Thursday, December 29, 2005

Three wishes

Me: If you had three wishes, what would they be?
G: A cat, an older sister who's nine, and a horse I could ride to school.

Hmm. I'd say the only one of those she has any chance of getting is the cat, and even that is pretty unlikely, since we aren't allowed to have pets and P is a cat-hater.

Right now, if I had three wishes, they would be for money, money and money. I know money isn't everything, but when you haven't got any, it sure seems that way!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Books, books, books

I've finally found a series of chapter books for G that I don't hate: the Jigsaw Jones mysteries. Jigsaw and his partner Mila are great characters, as are the other kids who populate their world. I'd say the books are around early third-grade level, so G can do her share of the reading, but they're written with real humor and flair, unlike 90 percent of the series books available for this age. It's a long series, too, so we should be occupied for a while.

Just for reference, here are a few of the other series we've tried:

The Secrets of Droon -- This series sounded promising -- three kids find a door to another world in the basement of one kid's house -- but they turned out to be extremely dull and formulaic, even for children's fantasy. (A lot of authors and publishers seem to operate on the premise that kids at this level of ability haven't read much, so won't recognize clichés when they see them.) We got through one and a half before giving up. There are more than 30 in the series, though, so someone must like them.

Jewel Kingdom -- The Jewel Kingdom has four princesses -- the Diamond Princess, the Ruby Princess, the Emerald Princess and the Diamond Princess -- whose royal parents have sent them to rule over different regions of the kingdom. G thought the two books we read together were okay, but I found them both boring and overly precious in a Disney Princess/Barbie sort of way (the princesses had little bird and butterfly friends with names like "Flitter," bleah), and was very glad she didn't beg for more.

Pixie Tricks -- In these books, a girl meets a sprite who has been sent to her world to capture a bunch of escaped evil fairies. She and her annoying boy cousin end up helping out. The actual writing wasn't anything to get excited about, but the stories themselves weren't bad, and G really enjoyed them. She also liked the associated sticker game that let her play along as an official Pixie Tricker.

More later as we try out additional authors.

Monday, December 26, 2005

We had a nice Christmas -- G went to church with her grandmother in the morning, my dad came over for a while, and then we made the rounds of various people's houses. G had a lovely time and got more gifts than any one kid should have, including:

Three Jigsaw Jones chapter books
The Usborne Book of Animal Jokes
D'Aulaire's Norse Mythology
Bling It On (rhinestone stickers for decorating stuff)
Washable ink pads and stampers
Crayola Color Explosion notebook and marker set
Crayola erasable markers
Sharkboy and Lavagirl on DVD
Heelys shoes in white and pink
Fake suede coat with fake fur lining and trim
Fake fur neck scarf
Tube of Ancient Egypt-themed toys (this was one of her favorite gifts)
Two packs of fancy pencils for school/homework
Set of dog-shaped Christmas ornaments
Littlest Pet Shop Playground playset
Jungle Jigsaw and Safari Jigsaw puzzle books (books with alternating pages of animal facts and 24-piece jungle/safari scene puzzles)
Hello Kitty puzzle
Disney Princess school set with folder, notebook, ruler, pencil case and some other stuff
Personal DVD player with 7-inch LCD screen
Nordstrom gift card
Shrek II DVD
Borders gift card
Two fairy-tale picture books
Disney Cinderella book
Pink long-sleeve shirt with crystal appliqués
Purple Converse hightops with purple flowers on the toes
Giant Play-Doh set
Toy doctor kit
Jeans with sash belt
Denim jacket
Brown corduroy purse
Picture book about New York City

Only the first half of the list (up to the Hello Kitty puzzle) came from Santa/us, BTW. The rest was from family and friends. We spoil her, but not that much!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve

Well, the big day is tomorrow, and I can proudly say that we are very nearly sort of close to being ready. Almost. Heh.

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs, or perhaps I should say downs and ups. It began on a sour note with some bad news (not terrible death-and-diaster news, but definitely news I didn't want to hear), and then got a lot better. Weirdly, things started improving after I bought a gift card for a mentally ill homeless lady I saw hanging out at Starbucks, so maybe what they say about karma is true. Merry Christmas, lady, wherever you are. I hope the coffee kept you warm last night.

