Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Guilty pleasures, kid-style

Yesterday morning I caught G sidling out of our office with something not-too-subtly hidden behind her back. I inquired as to what it might be, and with a sheepish expression, she showed me an old Barney Christmas video I'd recently dug out for her visiting cousin.

Busted! I thought, suppressing a grin. Aloud, I said, "You can watch Barney if you want to, kiddo. We won't tell anyone."

She went off to the living room, and soon I heard the familiar perky strains of Barney's theme song, to which I quickly realized I still knew all the words. After a few minutes, I walked in to see how she was getting on with her old buddy.

"How is it?" I asked, and she jumped.

"It's okay," she said without taking her eyes off the screen. So I went on about my business, and she continued to watch. Every now and then, she made a disparaging comment about something in the show, as if she wanted to let me know that she was really much too mature for it. She'd just been looking for something to watch and it had happened to be there. She wasn't enjoying it or anything like that. Heavens, no!

She kept up a pretty good pretense until the video ended, and then blew it by immediately rewinding and watching the whole thing again. I always thought the 1-8 recommended age range on the box was a total crock, and that no self-respecting kid over four would be caught dead watching Barney, but there was my bright seven-and-a-half-year-old glued to the big purple bozo, just the way she was when she was a toddler. But then, I suppose we all have our guilty pleasures, or I wouldn't still be watching Labyrinth twice a year. :-)

In other news, our flowers are still hanging in there in the flowerbed, singing "We're not yet dead" to keep their spirits up. I watered them this morning and moved some struggling potted plants into a patch of sun on the patio, and then I brought the laptop out here to enjoy it all while it lasts. The vast expanse of packed dirt is a bit depressing, but at least I've got trees overhead, and I can hear the birds, and smell the roses on the pink rosebush. It could be much worse.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Grow for meeee

Today G and I performed the annual exercise in futility we like to call "gardening" on that blasted heath we like to call a "backyard." We planted six alyssum, twelve blue lobelia, and six of something with purple and pink bell-shaped flowers whose name I forget at the moment. I expect them all to be brown, crispy and shriveled by the second week in June, even though I dug two bags of rich, new soil into the flowerbed before we started. The only thing that has ever survived in that flowerbed is the world's most tenacious rosebush, which was there when we moved in five years ago. It's mostly sticks and thorns with a few bug-nibbled leaves, but occasionally makes an effort and produces one or two enormous red roses. (You go, rosebush! Fight the power!)

I just want something to grow out there. Anything at all. I'd settle for weeds, as long as they were green weeds, I swear.

Friday, May 26, 2006

We have a diagnosis

She's got strep throat. I thought as much. Once she starts the antibiotics, she should be fine and frisky (and non-contagious) again. Thank goodness we got it checked out now, though, because she just would have gotten sicker and sicker over the weekend.

Sick

G's got the slowest-brewing virus I've ever seen. Every day it's a new symptom: first a fever, then a cough, then a sore throat. I was just going to wait it out, but when she developed the sore throat I knew she had to go to the doctor -- the last thing I want is for it to blossom into strep over the holiday weekend, when our only option would be sitting in urgent care or the ER for hours on end. Luckily, I was able to get an appointment for this morning, so P is going to take her while I'm at work.

Nights are always the worst time for kid illnesses. G has a cough every time she's sick, and no amount of cough medicine will prevent it from waking her up. Last night she woke up sweaty and hysterical at midnight, caught in a vicious cycle of coughing and crying. When she coughed, it hurt her throat, which made her scream, which made her throat hurt more, which made each cough more painful. The poor girl was miserable, but oddly, the thing that made her most upset was the idea of missing a third day of school.

"I want to see my friends again!" she sobbed.

"You'll see them next week when you're feeling better," I reassured her.

"But I want to see them tomorrow!"

Sigh.

Speaking of seeing friends, I really hope she gets better quickly, because we have a lot of plans coming up. She has a playdate on Sunday, we'll probably visit P's family on Monday, and on Tuesday, we're going to Disneyland to meet an online friend and her family. I'm holding off on canceling anything right now and will evaluate each event day by day as it comes up. The only one I really can't change is the Disneyland trip, because the people we're meeting are here on holiday from England and may not come back for years, if ever. Crossing my fingers ...

In other news, G finally finished listening to the Magyk audiobook. She loved all 12 hours of it and wanted to hear the sequel immediately. It isn't available in audio format yet, so we started reading it aloud on Wednesday night. (I can see the little booger has been totally spoiled by the narrator of the other book, because she keeps correcting me to British pronunciations of certain words, LOL.) Last night, we read two chapters, and when I stopped, she said "Oh, fine, I'll just read the next part to myself," and grabbed the book from my hands.

