzkill but maybe you’ll listen to me/you than the other old out-of-touch folks out there (Dad!) who are always trying to tell you/me what to do.

Oh, and that guy you’re dating now from Biloxi?  He is shiftless, aimless, and goalless.  Professional surfer/soccer player?  Ha!!  He can barely tie his damn shoes.  Don’t waste any tears when you guys split up shortly.  You’ll find him laughable in about a month.

Love,

Me (you)

To Kill a Macabre-Bird


Will and I have always been readers.  Books have always been precious to me, starting when I was a little girl.  We started reading to Stella in utero and I guess by extension Felix got some of that during his own gestation as we put Stella to bed each night.  We’ve always been a bit particular about what we’ve read our kids, choosing books that resonated with us as well.  I mean it’s our money we’re spending, dagnabbit, and we have to experience these stories and illustrations as well.  We might as well pick stuff we like, too.  I have started to wonder, however, if perhaps our taste in children’s literature doesn’t run a bit on the dark side.

Felix looking a bit Hannibal Lecter-like

Felix looking a bit Hannibal Lecter-like

Stella isn’t shy about requesting that any available grown up read to her.  She will put your ass – and eyes – to work.  I love that she loves it.  I think it’s a huge reason why she’s already reading such a great deal on her own, sounding out words she’s never seen.  How in the hell do you explain the “silent K” to a 3 year old, damn it?

Anyway, hearing other people read to her, I’ve become aware that some of our books might not be the most “typical” or child-like selections.  It doesn’t help that Stella gets hung up on certain titles.  Many of her favorites are these lovelies:

  •          “Creepy Carrots,” which is exactly what it sounds like – a bunch of carrots trying to scare a boy rabbit out of eating them.
  •           “Black Rabbit,” which is about a rabbit who is scared of his shadow until he flees into the deep dark woods, nearly gets eaten by a scary wolf, and the black rabbit in turn scares the wolf away.
  •          “The Dark,” which is about a boy who is intimidated by the dark and the dark talks to him at night, luring him into a basement.  Seriously, it’s a cute book, but there are moments that are a bit horror-movie like.  “No, kid!  Don’t go into the dark basement by yourself, damn it!  What’s wrong with you??”
  •          “I Want My Hat Back” and “This Is Not My Hat,” both tales involving an animal’s/fish’s thievery of a hat (duh) and meeting dire ends when they get eaten by the hats’ rightful owners.  Sure, the eating portion isn’t shown, only implied.  But it’s there…
  •          “The Real Story of Little Bunny Foo Foo.”  Did you know that Foo wasn’t a dick?  The damn field mice kept stealing her cupcakes (there’s a lot of stealing in kids’ books, isn’t there??).  Rather than acknowledge this, the tyrannical and obviously biased “good fairy” sided with the mice.  So, why not eat that damn good fairy when you get turned into a monster??  Perfectly reasonable.

I could go on.  I have a book that was  mine when I was a little girl: “The Fat Cat,” based on a Danish folktale, in which a cat goes on a binge-eating spree, devouring pots, little girls, old ladies, some strange people named Skohotentot and Skolinkenlot, and birds until he gets sliced open by a woodsman.  Those woodsmen sure do slice a whole lot of things open in stories, don’t they?  But for the record, I have not yet shared “The Fat Cat” with my children.  But that’s mainly because it’s mine, it’s old, and I’m afraid they’ll tear it up.

Dark and stormy night, you say?

Dark and stormy night, you say?

We do have some nice books.  “A Sick Day for Amos McGee” won a Caldecott Medal and is much loved.  I have an awesome copy of “Wynken Blynken and Nod” with gorgeous illustrations that we’ve about worn out.

I guess ultimately most children’s tales have an element of dark to them – from Red Riding Hood, to the original Cinderella stories, to the 3 pigs/bears.  Those are the stories that endured and have been adored by kids now for generations.  Shit like “Barney’s First Day of School” won’t even be available when Stella and Felix are shopping for their own potential little kids one day.  That is, if proper tangible books are still around….

 

Dry Me a River


As per my last blog, while the boy and I were on the road and Will was left alone to deal with a horrendous home-improvement scenario involving our sewer, Stella was having a spend the night party at Oui Oui’s house in what I’ve come to call Potty Training Boot Camp (speaking of sewer).

We’ve been starting and stopping potty training (PT) now for a year at least.  Ultimately, our lack of progress has boiled down to 4 things:

1)    While Stella gets/got it, she didn’t want it.  No manner of bribery, haranguing, bargaining, or threats would entice her to put her shit where it belongs.