I had the day off, so in the afternoon I went to help Pete with his regular work in G's classroom, and also to pass out the gifts I'd put together for the kids (miniature stockings stuffed with candy canes, chocolate and glittery gold and silver pencils). When we got home, I slept on the couch for a couple of hours -- I'd lain awake from two a.m. till five a.m. that morning -- and then took G out to pick up some food. After an early dinner, she and P went over to his mother's house, and she played with another kid there while I wrapped every single one of the gifts we've bought so far -- about twenty of them in two hours. I put on Fellowship of the Ring for entertainment toward the end of the wrapping marathon, so when P and G came back (right at the point where Frodo gets stabbed with the poison dagger), we all finished watching it together, with popcorn and chocolate and apple slices for snacks.

This morning, I made royal icing so G and I could repair our wrecked gingerbread house. The icing that came with the kit we bought didn't do a very good job of gluing the roof on, and both slabs ended up sliding off. The poor house looked as if it had been hit by a tornado, with the inside exposed and the gingerbread people standing there in the yard with their arms thrown up in shock and alarm. Unfortunately, the icing I made came out pale yellow because I had to use Egg Beaters instead of real egg whites, so now the roof is on, and there's a front path, but it looks like a dog peed in the snow. Well, better luck next year.

After the gingerbread debacle, we went to Old Navy to pick up a couple of last-minute presents, and then had a very traditional Christmas Eve lunch of chow mein and tofu from Pick Up Stix. Next on our agenda: exchange gifts with G's friend A. next door, go to her hair appointment at 4:00, and then head over to the relatives' house for some festivity. G wants to watch the next Lord of the Rings movie in the series when we get home, which is fine with me. Somehow those movies have become Christmas movies in my head, thanks to the time of year they were originally released. Nothing says Christmas like sweaty, stubbly men with swords, eh?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


There are at least two dozen things I should be doing with this vacation day. P is at an appointment in LA, and G doesn't get out of school for three more hours. It's a perfect time for me to clean house, do laundry, finish the Christmas shopping, find the wrapping paper, work on the story I'm writing, change the water in the fish tank, etc., etc. Instead, after dropping G off this morning, I bought Starbucks, came home and planted my lazy ass on the bed with the laptop, and here I still am.

Must ... find ... will to ... get up ...

Right. Maybe in a few minutes.

Friday, December 02, 2005

And joined the choir invisible

Just before P and I went to bed last night, we noticed that Dorothy the goldfish was swimming at a crooked angle near the top of the tank. Anyone who has ever had fish will know that this is a certain sign of d00m, and sure enough, when we woke up this morning, Dorothy had shuffled off this mortal coil and gone to the big aquarium in the sky. That leaves us with just one goldfish: Angus, who is now rocketing around the tank like a maniac. I can't decide whether he's looking for Dorothy -- after all, they were tank-mates for two and a half years -- or just reveling in having all the swimming space to himself. Well, Muncher the pleco is still in there, but he mostly keeps to himself behind the castle or under the filter.

In other news, G got busted this morning for reading when she was supposed to be getting ready for school. I can see I'm going to have to start supervising her more closely in the mornings. Right now, I wake her up, then set milk and cereal out on the table for her (with the milk in a separate cup so she can pour it into the bowl herself) and get in the shower. While I'm in there, she's supposed to get dressed in the clothes I laid out for her the night before, then go to the table, fix her cereal and eat. After I'm out and dressed, I make her lunch, do her hair, then do my own hair and makeup while she brushes her teeth.

This would all work fine if the child were not as slow as a geriatric snail and as distractible as a magpie. She stops getting dressed to sit on the floor in her underwear and read. She stops with her shoe half-tied to watch TV. She drains every last drop of milk from her cereal bowl by sipping it one spoonful at a time. She starts art projects three minutes before we need to walk out the door. There is no sense of urgency in her at all. Probably what I should be doing is waking up an hour before her, getting completely ready myself, and then standing over her every step of the way as she goes through her routine. Alternatively, I should be getting her up an hour earlier so she can be as pokey as she wants. I don't think that'll work with our schedule, though.

I took the day off today to get stuff done, but somehow got roped into working from home, so I suppose I'd better get back to my article. I've got to finish it by 1 p.m. so I can go help out in G's class before my hair appointment at 4. I can't wait to kiss these witchy grey roots goodbye for another couple of months.