"All right, go for it," I said, thinking that she would give up after a few paragraphs. She's a good reader, but this is a sixth-grade-level book (at least), and she's still not too fond of reading long, dense, picture-free pages of text on her own. Well, I ended up sitting next to her, bemused, while she read the entire chapter to herself. I don't know if she knew every single word she encountered, but she certainly had no trouble following the story, because she kept making comments like "That wasn't a very nice thing for Simon to say!" and "Oooh, he took Jenna away on his horse." When she got to the end, she carefully marked her place, handed me the book, and said "Okay, I can go to sleep now." Silly girl.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Nice try, crazy chicken

I am on to you, El Pollo Loco.

Ever since your bean, rice and cheese burrito moved to the $1 "value menu," it's been getting smaller and smaller. You tried to be clever, shrinking it in subtle, almost imperceptible increments so I wouldn't notice, but I did. When I took my lunchtime burrito out of its bag just now, it was barely the size of a tamale. I know it's only a dollar, and I'm all for you making your margin, but come on. You can probably buy a pound of beans and rice for a dollar.

Very disappointed, El Pollo Loco. Very disappointed.

P.S. I hate the plastic bags. They make your already-not-very good fries all sweaty and gross. Go back to paper, please!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Barnyard Encounters of the Third Kind

On Saturday afternoon, P, G and I all went to the zoo with G's two toddler cousins and their parents. It's a small zoo, and in addition to a bald eagle, some llama-like creatures and a crapload of monkeys, the main attraction is a farm/barn area where you can pet (and smell) the animals. When we got there, we saw the bunnies, the piggies and the duckies first. And then we reached the goats.

Granted, I'm a city girl, but I think it's pretty obvious that goats are possessed by the devil. Their eyes make me want to call an exorcist, and the creepy, insistent way they crowd in on you -- eeep. Give me a nice, fluffy flock of sheep any day.

Anyway, G decided that she wanted to buy some food pellets and feed the goats. I wasn't sure how well this was going to work out, as G has a long history of loving animals until she gets close to them and then panicking, but I said okay and gave her a quarter. As we walked over to the food machine, there was not a goat within feeding distance -- they were all wandering around their pen, probably looking for the hellmouth so they could get back to their native home. G dropped in her quarter and turned the knob, and when we looked up again, every goat in the pen had rushed up to the fence and stuck its head through the slats. (Apparently they knew that the clickety-click of that knob equaled food. Pavlov would have been proud.)

Now armed with a fistful of food pellets, G extended her hand toward the nearest goat, and then shrieked and pulled it back again as the goat stretched its neck and opened its mouth. She did that over and over again until she'd spilled all the pellets and had to get another quarter to buy more, and then she proceeded to spill the second handful of pellets as well. And the third.

At this point, I was starting to feel sorry for the goats, infernal creatures though they were -- they'd been expecting to get fed for a good ten minutes, and instead they'd been taunted by a little girl with a twitchy goat-feeding hand. I tried holding G's hand as she reached toward the straining goat muzzles, but she just pulled it out of my grip every time we got close. So, I decided I'd try feeding them myself so she could see that they weren't going to eat her. I offered some pellets to the first two goats, which snuffled them up quite delicately. And then, as I was telling G, "See, they just take the food right off your hand," and she was saying, "I'm afraid it's going to feel too weird," the third goat in line stuck its mouth in my palm and slobbered all over me.

"Aaargh!" I said, as I looked at the goat spit glistening on my hand.

"Ewwww!" said G.

"Got ... to wash ... hands!" I said, and bolted for the nearby hand-washing station, which, thank goodness, had soap as well as running water. (But no paper towels. Maybe the goats would eat them?) As I scrubbed, I heard G behind me, calling "Hey, I'm doing it! I'm feeding them!"

"Good job," I said weakly, starting the lathering process for the third time and wondering if my hand would ever be clean enough to use again.

The moral of this story? Never feel sorry for a goat. It just gets you into trouble.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My day

This morning I got the gift all mothers crave most: I slept in until 11:00. Ha!

Once I was finally conscious and vertical, G gave me the gift she'd made for me in school. It was a flowerpot with two paper daisies, each of which had her picture in the center. On the leaves, she'd written "You're my favorite mom" and "I'm your little sidekick." P had already given me the gift I asked him for, which was money to get my hair colored. None of those sentimental trinkets for us; we're a very practical couple.