2)    With the communication and behavior issues, honestly PT was the lesser of my concerns.

3)    Laziness on our parts to some degree.  PT is a pain in the ass.  You get to a point where if you have to say “don’t you want to go potty now” one more time you might put your own head in the commode and flush.  And my god do you have to be vigilant!

4)    SOMEONE (Will, damn you) decided to show her the “neat whirlpools” in the bathroom.  She’s now terrified to be anywhere near the tub when the water drains.  Furthermore, any bath toy or cleaning implement has got to come out before the plug is pulled or there will be much hysteria.  This also extends to the commode to some degree, although fortunately toilet paper and poop seems exempt.  Thankfully.

Anyway, Oui Oui requested that I send lots of Big Girl Panties (BGPs) to her house when I packed her bag.  They were going to make a real go of it.  (Oh god.  The puns just keep on giving!)

Oui Oui made PT Boot Camp awesome, complete with a picnic á la Old McDonald’s, shopping for new sparkly things, rummaging through older cousins’ hand me downs for more sparkly things, treats, and with the exception of one accident, keeping her BGPs dry.

Stylin' in my BGPs!

Stylin’ in my BGPs!

Look at that face....

Look at that face….

We bit the bullet and she wore BGPs to school Monday.  Dry all day, until she and I hit the car for speech.  Ok.  One accident in a day isn’t bad at all.  It’s now Thursday and there has not been one single mishap at school.

And the mermaid dress:  beloved so much that we now have 2 so she can wear it twice a week.  It's also even more incentive not to get her clothes all messy.

And the mermaid dress: beloved so much that we now have 2 so she can wear it twice a week. It’s also even more incentive not to get her clothes all messy.

It’s amazing.  It’s like we snapped our fingers and it’s done.  Or Oui Oui did.  Hooray for Oui Oui and her PT Boot Camp.  I told her she should advertise and charge for this.

Sure, we still have to be vigilant at home and she sometimes “forgets” toward the end of the day, but it hasn’t been bad or even all that messy so far.   I have created a monster through bribery which I’ll have to undo later.  On Tuesday she got a new stuffed kitty which has been named Noodles.  Yesterday, she asked where her treat was.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all got treats for keeping our BGPs dry all day?

 

Grandfather. Clock.


I’ve been unsure about whether or not I should write about this.

This past weekend, I took Felix and drove roughly 4 hours to visit some family – specifically my grandfather.  Crispy and Grandpaw were also there, as were a few cousins I don’t get to see often.  But my grandfather was the main event.  Not because it was a special occasion.  It was just time.

Out and about

Out and about

He just turned 92.  His time is running out.  It’s not one of those awful hospital bed deals, thankfully.  He’s just doing the slow fade.  Everything about him is shrinking.

I hadn’t seen him in roughly a year, when my mom and aunts brought him down to see us when Felix was a newborn.  Before that, it had probably been nearly a year since we had made it up to see him.  The town where he lives isn’t exactly a destination town, and while 4 hours isn’t bad when you’re single, it’s an eternity with little kids who don’t travel well.  I have felt guilty about that, that we haven’t made it up there more regularly.

"Waterlogued" pic of boys with sticks

“Waterlogued” pic of boys with sticks

The last couple of times I’ve seen my grandfather, he hasn’t really been my grandfather.  He does have some dementia but, he’s not a raving madman, thankfully.  It’s  more gentle than that.  He just gets agitated easily when his schedule is upset.  When he gets agitated, you can see him gritting his teeth and cussing under his breath.  You can’t really talk to him much, as he doesn’t have a lot to say.  His world is so small now.  He watches old cowboy movies, sure, and the news.  But I don’t think he sees the news.  I don’t know if he could talk about Crimea and missing/found airplanes.  For decades, the man watched the Atlanta Braves.  He hasn’t watched them in several years.  It used to be something we could share and discuss.  Now about all that’s left is the weather.

It just makes me sad.

My grandfather has always been the Sweetest Man in the World.  He took me roller skating when I was little on these plastic clip-on skates.  We would walk/skate down to this creek which seemed huge enough to me to be called The River.  I dislike seeing him the way he is now.  It’s uncomfortable.  This reality does not match the one in my memory.  The reality is, however, that the time is running out.

An old man and a boy

Time beginning and ending

I’m sure one day I’ll be happy that I made the trip this past weekend and that this picture was taken, and who knows – maybe there will be time for at least one more trip. And I do feel certain that he enjoyed watching my little boy run around chattering and squealing.   For now, though, I just feel sad about it.