In the afternoon, we made a quick appearance at a family party, where G earned 25 bucks singing karaoke for her aunts and uncles, and then headed over to Disneyland. The park was remarkably uncrowded, which was surprising for a weekend in May, but you won't hear any argument from me on that account. We ate at the Riverbelle Terrace, went on the Haunted Mansion, Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter Pan, got ice cream on Main Street, and left just before 8 p.m. (There was no line for Snow White, and we could have gotten on that one too, but G didn't want to go because, as she said, "the witch freaks me out too much.") G was disappointed that she'd forgotten her autograph book, but it ended up not mattering, since there were no characters around to meet.

Strangest thing overheard at the park: a mom saying "Come on, D'Artagnan" to her five- or six-year-old kid. D'Artagnan? I liked The Three Musketeers too, but that's going a bit far. Although it would be funny to have triplets and name them Athos, Porthos and Aramis.

All in all, a nice Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

The reluctant blonde

Some people, especially here in California, aspire to blondeness as the ideal state of being. Not me. Even though I started out as a tow-headed kid, I knew that I was meant to have dark hair -- dramatic hair, mysterious hair, hair that everyone takes seriously. And as soon as creeping grey forced me to start coloring, I became the brunette I'd always wanted to be.

It lasted for five glorious years before P conspired with my hairdresser to give me highlights "so the roots won't show as much." And to my total chagrin ... I look better. Specifically, I look younger; I suppose because the color is less severe against my face. No wonder so many fiftyish ladies go around sporting those fake frosted highlights.

So, I guess I'm stuck as a semi-blonde for the foreseeable future. But I'll always be a brunette in my soul! My hair does not define me, dammit!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Braiiiiins!

Urgh. Tired. Work has been harsh lately, and I feel like my brain is being slowly removed through my left ear. Give me back my braiiiiins ... [/zombie]

Speaking of brain removal (how often do you get to use a segue like that?), G asked to have the Egyptian sections in Story of the World, Vol. I as her bedtime reading tonight. We read about mummification and pyramids, with G cross-referencing her Egyptology book the whole time, then went on to Sargon of Mesopotamia and finished up with Abraham and Sarah. I mentioned that the SoTW activity guide has instructions for mummifying a chicken, and she thought that was too gross -- a judgment with which I heartily concur -- but we decided that we could get a rubber chicken, wrap it in bandages and call it King Cluck. :-)

Frankly, after her recent experience with chickens, I'm surprised she doesn't want revenge against the entire species, but it's just as well. I don't think I'm equipped to handle a poultry vendetta.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Snapshots from the weekend

1. Your guest lecturer today is ...

At the birthday party we attended yesterday, the hired entertainment was a lady with a van full of small animals -- tortoises, lizards, snakes, bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens, etc. -- who gave a presentation and then set up a fenced area where the kids could chase, squeeze and terrorize interact with the creatures. Can you imagine what it's like to be a guinea pig running through a forest of human children's legs and carelessly stomping bare feet? The poor things must need Valium in their little upside-down water bottles.

Anyway, no sooner had the lady started setting up than G decided to share everything she knows about animals, which is quite a bit. She started out with "Mammals give live birth and have fur and warm blood," and pretty soon she was telling the crowd "The smallest rabbit is actually the pika." About that time, I slipped up behind her, leaned close to her ear, and asked her to please can the science lecture so the animal lady could do her job. She complied, and the rest of the presentation went smoothly ... until we got to the petting part and discovered that G is terrified of chickens. I'm not too keen on them myself, but she was climbing chairs and shrieking like a caricature of a housewife who's spotted a mouse. Note to self: do not move to the country and start a chicken farm.

2. And then I hit the Shuffle button.

This morning, while in the shower, G treated us to the following song medley: "Rock and Roll All Night," "Amazing Grace," "Bohemian Rhapsody" and some other song by Queen. What ever happened to the Sesame Street theme song? And what was a hymn doing in the middle of all that classic rock?

3. Someone's killed the Teletubbies!

Later in the day, I was carrying the trash out, and on the sidewalk next door, I saw Tinky Winky, Laa-Laa and Po lying in a row on their backs, stubby little legs pointed up to the sky, as if they'd all been offed by a mad Teletubby-hater. Upon closer inspection, they turned out to be 2-foot-tall stuffed dolls that had been put out along with some other junk, probably in the hopes that someone would come along and claim them. It was wonderfully surreal. I wish I'd taken a picture.